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  #1  
Old 10-01-2018, 09:56 PM
s11033 s11033 is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Boston, MA
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Default 6.5 Swede 03-A3 Interest?

Hey guys,

A few months ago I posted up to gauge interest in 6.5 Swede conversions for US service rifles. There seemed to be a good amount of interest, but I had to work through another big project, converting a couple dozen stripped Hakim receivers into 6.5x55 Ljungman clones, before I could take on any new endeavors.

Why my fixation with the Swede? I simply believe it's the best classic full-caliber military cartridge there is. Many will disagree, but that's really all I've got to say for myself.

I had initially wanted to order a run of Garand barrels. I quickly confirmed that the Garand clips will not fit 8 rounds of 6.5x55 due to their larger case head. When loading 7 rounds in the clip, the problem seemed to be resolved, but I almost gave myself Garand thumb when I overinserted the partially-filled clip. I have a couple ideas to allow the use of standard clips with 6.5x55, but that project will remain in the works for at least a few months.

I shifted my attention to the M1917 because of the availability of P.17 actions from Sarco and the ample supply of inexpensive sporterized rifles to restore. Although I'm working with someone to try to make reproduction stocks, the lack of wood put the brakes on that project as well.

I had initially overlooked the 03-A3 because it seemed like actions were expensive and hard to come by, but I revisited this model after I put the 1917 on the back burner. There seem to be a good number of fairly inexpensive sporterized 03-A3s out there, a large supply of surplus parts, and most importantly, several sources of decent replacement stocks.

Criterion has a minimum order of 25 barrels for a custom production run, and I'd like to make sure I'm not going to end up with a pile of extremely expensive tomato stakes. Would anyone on the forum have interest in an 03-A3 or 03-A4 build or conversion in 6.5x55? Ideally I'll be able to build the A3s on actions that haven't been drilled, and use the more badly sporterized actions to install A4 scope bases. It would also be an option to sell short-chambered barrels to those equipped to install and properly headspace them, though I think 6.5x55 reamers are probably not very common.

Thanks in advance for the input!

Steve
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  #2  
Old 10-04-2018, 11:53 AM
HC-7 HC-7 is offline
 
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Hi Steve, sign me up for a 6.5 swede 03A3 bbl....regards...alex
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  #3  
Old 10-04-2018, 07:31 PM
xroads xroads is offline
 
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I'm in for one as well.

btw, 6.5x55 will fit fine in garand clips as long as you use American mfg. brass, which has a std. .473 base ala Winchester. it's kind of like a 6.5x55 "American".
I had a bbl installed on a 1903 springfield so chambered and it shoots great. uses std.
1903 stripper clips as well.
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  #4  
Old 10-04-2018, 07:32 PM
captaincalc captaincalc is offline
 
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Location: Ohio
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Wish I could be interested, but have too much "other" on tap to branch out to the 03a3 Swede variant thing. On your other front - and others can chime in ( or lets open up a separate thread of needed) - I thought I read somewhere that Remington's 6.5 Swede brass had a '06 size case-head. It's close enough to work in the Swede, even if not visa-versa. Is that a reality (ergo might work in a Garand clip)?

Last edited by captaincalc; 10-04-2018 at 07:33 PM. Reason: wrong numeral - mea culpa
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  #5  
Old 10-05-2018, 09:09 AM
Peconga Peconga is offline
 
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You could put me down for a couple of 03-A3 barrels in 6.5x55 Swede! I have had several pre-war 1903 sporting rifles in 7x57 Mauser and .256 Newton, all of which were sweet shooters and a pleasant alternative to the .30-06 for casual shooting. With that in mind, I can only imagine the kind of accuracy that a dedicated target shooter could achieve.

Short-chambered would be the only way to sell them, just like the U.S. military did with arsenal replacement barrels. Otherwise, the customer will need a handful of spare bolt bodies on hand for trial fitting in order to get the headspace to field spec, much less close enough for target use. This would also give customers more lee-way when fitting the new barrel to a receiver that may be in less-than-pristine condition, such as a recycled sporter or drill rifle.

And yes, there are plenty of 6.5 Swedish gauges and finish reamers around, at least for people who are into the cartridge. Also keep in mind that in most cases, finish reaming a short-chambered barrel on a 1903 or 03-A3 action is literally a 15-minute job with simple hand tools.
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  #6  
Old 10-05-2018, 11:01 AM
s11033 s11033 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peconga View Post
You could put me down for a couple of 03-A3 barrels in 6.5x55 Swede! I have had several pre-war 1903 sporting rifles in 7x57 Mauser and .256 Newton, all of which were sweet shooters and a pleasant alternative to the .30-06 for casual shooting. With that in mind, I can only imagine the kind of accuracy that a dedicated target shooter could achieve.

Short-chambered would be the only way to sell them, just like the U.S. military did with arsenal replacement barrels. Otherwise, the customer will need a handful of spare bolt bodies on hand for trial fitting in order to get the headspace to field spec, much less close enough for target use. This would also give customers more lee-way when fitting the new barrel to a receiver that may be in less-than-pristine condition, such as a recycled sporter or drill rifle.

And yes, there are plenty of 6.5 Swedish gauges and finish reamers around, at least for people who are into the cartridge. Also keep in mind that in most cases, finish reaming a short-chambered barrel on a 1903 or 03-A3 action is literally a 15-minute job with simple hand tools.

Great to hear there’s that much interest!

I recently learned of the ReamerRentals.com website and now I agree that short-chambering would be the best option. They have the necessary 6.5x55 tools available.

How would you guys feel about having a chamber that’s just been cut with a roughing reamer for 6.5 Creedmoor? It would take a little longer to finish cutting the 6.5 Swede chamber, but it would give us the flexibility to chamber in different calibers, such as 6.5 Creed or .260 Rem. If guys don’t like that option, I guess I could always order them that way from Criterion and then short-chamber them to order myself.

I just picked up a sporterized 03A3 that still has its original rear sight. I’ll be restoring the front end with a 6.5 Swede barrel for testing and will restock it as well. I’ve heard mostly good things about the CMP replacement sets, but I think I’m going to order a Sarco walnut set just to see how they fit. I know their birch stock sets are crap, but I’ve heard good things about their walnut and think it might be worth testing and reporting back.

Steve

Last edited by s11033; 10-05-2018 at 12:12 PM.
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  #7  
Old 10-05-2018, 11:42 AM
s11033 s11033 is offline
 
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Location: Boston, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xroads View Post
I'm in for one as well.

btw, 6.5x55 will fit fine in garand clips as long as you use American mfg. brass, which has a std. .473 base ala Winchester. it's kind of like a 6.5x55 "American".
I had a bbl installed on a 1903 springfield so chambered and it shoots great. uses std.
1903 stripper clips as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by captaincalc View Post
Wish I could be interested, but have too much "other" on tap to branch out to the 03a3 Swede variant thing. On your other front - and others can chime in ( or lets open up a separate thread of needed) - I thought I read somewhere that Remington's 6.5 Swede brass had a '06 size case-head. It's close enough to work in the Swede, even if not visa-versa. Is that a reality (ergo might work in a Garand clip)?

Hey guys,

I just revived an old thread to discuss the Garand option further. There was a solid amount of interest in 6.5 Swede, but other people wanted .260 Rem and even 6.5 Creedmoor. I think that with my idea of ordering the barrels rough-chambered for 6.5 Creed, I might be able to make everyone happy. Here's the thead:

http://forums.thecmp.org/showthread.php?t=226475

You guys are right about the US-spec 6.5 Swede cases fitting fine in a Garand clip, but I don't think people would be happy if my conversion could only be used with US-spec brass. I've been able to get dummy rounds feeding fine from clips loaded with 7 rounds instead of 8, but the problem is that the clips can be over-inserted, causing instant Garand thumb. I came up with an easy modification to a bullet guide that would prevent that, and it would be a drop-in installation for people that want to run Swede-spec ammo or a mix of both. I just need someone to weld one up for me for testing. Anyway, let's move that discussion to the other thread, as Captaincalc suggested.

Steve
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  #8  
Old 10-05-2018, 05:34 PM
Peconga Peconga is offline
 
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Location: Boise, Idaho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s11033 View Post
I think that with my idea of ordering the barrels rough-chambered for 6.5 Creed, I might be able to make everyone happy.
Have you double-checked the datum points for the 6.5 Creedmoor vs the 6.5 Swede to see if this is even possible? The case diameter of the (short+wide) Creedmoor is significantly larger than the (long+skinny) Swede case, when measured at the same distance from the base (11.74mm vs 11.07mm) This means that you can't simply run a Swede finish reamer into a Creedmoor chamber and expect it to turn out properly, since there will be a large section of "leftover" chamber that will be oversize relative to the Swede case. This is the same problem that people run into when they try to re-chamber a .308 / 7.62x51 barrel to .30-06; the end result is not only sloppy and very hard on brass, but is also potentially unsafe.

Note that on a Mauser, you could simply chop off the threaded section of the breech end of a Creedmoor barrel, re-thread, and then finish with a Swede reamer, since you would be removing fresh metal on the (much) shorter chamber at that point. However, this is not practical on a factory Springfield 1903/03-A3 barrel, which has a tapered breech and pre-cut extractor slot.

A second consideration would be chamber pressure, since the 6.5 Creedmoor is a comparatively high pressure cartridge, with SAAMI spec of 62,000 PSI Max Avg Pressure (MAP). Compare this to the MIL-STD for the .30-06 M2 cartridge at 42,000 PSI (60,000 MAP for civilian) or the 6.5 Swede at 45,000 PSI. Thus, offering a short-chambered 6.5 Creedmoor barrel for a 1903/03-A3 is simply begging for a blow-up, since the youngest Springfield action is now more than 75 years old, and this doesn't even take into account the risk of a customer naively installing a brand new 6.5 Creedmoor barrel on a "Low Number" Springfield 1903.

In conclusion, I would definitely stick with the classic 6.5x55 Swede cartridge for this project, at least for the Springfield.
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  #9  
Old 10-06-2018, 01:11 AM
s11033 s11033 is offline
 
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Location: Boston, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peconga View Post
Have you double-checked the datum points for the 6.5 Creedmoor vs the 6.5 Swede to see if this is even possible? The case diameter of the (short+wide) Creedmoor is significantly larger than the (long+skinny) Swede case, when measured at the same distance from the base (11.74mm vs 11.07mm) This means that you can't simply run a Swede finish reamer into a Creedmoor chamber and expect it to turn out properly, since there will be a large section of "leftover" chamber that will be oversize relative to the Swede case. This is the same problem that people run into when they try to re-chamber a .308 / 7.62x51 barrel to .30-06; the end result is not only sloppy and very hard on brass, but is also potentially unsafe.

Note that on a Mauser, you could simply chop off the threaded section of the breech end of a Creedmoor barrel, re-thread, and then finish with a Swede reamer, since you would be removing fresh metal on the (much) shorter chamber at that point. However, this is not practical on a factory Springfield 1903/03-A3 barrel, which has a tapered breech and pre-cut extractor slot.

A second consideration would be chamber pressure, since the 6.5 Creedmoor is a comparatively high pressure cartridge, with SAAMI spec of 62,000 PSI Max Avg Pressure (MAP). Compare this to the MIL-STD for the .30-06 M2 cartridge at 42,000 PSI (60,000 MAP for civilian) or the 6.5 Swede at 45,000 PSI. Thus, offering a short-chambered 6.5 Creedmoor barrel for a 1903/03-A3 is simply begging for a blow-up, since the youngest Springfield action is now more than 75 years old, and this doesn't even take into account the risk of a customer naively installing a brand new 6.5 Creedmoor barrel on a "Low Number" Springfield 1903.

In conclusion, I would definitely stick with the classic 6.5x55 Swede cartridge for this project, at least for the Springfield.
Thank you for the points you listed.

I did my initial calculation by extrapolating the diameter of the Swede case between the base and shoulder specs and assumed that the taper is a straight line. As a mechanical engineer I know that kind of assumption is generally not a safe one to make... So I measured several Swedish military cases and they were all about .1mm smaller in diameter at all datum points than spec. However they measured almost exactly 11.74mm in diameter at the point 37.84mm from the very end of the case, which is exactly the spec for the base of the 6.5 Creedís shoulder. If folks like the idea of having more options despite being a bit more work to chamber, I will ask Criterion for the specs of their roughing reamer to make sure it will work before placing an order. Iím sure they also have an engineer I can confirm my requirements with. The baseline is that we end up with good tight chambers for the sake of safety and accuracy, and that would certainly take precedence to caliber options if it created a conflict.

I had the privilege of speaking about this project with a gentleman based in Colorado thatís been gunsmithing Garands and 03s for 40 years. He didnít seem concerned about the pressures when I mentioned 260 Remington and 6.5 Creed. Heís checking his notes for me to get a starting gas port diameter, so when we talk again Iíll see what he says about chamber pressures. He did mention that heís rebarreled those actions to .25-06 and 280 Rem, which I believe are equal or higher than the Creed.

I do think that your point about the early 1903s is a very important one. I was planning to steer clear of 1903s altogether, mostly because Iím highly partial to peep sights. But I guess thereís no way to stop someone from unwittingly installing a barrel on a single heat treat receiver. I think only offering barrels in 6.5x55 for the 03 would probably be a prudent approach. The contour would be wrong for the 1903, but I donít think theyíd be different enough to prevent installation.

What do you guys think about the 03A4 idea? What kinds of scope mounts and scopes would be most interesting? Does anyone make a good Ajack scope reproduction?

I really appreciate the input.

Steve
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  #10  
Old 10-06-2018, 11:14 AM
Peconga Peconga is offline
 
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To make it clear, I have never tried re-chamberiing a 6.5 Creedmoor to 6.5 Swede myself; my analysis of case dimensions is based strictly on drawings and straight-line math. However, if you've got a machinist who has been turning chips for years and doing the conversion successfully, then clearly it must be possible.
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