6.5x50 R Bellm

The following data was developed by Blaine Eddy, Clearfield, UT about 10 years ago.  The cartridge was promoted so long as brass was available, but when it became quite hard to obtain, the cartridge and this data for it were filed away.  Huntington's, www.huntingtons.com is now importing high quality Hirtenberger brass and offers it at $39 per hundred, which while not in the $20 per hundred bracket for more common brass offers pretty spectacular performance in Contenders for under double the price.  The RWS brass formerly used was over $1 per empty unprimed case, so the Hirtenberger brass is much more attractive.

A S-14 TC factory barrel with equal land and groove rifling was rechambered and used to develop the data that follows.  Most of the loads are compressed charges, suggesting that faster powders should be better suited to this bore size in this case.  Blaine used a powder put out by Thunderbird Cartridge  Co. that went by the designation T-322, suggesting it is at least similar to H-322, and with 85 and 100 gr. bullets, it gave the highest velocities at 2966 fps for 85 gr. bullets and 2721 fps for 100 gr. bullets.  Since Thunderbird no longer lists this powder, at least not in the literature I have from them for the year 2000, I am not listing Blaine's data for it

Since charges with T-322 were all compressed, it suggests that slightly faster powders like Rel. 7 may do well with the lighter bullets.  T-322 was not the fastest with 120 gr. bullets where slower powders like 4895, WW760,  and H-380 passed it up.

100 to 120 gr. bullets should be optimum for deer and antelope size game.  I see no reason to use 140s from a handgun for hunting unless extreme penetration is required.

Here are some current questions and answers you may find helpful.

Q)  Would a 6.5 TCU barrel ream out well to your 6.5 on the rimmed case?

A)  It does, yes.  But custom is better from the standpoint that I can better control concentricity and chamber web area dimensions though.  Plus the narrow rifling of normal barrels will probably give higher velocities.  Most of the factory barrels are sorely in need of being re-crowned, and this adds to the cost of reworking a factory barrel.  So unless you are in a hurry or get the 6.5 TCU factory barrel really cheap, new custom is the better way to go.

Q)  Is the twist suitable for up to a 120-140 grain bullet?

A)  Standard 1-9" twist in factory barrels is fine.  However, 100 to 120 gr. bullets are optimum for game, and I do NOT recommend 140s on game at these velocities.  Stop at 120 gr. as the maximum weight, both for terminal effects on game and higher velocities for flatter trajectories at normal hunting distances, which I consider up to about 300 yards for this cartridge with 120s.  

Good 85 gr. bullets would probably be an excellent dual purpose weight for average size deer and varmint hunting.  Too many people, in my opinion, make a big mistake using bullets too heavy, too slow, and/or too heavily constructed to get decent expansion on game animals.   Energy goes up faster with velocity than it does weight, so with the overall constraints imposed by the Contender's limited strength, I feel it is much more prudent to get all the velocity from these guns that you can, commensurate with effective bullet performance on the animal of course.

Q)  Will this round pretty much duplicate the JDJ ballistics?

A)  It exceeds 6.5 JDJ ballistics by about 100 fps with 120 gr. bullets, even from the equal land and groove factory barrels.  The narrow rifling in custom barrels should shoot faster yet.

As will be seen when the data gets posted, even from rechambered factory barrels, you can get close to 3,000 fps with 85 gr. bullets from 14" barrels.

Q)  I've been intrigued with the 6.5 caliber for quite some time but it looks like you have yet another Bellm type cost effective way into this caliber without going the JDJ route.

A)  It works and works very well, it meaning the use of standard 6.5 TCU dies and a .357 Mag pistol size die to size and load for the 6.5x50 R Bellm.   People get hung up on names of cartridges without any regard or understanding of dimensions.  There are many areas where dimensions overlap.  Working with reamers day in and day out, I simply have a grasp of the size relationships and a basic perception of the obvious.  Anyone can do it.  All I am doing is making it known and available to the "fraternity."

6.5x50 R Bellm Load Data

Barrel:  Rechambered S-14 6.5 TCU factory barrel.  Data developed by Blaine Eddy, Clearfield, UT in the early 1990s.

Brass:  Fire formed RWS 5.6x50 R 

Primer:  Federal 205

All loads should be reduced at least 10% below the maximum  loads shown and worked up carefully, especially where only the max loads are listed.

Due to variations in individual barrels and procedures used by individual reloaders, neither Blaine Eddy nor I assume any liability for the results obtained from the use of this data.  Top loads shown are absolute maximum for the barrel in which they were tested, but were safe.  

85 gr. Sierra HP

Powder

Charge wt. in grains

Velocity in feet per second

IMR 4895

32

2626

 

33

2775

 

34

2800

 

34.5

2813

H 380

35

2511

 

36.5

2618

H 335

31

2700

 

32

2747

IMR 4064

31

2665

 

32

2762

T-322

no data being provided

2966

100 gr. Sierra HP

Powder

Charge wt. in grains

Velocity in feet per second

T-322

no data being provided

2721

IMR 4895

32

2581

 

33

2631

WW760

37

2508

H 380

36.5

2607

H 335

30

2495

 

31

2589

IMR 4064

29

2429

 

30

2461

120 gr. Sierra SP

Powder

Charge wt. in grains

Velocity in feet per second

IMR 4895

31

2469

 

32

2502

WW760

37

2528

H 380

35.5

2476

 

36.5

2524

H 335

30

2463

 

30.5

2485

As you can see, the 6.5x50R Bellm produces velocities hovering around 2500 fps which equates to a very useable 300 yard point blank range for deer and antelope hunting.  Take a look at the ballistics tables in your loading manuals or programs.  .30/06 rifles do not shoot much flatter than a 14" Contender barrel shooting 120 gr. bullets started at 2500 fps, some, yes, but not by a lot.

Plus, there is room for further exploration of other powders, some of which were not available at the time this data was developed.

Note:  Most of the barrels I have chambered for the various 5.6x50 R based wildcats fireformed with no problem, especially if the cases are first annealed.  Faster powders are better for firefoming, by the way.  With this particular barrel, it was necessary to anneal the RWS cases.  As this is written, I have not fireformed any of the Hirtenberger new brass, but I did fireform a few that were included in once fired range brass that Huntingtons offered in the early '90s.

For a flat shooting medium bore handgun, the 6.5x50 R Bellm offers the best performance with the least risk of stretching frames, all without the cost of custom dies.