Sellier & Bellot 6.5X55 eXergy Blue non-lead
- By Pete Moore
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- Last updated: 17/09/2023
The 6.5x55mm SE (Swedish) is possibly my favourite general-use hunting cartridge. I’ve used it to shoot species as small as Muntjac and as big as Moose. In its standard 140 and 155-grain loadings (lead-cored bullets), the velocity and energy seem modest, but it does the business! Given it’s now 130 years old, you’d think it would have become extinct, yet it soldiers on.
As I trust you are all aware, there is a lead-cored ammunition ban coming. It’s not here yet, but its ramifications are already causing many hunters to turn to, or be forced to, use non-lead ammo, which is another subject. Issues arise with lethality, accuracy, and effective ranges.
Most major manufacturers now offer their relevant calibres in non-lead. Normally a monolithic, all-copper, hollow point or ballistic tip. To this group, we must now add Sellier & Bellot of the Czech Republic. They have been making munitions for a long time and are considered by some to be a bit set in their ways. But with their eXergy Blue line with its distinctive, blue polymer tip, they have come bang up to date.
Clever really, just sit back and see what works (avoiding a lot of R&D), then launch an already proven concept. Calibres cover a lot of European numbers as well as the UK favourites; .308 Win, .30-06, .270 Win, and .300 Win Mag. I’m looking at their 6.5x55 SE loading, with its 120-grain bullet, which seems a bit light for the calibre. However, you must consider that a monolithic, copper round, needs to be fast to guarantee effective expansion.
Typically, the bullet is a boat tail design with three cannelures on the bearing surfaces, done in the main to reduce friction/pressure, as the material is much harder than a lead-cored build and longer too, as it’s lighter.
S&B quotes 863mps | 2905 joules of energy, which translates into 2829fps | 2142 ft/lbs. They do not give a ballistic coefficient, but as a guide, it’s not dissimilar to Barnes’ 120-grain TSX BT bullet with a BC of 0.443, so I’d say around 0.400. I tested it through my Mauser M03, which has a new 22” barrel.
Velocity/energy-wise, things were a bit different; High - 2714 fps, Low - 2698, Avg - 2707, with a sweet SD of 8.5. Muzzle energy hit 1952 ft/lbs, so as can be seen, the S&B was slower than quoted. A longer barrel could prove more fruitful.
Accuracy showed a shade under 1” at 100m, so more than acceptable. Energy/speed-wise, it dropped to 2533 fps | 1700 ft/lbs at 85 yards and 2375 | 1500 at 165. With any non-lead, I always reduce the effective range, and in this case, I would not push much past 200 at 2308 |1419, if that.
Overall, a well-behaved non-lead loading in a great calibre. Just know where to aim and keep the distances sensible.