Today, I had the rare privilege of firing an antique firearm designed and built in the dark days of WWII. Unfortunately the magazine did not make it to the range and we had to single-load ammunition. This was, to say the least, a jarring experience as the bolt of the semi-auto rifle had lots of speed as it hit the cartridge. There was a danger of a slam-fire but, instead, we had the pleasure of a closed bolt. The rifle felt good to hold, not plastic and sheet metal but wooden furniture and lots of machined steel. The recoil was very mild, thanks to the great mass of the rifle and a muzzle-brake. The bullet arrived very near the point of aim. The fired case was ejected violently, near 1 o’clock.
The load was a 156 grain FMJ RN bullet on top of a compressed load of H1000 powder. Really, a smaller charge of faster-burning powder would likely have ejected the case more gently, I will work on such a load and try again when the magazine is available.
The AG42 was never really a state of the art rifle but it is a beauty and reflects great Swedish craftsmanship. The 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser is a fine cartridge for hunting or target-shooting having modest recoil and good ballistics. Unfortunately, this rifle hammers soft-nosed hunting bullets so is not ideal and semi-auto is scarcely needed for hunting.
In a bolt-action rifle, this cartridge can fire pointed bullets from 120 to 140 grains and 160 RN bullets for hunting or target-shooting and the ballistics are only a little behind the popular .308 Winchester cartridge. This is because the higher ballistic coefficient and higher rate of twist delivers more of the energy of the cartridge to the target. As such, it is acceptable for deer up to 350 yards. Unfortunately, this round is not popular in Canada so brass and bullets are more expensive…
I would recommend this cartridge in a bolt-action for youngsters wanting their first deer rifle or for women or lighter men wanting a rifle with less recoil. It is far superior to 6mm/.243 for deer and a much more compact round than .25-’06. .257 Roberts or 7×57 would be good choices for similar reasons. The military surplus M96 rifle is scarce these days and few bolt-actions are made in this calibre for North America these days so it was a rare privilege to fire this rifle. Only a few tens of thousands of AG42 were made but they still shoot smoothly as ever.