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Name: 6.5x53R
Type: Bolt action rifle



Status: Awaiting valuation



More Information:

In the late 1800s, classic Mannlicher designs for the Austro-Hungarian armies were based on a straight-pull bolt mechanism based on obsolete large caliber cartridges. Around the turn of the Century the Steyr factory worked on new designs, using more effective modern cartridges, for export purposes.
The most successful of these trial rifles was the 6.5mm Greek Mannlicher-Schönauer M1903, designed on the specifications of the Greek Army. Interestingly, the bolt has a rotating action, more reminiscent of the competing Mauser design. At the break of the WWI, a significant number of 6.5mm Mannlicher-Schönauer rifles manufactured for Greece, were sequestered, due to urgent needs, were tested and adopted from the Austrian Army as well. After the dissolution of the Empire, large numbers were given for free to the intended recipient, the Greek Army, as war reparations. The rifle was the main small arm for the Greek military for some of the most active years of its modern history. Greece was almost continuously in state of war between the years 1912-1922 and 1940-1948. These rifles had extensive use against the Italians and Germans in the WWII and many passed to the resistance fighters and combatants of the Greek Civil War that followed.
A civilian version of the rifle, also introduced in 1903, proved very popular with deer and big game hunters worldwide. In the UK, along with the 7 x 57 Mauser, the 6.5 x 54 MS probably accounted for more red deer during the 20th century than all other rifle cartridges put together. British sportsmen generally preferred a single-trigger mechanism, rather than the double set triggers popular in Europe. The 6.5x54 cartridge fell into dis-favour with British deer-stalkers after the passage of the 1963 Deer Act because the bullet's muzzle velocity failed to reach the legally required minimum when fired from typically short, carbine-type MS barrels. The rifle continued to be manufactured in various forms (full, half-stock and take-down models) until 1972, and although production was interrupted during the Second World War, it eventually re-commenced in 1950. The most significant modification to be made to the rifle, during its period of manufacture, was introduced in 1925 when the action was lengthened to accommodate such cartridges as the .30-06 Springfield and .270 Winchester. Although no longer in production, the rifle remains popular due to its aesthetic qualities, compactness, the smoothness of its action and its precision and quality of manufacture. The rifle is also known for its low recoil when chambered for the original 6.5x54 cartridge.
Mannlicher-Schoenauer (Civilian version)
The early years of the 20th century saw what was fundamentally the same rifle being offered in various other, larger Mannlicher-Schoenauer calibres including the 8 x 56 MS, the 9 x 56 MS and the 9.5 x 57 MS, but none of these sold as well as the 1903 Model in 6.5mm.
Ernest Hemingway frequently used the rifle, and mentions it in some of his writings, most notably The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber. WDM Bell, a prominent elephant (ivory) hunter in Africa in the early 20th century, also used the rifle in its original 6.5x54 chambering with considerable success. The ability of the diminutive 6.5x54 cartridge to take the largest and most dangerous of the big game species, such as African Elephant and Cape Buffalo, was due in the main to the high sectional density of the 6.5 mm projectiles used in the rifle, although precise placing of the shot was imperative. Because the original factory loads for the 6.5x54 used projectiles that were long and heavy (160 grains) relative to their diameter, they proved capable (in solid form) of very deep penetration through muscle and bone. This, coupled with the relatively low recoil of the fired cartridge, facilitated accurate shot placement into vital organs such as the heart and particularly the brain.
The rifle action was designed by Ferdinand Mannlicher and the rotary magazine by Otto Schönauer of the Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft (Austrian Arms-Manufacturing Company; now Steyr Mannlicher). This rifle should not be confused with its more widely manufactured cousin, the Steyr-Mannlicher M1895, or the so-called Mannlicher-Carcano, made infamous in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald. However, the balistics and penetration of the 6.5x52 mm cartridge loaded with the 160 grain full military jacketed 6.5 mm bullet in the rifle used by Oswald, are essentially identical to that of the big game hunters using the same bullet with the 6.5x54 Mannlicher



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