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6.5x50 Japanese


Introduced in the Type-30 Arisaka rifle in 1897, the 6.5×50mm Japanese is another of the rather anemic Military battle-rifle chamberings standardized in the late 1800s. Considering the phenomenal build-quality and strength of these rifles, the positively punk pressure-standard settled on makes less than zero sense.

The designers started off with a small-caliber bore, hamstrung that with a tiny case, and then set chamber pressure lower than 30 WCF (30-30) loads of that era. The 30-30 is used in lever-action rifles that are far stronger than most folks realize but those are, nonetheless, in a different class from the Type-30 rifle when it comes to how much pressure the design can safely tolerate.

As noted in the discussion on the 7.7×58mm Japanese, the only possible explanation I can come up for Japan to use such low pressure for the 6.5×50mm with is the two-fold reality that Japan realized its guns and ammunition might be used where temperatures could be very high and the possibility (I am only guessing here) the propellants Japan used had unusually high sensitivity to temperature.



As also noted in the discussion on the 7.7, the fact that the earliest references to scientific testing of sensitivity to temperature in nitrocellulose-based propellants was a Japanese study might be meaningful in this regard.

Whatever the reason, the 6.5×50 Japanese was underpowered by comparison to most other battle-rifle chamberings worldwide at that time and those that followed. Ballistically, it was never satisfactory and because of the pressure and capacity limitations, that problem could not be solved.

The handloader can use Lee tools and modern components to load 6.5 Japanese ammunition that is entirely capable for deer hunting. The joy comes from making one of these rifles shoot better than most folks would believe and that can be done!

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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