I finally have my 6.5 SAUM long range hunting rifle sorted out! Load development is finished and I will soon be heading out with it to gather hard dope. My goal is to have everything nice and dialed in come this fall hunting season.
The rifle was built using a Mirage ULR short action chassis with “open top” fore stock. The reason why the Mirage chassis was selected was because it is designed to cater to the Remington Short Action Ultra Magnum and Winchester Short Magnum cartridges. This is done by placing the magazine well farther back than most chassis. By doing this you maximize the length of the cartridge you can feed from a short action. The down side is the chassis is not a “drop in” like many others. Two simple modifications are required. This first is easy. You have to trim back the bolt stop. This can be done with a bench grinder. What you are doing is allowing the bolt to move farther back in the receiver. The second modification needs to be done to the receiver. The threaded area toward the rear of the receiver opening needs to be trimmed back. You can do this with a Dremel if you are comfortable with that, or drill press/mill. The latter is the better option if you have that resource available to you. With those modifications done, you have a rifle that is great for feeding the long, fat, squatty SAUM and WSM cartridges! The Accurate Mag .300 WSM magazines will hold 3 6.5 SAUM rounds, and the 10 round magazine will hold 7 rounds. I need to get more magazines for this gun.
The scope on my 6.5 SAUM is a US Optics LR-17H102. The H102 is a reticle made by Horus Vision, LLC. The H102 has many features that will be perfect for my long range hunting rifle. You can read my review on the Horus H-102 by clicking here. The magnification range of the LR-17 is 3.2-17x. The scope has a 44mm objective and is first focal plane. The magnification on the top end (17x) is great for identifying animals and objects at long range, on the low end 3.2x is low enough you can utilize the wide field of view and make those close in shots. Some of the features of the H-102 reticle also aid in close in encounters.
The performance of the 6.5mm SAUM cartridge is impressive! I am running a 24” barrel and am shooting a 140 grain Berger Hunting VLD at 3,150 feet per second. The velocity of the cartridge and high ballistic coefficient of the Berger bullet makes for a very flat shooting round. The round also bucks the wind very well. I have been asked many times, how many rounds I think the barrel will last. I honestly have no idea, if this barrel goes 2,000 rounds I will be very impressed. I have heard of others getting a lot more than that out of theirs. Because this is a long range hunting rifle I went with a Remington Varmint contour barrel. I feel that contour is a little light for this cartridge because of how quickly the barrel heats. I can get 6-8 good rounds back to back, before the heat causes the accuracy to degrade. I am honestly not very concerned. That is plenty of accurate rounds for the purpose I built the rifle. Neither Bill nor I have burned up a barrel yet. He is running the same contour I am, but he is using a 1-8” twist Rock Creek barrel. He has more rounds through his than I do. When we toast a barrel I will be sure to update everyone.
I have not been able to track down any 7mm SAUM brass. I do however have a Redding S-Type reloading die, so with the proper bushings I should be able to make “no neck turn” brass (when I get 7mm SAUM brass). Until then what has been working for me is making the brass from .300 SAUM brass and neck turning it. Neck turning the brass is very labor, and time intensive. I have another method to try which utilizes a reamer I bought. With the brass stepped down, I should then be able to ream the inside of the necks using either the lathe or mill. I think buying brass from Copper Creek is a good way to go if you can afford it. From this point on I will be buying the brass. I wanted to make sure I could make it if I needed to. I will still experiment with the other methods of making brass when the opportunity presents itself. For now I will continue to reload the brass I made and see how many reloads I get out of it.
This is what my load ended up being, please remember this load was made for my rifle and you should always exercise caution when reloading. Start low and work your way up, always reduce charges by at least 20% and work your way up.
140 grain Berger Hunting VLD
61.3 grains H1000
Tulammo LR primer
COAL 2.825”/Ogive 2.055”
3,150 fps from a 24” barrel
I built my rifle using a Remington 700 short action. The Accurate Mag .300 WSM magazine and Mirage ULR chassis makes it very easy to feed the big rounds. The US Optics rifle scope and Mirage chassis set up is my “switch barrel” rifle. I also have a 16.5” 6.5mm Creedmoor barrel for it. By switching magazines, bolt and barrel I am able to utilize different barrel and cartridges for different jobs.
The combination of the US Optics LR-17, Horus Vision, LLC. H102 reticle and 6.5mm SAUM cartridge make a very impressive long range hunting rifle. The narrow profile of the rifle, aided by the 44mm objective of the US Optics LR-17 and “set in” design of the Mirage ULR chassis make the rifle easy to get in, and out of a scabbard. Now that I have my brass figured out and my load development finished, I look forward to gathering hard information. I hope next winter I will have a freezer full of meat and a lot of great pictures and memories to share!