The 7.65x53 and 7.65x53R
(7.65 Argentine, 7.65 Belgian)

By Chuck Hawks

7.65mm Mauser

The 7.65x53 Mauser is fairly well known both in Europe and the New World. This old timer was designed by the famous Mauser Company for their bolt action rifle of 1889. Both the rifle and the cartridge were adopted by the Belgian military, and the 7.65x53 is also known as the 7.65 Belgian Mauser. Shortly thereafter the 7.65x53 was adopted by Turkey, and by several South American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru in Mauser Model 1890 and 1891 rifles.

The 7.65x53 is a rimless bottleneck cartridge whose looks belies its age. It has a rim diameter of .474" and a case length of 53mm (2.09"), without excessive taper. The shoulder angle is a modern looking 23.5 degrees. 7.65mm translates to .303 caliber in English usage, and the 7.65x53 uses the same .311" diameter bullets as the .303 British.

Commercial 7.65x53 ammunition and rifles were produced in Europe, of course, and for a time Remington and Winchester followed suit in North America. The Remington Model 30 and Winchester Model 54 bolt action rifles were chambered for the 7.65x53, and hunting cartridges were supplied for them. During the 1930's the cartridge was dropped by the US companies, but continued to be available in Europe and South America.

During the 1950's and 1960's large numbers of South American military rifles in 7.65x53 were declared surplus, and many of these found their way to the US. The "7.65mm Argentine" cartridge, so called because many of these surplus rifles came from Argentina, had something of a revival among American hunters looking for inexpensive hunting rifles. Norma of Sweden offers commercial ammunition so marked for sale in the US.

Ballistically the 7.65x53 is similar to the .303 British or the later .308 Winchester (7.62 NATO) cartridges. Handloaders should approach maximum loads with caution, however, as the old Mauser rifles in which the 7.65x53 is usually found are not as strong as the later Model 1898 Mauser or modern rifles.

Factory loaded ammunition for the 7.65x53 (7.65mm Argentine) from Norma is available in the US with a 180 grain soft point bullet loaded to a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2592 fps and a muzzle energy (ME) of 2686 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the figures are 2189 fps and 1916 ft. lbs. Norma trajectory figures look like this: +2.3" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -9.6" at 300 yards. With this load the 7.65x53 is a 250+ yard big game cartridge.

Handloaders do not have a great selection of .311" bullets, but it is adequate for most purposes. According to the Hornady Handbook, Third Edition handloaders with Argentine Mausers in excellent condition or good commercial rifles can drive the 150 grain spire point bullet to a MV of 2400 fps with 36.1 grains of IMR 3031 powder, and 2700 fps with 41.1 grains of IMR 3031. The 174 grain Round Nose bullet can be driven to a MV of 2300 fps by 36.3 grains of IMR 3031 powder, and 2600 fps by 41.7 grains of IMR 3031.

There is also a rimmed cartridge called the 7.65x53R, designed for use in single shot rifles, combination guns (two barreled rifle/shotgun firearms) and drillings (three barreled guns, usually with two shotgun barrels over a single rifle barrel). It has remained fairly popular for the purpose and a variety of factory loads for the 7.65x53R are available from Sako and probably other European loading companies.

Because of the relative weakness of the early Mauser Model 1889, 1890, and 1891 bolt actions, the break-action combination guns are at least as strong and can handle pressures at lease a high as those recommended for the rimless 7.65x53.

Factory loaded ammunition for the 7.65x53R from Sako gives the shooter a choice of 93, 123, 156, 180, and 200 grain bullets. The 156 and 180 grain loads would seem the best bets for most big game hunting, so I will concentrate on those.

The Sako 156 grain Super Hammerhead, a hollow point bonded core design, is loaded to a MV of 2790 fps and a ME of 2689 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the figures are 2353 fps and 1914 ft. lbs. The Sako trajectory figures for this load look like this: +2" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -8.2" at 300 yards. This would seem to be a good deer, antelope, and general medium size big game load.

The Sako 180 grain Super Hammerhead bullet is loaded to a MV of 2610 fps and a ME of 2725 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the figures are 2204 fps and 1946 ft. lbs. The Sako trajectory figures for this load look like this: +2.3" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -9.5" at 300 yards. This load would be a good choice for large game.

With the right bullet and the right load in a strong rifle, the 7.65x53 and 7.65x53R can do anything the .303 British or .308 Winchester can do, which means hunt animals ranging in size from African Impala to Montana moose. 

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Copyright 2002 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.