6.5 AI Build Advice

Johnny Mac

New Member
Jul 6, 2015
Greetings all,

I'm a long-time lurker here and I've gotten tons of great info so I decided to join up.

I'm starting a 6.5 Swede build and I'm looking for some advice. I picked up a Stevens 200 in 30-06 for a good price as a platform. Goal is to a carryable hunting rifle balanced with maximum range capability. Economy is also a factor, and is one of the reasons for going AI over standard Swede for prolonged case life. I have 400 rounds of loaded Prvi Partizan to start with.

First decision is chamber. I can get an AI chambered barrel from 4D Reamer Rentals for $310, only cheaper barrel I've seen is EABCO in a kit with barrel wrench for $259 but only in standard Swede, so not much difference. I see a lot of posts about $40-$80 factory take-off barrels but don't know where to find deals like that. Savage barrels have a good reputation so if I could find a factory 6.5x55 for cheap I'd go that route, and if I ultimately decided I had to have the AI it could be reamed.

Next choice is length and contour. If I go with 4D there are dozens of contours to choose from. I'd like to stay fairly light and I don't know too much about the dizzying array of available contours so I'm leaning towards a Savage factory magnum taper at .685 listed at 3.5 lbs for a 26" barrel. Seems to be a straight taper so it could possibly be fluted later to shave a little more weight. 4D offers barrels in 2" increments so I'm thinking 24 to start. It seems like 23 is enough to get good performance and I'll ask if I can get it at 23 to start but if not I can go 24 and have it cut if I get it fluted down the road. I'd love the handiness of a 20 or 22 but it seems like I might be compromising longer range performance going that short.

Lastly is reloading. I got a Lee Anniversary Kit several years ago and loaded on a little bit but I did very little rifle loading and its been several years. Will this kit work with available dies(for AI particularly)? I will DEFINITELY be reading up on reloading again before I start up again, but what dies should I go with? I'm planning on fire-forming the Prvi if I go AI, then probably only neck sizing since this is my only 6.5 and all ammo will be for one rifle only. What about seating dies? I'm not looking to load bench-rest quality ammo with the associated cost, but I don't want to be held back by poor components either. What will I need besides dies for case prep/maintenance?

Thanks in advance for any advise and suggestions.



Well-Known Member
Jul 24, 2009
I can only answer part of your post. I built a 6.5X55mm BJAI last year, but haven't gotten to do much shooting with it, still. I used a Manson reamer, which would not allow Prvi 140gr ammo to chamber for fire forming. A SAAMI 6.5X55 chamber will have lots of room, since it was intended to be able to use the 160gr round nose (I believe that was the original loading), but the AI/BJAI chamber is really intended for higher-BC bullets.

I used a barrel I had on hand for my project, but am happy with the weight. It is a medium Palma with fluting. Were I to do it, again, I wouldn't do fluting, but would order a lighter profile. I finished mine at 26.25" for as much velocity as I could get with the BJAI chambering. I don't see anything wrong with going with a factory Magnum contour. For a Savage barrel, I have used others, but would recommend McGowen as a good option. https://www.mcgowenbarrel.com/savage-pre-fit-barrels/

If you go forward with the BJAI, I'll be glad to send you Bob Jourdan's original loading data. Good luck.