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Caliber Showcase: 6.5mm Creedmoor

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We will be showcasing different calibers for educational purposes.

 

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Size comparison of short-action cartridges,

left to right: (AR-10 length) .308 Winchester, 6.5mm Creedmoor, .243 Winchester, (AR-15 length) 6.5mm Grendel, .223 Remington

 

The 6.5mm Creedmoor is a centerfire rifle cartridge introduced by Hornady in 2007 as a modification of the .30 TC, which was based on the 300 Savage. It was designed specifically for rifle target shooting, although it is also achieving success in hunting. Bullet for bullet it achieves a slower muzzle velocity than longer cartridges such as the 6.5-284 Norma or magnums such as the 6.5mm Remington Magnum. However, due to its 2.825 inch overall length, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is capable of being chambered in short-action bolt rifles and AR-10 rifles.

 

6.5 mm (.264") bullets, in general, are known for their relatively high sectional density and ballistic coefficients, and have seen success in rifle competition. For some loads the 6.5mm Creedmoor is capable of duplicating the muzzle velocity or trajectory of the .300 Winchester Magnum while generating significantly lower recoil, based on lighter projectile weight. As this cartridge is designed for a bolt face diameter of .473 inches (roughly 12 mm), conversion of a short action rifle to another caliber (such as the .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester or .300 Savage) with similar bolt face diameter generally requires little more than a simple barrel change.

 

This is a medium power cartridge is often comparable to the .260 Remington and 6.5×47mm Lapua but is not as accurate as the Lapua case. Three hundred yard energy using 129 grain Hornady SST bullets is listed by an independent reviewer as 1641 ft. lbs. For the 140 grain bullet at 2700 feet per second initial velocity another reviewer reports an MPBR for a six inch high target of 265 yards and reports a manufacturer claim of "almost 1600 ft. lbs." of retained energy at 300 yards using a 24-inch barrel. SAAMI test data confirms 6.5 mm Creedmoor (fifteen foot from muzzle) velocity of 2,940 fps for the 129 grain bullet and 2,690 for the 140 grain bullet (which compares to .300 Winchester magnum data of 2,930 fps for a 200 grain bullet and 2,665 fps for a 210 grain bullet). Long-range shooter Ray "RayDog" Sanchez summarised the bolt-action Tubb 2000 rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor as "boringly accurate" at 1000 yards (914.4 metres). He asserted the rifle and ammunition combination he used was able to maintain sub-MOA groups at 1000 yards (914.4 metres). The 6.5 Creedmoors accuracy compared to the 6.5x47 Lapua, a cartridge that has nearly identical ballistic performance, falls just a little short for hand loaders. According to Rifleshooter.com’s editor, "In my personal experience, the 6.5×47 Lapua seems to be slightly more accurate than the 6.5 Creedmoor."

 

6.5 Creedmoor Movement: The Greatest Thing since Sliced Bread

History, Performance and Gear Roundup Review: Competitive and target shooters, plinkers and hunters have turned this 6.5mm cartridge into a very popular round; brands of factory-produced rifles, custom builders and gun accessory makers are scrambling to meet consumer demand

 

Since the introduction from Hornady in 2008, the 6.5 Creedmoor has been a popular competitive shooting cartridge, and is rapidly gaining a high amount of respect in the hunting world. But why?

 

According to Hornady, the 6.5 CM was the first-ever production cartridge developed – by Dave Emary and Dennis DeMille in 2007 – from the ground up, intended to give competitive shooters a factory-loaded cartridge to compete at the highest level. Hornady also states the design was loosely based on the .308 Winchester. Other information sources say the 6.5 CM was based off the 30 TC cartridge.

 

Whichever is true, however it was coined, doesn’t really matter; the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge is one impressive round. And with much success earned in shooting competitions, it was only a matter of time for hunters to discover its many benefits.

 

I picked the brain of firearm-industry icon Michael Bane for his thoughts about how the 6.5 CM climbed in popularity.

 

“The high-ballistic coefficients of a lot of 6.5mm bullets make them excellent for long-range cartridges,” said Bane, host of Shooting Gallery on Outdoor Channel.

 

Which would explain one reason why the 6.5 CM has been so popular with competitive shooters. However, “popular” can be a relative term. To get one prospective of exactly how popular the cartridge is with custom-built rifles, I quizzed Mark Gordon, owner of Short Action Customs based out of Wellington, Ohio.

 

“The 6.5 Creedmoor is the most popular 6.5mm (cartridge) that we chamber up,” Gordon said. “In fact, it is the most popular caliber we chamber, period!

 

“Since 2013, for every three chamberings we do in .308 Winchester, we do four in 6.5 Creedmoor.”

 

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From top to bottom, .308 Winchester, .243 Winchester and the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges in a side-by-side comparison.

 

But there must be other reasons; there are other 6.5mm cartridges out there sharing the same bullets. For the seasoned white-tailed deer hunter with several tally marks scratched out on their trusted .308 or .243 wood stock, more valid reasons to give it a try are likely required.

 

“The thing with the 6.5 Creedmoor is performance vs. pain. I shot my first 6.5 Creedmoor shortly after a .308 Winchester 168-grain match in a long-distance class,” Bane said. “The (6.5) Creedmoor was like shooting a .22 (LR), and it made distances beyond 500 yards seem easy.”

 

Mark Gordon agrees with Bane’s assessment, and noted a few other advantages.

 

“Shooters enjoy the lighter recoil (of the 6.5 CM) when compared to the .308 Winchester,” Gordon said. “The 6.5mm bullets are extremely accurate and have more energy at 300, 500, 800 and 1000 yards (down range).

 

“Some great factory ammo is widely available and many custom-ammo companies offer great 6.5 Creedmoor ammo as well. For reloaders, it’s an easy to load to work.”

 

Hmm. Heads up for you hunters; now we’re getting somewhere.

 

“Given the success, especially in Europe, of 6.5mm chamberings, there were already lots of hunting bullets around in the 120- to 140-grain range, so it was just a matter of time,” said Bane, also a co-host of The Best Defense on Outdoor Channel.

 

Enough with the history lesson. What can this cartridge really do – performance wise – in the hunting world?

 

I often don’t like to give recommendations to hunters looking to hunt the biggest game with the smallest cartridge possible. You never really know how good of a shooter you’re dealing with. Whether shooting a bow at a white-tailed buck, a .22 LR at a fox squirrel, 7-shot at clays, or a .338 Lapua Mag at an empty beer can 1,000 yards away, shot placement is everything. Unless, of course, we’re talking about hand grenades and Rambo-style exploding broadheads.

 

For what I call medium-size game, such as whitetail, antelope, mule deer, wild hogs, go get’em with the 6.5 CM; it will do the job and do it with great efficiency.

 

And for you song-dog coyote callers that like the challenge of long-range open-country hunting, give this cartridge a serious look.

 

For bigger game, such as elk and moose, you be the judge. I will say the cartridge is perfectly capable; it is needle-threading accurate over long distances. Hornady does state on their website: “It’s perfect for any North American game up to and including elk.”

 

Since its debut, approaching 10 years ago, the 6.5 Creedmoor has become a very popular hunting cartridge – due to flat-shooting ballistics and lower recoil – on the market.

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