If you go searching for information about the 6.5 Creedmoor, you will find a myriad of articles that all start out telling about the birth of the cartridges as a discussion between Dave Emary of Hornady and Dennis DeMille of Creedmoor sports. Dennis, who is also a world-renowned long range shooter, was asked what his ideal long range cartridge would be. He listed off 10 or 15 features that he imagined this perfect cartridge would have including low recoil, high ballistic coefficient, and a cartridge length to fit in a short action. He wanted factory ammunition to be available, affordable and good enough to compete in long range competitions.
I could go into further detail about this discussion, but there are enough articles out there that explain this so we will suffice it to say that from its birth, the 6.5 Creedmoor was designed for long range shooting. Dave Emary, Joe Thielen, and the team at Hornady did a wonderful job bringing Dennis DeMille’s dream to life. So good in fact that the 6.5 Creedmoor was chosen by Aaron Davidson to be the main cartridge used at Gunwerks’ Long Range University.
The 6.5 Creedmoor has a case length of 1.92 inches and a max cartridge length of 2.82 inches to allow it to fit into the short actions. It fits on the .308/30-06 bolt face so it’s an easy choice for someone who is wanting to rebarrel their .308, but is looking to try something new. The case has a steeper 30-degree shoulder to allow for maximum powder capacity while still leaving room for the longer profile of the high BC bullets. For the factory ammunition, Hornady now loads the 6.5 Creedmoor with the 120-grain A-MAX and GMX, the 129 grain Interbond and SST and the 140-grain A-MAX. The factory ammunition has the reloading recipe written right on the box making it very user friendly for those that want to duplicate the Hornady ammunition on their own, or try to improve on it.
How does the 6.5 Creedmoor compare to other similar loads though? The 6.5 Creedmoor was made specifically to compete with the .308 Winchester in the long range competition. The .308 is a very common caliber, so lets see how the Creedmoor holds up against the popular military round. It has also been called the, “.260 Remington done right,” so lets take a look at that cartridge too.
Since it has the best BC, and that is what we are interested in as long range shooters, lets look at the 140 grain A-MAX load for the 6.5 CM. On the box Hornady advertises a muzzle velocity of 2710 FPS. For those of us who were raised by the older generation that believed velocity is everything, that doesn’t seem like a very hot round. Today however, with laser rangefinders and sophisticated drop compensation available, the BC becomes much more important than pure velocity to get us out to those more distant targets. The 140 grain A-MAX boasts a G1 BC of .585.
Compared to the .308 Win 178 grain BTHP with a G1 BC of .53 and muzzle velocity of 2600 FPS (from the Hornady box) the 6.5 Creedmoor has 110 inches or 9 feet less drop at 1,000 yards. The 6.5 CM would also experience roughly 13 inches less wind drift at 1,000 yards in a 10 MPH crosswind. So not only does the new 6.5 shoot better than the .308, it also has less kick, making it much more enjoyable to shoot.
As far as the .260 Remington goes, the ballistics are almost identical. The advantage that the 6.5 Creedmoor has over the .260 is that its ammunition is much more available and affordable. Hornady has also done a great job making it easy for reloaders to get into the 6.5 Creedmoor with plentiful, affordable brass and easy access to reloading recipes.
So we know that the 6.5 CM is a viable round for long range target shooters, but the question still remains if it could be used as a hunting round. For big game you probably want a bullet like the A-MAX to have a muzzle velocity of at least 1500 FPS down range and over 900 ft-lbs of energy. The 6.5 Creedmoor stays above this threshold out to about 800 yards so it is definitely a viable option for tipping over a big buck out to 800. For predator hunters this would be a fun gun to kill wolves or coyotes even out to 1,000 yards.
Ruger now chambers a 6.5 Creedmoor in their Hawkeye standard model for more traditional hunters, but DPMS also chambers an AR in that round and Tubb chambers it for competition rifles. Weather you are looking to buy a new hunting rifle, or wanting to rebarrel a short action rifle for competition, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a great round to consider.
By Jim Allan