The Round of the Future: The 6.5 Creedmoor

Check out all of articles in the Fall edition of Long Range Shooting, GunsAmerica’s newest specialty publication.

The 6.5 Creedmoor isn’t a new round, it was introduced in 2007 by Hornady. But this will be remembered as the year it began its dominance in the marketplace. In reference to .308, I think the words of Winston Churchill say it best. “This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just perhaps the end of the beginning.”

First Impressions

I remember the first time I shot a rifle in 6.5, five years ago at Woody’s Hunting and Rifle Club, back in North Carolina. I was with my friend Damon Woodall, shooting my 18-inch LaRue in .308 preparing for a match. Damon had the first rifle I had ever seen in the new caliber, and let me try it on the same target that I had just engaged. I don’t remember exactly the distance or conditions, but I do remember: the Creedmor required a full 2 mils less in elevation and about ½ the wind hold. I had no desire to make a switch, especially given the price of factory ammo at the time. But it stuck with me, performance wise.

The 147-grain Hornady Match ammo in 6.5 Creedmoor produced roughly .75 and 1-inch groups at 100 yards.

Fast forward a few years, and here we are. In the time since, I spent a lot of hours using up my old stock, or training military guys, which is still a .308 affair. Being a retired Soldier doesn’t lend itself to a lot of frivolous purchases, and my wife is not what I would call keen on new firearms. At SHOT show last January, it seemed like every conceivable platform was chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, from hunting rifles to ARs. My interest peaked. My first rifle review of a 6.5 was the Tikka T3 TAC A1, which performed so well, I had to buy it. At the time, I intended to at some point borrow another in .308, for a proper 6.5 Creedmoor versus .308 Win. shootout. Over the months though, I have come to realize that would be a waste of time. 6.5 Creedmoor is the winner in almost every conceivable way.

Hornady’s Development of the 6.5

Hornady’s line of American Gunner in 6.5 Creedmoor is a 140-grain boattail hollowpoint that produced .5-inch groups at 100 yards.

Hornady really crushed this one out of the park in the development of the 6.5 Creedmoor. It was designed from the ground up to be an accurate rifle round first, not a marketing gimmick. It unquestionably helps that the engineering team involved were also competitive shooters. I will leave it to the 40-pound foreheads to explain why the sectional density and shape give it a better ballistic coefficient (BC). I am content to be told it is made of magic beans. The point is, if you plug it into a ballistic calculator or use it in the real world, two things become apparent. It will out fly .308 in trajectory, and stomp it into a mud hole against the wind. That alone, however, isn’t enough. A lot of wildcat cartridges will do the same. And if I think that, why not 6mm Creedmoor, 260 Remington or 6.5x 47 Lapua instead? There are a lot of things going for those calibers too. But the decision will be made on a number of factors, most of which point to 6.5 CM.

Ballistics— American Gunner 140-grain BTHP out of a 24-in. barrel

According to their ballistic data, the Hornady 140-grain BTHP American Gunner out of a 24-inch test barrel reports these velocities. Photo Courtesy: Hornady

Ballistics— Hornady Match 147-grain ELD out of a 24-in. barrel

According to their ballistic data, the Hornady 147-grain ELD Match ammo out of a 24-inch test barrel reports these velocities. Photo Courtesy: Hornady

Benefits of the 6.5

First is price and availability. I knew 308 was finished the day I logged onto the Hornady website, and 6.5 CM was cheaper. This is usually true now across the major manufacturers if we are talking about premium ammo. You can find Winchester White box or surplus ammo cheaper by a margin, but for any precision work, it is useless. Apples to apples, match grade or hunting, 6.5 costs less nowadays. And popularity is exploding. Not only are rifles chambered in 6.5 across the board, but every brand makes ammo. If you are making a decision today, 6.5 Creedmoor is cheaper to feed than .308, and almost as available.

Second, the 6.5 Creedmoor has shown to feed as reliably from semiauto magazines as the .308. AR-10-style rifles are still not common, but they are coming. The second someone produces a semiauto that consistently shoots 1 MOA or less, .308 is finished. It recoils less, the bullet flies better, and the ammo is lighter.

The only question left, how does Creedmor do with shortened barrels? The .308 isn’t optimal out of an 18-inch barrel either, but it does work. Barrel shortening doesn’t affect all calibers equally, but it’s time to find out. If 6.5 works out of an 18-inch or a 16-inch — it’s game over. As long as it retains enough velocity to match .308, why wouldn’t you?

Article Continues Below

Third, 6.5 Creedmoor is well suited for military applications. We still don’t know the terminal effect on human beings, and that is a big question. Only combat testing will give us the answer on that. The 6.5 caliber is not without precedent in military history. The 6.5×55 Swedish is almost ballistically identical to 6.5, and was used up to World War II. It is still used to hunt reindeer and moose in Scandinavia, which means it probably packs enough wallop for bipeds. Hornady just released a 147 grain ELD round, which matches the weight of M80 ball. M80 ball is one of the most prolific .308 machine gun rounds. That means the potential exists for a 240G in the new round, something that would have to be done to phase out .308 completely. All that remains is proof of concept in tracer and armor piercing rounds.

During testing, I used my Tikka T3 TAC A1 with a Nightforce ATACR 7-35x50mm. I shot it out to 500 meters, which it produced roughly 3.5-inch groups on a target. As we all know the shooter is the weak link in any accuracy test, but I was pleased with how consistent — all it all they’re pretty impressive. Later we’re going to test the 140-grain American Gunner loads in a rifle that has a little bit fast twist rate to see if that helps stabilize them better.

Parting Shots

 

The 6.5 Creedmoor represents one of the greatest leaps forward in ballistics I have seen in my lifetime. It is a night and day difference from the .308. The 7.62x51mm won’t go extinct tomorrow, that is certain. You can buy a new rifle today in 45-70, and that has been obsolete for most applications for 100 years. But 6.5 Creedmoor is the way forward. And if you haven’t gotten on the train, it should be on your list of things to do soon.

For more information about Hornday’s 6.5 Creedmoor, click here.

To purchase a rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor on GunsAmerica, click here.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • LG October 7, 2017, 9:00 pm

    Hello. Thank you for the article. I always enjoy hearing discussion on “new” or relatively new firearms and ammunition. I am a very determined supporter of the 6.5 mm caliber. Although I do not own a 6.5 Creedmoor, I do own and shoot a 6.5×57 Mauser with set trigger and Mannlicher stock and find it to be the most accurate rifle I own. Unfortunately the ammunition for it is rarissimo and expensive. I was just wondering why this caliber is being forgotten or ignored.

  • Jon October 1, 2017, 12:05 am

    Hey, I admit I am a bit thick in the brain, but I can’t seem to find again in this marketing spiel the part on this WunderRound where it will make coffee for me each morning!

    When someone hypes something to be so new and great, I recall those mental visions regarding what my great-grand-pappy used to tell and warn me about those snake oil salesmen.

    BTW, does this new round (in its new packaging) exist in reality where I can actually buy prepper quantities and amounts at decent prices where I don’t have to sell my truck and dog to obtain a decent supply as well as bountiful amounts of once-fired brass for those of us who consider the crapper might actually hit the fan?

    Just as others have pointed out, isn’t this old wine in new bottles, just like the crapola we get from the Washington Establishment (don’t forget the career Liberal, Communist-mongers who have infiltrated the bureaucratic jobs in all of the Federal branches of government).

    • Tj October 2, 2017, 12:02 am

      Thank you.

  • Rex September 29, 2017, 10:36 am

    Super video. A 6.5 is in my future.

  • Damon September 28, 2017, 10:03 pm

    Hey Brother! Miss seeing you! Old dogs find their way home at some point. Lol

  • DavidInCO September 28, 2017, 8:03 pm

    Clay, you mentioned trying the 140’s in a faster twist barrel. If I am not mistaken, being lighter (than the 147) and therefore shorter, it should require less twist to stabilize not more. Did I misunderstand you?

  • Brian September 28, 2017, 3:12 pm

    Funny how this round was being shot before it was so called invented, still prefer the 308 and 6.5×284……now you might have my interest for the 6mm Creed

  • Ricardo September 28, 2017, 2:27 pm

    I just looked up the ballistics of my 7mm-08. Identical. There is now extra work to be done on the brass and it quite easy to reload. Match ammo? How many long range shooters buy ammo? In my opinion, just another cartridge.

  • Jim McCoy September 28, 2017, 11:49 am

    I obtained a 6.5 froma close friend back in the 90’s. Originally i bought a mussier that had seen
    action (1940’s) turned around and bought a modern no wood and scoped it..

    I am not a shooting buff , I don’t compete etc. I just want to know is the 6.5 creedmoor basically
    the same as the mousser that I own. Can I expect the same performance??
    Thanks for any answer but keep it plain an simple i’m not off the deep end on firearms.

    j/M.

  • roger September 28, 2017, 10:54 am

    Flavor of the year,, 6.5×55mm Swedish Mauser, are a flat shooting round.

  • Wade Haas September 28, 2017, 9:36 am

    Great article as always Clay! 6.5 creedmoor is the way forward whether we like it or not. Just recently put together a rifle chambered in 6.5 creedmoor. Had to go with a howa 1500 and not a remington 700 cuz Big Green wasn’t makin any in that flavor. That’s ok cuz it shoots 1/4 moa at 100. Can’t wait to take it out further .

  • joefoam September 28, 2017, 8:44 am

    If you have money to burn get some. For the rest of us 308 will do.

  • mike September 28, 2017, 7:06 am

    7mm-08 is a great round and under appreciated in long range, that being said it cannot be compared to 6.5 in several ways. There is no “match” box ammo for it that i am aware of. And it is not fun for reloading seeing how it takes alot more work on the brass. i have shot almost all of these rounds at at least 600 if not more. the 6.5×47 lapua is great but once again, in this he was using box ammo. great write up.

    • Cap'n Tevo September 28, 2017, 8:40 pm

      B.S.!! 7-08 is very easy to manufacture. Even making it from .308 brass is one pass in the die. The 7-08 rivals the Needmoor and has more energy as well. Nothing but hype. Less powder capacity, less speed!

  • Chick September 28, 2017, 4:35 am

    7mm08 Remington.

  • Mark N. September 21, 2017, 1:03 am

    How about a comparison to another 6 mm round, the classic .243 Winchester? Although I have read that it is iffy out of a semiauto (due to length issues for the heavier rounds), it is ballistically quite similar with a 105 gr. bullet.

    • FRANK September 28, 2017, 9:58 am

      there is a long test done some years ago on 6/5 creed, 260 rem and 6.5x 47 lapaua result no big deal

  • Gary Huffman September 19, 2017, 8:20 pm

    What about the 6.5/284????

    • clay martin September 20, 2017, 1:39 pm

      valid point, it looks like a winner too. but sounds like it might be a barrel burner, only time will tell

      • Brian September 28, 2017, 3:15 pm

        all the 6.5’s are barrel burners….6.5×284 simply puts 6.5Creed to shame in power and accuracy, but it eats barrels for target shooters and wont matter for the hunter.

        • Kirby September 29, 2017, 5:32 pm

          From what I read there is very little ballistically difference between any of these three. 6.5 284 is much hotter faster and the go-to I believe for gentlemen that use 6.5 competitively. A friend of mine used 6.5 284 and I as a novice had a pleasure of shooting it a few times. As far as accuracy goes me again being a novice could hit 6 inch steel plate at 400 yards at will and I’m sure I could have done that even further out.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend