Select shooters in the military are going to switch from 7.62 NATO to 6.5mm Creedmoor for precision shooting. Special operations snipers will evaluate 6.5mm platforms to determine how much better the cartridge could perform in the field.
This decision follows a series of trials to examine more modern cartridges in the 6.5mm family. Shooters in almost every hunting and shooting sport are adopting 6mm and 6.5mm calibers to some degree.
Earlier testing by the USSOCOM showcased the advantages of the 6.5mm cartridges over 7.62. The bulk of these cartridges fire bullets that have better ballistic coefficients and higher sectional densities than 7.62 NATO. This means they shoot flatter and can penetrate more. The bullets are also less affected by wind.
Another advantage is mass. The 6.5mm cartridge weighs slightly less than 7.62 and has significantly less felt recoil. This gives shooters an advantage placing multiple shots on target.
The USSOCOM narrowed their selection down to 6.5mm Creedmoor and .260 Remington. They choose 6.5mm Creedmoor because it is more flexible in terms of projectile type and load variation.
While .260 Rem. is a popular hunting cartridge, 6.5 Creedmoor was an instant hit with the black rifle crowd. The fact that it’s big with the tactical shooting community may also have helped push it to the front.
USSOCOM tested both cartridges with modified FN SCAR Heavy and Knight’s Armament M110 rifles. That doesn’t mean those are the only 6.5mm options. Just about any 7.62 gun can be converted to 6.5 by swapping out the barrel.
See Also: 6.5mm – The Round of the Future
Right now the choice to issue 6.5mm rifles is limited to snipers. It may trickle into other roles but it is far from adoption across the field.
It’s even possible that the military will decide to revert to 7.62 NATO for these shooters. The cost and complexity of adding another cartridge may outweigh the advantages.
It’s also unlikely that 6.5mm Creedmoor will take over for all sniping missions. Snipers field a wide variety of cartridges, and many outperform 6.5mm Creedmoor. It’s just that 6.5mm Creedmoor outperforms 7.62 NATO.
Still, this vindicates a lot of shooters’ decisions to switch over to 6.5mm Creedmoor. It may have started out as a cartridge for competition and taking game, but it’s clearly got merit on the battlefield as well.