What the Hell is 8.6 Creedmoor?

The Q Mini Fix in 300 Blackout above the Q Fix in 8.6 Creedmoor.

What the hell is 8.6 Creedmoor?

It’s the .338 Federal, right? No. Similar, but no. Let’s start with where it is similar: It shoots a .338 projectile, or 8.6mm if you like. Past that, not much.

Taking a quick little look from 30,000 feet…  

8.6 Creedmoor, if you’ve never heard of it, is a joint effort between Q (an innovative company making products from silencers, to the Honey Badger in 300 Blackout, as well as their completely reimagined bolt action rifle, The Fix) and Hornady (the massive ammunition manufacturer). Additionally, because of Q’s ties with Noveske (a high-end rifle manufacturer), they’ve barreled a Noveske pistol in 8.6 Creedmoor to test reliability and function in gas guns.

Q’s Lineup: From top to bottom The Fix in 8.6 Creedmoor, The Mini Fix in 300 Blackout, the Honey Badger in 300 Blackout.

Let’s look at how the cartridge is made. Rather than starting with something like a .308, the way the .338 Federal does, we start with a 6.5 Creedmoor. We then cut the case down and neck it up. Is that confusing? It took me a minute to wrap my head around it too. Here is why it is done though…

It comes down to science, math, and magic.

The case length of the .338 Federal is 2.015” where the 8.6 Creedmoor case is 1.685” in length.  Why does this matter? Well, if you want the ability to run heavy subsonic loads, 280 to 360+ grains, the longer 338 Federal case will put the ogive of the projectile back inside the case.  This is bad, your bullet will not perform.

On top of that, while starting with that “smaller” case capacity, it offers more consistent ignition. Especially with those heavy subsonic loads, in turn, giving you better performance shot to shot.

Due to the cartridge length, 8.6 Creedmoor will feed out of .308 Winchester magazines.  What does this mean? It will fit all of your magazines. Be they SR-25 patterned, AR10, Accuracy International, or even the magazine on your TIKKA rifle.  And, here is where it is pretty magical since the cartridge uses the same bolt face as a .308, it is just a matter of swapping barrels.

A Noveske AR10 pistol re-barreled with an 8.6 Creedmoor barrel by Q for testing.

And speaking of barrels, all of the .338 Federal data for SAMMI is collected from a 24” barrel with a 1/10 twist. Nope, hard pass. A 1/10 barrel can never stabilize heavy subsonic rounds. The twist rate is too slow, the same problem that plagues subsonic 308 / 7.62 NATO.  That slow of a twist rate will fire heavy bullets, but without the stabilization of a faster twist rate, they won’t be accurate at all.

The 8.6 Creedmoor is being designed around a fast barrel twist. Q is still kicking around prototypes anywhere from 1/3 twist to 1/5. The 1/3 does an amazing job of stabilizing big heavy bullets and providing the shooter with good accuracy. It also performs well with light supersonic loads depending on the bullet type. Poorly made bullets will twist apart in flight. So, Q is finding the sweet spot with respect to heavy and light .338 projectiles.

From left to right: .300 Blackout, expanded .300 Blackout over an expanded .338 projectile, 8.6 Creedmoor dummy rounds.

As to barrel length and the 24” 338 Federal… Again, no. The 8.6 Creedmoor is designed around a short barrel. About 12.5” to be exact. Why? Because it sucks dragging a 24” barreled firearm through the woods, a doorway, the trunk of a car, or pretty much any other space you can think of—let alone if you want to thread a silencer onto said barrel. So, the 8.6 Creedmoor is being optimized for a short barrel.

Does this mean you will have to pay a $200 tax to the NFA for a short barreled rifle? Yes, or you can purchase a pistol. SB Tactical makes some amazing pistol braces which can greatly increase one’s ability to use a pistol if needed. Q will be releasing their Fix Rifle as a 12.5” barreled 8.6 Creedmoor pistol, utilizing an SB Tactical folding pistol brace when the round becomes available.

12.5” barrel Noveske 8.6 Creedmoor pistol with Q silencer and SB Tactical pistol brace. Small and capable.

And speaking of availability, Hornady is leading the charge. In recent years they have done an amazing job bringing some great high-quality cartridges to market. As a result, you will probably end up with easy access and availability to the 8.6 Creedmoor cartridge.

A number of different test loads for the 8.6 Creedmoor.

We probably could have started this whole article with the question of “Why?” Why bother with 8.6 Creedmoor? That is a fair question. And the answer is because it provides an amazing melding of supersonic and subsonic performance for the .308 platform. If it helps, think of it as .300 Blackout’s big brother. We are taking a cartridge, cutting it down and putting a larger projectile into it, and optimizing it for a shorter barrel. That gives us better super and subsonic performance out to a moderate range than was previously available.

Now I guess you’re wondering if it does in fact perform. I’d say so, out of a 12.5” barrel the 8.6 Creedmoor with a 155GR bullet at 2500FPS brings 2,100 ft. lbs. of energy at the muzzle. With supersonic loads, it will outperform a 18” barreled .308 Winchester out to 300 yards.

Using 300+ grain expanding subsonic loads, the 8.6 Creedmoor generates 650+ ft. lbs. at the muzzle and is still maintaining 550 ft. lbs. out at 600 yards.  For reference, that is more energy than a 45ACP at the muzzle…

Bolt action or semi-automatic?  Yes. The 8.6 Creedmoor performs equally well out of a bolt action rifle as it does out of a gas gun.  I’ve shot the 8.6 Creedmoor out of a Fix Rifle as well as a Noveske AR10 Pistol. The 8.6 Creedmoor had no issues cycling the Noveske or locking back on an empty magazine while shooting supersonic and subsonic rounds.

Both the bolt action Fix by Q and DI gas gun by Noveske worked great for me.

Is the 8.6 Creedmoor quiet when running it through a silencer? Absolutely. Like with any supersonic round, you will have the associated crack while firing the round. But the real magic is in the subsonic loads. Out of a bolt action, it is about the same report as a .22 LR suppressed. That’s ridiculously quiet considering the projectile you’re sending down range. Subsonic rounds through the gas gun are quiet, but suffer the same as any other round. You have a fair bit of noise coming from the ejection port and the cycling of the gun. But it is still quite pleasant to shoot.

Again, circling back to the why. While some of my friends have dropped large game, including elk, with shots at over 1,100 yards, that’s not the norm. If you have the capability, good on you. Most hunters lack not only that skill to take an ethical shot at that range, but frankly the opportunity. Most game is taken anywhere from 50 to 250-300 yards. By way of example, the elk I shot last year was just over 100 yards away. Just about the maximum distance I could have shot. Why? Because up in the part of Idaho where I live the only shots you get are in clear cuts. In the trees, a deer or elk could be 20 yards away and you’d be hard pressed to see one, let alone get a shot.

Not to mention who wants to walk through the woods with a 24” barreled rifle?  How about a suppressed 24” barrel so you don’t end up with permanent hearing loss? Nope. The 8.6 Creedmoor will allow a shooter to carry around a much smaller and lighter weapon system. How about a 12.5” barreled Fix with a folding pistol brace? Climbing up to a tree stand, crossing a stream, hiking into the mountains? All the performance needed by most sportsman in a nice compact package.

The Q Mini Fix in 300 Blackout above the Q Fix in 8.6 Creedmoor.

Is this the perfect cartridge?  No. Is it the perfect cartridge for supersonic and subsonic performance out to medium ranges with a short barrel, the ability to run in bolt actions and semi-autos, feeding out of standard .308 magazines, with the option to run it with silencers for incredibly quiet supersonic performance?  Yes, it absolutely is.

Will the 8.6 Creedmoor be called 8.6 Creedmoor?  Possibly, but who knows. It may end up as the .338 Creedmoor, .338 Blackout, 8.6 Blackout… Time will tell.

Test rounds in Hornady made cases stamped 338 Creedmoor.

I guess the last question is, when can you buy one? Probably in 2019. Hornady and Q are working to finalize the cartridge as well as the optimized barrel (twist rate, length, etc.). Those should be wrapped up in 2019 so that the 8.6 Creedmoor can get put into production. Personally, I’m really looking forward to this cartridge.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your next rifle***

About the author: Ivan Loomis has spent a lot of time outdoors, backpacking and camping as well as extensive international travel. Eventually, he landed in the Marine Corps in the late 90’s. After a hiatus from the service to race the Baja 1000 a couple times, he reenlisted with the Air Force. Departing that he wound up in a large metropolitan Police Department for a spell before landing in the Security Contracting world.One constant through these experiences was gear and weapons. Having spent time in a lot of environments and with the opportunity to field a lot of equipment, he’s grown fond of well-made gear.He now shares those experiences, adventures, and knowledge through contributing articles and videos to various publications, including his own site: www.kitbadger.com

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • jack September 11, 2018, 7:08 am

    The only use I can see for this cartridge is for more penetration, like if the FBI/DEA/CIA/ICE/soldier had a perp trapped behind three walls in a home and couldn’t get in any closer for a kill shot this round might bust thru 3-4 plywood/sheet rock walls to get to them.

  • Kurt September 10, 2018, 10:21 pm

    Meh. Given that part of the justification is hunting, this is a fail. A number of states require a revolver, so that eliminates this, and when used in a rifle, it should be designed around a 16″ barrel given that $200, a 6-8 month wait, plus a fee to engrave the receiver for what is really probably only ever going to be a minor boutique round is a bit much to accept. I agree with the poster who suggested .375 as if the goal is delivering a high mass subsonic payload, that would do a much better job. Finally, in regards to the 300 meter comment vis-a-vis the .308, you are going to have some insane amount of drop…last I checked my resume, I never qualified on field artillery…

  • Al September 10, 2018, 9:42 pm

    The gas version in a piston operated, suppressed 12.5″ bbl with 155gr solid copper or steel core WOULD be a nice tactical package for SWAT/Tac Teams facing body armored suspects or suspects behind cover or shooting from 32 stories up at you. I see potential as an armor (plate/lvl 3a/4)defeating short barreled/compact weapon system.
    I believe this high tactical value is the main reason this exists.

  • ECCO Machine September 10, 2018, 5:39 pm

    8.6 is a stupid name, and .338 cal was a poor choice for more than one reason. .375 caliber would offer all the upsides without the detractors, bullets ranging from thin jacketed 200 gr. critters that will actually expand at the velocities of a shortened .308 case all the way up to 377 gr match bullets that beat any .338 cal in weight, SD & B.C.

  • Andrew September 10, 2018, 3:02 pm

    With the 375 Raptor and the 45 Raptor, not that i own or am advertising for them, why a new cartridge? They are both more powerful that this one and whose pieces and parts already exist.

  • Weeks Tim September 10, 2018, 1:30 pm

    Isn’t this the ballistic equivalent of JD Jones’ 338
    Whisper?

  • Bob Saad September 10, 2018, 1:15 pm

    I’m 88 yrs old , have hunted for 80 of them. I can’t believe I never needed an 8.6 creedemoor. You learn something new every day!

  • Jake September 10, 2018, 12:20 pm

    Why doesn’t somebody just put a suppressor on an 1895 Marlin 45-70/.450 magnum? That will give you all the weight you could ever want in a bullet. All this short barrel crap with “pistol braces” etc. is just stupid. It makes for a great article for handgun hunting but for a weapon where people might be shooting back at you I’ll pass.

    • Michael September 11, 2018, 2:15 am

      “Pistol brace” is what they have to call it to get around ATFE because if they called it a stock it then becomes a rifle and a whole new set of rules and regulations from the feds. It works like a rifle but weighs like a oversized pistol. A fully set up 8.6 is about half the weight and length of a Marlin 1895. Add the suppressor and it’s still less to lug around.

  • Andre Smith September 10, 2018, 11:49 am

    I’m a big supporter of the second amendment. However, this is just BS. This is just another way to try and sell more rifles and components. Now you have to run out and buy components for 8.6. 6.5 wasn’t enough. I guess you have to give consumers reason to buy. This is just silly.

    • Alan Robinson September 10, 2018, 4:14 pm

      Welcome to the Free Enterprise system. Took ya awhile to get here, eh?

    • Michael September 11, 2018, 2:17 am

      You have to buy a barrel. That’s all. Or buy a whole new gun if you don’t have an AR-10.

  • James September 10, 2018, 10:26 am

    What I didn’t get from the article is the intended purpose of the cartridge. Is this a Long Range Precision, Intermediate Combat, CQB or another do it all cartridge?

  • Dick fraser September 10, 2018, 9:59 am

    Hello, I enjoy reading your digest. With all the collectible ammo on your site I suggest you do an article on the International Ammunition Association and the joys of ammo research and collecting. Dick

  • DANIEL NELSON September 10, 2018, 9:40 am

    The 300 savage necked up to 338, the 8.6 creedmoor has less body taper. Does it fill a need?

  • CARY KIEFFER September 10, 2018, 8:27 am

    “Using 300+ grain expanding subsonic loads, the 8.6 Creedmoor generates 650+ ft. lbs. at the muzzle and is still maintaining 550 ft. lbs. out at 600 yards.  For reference, that is more energy than a 45ACP at the muzzle…”

    I just cut/paste this out of your article. This doesn’t make sense to me…am I missing something or is there a typo or 2 here? Its early…I’m still on first cup of coffee. 😉 but it seems like you’d need a mortar crew to hit with a subsonic 300 grain bullet at 600 yards…and it only looses 100 ft lbs of energy? Please help me understand this. Thanks.

    • Jes September 10, 2018, 10:13 am

      I did a calculation on StrelokPro with a HPBT MK, 300.0 gr., Sierra bullet (.338) at 1000fps. In a 1/3 inch twist barrel. The energy loss is very minimal at 300 yards yes but the vertical corrrection is 108 inches

      • Jes September 10, 2018, 10:15 am

        Whoops with a 600 yards shot the vertical correction is 573 inches

        • CARY KIEFFER September 10, 2018, 11:44 am

          Yep, I used a different calculator but was within about 2 inches of drop at 600 as well. You’re right it seems to fly pretty good out to 250-300. So it would out range my 458 Socoms which drop like rocks with 600 grain subs….new cartridges always interest me to learn something but I’m not sure this is what I was saving my 308 stripped receiver set and rail for. Good article though.

    • CARY KIEFFER September 10, 2018, 10:19 am

      Ok, well I finished that coffee and ran some numbers…I guess it could be in the ballpark if the BC is high enough but it would have to be higher than a .338 300 gr SMK @ .768. Do you have a number for the BC of this bullet yet?

  • charles September 10, 2018, 5:05 am

    Another useless cartridge to try to convince John Q. Public, to buy.

    • mtman2 September 10, 2018, 10:58 am

      Yep….
      II’ll stick to my good ol’ Swede;
      for all aound purposes…

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