Special Operations Snipers Put 6.5mm Creedmoor Into Service

Snipers demonstrating their skills at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command International Sniper Competition at Fort Bragg. (Photo: Sgt. Derek Hamilton/Army)

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.

6.5mm Creedmoor and .260 Remington performed about equally but Creedmoor has more load options. (Photo: USSOCOM)

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.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. His ambition is to follow Thomas Paine, as a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Charlie Boudreaux July 6, 2018, 9:23 am

    Funny how the rest of the world is just now catching up to nineteenth century Sweden.

  • Troy Couch July 2, 2018, 12:43 pm

    Funny how all these comments ignore actual data and facts. So stuck in old ideas they can’t progress or become better. A reason why they are commenters and not doing.

  • Blue Dog July 1, 2018, 5:40 pm

    I realize that metrics are the future but it just feels un-American to go around proclaiming these millimeter cartridge designations. Referring to the .308 Winchester as the 7.62×51 (or quite incorrectly abbreviating simply as ‘seven six two’) almost feels like something they would do in Europe. They can keep their 9mm pop guns, their 6.5mm rifles and their world cup soccer in their European man-purses, this is America where we love .45s, .30 cal’s and Americans winning at every sport that matters (NOT soccer or like… I dunno, yoga?).

    Except for the 6.5×55 Swede. I still love you, 6.5×55 Swede.

  • williiam Horvath June 29, 2018, 11:55 am

    Towards the end of the Spanish-American War, Teddy Rosevelt wanted to adopt the 7mm Mauser, since he found that it had been very effective against his troops armed with the 30/40 Krag. The 7mm has a flat trajectory. There are rifle calibers that shoot flatter and even hit much harder, but at the time the 7mm Mauser was quite an advancement in the late 1800’s.

  • Wayne June 29, 2018, 10:38 am

    I’v found the “06” and the 300 Win/Mag to do the job well. For my Civilian use, 77 gr. of 4831 behind a 180 Gr. Nosler Partitioned projectile works well. I had a friend in a combat role in ‘Nam’ attest to this, way back in 65.

  • MYLES D June 29, 2018, 10:04 am


  • Kenneth Knauff June 29, 2018, 9:15 am

    I find it funny how history repeats itself and we humans refuse to learn from it. Prior to WWII the Japanese had a cartridge, the 6.5x50mm, they found it inferior and adopted the 7.7x58mm. In the Spanish American War we went against the 7mm Mauser and found our 30/40 Krag inferior, so we adopted the “06”. We also found the 38 Long Colt inferior so we adopted the 45 ACP, however in 1985 we went back to the 9mm. We are a nation that continues to fail to learn lessons from war, if we had any sense at all we would adopt a 7mm Rifle Cartridge and go back to the 45 ACP.

  • kerry purcell June 29, 2018, 8:50 am

    thats kinda like dropping the 45 auto for a 9mm, the 308 is still the better cartridge for all around use,,,,but that will be relearned in time,,,,,

    • I Love Liberty July 11, 2018, 1:16 am

      There is a place for an intermediate rifle round. Most American troops engage at 300 meters or less in range (unless they are in the deserts). 6.5 x 39 Grendel is a great intermediate cartridge and certainly beats the less effective 5.56 x 45 round in stopping power. 6.5 x 39 is pretty effective to beyond 400 meters using a 16 inch barrel. You can carry more 6.5 x 39 rounds than you can .308 Winchester ammo. From what I read ten 26 round 6.5 x 39 magazines (260 rounds) is about 13.6 pounds in weight.

      I would have went with a 6.5 x 39 Grendel AR-15 when I bought one but the .300 AAC Blackout is a more popular rifle cartridge that is cheaper in price.

  • Chick June 29, 2018, 5:12 am

    7mm08 or the 7.62×51

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