From 6.5 to 6mm – What the PRS Pros Use by PRB

One of perhaps the most fascinating things to watch in the industry is the movement towards and away from various calibers. In recent memory, the 6.Xmm craze for the AR-15 comes to mind with the battle originally being between 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel. While the 6.8 initially took the lead, it has largely fizzled with the 6.5 Grendel gaining steam – perhaps augmented by the rise in its bigger brother – the 6.5 Creedmoor.

While interesting, the bleeding edge of calibers belongs to the Precision Rifle Series of matches, which have pushed the bolt action system forward in the civilian market at a breakneck pace. Similarly, the precision crowd has embraced the 6.Xmm craze with the 6.5 Creedmoor being a previous favorite. However, the trend now seems to be away from the 6.5 (at least for the top professionals – 6.5 Creedmoor is gaining quickly in the overall civilian market).

While the production division has the 6.5 Creedmoor and .243 Winchester taking top spots, the Open class (perhaps the most competitive division) shows a trend away from 6.5mm to the smaller 6mm loads. The 6×47 Lapua, 6XC, and 6mm Creedmoor taking top spots and the majority of shooters between the three.

For the full run-down on the season, a look at ammunition, calibers, and the various winning options, check out the Precision Rifle Blog here. 



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Henry Reed

    And why the change of heart?

    • Tassiebush

      I recall from the article and others on that blog that 6.5still has a very strong showing but it looks like the motivation for 6mm is the same that lead to 6.5. It’s about reducing recoil while maintaining flat trajectory through low drag projectiles. Basically competitors using high magnification variable scopes can see where their rounds are going and make adjustments. I’m just saying that from reading about it though so someone else might know a lot more about the context.

      • Mike N.

        Yup you don’t need energy on target, it’s all about being easier to shoot/spot through the scope.

        • Ebby123

          Unfortunately this trend is what makes many advances in competition completely useless in a practical application.

          For better or worse, that’s the way it is.

        • iksnilol

          That’s simply false, any short action 6mm or 6.5 mm cartridge will be supersonic at distances where the 308 or 30-06 go transsonic.

          • Mike N.

            I’m not talking about MV, I’m talking about KE.

          • iksnilol

            Well, a 308 that goes transsonic is going to be doing helluva less killing than a supersonic 6.5.

          • Mike N.

            Not talking about .308, in fact as you note .308 has inferior ballistics. Lots of people say things like “a .260/6.5 Creed/6.5×47 have the same trajectory to 1k as a .300 Win.” Which is true, more or less, just with less energy on target. That’s what I’m talking about.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, what’s your point? Any of those cartridges you mentioned are going to do just fine killing somebody at long distance.

          • Mike N.

            My point is that this article is about competitive use (that is, shooting steel), where you don’t need bone crushing energy, but instead want something with good ballistics while remaining fairly easy to shoot.

          • iksnilol

            But good ballistics do lead to “bone crushing energy” as you call it.

  • Tassiebush

    I’ve been reading this article myself recently. It really looks like those 6.5×47 and 6×47 lapua cartridges deserve some mainstreaming. The 6.5×47 seems particularly desirable from a perspective of barrel wear and I’ve heard it’s surprisingly mild noise wise too. Seems like it probably would’ve been even better candidate for mainstreaming than the 6.5creedmore.

    • Mike N.

      I love my 6.5x47L’s but there’s a simple reason that 6.5 Creedmoor has pulled ahead of it and the .260 Remington. The .260 has been abandoned by Remington, and relatively few companies still chamber the round, while 6.5x47L brass alone costs about $1.20 a piece (loaded ammo is something like $2-3 a round).

      Compare that to the Creedmoor, where sometimes you can buy loaded ammo for not much more or even less than the cost of brass (like $20-something for a box of 20, and I’ve seen it on sale for less than $1 a round), and it’s much more widely available.

      For handloaders, it used to be that brass availability/quality was an consideration, but now that you can buy Lapua for all three it’s moot.

      • Tassiebush

        Oh yeah it’s clear that the reason 6.5 Creedmore is moving ahead is that it has been adopted by more companies. I’m just thinking that it might have been a better result for the consumer if the support it received had been given to the 6.5x47lapua so that it would have then been more available and affordable. Having said that I guess it’s all pretty close anyway and it’s not like the creedmore is bad. It’s by all accounts an excellent round.

      • Tassiebush

        It’s interesting that the creedmore brass by lapua takes small rifle primers
        http://www.lapua.com/en/reloading-components/cases/65-creedmoor

      • Tassiebush

        What is the noise level of 6.5 Creedmore like compared to 6.5×47? I’m looking to get a rifle in one or the other.

    • Ebby123

      The trouble is logistics – no major ammo company got behind the 6.5×47, and its not SAAMI approved for the same reason (TMK).

      Hornady made the Creedmoor cartridge, and successfully drove its mainstream adoption even though it was almost identical to 260REM.

      I don’t hold that against them – they fielded a product that served a purpose, and did an excellent job of supporting that product.

  • SCHV

    A necked down 6.5 to 6mm will have a much better nose ogive lenght for its diameter = better form factor. More velocity, less wind drift, due to KE=1/2m while p=m x v less recoil for similar energy, and FLATTER trajectory. For the expense of a bit higher gas erosion, which for competitive shooters isnt too much a problem. Also you can instead use slower powder and a longer barrel.

    • Tassiebush

      6.5x47lapua seems to go easier on barrels by using less power at higher pressures. At least that’s how I’ve interpreted what I’ve read on it. It uses small rifle primers.

      • Ebby123

        I think the shoulder angle also has something to do with that.

      • iksnilol

        I always thought high pressures wore barrels more?

        • Tassiebush

          I did too but I have read that powder volume is a big part of it too because if you think about it that makes sense that burning powder rather than bullet speed is a large cause. Hence the smaller charge at higher pressure seems to be a winner at getting better velocity with less erosion. I need to add a disclaimer though that I’m basing that view on stuff I read on the internet.

          • iksnilol

            Man, you’re making me want to science.

            Should just buy two 6.5×55 barrels, and shoot high pressure loads in one, low pressure in the other and see which one gives up the ghost first.

            Of course I’d need a 6.5 rifle then… and a couple of barrels… and the ammo… waaay outta my budget.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah it’s a point of curiosity! I think the comparison is best with say 6.5×47 lapua and 6.5creedmore if you could make an equal performance load. The lapua would definitely be using less powder at more pressure. The case is another factor since it’s apparently designed for higher pressures with the lapua. Again this is just from reading up on it. I have no experience with either round.
            As an aside I’m in the process of getting a 6.5×55 Sauer 100. Should be heaps of fun.

          • iksnilol

            I never though about case profile having much to do with it. But it does make sense.

            I always just went with “less pressure = less wear”, but that might be because less pressure is usually ca(u)sed by less powder.

            EDIT: That Sauer will be fun on a bun, hun.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah I’d never thought of it either re case design and pressure albeit I knew that a small case and a slightly larger case with the same charge and projectile would result in higher velocity for the smaller one.
            I think the description of barrels being burnt out is probably quite appropriate in understanding it.
            When you clean rifle barrels you’re removing soot and and copper fouling so it suggests that the projectile is coating the barrel rather than wearing it whilst the throat of the chamber and start of the rifling is hit hard by hot gasses. That’s my non expert understanding anyhow.

    • SCHV

      *KE=1/2m x v² , forgot to complete it

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Yea, lots of people using a lot of reasons for basically saying “man .243 is easy to shoot!”

      • SCHV

        I actually think current .243 performs terrible (only from the perspective of someone who has to do with aerodynamic as much) … but quite great compared to .264 for the reasons ive writen.

        And was your comment meant negative? But than tell me why in hell should a competitive shooter not use any of the advantages ive noted…?

  • USMC03Vet

    And here I am with 762×39 cheapest steel case I can buy. It’s the little things in life.

  • ProLiberty82

    I’ve been a 10mm & 6.5 hipster for so long that I struggle just with the idea of becoming a 10mm & 6mm “guy”, well I just have to bow down to the new flatter, stronger & faster master caliber.

    • Ebby123

      Eh… flatter and faster, but not stronger.

      IMHO, 6mm is the like the 11.5″ AR-15 barrels – Yes its easier to carry than a 14.5″ barrel, and WAY easier to carry than a 20″ barrel, but with each step down you lose power, and at some point it stops being mission effective.

      I’m not saying we’re at that point yet, but if 5mm cartridges are the big PRS craze next year, I’m going to lose my sh*t.

      • SCHV

        When necking down 6.5 to 6 the nose ogive lenght in relation to its diameter is much better, which changes its form factor a lot, and with a good nose shape it can actually have more energy at range, + due to the flatter trajectory it actually travels trough a bit less air, which futher decreases its energy loss.

        As said above due to KE=1/2m x v² while p=m x v it has for similar energy quite a bit less recoil, simply due to physic laws.

        Same downrange energy, flatter trajectory, less wind drift, less recoil for similar energy, why in hell should a competitive shooter not use any of this…? Comparing it to barrel lenghts is utterly off topic and senceless.

        • Ebby123

          6.5 CM: 140gr ELD = 1,488FPS / 688.7FT-LBS at 1,000 yards

          6MM CM: 108gr ELD = 1,452FPS / 505.5FT-LBS at 1,000 yards.

          Meaning the 6.5 Creedmoor has 136% of the energy of the 6mm Creedmore at 1,000 yards.

          You were saying something about similar energy?

          • SCHV

            What range are the used BC’s for? (the number changes with range). The 6mm is slightly lighter than a 140grain would actually be scaled down. I know what you mean, but whats theyr i7 FF, i think it could be improved quite a bit.

          • SCHV

            *As expected, theyr FF’s suck

          • Ebby123

            You are welcome to post your own data. Until then you are wrong.

            These figures are direct from Hornady’s website.

          • Pipedog

            That’s actually only 36% more energy according to your numbers, Ebby.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    Ugh… should be called “What the pros are sponsored to use”

    Wow; Shark suppressors gave out a ton of cans to anyone in PRS, hey we’re what the pros use, now they don’t so they aren’t.

    6mm is the new hotness because they’re weak and fly flat, perfectly suited for PRS where only speed matters. Everything in PRS, is designed to be exactly for PRS.

    308-only matches imo are where the real pros are anymore.

    • Ebby123

      Agreed on the 308 point. The whole advantage of 6.5 and 6mm cartridges is that you don’t have to be as good at calling wind and distance as with a 308.

      You don’t have to have as much skill to get hits with 6.5 and 6 as you do with 7.62.

      (That said, I think a 6.5 cartridge has more than enough power to replace 308 if the logistics made sense).

      • Marcus D.

        What you are really saying is that the 6.5 is a more accurate long range cartridge. And not only that, it significantly out ranges the .308. The .308 is a great 800 to 1000 yard round, but the 6.5 Creedmoor is a 1000 to 1200 yard round, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it could be pushed farther than that. It has a more aerodynamic bullet and thus carries its energy farther. As far as logistics, you only need one guy in the squad to carry this round

        • Ebby123

          No argument here. Logistical inertia is the only thing keeping the 6.5 from widespread military adoption.

          That said, it takes more skill to shoot a 308, and I have more respect for the guys that can do it well.

          • Marcus D.

            I won’t dispute that. But that greater degree of skill needed is an argument for the adoption of the 6.5, since it requires less skill, specifically with respect to reading the wind, and less training time.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    6mm is more accurate than 6.5mm. It has a higher hit percentage. The problem is is that it wears out barrels much faster than 6.5mm. That’s not a problem for sponsored, wealthy competition shooters, but it’s a problem for the average joe and the military. That’s why 6.5mm is still popular.

    • Ebby123

      That about sums it up perfectly.

      6mm offers a marginal performance increase over 6.5mm, but it also comes with a significant ongoing increase in cost in an already expensive sport.

      • Ebby123

        Side note: For hunters that probably don’t shoot 400 rounds in their lifetime, 243REM and other 6mm calibers are perfect. But for a competition shooter that can easily shoot that much in a single match, barrel life is a YUUUGE factor.

    • Johannes von’ Strauch

      Dude… its not wrong to adopt a new round and Nathaniel knows that too, but theres a certain point which is : IT HAS TO BE A DAMN WORTH IT without any stupid tradeoffs, or WAISTED potential. NEVER adopt something in a rush.
      If we would have adopted something a year or two ago, it would been an INSANE waist of money, because it could not have used technologys in current development. Than we would have been stuck with it for decades, it would have been utterly stupid.

      And what makes 6mm good? That it has the COAL of 6.5 cartridges but with a thinner bullet = better form factor. Not some magic. And you dont even need to go to “6”mm (.243), its not a magic number. Because .228 and .232 with perfected form factor suits the needs for an infantry rifle much better (and is supersonic to 1200m). Because .243 will only give you increased Recoil (even for the same energy), more weight, less capacity, worse trajectory.

      • Are there any existing bullets in .228 or .232?

        What would the weight, BC, and velocity be for such a round, using a lead free copper / steel projectile?

        I’m currently on the 6mm Bandwagon (A 85gr EPR w/ .445 BC @ 3,000fps seems pretty awesome) but would like to hear about other options.

        • Johannes von’ Strauch

          .243 is too thick as said, only increases recoil, weight, decreases capacity.
          Yes its EPR ofcourse, lead wouldnt make any sense, copper also not that much.

          Also as said, G1 BC is useless, use G7 BC. And use the 1200m G7 BC not a random one, otherwise all your data becomes wrong.

          If you want to know more whats your Email / or G+/ Skype?

    • Bierstadt54

      Two points. First, the improvement in combat effectiveness has to be worth the investment. 5.56 is a pretty good round, and long range rifle engagements are not the norm. If we switch to a longer range round I would prefer to wait and develop a polymer telescoping round. I would also want to see a robust evaluation program first.

      Second, Western defense spending is somewhat deceptive. Much of it goes towards volunteer military paychecks, and even the fraction of it that invests in new gear buys less per dollar than what Russia or China get for theirs. True, Western kit is better, but we have less of it. Also, US defense spending funds a force that is deployed worldwide and is facing adversaries in their backyards. How much does that cost in logistics and force structure? A lot.

      One can say that the US should withdraw from Asia and Europe and the Middle East and let the power vacuum be filled by whoever wants it, but with the spending efficiency we are getting, the forward deployment penalty, and the increasing power of potential adversaries, US military spending is actually a bit low right now for what we are using the military for.

    • n0truscotsman

      1.) The 6mm thing might happen after all with the telescopic case.

      2.) I strongly agree with the 1-6 or 1-8x adjustable optics over red dots, for non urban engagements. I actually prefer my accupoint or even my two Burris adjustables over red dots at this point. I understand that civilian use is a bit different than military too, which is a whole other issue.

    • Fox hunter

      I agree with everything you said, except the part about red dots. Red dots are still better for cqb than variable power optics, much faster target acquisition, simpler to use. Variable power optics are only better forfor longer ranges.

  • Pipedog

    I wonder if 6.5c will see a resurgence in PRS with the introduction of Lapua brass. Also cool to see the crossover of PRB to TFB.

    • SCHV

      As a competitive shooter verry verry slight diffrences can mean win or loose, the 6.5c is ok, but simply cant offer certain performance, read my comments below and you know what i mean.

  • C. Her

    I love my 6.5 Creedmoor. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive to reload. $1.93 to reload (not including my time) VS $1.45 factory loaded with the same bullet. Both Factory and reloads are very accurate to 1000yds infact when I overlaid my targets they were all within the same maximum diameter.

    • iksnilol

      Just buy the darn ammo then, you actually found a cartridge where it is more “profitable” to buy the ammo versus reloading it.

      I DIDN’T THINK THAT WAS POSSIBLE!

  • nonobaddog

    In two years it will be 50 BMG and then in two more years it will 17 Rem. That will help the manufacturers sell new equipment.

  • Blake

    “While the production division has the 6.5 Creedmoor and .243 Winchester taking top spots,”

    it looks like you attached the “open division” graphic twice…

  • BeoBear

    I like the 5.56 and .308, they’ve worked pretty well over the years but I also think we would have been better off if we had adopted 6.5’s back then in some form or another. I’ve always loved the 5.56 and they perform great but after buying my 6.5 Grendel it didn’t take long to realize that it’s a far, far, far better caliber for the AR15. Not much more recoil but a huge increase in power, accuracy and distance. I know if I were going into battle and were given my choice of 5.56 or 6.5 Grendel, assuming equal infrastructure existed, I’d pick the Grendel so fast it would cause a sonic boom. Yes, there’s a small trade off in magazine capacity and total ammo carried but it’s more than worth it in my opinion.

    I don’t have any experience with the larger 6.5 cartridges but from what I’ve read it looks like the 6.5 Creedmoor is a much better performer than the .308.

    • SCHV

      Dude… the 6.5 Grendel has HORRIBLE performance if you have actual advanced ballistic knowledge. Does it better than some others, yes, but still terrible.

      It is a bit more aerodynamic, but not because of magic but rather because its projectile is not as stupidly thick for its weight (compared to 7.62×51), and its nose is a bit longer for its caliber. BUT its put in a 5.56×45 mag, which makes the nose ogive lenght terrible, and increases its cartridge thickness because the shorter cartridge, also on most projectiles the nose ogive shape is formed terrible which decreases aerodynamic.

      Also its STUPIDLY heavy which decreases carried ammo = less fire superority. And completly uneeded Recoil for its Energy because of KE=1/2m x v² while p=m x v. Also its painfully slow and has a verry bad trajectory for its muzzle energy.
      + the projectile have a uneeded long bearing surface which increases pressure and wear in the barrel…

      Basicly the way you want to design a round is use the maximum possible form factor (long nose ogive etc) that you can stabilize, push it at adequat SCHV speeds for good trajectory and supersonic range (atleast 3000fps), use a good case that is thin but has the volume for your charge, = low recoil, weight, but 1200m supersonic range. Then design a mag for it, because if you have a mag as the start point, performance will end up utterly bad.

      Also the 6.5Grendel has stupid case wall angles that do cause ejection problems, and a too large bolt face which creates too much stress on the bolt lugs.

      SO !NO! WE SHOULD NOT HAVE ADOPTED the damn 6.5Grendel

      • iksnilol

        You’re right, 6.8 SPC is way better than the Grendel. With additional killing power to boot!