TFB Review: PROOF Research Barrel + Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor Ammunition = A Winning Combination

This year I was fortunate to have saved up enough to rebarrel my .308 18″ barrel Surgeon Scalpel.  I opted to go with a 24″ 1/8 twist PROOF Research Carbon Fiber Wrapped barrel in 6.5 Creedmoor.  Ever since my awesome experience with MPA’s 6.5CM BA Lite, I had been interested in acquiring a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle of my own.  I had two bolt action precision rifles chambered in .308 with short bull barrels, and I had been saving for a PROOF barrel for some time.  Therefore, instead of purchasing a totally new rifle, I thought the Surgeon would be an excellent candidate for re-barreling.  Georgia’s Collier Rifles (a great place for cutting/threading services as well) had the barrel I was looking for, and off my rifle went to be re-barreled in a timely fashion.

Fuel for the Fire

While I was at the launch event for Zeiss’ V6 Conquest line, I was extremely impressed by the quality, accuracy, and consistency of Hornady’s 6.5CM ammunition.  Therefore, I was extremely grateful when Hornady was generous enough to provide me with the majority of the ammunition to be used for the testing of the PROOF barrel.  Equipped with seven out of their eleven 6.5CM loads, I was excited to hit the range and see how the new setup performed.

Thank you, Hornady!

Break-in?  We don’t need no stinking’ break-in!

I started off testing out the PROOF barrel by what I firing what I thought would be a series of “break-in” shots with Hornady’s 140gr ELD Match to put a layer of copper in the bore.  Right away, the PROOF barrel demonstrated it did not need such niceties.  My first group fired was .8 MOA.  I was not even trying to be super precise at that point, and this level of precision was a pleasant surprise.  Firing a few more groups, I found that the 140gr ELD match loads demonstrated a consistent .25MOA cold bore shift down and to the right.  The shift was extremely consistent across all groups with this load.  Predictable cold-bore shifts are great because if one can adjust for a predictable shift, one can turn a good group into a great group.

Ready to start breaking in the barrel. Except it didn’t need it.

Gathering Groups:

Equipped with a bunch of targets, my rifle, and a plethora of Hornady’s excellent ammunition, I was ready to get down to some serious testing.  I fired a ton of groups throughout the day, suppressed and unsuppressed. Though there was an average zero shift of -2 MOA unsuppressed, overall accuracy remained the same. 5-shot groups are listed, best to worst.  Barrel was mildly cleaned for carbon fouling between each group. Shots were fired prone, supported front and rear, at 100 yards.  Groups were micrometer measured outside-outside, with bullet diameter subtracted.  Range conditions were 5-7mph 8 o’clock wind, in light to medium rain.  All the ammunition listed is from Hornady’s factory ammo.

  1. American Gunner 140gr: .37MOA
  2. ELD Match 147gr: .40MOA
  3. ELD Match 140gr: .51MOA
  4. ELD Match 120gr: .55MOA
  5. Precision Hunter ELD-X 143gr: .75MOA (Though produced a .3MOA 4-shot group after cold-bore shift of .45MOA)
  6. Match 120gr A-Max: .78MOA
  7. American Whitetail Interlock 129gr: .83MOA

    Great performance across the board. Or target, if you will.

    Super tight 4-shot group after 1/2 MOA cold-bore shift

    Every single group of 120 grain ELD match had all 5 shots touching

Obviously the action, barrel, and ammunition all came together to produce some pretty great accuracy with factory loads.  All loads were sub-MOA, 5/7 were sub 3/4 MOA, and three were 1/2 MOA or better.  The most pleasant surprise was that the PROOF barrel liked the American Gunner 140gr budget load the best!     The performance of the Precision Hunter ELD-X bullet was also outstanding.  There’s a couple hunting spots of mine that are a hike of about a mile that I wouldn’t mind taking such a rifle to set up in.  If I ever get serious about hunting with the 6.5CM, however, I’m going to have to ditch the stock for a lighter setup.  The AICS is pretty heavy at around 6lbs just for the stock!

Verified Velocities

Earlier this year, I had the chance at a Zeiss Conquest launch event to speak in depth with Hornady staff about recent advancements they have made in the ballistic arena.  Hornady has made huge investments in their ballistics department with extensive use of doppler radar and utilization of drag coefficients lately, in conjunction with their 4DOF program.   (Hit the link for a more in-depth explanation). Per Hornady:

The Hornady® 4DOF™ (Four Degrees Of Freedom) Ballistic Calculator determines trajectory solutions based on projectile Drag Coefficient (not Ballistic Coefficient), combined with exact physical modeling of the projectile and its mass and aerodynamic properties.  Additionally, it is the first publicly available calculator that will accurately determine the correct vertical shift a bullet experiences as it encounters a crosswind; referred to as Aerodynamic Jump (AJ).

What does this mean for the average Joe that picks up a box of Hornady’s factory ammo?  Extremely accurate and honest velocities stated on the box (as long as one’s barrel length is the same as the length tested by Hornady)  I measured the velocities of all loads on my LabRadar unit.  Not only were all average velocities within 10-20 fps of the box-printed velocity, but the variations on the factory ammo were all within 15-20fps shot to shot.  This is up amongst the best consistency I have seen from factory loads.

Warm and Fuzzy

After slow-firing groups with a relatively cool barrel, I tried rapid strings of fire and long-range shots.  Rapid fire groups did not get the PROOF barrel uncomfortably hot to the touch.  The heat dissipation really was better than my old steel barrel!  Mirage from the barrel was not as noticeable in the optic as it would have been from a similar profile non-carbon barrel.  Groups also did not open up very much at all, and vertical or horizontal stringing were not exhibited with a warm barrel.  This fact gives veracity to PROOF’s claim of minimizing POI shift with a hot barrel.  Stretching the rifle’s legs out to 1100 yards was no problem, with satisfying rings on steel for each shot.  I look forward to shooting this rifle at 1600-1800 yards in the future.

Excellent performance, without a hitch!

Final takeaways

For less than the weight of my old 18″ .308 barrel, I now had a long-range, tack-driving 6.5CM powerhouse.  Although expensive, the PROOF barrel has definitely been worth saving up for.  I am now a true believer in their superior performance characteristics.  As far as the Hornady ammunition goes, I was impressed by the excellent accuracy, consistency, and true stated velocities.  For so many of their factory loads and bullets to perform so well speaks volumes.  For the time being, I do not have the proper space, storage, or time for reloading equipment, but I can be confident in feeding my long range precision rifle Hornady’s 6.5 Creedmoor ammo.  

A huge thank you to:

Collier Rifles for their great service

Hornady Manufacturing Inc. for providing the ammunition for this test

Tamarack Sports and Hughston Shooting School for range time and technical assistance

Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. He is fortunate enough to have access to class 3 weaponry as well.


  • Giolli Joker

    That is a sexy rifle.

    • iksnilol

      It’s like looking in a mirror… or at James.

  • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Looks good. Shoots Good and handles well.

  • PK

    Out of curiosity, as the spread remained the same with/without, what silencer are you running?

    • Rusty S.

      1st-generation GemTech Sandstorm, thread-on

  • Martin T

    Ok real talk moment…
    I need you to edit this article and change the MOA value for 140 grain American Gunner.
    If everyone else figures figured out how nice that ammo is for the price I won’t be able to buy it…
    Change it to like 2.1 moa please.

    • Rusty S.

      Lol! It may not have the same superior characteristics as the ELD rounds past 800, but I was sure impressed by its short to mid range performance. What a value!

  • Dougscamo

    Rusty S., you are starting to grow on me as a reviewer….this one was dang good and you offered proof which is the sign of a no BS product! Just wish I lived in an open area so I could dash out and shoot long range without having to plan a pilgrimage….

    • Rusty S.

      Thank you! Like many of our staff, I was burned a lot by growing up and getting into shooting sports when glossy magazines wouldn’t say one bad thing about any product. This left me committed to offering honest reviews with a good dose of objectivity.

      • Dougscamo

        That is what I’m looking for….the good with the bad….and why I hate to see company “announcements” posted….

  • Scott Wagner

    Did it have any issues with the longer bullets? I know that some companies have been having problems feeding the hybrid 140s and heavier stuff because they re-use the geometry and design from their .308 guns with the fatter, stubbier bullets.

    • Rusty S.

      No issues with any of the bullets that I could detect. That being said, I know some 6.5CM barrels are custom throated for specific bullets due to the issues you mentioned.

  • Vitor Roma

    Quite crazy that nowdays it’s rather easy to have a half moa gun. 10 years ago, a half moa would look possible in a ultra expensive european swat teams rifle.

    • Enzo Baldwin

      To be fair this is a very expensive rifle. The action, barrel, and stock are all almost a thousand a piece. It’s easy to have a consistent rifle when you put a lot of money into it.

  • Keiichi


  • JumpIf NotZero

    My proof barrels shoot great; have never had an issue with that company. Looking forward to a 6.5!

    As to break-in… its always pretty much been BS. If you aren’t buying a quality hand lapped barrel in the first place, firing 50 rounds while tapping your head and rubbing your belly isn’t going to help anything.

    • iksnilol

      But if you stand on one foot whilst rattling a chicken bone with the opposite hand?

      • Dan

        You have to stand in a circle made of salt. Otherwise the bad juju infects the chicken bone.

        • Dougscamo

          Crap! I’ve been doing it wrong! I thought it was a pentagram of salt….

          • iksnilol

            That’s for getting the internet to connect… or capturing cats, I always forget.

  • jcitizen

    I get those same MOA figures from every Savage I’ve ever shot. But I’ve never had a 6.5 C before either; plus I really like the design of this rifle.