Welcome back to another edition of the TFB Round Table sponsored by Ammunition To Go! For those who are first joining us, this is a multi-part series where TFB discusses the characteristics of great ammunition for specific applications. This could vary from big game hunting, plinking, precision rifle matches, small game hunting, or even pistol competitions. Chances are there is someone here at TFB who can offer you advice on buying the right round for your task at hand. This week I return on TFB Round Table to discuss and overview one of the most popular all-around cartridges for hunting, recreation, and precision rifle shooting – 6.5 Creedmoor. Some people have jumped onto this bandwagon whole hog and believe it is better than sliced bread while other shooters are slow to come around. Regardless of any individual’s opinion, the round does have merit if it suits the task you are looking to accomplish. Let’s dive in and see how this cartridge came to be and if you might want to join the drove of people who are already tremendous fans!
TFB ROUND TABLE: 6.5 Creedmoor and its origin
The 6.5 Creedmoor has only been around for a little over a decade (since 2007 to be exact) yet it feels like it has been in existence for many years longer. You hear of people using it for hunting, target shooting, and even teaching younger shooters marksmanship. So, which is it? All of the above? Is somebody lying? The answer to that question leans more towards “all of the above” because in reality, it is a very versatile cartridge.
Wildcat cartridges have come and gone throughout history with varying popularity for over 100 years so that is nothing new. What is special about the 6.5 Creedmoor is that it never was a “wildcat” cartridge to begin. Most wildcat cartridges have an extremely narrow window of practicality or usefulness. It might be for hunting huge game less than 50 yards away. Or target shooting at 400 yards or less if there is no wind (how often does that happen though).
The reason the 6.5 Creedmoor is more than just another wildcat cartridge and has such stellar success is because it was mindfully developed to have utility across many disciplines. Hornady takes credit for inventing the 6.5 Creedmoor round in 2007, specifically Dave Emary and Dennis DeMille, who are Senior Ballistic Scientists for Hornady. The 6.5 Creedmoor is based off of the 30 TC cartridge, but most people lend it to being loosely designed around the .308 Winchester cartridge (something much more common and familiar to most folks).
TFB ROUND TABLE: 6.5 Creedmoor and its competition
So, we all understand that the 6.5 Creedmoor is popular and versatile, but what is it up against? If you are looking at buying a new rifle, why not choose something other than 6.5 Creedmoor? Well, some of the big hitters that are up against the 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting and target shooting would be .260 Remington and 6.5mm-284. While both of those cartridges are extremely accurate and impactful in their own right, the reason why you might want to entertain 6.5 Creedmoor over them is because the 6.5 Creedmoor is a true short-action cartridge.
What is meant by this is the bullets do not need to be seated as deeply into the casing. In return, this leaves you more room for powder (more powder capacity). Also, with the bullets seated further out of the casing you can accommodate more throats in varying barrels and actions. Finally, it being a true short-action round means it will fit standardized short-action magazines like .308 Winchester, for example.
I have nothing against .260 Remington, 6.5mm-284, or any other competing round to the 6.5 Creedmoor, but if you want a jack-of-all-trades round then the 6.5 Creedmoor could be your new best friend. The mission that Dave Emary and Dennis DeMille of Hornady set out to accomplish when they conjured up the 6.5 Creedmoor was to create the “ultimate across the course cartridge” which some would say mission accomplished.
TFB ROUND TABLE: 6.5 Creedmoor Ammunition and reloading
As stated by Hornady in their product announcement video above, the 6.5mm or 0.264″ diameter bullet was chosen for its wide bullet selection and the large bearing surface it has on rifling with heavier grain weights. This is extremely beneficial for accuracy and makes it easy to produce quality commercial ammunition as well as make it an easy cartridge to reload. For those wanting to dabble in handloading, you will want to seek out medium to medium-slow burning reloading powders like Hodgdon Varget or H4350.
If you want to simply purchase loaded ammunition and hit the range running, some of the best stuff you can get is from Hornady (they invented the cartridge after all). Their ELD and ELD-X bullets, as well as their former A-MAX tip, perform superbly for the 6.5 Creedmoor. We have a host of options for you to choose from listed below.
As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for the TFB Round Table brought to you by Ammunition to Go! Also, let us know what you think in the comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.
TFB’S ROUND TABLE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY AMMOTOGO.COM
Hornady, the creators of the 6.5mm Creedmoor caliber, have introduced the ELD Match line to improve beyond the excellent degree of accuracy that precision shooters have come to expect. Each of these rounds is loaded with the Extremely Low Drag projectile which sports a Heatshield Tip in place of a conventional polymer tip. This windshield is made from a proprietary material which is not only carved out to a precise shape for drag resistance but resists melting at high velocities and experiences less disturbance in flight than any other bullet design.
The bullet weights 140 grains and is loaded into reloadable brass casing bearing a non-corrosive Boxer primer. Hornady utilizes clean-burning propellant grains which are wholly consumed in the ignition process and leave behind very little residue. This extends firearm life, enhances accuracy, and keeps casings cleaner so that reloaders can save on tumbling media. Hornady has been around since 1949 and is well-known for innovative projectiles which are often used in finished ammo by other companies. Their full-up ELD Match brand allows low range enthusiasts to achieve ragged hole groups without the initial work of hand-loading.
This 6.5mm Creedmoor cartridge from Hornady’s Precision Hunter line of ammunition is optimized to deliver absolutely laser-like accuracy without foregoing the terminal performance features requisite for effective hunting. The cartridge features a 143 grain ELD-X projectile, which has a Heat Shield polymer tip that maintains its streamlined shape regardless of how much air resistance it encounters. The bullet’s accuracy is further accentuated by both its boat tail design and highly concentric AMP jacket.
When the ELD-X hits a target at higher velocities, typically before it has traveled more than 400 yards, its InterLock ring and thick shank ensure weight retention of up to 60 percent. When it strikes its target at a greater distance its tip reliably drives backward into its core to initiate expansion up to 90 percent, creating a wide wound channel that’s perfect for bringing down rugged game fast. This round’s other high quality components, including its precisely formed brass casing and optimal propellant load, all come together to give you the ultimate solution for taking bucks from any distance.
This 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge showcases the performance of Hornady’s SST projectile. The SST is designed to inflict devastating shock at the moment of impact, and it follows up on that with truly lethal terminal performance. This 129 grain bullet’s polymer tip wedges into its core to cause fast yet consistent expansion, and its mid-body cannelure and InterLock ring mechanically bind its core and jacket together so that they can hold onto the weight requisite for the creation of a deep wound channel.
The SST has the accuracy it needs to reliably deliver such devastating terminal effect as well. Its secant ogive profile reduces the drag it encounters in flight, and its boat tail lessens how much turbulence it leaves in its wake. Also, because this is a Superformance round, its bullet is able to fly out of the muzzle up to 200 fps faster than what you’re accustomed to seeing your rifle deliver. The net result is a very flat trajectory that’ll give you an easier time of things while you’re hunting for far-off deer.
This cartridge additionally provides a factory fresh brass casing, propellant that will leave your rifle cleaner in between cleanings, and a reliable Hornady primer.
Hornady would never let a cartridge of their own invention sport anything but their very best components. That’s why this 6.5 Creedmoor round features a 120 grain ELD Match projectile, which has an extraordinary ballistic coefficient courtesy of the tapered base of its boat tail design, highly concentric and rotational stability optimizing AMP jacket, and streamlined secant ogive profile. The ELD Match also offers the remarkable Heat Shield tip, which is immune to the impact of aerodynamic heating so that it can always maintain its perfectly pointed and symmetrical meplat.
These cartridges’ brass casings are specially selected by Hornady for their uniform wall dimensions, weight, and internal capacity. Every cartridge has been matched with a propellant load that delivers the ideal chamber pressure for their caliber, and their primers are non-corrosive and responsive. Hornady’s thorough quality assurance protocol guarantees that each of these 20 rounds will perform identically to one another — if you’re eyeing the gold at your next competition, Hornady has got you covered!
This 6.5mm Creedmoor cartridge is from Hornady’s Varmint Express line of ammunition, and appropriately is optimized in every way to let a hunter bag rowdy rodents and pesky predators with relative ease. It owes that ability to its 95 grain V-MAX projectile, an accurate bullet that can hit small and fast-moving targets thanks to its match grade AMP jacket, pointed and perfectly symmetrical meplat, and profile which heightens its in-flight stability. The V-MAX’s polymer tip sits over a cavity formed within its swaged lead core. It gets driven down there quickly upon impact, initiating explosive fragmentation even while traveling at half this round’s muzzle velocity.
This cartridge has been thoroughly inspected inside and out by Hornady to assure that it’s a veritable varmint buster. You’ll find that its new production brass casing cycles without a hitch in a semi-automatic firearm, and also that it’s sturdy enough to be reloaded many times. Its propellant creates the optimal chamber pressure for its caliber, and in that vein its primer is perfectly matched as well.