Cartridge manufacturer, Hornady introduced the mission-specific 6.5mm, Creedmoor center-fire rifle cartridge in 2008. Since that time, the cartridge has become a hot commodity in the shooting range and the hunting arena. The cartridge was originally designed for competitive shooting, before hunters took notice. The hunters were drawn to the cartridge because hunting specific loads did not exist and also due to its superbly accurate performance in shooting competitions. The other factor is the affordable rates of rifles in the market.
Historically, the hitherto expensive long range, custom retargeting rifles took a price dive when Rugers released the $1,400 to $1,600 price range Precision Rifles. The price of rifles fell even further with the release of the $1,207, Savage Model 10 BA Stealth rifle. The price and accuracy factors have also seen the number of rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor increase substantially. The 6.5 Creedmoor has a relatively short case with a long O.A.C.L. designed to maximize the usable powder capacity to carry heavier projectile weights. Compared to the previously popular .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor has a better Ballistic Coefficient (BC) on long range shooting.
The 6.5 Creedmoor also has less recoil and wind deflection, a feature that gives it the power to carry most of its energy to the range. This is also the reason why the cartridge is able to maintain its accuracy past the 1,200 yards. Shooting tests have shown that the bullet velocity of 6.5 Creedmoor only drops from its sub-sonic level at the target range of 1,200 to 1,400 yards. With regards to design, the 6.5mm (.254) bullets have a reputation for high BC and sectional density. Factory loaded Creedmoor ammo’s can be purchased from various outlets including Winchester, Hornady, Federal and Nosler.
The 6.5 Creedmoor Origins: Lever Action Descendent
The root of 6.5 Creedmoor can be traced to .307 Winchester used on the lever action Winchester Model 94 rifle introduced back in 1982. Before the realization of 6.5 Creedmoor, several modifications were made on the cartridge, including shortening of the case, thinning of the walls and removal of the rim. The move resulted into the .30 TC, with its characteristically necked down fitting for 0.264 inch bullet. The idea was conceived when engineer, Dave Emary and Dennis DeMille, the High Power National Champion met at a Civilian Marksmanship program in Camp Perry, Ohio in 2007 and discussed the popularity of 6mm wildcat cartridges.
The experts also talked about the shortcomings of wildcat cartridges and sought to create a better cartridge that was more accurate than the wildcat and one that was in compliance with the SAAMI guidelines. Following the improvements on .30 TC, 6.5 Creedmoor was born. Several other developments have since taken place. Hornady soon released 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges with 120 grain GMX bullet in Superformance line. The muzzle velocity for this advanced cartridge is listed at slightly over 3,000 fps. In 2009, Rifle maker Ruger also introduced 6.5 Creedmoor on its sporty and lightweight, Hawkeye Standard mode, 36 inch barrel rifle.
Cartridge Anatomy and Performance
The diameter of the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge case head is .473 inch, which is the same length as the 30-06 inch family cartridges. With a simple barrel change, the bolt face diameter of the cartridge can easily be converted to fit other calibers such as .243 Winchester, 22-250 Remington and .300 Savage. The overall cartridge length is 2.825 inches. A close look at the cartridge reveals a .905 inch difference between the case length and overall length of the cartridge. The other features on the 6.5 cartridge include 30 degree shoulder and case length of 1.920 inches. The design makes it efficiently easy to load a high powered, 6.5mm, 140 grain, high BC, ELD and VLD style bullets without taking too much powder space inside the rifle case. The cartridge can be chambered in the popular short-action, AR-10 and Bolt rifles.
The Creedmoor has a muzzle velocity of 140 grain, which measure incredibly well with the factory load of 2,710 fps. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Institute (SAAMI) Mean Average Pressure set for the 6.5mm Creedmoor is a whooping 62,000 psi. However, the listings for Creedmoor psi have been interchangeably listed to as low as 57,000 psi. Hornady took the honor to reduce the loads after receiving several customer complaints about primer blowing. Additional test conducted by SAAMI indicates a 6.5mm Creedmoor’s velocity range of 2,940 and 2,665 fps for the respective 129 and 140 grain bullets. This compares favorably to the 0.300 Winchester magnum data, which indicates a range 2,930 and 2,665 fps for the respective 200 and 210 grain bullets.
The other important 6.5 Creedmoor specs:
• Case type – rimless, bottleneck
• Case capacity – 52.5’
• Rim diameter – .4730 inches
• Primer type – large rifle
• Rifling twist – 203mm or 1-8’
• Propellant – 44.74 grain
The Handloading Attributes
The industry standards used to judge ammos, typically takes into consideration aspects such as bullet speed, innovation, versatility and specialized features. Some of the specialized effects incorporated in today’s advanced, supersonic speed ammunitions include ultra progressive propellants and enhanced velocity with reduced rocket nozzle effect. In terms of speed, a good ammunition produces fast results without felt recoil, loss of accuracy or fouling and muzzle blasts. A versatile ammo, on the other hand, is one that is safe and can be used safely on various firearms, including lever guns to semi automatics.
Some of the Bolt-Action Rifles that use 6.5 Creedmoor include Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Action Rifle, Savage AXIS II XP and Browning X-Bolt Stainless Stalker Bolt Action Rifle. The 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges are evidently, a hand loaders dream cartridge. The cartridge has an expensive handling compared to its main competitor for accurate shooting, the 6.5×47 Lapua. When taken out in parts, the brass cost $0.068 per reload and lasts less than 10 reloads on average. The 6.5×47 Lapua, on the other hand, lasts an average of about 20 to 35 reloads. The 6.5 Creedmoor also works well with a variety of medium burning rifle powders such as the Alliant RL-17.
A winner of Layke Tactical 6.5 Croodmoor at Shotshow 2017
by J Hines
Sources: Hornady, Wikipedia, Layke Tactical, photo by Shooting Illustrated