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.
There are some talks in the long range community of how the 6.5 Creedmoor perform against the .243.
From a ballistics view the 243 and 6.5 are almost identical out to 1100 meters. The 243 has an edge as far as bullet drop is concern. If you’re a numbers guy/gal, take a look at this:
.243 Nosler 105gr BC .571 Muzzle FPS 2846 Tansonic 1359 at 1100 yd total drop 383 inches.
6.5 Nosler 140gr BC .658 Muzzle FPS 2598 Transonic 1352 at 1100 yd total drop 429 inches.
Some precision shooters make claims to barrel life can be a difference. For example, the 6.5 barrel life is in the 2500-3000FPS range and the .243 is usually under 2000FPS. Not much of a differences to see in terms of performances only in numbers. (not much differences)
They are both likable rounds that can be used for varmint to long range target shooting.
Either way, you’re probably going to hit that deer from any range.
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
Sources: Hornady, Nosler, Wikipedia, Layke Tactical, photo by Shooting Illustrated
There are some great short action rifles available, some rifles being offered in 6.5 Creedmoor. There is another similar case, but not quite the same its the .308 Winchester. The 6.5 Creedmoor uses skinnier, lighter bullets and its faster downrange than .308.
However, the 6.5 Creedmoor is very popular as a great selection for medium to long range (500-1000 yards) shooting. Which is why the military are looking at this as well.
Ballistic speaking, the skinny 6.5mm bullets perform exceptionally well, very closely matching the ballistic profile of a 300 Winchester Magnum, but with much less recoil and cost.
Its possible that for SHTF scenario the 6.5 Creedmoor is clearly the better a ballistic cartridge than 308. The 308 was designed in 1952 for a semi-automatic military rifle, while the 6.5 Creedmoor was designed in 2007 for better long range target performance in a bolt action rifle.
Here’s Youtuber GLgunsandgear doing some shooting from 1000 yards pitting the 6.5 Creedmoor against the .308.
GLgunsandgear had to adjust due to windy conditions, but he was on target. Have a look.
Here’s Jason Blaha Youtuber talking about which caliber best fits the SHTF scenario.
Hey everybody it’s Jason Blaha, here today to talk to you guys about how viable is it to replace the .308 -which you guys know I’m a big fan of, I’m a big fan of the .308 both as a hunting cartridge and a shit-hit-the-fan cartridge. Maybe not so much home defense, but the other two yeah definitely. Big fan of the caliber. Have been most of my life.-
The 6.5 Creedmoor. Can it replace it? Well we’ve covered a lot in the past about different roles. Like I’ve covered 223 vs .308 and why some people would pick 223 and why some would pick .308 for their specific situation for a Shit-hit-the-fan primary rifle. Well the 6.5 Creedmoor you would pick for the same reasons you would pick the .308. They would fill the same niche. You want a full-powered rifle round. Alright, full-powered rifle round. Obviously knowing it’s going to be heavier, more expensive, all of that. You’re going to be carrying less ammo if you have to go on foot.
But the 6.5 Creedmoor is becoming a very very popular alternative to the .308 in a number of different areas. A number of areas in hunting and precision shooting long distance. We need to understand those differences though between these cartredges when we talk about why someone might want to think about placing something as versatile as the .308, and I’ll let you guys decide for yourself what you want to do personally. I mean we all have our opinions on these things. Let’s discuss the facts.
As a hunting cartredge, they’re completely equal. Don’t let anyone convince you that there’s a significant difference between them. .308’s going to be a little heavier, 6.5 Creedmoor is going to be a lighter bullet. Smaller starting diameter, the better sectional density. Pretty similar energy with the energy going slightly in favor of the .308 due to the bullet weights, but that sectional density is very important for penetration. So I think honestly using similar shot placements, similar bullet styles, you’re going to see very similar -if not virtually identical- wound tracks through an animal. Virtually identical stopping power. It’s still gonna be shot placed when you’re picking the right bullet, and picking a range at which you can make a humane kill at. There’s virtually no difference at any of the ranges you’re going to be hunting at.
Now many people will point out ‘well, ballistically they’re different at really long distances’, that doesn’t matter for hunting, because honestly, I’m going to go out on a limb and say taking a shot past 600 yards with either one of these on a big animal like an elk absolutely is not a good idea as a hunter. I’m never gonna endorse anyone to do that, and I know some people are gonna say ‘well, you know, people have done it and they got meat in the freezer’, but that’s a high-risk shot on a big animal. Your chances of getting a humane kill are pretty slim. I know people have actually dropped Elk -on Youtube- on video with both calibers at distances over 600 yards, but not much beyond that. I’m gonna say for most hunters, really, 400 yards top with these calibers. Either one of those on a big animal, I don’t think beyond 400 is reasonable. You know, not saying some hunters don’t have the skill to do better, but the vast majority simply do not, and they have no business taking a shot like that.
Well at that sort of distance, these cartridges are virtually identical. Things like drop rate, wind drift, no difference.
Target shooting, the 6.5 is becoming more popular, it’s replacing the .308, when it comes to purely punching paper out at long distance. And I think when you look at the ballistics it makes sense. If your goal is ballistics, you don’t care about money spent, you care about producing the most accurate round you can make to hit targets out at around 800, 900, 1000 yards. You’re going to -in the hands of a similar skilled shooter, the same shooter you’re going to be more consistent with the 6.5. And the reason I say that is not just the drop rate, it is fine you’re shooting that far out. That only matters when you’re trying to kind of guestimate distances. When you know exact distances, that doesn’t matter wen you have it pinned down perfectly. The reason I say that though is wind drift. The 6.5 Creedmoor, you compare something like a 142 MatchKing in it verses a 168 or a 175 in the .308 that’s a comparable round. It has a better ballistic coefficient. And at those distances, it is moving a little bit faster. You’re simply going to have less wind drift to account for. And we’re talking about easily at some cases 12, 15 inches potentially difference at 1000 yards wind-drift difference. That’s a lot, and when you’re trying to guestimate wind drift, I don’t care how good you are, there’s a margin of error there. There’s a margin of error even with the best shooters, and with that one you can cut down that margin of error, you’re gonna get more consistency with that round. The 6.5 flat-out wns for target shooting past 600 yards. I don’t think anyone can really dispute that- actually out past 500 yards, I’d need to check the math on that.
It’s just better. It’s better. And I hate to say that about my .308 because I love my .308. So how does that translate to the real world? Well, that does matter for shit-hit-the-fan, because if you are going to take shots out at that distance, the 6.5 is gonna be better, it’s gonna be more consistent. And you start talking about Shit Hit the Fan, if you really need the shots that long -and I can assure you guys at any ROL scenario, the odds that most of you are ever, ever gonna be in a situation where you need to make an 800-1000 yard shot probably wouldn’t happen even if we do have a Shit Hit The Fan scenario, and you know we probably never will have a true Shit Hit The Fan scenario.
If we do -we’re theory crafting for that- for those really long distances, the 6.5 is gonna be better if you’re ever forced to do so. It shoots flatter, cuts the wind better, on soft-skinned two-legged game, I don’t think you’re gonna see a ballistics difference. I think you’re gonna see almost identical wounds. I don’t think ballistic there’s going to be a difference between these two rounds at any distance. It’s going to come down to accuracy at long distance.
Other advantages, then: What else does the 6.5 offer? Lighter weight. Carry more ammo. Is it tremendously lighter? No. I’d bet you the rounds are probably -I’d need to weigh ’em- I don’t have my hands on any right now, they’re probably ten… maybe, maybe in some cases 15% lighter, but I’d say closer to 10% lighter. That’s 10% more ammo you can carry for the same weight if you need to hump it around. That matters.
How ’bout recoil? Lighter recoil. Lighter recoil. That could matter in a firefight. Could matter. Is it a gamebreaker? Like, is it probably gonna make-or-break you, save your life, Vs. dying? Probably not. But it’s a little tiny advantage. Both of those are. 10% less weight per ammo, slightly less recoil, that could matter. So we’ve got a lot a lot of advantages for the 6.5. It has a lot going for it there.
Alright, downsides: Cost. Alright, cost can be comperable to make the ammo. It can be comperable to make the ammo. But if you actually want to make cheap ammo, you can make the .308 for less. I know people are gonna say ‘what are you talking about? I mean the rounds are similar priced, the 6.5 might be slightly cheaper per bullet, maybe a penny or two cheaper per projectile, a penny probably even for Sierra Matchkings, you’re probably gonna use a little less gunpowder, what are you talking about?’
Cost of brass.
If you want decent brass -Decent brass- you can get starline in .308, it’s only $300-somethin’ dollars for 1000. That’s 30-somethin’ cents per piece of brand-new brass that you’re gonna be able to reload several times. Some of these .308 guys are reloading it three or four times in an auto-loader, alright.
If you’re gonna get all match-brass, really good brass, alright, the 6.5 Creedmoor you’re getting comperable there, so you’re getting slightly less per projectiles and powder, but are you gonna stockpile all match brass for your Shit-hit-the-fan? I mean you’re talking about from anywhere upwards of 70 cents to over $1 per piece of brass for 6.5. No-one makes cheap brass for it. Starline doesn’t make brass for it. It looks like it’s like, Norma, Lapua, Hornady. I think that’s your only three makers of 6.5, and you’re not getting any of that less than 70c per piece of brass. And some of you are gonna be paying over a dollar. So it’s the cost of your brass. And I mean, we can argue all day long about brass being unusable so that matters the least, but if you’re talking about stockpiling a thousand rounds, 2000 rounds, that’s 2000 pieces of brass you gotta buy. It’s 70c to about $1.20, depending on what you get, you know, you’re getting up into thousands of dollars for your ammo! That adds up. Cost is a factor. Again, particularly if you want cheaper ammo. And, it’s gonna come down to availability of ammo if you want cheap ammo. What if you want military surplus ammo? There is nothing like that for 6.5, but there’s a ton of .308 out there. In fact, if you had an awesome .308 rifle, really good AR-10, really good M1A, or a Skar-17, there’s gonna be military surplus brass you’ll possibly be able to get your hands on. You could shoot ball ammo out of it. With your 6.5, you’re not doing that.
The other factor that gets brought up is gonna be barrel wear.
I’m reluctant on this one, and the reason I say that is, yeah, the 6.5 people are saying ‘you get 2000 rounds, 3000 rounds top’ from a barrel before it becomes even a match-grade barrel turns into an over 1 MOA barrel. And they’re like ‘well when shit-hit-the-fan that’s gonna suck’, you know, you get 2000 rounds through it and you’ve got something that’s gonna shoot, you know, eight-inch groups at 500 yards.
Well let me ask you a question: You really think, when shit hits the fan and you’ve had a lot of engagements with people, you’re low on ammo, that you’re gonna care that your awesome rifle only shoots eight-inch groups at 500 yards? That’s a killzone hit. That’s still potential headshots. Headshots! At 500 yards. That’s not terrible. Not precision, but not terrible. Furthermore, they’re right, but only if the shit hits the fan and you’ve already got a worn-out barrel. Because truth be told, in what scenario does anyone honestly think that they’re going to fire more than 2,000 rounds
through their SHTF rifle? In a ROL scenario, or a revolution, or a single war or invasion, you think you’re still gonna be alive after putting 2000 rounds? You think you’re ever gonna get to that round count? Anybody really think that’s gonna happen? You’re gonna put 2000 rounds through your primary battle rifle and you’re still gonna be alive? Nuh-uh, there’s no way. Logistically impossible. Not gonna happen.
And you know, even if it did, maybe you could always have a backup AR-10 barrel, because you know eventually there’s gonna be extra .308 around. You could have an ar-10 barrel and a bolt carrier group anyways. So you know, that one I think is less of an issue. That’s an issue for match shooters, but again I would point out, look at what you’re paying. Look at what you’re paying for brass and stuff alone. I mean when you’re exceeding 2000 rounds through a precision rifle, how much money have you spent on ammo already? So for practice purposes this doesn’t matter. Because anyone who can afford to shoot 2000 rounds of match ammo through their 6.5, I don’t think they’re that worried about buying another $300 barrel when the barrel starts to wear out and lose accuracy.
You know, if you’ve got that type of money to throw into brass and everything, I dunno, buy an extra barrel and have it laying around. So you know, there’s your kicker. So as far as what it comes down to guys, I think cost and ammo versatility is still gonna be the downside of the 6.5. The barrel wear, I don’t think that matters in SHTF. That’s silly. That’s just a cost issue for target shooters.
But yeah, ultimately, the pros are gonna be, it’s just gonna be better past 500 yards, it’s gonna have lighter ammo, less recoil, pretty much similar ballistics; the downsides being cost of the ammo, and you’re not gonna be able to use a wide variety of ammo. You’re not gonna be able to use everything from hunting rounds to cheap ball ammo because it just doesn’t exist. There’s very little ammo available, there’s no military surplus, there’s nothing like that. You’re probably… anyone with any sort of budget who’s messing with 6.5, you’re gonna be shooting all hand-loads, and most of those are probably gonna be match-grade bullets. Because you’re using match-grade brass anyways, it’s kinda stupid to load cheap rounds in it. It just doesn’t make sense. You’re already investing in a caliber that’s pretty much used for match-type stuff anyways. That’s kind of its only niche right now. So until cheaper brass comes out, there’s not really gonna be cheap ammo or a way to really even make cheap ammo for the 6.5. So that’s the downsides.
It’s up to you guys to decide what you like. And the reason I think some of that’s gonna be important is gonna be for people who aren’t necessarily wanting to build the highest in battle rifle… you’ve got to look at the fact that you’re gonna end up with a pretty expensive barrel, you’re gonna end up with some pretty expensive parts with 6.5 Creedmoor no matter what you do, you’re gonna end up with really expensive brass, and in some cases by the time you’re done, for a little more money you might’ve been able to get a second AR-10 and another 500 rounds of ammo by the time you’re done. So that’s just something to factor in on people’s budgets. The budget is a big deal.
Alright guys, but that’s really all I have to say on that today, I hope it’s been informative, and I will talk to you guys next time.
What do you all think? Is the 6.5 Creedmoor better suited than a .308 Winchester for SHTF?
Sources: Jason Blaha Firearm Enthusiast, HuntingGearGuy