6.5 Creedmoor Ammunition | A Reloader’s Perspective

The 6.5 Creedmoor is a centerfire rifle cartridge that has long-range potential due to high ballistic coefficient. The ammunition has a good selection of bullets from 85 to 160 grains in various styles. The 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge length of 2.825 is capable of chambering in short-action bolt rifles and AR-10 semi-automatic rifles.

6.5 Creedmoor Ammunition
6.5 Creedmoor Ammunition

Ammoland Shooting SportsU.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The 6.5 mm has been around in some form since the early 1890s in various countries using it for their rifles. At that time bullets and powders were not as good as today. Fouling and dirty powder and primers were some of the problems with small calibers of the day.

Two of the earlier 6.5mm rounds were the 6.5 Dutch and Carcano. One of the complaints was the lack of stopping power. Most of them used a 160 gr. RN-FMJ or a similar weight. They gave good penetration but only made a small hole in a soldier. Uruguay even had some Mauser model 71s re-barreled to a 6.5 known as the Daudeteau. The French navy also used it in the 1890s for a few years. The Japanese military used it for years. Some other countries either used or tried it at one time. Militaries replaced them with more powerful rounds over time. Many of the 6.5 rounds share a similar case capacity to the Creedmoor, though not interchangeable. The Swedish 6.5 X 55 has an excellent reputation for accuracy, an is popular in Europe for hunting. The model 96 Mauser is well regarded even today.

Left to Right: 6.5 Dutch | 6.5 Carcano | 6.5 Jap | 6.5x54 | 6.5x55
Left to Right: 6.5 Dutch | 6.5 Carcano | 6.5 Japanese | 6.5×54 | 6.5×55

There are several new rounds that are becoming popular for one reason or another. They may seem to be useless but they are growing in popularity, such as the 300 AC Blackout and the 6.5 Creedmoor. There are companies making rifles and ammo is being produced.

6.5 Creedmoor

The 6.5 Creedmoor is a strong suit for all shooters due to the accuracy of the round in most rifles.  This caliber, there are some rifles and bullets made especially for competition. Otherwise, there would be no reason to introduce the 6.5, as it is less powerful than the 260 Remington. The 260 is popular and is an adequate hunting round and most rifles are accurate with it. Still, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a fraction of an inch more accurate in a target rifle.

Most people could not tell the difference.

Starline brass and Sierra 6.5 Creedmoor
Starline brass and Sierra 6.5 Creedmoor

Brass is being produced for the 6.5 Creedmoor for reloaders like myself. For this test, I obtained some Starline brass. In the past, I've used Starline and they produce quality brass at reasonable prices. For some reason, Starline offers their brass in both small and large primers. Some target shooters prefer the small primer, allowing for consistent burn in loads. I will stick with the large ones, especially with full power loads and slower powders such as the new IMR 4451. There is a good selection of bullets from 85 to 160 grains in various styles. For those of us who use cast bullets, there are a few available as well as bullet molds. For info on their growing line, you can go to their Starline Brass for updates.

Kinetic makes a couple of calibers with the intention of expanding and I received a few cases from them which did well during testing. In the past, their 308 brass did fine for the information you can go to Kinetic Industries.

Ruger sent their bolt action American rifle with a Vortex 4×12 scope. The Vortex is a high-quality scope and I have used them in the past with good results. I used one on a bear hunt and it did very well in limited daylight. The Ruger American is a less expensive rifle but I have always found that they perform above their pay grade. These rifles have always been reliable, accurate and safe to shoot.The Ruger may lack the aesthetics of a high-dollar rifle, but shooting it shows it is worth every dollar. Since a deer or bear doesn’t judge a rifle by its looks but it performance we will do the same.

Ruger American Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor w/ Vortex 4x22
Ruger American Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor w/ Vortex 4×12
Ruger American Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor w/ Vortex 4x12
Ruger American Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor w/ Vortex 4×12

The Ruger American rifle lacks sights but has a scope mount. There is a screw on cap at the muzzle, enabling the use of a suppressor to where legal. The bolt has three lugs which makes it a 70 degree lift as opposed to the 90 degree on a two-lug bolt. Both systems are good so a choice would be a personal preference. The extractor is a small claw type and the ejector is spring-loaded. Neither gave me any issues during the test, and a lot of ammo went through the gun. The trigger from the factory is fine but is adjustable if desired. There is a thick, soft recoil pad which isn’t needed for this round. The recoil of the 6.5 Creedmoor should be no problem for most shooters. The pad may help out with shooting by gripping your coat or shirt, enabling a quicker shot.

The 6.5 Creedmoor has found favor with competition and target shooters but hunting will be my focus.

The 6.5 caliber has long-range potential due to their high ballistic coefficient. The rifle has a 22” barrel with a 1 in 8 twist, and it should stabilize almost anything. The real long and streamlined bullets should work well and perform well at long ranges.

6.5 Creedmoor Ballistics Chart

LoadBulletVelocityComment
43.5 grains IMR 416685 gr Sierra HP3112OK
12 grains Target85 gr Sierra HP2237.9Consistent
40 grains 4166107 gr Sierra HP2902.7Nice Load
40 grains 4166120 gr Sierra2725.9High ES
10 grains Target120 gr Cast1471.6Very Consistent
10 grains Unique120 gr Cast1451Very Consistent
14 grains Blue120 gr Cast1807.67Consistent
Double Tap127 gr HP2882.8Nice Load
41 grains 4451139 gr Privi2696.3Good Hunting Load
40 grains 4451139 gr FMJ2727.5OK
Double Tap140 gr Flex Tip2548.3Consistent
40 grains 4451140 gr Barnes Match King Brass2659.3Mild - Fair
12 grains Blue140 gr Cast1480.31Consistent
38 grains 4451160 gr Hornady2354.2Mild - High ES

When testing any new gun there are a few things to look for. First is safety, be sure you are not using overloads that may damage the gun. With a modern gun such as this Ruger, shoot factory loads along with the hand-loads to start. That will give you a good idea what to expect. For this test, I used some factory ammo from Double Tap.

Double Tap Ammo 6.5 Creedmoor Line-up
Double Tap Ammo 6.5 Creedmoor Line-up

I have worked with Double Tap ammo a lot in the past, and it is one of the best brands around. Exceeding their velocities would be difficult and unsafe. That is generally true with other good brands. Double Tap is growing and has a good selection of all types of ammo. In the last 20 years or so, factory ammo has improved by leaps and bounds in both accuracy and velocity. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a precision target shooting load, which it does very well, given a good rifle and ammo. One advantage that the 6.5’s have is their target bullets have a high ballistic coefficient. This means that they will do well at long ranges plus they lack excessive recoil.

One thing that is often overlooked, reduced and cast bullet loads. They use less powder and inexpensive bullets are perfect for such a use. They are as accurate as the full power but not at long distances. Small game is perfect for such loads. These loads can harvest editable species without destroying a lot of meat. Varmints and groundhogs will be easy targets at moderate ranges.

Here in Arizona, we have a lot of ground squirrels. They are small and don’t sit in one spot for a long time, creating quite a challenge. A reduced load requires good accuracy and it would be capable of being useful out to a hundred yards or so. It is good practice for future large game hunts. Since you are shooting at ground targets be sure to know where your bullets are going as ricochets are a danger. More often than not the bullet is going too slow to have the ground break them up. A lightweight thin jacketed bullet will help out in that regard.

So why not take a lightweight jacketed bullet and launch it at about 1500 FPS instead of three thousand feet per second?

 A reduced load requires good accuracy and it would be capable of being useful out to a hundred yards or so. It is good practice for future large game hunts.
A reduced load requires good accuracy and it would be capable of being useful out to a hundred yards or so. It is good practice for future large game hunts.

It will do the job as well and be easier on the gun. If it is hot then this will slow up the barrel heating. With a little load development, they will be as accurate.

Hodgdon Powder has introduced several new flake powders meant for handguns. They also give consistent results with rifles using reduced and cast bullet loads. The new IMR flake powders and one of my very favorite powders, Unique, the results are very consistent.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is a target shooting load meant for long range. For that, you need bullets that have a high ballistic coefficient. Meaning, they will maintain their velocity even at the longer ranges. The 6.5 bullet does that, without the excessive muzzle blast and recoil that larger rounds have.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is a target shooting load meant for long range.
The 6.5 Creedmoor is a target shooting load meant for long range.

To give an example, the 142 grain Sierra Match King has a BC of .550 at lower velocities and a .595 near the muzzle. To compare a 160-grain semi-pointed has a BC of from .353 to .390. The Match King has a very small hollow point meaning it won’t open up and Sierra does not recommend it for hunting. The 160 grain is a soft point and with its high sectional density, penetration should be good. But, since it is blunt the BC is much lower so it will drop faster. Like all calibers, there is a good selection of bullets. So there is no excuse to use the wrong bullet for a specific purpose.

Put a little time into research and shooting and the 6.5 won’t disappoint.

6.5 Creedmoor Rifles for Sale | 6.5 Creedmoor Uppers for Sale6.5 Creedmoor Ammo for Sale

Bob ShellAbout Bob Shell:

A Custom Reloader of Obsolete and Antique Ammo, Bob Shell, writes about the subject of Guns, Ammo, Shooting and Related Subjects. Visit: www.bobshellsblog.blogspot.com.

  • 29 thoughts on “6.5 Creedmoor Ammunition | A Reloader’s Perspective

    1. I would like to say…
      The 300 Winchester magnum should be
      Pronounced as such…
      I HEAR AND READ …300 WINMAG
      REMMY FOR REMINGTON
      WINNY FOR WINCHESTER
      THE LIST GOES ON

    2. Ok I see No reason for a 6.5 Creedmore when you still have a 308 Win that you can reload up and down as you need from 100 grain up to 200 if need be, and for accuracy I doubt if anyone can hold it to get the most out of a 308. Sniper School X 3 , 3 years in country. Been reloading the 308 since 1965 and hunting with it, 1000’s of rounds through them

      1. You’ve clearly earned the right to your opinion. When you’ve seen something work for decades it’s hard to imagine a reason to change. That said if it’s an improvement I’d rather the men who put their asses on the line have every possible advantage. Some military snipers will be adopting the round and others are kicking the tires. All I hear is the efficiency of the round and the ballistic coefficient are phenomenal.

    3. New to this site, my first actual site posting, I typically just read and mind my own. Today though Firewagon posted that someone near him shot a 10 point muley. Was that 10 on each side? Or 10 points total? Here in the West that’s a 5×5 or 5 point muley buck. We don’t count like you would on whitetails. If your muley was 10 and 10 you have a record. I’m out all the time, biggest this winter I saw was a 5×6.
      Lots of 6.5 hype. Due to various health reasons I’m shooting steel now as opposed to big game. Just bought a Christensen Arms Mesa Long Range in 6.5 CM. Topped it w a borrowed interim 4-16×50 Lucid scope, $300 bucks if you buy one. First time out I worked up to 800 yards, shooting 24”x24” steel w factory 140 gr. Federal hunting bullets. That’s the first time I’ve ever shot beyond about 500, my longest elk kill. I couldn’t obtain the best shooting position and was a bit out on my bicep, but it didn’t bruise me and I can shoot it all day.
      My elk gun was a .300 Weatherby Mag, why? It tips them over at 500 yards. I never shot one a second time.
      30 years ago I killed a 6×6 bull elk at 200 yards with a 30.06, after I shot him twice in the chest then purposely broke a shoulder. For muley’s I’ve used a .243, but my .25-06 was a much better choice. My only pronghorn was shot w a .280 which was plenty of gun.
      These days wolves are a problem and the elk are skittish. You’ll be shooting a bit further in the Fall than you may want to. If you’re coming to Idaho for elk, please buy and fill a wolf tag
      A .30 caliber magnum is a good choice, my friend swears by the .338 Winchester Mag.

      1. Interesting! Of Southun heritage, that was a 10 pointer that me grandson laid low! Made the shot on his initial “youth muley hunt.” As you note, it was accomplished in Texas, so, I reckon, by BIG BOY counting, the “10 pointer,” was actually a 5×5. Records not withstanding, a 13 year old’s highlight! BTW, a one shot kill, off of a wire fence, @ a range finder verified 235 yards, with a Ruger American in .308 – left hander. As it turned out, a good harvest, as the “old boy” was already missing at least one tooth.

      2. Firewagon, anytime we can get the grandkids out is a good thing. And turning them onto their first nice muley is a treat. Cherished memories 4-ever.
        My end of summer goal is to shoot steel at 1760 yards with my 6.5 CM. After buying it I can see why their is a rave about the caliber. I do agree with the others though, there are better choices for game. My gun is heavy enough with no jump that I can stay in the scope and watch the bullet strike.
        Plus it carries the heavier bullets out to the range I want to be at. Happy Shooting-

    4. Comment…I a really surprised that anything over 1 MOA (at 100 yd,) is acceptable to any of you , especially reloaders.

      1. Old vet: Absolutely! Also, part of the reason I rounded up a TC Thompson Compass in 6.5 CM, claimed 3 shot 1MOA or less @100 yds – out of the box with quality factory ammo, no tinkering required. I watched a “salesman,” no medaled competition shooter, prove that with two different factory loadings using two different bullet weights! After rounding up my copy, I verified the fact with SIX different, quality, factory loadings – 120-143 grain bullets. If u r nearly as old a vet as I am, you know that bak-in-tha-day, getting any, non custom build, standard rifle to print the then holy grail of 1MOA OUT OF THE BOX with factory ammo was all but a miracle. A primary reason I have been one of those “holy grail” reloaders for fifty plus years. I’ve spent more days of time I’d like to do over tuning some sporter rifle to a “single” loading that it would achieve that benchmark with. With the much better Bullets and rifles, today, many are capable of under 1MOA without that “tuning.” With my “play days” winding down, my new miracle was having my first “tuning” attempt, using Sierra’s 130 BTHP game bullet (not a MK), running over 2800 FPS, print 5 shots in 1-5/8” @ 200 yds! That’s a “time saver!”

    5. Opinions are like rectums: everybody has one. Gentilemen, I have never pulled a gun new from the box and had it shoot the best it can. They’re as individual as fingerprints or DNA. They require you work with them to develop them to their very best. That is part of the fun of it! Shooting at distances beyond 300 yards consistently means you have to have an intimate relationship with that gun developed over time. I very much doubt a game animal shot with a lapua, 600 Remington or 6.5 cm will be able to identify the cartridge they were shot with! Shot placement/accuracy is everything! I remember seeing bar room brawls started. Over which is better a 270 win or 30-06. Nguyen shooter and enjoyem!

    6. Man there are a lot of bitter people posting on here. It a rifle cartridge and it’s not like Hillary came up with it. If you don’t want it don’t buy it.

    7. I do not remember any cartridge getting as much media hype as the 6.5 creedmoor. There are so many better hunting cartridges.
      -7mm-08 is one of my favs.

      1. @Mathew W, Hornaday has a lot of R&D money tied up in the 6.5 CM. All the hype and advertising is to ensure business success. The 6.5X47 Lapua is a much better long range target cartridges than the 6.5 CM. And as you so correctly observe, there many hunting cartridges that are superior to the 6.5 CM. So many in fact that one could not list them all here. The 6.5 CM is all about profit.

        1. “….much better long range target cartridge….than the 6.5 CM.” As they, and the 260 Remington, are ballistically similar, that appears to sound like my rig is better than your rig overstatement. It actually, being a slightly smaller case, has less powder capacity, possibly impacting velocity loss to the 6.5 by as much as 5-10 fps! 😉 A better case for NOT using the x47 is that American manufacturers don’t offer components, and those Lapua cases aint cheap!

          1. @Firewagon, I had not made a comparison between the 6.5 Lapua and the 260 Remington. I believe that I read something about the .260 Rem being a barrel burner and not living up to its potential because Remington made the rifle model that corresponded with the .260 cartridge with to short a barrel, but I could be wrong.
            That is the nice part about our sport, we have so much to choose from, experiment with, and compare.

            1. So many have mentioned the .260 Remington I included it showing the x47 Lapua and 6.5 CM as all being ballistically similar, and any comments attempting to show one better than another, for hunting, is incorrect. As to accuracy, or more to the point, competition purposes at long range, the 6.5 CM is the current choice, with rare exceptions. There def are better hunting cartridges, my 300 WinMag is a fav, w/Sierra 190MK bullets @3085 fps it drops 30″ less than the 6.5 w/142 Sierra tipped MK @1,000 and 40″ less at 1100 and, of course retains over 1,100 fpe out there. One “close” comparison, showing how much better the 6.5 bullet does in the wind over that BIG 190/30 is that wind drift is only about 3″ greater with the 6.5! NOW, fogging off one or even two shots on game, in the field, with these BIG boomers, is fairly easy and that “feeling” that you have really set off something significant can not be denied, however, neither can that feeling in your shoulder. Attempting to do that ALL DAY at some competition is the WHY for the 6.5 CM. Rapid fire w/300 WM, even in a gas gun? 😉 Your last statement is absootootly correct, and I would add that there should always be room for “just one more gun!”

      2. @Matthew… No offence son, but you must be a youngster. Years ago it was all 270 Winchester, before that the 243 Winchester . They have all had their moment in the sun . Someone comes up with some thing (not necessarily new) but with a twist and it becomes the latest and greatest. 243=6mm and 270=aprox 6.85mm. The Japs had a 6.5mm ARISKA in WWII . As Wild bill says it’s all about profit and salesmanship. Names like Jack O’Connor and Skeeter Skelton were behind their own favorite so we heard lots about them at the time.

      3. LOL, 10 years in the making! Certainly “better hunting cartridges;” however, for long range competition the benchmark now appears to be the 6.5 Creedmoor. Read after several “reach on out there and touch ’em” competitors, and they commented that compared with the .308, in the wind, the 6.5 shooters were having to dial in HALF the windage corrections. As to hunting, the American Rifleman article, I think, showed that taking all manner of plains game in Africa was effectively and efficiently done with the “skinny bullets.” BTW, one of the main objects in the development of this boy was “reduced recoil.” Mission accomplished, as I noted elsewhere. No bruising, no flinching required, as my son noted, after a coyote hunt, the thing recoils like a “pellet gun.” 😉

    8. I do wholeheartedly agree about these Ruger American rifles. We’ve two All-Weather stainless ones in the hunting safe chambered in .270WIN and .30-06SPRG, both outfitted with identical Leopold 4-12 glass. They have performed flawlessly in all conditions. through two hunting seasons with 3 family members filling the freezers. Of course we all expect our rifles to do the same and it is rare when one doesn’t. I will admit, while in the guns shops in the last few months, I’ve witnessed more 6.5 Creedmoor bolt guns go out the door than any other caliber.

      1. Always have loved Ruger guns! Also have a pair of RA’s in .308, one a lefty, for a left eye dominant teenager! The boy took his first 10 pt Muley with it, not long ago. My “load,” so “prouded up Granddad” with that one shot and down deal! He will tell you, however, that my TC Compass in 6.5 Creed is far more of a pleasure to set off! Unlike the many that have poo pooed the “need” for another cartridge, there should always be the “need” for another gun! 😉 Especially when, like those RA’s, you can pick up a one hole puncher for “cheap,” scope, rings, and mount included! Just be careful, as my father-in-law cautioned by sons when they were out with him and he “traded for,” or “bought” another gun: “Don’t tell your granny nothin’; she don’t need to know nuthin’!

    9. Hurry everybody! Jump on that latest-greatest caliber bandwagon. Meanwhile I’ll continue to harvest my game with my numerous .270WIN and .30-06SPRG rifles, protect what’s dear to me with my 5.56 & .308WIN ARs. I fail to see the need for something that a .243WIN-.308WIN can already do well, but that is just me. When the 6.5 Creedmoor has lasted 50+ years, harvested plenty of game, and/or been adopted by our Armed Forces ll consider one, maybe.

    10. Where’d you come up with this gem:
      “The 260 is popular and is an adequate hunting round and most rifles are accurate with it. Still, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a fraction of an inch more accurate in a target rifle.”

      Not a fact. Completely made up. Purely an opinion, written as though it were an actual fact.

      1. It is not an opinion. If the 260 was more accurate then the 6.5 that would be the round used in competition. The 260 is slightly more powerful & I would prefer it to the 6.5 as I don’t shoot competition and the 260 would give slightly more power especially with heavy bullets. But to be honest for a sub 30 caliber in that length the 7 mm-08 is better then either. In the future I will be writing a piece on the 7 mm-08 for Starline

        1. @Mr Shell, You must not presume that KCsmith is an honest commentator with an honest comment. He writes much like, and his nom de plume is very similar to a well known sour puss that trolls here.

        2. Gotcha. So it’s a fact then, not just your opinion. Because people don’t use .260rem in competitions.
          I don’t have any information that states the 6.5 is more accurate than .260rem, but you obviously must have a source I do not.
          Please cite the source of this fact. Thank you.

          …and to the peanut gallery, I don’t feed trolls.

        3. TC Thompson has been running a rebate special on their 6.5 Creedmoor Compass rifle. They make the claim of 1″ or less three shot groups @100 yds w/”Factory Ammo.” Not match stuff, just Factory. No tinkering required. Watched a demo of an out of the box (“assumed” no photog trickery) TC Compass do that very thing with two different loads – a 120 or 129 (bad old timer memory) load and a 140 load – both rendered under the 1″ claim! Sandbag rest, 3-9 Vortex Crossfire scope (cheap), no cooling between shots. As someone mentioned about the Ruger American rifle, the TC Compass is an inexpensive, but not totally lacking in quality/accuracy, rifle. Over fifty plus years of “tinkering,” I have spent as little as a day, and as much as several months, and often FAILING, to get some rifle to hang 1″ groups @100 yds, let alone find them coming out-of-the-box! YMMV, however, if you aint into “tinkering,” and not interested in some “wall flower hanging” ego piece, this may be all you would ever want…. Disclaimer, only TC rig I ever shot or owned is the same 7mmTCU I still have that I used, bak-in-tha-day, at IHMSA shoots.

            1. Little doubt you will not be disappointed! My oldest son, at the time I think 13-14 yo, set the, then, junior record at one of this IHMSA shoots using a 10” TC 7mmTCU. Best I know, they don’t build junk!

        4. Bob, many are missing a major requirement in the protocol for the 6.5 CM development. RECOIL. Geared, of course, to competition, the goal was better performance beyond 600 or 1,000+, with less recoil that reduced recoil enduced fatigue, which better scores would be the benefit, from all day shooting. The Sep ‘17 American Rifleman has an excellent article on the 6.5 CM, “an overnight success 10 years in the making.” Short answer being, definitely succeeded! Believing there needs be little excuse for just “one more” gun, I pulled the trigger on the TC Thompson Compass in 6.5 CM. The promotional price of $304 for Gun, 4-12 Vortex scope w/mount & Rings, was an easy sell! Promising <1” – 3 shot groups @100 out of the box proved NO LIE. Quality factory stuff met that promise. What excited this old “tinkerer,” was the 1-5/8” groups I printed with “my” FIRST reload try using 130 Sierra BTHP (game bullet, not MK) @200 yds! Oh yea, about that recoil: Although no “brake” is needed, recoil is already soft, since the rifle comes threaded for such, or a suppressor, I installed AAC’s combo compensator/suppressor mount, in order to use their suppressor. My son used the rig on a recent coyote hunt, said “it recoiled like a pellet gun!” Perhaps just a tad over stated? There def is no comparison to even the recoil from a .308 gas gun & this bolt rig. As noted in the AR article, they not only achieved the benchmarks set for a competition gun, as the Europeans have known, the 6.5 CM makes an excellent hunting round, proven on the plains in Africa!

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