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.

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

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    Leave a Comment 9 Comments

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *