6.5 Creedmoor Bullets

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Today, there is entirely too much focus on the size and speed of bullets. Hunters are enamored with muzzle velocity, bullet weight and the foot-pounds of energy delivered on the target. This is nothing more than showy appendage measuring, as not a single one of these factors will kill an animal without the bullet hitting the vitals.

Accuracy should be the paramount concern when choosing a hunting cartridge. A couple of factors that are all-too-often overlooked when considering a cartridge comprises what I like to call the shootability of a cartridge – recoil, accuracy and ammunition costs all play a role in how shootable a cartridge is. In my estimation, recoil is the leading cause of poor shooting. People with big magnums often develop a flinch and the effect the flinch has on their accuracy is tragic. Likewise, rifles eating expensive ammunition are shot less than they should be.

One cartridge that proficiently fills the description above wasn’t actually designed for hunting in the first place. The 6.5 Creedmoor is the product of collaboration between Hornady’s Chief Ballistician, Dave Emary, and Service Rifle and National High-Power Champion, Dennis DeMille, of Creedmoor Sports. In 2006, at the High-Power Championships at Camp Perry, a bull session of “what if” morphed into the idea of designing the perfect long-range match cartridge. Long-range shooting competitions are a huge growth discipline within the shooting sports. Dave and Dennis believed that a competition-styled cartridge, available in high quality ammunition that was so accurate it could compete from straight off the rack at these competitions, was an idea that could potentially help more shooters ease into the sport.

Dave asked Dennis what his perfect long-range competition cartridge looked like, and exceptional accuracy when shooting high ballistic co-efficient (BC) bullets and low recoil were the first answers. Long barrel life and acceptable long-range ballistics were close behind. His replies might surprise some, but anyone who has chased the bull at long range knows that shooters like Dennis are all about anything that will give them an edge in a very competitive sport. They are not interested in bullet weight or the muzzle velocity unless it means something on the final scorecard.

The recipe resulted in an extremely shootable little cartridge and the 6.5 Creedmoor was introduced at the 2008 SHOT Show in Vegas. Being frugal with powder and matching the charges to appropriate-sized bullets achieves long barrel life and low recoil. The Creedmoor was loosely based on the 308 Win cartridge, and it fits perfectly into any short action. The 6.5-millimetre diameter bullets were a natural match for the smaller case and powder charges available.

A 140-grain Hornady A-Max in 6.5 has a BC of .585. A .30 calibre bullet has to weigh almost 200 grains to have the same BC. By the time you flame up enough powder to get that 30-calibre bullet up to the speeds of the 6.5, you have developed a huge payload of recoil and substantially shortened your barrel life. The little 6.5 just makes so much sense at the long-range accuracy game. Bullets don’t require mass to win in the competitions, just aerodynamics.

The Creedmoor has lived up to its intended design parameters and has done well in the shooting games. Accuracy and success in one shooting discipline soon builds a buzz in other areas and quickly the Creedmoor left the range and headed into the woods.

Currently, Hornady Manufacturing is the only company making ammunition for the Creedmoor. Factory loads were first only offered in the long range A-Max bullet in 120 (2,910 feet per second) and 140 grains (2,710 feet per second.) Since then, the 120-grain monometal GMX in Superformance (3,010 feet per second), as well as the 129-grain SST and 129-grain Interbond (2,950 feet per second) have beefed up the line for the hunters in the crowd. The three Superformance loadings use the new Superformance powders, developed in conjunction with Hodgdon. These powders achieve the speed increases through kernel-shape technology and specialized coatings.

For the handloader, the Creedmoor offers plenty of opportunities. Bullets are available from the diminutive Sierra 85-grain Varminter to the 160-grain round nose moose masher from Hornady. The most accurate powders I’ve found are Aliant’s RL 15, IMR 4350 and H 4350 for the 120 to 130-grain bullets. The 140-grain bullets I’ve shot prefer RL 17 and IMR 4831SC.

Loaded up with a deep penetrating mono metal bullet or a controlled expansion bonded bullet, the Creedmoor is a great choice for any of our hoofed critters in the woods.

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