It's been a good year for 6.5 mm. The .260 Remington has hit full stride after a ramp-up of several
years, with top competitors at most field-style long-range matches shooting it. Lapua's 6.5x47 saw
the first wave of custom LR rifles built around it in 2007 and proved to be just as good as people
hoped. Finally, Hornady is announcing its new 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge at SHOT 2008. How do these
three mid-size 6.5 mm cartridges stack up against one another? I spent much of 2007 figuring out
the answer to that question.
Left to right: .308, .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5x47 Lapua
Why 6.5 mm ?
Shooters who compete in "practical"
rifle matches have been migrating to 6.5 mm calibers for several years. While "tactical"
shooters can be a dogmatic bunch, often sticking to conventional choices like .308 and .300
Winchester Magnum, practical competitors are in it to win, and the advantages of the lightweight but
high-BC 6.5 mm bullets didn't escape their notice. The long-range practical matches I've shot and
administered in the last five years have common themes of physical exertion, shooting from weird
positions under time stress, and difficult UKD targets.
This new class of medium-sized 6.5 mm cartridges will fit properly in short actions (308 size) and
feed from the detachable box magazine (DBM) systems becoming ubiquitous on tactical bolt rifles.
They have less recoil than 308 but provide better trajectory performance for both wind and drop than
the standard 190gr SMK load in .300 Winchester Magnum, and have barrel life over 4000 rounds, or
about twice what you can expect from Tubb's 6XC, 6.5-284 Norma, or 7mm Remington Magnum.
Launching the high-BC 130-142-grain bullets at a moderate velocity is a good recipe for a good
long-range performance without the costs of the barrel-burners. Once you're using the same high-BC
bullet, adding 150 fps to get 2970 fps instead of a more sedate 2820 fps only gains about four
inches of wind drift per 10 mph cross!
To match the BC of the 6.5 mm 139-gr Lapua Scenar (#2 from left, 0.615), the .30 has to step up the 210-gr Berger VLD (#3 from left, 0.631). Also shown: .30 175-grain SMK (left, 0.496) and the .338 250-grain Lapua Scenar (right, 0.675).
But 6.5 mm is not just a range toy. The 6.5x55 mm Swede has a long history in hunting in Europe,
and it sufficient to take moose if shots are chosen carefully. These new 6.5's can duplicate the
classic 6.5x55 loads, so with the right bullet selection, they can get the job done on game.
This article isn't intended to sell 6.5 mm or to give a thorough account of each of the three
calibers. I aim to explain how the three cartridges were tested and the summary of the results I
was able to achieve with each one. I recommend reading the full articles for more background.