6.5 CreedmoorThe 6.5 Creedmoor was developed for the express purpose to provide a cartridge with the accuracy and ballistics to be competitive at the top level of High-Power Long-Range competition using factory ammunition, while also being easy on the novice reloader. During the 2006 High-Power Championships at Camp Perry, Hornady's Chief Ballistician Dave Emary was chatting with Service Rifle and National High Power Champion Dennis DeMille. Dave asked Dennis what his ideal competitive round would look like. His answer was that it would shoot high-BC bullets with great accuracy for winning long-range performance; it would have low recoil and have comparatively long barrel life; factory long-range
6.5 Creedmoor was designed by Hornady as a turnkey solution for winning NRA HP Long-Range events in "Match Rifle" class, which is dominated by the Tubb 2000 rifle.
Emary and the Hornady engineers went to work and by early 2007 had come up with a cartridge roughly based on the .308 body size, shooting a 6.5 mm bullet. The case has a 30-degree shoulder and a 0.370-inch neck. The case head is identical to .308 Winchester which makes it a shoe-in to any .308 action, and the body is tapered 0.004-inch per side for extraction reliability. While reloaders will indubitably try to hotrod the cartridge, factory ammunition is limited to 58,000 psi and shoots the 140-gr A-MAX (BC 0.585) at 2810 fps from a 26-inch barrel. Compared to some long-range ammunition which runs at a maximum pressure over 60,000 psi, being able to achieve a respectable 2800 fps with the high-BC 6.5 mm bullets will increase safety, aid reliability, and provide long brass life. For reduced recoil or short-course matches, the factory 120-gr A-MAX (BC 0.465) loads run at 2980 fps.
The GunAt this point the consistent experimental method suffers a blow. Up until now, all testing was done on the same rifle platform: the AI-AW. For the 6.5 Creedmoor, I was only able to get a barrel for its native competition rifle, the Tubb 2000, from McMillan. I borrowed a Tubb rifle from fellow practical shooter Tom Freeman for the test. Since I'm not an aperture or metallic sight shooter, US Optics provided a 3.8-22x44 mm SN-3 with a mil-scale reticle and EREK 0.1-mil elevation knob for the project. The barrel finished at 28 inches and was not threaded for a muzzle device.
Bottom-line: Load, Ballistics, Accuracy140-gr Factory Load: 140gr A-Max @ 2770 fps, 41.7gr H4350, 210M, Hornady Brass.
120-gr Factory Load: 120gr A-Max @ 2980 fps, 43.5gr H4350, 210M, Hornady Brass.
From a 100-yard zero, the 140-gr load needs 7.7 mils of elevation to 1000 yards, and will drift 59 inches with a 10 mph cross. Accuracy was 1/2 MOA or a little better.
6.5 Creedmoor, 140 AMAX @ 2810 Zero 100yd 5000' Density Altitude RANGE ELEV- moa mil | WIND(10) moa mil RANGE 100 0" 0.00 0.0mil | 0" 0.50 0.1mil 100 200 3" 1.25 0.4mil | 2" 1.00 0.3mil 200 300 11" 3.50 1.0mil | 4" 1.25 0.4mil 300 400 25" 6.00 1.8mil | 8" 1.75 0.5mil 400 500 46" 8.75 2.5mil | 13" 2.50 0.7mil 500 600 74" 11.75 3.4mil | 18" 3.00 0.8mil 600 700 110" 15.00 4.3mil | 26" 3.50 1.0mil 700 800 155" 18.50 5.4mil | 35" 4.25 1.2mil 800 900 210" 22.25 6.5mil | 45" 4.75 1.4mil 900 1000 276" 26.25 7.7mil | 57" 5.50 1.6mil 1000
I found it difficult to bench the Tubb rifle as solidly as my AIs, so the best I could shoot was in the 0.3 MOA range. I think the cartridge is capable of better but I wasn't able to coax better performance out of the prototype ammunition.
Load Development NotesDue to limited time and a limited amount of pre-production 6.5 Creedmoor brass from Hornady, my load testing wasn't comprehensive. I think long-range shooters will be pleased with the results with the 120 and 140-grain A-MAX bullets; however, I couldn't resist trying some other 6.5 mm bullets in the Creedmoor case. Sticking with Federal 210M primers and H4350, I loaded and shot the 139-grain Lapua Scenar and the 130-grain Berger VLD. Both bullets shot excellent groups like the factory ammunition. The Scenars shot at just about the same velocity as the 140-grain A-MAX when loaded with the same charge. The 130-gr Berger VLD split the velocity of the two factory loads at about 2900 fps. For the reloader willing to push pressure a little bit, I think this cartridge has some headroom.
Ammo and ComponentsHornady intends the 6.5 Creedmoor to be an off-the-shelf solution for long-range shooters, and offers several long-range factory loads for that purpose. The 140-gr load is specced at 2810 fps and the 120-gr load is specced at 2980 fps from a 26-inch barrel. The reloading recipe for each load is printed on every box of factory ammunition, so replicating or improving on the factory loads won't be a mystery.
Although no production brass was available at the time of this review, the pre-production brass was good quality. Judging based on the quality of Hornady's other brass, I expect the production brass to be good quality and affordable, at probable under $0.60/pc.
Long-range shooter RayDog Sanchez described shooting 6.5 Creedmoor from the Tubb rifle as "boringly accurate" at 1000 yards.
Match PerformanceI haven't yet had an opportunity to run the 6.5 Creedmoor in practical/field matches. Based on its accuracy and ballistic performance, I expect it to provide exactly the same results as .260 Remington. Dennis DeMille shot the 6.5 Creedmoor during the 2007 NRA High-Power Long-Range season and had great success. It is reported that as soon as he switched to the 6.5, his rapid fire groups and scores went through the roof, and he set a new personal best at the 600 yard line with 200/15X.
SummaryHornady has the right mind-set to make its new cartridge a success in the competitive and practical market, unlike Remington who basically let the .260 languish in a few hunting rifles.