The Creedmoor: Everyone’s Rifle Cartridge — Finally!

Hornady Tactical Application Police

Despite all of the recent attention given to the 6.5 Creedmoor, the cartridge has been around for more than a dozen years. There are many specialized benchrest cartridges, and like many of them, the 6.5 Creedmoor didn’t get much attention.

Cutaway of the 6.5 Creedmoor bullet
This is the long thin 6.5 Creedmoor bullet.

The Creedmoor cartridge is intended for extreme long range shooting. The primary purpose is, perhaps was, simply punching paper. For many reasons, everyday shooters became interested in long-range shooting and found the Creedmoor cartridge an excellent all-around choice. We owe its development to two engineers, Dave Emary and Joe Thielen. These men work for Hornady Manufacturing. Precision ammunition is more than a hobby for them. They took a hard look at what was available and decided to translate what they had learned into a useful, affordable, and low recoil cartridge.

A 6mm cartridge offers better wind bucking ability than smaller cartridges without the recoil of the .30 caliber projectiles. That is a very simplistic explanation, but you get the idea. The problem was that light bullets were not delivering the goods at 1,000 yards or more. So they decided to up the caliber to 6.5mm to allow for heavier bullets. Another concern was high pressure. They intended their new loading should have a relatively low operating pressure. This meant long operating life and less wear on the rifle and the cartridge cases. This was a caliber for handloaders.

The 6.5mm 140-grain bullet they designed has a ballistic coefficient of .500. That is a high BC that will hold its own well at long range.

The ballistic coefficient (BC) of a body is a measure of its ability to overcome air resistance in flight. It is inversely proportional to the negative acceleration — a high number indicates a low negative acceleration. This is roughly the same as saying that the projectile in question possesses low drag.

Hornady Tactical Application Police
Yep, the 6.5 just may be a great all-around tactical load.

The starting velocity was intended to be modest, perhaps 2,600 fps, but the projectile would maintain its supersonic velocity to 1,200 yards or more. Affordability and a cartridge that was friendly to handloaders was also important. Barrel life was an important consideration, as a low recoil, super-accurate cartridge would be fired a lot.

The cartridge was designed with a bullet that protrudes considerably from the cartridge case allowing a relatively small case with plenty of powder space. The new cartridge has been proven on the firing line for more than a dozen years in a highly demanding environment. There are high demands at that strata. That means, the factory loads that are available are among the most carefully assembled and most accurate ever made.

Other Applications

If you have ever used the 6.5x55mm Swede, you know it is a game killer—out of proportion to its size. The 6.5 Creedmoor is even better in the modern rifles it is chambered in. As a varmint caliber, the 6.5 Creedmoor offers excellent utility. It offers longer range than the .223s and greater bullet mass. With Hornady TAP loads, it is also a fine tactical load, splitting the difference between the .223 and .308. I cannot find a single thing not to like about this all-American cartridge from Hornady, and I don’t believe you will either.

Are you a fan of the 6.5 Creedmoor? What do you use it for, bench rest, hunting, self-defense? Share your 6.5 Creedmoor story in the comment section.

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Comments (31)

  1. I have a 338 win mag 7mm mag and a 30-06. My wife doesn’t like the recoil and wont even shoot the 338.
    Bought a 6.5 and she loves shooting. Ive read the reviews and it delivers. She likes it so much it’s a good thing the ammo is inexpensive. If you don’t want want your wife going with you stick with the 338 win mag.

  2. I had a 6.5 creed-more the 250 savage cases i resized for pressure signs of 6.5 creed-more hornaday factory ammo i had to drop to less then 35 grains of irm or H4350 I fixed the problem it a savage firearm I changed the barrel to a 6.5X284 its a used savage light weight hunter barrel! with my reloads I had to lower the scope 4 inches at 20 yards out to 50 yards a other 5 inches it was gaining in ark faster speed

  3. Soooooo the two genius’ @ Hornady in 2007 had never heard of the. 260 Rem, who’s Saami specs were registered in 1999? I give Hornady plenty of credit for marketing, zero for engineering on this round.

  4. I have been following the eargeshplittenloudenboomen field for long enough to know that the 6.5 Creedmoor sits in a commercial niche also occupied by a few other equally capable chamberings.
    For example: the 7-08 Remington essentially duplicates the ballistics of the 6.5C. It’s primary fault is that it is that the round was developed in 1958 vs. 2007! The 7-08 was, after all, designed to retain enough energy to knock over the ram silhouette steel target at 500 meters, whereas the 6.5C was primarily designed to perforate paper targets. Not only will the 7-08 propel similarly weighted projectiles to duplicate velocities, even heavier bullets may be used.
    I will, for now, continue using my 7-08s and 7mm Rem Mags while waiting around for the chambering that uses a 300 grain spitzer boat-tail projectile and has no recoil, muzzle blast or flash signature.

  5. the statement splitting between 223 and 308 cranked me up. so I just ran the SAMMI barrel Hornady ballistics on the 168gr and 155gr 308s, 6.5 CM 147gr, and 223 75gr all TAP cartridges. Really its is splitting between the 155 and 168 gr 308s at 500 yards the 6.5 CM kicks butt all the way to a few yards short of a mile. Really 6.5 Creedmoor eats the 308 lunch, 223 is just a snack anyway.

  6. The 6mm Creedmoor is just as good or better, same case, check the ballistics with the same brand & type & weight of bullt & you’ll see. Many states like Michigan we can use a 6.. for night varmints but not a 6.5. Also you can get Rugers Precision rifle for mid $700s for a Gen 2. My chice & I love the 6.5 Swedish & have several but the 6mm CM is the sleeper for now.

    1. I can shoot my 6 and 6.5 Creedmoors all day. My 300WM is collecting dust in its drag bag. My old shoulder appreciates my decision.

  7. I must ask. You repeatedly state the 6.5mm Creedmoor is a better round than the 6.5x55mm.


    What about it is better, and why?

    1. No. Hornady did develop the cartridge though, so it is a bit hard to talk about the cartridge’s origin without crediting the force behind it…

    2. The question is “why, if the same bullet is loaded to the same velocity and fired through a barrel of the same length with the same twist rate–” why is one superior to the other one?

      What makes it better?

    3. 6.5 x 55 se is one of my personal favorites. For what its does, it is, IMHO the best medium game/target cartridge out there. Chamber pressure is just under 55k, velocity is between 2550-2750, and energy is 2500 i think. The downside is you need a long action (or standard action, depending on how you look at it)
      The 6.5 cm is almost exactly the same velocity and energy as these, the chamber pressure is 62000(?) PSI. So, while these will not wear a throat out very quickly and it has fantastic energy out past 1200meters. In many ways, it is an even better replacement for an old caliber for a smaller but still very close to the old cartridge refinement as the .308 and .30-06.
      If you already have a 6.5 se, i personally do not think you even need the 6.5cm. Unless you really want to run it in a gas gun platform.

      Take a look at all the data, do an honest assessment, and then ponder it for a good while. My conclusion was: i have about a dozen 7.62 nato match bolt guns, and 6 gas guns in good old 308. I have 2 06s, 1 300wm, and a single 22-250 as well as a single 556 n gas gun. When i factor in all the factory ammo, and loading components including powers and projectiles, for my 30 calibers, i am not going to adopt a new caliber at this point. However, for my clients that are not so invested in a particular chambering, a 6.5 cm is a very good place to start, especially, if they reload. All the 6.5cm i have sold, setup, etc, i have to say it really is a sweet and versatile chambering. A sub-7-pound rifle with a 22″ sporting barrel has about 25% less felt recoil, can make a clean kill (as long as you do your part) out past 1200m. While i can hit the target at 1000m with any of my 30 cals, they just don’t have close to the same energy as the 6.5 (300wm excluded). So, while very good and effective, i would not say that it is a must for the majority of shooters. Will i ever adopt the 6.5cm? Sure, if something changed. But, it really would need to be substantial to get me to do it.

      ** if the data is off, please excuse as i’m doing it from memory.

    1. Affordable/available: Just checked Ammoseek. S&B 140gr 6.5 CM FMJBT is 59 cents that is 500 rounds for $295. And they shoot sub-MOA. Next

    2. Agreed. My fav is 25-06 and after looking for years I finally found a 25-06 AR-10 made by Noreen!

      Ordered my scope and looking forward to trying it!

      Ballistics on the 25-06 are even better than the Creedmore but just by a fraction. Aim small – miss small my friends.

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