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 ended up with a 6.5 Creedmoor completely by chance. I walked through the local cabelas gun library one day and saw a rifle which came with 4x magazines, Harris bipod, drag bag, a 20 moa canted single block mount, and a ffp tactical scope worth more than the ruger precision it was perched on. All for $1400. So I bought the scope and it came with a rifle. As a committed .308 shooter on my Gap-10, which is boringly accurate (you point, it hits. Every time.) I figured I had just scored a new scope and a rifle I could sell to zero balance the cost. Before that, I should try out this new round I’ve been reading about though. So I ordered a few boxes from Prime (my go-to for most casings where accuracy is paramount) and took it to the range. I grew up on a Mini-14 and my share of 10/22s, so I was definitely not anti-Ruger. When I took the system to the range, I had to sight it in. Based on the gear, whoever had sold this off to cabelas had bought good parts, but maybe didn’t know enough about shooting based on the scope being way off. I decided, instead, to presume that it had been fiddled with by prospective buyers in the store. And as I got to see what it was capable of, I later determined that someone was probably forced by life changes to sell what they had held onto as their go-to range queen. The marksman is a great statement in itself as a factory produced rifle intended for long range accuracy. “Not bad!” I though… Not bad at all. Because once I put it through its paces I found that these 6.5s were like a cheat code for shooting .308s. Less kick (not that it matters) and dead on every time. I ended up keeping the gun. I ordered more ammo for it. I will eventually swap the rifle out for another platform, though it’s not necessary. But I am definitely wise to the capabilities of the 6.5 now. It helps anyone look like a rock star if they know how to squeeze the trigger.

  2. People keep forgetting an aspect of bullet performance that is extremely important when comparing cartridges – sectional density. IMHO, it’s more important than ballistic coefficient when it comes to hunting rather than paper-punching. The Creedmoor might be a Johnny-come-lately but it’s definitely no flash-in-the-pan; it’s sustained popularity is proof. The 7mm-’08 and 25-’06 are great cartridges, but so is the long-neglected 6.5 caliber and so is the Creedmoor.

  3. I’d consider the 7mm08 before the 6.5 Creedmore..but then I have a 26″barrel 25/06 and a 24″barrel 30-06
    So for me,there is apparently no reason for the 6.5.

  4. to sell more cartridges and rifles!.If I were going for a 6.5,I’d go with the 260Rem[aka 6.5-08 and make my hulls from 7.62×51/308Win brass]

  5. Marketing hype, embellishments, and misinformation regarding 6.5×55 Swede and .260 Rem are creating a “mythology” regarding the 6.5 Creedmoor. In the currently available Tikka, Ruger, Sako and other rifles, the 6.5×55 WILL do everything the Creedmoor does with the same exact bullets and same exact twist rates. Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter with 24″ barrel same story……..
    Hornady now comes out with 6.5 PRC too!? With that and 6mm Creedmoor, do they want to drive us crazy? LOL!!!

  6. After purchasing a relatively cheap Savage chambered in 6.5 cm i restocked it with a Boyds Thumbhole laminated stock and now have an affordable, beautiful rifle that has taken 6 whitetails with just 6 well placed shots. The Hornady Hunter 143gr. have proven to be deadly. My 7mm Mag is gathering dust as there is now a new sheriff in my town. Sold on this caliber for deer and smaller game. Try one before bashing it anyone.

  7. Gotta love the haters commenting here who have never even been behind a rifle chambered in 6.5 CM. Don’t worry, stay behind your shoulder destroying .300 win mag or 7 mag, not everyone deserves to know what shooting sub 1/4 MOA out past 1000 yards feels like.

  8. The .260 Remington is still the better choice for 2 reasons: tons of available cheap brass to make it from — .308 win) and the brass is thicker up by the next/shoulder. The 30T/C brass that the 6.5CM was extrapolated from has the same weakness. And of course it is also a perfect fit for AR-10s. The question is why does everyone that writes about the 6.5CM nowadays conveniently forget about the original better version?

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