Review: Federal Cartridge Company’s 6.5 Creedmoor

Two Federal Fusion bullets with one expanded

The 6.5 Creedmoor was designed primarily for long-range accuracy. With the recent discovery of the cartridge as a field round, the race is on to invent and promote deer-killing loads. Early results with the cartridge demonstrated that perhaps the cartridge needed better bullets. While I was not along when these results were tabulated, I think shot placement is the single most important criteria we have for successful hunting.

Left to right: The 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5x55mm Swede, C
Left to right: The 6.5 Creedmoor offers good performance. The 6.5x55mm Swede is a classic with much to recommend, and the new 6.5 PRC is a potent cartridge.

That being said, the 6.5 has plenty of velocity at 2,600 to 2,700 fps to make bullets work. The logic ladder tells us that the similar 6.5×55 Mauser, a fine performer, exhibits similar performance to the 6.5 Creedmoor. Recoil is light and accuracy excellent even in modestly priced combinations such as the Savage Axis XP. The 6.5 Creedmoor offered an excuse for another rifle. The other Savage rifle in the safe is a Savage ’99 in .300 Savage, so I am a Savage fan. Of course, this is a very different rifle.

Looking to a new load for my light deer rifle, I became interested in the Federal Berger Hybrid Hunter. Berger makes some of the best long-range bullets in the world. High ballistic coefficient and low drag were watchwords for Berger. So, the new Berger Hybrid found in Federal’s loading offers low drag but also the versatility of a hunting bullet. After testing other loads, this is the one I will deploy in the Savage.

There is an advantage for me but not necessarily for another shooter; I just like this load and its specifications. This Savage is a good rifle but perhaps not a 500-yard rifle—and perhaps I am not a 500-yard rifleman. But it is a good rifle when the shots are to be had at 200 to 300 yards. The Berger features a hollowpoint nose. This makes for reliable expansion even at low velocity. Expansion is excellent in the ballistic media I used at 50 and 100 yards. This will anchor deer-size game decisively. At longer range, the Berger Hybrid will retain the expansion needed to good effect on game.

xpanded 6.5 AccuBond bullet
This is an expanded 6.5 AccuBond.

These are premium loads in a nickel-plated cartridge case. While Federal is offering these bullets in old favorites and new cartridges as well, the newest and hottest thing is the 6.5 Creedmoor and this is where I spent the majority of my testing. The Berger Hybrid weighs 135 grains—lighter than many of the 143- to 147-grain bullets available for the 6.5 Creedmoor. (This is not to be confused with the Federal 130-grain Berger OTM I have not tested—there are quite a few loads in 6.5 Creedmoor.) Recoil is modest.

Happily, the Savage Axis XP/Weaver scope combination tested came factory sighted for this loading. The first try out, without adjusting the Savage trigger, resulted in several 1.2- to 1.5-inch 100-yard groups. I also tested several other loads from the same maker.

Federal Non Typical loads are specified at 2,700 fps. These softpoint bullets are standard deer-hunting bullets with a very accurately drawn jacket for consistency. At 140 grains, it is a good weight for a deer-killing 6.5 Creedmoor loading. Yet another loading is the 6.5 Creedmoor fusion. The Fusion uses a molecularly fused jacket and pressure-formed core. Weight retention and penetration are excellent. I have not shot anything with the 6.5 Creedmoor yet, but results with .308 Fusion loads have been excellent.

Two Federal Fusion bullets with one expanded
Federal Fusion bullets enjoy excellent reputations.

I have also test fired the 2,725-fps Federal 140-grain Nosler AccuBond. By choosing custom-grade bullets that have been extensively tweaked by the maker and tested in the hunting field, Federal is able to offer a loading that is tailored to the game. This load is advertised as a medium-game bullet.

More 6.5 Creedmoor Testing

The Savage Axis is an affordable and useful rifle. A step up is the Savage Apex Storm. This stainless steel rifle is topped with a Vortex scope and has delivered excellent accuracy. It isn’t unusual for one of these Federal loads to group three shots into smaller than an inch at 100 yards. Overall, this is top-rated performance in modestly priced rifles. The 6.5 Creedmoor is making the grade in affordable rifles and with well-designed hunting loads.

Do you own a rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor? Do you use it for hunting or target shooting? What is your longest shot with the 6.5? Share your answer and setup in the comment section.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  1. Used a Federal Power Shok in 6.5 Creedmoor this year and got a nice buck at roughly 200 yards. Here was trotting when I shot him so I put the crosshairs of my Nikon Buckmasters a little too far forward and pulled the boom switch. The Power Shok went exactly where the crosshairs rested. It struck the chest in front of the shoulder facing me (perfect broadside view), went through the front of his chest and hit the far shoulder. The blood loss was crazy, he immediately hit the turf but managed to drag himself about 20 feet in just a few seconds. The 6.5 slammed him for sure but the far shoulder was completely blown out, bone meat and all. For meat loss alone I think I’ll go back to the 243 next year. The federal 6.5 C is accurate and lethal but for a meat hunter like myself it may be a little too much. Just my opinion.

  2. 205 yard shot on a Fallow deer in New Zealand using Hornady Superformance 129gr SST. Going to use it this month in South Africa for smaller plains game. Just seems to work. Also took an Arapawa ram at 80 yds while in NZ with same load.DRT. Nuff said.

  3. I use my 6.5 for rock chucks loaded with a hornady 95 gr vmax it is devastating. Wish there were more options in lighter bullets as I’m not a deer hunter and I dont live in hog country. Most shots are in the 300 to 400 yds. Have taken it out to 435 with great results on chucks.

  4. I have shot at least several hundred rounds of Hornady 140gr ELD-M from a Tekka Tac and a GA Precision GAP-10 (both in 6.5 Creedmoor) out to 1000 yards with ease. I love the round because of accuracy, BC, and flat trajectory with little recoil. I’m a little guy and the recoil really gets to me after shooting a lot of rounds. I have not hunted yet with the 6.5 CM, but I’m looking forward to that this season.

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