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.
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.
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.
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.