Seeing as this issue is dominated by a trio of very accurate bolt-action rifles, we thought we’d close it out by discussing one of the most popular new precision rifle rounds to come out in recent memory: The 6.5 Creedmoor.
Introduced by Hornady in 2007, the 6.5 Creedmoor, or 6.5 CM as it’s otherwise known was intended for use as a highly precise short-action rifle load. Based on the .30 Thomson Center (or .30 TC) which was itself based on .300 Savage, the 6.5 CM’s goal was to pair a case and bullet that would maximize both velocity as well as bullet length and sectional density. Furthermore, the case was to have similar head dimensions to .308 or 7.62 NATO so as to facilitate short-action and AR-10 rifle conversions.
And the 6.5 Creedmoor accomplished all of those goals and then some. With bullet weights for the .264” projectiles typically falling between 120 and 150 grains, and muzzle velocities that can reach up to roughly 3,400 feet per second, 6.5 CM mimics the trajectory of far stouter loads such as .300 Winchester Magnum, albeit with substantially less recoil. Of course, shooting projectiles that are roughly 100 grains lighter than a .300 Win Mag’s means there’s a lot horsepower being delivered downrange, but for precision rifle shooters chasing the best groups and longest shots possible, the energy delivered on target isn’t much of a concern.
But that doesn’t mean what was once a target shooter’s round hasn’t garnered some popularity among hunters. While we suspect it’ll always take a back seat to rounds like the .308 Winchester in the big game market, it’s combination of light recoil and long-range accuracy make it a natural choice for everything up to deer, with most of the 120-grain loads delivering muzzle energy far in excess of accepted deer rounds like the .243 and .30-30 Winchesters.
With long range and precision rifle now being some of the fastest growing shooting sports out there, 6.5 Creedmoor has become something of a buzzword; a sort of rite of passage as shooters transition from casual rifle guys to taking precision shooting seriously. Pull a rifle chambered in 6.5 CM out of a case and the immediate assumption is that you’re someone that takes shooting small groups seriously. Like the image of a Macbook is one of an artistic, creative professional, the image a 6.5 CM shooter is someone hunched over a reloading bench testing their projectile concentricity and prowling the internet for obscure tomes on external ballistics.
But like anything that soars to popularity in such a brief time, whether 6.5 Creedmoor has the staying power to remain the popular choice remains to be seen. However, it’ll probably go down in history as of the more influential cartridges of the past decade, as it’s definitely done wonders for advancing the general level of knowledge shared by shooters. Before 6.5 CM, much of the reasoning behind specific long-range rounds was handed down by those with the understanding of how and why certain bullets worked; 6.5 CM has gotten shooters interested enough to learn those fundamentals for themselves. So regardless of the rounds longevity, we’ll at least have it to thank for that.