If there is one new centerfire rifle caliber that has clearly taken the firearms world by storm it is undoubtedly the 6.5 Creedmoor. This newer caliber over the last several years has gained in popularity increasingly with both long range competition shooters and big game hunters alike.
So what is the 6.5 and what does it have to offer? That’s what we’re going to discuss in this overview.
The most popular centerfire rifle round worldwide, without question, is the .308 Winchester. Chambered for numerous popular rifles, the .308 also has the distinction of being a military round in the form of the 7.62x51mm NATO.
The .308 itself is essentially a shortened version of the .30-06 Springfield. It’s an excellent round that is very accurate and can be used for any kind of North American big game, but is most suitable for game such as deer, bighorn sheep, antelope, wild boar, black bear, and elk.
The .308 is also very widely available, more affordable than most other big game hunting rounds, and is very versatile overall in what it can be used for.
That being said, many are calling the 6.5 Creedmoor the successor to the .308 Winchester. After all, Hornady recently announced that they’ve begun selling more 6.5 Creedmoor than the .308 Winchester. And while the .308 may be more popular for the time being, that may change soon.
So what it is about the 6.5 Creedmoor that has gained so much attention?
The shift to the 6.5 Creedmoor is largely symbolic of a major shift from the .30-caliber (which includes .308, .30-06, and .300 Win Mag, among others) over to the 6.5mm. The journey of the 6.5 in the USA began back in the 1950s, when the 6.5×55 Swede caliber migrated over to the USA. The 6.5 was one of the most popular calibers in Europe for big game, being a common choice for Mauser-based sporting rifles. It also has an excellent military career that dated back to the late 1800s.
When the 6.5mm calibers began coming over to the USA, they never gained nearly as many sales or popularity as the .30 caliber did…at least until recently. There’s a reason why 6.5 has become very popular and is so widely acceptable in Europe – it’s accurate, flat shooting, offers excellent ballistic co-efficients, and it can be used for anything from long range shooting to big game hunting.
The 6.5 Creedmoor currently represents the most popular version of the 6.5 series of cartridges by far in the United States. It began its development from the .30 Thompson Center case, which was released in 2007 and was in turned based off of the .308 Winchester.
The .30 TC was eventually necked down to become the 6.5 Creedmoor. The ballistic advantages of the new cartridges quickly became apparent as it rapidly began winning a large number of long range competitions. The year the new cartridge really began to shine in terms of new popularity was in 2017, when the sales of the caliber began to increase so much that virtually every major bolt action and semi-automatic rifle manufacturer had introduced a model of rifle in the caliber by that point.
Production of the round from ammunition factories sped up dramatically at this point. It didn’t take long before just as many 6.5 Creedmoor bullets were being made as much as .30-06, .270, .308, and other gold standard calibers. In fact, Hornady claims that the 6.5 Creedmoor is now second to the .223 in terms of sales. Federal, Winchester, and Nosler are all ramping up production o the 6.5 Creedmoor as well.
But what makes the 6.5 Creedmoor such a popular choice? The main reasons are for each of the following:
– 6.5 Creedmoor bullets are highly stable, which also comes from the 1:8 twist ratings that most 6.5 Creedmoor rifles come with.
– 6.5 Creedmoor rounds have higher ballistic co-efficient ratings than many other bullets of similar or identical weights in other calibers
– The round requires less powder to do the same kind of work as other 6.5 calibers
– It offers greater wind deflection than most other comparable calibers
– It can bring down virtually any kind of game animal in North America, from deer to elk to moose
– It shows less bullet drop at longer distances in comparison to other calibers
– It offers 300-400 extra yards of effective range than comparable calibers such as the .308 Winchester
All in all, it’s easy to see why the 6.5 Creedmoor as become so widely accepted. Only time will tell if its popularity remains enduring or a one time event. But for now, it’s very clear that it offers numerous advantages over other rifles in its same class.