June 07, 2022
The 6.5 Creedmoor was developed in 2007 by Hornady’s Dave Emary and Dennis DeMille, and it created a stir in the centerfire rifle cartridge world unlike anything in living memory. It has a neck design that handles high ballistic coefficient bullets without robbing case capacity and an overall length (OAL) that works in short-action bolt guns and AR-10 rifles.
In 2010, John Snow of Outdoor Life set out to build a custom precision rifle chambered for a wildcat cartridge. He enlisted the help of George Gardner at GA Precision, and the 6mm Creedmoor was born by necking down the 6.5 Creedmoor. Soon, the cartridge became extremely popular with competitive shooters, eclipsing its parent cartridge as the most popular in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS).
In the Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor, you have the 143-grain ELD-X (G1 BC .625) and the 147-grain ELD Match (.697); the 6mm Creedmoor has a 103-grain ELD-X (.512) and 108-grain ELD Match (.536). While high ballistic coefficients are important to the success of both Creedmoor rounds, there are other factors at play. The 6.5 Creedmoor’s 147-grain ELD Match load velocity spec is 2,695 feet per second (fps). The 6mm Creedmoor 108-grain ELD Match is 2,960 fps. With barrels of equal lengths and a 200-yard zero, the 6.5 ELD Match bullet drops 6 inches more at 500 yards than the 6mm ELD Match. At 1,000 yards, the 6.5 drops 23 inches more than the 6mm.
Wind drift is a different story. At 1,000 yards, the 6mm Creedmoor drifts about a foot more than the 6.5 load when fired into a 90-degree, 10-mph crosswind at 1,500 feet elevation. Why? Wind has a greater impact on the lighter, lower BC bullets at long range. The 6mm Creedmoor starts out considerably faster than the 6.5 Creedmoor, but at 700 yards, the two post identical velocities according to Hornady figures. After that, the 6.5 Creedmoor bullet moves faster. Vertical drop is easier to accurately measure and account for than wind, especially at great distances, so the 6.5 Creedmoor load gives you a much greater margin of error in terms of wind drift.
Neither of these rounds is punchy, but the 6.5 Creedmoor does produce a bit more recoil than the 6mm Creedmoor—just enough that calling your shots with the 6mm is easier than with the 6.5 in same-weight rifles. That’s why the 6mm Creedmoor is so popular among long-range competitors. Both Creedmoors make good hunting rounds for deer-size game, and both are accurate in most guns. I have hunted a variety of game with a 6.5 Creedmoor and have found the round to be highly effective. I don’t know that it’s any more lethal than the scads of other cartridges that came before it, but the 6.5 Creedmoor has two big advantages. It doesn’t produce much recoil or muzzle blast, and the tight design specs typically lead to smaller groups.
The 6mm Creedmoor produces less recoil, which makes it even more pleasant to shoot. In 2019, I shot a massive whitetail buck in Saskatchewan at 120 yards with a 90-grain GMX bullet from my 6mm Creedmoor. The buck collapsed after the bullet passed behind the left front leg and broke the right shoulder.
The 6.5 Creedmoor is better suited to hunting caribou, mule deer and bear because of its additional energy, although I stop short of calling it an ideal elk cartridge. The 6mm Creedmoor is a more logical choice for varmints at long ranges.
The 6.5 beats the 6mm in terms of rifle availability, and that goes for ammo, too. There are currently about four times as many factory loads for the 6.5 Creedmoor as the 6mm Creedmoor. Regardless of which you choose, though, you’ll likely be highly satisfied. Both of these rounds are exceptionally versatile and pleasant to shoot.