March 25, 2022
By Brad Fitzpatrick
Developed by Hornady, the 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge (PRC) is based on a necked-down .300 Ruger Compact Magnum, another Hornady creation. The 6.5 PRC functions in short-actions rifles with a magnum bolt face. It uses the same 143 ELD-X and 147-grain ELD Match bullets that made the 6.5 Creedmoor so popular, but the PRC pushes those bullets at velocities that are about 250 feet per second faster than its Creedmoor cousin.
It may seem odd to offer a cartridge that could potentially cannibalize sales from your most popular ammo product, but the 6.5 PRC has developed a loyal cadre of followers. Its performance beyond 1,000 yards outshines the 6.5 Creedmoor, yet the PRC doesn’t produce stinging recoil.
Many believe the 6.5 Creedmoor to be underpowered for elk and moose, but the 6.5 PRC’s added velocity means it carries roughly the same energy at 500 yards that the 6.5 Creedmoor does at 300 yards. At 400 yards the PRC generates 1,800 foot-pounds of energy, more than Hornady’s 178-grain ELD-X .30-06 load at that same distance. The 6.5 PRC can be built in short, light mountain rifles so it’s ideal for high-country hunting, and its tight tolerances make it an inherently accurate round in most rifles.
If this all sounds good to you then perhaps there’s a PRC rifle in your future. But which one to buy? Here’s a rundown of 10 of the best 6.5 PRC rifles on the market today, from least expensive to most expensive.
1. Winchester XPR Stealth SR
When hunting in a blind or from a tree stand, a short rifle like the XPR Stealth SR is advantageous. With its 16.5-inch 1:8 threaded barrel the Winchester measures just over three feet long. You can add a suppressor to this rifle without making it ungainly in the field, and at just 6.5 pounds this rifle is easy to haul up and down steep mountains.
The polymer stock is green and the receiver and barrel metal come with a matte Perma-Cote finish that protects the metal and cuts glare. Three rounds of 6.5 PRC ammo fit in the detachable box magazine, and there’s a Pic rail up top for mounting your favorite optic.
I carried this rifle on a Maine bear hunt with hounds, and when you top it with a low-power scope it makes an ideal timber gun. But with the 6.5 PRC’s impressive ballistics this timber gun immediately transforms into a long-range hunting and target rifle when the need arises. The XPR Stealth offers a great deal of versatility at a very attractive price point. $690. Winchesterguns.com
2. Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter
Mossberg’s Patriot LR (Long Range) Hunter is a hybrid target/hunting rifle that features a new stock with elevated comb, benchrest style flat fore-end with dual sling studs, aluminum pillars and a Spider Gray finish with microtexturing.
The Patriot push-feed action utilizes dual lugs up front and comes with a spiral fluted bolt. A bladed LBA trigger, which can be user adjusted from 2 to 7 pounds, and a top rail also come standard on this rifle. The barrel is fluted and threaded and comes with a 1:8 twist in 6.5 PRC, and the detachable box magazine holds four rounds. Weight is a very manageable 7.25 pounds. This is a well-appointed 6.5 PRC suitable for the target range or the field. $766. Mossberg.com
3. CZ 600 Alpha
The CZ 600 replaces the company’s 557 and 550 bolt rifles. In addition to its sleek, ergonomic polymer stock, the new 600 Alpha 6.5 PRC comes with a detachable 3-round box magazine, single-stage adjustable trigger, integral scope bases and a 24-inch, 1:7 twist cold-hammer-forged barrel that’s threaded 5/8x24. Weight is just under 8 pounds, and that makes this gun portable yet comfortable to shoot from the bench. The machined receiver is made from lightweight aluminum and the stock’s near-vertical grip reduces wrist strain, especially when shooting prone. The 600 Alpha is a well-thought-out rifle that promises sub-m.o.a. accuracy, and its long list of features make it a great value in the world of 6.5 PRC rifles. $749. CZ-usa.com
4. Franchi Momentum Elite
Franchi is relatively new to the bolt gun game, but you wouldn’t know that when you examine the Momentum Elite. Its three-lug full diameter fluted chrome bolt runs smoothly along the raceway. The 24-inch 1:7 barrel on the 6.5 PRC model is free-floated and threaded, and both a thread protector and muzzle brake come standard. Franchi’s Relia trigger is target gun good and breaks between 2 and 4 pounds.
The stock is comfortable, and a TSA recoil pad noticeably reduces felt recoil. Buyers can choose 6.5 PRC models with either a Realtree Excape camo polymer stock and Cerakote Burnt Bronze metal finish or True Timber Strata camo stock with Midnight Bronze Cerakote finish, both of which come with detachable three-round magazines and weigh just a shade over 7 pounds. Franchi promises that these rifles will shoot m.o.a. and back them with a 7-year warranty. $899. Franchiusa.com
5. Browning X-Bolt Western Hunter
The X-Bolt is Browning’s best bolt-action rifle ever, and the new Western Hunter version offers a long list of features that shooters and hunters demand. The comb is easily adjustable for perfect eye alignment with the optic and the crisp, light Feather trigger is outstanding. X-Bolt barrels are free-floated and the front and rear of the action are bedded for maximum accuracy. Each 24-inch barrel is lapped and a 1:7 twist rate helps stabilize the longest, heaviest bullets. I’m a fan of Browning’s tang safety/bolt unlock button design, and at just 6 pounds, 5 ounces unloaded this rifle is perfect for the mountain hunter.
The composite A-TACS AU camo stock comes with an Inflex recoil pad that does a good job taming recoil. In the right hands and with the right load this X-Bolt, like all others, is capable of superb accuracy. $1,150. Browning.com
6. Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter
Based on the Mauser 98, the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter comes with a controlled feed action with a full-length claw extractor and fixed blade ejector. Scope bases are machined into the rifle’s matte stainless receiver, but this rifle also comes with a 20 m.o.a. rail secured to the receiver by four 8-40 screws.
The two-tan composite stock’s length of pull can be adjusted from 12.75 to 14.25 inches using the included spacers and these rifles are equipped with Ruger’s crisp, smooth LC6 trigger. The included AI-style 6.5 PRC mag holds 3 rounds. A 22-inch cold-hammer-forged stainless steel barrel with removable brake and 5/8x24 threads rounds out the Ruger, and with 5R rifling and a 1:8 twist you can expect excellent accuracy. At just over 7 pounds this rifle is light enough for high mountain hunting, and the laminate stock and stainless metalwork are impervious to the worst elements. $1,529. Ruger.com
7. Savage 110 Ultralite
In the minds of many hunters and shooters, Savage is considered a “value” brand, but that’s not fair to the company that has recently been rolling out rifles with top-end features that compete well against the premium rifles in the field. The 110 Ultralite, a member of Savage’s Backcountry Xtreme family of firearms, is a tack-driving bolt gun that weighs just 6 pounds when chambered in 6.5 PRC. Each of these rifles comes with a Proof Research carbon fiber wrapped cut rifled barrel, and the 6.5 PRC Ultralite’s 24-inch barrel features 1:8 rifling and comes with a 5/8 x 24 threaded capped muzzle. The barrel is mated to a blueprinted action that comes with a Melonite finish.
An AccuFit stock, detachable box magazine and 1.5- to 4-pound adjustable AccuTrigger also come standard on the 110 Ultralite. Not surprisingly, accuracy is superb. I carried this rifle on an Alaskan caribou hunt and found that it was extremely accurate and stood up well to a week of drenching rain on the tundra. Savage knows how to build affordable guns, but they also turn out premium rifles like this one that competes well with other top-end factory guns. $1,595. Savagearms.com
8. Springfield Waypoint 2020
Springfield’s new bolt rifle comes with a machined cylindrical action with integral recoil lug, a hand-painted carbon fiber stock (with or without an adjustable comb), TriggerTech adjustable trigger, and your choice of either a steel fluted or carbon fiber wrapped barrel. Collectively, this impressive list of features creates a hunting and target rifle that is guaranteed to produce .75 m.o.a. three-shot groups.
The engineers at Springfield incorporated a number of shooter-friendly features into this rifle including AICS magazine compatibility, a removable radial brake, integral top rail, M-Lok fore-end and QD cups on both side and the bottom of the stock. Weight ranges from 6 pounds, 14 ounces to 7 pounds, 6 ounces depending on which barrel option you select. Springfield didn’t overlook anything on this rifle, and it holds its own against custom guns costing thousands more. $1,699 to $2,399. Springfield-armory.com
9. Christensen Arms Mesa Titanium
Christensen Arms’ Mesa Titanium takes full advantage of the 6.5 PRC’s many qualities. These short-action rifles are, as the name suggests, very light—just a bit over 6 pounds thanks to their titanium receivers. The 22-inch featherweight 416R stainless barrel is button rifled, hand lapped and comes with a match chamber, which not only keeps weight to a minimum but also makes the most of the PRC’s inherent accuracy potential. The barrel is threaded and comes with a seamless radial brake and 1:8 twist. A crisp TriggerTech trigger helps make this one of the most accurate off-the-shelf hunting rifles you can buy.
Christensen promises sub m.o.a. accuracy, but with the right load and shooter you’ll likely be able to beat that number. A test rifle I shot grouped around .8 with factory loads). If you’re in the market for a premium lightweight hunting rifle in 6.5 PRC then look no further. $1,950. christensenarms.com
10. Seekins Precision Havak HIT
The HIT rifle is one of the coolest bolt guns to come along in some time. Its barrel action rides in a chassis (FDE or black) with a long list of premium long-range features including an adjustable folding stock and recoil pad, carbon fiber comb, M-Lok fore-end, enhanced mag well for AI-style mags, AR-style vertical grip, bag rider and barricade stop, and much more.
The machined action features a 20 m.o.a. Pic rail up top and the bolt features a robust M16 style extractor. But here’s the real genius behind this rifle: You can swap out barrels and bolt heads very quickly, and the design ensures proper headspacing with each barrel swap. That means your 6.5 PRC long-range rifle could transition to a 6 GT, 6 or 65, Creedmoor, or .308 rifle in a matter of seconds.
The 6.5 PRC version features a 1:8 twist 24-inch threaded barrel with 5R rifling, and not surprisingly accuracy is out of this world. There’s no component on this rifle that isn’t top shelf, and considering its build quality, refinement, accuracy potential and versatility the HIT has the potential to become the go-to long-range rifle for PRC fans and competitive shooters. $2,100. Seekinsprecision.com