Question: Why has the 6.5 Creedmoor become a popular short-action cartridge for hunters the past few years? Is it because there was a lack of hunting-specific loads, and now there are? Or maybe because high success of the cartridge in competition has finally been noticed?
Michael Bane answer: I think it’s a little of both. We’ve always had a fascination with the 6.5 cartridge; “Karamojo” Bell used the 6.5 Mannlicher-Schonauer for elephant.
If you remember, the classic 6.5×55 cartridge – developed in 1891 – became pretty popular in the U.S. during the “converting military rifles” craze of the 1950s and early 1960s, when the beautifully-made surplus Swedish Mausers became available in America.
My father hunted white-tailed deer for years using a Swedish Mauser he had built into a “sporter.” Of course, nowadays, anyone would gasp at the idea of destroying a WWII classic rifle. But, back then, Swedish Mausers were plentiful and cheap.
I shot that gun a lot and came to love the 6.5×55; it had an amazingly light recoil – especially when compared to its big brother 6.5mm, the .264 Winchester Mag, which can be right on up there with the ultra mags as an unpleasant shooting experience – and was accurate across many loads.
Mike Stroff answer: I think the word is out this round is extremely accurate, has virtually no recoil and is perfect for any deer-size animals. It is such a better deer caliber than the standard lightweight rounds of the past, for example, the .243 Winchester. I have never been a big fan of the .243 for deer hunting, but the 6.5 Creedmoor is the real deal!
Question: What type of shooters are requesting custom builds in 6.5 Creedmoor? Mainly target shooters? Any hunters? A mix of both?
Michael Bane answer: I think now it’s a mix of both, but it depends on what you’re asking. One thing we’ve seen on the shows (on Outdoor Channel) is the explosive growth of long-range shooting competitions, especially the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and the various other matches that call for the use of a long-range rifle. This drives custom-rifle builds because the guys at the top of the PRS are indeed shooters who can exploit of the advantages a custom rifle offers.
For hunters, there’s been an incredible growth in what I think of as super-premium off-the-shelf rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor. For example, Montana Rifles at $1,300, and the Bergara at around $825 to start, and the Kimber Montana series at $1,400-plus. All three still below what I would think of as a custom-build price threshold.
I figure a custom rifle is going to cost around $4,000, plus or minus, depending on your needs.
Question: Why are shooters getting custom-rifle builds cambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor?
Mark Gordon answer: Short Action Customs builds a lot of rifles for customers who choose to skip factory 6.5 Creedmoor rifle offerings for a few reasons. The main reason is the ability to control the overall configuration of the rifle, but also choose minor specifications such as chamber-freebore length, barrel length, color, and make and contour of the barrel to be used.
The chambers we bore have SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) minimum body diameters and custom neck diameters so the brass is not getting worked harder than it should. The concentricity runout of the chamber is less than 0.0002 of an inch and customers have the choice of getting the chamber head-spaced to a certain specification. Top it off with a quality, stainless-steel, cut-rifled, hand-lapped barrel, you get a level of performance not available off the shelf.
Question: What are the advantages, and disadvantages, of the 6.5 Creedmoor when compared to the .308 Winchester, or say some of the other 6.5mm cartridges?
Michael Bane answer: For long-range shooters, the 6.5 Creedmoor is just superior, ballistics wise, to the .308 … better BC (ballistic coefficient), longer ranges. I’ve probably shot the .308 more than any other rifle cartridge, both in competition and hunting. If I have to go bigger, I go to the .300 Winchester Mag. But there is a quantum difference between shooting a .308 all day and shooting a Creedmoor all day, recoil wise.
I guess we need to make something up called the “beat-up factor.” Creedmoor won’t beat you up as bad. While .308 wins on factory available variations, the Creedmoor is still competitive on cost. The .308 has some hot, heavy bullet options for bigger game, which is a plus for some people. I took my New Zealand red stag with a Ruger .308 Scout Rifle and Hornady 150-grain GMX Superformance ammo. There was some thought the bullet was a little light until it picked the stag up and flipped him over. Hornady offers a 120-grain GMX for the Creedmoor, which I’d take in a heartbeat. Big fan of GMX bullets.
Mark Gordon answer: There is no reason for a shooter to choose (or compare) the .308 Winchester with the 6.5 Creedmoor, for most applications. The 6.5 Creedmoor shoots flatter, has less recoil, has less wind deflection, carries more energy down range, has quality factory ammo that is less expensive, and is becoming more available in factory configurations. The .308 Winchester will most likely always be the standard for LEO (Law Enforcement Officers) applications due to bullet selection and its track record, but new and current shooters should consider the 6.5 Creedmoor before choosing a .308 Winchester.
Mike Stroff answer: Comparing the 6.5 Creedmoor to the .308 Winchester – all my opinion, some may not agree – the 6.5 has less recoil, very flat shooting and knock-down power is very similar to a .308. Comparing all my rifles, the 6.5 (CM) shoots tighter groups. I have the same two rifles in .308 (Winchester) and the 6.5 (CM) out performs it each time. With all the animals I have harvested with this rifle, they have either dropped in their tracks or ran less than 50 yards.
Question: How do 6.5 Creedmoor barrels hold up, when compared to similar cartridges?
Michael Bane answer: The great thing about a .308 rifle is you have to work to shoot out a barrel, and you’ll never do it in a hunting gun. I have a .300 Ultra Mag that never gets much use because it eats barrels, plus it pounds the living crap out of me. Call it a 1,000-round gun.
Mark Gordon answer: When shooting factory Hornady ammo, it is typical for most 6.5 Creedmoor barrels to get up to around 3,000 rounds before it will start to throw fliers and velocity drops off greatly. Competitive shooters will typically have less barrel life due to longer strings of fire, which heat the barrel up very hot. In addition, they typically run hotter pressure loads when compared to factory Hornady ammo. There is no real difference in barrel life, in my opinion, between the 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Remington and the 6.5×47 Lapua.
Question: More and more factory-produced rifles are being offered in this cartridge, but still has somewhat limited options when compared to other short-action cartridges, such as .308 Winchester and .243 Winchester. Do you expect this trend to continue with more factory-produced options from other brands?
Michael Bane answer: Absolutely. No matter what we say in public, we shooters are as affected by fashion as Paris Hilton. The 6.5 Creedmoor is indeed the flavor of the year and it has the advantage of actually being a great cartridge for long-range competition and hunting.
Mike Stroff answer: I would expect to see other manufacturers – in the future – offer rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor. I hear a lot of talking about the cartridge and it sure seems to have received a lot of press the last few years. From a performance standpoint, the more people that shoot it, the more people will convert.
Question: Is the 6.5 Creedmoor here to stay or is it just a cool cartridge name with a short life?
Michael Bane answer: Who knows? The marketplace is a skittish beast, at best. Things that should have worked, didn’t … the .264 Magnum, or even the .300 RUM, for example.
Sometimes the disadvantages, such as short barrel life, are a killer; most shooters don’t think of their barrels as consumables. Then there’s ammo pricing and availability. A bunch of factors have to come together for a new chambering to go mainstream.
First, you have to be able to clearly define why the new is better than the old. Remember the WSSM cartridges?
It has to be accepted by multiple manufacturers, and obviously the Creedmoor has succeeded in that arena, both for ammo and guns, and it has to be sanely priced.