With the early development of the 6.5 Creedmoor round by Hornady ammunition, I made a prediction in print that this cartridge would end up being America’s new 30-30 cartridge.
What I meant by that statement was it would gain such popularity that the 6.5 Creedmoor would mirror the acceptance of the old and very popular Winchester 30-30.
At the time I took some heat for that statement from my brothers in the field of gun writing but I am here to say I was right. Currently, the 6.5 Creedmoor is among the hottest sellers in rifles across the country today.
Why did I see this and others did not? It is because I have lived and hunted a very long time on this planet, and growing up in Minnesota then hunting the deep Minnesota north woods for some 60 years. I would see the old WW II military 6.5 Swede using only one bullet offering by Norma shoot deer right up to massive 200 plus pound swamp bucks, and the hunter that knew how to shoot never tracked that deer a single yard.
Because the 6.5 bullet as designed for the Sweden and Creedmoor carries a long central body the bullet packs some outstanding game stopping power by way of some very uniform and controlled kinetic energy. When the bullet works that is one thing, but when Hornady took on this cartridge caliber and bullet design then added the increased ballistics performance in the projectiles BC ( ballistics coefficient ), the whole deal was a game changer, and hunters and target shooters alike now had a new and very effective cartridge to take to the range and into the field.
Rifles That Perform Well With The 6.5 Creedmoor
Based on two factory rounds as offered by Hornady the 120 grain and 140 grain ELD Match bullets. I have real time live fire tested about 20 bolt action rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor to date.
The first rifle I ever shot in the new cartridge was one of the new at the time Ruger Precision rifles as a Gen I design. This rifle was the very first one sent into the state of South Dakota and I had it sending rounds down range a full six months before the second rifle arrived for retail sales in the big box sporting goods stores.
1. Ruger 6.5 Creedmoor Chassis Rifle In The Precision Series
Currently, the Precision is a design that has undergone three design changes, while none of it is world shaking the new rifle on the gun shop display rack today is a bit different from my original rifle.
The difference as I see it is that my rifle that has been shooting warm and cold steel targets for over four years to date has gained hard nosed real time performance proof that I will share with you at this time.
The Ruger chassis rifle is an all metal rifle that has a design that came directly from bench rest competitive shooting systems.
These rifles resemble the Ar 15 platform to some degree because they use fully adjustable buttstocks, tube style handguards that free floats the gun barrel, and even the receivers are much like save for the auto loading system on the AR 15 versus the bolt action design of the basic chassis rifle.
Ruger rifle carries no shop around the industry add on parts. The complete rifle is built by Ruger in house and it carries the notorious Ruger logo stamped across the receiver, buttstock, and firearm section of the rifle.
The receiver design is one that makes use of an AI ( Accuracy International ) box style magazine but set into a fully Ruger design receiver magazine well as designed by this company. No tack on generic parts are used anyplace on the rifle. The bolt and bolt shroud are designed by Ruger and the rotation lug bolt as matched to the threaded button forged barrel makes for a very accurate rifle overall.
Shooting live fire in real time has illustrates that this rifle is clearly capable of sending 120 through 140 grain Hornady ELD bullets well out to 1400 yards with extreme accuracy.
The rifle has been applied to varmints and steel targets ranging from 1000 through 1400 yards. Shooting this rifle by this writer has consisted of testing firing events covering almost three years.
The folding style stock of Ruger design and also the buttstock adjustments for both comb height and length makes the rifle total adaptable regardless of the shooters body type. The rifle is a one gun fits all system.
2. Browning X-Bolt
From the development of the Browning A-bolt has come the upgraded design now offered by Browning Arms in the X Bolt.
I have shot the A model for several years as set up with the Leupold MARK V rifle scope. This rifle is a stone dead accuracy master to 1400 yards on any give day.
With the background of the A-Bolt being the actual birth of this rifle series, the new X Bolt carries the same advanced pedigree, but now a half dozen years later.
X Bolt rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor like all Brownings make use of a cartridge specific twist rate. That rate in the 6.5 Creedmoor is 1 in 7 inch. This twist will allow the use of lighter bullets and move to a bit heavier without sacrificing accuracy.
The rifle is built as a heavy sporter meaning the stainless steel fluted pipe retains some added material that will aid in cooling, harmonics control, and overall strength.
Brownings are all drilled and tapped for scope bases and rings. The X-Bolt long range retains the Picatinny rail ( sold as an add on part ) which allows for some flexibility when selecting scope bases and rings. These rails are necessary for long range shooting and using the 20 m.o.a. through 40 m.o.a. is suggested when shooting one mile plus steel target events ( 2000 yards )
The rifles composite stock is the advance target style with full adjustments applied to the comb and length of pull. The sharp drop at the pistol grip section makes for sold control when pulling for the long shot on a small distant target. Double sling and bi-pod studs aid in tacking on assisting shooting systems.
The solid three lug rotating bolt head makes for a solid lockup and produces good headspace and accuracy.
The trigger on this rifle is target grade with a smooth let off. The barrel is set up with muzzle break. Also adaptable for suppressed operation.
3. Ruger Hawkeye Predator 6.5 Creedmoor
When working here at Ballistics Research & Development we shoot a pair of Ruger rifles. One is suppressed and the other is carrying the standard muzzle crown. Both rifles have been thoroughly field tested and hunted for prairie dogs, rock chucks, and coyotes here in western South Dakota.
The rifle as offered by Ruger is a perfect match to the 6.5 Creedmoor in that it retains a medium heavy stainless steel barrel, and straight forward class target style stock.
Test shooting against steel and warm targets has been pressed to 1000 yards, with consistent kills on prairie dogs to 600 yards with ease. The Ruger makes use of a Mauser action and a long extractor. This is the most solid action in current use throughout the industry. Accuracy has been outstanding as the rifle with shoot ½ m.o.a to 100 yards, and hold that figure to 600 and 100 yards respectively.
Trigger control on this rifle is very good as applied to its two-stage adjustable target trigger.
The stock is laminated ‘Green Mountain’ built and has the feel of a target rifle turned varmint rig.
The rifle makes use of a hinged solid steel floorplate ( stainless) and it is flush with the trigger guard.
Mauser style controls as in the safety and bolt handle make for a user friendly rifle at all levels.
In terms of the 6.5 Creedmoor, the Ruger Hawkeye is an outstanding choice among hunters or target shooters alike.
4. Winchester Xpr 6.5 Creedmoor
The Winchester XPR Sporter is a rifle that overdressed bolt handles and shafts, and other adornments that have nothing to do with taking game animals down for the dinner table.
However, that being stated this rifle in my hands during the 2018 deer season as chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor help make a 540 yard running shot on a big trophy whitetail that came in as number one all time in terms of my best long range shot on game.
The major area of interest on this rifle is the trigger which has zero slack, is a design that is Winchesters and foolproof are over travel and a heavy left off. In effect, this is one outstanding trigger much like those used on bench rest rifles.
Secondly, this rifle makes use of a very massive bolt that is made from one piece Chromoly steel stock that has been special heat treated for strength. The bolt retains three massive locking lugs for super strength, and runs smooth, lacking any binding whatsoever.
In effect, the action on this XPR is quick to the hand, the balance is very good, and pointing qualities spot on. I was able to hold my deer in the crosshairs as it ran all out at the previously indicate range in my Leupold MARK 5 with ease. The flat shooting 6.5 Creedmoor made for an easy hold over regarding bullet drop that was quite shallow, and as a result of the equipment in hand, and professional spotting by my parter, the event was very successful.
The receiver on this rifle is again Chromoly and once piece machined to tight CNC tolerances. The ejection point is oversized for both ejection of spent rounds, and also fast in terms of reloading. Everything about the rifle is hunter friendly right down to the realistic and functional polymer stock.
Also of interest is the fact that this rifle is very affordable when compared to most of the other 6.5’s on the market. In effect, you’re getting a great deal of rifle for the money in the Winchester XPR
5. Kimber Model 84M Classic
As the final rifle in my suggestion list of 6.5 Creedmoor application, I want to turn to the Kimber line of rifles.
Here is a rifle that is very well made, carries a long standing reputation for accuracy and reliability regardless of where or how it is being used, and general fit and craftsmanship are its high grade walnut sock to the tightly fitted hinged magazine well to the bolt fit is far above average.
The action on this rifle is Mauser with the traditional and very strong claw extractor, that makes this a rifle in a small class of an almost real Mauser all by itself.
The action on the Kimber is aluminum pillar bedded, and the barrel is fully free floated. The rifle shoots, and you can take that to the bank.
I shot this rifle under hard testing in South Dakota for two summers and a season of coyote hunting. Not once was there an issue with this rifle, and the only problem I had is that I allowed myself to sell it to a good friend. Bad idea as I miss the rifle a whole lot.
As a part of this review are suggesting 6.5 Creedmoor chambered rifles. It should be noted that as of this mast month May 2020 the US Army has announced that the 6.5 Creedmoor is being selected as the new squad level small arms weapon cartridge as applied to a totally redesigned service rifle.
The Army was looking for a lightweight low recoil round to replace the 5.56 / .223 Rem, and 7.62 /308 as an extended range sniper and sharpshooter round. The 6.5 Creedmoor has been given production marching orders and the project is now underway.
What this all means in that the 6.5 Creedmoor being now military is a sealed deal in terms of a long lasting cartridge among hunters, target shooters, and load developers for many years to come. You could say it is fast becoming the new 21 century 30-30 Winchester in terms of overall acceptance.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM.