It isn’t every day that a new cartridge takes the shooting world by storm. The past few decades have seen numerous cartridges developed that may gain a decent following but that then inevitably fall by the wayside. Other cartridges, like .40 S&W, may attain popularity for a while but then fade away as their rationale for existence disappears.
Then you have others that start off slowly but then suddenly develop a strong following. 6.5 Creedmoor is one of those, and its success in recent years has many in the firearms industry banking on its continued popularity in the future. Starting off slowly, it has now become one of the most popular cartridges in the US today.
The 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge is an attempt to improve upon the .260 Remington. The great performance of 6.5mm bullets has been well known for a long time. They offer high ballistic coefficients and high sectional density, allowing them to punch well above their weight. But the problem with the .260 Remington is that, being just the .308 Winchester necked down, its case length precludes the use of longer 140-grain and 160-grain bullets within the 2.800” limitations of most magazine-fed .308-class rifles.
The 6.5 Creedmoor features the same case head as the .308, but shortens the case by 0.115”. That little bit of shortening allows the 6.5 Creedmoor to take advantage of the longer 140-grain 6.5mm cartridges available on the market today. It’s even able to use heavier bullets such as the 150-grain Sierra MatchKing or the 153-grain Hornady A-Tip.
The 6.5 Creedmoor essentially replicates or exceeds the performance of the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, but in a more compact package, due to its higher operating pressures. The 6.5 Creedmoor pushes 140-grain bullets to 2,800 feet per second, and 150-grain bullets to 2,700-2,800 feet per second from a 24” barrel, for about 2,400 to 2,600 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Compare that to the 6.5 Swede, which pushes those same 140-grain bullets to 2,700 feet per second from the same length barrel.
That kind of performance has made the 6.5 Creedmoor a real favorite with tactical and long-range shooters. The 6.5 Creedmoor offers similar muzzle energy to .308 Winchester, with less drop and higher ballistic efficiency.
Comparing a 150-grain .264” Sierra MatchKing traveling at 2,800 feet per second from the 6.5 Creedmoor with a 175-grain .308” Sierra MatchKing traveling at 2,700 feet per second from a .308 Winchester, the Creedmoor begins to exceed the .308’s muzzle energy by 200 yards. At 500 yards, the Creedmoor offers 20% more muzzle energy with 20% less drop. At 1,000 yards the Creedmoor is still traveling at over 1,600 feet per second while the .308 is just barely supersonic. That results in the Creedmoor offering 75% more retained energy and 30% less drop at that range. You can see why the 6.5 Creedmoor is quickly becoming a favorite among long-range shooters, with the added advantage of less recoil too.
If you have existing .308 rifles, there’s no reason to get rid of them. They’re perfectly capable rifles, and ammunition is available everywhere. But with the increasing availability of 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition, similar prices for new factory ammunition, and the ability to shoot 6.5 Creedmoor out of .308-class rifles with just a barrel change, the 6.5 Creedmoor makes a compelling case for adding it to your survival armory.
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