Wildcatting:Believe the Hype
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- Last updated: 19/11/2018
Every now and then, a new cartridge comes along that deserves all the hype. The 6.5 Creedmoor was a bit of a slow burner to start with, but now Hornady’s medium calibre centrefire has gained a loyal following. It must be good, because more and more rifles are being chambered in this calibre, always a good sign and when I asked several of the British custom rifle makes what was the favourite chambering, they said 6.5 Creedmoor.
A lot of its popularity stems from the fact that factory ammunition and quality brass and reloading dies were available as soon as the cartridge was launched in 2007. For those wanting a round that’s a bit different and does not want to reload to maximise performance, then the 6.5 Creedmoor had a lot of appeal.
I must admit that when it came out I thought, yet another 6.5 or 260 cal based on a modified 308; why bother, we have the 260 Rem and 6.5x47 Lapua cases. I also and still don’t like the name!
However, the Creedmoor was different from the off, as it was designed by Dave Emary and Dennis Demille from Hornady and based on a 30 TC, which is a shortened 308 Win. But it has been designed to be an all-round, mid calibre cartridge that fits perfectly in a shortactioned rifle and will not comprise the powder capacity by bullets being seated to deeply.
The body is shorter than the 260 Rem but the bullets of typical 6.5mm weights can be loaded longer; so, maximum payload achieved and the throat can be short or long as you please, yet still fit in a magazine for a short action. It also has good manners with mild recoil and muzzle blast and that adept nature for superior ballistics that most 6.5mm bullets possess.
The brass is 1.920” long with a trim length of 1.910” and maximum cartridge overall length (COL) of 2.800”. You have a near, parallel-sided case for max powder capacity, tapering down from 0.470 to 0.462” diameter. Add in a 30⁰ shoulder, which facilitates capacity and smooth feeding and it’s a winner. The longer neck promotes stability of the seated bullet, as well as seating, as it does not intrude into the case and reduce space for powder.
The neck is 0.285” long and differs from a 260 Rem (0.259”) and 6.5x47L (0.302”), which is impressive but overall length/capacity of the 6.5x47L is shorter at 1.850”. The 260 case is longer at 2.035”, but the bullets are seated further inside, thus limiting the max powder capacity.
Capacity for the Creedmoor is 53.50mls H2O, .260 Rem is 53.50mls, 6.5x47L is 48.0mls and 260 AK is 54.25mls, all dependent on which cases you use, due to wall thickness. That’s max case capacity, but the Creedmoor has 46.28mls available to load, whilst the same H2O capacity .260 Rem only has 44.76 due to deeper seating depth.
I know die-hards that still want a 260 Rem Ackley, but availability now of factory ammo and numerous rifle makers offering the 6.5 Creedmoor make it the sensible choice. Even wildcatters, like me, must concede that fact- drat. Being a short case and mid-bore diameter, it favours powders in the medium to medium-slow burn rate, such as RL17, Swiss RS50 and RS62, Norma URP or Vit N140.
Being 6.5mm cal and a 1 in 8 twist rifling rate, you can use bullets as light as 85-grain Sierras, all the way up to 160-grain Hornadys if you like. But it is best at home with 120, 129 or 140-grainers. These offer a good blend of velocity, energy and down-range ballistics, regarding retained energy and windbucking abilities, one of the reasons people favour a good 6.5mm calibre. Like a lot of smaller cased rounds, to achieve the velocities it works at 60000 - 63000 psi pressure, which is common for the .243, 308 and 7mm-08.
I had a new Barrett Fieldcraft in 6.5 Creedmoor as the test rifle; it’s light very light with a skinny, buggy whip barrel but loaded right she’s a honey. That’s the beauty of a Creedmoor, it’s right at home as a hunting round, or in a long barrel for varminting at long ranges.
Reloading kit wise, I bought a set of Hornady Match set dies; it’s a two-die set, Number 544655 that uses a Micro adjust Vernier type seating depth gauge for maximum accuracy. The other is a bushing-type, so you can match the interchangeable bushing to the actual case you want to resize. I used a 0.290” bush, as a loaded round was 0.292” on the neck diameter and so giving enough tension/grip, even with a bit of brass spring back. A 0.289” would give more grip in a rifle out for hunting and the rounds being bashed about in the magazine.
Quickload gets you started and saves a lot of unnecessary mistakes, but you still need to shoot all those reloads to see if they perform in your rifle. I now tend to reload in the field, using a portable reloading rig, so I can experiment on the fly. You can see by looking at the results that actually the 6.5 Creedmoor is a pretty efficient round, as the difference between the 21 and 26” barrels is not as marked as you might expect. The Barrett liked the lighter bullets and selective 140-grainers, with good overall accuracy from both, it’s an ultra-lightweight sporter. The RPA shot all with impunity.
Top loads for the Barrett were the 95-grain Hornady V-Maxes at 3291fps for 2271 ft/lbs energy with a load of 45-grains of RL15, Federal Match primer. With the 140-grain SSTs and 43-grains of RL 17 powder, it shot 2791fps and 2405 ft/lbs, all three below minute of angle at 100 yards.
Top loads for the RPA were the 129-grain SSTs with 47-grains of Swiss RS62 for 3049fps and 2531 ft/lbs. The heavier 140-grain SSTs shot 2903fps and 2620 ft/ lbs energy for 45-grains of RS62 also. Both loads printed sub 0.5” groups at 100 yards. These are all maximum charges, so start at lowest and work up, looking for signs of flattened primer and extractor indents.
Impressed, in a word really; some of those loads are hot, admittedly, but it shows the efficiency of the 6.5 Creedmoor. Coupled to its excellent accuracy from light hunter or varmint rifle alike, as well as low recoil and quiet nature when moderated, you genuinely have a great all-round cartridge for vermin, fox or deer here!
N Clark 01788 579651 Reload Supplies
JMS Arms 07771 962121 Quickload/QuickTarget, www.quickload.co.uk
Edgar Brothers 01625 613177 Hornady ammo reload dies brass
Hannam’s 01977 681639 Vithavouri powder
Henry Krank 0113 256 9163 Sierra Bullets
Viking Arms 01423 780810 Leupold scopes
RUAG 01579 362319 Norma Powders
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