Despite all of the recent attention given to the 6.5 Creedmoor, the cartridge has been around for more than a dozen years. There are many specialized benchrest cartridges, and like many of them, the 6.5 Creedmoor didn’t get much attention.
The Creedmoor cartridge is intended for extreme long range shooting. The primary purpose is, perhaps was, simply punching paper. For many reasons, everyday shooters became interested in long-range shooting and found the Creedmoor cartridge an excellent all-around choice. We owe its development to two engineers, Dave Emary and Joe Thielen. These men work for Hornady Manufacturing. Precision ammunition is more than a hobby for them. They took a hard look at what was available and decided to translate what they had learned into a useful, affordable, and low recoil cartridge.
A 6mm cartridge offers better wind bucking ability than smaller cartridges without the recoil of the .30 caliber projectiles. That is a very simplistic explanation, but you get the idea. The problem was that light bullets were not delivering the goods at 1,000 yards or more. So they decided to up the caliber to 6.5mm to allow for heavier bullets. Another concern was high pressure. They intended their new loading should have a relatively low operating pressure. This meant long operating life and less wear on the rifle and the cartridge cases. This was a caliber for handloaders.
The 6.5mm 140-grain bullet they designed has a ballistic coefficient of .500. That is a high BC that will hold its own well at long range.
The ballistic coefficient (BC) of a body is a measure of its ability to overcome air resistance in flight. It is inversely proportional to the negative acceleration — a high number indicates a low negative acceleration. This is roughly the same as saying that the projectile in question possesses low drag.
The starting velocity was intended to be modest, perhaps 2,600 fps, but the projectile would maintain its supersonic velocity to 1,200 yards or more. Affordability and a cartridge that was friendly to handloaders was also important. Barrel life was an important consideration, as a low recoil, super-accurate cartridge would be fired a lot.
The cartridge was designed with a bullet that protrudes considerably from the cartridge case allowing a relatively small case with plenty of powder space. The new cartridge has been proven on the firing line for more than a dozen years in a highly demanding environment. There are high demands at that strata. That means, the factory loads that are available are among the most carefully assembled and most accurate ever made.
If you have ever used the 6.5x55mm Swede, you know it is a game killer—out of proportion to its size. The 6.5 Creedmoor is even better in the modern rifles it is chambered in. As a varmint caliber, the 6.5 Creedmoor offers excellent utility. It offers longer range than the .223s and greater bullet mass. With Hornady TAP loads, it is also a fine tactical load, splitting the difference between the .223 and .308. I cannot find a single thing not to like about this all-American cartridge from Hornady, and I don’t believe you will either.