6.5 Creedmoor Ammo

6.5 Creedmoor: In Depth

While most gun owners will buy a rifle and be done with it, folks in the competitive shooting sports are forever changing cartridges. Every season, new waves of wildcats will overtake a chunk of the field for a few years, only to recede and give way to something newer. Most of these cartridges begin and end as wildcats, while some receive a SAAMI spec, and others even make it to mass production, but only a handful ever break through into widespread adoption by the shooting public. However, a new factory load that does a bunch of stuff better than its competitors: people outside the competition world tend to notice this. And, if you also have a big-name manufacturer working behind the scenes, a new cartridge has an even better chance of connecting with the right target market – or two of them, in this case.

One such design, intended for commercial production from the get-go, had the backing of one of the US’ premier ammunition and component manufacturers. According to Dave Emary, the Hornady ballistician primarily responsible for the development of the 6.5 Creedmoor in 2007, the cartridge had to be capable of winning competitions off-the-shelf, have less recoil than .308 Winchester, and fit in a short-action rifle. This request was put to him a few years prior during the National Matches at Camp Perry, when Creedmoor Sports higher-up Dennis DeMille was looking for a factory round with these exact characteristics. Starting with the .30 TC (which was fresh from development at Hornady at the time) as a parent case, Emary then settled on a 6.5mm projectile due to its superior wind-bucking performance at long distances. This case-bullet combo allowed for long .264 caliber (6.5mm) projectiles to be seated out far enough in the case while still fitting into a short-action footprint. In the end, Emary would use DeMille’s company to name the effort. Et voila: a purpose-built, commercially-produced rifle round intended for competition shooting that proved to be an immediate success at the task.

What Emary and Co. probably hadn’t intended was the massive boost this round would receive from hunters. Light-for-caliber loads excelled for varmint and predator hunting, and heavier bullets were well suited for deer and other medium sized game; all of this with less recoil than .308 Win. When coupled with one of the polymer stocked, budget hunting rifles like the Savage Axis or Ruger American that came out a few years after the 6.5 Creedmoor was introduced, this combination was a turnkey solution for new hunters looking to begin a new hobby – with a reasonable expectation of success – and without going into credit card debt and/or investing in a rifle platform more suited to larger game.

Other rifles would soon emerge that offered would-be long-range shooters a similar chance for success. Ruger’s Precision Rifle, first offered around 2015, along with Bergara’s B-14, Tikka’s T3x, and other “entry-level” precision bolt-actions made connecting at 1000-yds with 6.5 Creedmoor a reasonable task – provided the shooter used appropriate glass and sought out the smallest amount of instruction. The cartridge gained such a reputation for flat, seemingly effortless shooting at distance that it soon became the go-to in many shooters’ minds. In terms of serious competition, the cartridge had a short time in the spotlight, but as previously mentioned, none of them tend to hang out at the top for long. However, the larger public’s perception is still more-or-less that 6.5 Creedmoor is the long-distance cartridge. It’s certainly not a bad place to start, since the ready availability and variety of loads in production make it simple to find just the right load for whatever flavor of far-away-shooting you fancy.

In terms of military use, US SOCOM would begin to test rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor within a decade of the round’s release. Most weapons systems designed around 7.62x51mm NATO can easily be retrofitted to feed and fire the newer cartridge – including precision (sniper) rifles, larger AR-10 pattern rifles, and even machine guns – sometimes with as little as a barrel swap. When you combine that with the promising results on target that SOCOM witnessed during their 6.5 Creedmoor testing, this changeover starts to make a lot of sense. While an altogether different cartridge (.277 Fury) was selected for the US military’s NGSW system, 6.5 Creedmoor continues to be another tool in their arsenal; particularly for specialized sniper units in what are considered “mid-range” engagements. While this certainly doesn’t mean we’ll see mountains of cheap surplus 6.5 Creedmoor ammo anytime soon, it’s definitely another indicator that the cartridge will be relevant for many years. 

6.5 Creedmoor: Guns

The majority of rifles chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor are bolt-action target and hunting guns. Much like the .308 Winchester selection these days, rifles range from lightweight polymer budget builds to fine heirloom pieces. What you won’t find, at least not yet, are any military surplus firearms. However, since the cartridge is compatible with the AR-10 platform, there are a number of these rifles available, as well as other semi-autos originally designed for .308 Winchester / 7.62x51mm NATO like the Springfield M1A and SCAR 17S. Most magazines designed for .308 Win / 7.62 NATO will also feed 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, including Magpul’s PMAG M3 LR/SR 308/7.62 AR-10 and AICS 7.62, Ruger’s flush-fit American .308, FN’s SCAR 17S .308, and even USGI-style M1A/M14 mags. 

Bolt-Action Rifles

  • Ruger Precision Rifle
  • Bergara B-14 HMR
  • Savage Axis II XP
  • Ruger American Rifle
  • Tikka T3x
  • Winchester Model 70

Semi-Auto Rifles

  • Ruger SFAR
  • Springfield Armory M1A Loaded
  • Desert Tech MDRX

Why Choose 6.5 Creedmoor?

This is a great rifle cartridge for beginners since it shoots flat, doesn’t have much recoil, is widely available, and isn’t particularly expensive. It began life in the precision shooting sports, where it still excels in long-distance competition, but was also quickly found to be an effective varminting, predator, and medium game hunting round. Within a decade or so of its release, the cartridge overtook most other bolt-action rifle cartridges in terms of overall popularity; especially for target shooting. For hunting, the bottom line is that the 6.5mm projectiles loaded in this cartridge are big enough, long enough, and sleek enough to shoot at far away targets; when you combine those characteristics with a hunting bullet that also expands reliably, you have an incredibly useful tool for dispatching all kinds of game. Regardless of whether you’re shooting at targets or game, this round’s modern design and capabilities make it great for an all-around rifle – a spot we would’ve seen a .308 Winchester gun occupy in the past.

Match / Target

  • Originally designed for competitive long-distance shooting.
  • Projectiles stay supersonic for far longer than other popular rifle cartridges like .308 Winchester and .223 Remington.
  • Less recoil than .308 Winchester for staying on target behind the scope (also applies to hunting).


  • “Turnkey” hunting setups like the Savage Axis II XP in 6.5 Creedmoor make it easy to start hunting with a minimal investment of time and practice ammo.
  • Good variety of hunting loads for varmints up through deer and medium sized game.
  • Great choice for “do-it-all” cartridge on appropriate animals when longer shots are necessary.

6.5 Creedmoor: Ammo Brands and Loadings

Hornady released the first 6.5 Creedmoor loads in 2008; they featured A-MAX polymer-tipped bullets and were intended primarily for long distance match shooting. It wasn’t long before other loads began to pop up for varmint, predator and medium-sized game hunting, and plinking at the range. Now, pretty much every manufacturer has at least a few 6.5 Creedmoor rounds in their catalog – and why wouldn’t they? Backfire reports that 6.5 Creedmoor is the third most searched rifle round on Google (behind .22 LR and .223 Remington). JSP, V-MAX, and other polymer-tipped bullets dominate the hunting loads, whereas HPBTs still feature heavily in some match ammo, and FMJs are found in most range-specific / practice ammo. As far as suppressed shooting is concerned, most folks just run normal velocity ammo, as subsonic loads in this caliber aren’t even effective as practice ammo beyond 50 to 75-yds. Atomic Ammo makes a 129-gr. subsonic 6.5 Creedmoor load if you absolutely have scratch that itch.


Standard Loading

  • 140-gr. HP, Polymer-Tip, or FMJ  @ 2,750/fps

Bullet Types

  • HPBT (Hollow Point Boat Tail) - Match, target
  • Polymer Tip / Ballistic Tip - Hunting, match
  • FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) - Target
  • JSP (Jacketed Soft Point) - Hunting, target

Bullet Weights

  • 95-gr. to 110-gr. - Varmint and predator hunting
  • 120-gr. to 130-gr. - Deer and medium game hunting
  • 140-gr. - Standard loading, hunting, target
  • 147-gr. and up - Match


  • 95-gr. to 110-gr. - 3,150/fps to 3,300/fps
  • 120-gr. to 130-gr. - 2,800/fps to 2,900/fps
  • 140-gr. - 2,750/fps
  • 147-gr. to 153.5-gr - 2,650/fps to 2,700/fps

6.5 Creedmoor: Frequently Asked Questions

Assuming you’re using premium ammo and shooting at the distances that most people will shoot (under 300-yds), not really. However, 6.5 Creedmoor has a much flatter trajectory and goes transonic at farther distances than .308 Winchester. So, if you’re shooting past 600 - 800-yds, then yes, 6.5 Creedmoor is clearly a better choice.

Definitely! Hunting loads with lighter weight bullets between 95-gr and 110-gr are great for long-range varminting and shots at predators. Most deer and medium-sized game hunting loads are between 120-gr. and 130-gr.

Probably not! Consider an AR-15 pattern gun chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO if you’re looking for a home defense rifle.

No. The 6mm Creedmoor is a completely different cartridge that came about several years after 6.5 Creedmoor. Although they share similar case dimensions, they are not interchangeable whatsoever.