First Shots: Top 5 Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo for Hunting
The 6.5 Creedmoor is an excellent choice for big game hunting thanks to its low recoil, reduced wind drift, and flat trajectory. But you can’t use just any old 6.5 Creedmoor ammo for hunting since some rounds are made for target shooting while others are designed to put down game animals quickly and humanely.
As the 6.5 Creedmoor was originally designed as a precision rifle cartridge, there’s a bunch of match-grade ammo that isn’t appropriate for use on game animals. But how do you know which ones are better for hunting?
To be honest, you’ll need to analyze the bullet type, velocity, ballistic coefficient, and a bunch of other ballistic data that could confuse even a seasoned marksman. But don’t worry! Because we’ve done all the hard work for you.
Below you’ll find our Top 5 list of the best 6.5 Creedmoor ammo for hunting available on the market right now. For those of you in a hurry, the Winchester Deer Season XP 125 grain Copper Impact is our top pick for the best 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting.
However, if you want a few more options for your brand new 6.5 Creedmoor hunting rifle, then scroll down and check out our complete list.
If you’re new to the 6.5 Creedmoor and aren’t sure what aspects make for better hunting ammo, check out this Buyer’s Guide HERE.
Otherwise, swipe up or roll that mouse wheel down just a little more for the complete list…
The Top 5 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo for Hunting
- Winchester Deer Season XP 125-grain Copper Impact
- Hornady American Whitetail 129 gr InterLock
- Federal Premium Power-Shok 140-Grain JSP
- Barnes VOR-TX 120 gr TTSX
- Sellier & Bellot 140 grain SP
Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo for Hunting – Overall
Winchester Deer Season XP 125-Grain
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: Copper Extreme Point
- Weight: 125-grain
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,850 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 2,254 ft-lbs
- Rapid expansion produces a wide wound cavity
- Polymer tipped bullet aids in expansion and reliable feeding
- Solid copper bullet designed for maximum weight retention
- Extremely accurate
- Not the best for elk
Why We Chose It
The Winchester Deer Season XP 125 gr Copper Impact offers hunters a cartridge that has impeccable accuracy, deep penetration, and creates a devastating wound channel to quickly harvest game.
Of all the ammo we considered, the Deer Season XP simply checks all the boxes. It’s a versatile round with a high ballistic coefficient and low price tag. It makes for an excellent long range hunting round that you can confidently carry into the field, knowing that your ammo will get the job done.
Winchester specifically designed the Deer Season XP for devastating terminal ballistics and rapid expansion. Copper Impact bullets are equipped with a large diameter hollow point and polymer tip that initiates expansion immediately upon impact. The resulting wound channel can put down all but the largest game with relative ease.
Although the lightweight 125 grain bullet does an amazing job on deer and similarly sized game animals, it’s not the best option for elk. However, the performance that Deer Season XP offers more than compensates for this.
Overall, the Winchester Deer Season XP meets all our criteria for an excellent hunting round for most long-range hunting as it can easily take home a whitetail, pronghorn, mule deer, or feral hog for a mere $2.25 per round (at the time of writing).
Fiocchi 129-grain SST: Fiocchi 129-grain SST 6.5 Creedmoor ammo is a close runner-up and excellent alternative if you can’t find Winchester. Loaded with a Hornady Super Shock Tip (SST), this Fiocchi ammo offers consistent expansion and weight retention to maximize damage to the internal organs. The only downside to Fiocchi is that it can be tricky to find sometimes. So, if you see a box, make sure you snatch it up as it’s a great hunting ammo and slightly cheaper than the Winchester Deer Season XP.
Best 6.5 Creedmoor Deer Hunting Ammo
Hornady American Whitetail 129-Grain InterLock
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: InterLock Jacketed Soft Point
- Weight: 129 gr
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,820 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 2,277 ft-lbs
- Controlled expansion annihilates deer
- Very affordable
- High availability
- Limited Versatility
Why We Chose It
Considering that Hornady invented the 6.5 Creedmoor, it should come as no surprise that Hornady American Whitetail ammo is one of the best deer hunting rounds on the market.
One of the keys to the round’s success is the patented InterLock design. This innovation in bullet technology uses the InterLock Ring, which locks the lead core and tapered jacket together while the bullet expands. This ensures that the lead core and jacket remain intact during expansion, maximizing penetration and kinetic energy delivered to the target.
Hornady American Whitetail ammo costs less than $2 per shot, and it’s pretty easy to find. While it isn’t great for hunting animals over 300 pounds at more than 250 yards, the American Whitetail cartridge is perfect for hunting a variety of creatures at shorter distances.
For more ammo options, check out our Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor ammo page.
Remington Core-Lokt 140-grain: You simply can’t beat Big Green when it comes to reliability. For years, hunters have banked on the consistency and cost-effectiveness of Remington Core-Lokt bullets for deer season.
This 140 grain bullet offers massive expansion (roughly 2X its original size) and excellent weight retention (for better penetration). Although it might not be the most consistent ammo in terms of accuracy, Remington Core-Lokt will do the job and not break the bank when you’re looking to put venison in the freezer this fall.
Best 6.5 Creedmoor for Mule Deer
Barnes VOR-TX 120 Grain TTSX BT
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: Tipped Tripple Shock X (TTSX)
- Weight: 120 gr
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,910 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 2,257 ft-lbs
- Perfect for long-range hunting
- All-copper design
- Insane expansion thanks to the polymer tip
- Limited availability
Why We Chose It
When you need consistent long-range accuracy, Barnes VOR-TX ammo never seems to disappoint. Loaded with the proprietary 120 gr TTSX hunting bullet, Barnes VOR-TX offers hunters an incredibly flat shooting round that can easily knock down a mule deer at 500 yards.
Similar to the Deer Season XP and Hornady SST, the Barnes TTSX uses a polymer tip to increase their bullet’s ballistic coefficient, ensure rapid expansion, and quickly put down whatever game animal you aim it at.
The all-copper design means that this round is perfect for states or territories that restrict lead bullet usage, making it a perfect round for long range deer hunting across North America. And when it comes to accuracy, Barnes is on par with all the other big-name match-grade ammo companies like Sierra, Berger, Federal Premium, and Nosler.
The only downside to Barnes VOR-TX ammo is that it can sometimes be difficult to find. But when you get your hands on this ammo, you’ll quickly understand why hunters snatch it up so quickly!
Ultimately, we love the Barnes VOR-TX for mule deer hunting thanks to its incredible shot-to-shot consistency, terminal performance, and long-range capabilities. There’s no doubt in our minds that any mule deer you take aim at with this ammo will soon be in your freezer!
Best 6.5 Creedmoor Elk Hunting Ammo
Federal Power-Shok 140-Grain
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: Jacketed Soft Point (JSP)
- Weight: 140 gr
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,750 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 2,350 ft-lbs
- Proven effectiveness in the field
- Easy to find
- Not amazing for long-range shots
Why We Chose It
The Federal Power-Shok line is a fan favorite, used by many avid hunters who don’t want a lot of bells and whistles. The 140 gr Federal Power-Shok bullet is a bit heavier than our other recommendations which is why it’s a great choice for elk.
This round hits hard and can easily penetrate deep enough to humanely put down larger game. The exposed lead tip and accompanying copper jacket gives hunters the rapid expansion necessary for hunting elk or smaller creatures.
Another awesome aspect of Federal Power-Shok ammo is its low cost. As one of the least expensive rounds on our list, Federal Power-Shock is a great choice to buy in bulk, so you always have plenty of ammo to both practice and hunt with.
While the Power-Shok is a great overall round, it’s JSP bullet design leaves something to be desired when it comes to long-range shooting. Although soft point ammo is great for expansion, it’s not ideal for long range shooting which limits this round’s effectiveness for shots over 300 yards.
However, the low overall cost makes 140 gr Federal Power-Shok a great choice for elk hunting as it allows hunters to practice with their field ammo and ensure they can put rounds on target when it matters most.
Hornady 143 gr ELD-X Precision Hunter: If you’re looking for one of the best long-range hunting rounds for 6.5 Creedmoor on the market today, then you’ve found it in the Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X 143 gr factory load. Optimized for maximum weight retention and sporting a match-grade streamlined design, the Hornady ELD-X bullet can easily knock down an elk out to 400 yards. The only reason this ammo isn’t our top choice is that it’s extremely difficult to find and a bit on the pricier side. But if you want top of the line 6.5 Creed performance, the Hornady ELD-X bullet is what you need!
Best 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge for Hunting on a Budget
Sellier and Bellot 140-Grain SP
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: Soft-Point (SP)
- Weight: 140 gr
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,658 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 2,195 ft-lbs
- Low cost per round
- Easy to find
- Great terminal performance for the money
- Limited effective range
Why We Chose It
If you’re looking for one go-to round that’s easy to find, affordable, and meets all our hunting ammo criteria then look no further than the Sellier & Bellot 140 gr SP. Times are hard enough as it is, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice the joy of hunting just to save a few pennies.
If you want a 6.5 Creedmoor round that efficiently takes down medium-sized game but you don’t want to spend $2/shot, then a box of Sellier & Bellot (S&B) is your ticket back into the woods.
The Sellier and Bellot 140-grain is an excellent deer hunting cartridge that’s affordable enough to take to the range, so you can hone your skills and go after bigger game. This semi-jacketed soft-point bullet gives us reliable expansion with exceptional weight retention to easily take down deer and other medium to large game.
Although SP bullets are great for terminal performance, they do lack somewhat in long range capabilities due to their less than aerodynamic design.
However, if you plan to hit targets within 200-300 yards for less than $1.50 per shot (in early 2023, at least) then you simply cannot go wrong with this S&B 140 gr SP 6.5 Creedmoor ammo!
Parting Shots: The Critics Have Met Their Match
The brilliant minds at Hornady initially brought us the 6.5 Creedmoor for competitive shooting, and it’s evolved into an amazing hunting cartridge that is perfect for hunters of all skill levels. You can choose any of the ammo above, grab your new Browning X-Bolt or Sig Sauer bolt action rifle, and bring home supper with relatively low recoil and exceptional terminal ballistics.
While there were plenty of skeptics early on, the 6.5 Creedmoor won over many hunters, competitive shooters, and gun enthusiasts in less than a decade.
To check out all the 6.5 Creedmoor ammo we have in stock, check out our full 6.5 Creedmoor ammo page or keep scrolling if you’d like to read our buyers guide to 6.5 Creed ammo.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for in 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo for Hunting
Surely, you’ve heard that the 6.5 Creedmoor is an excellent hunting caliber? While there is some debate about this, the 6.5 Creedmoor is only as good for hunting as the rounds you chamber.
For example, if you choose match-grade ammo like Nosler RDF in 140gr, you’re using ammo designed for accuracy, not terminal ballistics. Sure, you’ll hit your prey, but you may spend a few hours tracking it too. That isn’t how we want you to spend your time in the woods.
In this buyer’s guide we will explain some of the critical bullet features you need to consider when selecting your new favorite 6.5 Creedmoor hunting round.
You’ll hear a lot of hunters and gun enthusiasts talk about terminal performance. You’ll hear words like ballistic coefficient, sectional density, weight retention, and expansion radius. It’s enough to make your head spin!
But don’t worry; you don’t need a degree in calculus to understand how the rounds you choose relate to terminal performance (also referred to as terminal ballistics).
Terminal Ballistics, in simple terms, explains how a bullet reacts when it meets its target. When choosing your 6.5 Creedmoor hunting ammo, look at the velocity, bullet type, and weight.
A higher velocity equals more kinetic energy and, therefore, more damage. But that doesn’t always mean you should single out the fastest 6.5 Creedmoor and go elk hunting.
Bullet type matters as well. We’ll explain this more in detail below, but we need expansion and penetration. A bullet too soft will deform on impact. One too hard won’t expand at all.
Lastly, consider bullet weight (that’s right, size does matter!) A heavier bullet expands and penetrates better. However, a bullet that’s too heavy for your prey may fail to expand, and you’ll see your much-coveted prey scurry away wounded.
Unless you want to spend hours in the woods tracking an injured animal, you need a balance between high velocity, a soft-tipped cartridge (SP, polymer tip, JSP, etc.), and adequate weight.
The type of bullet you use is a BIG deal for any shooting activity. But it’s especially critical when it comes to hunting. While a match shooter only cares about pristine shot placement, hunters have to penetrate hide, tissue, and bones to effectively get the job done.
This is where the bullet type comes into play.
Although the Hornady 147 gr ELD Match BTHP (Boat Tail Hollow-Point) is an amazing round to shoot a match with, it isn’t adequate for hunting big game. Why? Because it won’t expand on impact and will likely pass through the target, potentially missing vital organs and merely wound the game animal instead of putting it down.
Another bullet ill-equipped for hunting is a full metal jacket (FMJ). Although these bullets are extremely cost-effective (read: cheap) they don’t expand well either, if at all.
The last thing you want to do is nail an 8-point buck 500 yards away from your truck that runs for a few miles because you didn’t do enough damage to humanely put it down. That makes for a really long and unenjoyable day of tracking that you simply didn’t need to do!
Hunters need rounds that are designed to pierce the hide and expand, creating a wider wound channel and damaging internal organs. This ensures that hunters minimize the suffering of the animal and reduces the amount of distance they run before passing.
Effective 6.5 Creedmoor hunting bullet types include:
- SP (soft-point)
- Polymer tip (a hollow-point round with a polymer tip to help initiate expansion)
- JSP (jacketed soft point helps to keep the bullet from expanding on impact).
In long-range shooting, your bullet weight matters. A heavier bullet typically holds its velocity, penetrates deeply, and expands well. But too much of a good thing is bad when you consider that a hunting bullet needs a little time to work after making contact. A lighter bullet will lose its velocity faster (losing energy). This means you’ll have less penetration and expansion.
Essentially, a heavier bullet deals more kinetic energy (knock-down power). But only within a certain impact velocity. For example, the heavier Federal Power-Shok 140 gr SP has a muzzle velocity of 2,750 fps. It’s a jacketed soft-point, so it will penetrate and expand well. However, the 140 gr bullet is a bit much for a ground hog or other small varmint within 30-40 yards.
A good 6.5 Creedmoor bullet for hunting will weigh between 120-140 grain for deer, mule deer, feral hogs, and other medium-sized game between 51-300lbs.
If you’re going after larger game like Elk and Moose (300-1000lbs), we’re looking for a little more weight to get more penetration. These rounds are often somewhere between 140-160 grain.
But again, you can’t use just any 6.5 Creedmoor ammo like the 140-grain Berger target ammunition (which is an excellent round for target shooting). You’ll need one designed to maximize damage.
However, the lighter weights listed above will work for large game; just try to get them within 250 yards or so to keep your impact velocity within an acceptable range (if you’re an avid big game hunter, explore options in the 6.5 PRC line).
There are a few things play into a cartridge’s accuracy other than the shooter’s ability (which is the biggest part if we’re being honest!)
The 6.5 Creedmoor does a great job resisting wind drift within most standard hunting distances. This is one of the major advantages of the 6.5mm bullet, as it is long, sleek, and aerodynamic.
A bullet’s ability to resist wind drift is known as ballistic coefficient (or BC for short). Although a lot of shooters harp on the importance of BC, understand that the higher the number is the more effective a bullet is at resisting wind drift.
Another accuracy enhancer is having low recoil. Lower recoil means that it is less likely that a shooter will flinch when they squeeze the trigger, reducing the chance of throwing a shot off target.
The 6.5 Creedmoor is well known for its low recoil, as it has less recoil than other popular hunting rifle cartridges like the .308 Winchester. It’s a hunting round that shooters of all skill levels can enjoy.
Other factors like bullet weight and muzzle velocity also play a role in accuracy and shot placement.
A higher muzzle velocity means it takes less time for your bullet to get to its target. This means that it will have less time for gravity to affect its flight path to the target. This is known as trajectory and shooters typically measure this in inches of bullet drop at any given range.
The flatter your trajectory is, the more forgiving a round will be of ranging mistakes. This helps shooters avoid sending their rounds underneath the belly of that 12-point trophy buck they’ve been stalking all day.
Of course, don’t forget to get to the range too. This way you’ll be getting all those sub-MOA (minute of angle) groups you’ve always dreamed about and you’ll be ready to bag your next deer, antelope, or elk this fall!
Understanding the 6.5 Creedmoor
The 6.5 Creedmoor was born out of necessity in 2007. It was the brainchild of legendary competitive shooter, Dennis DeMille, and Hornady’s senior ballistician at the time, Dave Emary.
Frustrated with the competitive precision rifle cartridges of that era, the duo looked to create a cartridge that offered a flat trajectory (for long-range shooting) and a low recoil (for accuracy and shooter comfort).
What they developed was the 6.5 Creedmoor, and it has quickly become one of the most successful new rifle cartridges of the 21st Century.
Although the 6.5 Creedmoor was not initially developed as a hunting cartridge, it was quickly adapted to that role thanks to being an incredibly accurate and soft shooting round.
While competitive shooters look for a cartridge that is incredibly consistent and accurate, hunters needed that plus a few extra features. While Hornady has perfected their ELD-X hunting lineup for the 6.5 Creedmoor, there are many other amazing projectiles for 6.5 Creed like the Nosler AccuBond Trophy Grade, Barnes LRX, and Norma Whitetail.
Over fifteen years after its debut, the 6.5 Creedmoor is still the one-cartridge solution that many shooters use to bridge the gap between hunting and competitive shooting. Whether you want to use factory ammo or handloads, the 6.5 Creedmoor is still a game-changer for everyone with a passion for rifles.
Back to the Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo for Hunting
Thanks so much for making it all the way to the end of our exclusive buying guide! Now that you’re an expert in all things 6.5 Creedmoor, it’s time to go back to our Top Five List; just click HERE.