6.5 Creedmoor vs 6.5 PRC: differences and best use cases

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Cartridge for competitive shooting

The idea behind the caliber was to pack more performance into a compact, practical cartridge that fits directly into the most common rifle action: The aim was to create a new and accurate cartridge for competitive shooting, with less bullet drop, more wind resistance and a smaller recoil. The recoil is relevant because, in many competitive forms of the sport, you shoot against a time limit at a fast pace. Less time needed for recovery from the recoil gives a direct competitive advantage. The cartridge should work in all disciplines up to 1,000 yards, easily and practically. The reloaders were not forgotten either: the reuse of the cartridges should be at a reasonable pressure level, and the components needed for reloading should be reasonably priced.

The result was a new caliber 6.5 Creedmoor – 6.5 CM – pressed into the outer dimensions of the 308 Winchester cartridge, with a ballistically affordable and readily available 6.5mm bullet size. The Creedmoor appears to be a shortened and necked 308 Win cartridge, but it is not. Its cartridge is a .30 T/C necked down to 6.5mm, the “30-06 performance in a smaller package” cartridge introduced by the Thompson Center and Hornady in 2007. The .30 TC has the same nominal cartridge diameter as the 308 to one hundredth of a millimeter, but has slightly straighter sides and a slightly higher CIP operating pressure than the 308W cartridge.

Soon after its introduction, the 6.5 CM started winning competitions and quickly found its way into the long-range “tactical” shooting scene, which is gaining popularity in the USA. The chosen 6.5mm / .264 bullet is ballistically a good compromise between bullet weight and cross-sectional area, offering a much smaller bullet drop than the 308W caliber. There are a number of precision and hunting bullets available in the popular bullet size from many manufacturers, so the versatility of the cartridge was good immediately.

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Increase in performance

The nominal length of the 6.5 CM cartridge is only 0.64mm longer than the 308W (CIP), so it will work without any problems with all 308Win magazines. It also works directly in self-loading rifles such as the popular 7.62 AR guns. Almost any 308Win rifle can be upgraded to 6.5 CM caliber with a simple barrel change, which also significantly lowered the threshold for gun manufacturers to offer a new upgraded caliber.

Compared to the 308Win cartridge, the 6.5 CM offers about 20% more performance in terms of both bullet drop and wind resistance. At the same time, the recoil is reduced by about 30% – all important features for competitive shooters, long-range rifle shooters and equally desirable for birding and other hunting. In practice, a 6.5 CM precision rifle with a good muzzle brake is somewhere between small and non-existent. Based on shoulder feel, it would be hard to believe how much performance it actually offers compared to 308 Winchester.

So the cartridge was performing right from the start, but performance is rarely enough to justify global success. Many a good cartridge has been forgotten without similar success. Creedmoor was no exception; an important part of the final breakthrough was the immediate availability to shooters of a range of accurate, high-performance and affordable factory cartridges.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>