Is the 6.5 Creedmoor a good round for deer hunting? This is a question that has been popping up a lot on social media posts, chat rooms and at local gun clubs. Popular press has taken notice, too, and it almost seems as if the 6.5 Creedmoor is the flavor of the day. Well, it is, but the only catch is that, in my opinion, it wonxe2x80x99t be for only a day xe2x80x94 it will be for generations.
So, the short answer to the question: Is the 6.5 Creedmoor a good caliber for deer hunting is not only xe2x80x9cyes,xe2x80x9d but a resounding xe2x80x9check yeah.xe2x80x9d Before we dive into the details, I find it most interesting this xe2x80x9cnewxe2x80x9d deer-hunting caliber has gained so much traction in so little time.
What is the Best New Rifle for Deer Hunting?
The 6.5 Creedmoor was brought to market barely a decade ago (in 2007) by Hornady Mfg. If youxe2x80x99re like me and not a gun geek, you might not even know the difference between the 6.5 Creedmoor and the venerable .308 that you most likely grew up shooting deer with (or knew someone who did). Therexe2x80x99s a very good reason for that: There is very little difference xe2x80x94 outwardly xe2x80x94 of the 6.5 vs. the .308. The difference is in the details.
If you just look at the brass casings, youxe2x80x99ll quickly notice that the 6.5 is essentially just a necked-down version of the .308. the photo with this blog (from left) actually shows the progression from the .308 to the .243 to the 6.5 Creedmoor. Splitting hairs, right? Not exactly.
Load that 6.5 Creedmoor, and you will notice a longer, lighter and more aerodynamic bullet (0.2364 inches in diameter, to be exact). The load produces a higher ballistic coefficient than the .308. That means less drag during flight; less chance the bullet is going to be affected by wind and longer (and I mean a lot longer) downrange accuracy. Ask any of the gun geeks, and they will tell you the 6.5 Creedmoor isnxe2x80x99t the xe2x80x9cOh-my-God-200-yards-seems-like-a-helluvalong-shot-at-a-buckxe2x80x9d in Pennyslvania whitetail hunting load. It is more like 700 to 1,000 yards of tack-driving consistency for hunting whitetails in, say, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon, et al.
I was humbly honored to have used one of the first 6.5 Creedmoor rifles (a Savage 116 Trophy Hunter XP) to take down a mule deer buck at a staggering 565 yards while hunting with my friend John Vaca from Bushnell in 2014.
Ixe2x80x99d like to brag and say it was all me, but it wasnxe2x80x99t even close. We practiced at more than 300 yards before that hunt, and I could easily xe2x80x9chit dimesxe2x80x9d (as they say) with that rifle before we went hunting. With in-the-field coaching and one insane rifle rest (a rock ledge padded with backpacks and extra jackets), I made that shot and dropped the buck in its tracks. That situation proved that shot placement is and always will be the #1 key to a dead whitetail. Bullet design and speed certainly helps, but accurate placement trumps everything else.
One of the Best New Deer Rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor
A rifle from Remington is turning heads and making waves in the 6.5 arena. It is the Model Seven lineup, and specifically called the Model Seven HS Precision (not yet available; the images and video in this blog are a sneak peek).
This rifle was designed to maximize long-range accuracy in a package that fits men as well as women. Itxe2x80x99s not as cumbersome as a full-sized rifle, yet not so light that it affects recoil and accuracy. Remington engineers worked overtime to build this rig, and the key to keeping this rifle light (less than 6 pounds) and accurate has a lot to do with how it all fits together.
For starters, the Model 7 HS Precision has an aluminum-bedded stock (as opposed to just standard pillars). That feature secures the chassis underneath the receiver. In addition, they built-in pressure pads between the front end of the barrel and the stock to maximize accuracy. Early reports indicate this rifle routinely shoots less than 1-inch groups when fed premium ammo.
The Model Seven HS Precision comes with an X-Mark Pro trigger thatxe2x80x99s adjustable down to a light and crisp 3.5 pounds.
But I digress. Back to the larger question: Is the 6.5 Creedmoor a good round for deer hunting xe2x80xa6 based off the ballistics? Absolutely. Here are some of those stats:
HORNADY PRECISION HUNTER IN 6.5 CREEDMOOR:
(143 grain ELDX. 24xe2x80x9d Barrel)
Muzzle: 2,700 feet per second
100 Yds: 2,557 fps
200 Yds: 2,419 fps
300 Yds: 2,156 fps
400 Yds: 2,156 fps
500 Yds: 2,030 fps
Muzzle: 2,315 ft/lbs
100 Yds: 2,076 ft/lbs
200 Yds: 1,858 ft/lbs
300 Yds: 1,658 ft/lbs
400 Yds: 1,475 ft/lbs
500 Yds: 1,308 ft/lbs
Muzzle: -1.5 inches
100 Yds: 1.9 inches
200 Yds: 0
300 Yds: -7.9 inches
400 Yds: -22.4 inches
500 Yds: -44.4 inches
HORNADY PRECISION HUNTER IN .308:
(178 grain ELDX. 24xe2x80x9d Barrel)
Muzzle: 2,600 feet per second
100 Yds: 2,437 fps
200 Yds: 2,281 fps
300 Yds: 2,130 fps
400 Yds: 1,984fps
500 Yds: 1,846 fps
Muzzle: 2,672 ft/lbs
100 Yds: 2,348 ft/lbs
200 Yds: 2,056 ft/lbs
300 Yds: 1,792 ft/lbs
400 Yds: 1,556 ft/lbs
500 Yds: 1,346 ft/lbs
Trajectory in inches:
Muzzle: -1.5 inches
100 Yds: 2.2 inches
200 Yds: 0
300 Yds: -8.9 inches
400 Yds: -22.5 inches
500 Yds: -50.9 inches
This round is also available in some other premium loads that offer even flatter-shooting abilities at longer ranges. Here is one example:
BARNES VOR-TX LR PREMIUM
Muzzle: 2,825 fps
Muzzle: 2,251 ft/lbs.
6.5 Creedmoor Final Analysis
Whatxe2x80x99s this all mean? Well, if you really get down into the weeds and study the numbers, the 6.5 outpaces the .308 once you get to those longer distances. Before that, itxe2x80x99s pretty much an even horse race, all things considered. Yes, the heavier .308 packs a slightly larger punch out of the gates, but therexe2x80x99s a missing component here that should be mentioned: Felt recoil.
The 6.5 Creedmoor produces a lot less recoil than its cousin in a rifle thatxe2x80x99s essentially the same weight. If I had to compare it after shooting various rifles of different calibers, Ixe2x80x99d say the 6.5 Creedmoor produces recoil thatxe2x80x99s similar to shooting a .243 xe2x80x94 much more enjoyable than the .308, in my book.
I write these words in the wee hours after Nebraska’s opening day of gun-deer season. Yesterday was an action-packed day, as I filled my deer tag barely an hour into our first hunt. The day was partly sunny but cold as D&DH-TV producer David Gilane and I climbed into a box blind on the property of friends Scott and LaCayla Fink (Goose Creek Outfitters). We were only in the blind for maybe 30 minutes when I spied movement in the cottonwoods about 650 yards from our stand.
It was a buck, and he was in full rut mode. He worked his way into the hayfield we were overlooking. The field gave way to a swampy slough area that I knew would be a destination for this thick-necked 8-pointer. It took him about a half an hour, but the buck worked his way closer toward us, finally presenting a broadside shot at 192 yards for my Remington Model Seven. Steadying the rifle on the blind’s window sill, I exhaled, squeezed the trigger and watched the buck crumple. What great satisfaction not only to fill my tag but to also do so in such an efficient manner. I’m sold on the 6.5 Creedmoor and will be greatly looking forward to hunting with this rifle again in the future.