Inside MDT - Analysis: 6.5 Creedmoor

Posted by Justin Foster on 2023 Feb 2nd

Inside MDT - Analysis: 6.5 Creedmoor

If cartridges defined periods in time, the 6.5 Creedmoor is to us what the 30-06 Springfield was to folks a hundred years ago. To say the 6.5 Creedmoor has been a game-changer would be an understatement. The 6.5 Creedmoor shaped the current landscape of rifle cartridges and made shooting long-range accessible to the masses.

More: Why All The Hate For The 30-06



The 6.5 Creedmoor came to fruition in 2007 when it was developed by Hornady senior ballistician Dave Emary in partnership with Dennis DeMille, the vice-president of product development at Creedmoor Sports, hence the name. The two based the cartridge off the .30 Thompson Center, also developed by Hornady and necked it down to 6.5mm (.264"). Generally speaking, 6.5mm projectiles are known for their high sectional density and ballistic coefficients and offer top-tier performance. In specific loadings, the 6.5 Creedmoor mimics the muzzle velocity and trajectory of the famous 300 Winchester Magnum cartridge in a smaller package with less felt recoil. Unlike older cartridges, the chamber's modern design accommodates the loading of long slender, secant ogive projectiles, which only contributed to its unmatched success.

Old school video from Hornady Manufacturing.


Whether or not you are a fan of the 6.5 Creedmoor, it is foolish to deny the success this versatile cartridge has had. Much of its success comes from its shootability and "wind-cheating" abilities making the barrier of entry to long-range shooting seem less daunting. Being designed as a long-range target cartridge, many, including myself, have achieved multiple shooting milestones with this forgiving and versatile round.

6.5 Creedmoor is perfect for hunting medium to large game in North America. EXO MTN Gear pack, MDT HNT26 Chassis System.

6.5 Creedmoor is perfect for hunting medium to large game in North America. EXO MTN Gear pack, MDT HNT26 Chassis System.

The success doesn't stop at slaying steel for the 6.5 Creedmoor. A colossal number of folks have great success filling their freezers with the aid of the Creedmoor. The mild recoil, coupled with the kinetic energy delivered in short to medium-range shots, makes this an excellent short-action hunting round. With many factory loadings like the Hornady Precision Hunter loaded with the 143 gr ELD-X bullet, the Creedmoor shines on medium to large game animals within 500 yards. For example, at 400 yards with the factory offering from Hornady mentioned above, you will impact your target with 1,475 foot-pounds of energy. This same offering makes it easier to achieve these distances with a flat shooting trajectory, only needing just under 22.5 inches of elevation correction on a 200-yard zero for a 400-yard shot.


In 2017, the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) tested the performance of the 7.62x51 NATO, .260 Remington, and 6.5 Creedmoor for performance out of the SR-25, M110A1, and MK 20 SSR weapon systems. The fact that the 6.5 Creedmoor doubled the hit probability at 1,000 meters (1,094 yards) increased the effective range by nearly half, and reduced wind drift by a third over the dated 7.62x51mm NATO round was impossible to ignore. Double this with the fact that all it would take is a barrel swap on existing weapons, USSOCOM officially adopted the cartridge into military use.

More: Is the 308 Winchester Still Relevant?

Precision Intermediate Caliber

United States Special Operations Command study comparing 308 Winchester, 260 Remington and 6.5 Creedmoor.

USSOCOM is currently using the 6.5 Creedmoor in their sniper systems and other small arms variations, including their MK 48 belt-fed general-purpose machine gun. With USSOCOM leading the charge, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Navy have also adopted the cartridge to varying degrees.


When thinking of building a do-all rifle, striking a balance is critical. With hunting in mind, you want to keep the weight down while keeping the maneuverability and handling high. The great thing about the 6.5 Creedmoor is the mild recoil and the ability to put together a lighter build and still shoot it all day without feeling beat up.

An ideal build could look like the following:


Say you still need to own a 6.5 Creedmoor and need convincing you need one. Or you are brand new to the shooting world and are asking yourself where to start; a cartridge that can do multiple tasks is a great way to keep shooting affordable ammunition in these unprecedented times of inflation and skyrocketing costs. If I had to build only one gun that I could shoot high volume with all day at the range and then take hunting in the fall to fill the freezer, I would be hard-pressed not to look at a cartridge like the 6.5 Creedmoor.

If you are a person who enjoys shooting with the family, having a 6.5 Creedmoor in the rifle quiver would be a great asset for family outings to the range. If you're like me and enjoy being an advocate for our sport and showing new potential shooters why precision rifle shooting is so fulfilling, what better way to do so than with a rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor? With little felt recoil and a high hit probability, the Creedmoor can leave a positive lasting impression on a potential new shooter's impressionable mind.


Is the 6.5 Creedmoor the absolute best cartridge for every given situation? No. Does the Creedmoor have the answer to a lot of modern shooting dilemmas? Yes. The Creedmoor gets a lot of hate driven by nothing more than emotion. It's human nature to hate popular and successful items. The simple fact that the Creedmoor makes a lot of shooting scenarios easier for folks seems to not sit well with some that feel they had to work harder or spend more to achieve the same results. I don't believe in absolutes, and I am fortunate enough to own multiple rifles for the varied tasks I need. Variety is the spice of life, and some folks need to expand their horizons. The hype around the 6.5 Creedmoor is real and is warranted. Don't be discouraged by someone shaming the Creedmoor, but also know the cartridge's limitations and designed use.



Justin Foster grew up in rural British Columbia and developed a love for firearms at a young age. Justin started shooting ELR recreationally in 2019, eventually leading to his newfound passion, F-Class. Justin is an avid F-Class shooter and shoots in the F-TR division. Justin is a full-time writer and photographer and spends his free time with his wife and dog. He can be reached on Instagram @lead.rain


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