*Images and charts courtesy Rifleshooter.com
As an optics manufacturer, we talk to a lot of shooters. We know a lot of shooters. Hell, we are shooters. We spend ample time on the range and in the woods. Some days it’s a pleasant run through a box of .22s. On other outings we often find ourselves behind the big guns like a .300 Remington Ultra Mags. Shooting is something we take great pride in.
About 10 years ago this new rifle round called the 6.5 Creedmoor entered the shooting world and is not giving any apparent reason to leave. The caliber was developed by Hornady as a high-power cartridge capable of making any shot the rifle range has to offer. In fact, it is the first production cartridge ever developed from the ground up to be a true match cartridge. Hornady’s intent was to give competitive shooters a factory loaded cartridge that would allow them to compete, and win, in high level tournaments. The 6.5 Creedmoor was at the same time a huge discount in ammunition prices for many shooters.
It didn’t take very long for hunters to take notice of the caliber that has firmly rooted itself in precision accuracy with light recoil. Hornady is now selling a round specifically designed with the hunter in mind. “Ballistically, it’s a bit more powerful than the 6.5 Swede,” said David E. Petzal, Rifles Editor of Field & Stream. “And in its century of existence, the Swede has killed everything, everywhere.” He also goes on to state that the 6.5 Creedmoor will “do nicely for elk and moose” with a 140-grain bullet.
As for barrel length, this will vary depending on your intent. While a longer, say 28 to 30 inches, barrel is generally preferred for target shooting, some hunters are happy heading into the woods with a 22-inch barrel. The latter of which is contrary to popular belief that the 6.5 Creedmoor reaches its greatest muzzle velocity with a barrel no shorter than 26 inches.
An article by Rifleshooter.com did a fine job debunking these beliefs. Using a Hornady 120-grain A-MAX bullet, there was only a slight 233-feet-per-second difference between a barrel that was 27 inches and the same one that had been cut down to 16. The results were 2,961 and 2,728 fps, respectively.
The same scenario was tested using Hornady brass and CCI #200 large primers and loaded with a 142-grain SMK bullet over 41.8 grains of Hodgdon H4350 powder. Note: According to Rifleshooter.com, this load exceeds the 41.5 grain published maximum listed by Hodgdon in their reloading manual, so it should only be considered safe in the gun being tested by Rifleshooter.com. The results from the test conducted with the heavier round indicate that there was only a 158-feet-per-second overall difference between the 27-inch barrel and the 16. They recorded 2,663 and 2,505 fps, respectively.
"For the 120 grain A-MAX, a muzzle velocity of 2961 feet/second was recorded at the 27″ barrel length, and 2728 feet/second at 16″ barrel length, resulting in a total decrease of 233 feet/second. The average loss of velocity was 21.8 feet/second per inch of barrel. The largest decrease in velocity, 61 feet/second per inch of barrel was recorded when the barrel was cut from 19″ to 18″. When the barrel was cut from 20″ to 19″ a 3 feet/second increase in muzzle velocity was recorded. Average standard deviation for was 21.3 feet/second." - Rifleshooter.com
"For the 142 grain Sierra HPBT MatchKing, a maximum velocity of 2683 feet/second was recorded at the 24″ barrel length. A velocity of 2663 feet/second was recorded at the 27″ barrel length. At the 16″ barrel length, a velocity of 2505 feet/second was recorded. Velocity decreased 158 feet/second as the barrel was cut from 27″ to 16″, or 14.4 feet/second per inch of barrel length. The velocity reduction from 24″ to 16″ was 178 feet/second, or 16.2 feet/second per inch of barrel length. Average standard deviation was 15.7 feet/second." - Rifleshooter.com