Editors Blog

Is the 6.5 Creedmoor a Good Deer Rifle Caliber?

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 won’t be for only a day — it will be for generations.

The Remington Model Seven HS Precision in 6.5 Creedmoor is turning heads as one of the hottest new deer hunting rifles. This is a new rifle for the 2019 Remington lineup. (photo by Daniel Schmidt)

So, the short answer to the question: Is the 6.5 Creedmoor a good caliber for deer hunting is not only “yes,” but a resounding “heck yeah.” Before we dive into the details, I find it most interesting this “new” 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 you’re 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). There’s a very good reason for that: There is very little difference — outwardly — of the 6.5 vs. the .308. The difference is in the details.

If you just look at the brass casings, you’ll 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 isn’t the “Oh-my-God-200-yards-seems-like-a-helluvalong-shot-at-a-buck” 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.

The longest shot I’ve ever made: 565 yards.

I’d like to brag and say it was all me, but it wasn’t even close. We practiced at more than 300 yards before that hunt, and I could easily “hit dimes” (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 new 2019 deer 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. It’s 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 that’s adjustable down to a light and crisp 3.5 pounds.

Hornady’s Precision Hunter ammo in 6.5 Creedmoor.

But I digress. Back to the larger question: Is the 6.5 Creedmoor a good round for deer hunting … based off the ballistics? Absolutely. Here are some of those stats:

HORNADY PRECISION HUNTER IN 6.5 CREEDMOOR:

(143 grain ELDX. 24” Barrel)

Velocity

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

Energy:

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

Trajectory:

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. 24” Barrel)

Velocity

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

Energy:

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

The 6.5 Creedmor is a cousin of the .308. Spent casings (from left) include the .308, .243 and the 6.5 Creedmoor. (photo by Daniel Schmidt)

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

(127 grains)

Velocity

Muzzle: 2,825 fps

Energy

Muzzle: 2,251 ft/lbs.

6.5 Creedmoor Final Analysis

What’s 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, it’s pretty much an even horse race, all things considered. Yes, the heavier .308 packs a slightly larger punch out of the gates, but there’s 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 that’s essentially the same weight. If I had to compare it after shooting various rifles of different calibers, I’d say the 6.5 Creedmoor produces recoil that’s similar to shooting a .243 — much more enjoyable than the .308, in my book.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2018.

I shot this chunky Nebraska whitetail on Nov. 10 while shooting the new Remington Model Seven in 6.5 Creedmoor. The buck was 192 yards from my blind when I squeezed off the shot. He dropped in his tracks. (photo by David Gilane)

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.

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