In the fashion world, there’s an old axiom that goes something like this, “If you wait around long enough, everything comes back into style.” Interestingly, the same principle seems to hold sway in the wide, wonderful world of firearms.
Witness the insane popularity of Hornady’s 6.5 mm Creedmoor, first unleashed to the shooting public back in 2007. Initially this seemed to be a risky move on Hornady’s part because 6.5mm cartridges have never really been embraced by American shooters. Just look at the dismal track record of several excellent .26 caliber (6.5mm) cartridges, like the .264 Winchester Magnum, 6.5 Remington Magnum, and the more recent .260 Remington — useful cartridges one and all, but dismal failures in the U.S. gun market. And now we have the 6.5 Creedmoor, which, ironically, is the single hottest selling new commercial cartridge in the nation-.
So what market forces would have prompted progressive industry giant Hornady Manufacturing, of Grand Island, Nebraska, to risk the tremendous investment of developing and marketing a new cartridge in a caliber that has never found favor in America? Time for a little background: One of the most popular shooting venues in our nation today is referred to as PRS-the Precision Rifle Series. In this game, marksmen assume a number of different shooting positions (prone, over the hood of a car, through a shooting house window, etc.) and attempt to clang steel targets at laser-ranged distances extending from 300-1200 yards. This is an extreme precision competition that requires the ‘best’ in rifles, cartridges, bullets, optics, and marksmanship. While researching how they might address this market niche, Hornady engineers rediscovered a principle that Scandinavian ballistic experts have known and utilized for well over 100 years: 6.5 mm bullets boast outstanding ballistic coefficient (B.C.) and sectional density (S.D.) numbers.
B.C. refers to the bullet’s ability to slice through the air between the gun’s muzzle and the target. 6.5mm projectiles are long for their caliber (diameter) and boast higher B.C.’s than their stouter 7mm, 8mm, .30 caliber kinfolk. This means that they experience less air resistance and carry their precision and velocity more efficiently downrange. Additionally, because of their remarkable B.C.’s, 6.5 bullets don’t have to be pushed to extreme velocities in order to get them to “reach way out there and touch something.” They do just fine being fired at modest velocities, which equates to less recoil. And we all shoot best when we’re not being pounded by obnoxious recoil. This excellent B.C. signature is helping to establish the new 6.5 Creedmoor as one of the latest darlings of the extreme range circuit, and with the non-competitive tactical crowd.
The 6.5 also possess remarkably high S.Ds. Sectional density compares the bullet’s weight to its diameter. Given bullets of appropriate construction, the higher the S.D., the greater is the bullet’s ability to range deeply into a target. The 6.5s feature some of the highest S.Ds in the realm of modern calibers. In hunting circles, this translates into greater “killing power.” This characteristic has helped establish various 6.5 cartridges as perennial favorites with generations of European and African sportsmen since the early 1900s. Now, at long last — thanks primarily to the 6.5 Creedmoor — North Americans are discovering the 6.5’s prowess as a hunting cartridge and are carrying it afield in record numbers for use on both big game and large varmints.
Now here’s the really interesting part: Even though many consider the 6.5 Creedmoor to be an ultra-modern ballistic wonder, the cartridge is really nothing more than a modern rendition of a cartridge that has been (literally) kicking around the world for well over a century. Hornady’s new marvel exactly duplicates the ballistics of the dated 6.5x55mm Swede: a Nordic (Swedish/Norwegian) military cartridge developed back in 1891 at the dawn of the smokeless powder age. The Swedes and Norwegians are nations of riflemen and their little 6.5 has been used by legions of their countrymen to wage wars, win long range competitions (up to 1,000 yards) and lay low mounds of moose and black bear since its inception. It is these outstanding ballistic properties that Hornady engineers succeeded in duplicating in their new 6.5 iteration. So there we have it: “Everything old becomes new again, in the great circle of life.”
Is there a need and a place for a 6.5 Creedmoor in your gun safe? There just might be. As a short action (308-sized) cartridge, the Creedmoor has found a home in most manufacturers’ budget and flagship bolt action hunting and competitive rifle lines and has proven itself to be an accurate efficient, mild-mannered hunting, competitive round.. It is also being chambered in the ever popular AR-10 actions that feature many tactical, home defense, and hunting models. There is a 6.5 Creedmoor-chambered firearm for every application imaginable. Are you ready to give a 6.5 of your own a test drive?
Rich Simpson can be reached at email@example.com.