F&S Bullet Lab is a new series in which shooting editor Richard Mann will test the most popular hunting bullets on the market by casting them in Clear Ballistics gelatin to predict their terminal performance in the field—and ultimately, to ‘help you choose the absolute best. bullet for your hunt. The first is the Remington Core-Lokt Tipped in 6.5 Creedmoor.
When Remington was acquired by Vista Outdoors in 2020, one of the first things they did was update their famous Core-Lokt bullet by adding a polymer tip. Given the popularity of the Core-Lokt, I decided to test this new version, in 6.5 Creedmoor, for our first F&S Bullet Lab. Like Creedmoor, original Remington Core-Lokt bullets are either loved or hated. They have never been known as the most accurate bullets and some claim that at high velocities they can overshoot. But they also have an incredible reputation in deer forests.
At 6.5 Creedmoor velocity, the Core-Lokt is operating in its sweet spot. The new Tipped version of this bullet is supposed to deliver the same game performance that the original Core-Lokt is known for, but the tip increases the ballistic coefficient of the bullet. This isn’t just a single tip Core-Lokt bullet; it’s an entirely new bullet, and based on my terminal performance testing in Clear Ballistics gel and paper accuracy testing, it looks like this might be an even better bullet than the original.
I tested Remington’s 129-grain 6.5 Creedmoor Core-Lokt load from the new Nosler Model 21 rifle, which has a 22-inch Shilen barrel. I fired nine shots over a Caldwell G2 chronograph, and the maximum velocity deviation was a respectable 36 feet per second, with a standard deviation of velocity of only 13.6 feet per second. For factory ammo, this is about as good as it gets, especially with hunting ammo. What this means is that at extended intervals, the vertical range will be minimal. Equally important and impressive was the average load velocity of 2,875 fps, which is fast for a 129-grain 6.5 Creedmoor factory load.
6.5 Creedmoor Remington Core-Lokt Tipped
To determine how accurately this load could be expected to shoot, I fired three three-shot groups from a sandbag Nosler rifle at 100 yards. The rifle was equipped with a Tract Toric 2.5-15X44 scope set to maximum magnification, and the average for those three groups was 1.26 inches. This is by no means outstanding, but it is not terrible. I have done a lot of big game hunting around the world with rifles and cartridges that have delivered this level of accuracy. For hunting big game, it is perfectly sufficient to reach up to 400 yards. Of course, accuracy is a product of the rifle and ammunition together; this load may shoot better or worse out of your rifle. If you like everything else about this round and it’s bullet performance, it’s definitely worth the price of a 20-round box to find out.
Part of the appeal of the 6.5 Creedmoor is how flat it is able to fire. However, the Creedmoor’s flat trajectory is more a result of the high ballistic coefficient (BC) bullets it can use, as opposed to velocity. Flatter shooting Creedmoor loads will have a bullet with a BC higher than .500. The Core-Lokt Tipped bullet falls a little short of that, but its speed helps some. With a zero of 100 yards, the bullet of this load will drop about 4 feet below the point of aim at 500 yards. But it will also carry enough velocity to deliver a good shock of bullets over 600 yards.
Speed, accuracy and trajectory matter, but nothing matters more to hunters than terminal performance. It’s what the bullet does when it hits the creature that matters most. As with traditional Core-Lokt cartridges, the Tipped version puts out a lot of energy very quickly. You can clearly see this in the video; see how violently the first block of Clear Ballistics reacts to bullet impact.
This high energy deposition comes in part from a bullet deforming to a face diameter of more than 1/2 inch, but is also in part due to material loss, which contributes to energy deposition. Shot in Clear Ballistics blocks at 100 yards, the 129-grain bullet lost 41.4 grains (32 percent) of its weight. Some think this is a bad thing, and while the combination of wide bullet discomfort and weight loss negatively affects penetration, the payoff is a massive wound cavity and a lot of shock to the animal. This goes a long way to explaining why the Core-Lokt has been so popular with deer hunters, because that’s exactly what you want to take out deer quickly.
The Core Lokt Tipped lead was driven to a depth of 20 inches. That’s about what you’d expect from a traditional Core-Lokt bullet and should be more than enough for any deer, anywhere. It would probably work wonderfully on caribou too. No doubt an even bigger game could fall on this bullet. However, given that a scratch shot may be all you’re presented with, for animals the size of a kudu or elk that also have larger bones, a little more penetration would provide an extra layer of comfort. But my bet is that the new Core-Lokt will be just as popular and trusted by deer hunters as the original.