Four reasons why the 6.5 Creedmoor is no good

It’s not your fault if you hate the 6.5 Creedmoor. Anything as popular as Creed will have its fans so annoyingly over the moon that they ruin it for anyone with a healthy contrarian bent. There’s nothing wrong with getting fired up about something, but when the hysteria reaches Frosty-the-Snowman levels, you have to draw the line. Six-five fanboys think there must be some magic in their favorite cartridge. Well, take it from me: I’m a gun writer, and gun writers don’t believe in magic. We believe in ballistics. So if you’re tempted to say, “Duke, the 6.5 Creedmoor is bad!”, here’s the best way to back it up, based on facts.

What about the .260 Rem, Sniper-Boy?

.260 Remington and 6.5 Creedmoor ammo
In its factory .260 Remington (left) it is overshadowed by the 6.5 Creedmoor, but in custom rifles with custom ammo, the 260 is superior.
Richard Mann

When the 6.5 Creedmoor was introduced in 2008, it was just another cartridge intended for long-range competition. But six years later, the film American sniper came out and suddenly everyone wanted to be a sniper. Or, at least, a pretend sniper. That is, until they spent all day after a .300 Winchester Magnum. With recoil like a Connor McGregor punch, the .300 Win Mag pushed these new millennial shooters toward the recently introduced, lighter 6.5 Creedmoor.

Surprisingly, these would-be modern-day snipers completely overlooked the .260 Remington. Yes, I know that in its factory form the .260 Rem can’t keep up with the 6.5 Creedmoor. But if you are one serious long range shooter, you don’t care about its factory shape because you’re shooting a custom rifle and loading your own ammo. The extra powder capacity of the .260 Rem means extra velocity, and since a custom rifle can have a fast-spinning barrel, it can shoot high BC 6.5mm bullets just like the Creed.

Since the turn of the century, target shooters have been using the .260 to circle steel at stupid long distances, and they’ve been using the Mauser 6.5×55 to do the same since before the turn of the last century. Both shoot faster than Creed.

What about the .264 Winchester, Long Range Hunters?

.264 Winchester Magnum ammunition.
If long-range hunting or target shooting is your thing, the 264 Winchester Magnum (standing) will outperform the 6.5 Creedmoor with only about a 20% increase in recoil.
Richard Mann

When it comes to hunting, sniper Kool-Aid drinkers dreamed of shooting mule deer from ridge to ridge with their 6.5s, but somehow completely forgot about the .264 Winchester Magnum. It doesn’t start like a .300, but it still has a 400-fps advantage over the little Creed. Advertisements from when it was introduced in 1962 said, “This is Winchester’s new .264 Magnum: the Westerner. It makes a helluva noise and packs a helluva wallop.” They were right; I shot my first mule deer in the heart at 318 paces with a .264. It wouldn’t have died any faster if it had been shot with a .30-06, or a .300 Win Mag.

Let’s not forget the deer hunters. They are a strange race; They believe deer are the toughest animals to walk the Earth and nothing short of a magnum can take it down. That is, until Creedmoor began his rise to stardom. Suddenly, because the Creed shot so flat and fired the same bullet size as the 6.5×55 Mauser—which has killed tons of Norway deer—it was elevated to deer-destroyer status. Because the Creed’s light recoil made it easy to shoot accurately, it would kill the deer. Well, a 6.5mm bullet through the heart and lungs tends to do that pretty well; as professional African hunter Geoffrey Wayland says, “It’s not the size of the hammer, it’s the placement of the pin bore.”

But does anyone really believe that the slightly lighter recoil of the Creed has made previously mediocre shooters in the game, in the field? I do not.

What about 6.5 Grendel, The Deer Hunters?

6.5 Grendel and 6.5 Creedmoor ammo
The little 6.5 Grendel (on foot) can’t run with the 6.5 Creedmoor, but it also generates much less recoil, is AR15 compatible, and will work well for paper, steel, or deer, out to 300 yards or so.
Richard Mann

Then there are the regular old whitetail hunters. They didn’t care about going the distance, but many wanted to keep up with the times and be cool like Creed. But at the ranges 99 percent of whitetails are killed in, there’s nothing the Creed can do that the .308 or 7mm/08 can’t. “The Creed starts less, though,” you say? Well, neither of these two are strong, but if you want light recoil, then check out the 6.5mm Grendel. It’s been around longer than the Creed and will push sleek, sexy, 6.5mm, high BC bullets fairly flat while generating 40 percent less recoil than the Creedmoor. And Grendel works on an AR-15.

The real reason why the 6.5 Creedmoor is broken

A variety of 6.5mm ammunition
Left to right: 6.5×55 (1894) 264 Win Mag (1959) 260 Remington (1997) and 6.5 Grendel (2003) were doing Creedmoor things long before the 6.5 Creedmoor (right) was created. Richard Mann

After all, all the hype surrounding the 6.5 Creedmoor is nothing more than the combination of novelty and a century of respectable performance established by other 6.5mm cartridges. Creed can only do what ballistics say it can do, and like any other cartridge, it requires you to do your job. I took one to Newfoundland and shot a caribou in the woods. A bad first shot called for two more. I was ashamed. I also took a bad shot at a moose and had to shoot it three more times. This really embarrassed me. Finally, to cap off a Chris Kyle-like week of shooting, I took another bad shot at a 350-pound black bear. I had to dig his writhing mass out of the pines so thick you couldn’t turn. I judiciously shot him in the head at 30 feet; it was the best shot I had made all week.

Author with a caribou taken with a Creedmoor 6.5
The author with a caribou took it with a Creedmoor 6.5. Creed will cleanly take down most any large game animal, but it’s not magic; good shooting is still required.
Richard Mann

That fact is, there is nothing magical about the 6.5 Creedmoor. There is no Single task that can do what no other 6.5mm cartridge can do better. This is partly why the 6.5 Creedmoor is disgusting. But the main reason the real reasonThe 6.5 Creedmoor is ugly because if you want to do everything discussed here with just one factory rifle, and with factory ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor can be only rifle you need. And there is nothing absolutely nothingthat’s more than needing a rifle!

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