28 Oct 6.5 Creedmoor Factory Ammo Extravaganza
With the creation and successful marketing rollout by Hornady of the Creedmoor cartridge in 2007 we have all been able to reap the benefits and a bump in performance in all aspects of the shooting community. Before the Creedmoor most “tactical” shooters relied heavily upon the .308 Winchester cartridge. Even the venerated 260 Remington left some need on the table with its length restrictions for those shooters that wanted to take advantage of a short action round using the highly efficient 6.5mm heavier grain projectiles without running out of space in a box magazine. Gas guns at the time using the 6.5 higher grain (read high BC) projectiles was also almost unheard of due to the same length restriction problems
So what’s the big deal?
At this point I know there are some of you that are already thinking of what you’re going to say against this 308 and 260 Rem hater. After all, we all know that anything other than our current favorite brew of ammo is ridiculous (“Why would anyone use that sh%tty brass”), less efficient (“My 6.5x47L/284/Ackley Improved etc. is so much better!”) or less lethal (“Creedmoor? Is that for girls who can’t shoot a 7 SAUM?”)
In the shooting industry we tend to cannibalize our own more often than not and not take advantage of opportunities to step back and acknowledge or, heaven forbid, be thankful for advancements made by others. I personally no longer shoot the 6.5 Creedmoor in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and I know that fewer are doing so. I won’t get into the reasoning behind that in this article as there have been many that have already spoken at length about it.
The purpose of this write-up was to highlight a fantastic phenomenon that has transpired in part because of this cartridge: a large influx of newer shooters who otherwise have had minimal experience in the competitive, hunting, or tactical realm. The 6.5 Creedmoor has allowed these shooters to pick up a rifle that has had since its inception high quality match-capable ammunition, in a very forgiving platform, that is also extremely easy and forgiving to reload for if you so choose to “roll your own”.
(Full disclosure: I promised my wife that I would take one afternoon for this latest write-up and promised my good friend at Anarchy Outdoors, Aaron Gines, that I would take a week or two to put together all the quantifiable data and share my results. Sorry honey that this has taken some 20+ hours and sorry Aaron that it’s now more than just a few weeks.)
(Real disclosure: I was not paid or incentivized for the results here nor was ammo donated. Ammo was bought and paid for by me at cost through Anarchy Outdoors and one of the barrels that was shot in my Accuracy International was a Proof carbon fiber barrel borrowed from our friends at High Desert Precision, THANK YOU REX!)
TO THE TEST!
One Ruger Precision Rifle owned by Aaron Gines of Anarchy Outdoors with all of the AO bells and whistles. On top sits the new Athlon Cronus 4.5-29 mil/mil first focal plane scope.
My personal Accuracy International AIAT with a Proof Research Carbon barrel gratefully borrowed from Rex Ribelin at High Desert Precision. Glass used was the Tangent Theta 5-25x, likewise first focal plane. Both guns were using the Evolution bipod.
- American Eagle 140 grain.
- The all new Hornady ELD-X 143 grain.
- Hornady Match ELD-M 140 grain.
- Prime 130 grain.
- American Eagle 140 grain.
- Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X 143 grain.
- Hornady Match ELD-M 140 grain.
- Prime 130 grain.
- Winchester Match 140 grain.
- Hornady Superperformance 129 grain.
The test was carried out at 500 yards, shooting the Ruger Precision Rifle with little to no wind.
The Next day the test was repeated with my personal AI including two other ammunition choices in slightly cooler conditions, later on in the afternoon with a 3-5 mph wind, and approximately 3 yards behind the original shooting location. With both guns we used the same Point of Aim (POA) as well as an adjusted .3 mils left and .2 for the Ruger and .1 rights well as .2 up for the AI as to not land on our actual POA as well as providing enough real estate to continue the test with other ammo in the other quadrants of the target. As there was more wind on the second go around I didn’t want to risk throwing any off the backer for this test since the wind was pushing left to right. Ballistics were gathered using Rekon Ballistics.
The bullet tips were coated in colored sharpie to be able to easily identify the individual projectiles on the backer. The key to doing this is placing paper, in this case “butchers paper”, upon a cardboard backer. This was then secured to rebar set into the ground at 500 yards.
The shooting was carried out “round robin” style with one shot from each different cartridge before repeating any ammo. This is important as to not skew any results with a “cold shooter” or with any changing conditions as it should impact all ammo equally as it’s shot. Because the shots were taken in varying wind conditions using this round robin style we will not be taking into account any horizontal spread and will only be looking at vertical spread as this is the greatest determinant on ammo changes and the wind reading ability usually falls upon the shooter with slight corrections given to account for a drifting point of impact (POI). Great care was taken to assure every shot was taken not only with the same trigger/gun control and that scope cant was constantly being looked at. Both guns were zeroed before the test with 3 rounds as to take out any “cold bore” shots.
The first thing that should be noted is that the overall the performance of these factory offerings is truly incredible. In theory a gun that is capable of a .5 MOA group at 100 yards should be able to repeat that same accuracy at 500 yards. In real life we know that this is not usually the case. (And let’s not even go down the rabbit hole of those that shoot multiple 3 or 5 shot groups and pick the best group they shot and say “this is the accuracy of my gun”) Sufficeth to say that either of these guns can and do shoot tighter groups, it’s easy to see that OVERALL the consistency and the accuracy is there in both of these platforms. Bryan Litz has quantified the change in a 3 shot versus a 5 or 10 shot group as well as a 100 yard group versus a group that’s further out but I’ll let you read about that in his book.
|Ruger Precision Rifle||Accuracy International||Average MOA||Ranking|
|Prime 130gr||.851 MOA||.911 MOA||.881 MOA||3|
|Hornady 140gr ELD-M||.785 MOA||1.059 MOA||.922 MOA||4|
|Hornady 143gr Prec. Hunter ELD-X||.851 MOA||.339 MOA||.595 MOA||2|
|American Eagle 140gr.||.483 MOA||.422 MOA||.452 MOA||1|
|Hornady Superperformance 129gr SST||1.063 MOA|
|Winchester Match140gr.||.822 MOA|
It’s pretty clear to see a few things right off the bat. Given the distance and the conditions as well as how these were shot the overall performance of these calibers is pretty outstanding. You’ll notice I didn’t rank the Superperformance or the Winchester as I didn’t have a full sampling from it but following the general trend I would have put the winchester in 3rd place and the Superperformance taking up the rear of this test. One thing that I expected was that the two new Hornady’s would shoot well and my personal experience with the Prime ammo is that it is a very capable shooter as well. I did expect the Prime to shoot a little better but its performance is still know slouch and I personally know several shooters that find success in the national series shooting this ammo. What I didn’t expect was for the American Eagle ammo to separate itself so much from the pack. My experience with this factory ammo has been limited to only a few hundred rounds, less than i’ve shot any other ammo that made it into this test aside from the Superperformance Hornady ammo. Something else that is of worth noting is that the ammo was shot afterward to get some indications on speed but unfortunately the results were lost. Big bummer. A few observations were had though that almost all the standard deviations were in the low teens with the one exception of the Superperformane. Also all of the 140 or 143 grain ammo was in the mid to high 2700s while the prime was 2860 feet per second.
A few other observations: I did expect my $9,000 setup to outshoot the $2,000 setup. WHAT?!!? The super expensive setup didn’t shoot as well as the lowly RPR?? Well a couple of caveats here. As stated the conditions were SLIGHTLY favoring the RPR but I don’t think that that nearly tells the full story. I think what we are seeing here is more along the lines that some guns will frankly shoot different than others. (I know BIG revelation right?) I know that my AI with practically every barrel I’ve put on it with CUSTOM loads will shoot in the 2s for me at 100 yards and 5 shots as well as being very near half MOA at LONG distance on paper. My only thoughts are that the AI might be more susceptible to less accuracy with factory loads. I’m curious to hear others thoughts on the matter.
I was also very pleased to see the general performance of the Hornady ELD-X ammo. Quality hunting ammo that is high enough quality to pass as “match” ammo is a bit of an enigma. This will hopefully make many of our friends tis hunting season very confident in their harvesting success
This test was a fun one. Aside from the good company from Aaron at Anarchy Outdoors I had personally wanted to pit these selections against each other.
As mentioned previously the curious thing about factory ammo is that it can and will shoot entirely differently in some platforms but there are trends and patterns and we can use these to make our best guess. I would highly recommend doing your own tests with your own gear and see what works best for you!
Til next time: Shoot Straight and Suck Less!