Hornady American Whitetail 6.5 Creedmoor: A Close Look

In 1949, Joyce Hornady had the idea that post-World War II Americans wanted bullets to load for the huge surplus of .30 caliber brass left over from the war. There were plenty of full metal jacket (FMJ) projectiles, but those weren’t suitable for hunting. The fit seemed natural, given Joyce’s passion for hunting. He often provided food for his family following his father’s death (his father was a pastor).

Hornady began producing quality hunting ammunition that offered deep penetration but also expanded, unlike surplus full metal jacket ammunition. From there, business took off. Hornady went from simpler times of just making projectiles to their current assortment of reloading components of all sorts and loaded ammunition.

I’ve used Hornady ammunition in one form or another for several years and have been pleased with its performance. I recently acquired a Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor and selected a box of Hornady’s American Whitetail 129-Grain Interlock to complement it. If you’re wondering how the Hornady American Whitetail line of ammunition performs and what its main task is, follow along, and I’ll tell you.

Hornady’s American Whitetail Line

Hornady’s American Whitetail is an entire line in Hornady’s ammunition assortment comprising several calibers. Hornady uses their Interlock bullets for this ammunition. This projectile has an exposed lead tip to get the most expansion and terminal performance possible from the bullet.

Hornady's 6.5 Creedmoor ammo.
Hornady’s Interlock bullets are designed to hold together in game animals while expanding. The core and jacket will not separate. Photo: Jim Davis.

Interlock bullets use a secant ogive and Interlock Ring. Hornady describes the Interlock Ring as a raised ring on the inside of the jacket and embedded into the core. Its purpose is to keep the jacket and core locked together so they don’t separate when the bullet expands. By keeping the projectile together, it continues penetrating, which is important for humanely dropping game animals.

I haven’t shot an animal with the Interlock and recovered the bullet to see how it performs. However, I’m inclined to believe Hornady when they say it works. Then again, the testimony of thousands of hunters pleased with its performance is enough for me. Should I ever land a deer with this round, I will certainly try to recover the spent bullet to see how it performed.

To get the most velocity and least amount of pressure from the bullet, Hornady cooked up a recipe for mixing the powder that seemed to work very well for these rounds. Naturally, they use the best cases and primers in loading these rounds. Hornady’s ammunition components have always been top-notch, as far as I can tell. When looking at their loaded ammunition, it’s obvious they take a lot of pride in their ammo.

Getting To Know the 6.5 Creedmoor

I’ve only been acquainted with the 6.5 Creedmoor for the past couple of years. I’m far more familiar with other rounds, such as the .308 Winchester, having used it as a sniper and been trained on it.

Ruger American Predator with Vortex scope.
For the test, the author used this Ruger American Predator rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor. This rifle features a medium-weight barrel and Vortex 4-12x scope. Photo: Jim Davis.

The biggest surprise I had when touching off the first round from this caliber was the recoil. There wasn’t very much at all! The surprise was so pleasant; I can barely put it into words. As I get a little older, I enjoy recoil less and less. It was an attractive thing to discover a round that shoots relatively flat without punishing the shooter (me). Compared to the .308, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a pussycat. I’ll save the next surprise for when we discuss accuracy.

As fate had it, Hornady’s American Whitetail 129-grain round was the first one fired through the Ruger American Predator rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor. Since the ammo was readily available and I’ve long trusted the Hornady brand, the purchase of the American Whitetail was a no-brainer.

The 6.5 Creedmoor’s Precision Origins

To make a long story short, the 6.5 Creedmoor was intended as a long-range competition rifle round. Ballisticians Dave Emary and Dennis DeMille developed the cartridge in 2007. The 6.5 Creedmoor quickly became popular with shooters for two apparent reasons: its soft-shooting nature and inherent accuracy. It was designed from the ground up to be as accurate as possible.

The round has received some criticism because it doesn’t launch bullets at screaming high velocities. It doesn’t do that for a few reasons. First, ultra-high velocities would increase recoil, which takes away one of the cartridge’s main claims to fame. Second, cartridges with very high muzzle velocities tend to burn out barrels quicker than those with more reasonable velocity. Simply put, 6.5 Creedmoor barrels will probably outlast a lot of other, hotter rounds.

The 6.5 Creedmoor has also drawn criticism for “reinventing the wheel.” The 6.5x55mm Swedish round already existed for decades. Some claim the 6.5 Creedmoor does the same thing as the 6.5x55mm. However, this is not entirely true. The Creedmoor fits into a short action rifle, whereas the 6.5x55mm needs a long action, requiring a longer bolt throw.

Critics predicted the quick failure of the 6.5 Creedmoor and claimed it would disappear into the pages of shooting history. That, however, has proven false. The Creedmoor has stubbornly stuck around and seems to be alive and quite well, thank you very kindly.

The Creedmoor Becomes a Hunting Cartridge

Although the 6.5 Creedmoor was intended for competition circles, hunters quickly figured out it performs wonderfully in the hunting field. Medium-sized game, up to elk, seemed to fall quickly to this round.

Again, the Creedmoor isn’t a magic bullet. The projectiles are not what we’d consider heavy, so shot placement needs to be on point with this round. However, shot placement is this cartridge’s forte. The extreme accuracy allows for very good shot placement on game. As a deer rifle, it’s excellent.

Hornady American Whitetail 6.5 Creedmoor Ballistics

Hornady’s website provides a ballistics chart for rounds shot from a 24-inch barrel. Let’s take a look at what we’re working with:


  • Muzzle –     2,820 feet per second.
  • 100 yards – 2,615 feet per second.
  • 200 yards – 2,419 feet per second.
  • 300 yards – 2,232 feet per second.
  • 400 yards – 2,053 feet per second.
  • 500 yards – 1,882 feet per second.

The 6.5 Creedmoor retains muzzle velocity very well when compared to some other rounds.


  • 100 yards – +1.5 inches.
  • 200 yards – Zeroed.
  • 300 yards – -7.7 inches.
  • 400 yards – -22.5 inches.
  • 500 yards – -45.5 inches.

The Hornady American Whitetail 6.5 Creedmoor doesn’t drop very much compared to heavier calibers. A 200-yard zero will give us a decent reach with this caliber.


Finally, we’ll look at how much energy the round delivers to see how hard it hits. I’m not completely convinced energy in foot pounds is a huge factor in the round’s effectiveness on game, but we’ll include it anyways:

  • Muzzle –     2,277 foot-pounds.
  • 100 yards – 1,959 foot-pounds.
  • 200 yards – 1,676 foot-pounds.
  • 300 yards – 1,427 foot-pounds.
  • 400 yards – 1,207 foot-pounds.
  • 500 yards – 1,015 foot-pounds.

Just as with velocity, the 6.5 Creedmoor retains a respectable amount of energy over the long haul.

Ballistic table on the back of the ammunition box.
The back of the box includes a ballistic chart to show how much the bullet drops at various distances. It’s important to check your own rifle to verify trajectory, but the info on the box is nice to get into the ballpark. Photo: Jim Davis.

Hornady American Whitetail 6.5 Creedmoor Accuracy

Aside from the lack of recoil, the accuracy from the Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor was astounding. This was especially true when combined with Hornady’s American Whitetail 129-grain round. I was told my rifle previously landed a deer at close to 200 yards. With that knowledge, I figured why not start at the 200-yard range and see what the rifle and ammo could do.


1 1/8-inch group shot at 200 yards.
Not bad for a 200-yard group, considering the rifle is an off-the-shelf Ruger American Predator and the ammo is factory Hornady American Whitetail. This group measures 1 1/8-inches. Photo: Jim Davis.

At 200 yards, the best group I shot was 1 1/8 inches. This is absolutely amazing for an off-the-shelf hunting rifle with standard factory hunting ammo! This particular rifle seems to like Hornady American Whitetail ammo a lot. Some rifles are that way; they work best with one particular load.

Parting Shots

While I haven’t had a chance to shoot any game with this particular load, I know others who have. They report the 6.5 Creedmoor was highly effective for deer-sized game. Hornady managed to produce an astoundingly accurate hunting cartridge that is effective on game. Add in low recoil, and it’s a serious winner.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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