Since its inception in 2007, the 6.5 Creedmoor has gained a sparkling reputation as a great long-range round. What has Nosler done to further this reputation for the round? Let’s take a look!
Where did the Creedmoor name come from?
The 6.5 Creedmoor was named after Creedmoor Sports, which was inspired from the Creedmoor rifle range in Long Island, New York. In 1872, the NRA purchased the swampy moorland from a Mr. Creed. Consequently, the range was named Creedmoor in homage to its former owner and biosphere. The range opened in 1873 and hosted many shooting matches with ranges going out to 1,000 yards.
The inventors of the 6.5 Creedmoor are Dave Emary and Dennis DeMille, both ballisticians. It was initially invented with the target and competition field in mind. They wanted an easy to shoot cartridge that was accurate out the door. To that end, they were wildly successful. Aside from competition, the Creedmoor has also solidly caught on with the hunting crowd. These days, there are many rounds available from a variety of manufacturers specifically for hunting.
6.5 Creedmoor Attributes
The 6.5 Creedmoor has a number of attributes that make it a great cartridge. First, it can be put into short action rifles and magazines. The case length is shorter than the .308 Winchester at 48.77mm.
It’s an inherently accurate round that is fairly flat shooting with a very high ballistic coefficient. Ballistic Coefficient is how the projectile slips through the air. It stays supersonic to beyond 1,200 yards.
Recoil is pleasantly low, which contributes to shooter comfort. Quite plainly, the recoil doesn’t beat up the shooter like some of the more punishing rifle rounds.
While the 6.5’s velocity is respectable, it’s reasonable enough that barrels can enjoy a long life. This is unlike some of the super-hot rounds that we see out there that tear up barrels pretty quickly with their velocity.
The trajectory of the 6.5 Creedmoor approximates the .338 Lapua with 250-grain projectiles. However, the 6.5 does it with 60% less recoil. From the standpoint of the trigger puller, that’s significant! In plain language, the 6.5 Creedmoor pushes bullets efficiently with less powder than many other rifle rounds.
Bullet weights for the 6.5 Creedmoor range from 85 grains up to 160 grains, so there is a wide variety to select from.
What the 6.5 Creedmoor Isn’t
The 6.5 Creedmoor is not a super magnum with screaming velocity. This might be where the cartridge gets some criticism whereas proponents rave about the 6.5 Creedmoor enthusiastically. Critics say it’s no big deal and not special at all.
In fact, its velocity might best be described as moderate. Where the round overachieves is in its efficiency. Critics have said the 6.5 Creedmoor is similar to the 6.5×55, but the 6.5×55 requires a long action, which means a longer bolt throw.
Nosler is a name most shooters recognize and associate with high quality ammunition and components. At first, the company just built components — specifically projectiles.
Shortly after World War II, John Amos Nosler was hunting moose and the bullets he used weren’t up to snuff. Specifically, they over penetrated without expanding much at all, which created a deep but small wound channel and didn’t put game animals down very well. On the other end of the spectrum, some of the rounds had an inferior jacket, which caused them to expand too rapidly. In this case, they had shallow penetration and often failed to put game animals down.
Nosler figured there had to be a better way, so he began hand turning bullets on a lathe. They worked well and he was happy. In fact, they worked so well that, by 1948, he started selling them commercially. His target audience (no pun intended) was the reloading crowd. Eventually though, the company expanded so much that he began selling loaded ammunition. Today, Nosler is one of the most prominent ammo companies in the world.
Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor 140 Grain Match Grade RDF
Today, we’re looking specifically at the 6.5 Creedmoor 140 grain RDF round from Nosler.
According to Nosler, this round is intended mainly for match and target shooting. While it has a hollow point, it’s mainly there to slice through the air. A number of match rounds over the decades have used this approach with success.
In fact, military snipers use the HPBT (Hollow Point Boat Tail) bullet design. Some people are quick to point out the military isn’t allowed to use expanding ammunition, so hollow points cannot be used. Au Contraire! These hollow points are not designed to expand and are “legal” for military use. However, this design mostly concerns .308 and a few other calibers. As far as I’m aware, the 6.5 Creedmoor is not a round that’s used by the military. I could be mistaken since some special units have been known to use mission-specific weapons that most of us aren’t aware of.
But I digress; back to our story here. Aside from the hollow point that helps aerodynamics, the bullet has a boat tail which tapers toward the bullet’s tail. This helps wind slip around the bullet more efficiently and increases aerodynamics.
Nosler states about this particular round: “The RDF bullet features a long, drag-reducing boat tail and the smallest, most consistent meplats of any hollow point match bullet line to create ammunition that produces the flattest trajectory and least wind drift possible.”
What’s a meplat? It’s the very small hollow point that helps the bullet cut through the air. You can really tell this ammunition is top shelf because every single round is perfectly consistent. Nosler isn’t kidding when they talk about consistency — and consistency contributes to accuracy.
Upon holding one of these rounds, you can tell that the projectile is very long and streamlined. I easily see why it has such an amazing ballistic coefficient.
Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor Ballistics
Let’s check out the ballistics and trajectory of the Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor 140-grain load. Nosler states they obtained their figures using a 24-inch barrel with a 1:8 twist. The rifle’s barrel for my test is 22 inches with a 1:8 twist.
For ballistics, we’re looking at 2,650 feet per second at the muzzle. Granted, that’s not overly impressive. Some of us might stifle a yawn. However, compared to many other cartridges, the 6.5 Creedmoor retains velocity well over long distances.
- At 100 yards, 2,518 fps
- At 200 yards, 2,384 fps
- At 300 yards, 2,255 fps
- At 400 yards, 2,131 fps
- At 500 yards, 2,010 fps
- At 600 yards, 1,893 fps
- At 700 yards, 1,779 fps
- At 800 yards, 1,669 fps
As far as energy in foot-pounds is concerned, I won’t go into a litany of that here. At the muzzle, the 140-grain fodder is 2,183 ft-lbs while at 400 yards, it’s at 1,411 ft-lbs. At 800 yards, the Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor still has 866 ft-lbs.
Let’s take a look at how the cartridge performs with a 200 yard zero:
- 100 yards: +2 inches.
- 200 yards: Zeroed.
- 300 yards: -8.1 inches.
- 400 yards: -23.1 inches.
- 500 yards: -45.7 inches.
- 600 yards: -76.9 inches.
- 700 yards: -117.9 inches.
- 800 yards: -169.8 inches.
The rifle that I used is a Ruger American Predator. It has a 22-inch medium weight barrel and is topped with a Vortex 4-12x variable scope. In the past, this rifle has proven to be shockingly accurate.
At The Range
We retired to the range to wring out the Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor 140-grain RDF and see how it performs. The temperature was in the low 70s, which was perfect. Unfortunately, at the range I belong to, the sun sets directly behind the rifle range and we were there in the late afternoon with the setting sun. This will figure in here shortly.
This 140 grain load grouped in the 1 1/4-inch range. That isn’t bad, but I was frustrated because I know this ammo is capable of far better accuracy. Especially considering the accuracy I know my rifle and I are capable of.
Analyzing the situation, I realized the setting sun was in my eyes and it played hell on my accuracy. On top of that, I was also fighting a neck injury, which made holding a decent shooting position a challenge. I despise using excuses for not delivering top accuracy, but I guess I have to concede to an aging body and vision, as frustrating as it is.
If it’s any consolation, I tested out a few other types of ammo that day and my groups with them were not quite up to par either. It was definitely me and not the ammunition. Okay, I’m done whining now.
I’m going to hit the range again with this ammo when conditions (both environmental and physical) are better. In the meantime, 1 1/4-inch groups aren’t too shabby for now (except I’m a perfectionist and personally demand 1/2-inch groups). I’m 100% certain I can tighten the groups up, given the quality of this ammunition. I bet it will be a winner at 200 yards (the farthest distance that my range offers for rifles).
Nosler, as always, delivers excellent ammunition of the highest quality components. Their reputation precedes itself for good reason. This isn’t my first rodeo with Nosler, and they’ve always provided the highest level products.
The Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor 140-grain RDF is available from GunMag Warehouse for $44.99 per box of 20. This one comes highly recommended.