Compared: Hornady's 6.5mm Creedmoor
and the 6.5mm-284 Norma
for F-Class Shooting

By Dr. Jim Clary


When I read the announcement that Hornady had introduced commercial match grade loads for the 6.5mm Creedmoor, I became very interested. Like Chuck Hawks, I have never understood why so many in the American media (as well as hunters) have virtually ignored the virtues of the 6.5mm. It is a great hunting bullet and superb for competition, as evidenced by the success of the 6.5mm-284 Norma. My purpose here is to compare the ballistics of the 6.5mm Creedmoor to the 6.5mm-284 Norma. The latter is the most popular cartridge used in F-Class Open competition. I hope to generate an honest discussion among shooters and ask some critical questions based upon the data to determine if the Creedmoor had potential to be a viable alternative.

Because readers here are located across the globe, I have included ballistics for elevations from sea level up to 6,000’. Select the elevation nearest your location to get an idea of how these rounds will perform in your area. The ballistics for each cartridge were generated by the Exbal NightForce Ballistic program.

Ballistic Calculations at Sea Level

 

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm-284 Norma

6.5mm-284 Norma

Bullet Manufacturer

Hornady

Hornady

Lapua

Sierra

Bullet Weight

120 gr A-Max

140 gr A-Max

139 gr Scenar

142 gr MatchKing

Ballistic Coefficient

0.465

0.550

0.615

0.595

Velocity at 5,232’

3020 fps

2820 fps

2956 fps

2950 fps

Sight in @ 200 yards

 

 

 

 

600 yd vert adjust.

10.50 MOA

11.25 MOA

9.75 MOA

11.50 MOA

800 yd vert adjust.

18.00 MOA

19.00 MOA

16.25 MOA

18.25 MOA

1,000 yd vert adjust.

27.75 MOA

28.75 MOA

24.00 MOA

26.50 MOA

10 mph crosswind

 

 

 

 

600 yd wind adjust.

4.25 MOA

4.00 MOA

3.25 MOA

3.50 MOA

800 yd wind adjust.

6.25 MOA

5.50 MOA

4.50 MOA

4.75 MOA

 1,000 yd wind adjust.

8.50 MOA

7.50 MOA

6.00 MOA

6.50 MOA

Factory or Hand Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

Ballistic Calculations at 1,000’ Elevation

 

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm-284 Norma

6.5mm-284 Norma

Bullet Manufacturer

Hornady

Hornady

Lapua

Sierra

Bullet Weight

120 gr A-Max

140 gr A-Max

139 gr Scenar

142 gr MatchKing

Ballistic Coefficient

0.465

0.550

0.615

0.595

Velocity at 5,232’

3020 fps

2820 fps

2956 fps

2950 fps

Sight in @ 200 yards

 

 

 

 

600 yd vert adjust.

10.25 MOA

11.25 MOA

9.75 MOA

11.25 MOA

800 yd vert adjust.

17.50 MOA

18.75 MOA

16.00 MOA

18.00 MOA

1,000 yd vert adjust.

26.75 MOA

28.00 MOA

23.50 MOA

25.75 MOA

10 mph crosswind

 

 

 

 

600 yd wind adjust.

4.0 MOA

3.75 MOA

3.00 MOA

3.25 MOA

800 yd wind adjust.

6.00 MOA

5.25 MOA

4.25 MOA

4.50 MOA

 1,000 yd wind adjust.

8.00 MOA

7.00 MOA

5.75 MOA

6.25 MOA

Factory or Hand Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

Ballistic Calculations at 2,000’ Elevation

 

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm-284 Norma

6.5mm-284 Norma

Bullet Manufacturer

Hornady

Hornady

Lapua

Sierra

Bullet Weight

120 gr A-Max

140 gr A-Max

139 gr Scenar

142 gr MatchKing

Ballistic Coefficient

0.465

0.550

0.615

0.595

Velocity at 5,232’

3020 fps

2820 fps

2956 fps

2950 fps

Sight in @ 200 yards

 

 

 

 

600 yd vert adjust.

10.00 MOA

11.00 MOA

9.50 MOA

11.25 MOA

800 yd vert adjust.

17.25 MOA

18.25 MOA

15.75 MOA

17.50 MOA

1,000 yd vert adjust.

26.00 MOA

27.25 MOA

23.00 MOA

25.25 MOA

10 mph crosswind

 

 

 

 

600 yd wind adjust.

4.00 MOA

3.50 MOA

3.00 MOA

3.00 MOA

800 yd wind adjust.

5.50 MOA

5.00 MOA

4.00 MOA

4.50 MOA

 1,000 yd wind adjust.

7.50 MOA

6.75 MOA

5.50 MOA

6.00 MOA

Factory or Hand Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

Ballistic Calculations at 3,000’ Elevation

 

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm-284 Norma

6.5mm-284 Norma

Bullet Manufacturer

Hornady

Hornady

Lapua

Sierra

Bullet Weight

120 gr A-Max

140 gr A-Max

139 gr Scenar

142 gr MatchKing

Ballistic Coefficient

0.465

0.550

0.615

0.595

Velocity at 5,232’

3020 fps

2820 fps

2956 fps

2950 fps

Sight in @ 200 yards

 

 

 

 

600 yd vert adjust.

10.00 MOA

10.75 MOA

9.50 MOA

11.00 MOA

800 yd vert adjust.

16.75 MOA

18.00 MOA

15.50 MOA

17.25 MOA

1,000 yd vert adjust.

25.25 MOA

26.75 MOA

22.50 MOA

24.75 MOA

10 mph crosswind

 

 

 

 

600 yd wind adjust.

3.75 MOA

3.50 MOA

2.75 MOA

3.00 MOA

800 yd wind adjust.

5.25 MOA

4.75 MOA

4.00 MOA

4.25 MOA

 1,000 yd wind adjust.

7.25 MOA

6.25 MOA

5.25 MOA

5.50 MOA

Factory or Hand Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

Ballistic Calculations at 4,000’ Elevation

 

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm-284 Norma

6.5mm-284 Norma

Bullet Manufacturer

Hornady

Hornady

Lapua

Sierra

Bullet Weight

120 gr A-Max

140 gr A-Max

139 gr Scenar

142 gr MatchKing

Ballistic Coefficient

0.465

0.550

0.615

0.595

Velocity at 5,232’

3020 fps

2820 fps

2956 fps

2950 fps

Sight in @ 200 yards

 

 

 

 

600 yd vert adjust.

9.75 MOA

10.75 MOA

9.25 MOA

11.00 MOA

800 yd vert adjust.

16.50 MOA

17.75 MOA

15.25 MOA

17.00 MOA

1,000 yd vert adjust.

24.75 MOA

26.00 MOA

22.25 MOA

24.25 MOA

10 mph crosswind

 

 

 

 

600 yd wind adjust.

3.50 MOA

3.25 MOA

2.75 MOA

2.75 MOA

800 yd wind adjust.

5.00 MOA

4.50 MOA

3.75 MOA

4.00 MOA

 1,000 yd wind adjust.

6.75 MOA

6.00 MOA

5.00 MOA

5.25 MOA

Factory or Hand Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

Ballistic Calculations at 5,000’ Elevation

 

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.5mm-284 Norma

6.5mm-284 Norma

Bullet Manufacturer

Hornady

Hornady

Lapua

Sierra

Bullet Weight

120 gr A-Max

140 gr A-Max

139 gr Scenar

142 gr MatchKing

Ballistic Coefficient

0.465

0.550

0.615

0.595

Velocity at 5,232'

3020 fps

2820 fps

2956 fps

2950 fps

Sight in @ 200 yards

 

 

 

 

600 yd vert adjust.

9.50 MOA

10.50 MOA

9.25 MOA

10.75 MOA

800 yd vert adjust.

16.25 MOA

17.50 MOA

15.00 MOA

16.75 MOA

1,000 yd vert adjust.

24.00 MOA

25.50 MOA

21.75 MOA

23.75 MOA

10 mph crosswind

 

 

 

 

600 yd wind adjust.

3.50 MOA

3.00 MOA

2.50 MOA

2.75 MOA

800 yd wind adjust.

4.75 MOA

4.25 MOA

3.50 MOA

3.75 MOA

 1,000 yd wind adjust.

6.50 MOA

5.75 MOA

4.75 MOA

5.00 MOA

Factory or Hand Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

Ballistic Calculations at 6,000’ Elevation

 

6.5mm Creedmoor

6.mm5 Creedmoor

6.5mm-284 Norma

6.5mm-284 Norma

Bullet Manufacturer

Hornady

Hornady

Lapua

Sierra

Bullet Weight

120 gr A-Max

140 gr A-Max

139 gr Scenar

142 gr MatchKing

Ballistic Coefficient

0.465

0.550

0.615

0.595

Velocity at 5,232'

3020 fps

2820 fps

2956 fps

2950 fps

Sight in @ 200 yards

 

 

 

 

600 yd vert adjust.

9.50 MOA

10.50 MOA

9.25 MOA

10.75 MOA

800 yd vert adjust.

15.75 MOA

17.25 MOA

14.75 MOA

16.50 MOA

1,000 yd vert adjust.

23.50 MOA

25.00 MOA

21.50 MOA

23.50 MOA

10 mph crosswind

 

 

 

 

600 yd wind adjust.

3.25 MOA

3.00 MOA

2.50 MOA

2.50 MOA

800 yd wind adjust.

4.50 MOA

4.25 MOA

3.50 MOA

3.75 MOA

 1,000 yd wind adjust.

6.25 MOA

5.50 MOA

4.50 MOA

4.75 MOA

Factory or Hand Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

Hornady Factory Match Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

F-Class Match Hand Load

On the surface, the Hornady 6.5mm Creedmoor rounds appear competitive to the 6.5mm-284 Norma, which is the preferred caliber in F-Class Open competitions (no offense to those of you who use the 7mm or 300 WSM). However, when you look closely at the ballistics data, it is another story.

120 grain 6.5mm Creedmoor

The vertical adjustment required at 1,000 yards is comparable with the 6.5-284, but the required windage adjustment in a 10 mph crosswind is 30% greater, which is not good. The velocity is very high which translates into a very short barrel life. Hornady was probably required to go with the 3,000+ fps velocity to compensate for the poor ballistic coefficient of the 120 grain A-Max bullet

As an experiment, I substituted a muzzle velocity of 2,900 fps into the Exbal program. The objective was to determine if a lower velocity (which would add to barrel life) would produce reasonable results. The calculated vertical adjustment at 1,000 yards was 30 MOA and the windage adjustment was 9.00 MOA. Both are totally unacceptable. The B.C. of 0.465 of the 120 grain A-Max bullet is a real problem at lower velocities. As such, if a shooter decides to use this factory load, he’d best have an extra barrel on order.

140 grain 6.5mm Creedmoor

This load holds promise, but with its 2,820 fps muzzle velocity, it is not as good as any of the “standard” the 6.5mm-284 Norma loads. For the 6.5mm Creedmoor to be considered by F-Class shooters it must be as good as or better than the 6.5mm-284 Norma at 1,000 yards, where virtually all F-Class competitions are won or lost. Unfortunately, it is not. Given the lower case capacity of the 6.5mm Creedmoor (~53 grains), compared to the 6.5mm x 284 Norma (~58 grains), it may not be possible to increase the muzzle velocity to a competitive level.

Conclusion

My conclusion is that the 6.5mm Creedmoor is a satisfactory cartridge for mid-range shooters who do not want to reload. However, it probably will not be competitive with the 6mm BR that most reloaders use in mid-range F-Class competitions.

The 6.5 Creedmoor has potential, but Hornady a lot of work to do before it will be seriously considered by the top F-Class shooters




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Copyright 2008 by Dr. Jim Clary. All rights reserved.



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