Why I Chose 6.5 Creedmoor Over 6.5 PRC for a Custom Hunting Rifle

Why I Chose 6.5 Creedmoor Over 6.5 PRC for a Custom Hunting Rifle

It used to be cool to have a 6.5 Creedmoor, but now it is cool to hate on the 6.5 Creedmoor.

Whether you look at rifle cartridges or fads in pop-culture, there seems to be a recurring cycle where something goes from zero-to-popular quickly, but once that thing reaches mass-market appeal, it is no longer acceptable to "the cool kids" and becomes the brunt of all the jokes. Or in these days, the subject of many memes.

Now that we have the 6.5 PRC, why in the world would a hunter even consider the 6.5 Creedmoor? Since the 6.5 PRC is bigger, faster, newer, and "cooler" than the Creedmoor, isn't it the obvious choice for hunters these days?

I certainly won't say that the PRC is better than Creedmoor, or vice versa. After all, when it comes to comparing or choosing cartridges that are "better", my question is always — "Better for what?"

Just because one cartridge offers greater velocities, retains more down-range energy, and is "ballistically superior" to another, it doesn't mean that the higher-performance cartridge is "better" for what you need. And that's the thing — these choices all come down to personal wants and needs. There are countless great cartridges and "right answers" when it comes to picking what your next rifle should be chambered in.

I am not writing this article to tout the greatness of the Creedmoor or disparage the PRC. My goal here is to help anyone considering cartridges to think critically about their personal needs from a cartridge and make an informed personal decision, instead of just going with what's biggest, fastest, or "hot" on the market today.

So, let me tell you why I chose the 6.5 Creedmoor over the 6.5 PRC for a custom rifle I had built by the guys at Mesa Precision Arms.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is Effective (...and Limited)

If you're looking for a do-it-ALL big game hunting cartridge, 6.5 Creedmoor is a poor choice. But a do-it-all rifle isn't what I was trying to accomplish with my 6.5 Creedmoor.

I chose the 6.5 Creedmoor because I wanted this particular rifle for deer-sized game. This rifle will be used for Whitetail in the Midwest, Mule Deer in the Rockies, Sitka Blacktail on Kodiak Island, and for other deer-sized species, such as Antelope.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is very effective on those species at the distances I will be hunting them. Yes, the 6.5 PRC is a great choice as well. And, yes, the 6.5 PRC would offer a longer effective range of the same 6.5 bullets, but my 6.5 Creedmoor hunting load (more on that later) is terminally effective at 500-600 yards under most conditions. That's plenty for me.

If you truly want "more power" (said in my best Tim Allen voice) than the 6.5 Creedmoor for animals like elk and moose, I wouldn't suggest the faster 6.5 PRC. Rather, I'd personally move up from 6.5 calibers altogether and choose a 30-caliber or 7mm magnum variant. (Both of which I also own and love.)

6.5 Creedmoor Loaded with 124g Hammer Hunter Bullets

The 6.5 Creedmoor is More Affordable and More Available

Whether you are buying factory ammunition or purchasing reloading components to hand-load ammunition, the 6.5 Creedmoor is going to be cheaper and more readily available than the 6.5 PRC.

Especially in times like these, when COVID and political uncertainty has wreaked havoc on the availability of ammunition and reloading components, the 6.5 Creedmoor is easier and cheaper to "feed".

In terms of reloading the Creedmoor and PRC, both obviously require primers and can also use the same 6.5 projectiles. But in terms of the unique components between the two cartridges — brass and powder — the Creedmoor brass is much easier to find, and the same can be said for the wider variety of powders that work well in the Creedmoor, compared to the PRC.

The cost difference between the Creedmoor and PRC may or may not matter much, depending on how much you shoot. If you're the casual hunter that shoots a few rounds to a few boxes of ammunition each year, the cost difference between the two cartridges is pointless. But if you, like me, shoot year-round and strive to practice regularly, the cost difference between the two can be significant.

The difference in cost between shooting Creedmoor and PRC isn't only determined by the price of ammunition or reloading components; barrel life should also be considered. This brings me to my next point...

The 6.5 Creedmoor Long-Lasting

Some people argue that barrel life shouldn't be considered when buying or building a rifle and selecting a cartridge. They argue that barrels on a rifle are like tires on a truck — use them and they will need to be replaced eventually. "They're just disposable; get over it."

You'll also hear guys say that "If you can afford enough ammunition to shoot-out your barrel, you can afford to replace your barrel."

I understand that logic, but I still consider barrel life for some rifles. If you're the guy shooting a particular rifle for a couple of dozen or even a couple hundred rounds a year, barrel life may be justifiably irrelevant to you.

However, the difference in barrel life between 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC mattered to me on this specific rifle because I knew that I wanted to shoot this rifle as much as possible. And also because this rifle features a carbon barrel that is not cheap to replace.

Many well-respected shooters and rifle builders I spoke with said that I could expect 1,000 to 1,500 (on the high end) from a short-barreled, suppressed 6.5 PRC. Yet I can conservatively get twice as many rounds, and likely more, from the same barrel in a 6.5 Creedmoor.

Since I will go through 1,000-1,500 rounds in 12-24 months, and it would cost upwards of $1,000 to replace a carbon barrel on this rifle, the difference in replacing a PRC barrel in 1-2 years, or replacing a Creedmoor barrel in 4-5 years is a worthwhile consideration. Again, that's just the difference in barrel cost, not counting the "savings" or ammunition between the two cartridges over that number of rounds.

Speaking of being "long-lasting" and also touching once again on availability, the Creedmoor has become so popular that it will be a mainstay for years — no, decades! — to come. The chances of finding 6.5 Creedmoor on the shelf in 25 years is like walking into a sporting good store today and seeing mainstays like .30-06, .300 Win Mag, or 7mm Rem Mag. That said, I do expect the PRC to be a mainstay well into the future as well.

Mark's first shots at 750-yards with his 6.5 Creedmoor

Mark's first shots at 750-yards with his 6.5 Creedmoor. (One bullet impacted the target's bolt, creating the "arc" seen on the top-right of the bolt.)

The 6.5 Creedmoor is Easy-Shooting

Not only is the Creedmoor easier on the wallet, but it is also easy on the shoulder. I don't consider myself to be very recoil sensitive, but there are two practical reasons I wanted the softer-recoiling Creedmoor over the PRC for this rifle.

First, I am generally an advocate for reducing recoil when possible, allowing the shooter to spot my impacts and easily be "on target" for any follow-up shots that may be needed. Too many hunters chase the most powerful cartridges because they don't understand the importance of staying in the scope, seeing impacts, and being ready for follow-up shots.

The other reason I wanted the softer-recoiling Creedmoor is that I wanted this rifle to be shootable for my wife, kids, and anyone else that is new to both shooting and hunting. Sharing this rifle with friends and family was a specific consideration I had in mind for this build.

Since this is also a very light rifle (weighing under 6lbs bare, or coming in at 8lbs scoped and suppressed), the lighter-recoiling Creedmoor keeps this lightweight rifle very shootable and easy to control.

So, there you have it. Why I chose the 6.5 Creedmoor over the 6.5 PRC.

With so many great cartridges available these days, we are in a fortunate position to have to decide between many great options. While the trend is to look at the biggest, fastest, and hardest-hitting rounds, I hope that some of the considerations discussed in this article will help you make a well-rounded decision for your next rifle.

Mark's 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle from Mesa Precision Arms

Rifle Details & Specs

Mark Huelsing is the host of the Hunt Backcountry Podcast and works at Exo Mtn Gear — though he's never been able to figure out his job title. Connect with Mark by sending him an email (mark at exomtngear.com) or connecting on Instagram, @MarkTheFark.

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  • I Kill With A Trad Bow Now… The Creed Is A Nuclear Step Up From That, And Is Sufficient For All Hunting Ranges ( Ridge Reaper Withstanding). need more energy for North American game? The 30-06 got all of my uncles through wwII and all of their hunts, and will perform just as well today!

    I Kill With A Trad Bow Now... The Creed Is A Nuclear Step Up From That, And Is Sufficient For All Hunting Ranges ( Ridge Reaper Withstanding). on
  • I think the 6.5 creed is an excellent round for what it is. It delivers good energy, more so than a 308 past 400 yards or so. There are many hunting rounds now for it. To act as if it’s not is to be biased to a degree that opinion is more important than facts. The same people that say the 6.5 isn’t a good round will give their kids a 243 to hunt the same animals. They will use a 25-06 the same way. If you’re relying on a caliber you’ve missed the point of an ethical kill!

    Thomas Sellers on
  • When this cartridge came out, I thought, wow its just a .260 with hell-a-good marketing. Which was fine because .260 was underestimted by most average shooters but admired by true enthusiast. Then you have the 6.5 swede which by its users have always said for decades, “it just kills better.” Which is a comment everyone uses for there chosen caliber. So its just chalked up as here say because everyone thinks there caliber is the best choice. I didn’t by into the 6.5 creed because I never needed it. I hunt with 35 remington, 25-06 and a .308. I shot competition with a custom .243 loaded with 107 or 105 grain pills and it was like cheating at 1000 yards. So again no need. However here we are at 2021 and you simply cant ignore or right off the 6.5 creed has a hunting bullet no matter how hard you try. It is so pleasant to shoot, flat trejectory, and very important, it has a high sectional density which allows it to really punch above its weight. The wound cavities created by this projectile have blown me away. However the 3 things that really makes this caliber a game changer are 1- For what ever reason this projectile shoots amazing groups with even the cheapest manufactured rifles. You cant ignore that people are getting 1/2 to 1 inch groups all day long with $299 rifles. EVERY single manufacture makes a sub moa 6.5 creed at every price point. I was at a range a month ago and was witnessing .3" groups at 100 with a 18" surpressor ready savage axis this guy had just bought from Academy, $399. Number 2- They shoot great with ALL kinds of ammo available. You dont need to reload at all. My buddies 6.5 shoots sub MOA with about 7 different manufacturers and different grain weights. Number 3- it performs very very well with a shorter barrel and lighter rifle, period. In fact it may be the best for that role. You can argue .308, but you will lose. It recoils more, wont shoot as flat and will probably be ammo picky. Other calibers rely on velocity so you need that 22" or 24" barrel. For me my next rifle for deer will be one like in this article. I want to hunt surpressed, (bad hearing from the Infantry and hunting) I want it light weight and handy because I hike and climb, I like spotting my shots and of course I want a clean kill. There are some mentally challenged individuals that believe a 6.5 isnt big or powerful enough to drop a deer at distance they belive enegry is everything. Though I did not buy into 6.5 creed 15 years ago, I never once thought I couldnt drop a deer instantly with his caliber. In fact some people have posted insults directed at the author for choosing this caliber. These individuals are morons who clearly have no friends, do very little research or refuse to look at data that is considered “fact.” I also think these individuals are limited in there marksmanship skills, have had little to no intruction, do not practice shooting in dynamic shooting postions that they may be in on a hunt. Because of this lack of skills individuals may have taken a bad shot with a smaller caliber and had to follow blood trails and arrogantly blame the caliber instead of considering shooter error. If your a deer hunter and your hunting spots are inside 200 yards heck even 400 and you beleive you need a 7mm rem mag, 300 win mag, or the 50 other huge calibers intended for game 3 times the weight to make a clean kill then you need to train, take some classes, or chose your spots better. I find it astonishing how many hunters I meet that dont practice, put up targets and shoot there hunting spots or practice different scenarios during the summer. In fact some of these calibers at certain ranges never even get a chance to dump its full energy because it goes threw. Ive seen wound cavities from a 100 grain .243 core lokt at 200 yards that were more or equally devastating as 7mm Rem mag cavites at closer ranges with similar neck shots. Lmao I need to stop. Great article!

    Mike M. on
  • For over 40 years, all I heard about is that energy, is what kills game. I bought into that theory by hunting deer and black bear with custom 300 Wi
    300 Magnums and a 30-06. I was a good shot with them, but nothing like I was with my lighter caliber target and varment rifles. The reason – recoil. I knew it, but following the sage advice of my favorite gun writers, I stuck with the heavy calibers because “That’s what you need”. When the 6.5 Creedmoor started appearing at matches, I dismissed it as another paper punching fad and stuck to my large calibers in both target and hunting. When the 6.5CM didn’t go away and my scores dropped, I decided to try a friends rifle. The first thiing that struck me was the mild recoil. The second was how well I shot it compared to my nearly identical heavy calibered rifle. I have since taken coyotes, deer, black bear, elk and moose with with one shot from the little “Paper Puncher”. My F-Class rifle is also a 6.5CM as well as my M1A. The reason; I shoot it well and in my book, a confident, well placed shot beats energy every time.

    Bob Hawkins0 on
  • I hear fingernails scraping down the chalk board. Folks have seen through the marketing articles that exploded onto the media stating how the 6.5 Creedmoor is the ultimate long range big game rifle. They sold lots and lots of rifles and ammunition. I’ll give them that. It was superior marketing, not superior ballistic capabilities that catapulted the 6.5 Creedmoor to popularity. The chambering for a 6.5 bullet has been covered for years and years. 260 Remington, 6.5×47, 6.5×55, 6.5×284 6.5 Remington Magnum, and the 264 Winchester Magnum. There’s nothing wrong with having the latest/greatest new rifle. Stating that it’s better than what already existed is what turned me off. I’ve never heard of a rifle, brass or scope killing game. It has always been the bullet and the energy behind it.

    David Ferguson on

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