Guns Ammo Rifle Ammo

Today’s Crop of 6.5s

John B. Snow Avatar

<strong>Why We Love 6.5s</strong> Has this underrated caliber finally arrived? Diehard fans of 6.5mm bullets and the cartridges they're built with--and I include myself among their number--are a lovesick lot. Something about those long sleek bullets, with their impressive ballistic coefficients, high sectional densities, reputation for accuracy, legendary game-taking ability and generally mild recoil, makes us swoon. We are similarly puzzled as to why so many hunters, in the U.S. at any rate, have been reluctant to embrace these cartridges with a similar fervor. But perhaps this is changing. A spate of modern 6.5s, starting with the .260 Remington, introduced in 1997, have caught on with competitive shooters, who've been racking up wins with them and dominating certain long-range disciplines. What those shooters know, and what more hunters are discovering, is that 6.5s make for exceptionally balanced cartridges that are accurate, easy to shoot and adaptable to any number of tasks. Perhaps the day is coming when 6.5s will shed their reputation as the most underrated class of cartridges in America.

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6.5×55 Swedish Introduced: 1894 Factory Loads: Federal (1), Hornady (1), Winchester (1) Description: The 6.5 Swede certainly has to count as one of the most successful sporting cartridges in history. Developed jointly by the militaries of Norway and Sweden a year before the .30/30 came on the scene, it's still proving its worth in Scandinavia, where hunters take thousands of moose and other big game with it each fall, as well as with a coterie of devotees in the U.S. Reloaders using modern actions can significantly increase performance over the original factory loadings.
6.5 Creedmor Introduced: 2007 Factory Loads: Hornady (2) Description: With a name like Creedmoor, it's hardly surprising that this cartridge was born for competition. It is the brainchild of Hornady's Dave Emary and former Camp Perry champion Dennis DeMille, who were looking to create a more efficient high-power cartridge for shooting out to 1,000 yards. As a bonus, it's an easy round for reloaders to duplicate. For hunters, this round isn't as versatile as the .260 Rem., though it is still a fine choice for 140-grain or lighter bullets.
.264 Winchester Magnum Introduced: 1958 Factory Loads: Remington (1), Winchester (1) Description: Winchester thought the .264 would appeal to Western hunters looking for a long-range cartridge to use in open country. It didn't work out that way, as hunters either stuck with traditional chamberings or embraced cartridges like the .243 Win. and 7mm Rem. Mag., which were introduced around the same time. But with the advent of the hyper-accurate Beanfield rifle, brought to prominence by rifle makers like Kenny Jarrett, the .264 found a niche in which it still excels.
6.5-284 Norma Introduced: 1999 (CIP) Factory Loads: Nosler Custom (3), Cor-Bon (1) Description: The .284 Win., never a popular commercial chambering, has nonetheless been very successful as the parent to numerous wildcats, including the 6.5-284, which made the leap to a standardized cartridge in 1999, thanks to Norma. This cartridge, a longtime favorite with target shooters, won many long-range competitions, setting some shooting records in the process. It has also proven itself to be versatile for hunters chasing both big game and long-range varmints.
.260 Remington Introduced: 1997 Factory Loads: Remington (4), Federal (3), Hornady (1), Nosler (3), Cor-Bon (4) Description: This round was created by necking down the .308 Winchester. Outdoor Life's Jim Carmichel was instrumental in developing the round for commercial use. Originally conceived as a round for long-range target shooting, a role in which it excels, it has found favor with big-game hunters across the U.S. One way to view the .260 is as the modern incarnation of the 6.5x54MS, a cartridge that was legendary for its ability to kill game of all sizes, up to and including elephants.

These five cartridges perform well both in competition and in the field.