Case: The 6.5 Creedmoor is a cartridge you can believe in

AP file photo by David Zalubwoski / The 6.5 Creedmoor caliber was developed with the long-range rifle shooter in mind, and on the hunting side, it is perfectly capable for taking down antelope, deer and even elk, writes "Guns & Cornbread" columnist Larry Case — despite the protests of some detractors who say it's not suitable for any game bigger than a fox squirrel.
AP file photo by David Zalubwoski / The 6.5 Creedmoor caliber was developed with the long-range rifle shooter in mind, and on the hunting side, it is perfectly capable for taking down antelope, deer and even elk, writes "Guns & Cornbread" columnist Larry Case — despite the protests of some detractors who say it's not suitable for any game bigger than a fox squirrel.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have been chastised lately by some readers saying I have not been doing enough gun-related columns. I hope this makes up for some of it, though admittedly it will not please the shotgun crowd.

It is not a perfect world, dear readers. Maybe you have noticed this. We would like everything to be all sunshine and roses and everyone gets along about all things, but no, this is not the way it is.

As hunters and shooters, we are certainly not above all this. As I have said here before, I think many of us in the outdoors world are not happy unless we are having a brouhaha about something. Hunters are constantly bickering about hunting season dates, bag limits and the status of different animal populations. Bow hunters disagree with rifle hunters, hunting dog owners squabble with both, and muzzleloader guys often just feel left out. Possibly the group that gets the most points in the "they would argue with a possum" category are the rifle shooters.

Now to put a finer point on it, a rifle shooter is not just anyone who shoots a rifle, you understand. We are mostly talking about those who labor in the trenches of extreme rifle accuracy, those who are studying endless caliber specifications, trajectory charts, and bullet weights and density. These guys want to see those little bullet holes on paper targets in tiny little groups that you can cover with a dime or less. If you take down your Remington 742 once a year for deer season and figure you can hit a Wheaties box at 100 yards, you are not really in this category.

As those of you out there who live in this world know, it would be impossible to talk about this subject without mentioning the 6.5 Creedmoor. No rifle caliber has even come close to causing as much discussion, arguing and disdain for those on both sides of the aisle, and I am sure it's also responsible for more than a couple fistfights. Yeah, it has been that bad.

All of this, in truth, has been mostly a mystery to me. I just don't understand all the controversy. There's no doubt, though, that one thing it has done is pay the rent for more than one gun writer.

The 6.5 Creedmoor caliber was introduced to the world in 2007 by the ammunition company Hornady.

The story goes that Dave Emary, a senior ballistician at Hornady Manufacturing, collaborated with his friend Dennis Demille (who is more or less a legend in the long-range shooting realm) at the Camp Perry National Matches in Ohio. Demille was having trouble with the 6XC caliber he was shooting and reportedly told his friend he was going home early from the match. Emary encouraged him to stay and asked Demille to list all the things he would want in a long-range rifle cartridge.

Demille reportedly listed seven items, including that the cartridge should deliver light recoil to stay on target in rapid-fire events and provide general shooter comfort. He also said this ideal caliber should be able to shoot "flat," as in not have much arch in the trajectory of the bullet, and have a high ballistic coefficient bullet. What is ballistic coefficient? In the rifle shooter world, this means the bullet should be able to overcome air resistance (drag) in flight. Rifle bullets with a high BC shoot flatter and faster, reaching the target with more energy than those with a low BC, and they are able to buck the wind drifts better.

Emary took Demille's suggestions back to Hornady, and after working with a colleague, Joe Thielen, they gave the world the 6.5 Creedmoor. The cartridge is based on the .30 T/C (Thompson Contender), a cartridge that no one remembers, with its only claim to fame that it is the casing the new 6.5 Creedmoor was built on. Soon after the Creedmoor was introduced, it became a darling of the long-range shooting crowd, which was enjoying an explosion in shooter numbers. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to be a sniper and was enamored with all of the gear and lore that went along with hitting small targets at very long ranges.

About this time, the outdoors and shooting media latched on to the spreading fame of the 6.5 Creedmoor, and it was soon being touted in every gun magazine and website from coast to coast and around the world. It seemed this new cartridge could do no wrong and was capable of hitting metal targets on the moon and could even shoot around corners. (OK, I may have made that last part up.)

Then, just as the Creedmoor was reaching the zenith of its fame, a strange thing happened. Maybe because there had been so much written and said about the wonderfulness of this cartridge (much of it by gun writers like me), the tide of public opinion shifted against the 6.5 Creedmoor. Many shooters came out against the cartridge and all of the hype that had been heaped upon it. All kinds of insults were hurled, and there were (and still are) various claims that the round did not come close to reaching the performance of old standbys such as the .308 Winchester, the .30/06 Springfield and others.

When it came to the hunting side of it, the slurs against the cartridge became even worse. On shooting forums and comments on The Book of Faces (the end-all fount of all knowledge in the universe), one could find numerous claims that the 6.5 Creedmoor was totally inadequate for any game animal bigger than a large fox squirrel. These claims still persist, and believe it or not, those rallying against the Creedmoor got even worse in their rant and vitriol about the cartridge.

Somehow, those who were supporters of the Creedmoor were being called fanboys and worse by those who had only disdain for this rifle round. Those who loved the Creedmoor were being called less than real men and, dare I say, sissies (because of its low recoil qualities) by the 6.5 haters. In what I would think would be the ultimate insult, detractors of the cartridge would often claim the 6.5 Creedmoor shooters usually sported of all things, a man bun. (I am not making this up.)

As I said before, I really don't understand all this. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a wonderful round for what it was originally developed for: long-range target shooting. On the hunting side, with the right bullets, it is a great round for deer and antelope, and it has taken many elk (though the haters don't like to admit it).

Read that part again where I said using the right bullets. As I have written here many times, downing big game animals is a matter of using the correct rifle bullets and proper placement of the bullet on the animal, usually in the heart-and-lung area. I have taken whitetail deer myself with the 6.5 Creedmoor, and none have done anything except take a few steps and fall over like they are supposed to.

Well, maybe I have made my point about how those in the shooting world like to argue. Don't worry about the 6.5 Creedmoor; it is still a very popular cartridge and will be around for a very long time, I think. Try shooting one at your rifle range and see for yourself. (Just hide that man bun.)

Shotgun shooters, please forgive me, I will cover you guys next time. Maybe we will argue about whether the 12-gauge shotgun is really dead, or maybe how you don't need to be shooting TSS for turkeys.

"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at [email protected].

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