Hunting big game requires skill and experience. But it also calls for the use of the right cartridge.
After Hornady introduced the 6.5 Creedmoor back in 2007, it quickly became the go-to ammunition of precision rifle shooters across the U.S.
This was also the time when a better hunting ethic was becoming the norm and not the exception.
Hunters needed ammunition that was powerful enough to make clean kills every time.
However, the ammo that was available often damaged firearms.
The 6.5 Creedmoor was created out of necessity, and the story behind the cartridge’s genesis is very unique.
In addition to taking you through the 6.5 Creedmoor history, in this post, I will also touch on the cartridge’s performance.
6.5 Creedmoor History
How New Cartridges Are Brought to Market (Typically)
Here’s how it goes:
First, an arms manufacturer approaches an ammunition manufacturer with an idea of a new round.
The companies then come to an agreement, which is usually along the lines of:
“If you manufacture the ammo, we’ll manufacture thousands of weapons that support it.”
Sometimes the weapon and the ammo manufacturers are a part of the same parent company, so this process is carried out internally.
However, this is NOT how the 6.5 Creedmoor was made.
Every so often, custom cartridges, or what we know as “wildcats,” gain a lot of popularity amongst communities and are eventually standardized and mass-produced by manufacturers.
The 6.5 Creedmoor was initially a wildcat, too.
How The 6.5 Creedmoor Was Brought to Market
The T2K And Its Problems
The T2K is probably the most critical aspect of 6.5 Creedmoor history. Without it, the 6.5 Creedmoor would’ve never been conceived.
The Tubb 2000 rifle, which was also called the T2K, was one of the most popular products sold at Creedmoor Sports back in the day.
It was named after its creator, David Tubb, who used the rifle to win several NRA High Power National Championships. He’s a well-known competitive shooter in the community to this day.
Nonetheless, the T2K was chambered for many different cartridges, but the 6mm XC cartridge was very popular. It was used by Tubb himself to earn his many Camp Perry titles.
But there were some serious issues with the cartridge.
It required handloading, and the load data wasn’t readily available. The data would be passed out amongst competitive shooters in the old-school way: word of mouth.
Plus, it caused a lot of problems in the T2K. Stiff bolt-lifts, blown primers, and broken extractors were a common gripe.
Dennis DeMille’s company sold the T2K at the time, and customers would often complain to him about the issues that using the 6mm XC caused.
During the service rifle week at Camp Perry, Dennis caught up with his friend Dave Emary, who was a senior ballistician at Hornady at the time.
Dennis was a respected shooter back in the day, too, and shooters would ask him for help or complain about the issues while he was competing.
Dennis brought up the issues that the 6XC caused and explained how frustrating the situation was.
He was ready to pack up and leave – he didn’t want the shooters to keep interrupting him when he competed.
Dave persuaded Dennis to stay and think about what the ultimate cartridge for across-the-course shooting would look like.
The very next morning, Dave had his list of requirements ready. His then-hypothetical cartridge had to meet the following criteria:
- It must be magazine length for rapid-fire strings.
- It must shoot flat with a high B.C. bullet.
- It must have lower recoil than the .308.
- It must use readily available components, including gunpowder.
- It must promote good barrel life.
- The reloading recipe must be illustrated on the box.
- Manufacturing quantity must meet the demand.
In a later interview, DeMille also stated that the goal of creating the cartridge was to shoot anything out to 1000 yards.
As mentioned earlier, Dave was the senior ballistician at Hornady at the time. With Dennis’s guidelines ready, he got right to work.
Dave collaborated with Joe Thielen, who was the assistant director of engineering at Hornady.
A few months later, at the SHOT show in 2006, he showed Dennis an unmarked piece of brass – one of the first iterations of the 6.5 Creedmoor.
This was a critical moment in 6.5 Creedmoor history. DeMille tested the ammo and gave a ton of crucial feedback about how the cartridge could be improved.
Hornady initially decided to name the cartridge the 6.5 DeMille, but Dennis rejected the idea.
He didn’t want to overstate his involvement in the development of the round – he acknowledged that Dave and Joe did all of the real work.
He then suggested that the cartridge be named Creedmoor. It was a homage to the historical location on Long Island in New York, where the first national rifle competitions were held.
After the cartridge’s design was finalized and manufacturing plans set, Hornady revealed the cartridge at the SHOT Show in 2007.
And the rest is history.
6.5 Creedmoor Performance
The 6.5 Creedmoor has a slower muzzle velocity than some of the longer cartridges like the magnum cartridges.
However, the cartridge makes up for this slight disadvantage with versatility.
It has a shorter overall length of 2.825 inches, which means one can safely use it with short-action rifles and hunt big game.
6.5 Creedmoor Comparison
In October of 2017, USSOCOM compared the 6.5mm Creedmoor with some of the most popular cartridges, such as the .260 Remington and the 7.62×51mm NATO.
On finding that the 6.5 Creedmoor performs the best, the USSOCOM quickly moved to adopt it for military use.
And with that 6.5 Creedmoor history lesson, you know everything there is to know about the cartridge.
It’s considered one of the best hunting rounds by many, and shooters also use it as their go-to “easy button.”
The bottom line is that if you’re ever in a pinch, you can rely on the 6.5 Creedmoor to hunt big game.