After publishing the Battle of the 6.5 Creedmoor Factory Hunting Loads post, I headed over to Reddit to get some input on how to improve my test method to help determine the best load factory load for my rifle. Perhaps the best input was posed as the following question: What are you hoping to learn? This question was followed by a simple statement that I believe to be true: Terminal performance of the bullet is a much bigger factor than group size for hunting applications.
Truth is I am still learning. After all, I am new to hunting. Relatively new to shooting compared to those who have been shooting most of their natural lives. I’m also brand new to the 6.5mm Creedmoor cartridge. With this in mind, I decided to continue my testing to see which ammo my rifle and I are able to group the best.
At the end of the day, I did make some adjustments to my testing protocol. Here is what it entailed: Shoot a group of 4 shots at 100 yards, let the barrel cool for at least 15 minutes, and repeat until the remaining 16 rounds of the ammo under test is depleted. And that’s exactly what I did with the remaining Sellier & Bellot 140 Grain 6.5mm Creedmoor Soft Point ammo. I’ll get to the results in a minute, but first let’s talk look the ammo itself.
|Bullet Type||Soft Point|
|Bullet Weight||140 Grains|
|Ballistic Coefficient||0.391 G1|
|Advertised Muzzle Velocity||2657 FPS|
|Price Paid||20 Rounds @ $18.00|
Taking into account the first group during the initial test, here is what I got:
- Best Group: 0.5375 inches
- Worst Group: 1.937 inches
- Average Group: 0.8915 inches
- Standard Deviation: ±0.5911 inches
With an average group size under 1 MOA (minute of angle) or 1″ at 100 yards, I personally would be comfortable using this ammunition for hunting medium game (~50 to ~300 lbs) out to 500 yards and big game (~300 to ~1,000 lbs) out to 300 yards with this rifle and this ammunition. Let me explain why.
As of today, I have only hunted deer which have a “vital zone” diameter of about 10 inches and don’t see that changing anytime soon. Given an average group size plus one standard deviation of roughly 1.5″, I highly confident of getting a clean hit at 100 yards. That group size will grow linearly as the distance increases to roughly 3″ at 200 yards, 4.5″ at 300 yards, 6″ at 400 yards, and 7.5″ at 500 yards. All of those group sizes at the different distances give me confidence I can accurately place a shot in a deer’s vital zone at those distances assuming I can compensate for drop and wind drift. My confidence does drop a bit beyond 200 yards because I have limited experience shooting a rifle beyond that, but that can be remedied with a some practice, taking some chronograph readings, and getting to know the true drop and drift data. Which I plan to do once I settle on my preferred factory load for this rifle.
In terms of penetration and energy, the ballistics based on the advertised velocity indicate adequate impact energy of 800+ ft-lbs for medium game at 500 yards and 1200+ ft-lbs at 300 yards. Additionally, the 140 grain 6.5mm projectile’s sectional density of 0.287 exceeds the desired sectional density of 0.200 for medium game and 0.250 for big game using a medium bore rifle. More information on matching the cartridge to the game can be found on the Chuck Hawks website.
I have a feeling the other factory hunting loads I picked up to test in this hunting rifle will yield similar conclusions, but I plan on continuing the testing in order to learn more about the 6.5mm Creedmoor platform, this rifle, and my abilities.