The Hornady Precision Hunter 143 Grain 6.5mm Creedmoor with ELD-X projectiles is the second factory hunting load I’ve tested for shot group accuracy as I search for my preferred factory hunting load in the Battle of the 6.5 Creedmoor Factory Hunting Loads.
The testing protocol remains the same: 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. Let’s take a look at the ammo specs and test results.
|Bullet Weight||143 Grains|
|Ballistic Coefficient||0.625 G1|
|Advertised Muzzle Velocity||2700 FPS|
|Price Paid||20 Rounds @ $34.50|
Taking into account the first group during the initial test, here is what I got:
- Best Group: 0.3615 inches
- Worst Group: 1.684 inches
- Average Group: 0.9543 inches
- Standard Deviation: ±0.4773 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 600 yards and big game (~300 to ~1,000 lbs) out to 500 yards with this rifle and ammunition. Let me explain why.
Given an average group size plus one standard deviation of roughly 1.5″, I have a very high confidence of getting a clean hit at 100 yards on a 10-inch “vital zone” target. 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, 7.5″ at 500 yards, and 9″ at 600 yards. All of those group sizes at the different distances give me confidence I can accurately place a shot in the 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 800 yards and 1200+ ft-lbs at 600 yards. Additionally, the 140 grain 6.5mm projectile’s sectional density of 0.297 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.
This particular factory load has a significantly better ballistic coefficient than the other’s tested so far. This means significantly less drop and wind drift while retaining energy at longer distances. The limiting factor here seems to be my ability to shoot more accurate groups with it perhaps that also has something to do with how my 6.5mm hunting rifle “likes” the ammunition, but I’m betting it’s more me than the rifle. Less drop and drift also means that I’m less likely to make an error dialing in my scope for distance and wind adjustments based on range and wind measurements and estimates – making this load particularly attractive. However, is that enough to overcome the difference in price when compared to all of the other factory loads I am testing? I’m not sure yet. I suppose I will keep on testing and see what happens.