6.5 Creedmoor vs. 6.5 PRC

Which one to pick for Hunting?

Since 2007, the topic of the rifle world has been the 6.5 Creedmoor, whose use began in shooting sports, but which quickly grew in popularity among hunters as well. In 2018, Hornady released a larger 6.5mm bullet-firing cartridge, the 6.5 PRC, which sends the same bullets at approximately 200 fps / 60 m/s higher muzzle velocity.

6.5 Creedmoor cartridge

The enormous popularity of the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge is essentially related to the United States and the fact that the bullet diameter in question had not previously made a breakthrough in this world's largest firearm market. It wasn't until the 6.5 Creedmoor, that made available to shooters, a factory-loaded cartridge and rifles that could compete in PRS events. The name of the cartridge didn't hurt its popularity either, as it is not directly related to any manufacturer. Because of this, the cartridge in question was easy to take into production by everyone.

In practice, the 6.5 Creedmoor operates in the same velocity ranges as the classic 6.5x55 SE, which can be considered the European standard for this bullet diameter, at least in reference to its generality. The 6.5x55 SE, on the other hand, is an old cartridge and has the weaknesses of the old cartridge, such as low-pressure level, and outdated cartridge chamber.


In hunting, the 6.5 Creedmoor practically does everything that previous 6.5 mm bullet calibers do, but its accuracy potential has been seen very attractive, especially in hunting small and medium-sized game, where the caliber comes into its own.

The practical advantages, compared to many other similar bullet-firing calibers are the verified "omnivorousness" of several firearms, i.e., as a rule, the rifles are not picky about the cartridge used. This makes it possible to choose the load before the bullet's characteristics. It is not necessary to make very big compromises between the characteristics of the used load and the shooting accuracy. Many other combinations are a long way behind compared to the Creedmoor. With larger game, the 6.5 Creedmoor has stepped into the spotlight in an era in which the development of bullets has taken it out of the sky significantly.

While the older 6.5 mm calibers are especially popular in Fennoscandia as a playground for heavy and slow bullets, 6.5 Creedmoor has stepped directly on board with lighter, faster and structurally more durable bullets.

Because of this, the reports from the hunting field are flattering, even though on paper this small cartridge often looks like a marginal for big game hunter. Lately, especially in Europe, dark clouds have been hanging over the future of lead use. This has created an ever-growing interest in bullet materials that replace lead among hunters. The most important of these is solid copper (monolithic), which has been available as an alternative big game bullet since the 1980's, but which is only now beginning to be honed to the point where its potential is at a good or excellent level.

However, this type of bullet has its challenges, i.e. the opening sensitivity at long shooting distances limits the operating distance of the effective operation of the bullet.

This is where magnum cartridges come into play.

Sako S20 Hunter Fusion

The Sako S20 rifle family gets an update with a new model, Sako S20 Hunter Fusion. Equipped with world renown premium camo, First Lite Fusion (TM), Tungsten Cerakote coating and radial muzzle brake. This combination offers performance, durability and features for demanding hunts.

6.5 PRC cartridge

The 6.5 PRC is practically a modern magnum cartridge firing a 6.5 mm bullet. Its advantages come to the fore in range use at long shooting distances. But hunters benefit most concretely from the cartridge's advantages: they can use tougher bullets thanks to the additional speed, or alternatively, benefit from the increase of the effective shooting distance, compared to standard cartridges.

However, PRC's advantage is its modern cartridge design, which has a lot in common with the successful design of the 6.5 Creedmoor. The bullet is on the front side of the powder charge, the firing mode of the powder is optimized and in terms of accuracy, this caliber is no slouch. So it is a better 6.5 mm magnum cartridge.

For the reloader, the differences between the two cartridges are reasonably significant. The 6.5 Creedmoor is almost perfect for loading, as the powders it uses with typical bullet weights are H4350 in the general purpose powder class, which is available from every powder manufacturer around the world.

Among the Finnish gunpowders, Vihtavuori N550 and N555 are the best suited for this caliber. So it's really easy and straightforward to reload. With the lightest varmint bullets, gunpowder qualities that are a notch faster are in favor.

Designed with performance in mind

The 6.5 PRC is significantly more demanding from the loader's point of view, especially in terms of the powders used. In practice, the problem is that the slow rate of fire required by the 6.5 PRC must be combined with the small volume of gunpowder.

This means that the most common magnum powders are either too fast in their rate of fire, or alternatively, powders with a suitable rate of fire cannot fit enough in the socket. For this reason, for example, Vihtavuori has developed the new N568 gunpowder, which combines the aforementioned properties. Comparing a standard cartridge and a magnum cartridge is often not very fruitful, and it is not this time either. The advantages of standard cartridges are that their range of use is usually quite wide and they are better suited for so-called general hunting use, which includes a wide range of small game hunting and range training, but whose limits come up against extreme performance.

Magnum cartridges, on the other hand, are primarily designed with performance in mind, so they are not as adapted for general use. In addition, the increased recoil in magnum cartridges is a basic thing to be aware of.

Both type of cartridges have their own role, but it is not necessarily a stupid idea to consider using 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC calibers. One handles everything from small to medium-sized game, but the other can use the same bullet capabilities and offers much better potential for larger big game or hunting at long shooting distances.

Creedmoore or PRC?

Practical instructions for those considering the choice between Creedmoore and PRC can be given via each user profile itself. Creedmoor is the right choice when the rifle is used for everything, from range training to hunting, where the number of shots is significantly higher than in more precisely defined hunting use.

On the other hand, it is worth turning in the direction of the PRC in the event that the main use of the rifle is specifically for hunting, where the number of shots remains reasonable. It is also worth considering the different focuses of the hunt, i.e. if the hunt focuses on small game, such as small game and deer, Creedmoor is a good choice, but if the target is mainly big game larger than deer, the PRC is the right choice.

Since many hunters like the general rifle as an idea, it is worth reminding that the general rifle can be divided into two different concepts. There are general-purpose rifles for all hunting and shooting jobs, where the characteristics and weight of the gun are compromises. On the other hand, the matter can also be thought of through the caliber, i.e. there are always compromises in the caliber of a general-purpose rifle. Because of this, of these two calibers firing 6.5 mm bullets, it is the 6.5 Creedmoor that has the greater potential as a general-purpose rifle caliber, as its compromises only materialize with the longer shooting distances of larger big game.

While the challenges of the 6.5 PRC lie in the shorter life of the barrel and stronger recoil. The advantages of the magnum are therefore only realized with larger and longer shooting distances.

In Finland, our home ground, the 6.5 Creedmoor made a breakthrough in 2018, when the caliber in question went on sale as a hybrid of Tikka T3x Deerhunter and Tikka T3x CTR. At the same time, we brought four different factory loads to the stores in question. This directly meant that the availability was good and the novelty caliber was able to increase its popularity in Finland as well.

In five years, the rifles of that caliber have become a serious competitor to the long-time Finns' favorites, the .308 Winchester, whose position today shares the top spot with Creedmoor. The 6.5 PRC, on the other hand, has become familiar with the Sako S20 rifles, and reloads for this caliber have become a little more leisurely. However, for this year, we have released a 120 gr Powerhead Blade load in the PRC, so the future looks bright for that as well.

On a larger scale, this quest of new calibers is about a bigger change that doesn't happen often in the firearm world. In fact, the previous similar upheaval occurred in the 1950s with the introduction of the .308 Winchester. This shorter cartridge became a viable alternative to the previous long standard cartridges. Now we are following a shift that was started on a large scale by the 6.5 Creedmoor, with a focus on modernized cartridge design.

Author: Arto Määttä - published on 4.4.2023

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