Since its introduction in 2007, the 6.5 Creedmoor has been one of the hottest-selling cartridges in the firearms industry. First developed by the team at Hornady, the 6.5 became the go-to cartridge among competitive long-range shooters. Featuring long, sleek bullets with high BCs, the Creedmoor cartridge fits in a short-action rifle but is capable of tremendous performance at distances up to and beyond 1,000 yards.
That same set of features makes it an exceptional choice for big-game hunters, especially those who want a mild recoiling round that can stretch the distance if necessary. Capable of 3020 fps from the barrel with 2,430 ft.-lbs. of energy, the Creedmoor is fully capable of taking down big-game species from antelope and deer to elk and moose. That said, it’s important to select the right bullet for big-bodied game. Here’s a look at seven of the best big game loads for the 6.5 Creedmoor.
1. Barnes 120-grain VOR-TX TTSX Having made a name for itself over the last few decades as a premier solid copper bullet manufacturer, Barnes continues to impress shooters with its fully loaded factory ammunition. Perfect for punching through tough shoulders, thick hide, and sturdy bones, Barnes’ VOR-TX TTSX comes in a 120-grain bullet weight and features a monometal design with polymer tip for aided expansion and improved ballistics at greater distances. Capable of reaching 2910 fps from the barrel with 2,257 ft.-lbs. of energy, a well-placed shot with the TTSX will drop even the toughest beast. MSRP: $36.99 per 20-rnd. box; barnesbullets.com.
2. Barnes 127-grain VOR-TX LR Built for extreme distances, Barnes VOR-TX LR loads are optimized for better flight characteristics and feature a nose cavity and polymer tip that aid in devastating, rapid expansion on target. Barnes’ testing shows that LR bullets perform exceptionally well from close range to distances in excess of 700 yards. The 127-grain LRX bullet leaves the muzzle at 2825 fps with 2,251 ft.-lbs. of energy, and the solid copper design allows for maximum penetration and massive wound channels. MSRP: $35.99 per 20-rnd. box; barnesbullets.com.
3. Federal Premium 135-grain Berger Hybrid Hunter A favorite among reloaders and long-range enthusiasts, Berger bullets have found a home in Federal Premium ammunition. Federal pairs the Berger Hybrid Hunter copper jacketed cup and core bullet with highly consistent loadings and reliable primers to produce an accurate, lethal round at any distance. The Hybrid Hunter features a high BC and low drag design with a secant/tangent ogive, making bullets easier to seat while retaining optimal downrange aerodynamics. Especially out to medium ranges, Berger bullets are known for devastating expansion and a total knockout. MSRP: $39.99 per 20-rnd. box; federalpremium.com.
4. Hornady 143-grain Precision Hunter ELD-X Featuring Hornady’s new Heat Shield tip, ELD-X bullets come in the Precision Hunter line and deliver match-grade accuracy out to serious range. The 6.5 Creedmoor load is 143 grains and leaves the barrel at 2700 fps with 2,315 ft.-lbs. of energy. Many Western hunters and guides continue to sing its praises as the Creedmoor has successfully taken big-bodied bulls. And while it is great at long range, the ELD-X is designed to expand reliably up close, too. MSRP: $36.99 per 20-rnd. box; hornady.com.
5. Hornady Outfitter 120-grain GMX When penetration on tough game is an absolute must, Hornady’s GMX bullet in its Outfitter line is built to deliver. Featuring the 120-grain, monometal bullet with cavity and polymer tip, the GMX provides uniform, controlled expansion, as well as deep penetration and 95 percent or better weight retention. Nickel-plated cases are corrosion resistant and waterproofed for high moisture environments. Even at 500 yards the GMX retains nearly 2000 fps and 1,042 ft.-lbs. of energy, more than enough stopping power for big game. MSRP: $36.99 per 20-rnd. box; hornady.com.
6. Norma 130-grain Swift Scirocco II A tried and true design among serious elk hunters, Swift’s Scirocco II features a copper jacket and bonded lead core with a polymer Black Tip that aids in expansion and reduces air resistance when the bullet is in flight. Norma’s 6.5 Creedmoor variant comes in at 130 grains and produces 2789 fps from the muzzle with 2,239 ft.-lbs. of energy. Highly accurate and tough enough to handle thick shoulders and hide while delivering massive trauma, Norma’s Scirocco II loading is a big-game hunter’s dream come true. MSRP: $37.99 per 20-rnd. box; norma-ammunition.com.
7. Nosler 140-grain AccuBond Trophy Grade For many elk, moose, and big game hunters, Nosler’s AccuBond has been the gold standard for ruggedly built bonded bullets for years. The copper jacket and bonded lead core come in a boattail design and feature a white polymer tip for rapid, reliable expansion and better accuracy. Great at close or long range, the AccuBond has proven itself capable of delivering deep penetration and weight retention on every continent from North America to Africa. The 6.5 Creedmoor Trophy Grade load comes in a 140-grain variant that is lethal for deer, elk, moose and bear. MSRP: $47.99 per 20-rnd. box; nosler.com.
8. Nosler 120-grain E-Tip For those who prefer or are required to use lead-free projectiles, Nosler’s 120-grain E-Tip is an excellent option. An OD Green tip initiates expansion while still delivering impressive penetration, while an E2 (Energy expansion) cavity means you get reliable expansion near or far and across various velocities. The boattail design and polymer tip also make the E-Tip a great choice for long range enthusiasts. MSRP: $39.45 per 20-rnd. box; nosler.com.
9. SIG Sauer 130-grain Elite Hunter Tipped With a concentric, blackened jacked that delivers what SIG calls explosive expansion, the 130-grain Elite Hunter Tipped is designed for deer- to elk-sized game at extended ranges. The yellow-tipped bullet and boattail design offer superior flight characteristics, while a nickel-plated case provides anti-corrosive qualities and reliable extraction. Whether you’re looking to drop big bodied mule deer or elk, Elite Hunter Tipped is an exceptional choice. MSRP: $36.95 per 20-rnd. box; sigsauer.com.