Why Our Hunting Editor, a 6.5 Creedmoor Hater, Finally Caved and Bought a New Rifle (and Then Another)
Accepting the 6.5 Creedmoor craze, one kick and scream at a time
My buddy Miles is a Colorado guide, and we’ve been hunting together for a decade. Good friends have rituals, and for the last bunch of years, come nightfall in hunting camp—whether that’s on the banks of the Tennessee River or on some Rocky Mountain slope—Miles and I would have us a little liquor, cuss, and speak ill of the 6.5 Creedmoor. We’d mostly point out that the 6.5, by God, is no .30/06. Then we’d build a fire so as to have something to poke with sticks and spit on.
Then one afternoon, Miles called me and explained with rehearsed diction that he’d become a pro staffer for a rifle company—and they wanted to send him a gun in 6.5 Creedmoor. When I asked if he intended to accept it, he became so defensive that I suspected he already had the gun in hand, and possibly sighted in too.
He brought the new rifle with him a few winters ago for our annual Tennessee whitetail hunt and used it to drop a big 8-pointer in its tracks. As we were dragging the deer out, I told Miles it was a lucky one-shot kill, and had the deer run off, we’d have probably never recovered it.
That night in camp, we went toe-to-toe over his new Creed, but I eventually lost the energy to argue. He wasn’t going to admit to being wrong anyway. So we went quiet. It felt like the conclusion of a family brawl over politics, spurred by Granny’s “Trump ’n’ Dressin’” casserole at Thanksgiving dinner. Even without a concession, it was good to know the yelling could at least stop.
The following spring, Miles scored a sweet new lease in Texas and invited me to come turkey hunting. Like all 6.5 Creedmoor shooters, he cannot call birds worth a damn. Still, we killed two big Rio Grande gobblers on the first morning. Later in the day, as the sun began to set and I was running out of things to say about how much better it is to call game animals close than it is to shoot them at long range, Miles suggested we go pig hunting.
“This place is covered in them,” he said. “But there’s a catch.”
“What catch?” I asked.
“You have to shoot this.” He handed me his 6.5. “This is my new favorite gun, and I’m not ashamed of saying it anymore, Brantley. If you want to shoot one of my pigs, this is what you’ll use.”
When Pigs Die
We sat on a mesa just before dark, watching a corn feeder positioned in a creek drainage several hundred yards below us. When I saw a large form moving through the bottom, I glassed it casually, assuming it was a steer slipping in for a bite of corn. Instead, the binos revealed a giant gray boar hog lumbering toward the feeder. I clawed for the rifle.
“Shoot that thing in the head so we don’t have to go tromping through the mesquite in the dark looking for it,” Miles said, staring through his own binocular.
I adjusted the scope turret a few clicks and sent a 143-grain ELD-X bullet across 300 yards of Texas. There was a whump, and the boar dropped in his tracks, kicked a few times, and was still. I watched it all through the scope, which, under the 6.5’s minimal recoil, had barely moved.
After a while, Miles cleared his throat and said, “I’ll have my rifle back now.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to give it back. Tomes of ballistic evidence and gun-writer acclaim can’t always convince a guy the way a giant dead boar hog can. Still, I waited for a bit before I ordered my own new 6.5.
That night at camp, Miles and I poured us a little liquor and reflected on a good day.
“Have you shot one of these 6.5 PRCs?” he asked me.
“Hell no,” I said. “Stupid idea.”
“Totally,” Miles said. “It’s no .300 Win. Mag., I’ll tell you that.”
Then we built a fire so we could have something to poke with sticks and spit on.
Post Script: A Safe Full of Creeds
Since writing this column a few years ago, I’ve managed to do a lot of hunting with a 6.5 Creedmoor, though I don’t like discussing it. I have used the round in various rifles to kill a few whitetails, an antelope, more hogs, some coyotes, and a West Texas aoudad this past March. It is an accurate caliber with mild recoil that has worked just fine for all the above roster of critters. It wouldn’t scare me to hunt an elk with it, though I’d still prefer something larger.
The 6.5 Creedmoor continues to be a top-selling cartridge for bolt-action rifles, though some of the hysteria around it, from the champions and haters alike, has subsided in recent years. That’s a shame, because the hysteria—way more than the performance—is what makes the Creed so much fun to write about. I now own two 6.5 CMs: A Thompson/Center Compass II, which shoots way better than it should for the price and has become a go-to truck gun, and a Browning X-Bolt topped with a Leupold VX-5HD 2-10×42, which was the first 6.5 I bought, and still a favorite.