I’ve taken a few trips to the range developing a load for my 22″ barrel 6.5 Creedmoor precision rifle.
The rifle is built with the following components from Brownells:
- Surgeon 591 action
- Bartlein 6.5mm 1:8 twist HV barrel
- Badger M5 bottom Metal
- Timney 510 trigger
- McMillan A5 stock
It is topped with the outstanding Nightforce BEAST 5-25 FFP mil/mil scope in Nightforce rings.
To see how I built the rifle, check out Building a Custom 6.5 Creedmoor Precision Rifle.
WARNING: The loads shown are for informational purposes only. They are only safe in the rifle shown and may not be safe in yours. Consult appropriate load manuals prior to developing your own handloads. Rifleshooter.com and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.
Hodgdon H4350 seems to be the popular powder choice for heavier bullets in the 6.5 Creedmoor. I had a lot of it, so that is the powder I selected. I also had quite a few Seirra 140 grain MatchKings (SMK) HPBT and Lapua 136 grain Scenar-L OTM bullets on hand so I tried those as well.
I try not to get overly involved with rituals when I load my ammunition. All loads were made on new, Hornady brass with no prep. Powder charges were dropped with a Harrell Classic Culver powder measure. A Redding competition seat die was used to seat the bullets on a Forster single stage press. Tula primers were seated by hand with a Sinclair priming tool.
Seating depth of the bullets was .020″ short of the ogive touching the rifling. To measure the distance from the bullet’s ogive to the lands, I used a Hornady OAL gauge. As a rule, I don’t like to jam bullets into the rifling.
With the new rifle on the first trip out, these were my results:
All groups were fired prone, from a bipod with rear bag. Above, top row is the 136 grain Scenar-L, bottom row is the 140 grain SMK. Of course, I forgot my chronograph on this trip so I didn’t have any velocity data. The 140 SMK is an older design compared to the 142 grain SMK (my preferred heavy 6.5), so I decided to focus on the 136 grain Scenar-L load #4, 42.7 grains of H4350 deserves another look.
I loaded 15 rounds of load #4 and headed back to the range. Again, prone from a bipod with a rear bag.
With the cold bore shot, the three five round groups were .676″, .363″ and .478″ (that low round was all me, I choked), for an average group size of .507″ (.484 MOA).
Third trip to the range:
Temperature was 92 F. All four five-shot groups were fired from a bench with a bipod and rear bag (I hadn’t shot off a bench in a long time so wanted to give it a try). Including the cold bore in the first (top left) group, .676″, .347″, .399″ and .407″ for an average of .444″. (.424 MOA).
Average velocity for the 20 rounds was 2703 feet/second with a standard deviation of 15.6.
While accuracy was acceptable for this rifle, I was a little disappointed with the velocity. I have two 136 grain Scenar-L pet loads for my 22″ barrel 6.5×47 Lapua. One is getting 2624 feet/second and the other is getting 2787 feet/second with the same bullet (incidentally both the 6.5 Creedmoor and the 6.5×47 Lapua rifles have Bartlein heavy varmint 1:8.5 barrels installed).
On a related note, the Nightforce B.E.A.S.T. has exceeded my expectations. I’ll be posting a stand alone review of it shortly.