Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass: Forming 6.5 Creedmoor cases from 22-250 brass

Use of the 260 Remington in shooting competitions helped introduce a generation of US rifle competitors to 6.5mm cartridges.  While long appreciated in Europe, the 6.5mm has developed a strong following on this side of the Atlantic.  Known for its light recoil and excellent external ballistics, 6.5mm cartridges are often encountered in the form of the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, 260 Remington, and 6.5×284 Norma.  Of these, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is the most popular.

Two 6.5 mm custom rifles. The top rifle is chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, the bottom rifle is chambered in 6.5x47 Lapua. The availability of high quality Lapua brass is often cites as the reason for a reloader to select the Lapua cartridge over the Creedmoor.
Two 6.5mm custom rifles. The top rifle is chambered in 6.5mm Creedmoor, the bottom rifle is chambered in 6.5×47 Lapua. The availability of high quality Lapua brass is often cites as the reason for a reloader to select the Lapua cartridge over the Creedmoor.

While the many great attributes of the 6.5 Creedmoor will often help it emerge as a winner when compared to the ubiquitous .308 Winchester, this distinction isn’t as clear when compared to a similar cartridge, the 6.5×47 Lapua. Often, those who own both will suggest that the decision between these two cartridges boils down to the quality of brass you want.  The 6.5 Creedmoor brass is made by Hornady (Norma now makes cases which are quite expensive) and the 6.5×47 Lapua brass is made by Lapua.  Lapua is long known for excellent quality brass, while experiences vary with Hornady brass.

My personal experience with Hornady brass hasn’t been great.  Take a look at the Hornady 6.5mm Creedmoor case in the photograph below.

6.5 creedmoor brass with burr

Note the burr in the flash hole (above).  I noticed this on at least 20% of my new, current production Hornady cases.  While this can and is trimmed out with a flash hole tool, I’ve never noticed it on Lapua brass.  Over the past two decades of reloading match ammunition, I’ve lost confidence in Hornady brass.  I’ve also formed the opinion that Lapua makes a superior product.  Since Lapua doesn’t make 6.5 Creedmoor brass, I settled on the next best thing, I decided to form my own 6.5 Creedmoor Lapua brass.

The 6.5 Creedmoor uses the 250 Savage as its parent case.  Lapua doesn’t make 250 Savage brass, but they do make 22-250 Remington brass (which uses the 250 Savage as its parent case) that I happen to have on hand.  Note: some shooter prefer to form 6.5 Creedmoor brass from 308 or 243 Winchester cases.

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22-250 to 6.5 creedmoor better

I formed the brass in a series of three steps using tapered sizing buttons (expander).  The factory 22-250 Remington case (above left) is lubricated with a small amount of imperial sizing wax inside the case mouth, the case is expanded with a 6mm tapered sizing button(above, second from left) and 6.5 mm tapered sizing button (above, third from left).  The case is loaded and fire formed (above right). Note: this technique of forming 6.5mm Creedmoor cases from 22-250 Remington has been around since the introduction of the Creedmoor.

tapered sizing button

A tapered sizing button is shown above.

22-250, 6.5 creedmoor cases

Note the loaded 22-250 cases expanded to 6.5mm (above left), compared to the fire formed case (above, right).  The fire formed case has a straighter wall and greater capacity.  More importantly, it is high quality Lapua case.

There are a few downsides to forming 22-250 Remington cases in 6.5 Creedmoor:

  1. Overall case length is .025″ shorter on the formed brass (Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor cases are 1.910″ while brass formed from 22-250 cases are 1.885″ long)
  2. Head stamp is incorrect
  3. Case neck is slightly thinner (I measured my Hornady case necks .011″ thick, while the necks on the formed brass were .009″ thick)
  4. Extra time is required to size up the cases and fire form the brass

I feel that the benefits of a Lapua case far out weigh the negatives.  My fire forming with 123 SMK bullets and H4350 yielded a standard deviation of 10.4 feet/second.  This is great considering this is recorded during the fire form process.

I use Redding tapered sizing buttons available from Brownells.   They cost about $14 each and you need two, the 6mm and 6.5mm, so forming 22-250 brass into 6.5 Creedmoor will cost you a little less than $30 in tooling.