6.5 Creedmoor loads: 123 SMK and 130 TMK with VARGET
I’m a big fan of 6.5mm. There are some great bullets out there, some heavy and some light. Amongst my favorites in the middle of the weight spectrum are the 123 gr. Sierra MatchKing (SMK) #1727 and the 130 gr. Tipped MatchKing (TMK) #7430.
You may recognize the test rifle from a couple of other posts, in particular A look at how rifle barrels speed up: Measuring the increase of muzzle velocity in new barrels. I built it with parts from Brownells, including:
- Remington 700 short action receiver with “upgraded” one piece bolt
- Proof Research 6.5 mm 1:8″ twist Sendero contour stainless steel barrel
- Accuracy International AICS AX chassis
- Timney Calvin Elite 2-Stage trigger
- Badger Ordnance Maximized scope base
- Spuhr ISMS scope mount
- SCHMIDT & BENDER – PMII/LP/MTC/LT 5-25X56MM SCOPE LOCKING TURRET FFP ILLUM. MSR
I really like the way the rifle turned out. All the parts, the barrel, chassis, scope and trigger work well for a really nice shooting rifle.
Before we get to the good stuff, please take time to read the following disclaimer about reloading:
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.
I selected Hodgdon Varget powder for both the 123 and 130 SMK. Varget is a great powder, in many ways it is the 308 Winchester of the powder world. It works great in the 223 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 Winchester.
I’m using Norma brass. This is a solid step up from the factory Hornady brass with far better consistency and quality control. I used a Redding Competition bushing neck sizing die with a titanium nitride coated bushing. This type of die doesn’t use a case mouth expander and provides for less run out. Powder charges were measured with a Harrell’s Culver Measure and bullets are seated with a Redding Competition match seating die in a Forster press.
All shooting was conducted prone from a bipod with a rear bag. A MagnetoSpeed V3 barrel mounted ballistic chronograph was used to measure muzzle velocity.
123 SMK Loads
The 123 gr. SMK offers an advertised banded G1 ballistic coefficient of .510 at velocities of 1,635 fps and above, .477 between 1,635 and 1,400 fps, .450 between 1,400 and 1,250 fps and .420 @ 1,250 fps and below.
For the 123 gr. SMK muzzle velocities ranged from 2.868 to 2,964 feet/second with standard deviations ranging from 12.2 to 16.2 feet/second. Five shot group sizes ranged from .413″ (.394 MOA) to .991″ (.947 MOA) with an average group size of .600″ (.573 MOA). The most precise load was achieved with 39.2 grains of Varget.
The 130 gr. TMK offers an advertised banded G1 ballistic coefficient of 518 @ 2200 fps and above, .535 between 1625 fps and 2200 fps, and.495 @ 1625 fps and below.
The 130 TMK and Varget load velocities ranged from 2,700 to 2,772 feet/second with standard deviations ranging from 2.8 to 16.6 feet/second. Five shot groups sizes ranged from .602″ (.575 MOA) to 1.182″ (1.129 MOA) with an average size of .889″ (.849 MOA). The most precise 130 TMK load was achieved with 39.2 grains of Varget.
Both the 123 SMK and 130 TMK shot fairly well in this gun. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the heavier 140 and 142 SMKs matched with H4350 did better, you can read about that here 6.5 Creedmoor loads: 142 gr. and 140 gr. SMK with H4350.
Up next, the 107 SMK with IMR 8208 XBR and the 142 SMK with Superformance.