The Ruger Hawkeye in 6.5 Creedmoor
I recently wrote an article on the 6.5 caliber cartridges. In it I mentioned the 6.5 Creedmoor. I have since had an opportunity to use it more and I think it’s time to cover it more completely.
As I said previously, it was originally designed as a target cartridge. However, many of the folks who shoot targets also hunt, and many hunters are wise in the ways of ballistics. Consequently, the 6.5 Creedmoor is fast becoming a well-used and loved hunting cartridge.
My 6.5 is a stainless-steel Ruger M77 Hawkeye, with a 24-inch barrel and a laminated stock. It has had no accuracy work done on it, because it doesn’t need any. Tacked to the wall of my shop is a target with three different 3-shot groups. They measure .820 inches, .960 inches, and .700 inches. The two larger groups were shot with 120-grain Barnes TSX bullets, and the smallest was shot with 130-grain Nosler AccuBonds.
All were fired using IMR 4350 powder in Hornady cases with CCI 200 primers. Because I bought the gun to hunt with, this level of accuracy is more than sufficient. Since then I have shot a lot more groups with the little gun and it will average about 3/4 of an inch for three shots. It loves the 130-grain AccuBond, likes the 120-grain TSX, but for some odd reason does not seem to like the Hornady GMX bullets that were, I suppose, designed for the cartridge. Go figure.
I recently took the 6.5 to a Hill Country ranch that is being overrun with wild hogs and aoudads. The rancher is a close friend and invited me and another friend to shoot some of the too plentiful aoudads and hogs and take an axis deer for meat, if we saw one. I was anxious to try the little 6.5 on game before I made any claims as to its ability in the field.
The first afternoon in the blind a herd of about 15 aoudads showed up. I picked out a medium sized ram and shot it on the point of the shoulder as it faced me. I wanted to recover the 120-grain TSX bullet, to see how it performed on meat and thought that angle should give enough animal to stop the bullet. At the shot the aoudad just folded up and hit the ground with a thud. Strangely, the rest of the herd just ran a few yards and stopped to stare at the one lying on the ground. It almost seemed like one of the “stands” I have read about in the old buffalo hunters’ journals.
Since I had not asked the rancher what to do if I had a chance to shoot more than one aoudad, I pulled out my cell phone and texted him.
“I shot one small ram and the herd is still here. What do you want me to do?
“ Shoot a female,” he replied.
I looked the herd over with my binocular and noticed one small female that had a badly crippled hind leg. I put the crosshairs on her ribs and carefully squeezed the trigger. She ran about 20 yards and crumpled in a pile of prickly pears.
The first shot had been at about a hundred yards, the second at about 75.
When it was time to leave the blind, I went over to the aoudad to check on bullet performance. Both were complete penetration shots. The ram was hit on the point of the left shoulder, and the bullet exited toward the rear of his ribs on the right side. The female was hit center chest on the left side; the bullet exited about the same place on the right side. Obviously, I had no TSX bullets to examine, but performance was plain to see in the dead animals sprawled on the ground. Equally obviously, the 6.5 Creedmoor is plenty of cartridge for aoudad.
The 6.5 Creedmoor was designed by shooters, for shooters. It has all the attributes that a shooter and reloader wants in a cartridge. The bullets can be seated out to whatever length the shooter wants and still fit in the magazine. This is because the 6.5 Creedmoor was designed from the git-go as a short-action cartridge. The case necks are, also, sufficiently long to hold the bullet friction tight. With the bullet seated far out to be the correct distance from the lands and grooves, the total powder capacity of the case is available to the handloader because the bullet does not intrude into the powder chamber, something you will not find in most commercially available cartridges. Last, but not least, the recoil is amazingly mild.
For a pleasant change, I find the 6.5 Creedmoor to be all it is cracked up to be. I recommend it without reservations. It may be one of the best rounds ever offered for ladies, kids, and other recoil-conscious hunters.
Email Steve LaMascus at
Email Steve LaMascus at ContactUs@fishgame.com