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What The Pros Use: Precision Rifle Calibers & Cartridges

Welcome to “What The Pros Use” 2024 Edition! I surveyed the top-ranked shooters in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) from this past season to learn what gear they’re running in long-range rifle matches. These guys represent the best precision rifle shooters in the country. (Learn about the Precision Rifle Series)

Over the next few months, I’ll be publishing all of the details they shared about their rifle, optics, and other gear they use to compete at the highest level. It’s been 5 years since I last surveyed the top-ranked shooters, so I’m excited to share how things have evolved and changed. There are more than a few things in the data that surprised me!

We’ll start by looking at what caliber and specific cartridges these shooters use to compete and earn their spot at the top.

Best Precision Rifle Caliber

Five years ago, the majority of shooters shot a 6mm, with a few using a 6.5mm. But I know a few of the top shooters that started using a 25 caliber last year. In fact, here is an article I wrote based on an interview with two-time PRS champion Austin Orgain, where he shared all the details of the 25×47 and 25 GT that he competed with this past season: Austin Orgain: Top Shooter Spotlight & His Experiment With 25-Calibers.

With that in mind, I was interested to see how many others had switched over to a 25 caliber. Here is a breakdown of the top 200 ranked shooters over this past season and which caliber they chose to compete with:

Best Precision Rifle Caliber

On the chart above, the various colors represent where a shooter landed in terms of season rank in the PRS. For example, black indicates shooters who finished in the top 10, the darkest blue is people who finished 11-25, and the lighter the blue, the further out they finished in overall standings. The chart legend itemizes the ranks each color represents, but basically, the darker the color, the higher the shooter’s overall ranking.

77% of the top shooters are still competing with a 6mm! That includes 7 of the top 10 shooters. So, the 6mm maintains its dominant position as the caliber of choice for the PRS.

10% are now competing with a 25 caliber, which wasn’t as many as I thought it might be. However, there were 5 using it among those who finished in the top 25, which represents 20% among that group at the pinnacle of the sport. Honestly, I don’t know if there would have been a single shooter using it if I’d done this same survey the year prior.

So why hasn’t the 25 caliber been more popular before? I remember a conversation with Bryan Litz where he told me, “Cartridge popularity always follows bullet design.” The truth is there haven’t been many great options in terms of match-quality, high-BC bullets in 25 caliber. (Note: High-BC means a bullet is very aerodynamic and able to maintain its velocity further downrange and be less affected by the wind, which is a major advantage in long-range shooting.) But, over the past year or so, you can find two great options for 25-caliber bullets:


25-Caliber-Long-Range-Bullets-Berger-135-Hybrid-vs-Hornady-134-ELDM

There were still 6% of shooters using a 6.5mm, including 2 of the top 10 shooters. So, the 6.5mm continues to be a very competitive caliber choice for PRS-style shooting.

Why would someone go with a 6.5mm over the 6mm? Well, one of the biggest reasons is the heavier 6.5mm bullets make it easier to spot your impact. In the PRS, you can’t get any help while you’re on the clock shooting a stage. A critical part of this sport is being able to spot your impact, whether it’s on target or a miss, so you can constantly correct to try to center your next shot. That is one of the biggest differences that separates these top shooters from the average competitor. They see most of their shots, and if they don’t hit the center of the plate, they are going to calculate what correction it would have taken to hit the center and then apply that knowledge to their next shot. Those heavier bullets have more energy at the target and make it easier to spot your impact. Another part is that larger cartridges typically also have slightly better ballistics and less wind drift, which can potentially convert a miss just off the edge of the target into an edge hit.

However, the downside of a heavier bullet with more energy is increased recoil – which makes it harder to stay on target and shoot precisely. If it was all about high-BC bullets with lots of energy at the target, we’d all be shooting 300 Norma Magnums or 375 CheyTacs! But notice that nobody is doing that! Everyone is searching for that “Goldilocks” balance between these competing characteristics:

  • Good ballistics/low wind drift
  • Low recoil so you can stay on target and be in a position to see where the bullet hit
  • Large bullet signature when it impacts down range (so you can correct and center the next shot)

It’s impossible to optimize for all 3 at one time, so we’re all trying to strike the “right” balance between those competing characteristics, which is very subjective. There is certainly no one-size-fits-all “right” answer, which is why this large sample size of the very best shooters in the world is so interesting.

If you’re interested in learning more about this balance and getting direct insight from one of the top 10 shooters, you should check out this article.

There were also a handful of shooters using 22 caliber, 7mm, or 30 calibers, and I’ll expand on those after I present the specific cartridges these guys were using below.

Best Precision Rifle Cartridge

Now let’s look at the specific cartridges these top-ranked PRS shooters believed gave them the best odds of competing:

Most Popular Long Range PRS Precision Rifle Cartridge

#1) 6mm Dasher @ 41%

41% of the top shooters were using a 6mm Dasher! Wow!!! There were even 5 of the top 10 shooters using a 6mm Dasher: Austin Buschman, Jeff Guerry, Ken Sanoski, Chris Kutalek, and Nick Gadarzi. The 6mm Dasher was the most popular cartridge the last time I did this survey 5 years ago – but only by a relatively narrow margin over the 6mm Creedmoor (see that data). We’ve never seen such a dominant showing in the PRS by a single cartridge!

Often, as a shooting sport matures, the community eventually settles on a small number of cartridges that have proven to be optimal for that specific game – like the 6mm PPC for Benchrest or the 300 WSM for 1,000-yard F-Class. This data clearly says the 6mm Dasher has established itself at that same level in the Precision Rifle Series. While I don’t expect the 6 Dasher to go away, it will be interesting to watch how this might still change with the recent interest in 25-caliber cartridges.

I’ve heard many people refer to the 6 Dasher as “the easy button” when it comes to load development and reloading. I’m not a guy who jumps from one cartridge to another, and I had been using the 6mm Creedmoor for several years – but I finally decided to try the 6 Dasher early last year. I can attest to it being extremely easy to find a load that has a 5 fps standard deviation (SD) in muzzle velocity or less. I worked so hard to get consistent velocities out of my 6 Creedmoor, but I did it with the Dasher with literally zero load development! I thought I’d break in the barrel with a load that I heard a top shooter say they’d used across several barrels – and I’ve never changed it. It prints bug holes and has 3-5 fps SDs – so I didn’t have to do any tinkering.

Here are the average muzzle velocities these guys reported for the 6 Dasher for the most common weight bullets out of a 26” barrel:

  • 105 gr. = 2,847 fps (based on 21 shooters)
  • 109-110 gr. = 2,825 fps (based on 18 shooters)
Popular PRS Cartridge Caliber

#2) 6mm GT @ 11%

The next most popular cartridge was the 6mm GT, representing 11% of these competitors at the very top of the game. There was only 1 shooter in the top 25 using a 6 GT, but it was Kahl Harmon, the guy who took 1st and won the golden bullet as the 2023 PRS Season Champion.

George Gardner GA Precison GAP #6

The 6mm GT cartridge was released around 2019. It was designed by Geoge Gardner of GA Precision and his friend, Tom Jacobs of Vapor Trail Bullets, with the goal of making the perfect cartridge for competitive rifle shooting. The case length and 35-degree shoulder of the 6 GT helps it feed from a standard AICS magazine without needing a spacer kit like the 6 Dasher or other 6 BR cases. The 6 GT case has a small primer pocket, which many believe creates a stronger case head, extending the life of your brass. Some also think a small rifle primer produces more consistent velocities, too.

6 GT Gay Tiger

The original claims were that the 6 GT could easily push a 105-115 gr. 6mm bullet at 3,000 fps with a modest 34-35 gr. of Varget powder. I asked these top competitors what bullets they were using and how fast they were running, and here are the average muzzle velocities they reported for the 6 GT for the most common weight bullets out of a 26” barrel:

  • 105 gr. = 2,897 fps (based on 5 shooters with 26″ barrels)
  • 109-110 gr. = 2,869 fps (based on 9 shooters with 26″ barrels)

So this group is running the 6 GT around 50 fps faster than the typical 6 Dasher load with the same bullet, but they are far short of the 3,000 fps claims when the 6 GT was initially introduced.

Tie for #3) 6mm BR @ 8% & 6mm BRA @ 8%

The next two cartridges were the 6mm BRA and the 6mm BR, which are extremely similar and were each represented by 8% of these top shooters. None of the guys in the top 10 were using those cartridges, but there were 3 using the 6 BRA and 1 using the 6 BR among the top 25. Those, along with the 6mm Dasher, 6mm BRX, and 22 Dasher, are all variants of the 6 BR case. You can see a nice side-by-side photo of the 6mm BRA and 6mm Dasher below.

6mm BR vs 6mm BRA vs 6mm Dasher

Below is a look at the most popular variants these shooters were using that were based on the 6mm BR. Each has small tweaks that add a little case capacity to the 6mm Norma BR case. However, if you held these cases in your hand, it might be hard to tell them apart without close inspection.

6 BR vs 6 Dasher

#5) 6mm Creedmoor

The next most popular cartridge is the 6mm Creedmoor, with 7% of these top shooters opting for it, including 1 of the top 10 shooters (Kyle McCormack). The 6 CM has 25% more case capacity than the 6mm Dasher (41.6 gr. of H2O for the Dasher vs 51.9 for the 6CM). Those shooters running a 109 or 110-grain bullet from a 26” barrel averaged a muzzle velocity of 2825 fps with a 6 Dasher and 2966 fps with the 6 CM. That means the 6mm Creedmoor is 141 fps faster than the 6mm Dasher! That is a 5% increase in velocity, but it takes around 29% more powder weight to get there. So you get less wind drift and more energy on target, but at the cost of barrel wear and slightly more recoil. That’s why some opt for the Creedmoor, but many opt for the Dasher. While everyone has an opinion on which is better, they are clearly both competitive at the very highest levels (the top 10 in the PRS).

#6) 25×47 Lapua

Making its first debut on this list is the 25×47 Lapua, with 5% of the top 200 shooters using it – including Austin Orgain in the top 10 and 2 additional shooters in the top 25!

6 Dasher vs 25x47 vs 6.5 Creedmoor

“When I tried out the new Hornady bullets in my 25×47, I was like, ‘Man, that thing actually shoots really good!’ I had tried the 6.5 Creedmoor a little bit last year and didn’t really like the recoil, but I did like how the bigger signature from the heavier bullets. So I thought this 25-caliber might be a nice balance between that recoil and the heavy bullet – and it really is. It’s quite a bit less recoil than that 6.5 Creedmoor, and obviously, it’s more recoil than a Dasher – but it’s a good balance between the recoil and the energy of the bullet downrange and on the plate. I don’t know that it really gives you a huge advantage over anything else, other than carrying a little bit more energy – but it has shot well for me.” – Austin Orgain

Austin won 3 major PRS matches in 2023 using the 25-caliber, which is what caught the attention of other top shooters. The first major, two-day PRS match Austin used the 25×47 in was Clay’s Cartridge Company Classic in March, which is known to be one of the most challenging PRS matches – and Austin won it with a 7-point lead over 2nd place and a 15-point lead over 3rd place! Then, a couple of weeks later, he took it to the Box Canyon Showdown in Kansas, where he finished 1 point behind Morgun King, but those two were 10 points ahead of 3rd place! “After that sequence of events, the 25-caliber really started catching some traction, and it seemed like a lot of people started ordering 25-caliber components,” Austin said.

To learn more about what Austin thinks about the 25×47 and 25 GT, check out this article: Austin Orgain’s Experiment with the 25-Caliber.

#7) 6.5 Creedmoor

The good old 6.5 Creedmoor still represents 4% of these top-tier shooters, including the guys who took 2nd and 3rd: Andy Slade and Morgun King. Andy also used his 6.5 Creedmoor to win the AG Cup at the end of 2023 (read more about that). That means 20% of those in the top 10 were using a 6.5 Creedmoor, and there were another 2 in the top 25 using it. With 4 shooters represented among the top 25, the 6.5 Creedmoor had more shooters than any other cartridge other than the 6 Dasher at 10!

Clearly, the 6.5 Creedmoor remains one of the most capable precision rifle cartridges on the market. I have lots of friends who ask me for advice when they buy a rifle, and I continue to recommend the 6.5 Creedmoor more than anything else. While there seem to be haters out there for anything popular or mainstream – there is a good reason the 6.5 Creedmoor has become as popular as it has. That’s why there are now more SKUs on the shelves of most sporting goods stores for 6.5 Creedmoor than any other cartridge – even the 308! If you are trying to optimize a rifle for PRS-style competitions and plan to reload all of your ammo, then maybe you should consider the 6 Dasher or other cartridges on this list … but that doesn’t mean the 6.5 Creedmoor can’t still be competitive. I’d bet Andy Slade and Morgun King might argue it’s still the optimal choice for these matches, and I’m not sure how you could argue with them, considering their results!

#8) 308 Win

I bet many of you are probably shocked to see the 308 Win had 7 shooters represented among this group. If you aren’t shocked, you are likely new to this sport. I’m reporting on the top-ranked shooters in the PRS Open Division, but there is also a Tactical Division that limits shooters to either the 308 Win or the 223 Rem. A few of the shooters competing in the Tactical Division with a 308 or 223 did well enough in matches that their overall points put them in the top 200 of the Open Division.

Robert Brantley PRS Tactical Shooter 308 Win

For example, Scott Peterson took 1st in the Tactical Division using a 308 Win and was ranked 74th in the Open Division. Robert Brantley took 2nd in the Tactical Division with a 308 and was ranked 79th in the Open Division. Honestly, the fact that those guys were ranked so high in the Open Division while using a 308 Win is a true testament to their shooting skills. I believe if those two guys reshot the matches using a 6mm Dasher or any of the other popular cartridges, they’d have very likely placed in the top 25 in the Open Division season standings. They’re both outstanding shooters who specifically chose to compete in the PRS Tactical Division, which is why they’re using a 308 – not because they believe the 308 is competitive against these other cartridges.

I actually ran the ballistics to see the difference between the 308 ammo these guys are running compared to the most common 6 Dasher ammo others were using – and there wasn’t as big of a gap as I expected. Three of these guys were running a 308 Win with a Hornady 176 gr. A-Tip very close to 2,720 fps, and I compared that to a common 6 Dasher load of a Berger 109 gr. LRHT at an average of 2,822 fps. The 10 mph wind drift at 1,000 yards was 2.4 mils for the 308 and 2.3 mils for the 6 Dasher! I originally thought you’d have less margin for error on your wind call using a 308, but it doesn’t appear to be significant with that 176 gr A-Tip bullet at the velocities they’re running it at.

308 vs 6 Dasher Ballistics Comparison

However, the 308 has considerably more recoil with 50% more energy at the muzzle with that load compared to the Dasher load – so what these 308 shooters did to land in the top 200 of the Open Division is still very impressive! The elevation adjustment for the 308 is 12% more at 1,000 yards, but that isn’t as big of a factor for these competitors. Whether you have to dial 7.7 or 8.7 mils for elevation doesn’t matter much; as long as your ammo velocity is very consistent, you should hit the plate. It’s really the difference in wind drift that is the most significant factor because that basically tells you how much margin for error it leaves the shooter for their wind call – and it looks like the 308 with that 176 gr. Hornady A-Tip bullet at the velocities these top shooters are running is surprisingly similar to a 6 Dasher. The biggest difference between the two is recoil, with the 308 having significantly more than the 6 Dasher – which is why nobody in the top 50 of the Open Division chooses to run a 308.

#9) 25 Creedmoor

We’ve got one more somewhat popular 25-caliber cartridge on our list, with the 25 Creedmoor represented by 6 of these top 200 shooters, including 2 within the top 25.

25 Creedmoor brass

One great thing the 25 Creedmoor has going for it is you can buy match-grade 25 Creedmoor brass from Alpha Munitions that is ready to load. I know at least 2 PRS Season Champions (Austin Orgain and Austin Buschman) who have told me they have the utmost confidence in Alpha brass. They both load virgin brass and would take it to any match. So, you wouldn’t have to wildcat or fire-form your brass if you were using a 25 Creedmoor, but you would have to do that with the 25×47 – at least until Alpha introduces that as an option. (Maybe after they read this article! 😉)

The Rest of The Top Precision Rifle Cartridges

Beyond those 9 cartridges above, there were a handful of other cartridges that were only represented by 1 or 2 shooters among the top 200:

  • 22 GT
  • 22 Dasher
  • 223 Rem (Tactical Division)
  • 25 BR
  • 25 GT (Alpha Munitions told me they plan to release 25 GT brass next week!)
  • 6mm ARC
  • 6×47 Lapua
  • 6mm BRX
  • 6.5×47 Lapua
  • 7mm SAW

None of the cartridges above were represented among shooters in the top 25. Now, that doesn’t mean that if one of the top 25 guys were shooting one, they would have placed lower. These are necessarily inherently less capable than the more popular choices. It’s simply an observation I thought was worth mentioning. None of these represent the “proven path” to success – yet. 😉

Muzzle Velocity SD By Cartridge

Finally, I thought it’d be interesting to look at the average standard deviation (SD) in muzzle velocity that these top-ranked shooters reported for each cartridge. (Learn more about SD & velocity.) That was an optional question on my survey, and I asked that if they didn’t know their exact SD over a 10-shot string, they leave that answer blank. The data below shows the average SD reported for each of the cartridges that had 5 or more shooters who filled in their SD among the entire top 200 shooters in the PRS. I sorted the list with the lowest reported average SD on top, and you can see the sample size that averages were taken from in the 2nd column.

Velocity SD by Cartridge for Long Range Rifle Shooting

That is pretty interesting data. I have personally loaded and shot thousands of rounds of 6mm Dasher and 6mm Creedmoor, and I’d say those average SDs very closely match my experience with those cartridges. I’d say that any of the numbers that are based on 13 shooters or more are likely pretty indicative of what you could expect, if you used similar components to what these guys are running. However, those cartridges based on a sample size of 9 or less might should be taken with a grain of salt.

Coming Up!

If you enjoyed this content, there is more to come! Over the next few months, I’ll be publishing a ton of data on what the top precision rifle shooters are using.

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About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. Cal has an engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and the ability to present technical information in an unbiased and straight-forward fashion. For more info, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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21 comments

  1. Thanks for the update, Cal. Top notch work, as always.

    • Thanks, Curt! I’m excited to start publishing this data. Lots of interesting trends!

    • 6.5, then 6, and now .25. It’ll be interesting to see where we go from here. We “bracketed” the .25 and there’s no other in-between to try next. 5.56 is too small and we’ve already explored bigger. Maybe .25 will stay on top for decades like .30 did originally?

      • Yes, sir. I think we just skipped over the 25-caliber until recently because there wasn’t great bullet selection. Obviously the group seems torn between the 6mm and 6.5mm, so the 25-caliber seems to naturally have merit … all things being equal. I’m not sure if we’ll see 25-caliber overtake the 6mm, but I do expect to see the 25-caliber market share among the top PRS shooters increase in 2024. That’s at least my hunch, but we’ll have to wait and see!

        Thanks,
        Cal

  2. Great informative article Cal! I have been toying with the idea of adding a 25 caliber, but I think I’ll wait a year or two to see how it pans out for folks and if we are still limited to a couple bullet options… I’ve been running a 6mm-GT since late 2019 and been very happy with that decision. That said, I did purchase a 6.5 Bartlien with plans to have it chambered into a 47L for use at matches that may favor it.

    • Thanks, Jon. I’d predict that you’ll see more 25-caliber bullets in the near future. I am just guessing at this, but I’d bet you see 25-caliber Hornady A-Tips in less than 12 months, and those seem to be a popular choice among this crowd. But, I think any of those cartridges you mentioned are competitive. The 6 GT or 6.5×47 Lapua are both very capable.

      It does seem like a lot of guys go back and forth on 6mm vs 6.5mm … so I’d imagine the 25-caliber will catch on. I’ll throw a bold prediction out there and say that I bet the 25-caliber grows from 10% to 25% among these top-ranked PRS shooters by the end of this year. I think the 6 Dasher will continue to stay the dominant cartridge for the next couple of years at least, but it won’t be as extreme as it was this year in terms of 6mm vs 25-caliber.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  3. Cal, awesome as always! I’m glad that I am not as much of a dinosaur as I thought still shooting 6.5 Creed. Thank you sir.

    • Ha! You’re right, Mike. The 6.5 Creedmoor still is able to compete at the highest levels. I still find myself recommending the 6.5 Creedmoor to more friends than anything else. It’s capable of competing at the highest level of the PRS and I’ve witnessed it drop a big bull elk in his tracks with one well-placed shot. What more do you want?! Earlier this week a co-worker made a comment to me about the 6.5 Creedmoor popularity being a results of good marketing, and I couldn’t let it slide. It’s not popular because of good marketing (although Hornady is good at marketing) – it’s popular because it’s one of the most capable and well-rounded cartridges that has been released in the past 20 years. If I could only own one rifle, it’d be chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. Luckily, I can own more than one! 😉

      Thanks,
      Cal

  4. Mare LambrechtsL

    Hi Cal,

    Thank you very much for this article, it is always a great read, when I see the alerts in my inbox, it gets opened asap….

    What is interesting to note is the lack of the 6XC and the demise of the 6,5×47, both very competitive cartridges.

    From an overseas perspective, there are three companies that produce factory PRS-ready 6mm Creedmoors (1:8 twist) and in different configurations. You will also note that they are getting chambered in hunting rifles as well.

    FYI, I did a reloading component comparison last week, 1000 rounds of 6,5 x 47L (123gr or 139gr Lapua) will cost me ChF($) 2700 and the other collective of brass, primers, bullets and powder for exactly the same components will cost ChF 2550. No point in reloading really… which brings me to the point that many might prefer the 6mm Creedmoor above the other big-sixes, it is not a hassle anymore.

    Sincerely

    • Hey, Mare. Glad you enjoyed the article! I agree that it was interesting to see the 6XC and 6.5×47 Lapua missing from the list. I personally used a 6XC my first few years competing. It’s very capable, and I know there are a ton of people who believe in the 6.5×47. There is something special about that cartridge. But, for whatever reason, this crowd isn’t gravitating towards either of those at this point.

      I like your point on the cost to reload vs buying match-grade factory ammo. I 100% agree. There was a time when you had to handload to get the quality of ammo that you needed to compete in these kinds of matches – but match-grade factory ammo has come such a long way since that. I’d bet match-grade ammo is higher quality than the reloads that 90% of reloaders turn out. These top 200 shooters are in that 10% that have invested serious money in equipment and are meticulous about their process, but I know for a long time I couldn’t load ammo that had SDs under 12 fps. I was trying hard, but didn’t have the equipment or expertise to do it. A huge part of that was I was reloading brass that didn’t have a Lapua or Alpha headstamp on it! Today, I really won’t use a cartridge if I can’t get brass from one of those two, because I have seen how much the quality of your ammo is determined by the quality of your brass. But, if guys are reloading to save money … good luck! If you value your time at all, there won’t be a savings.

      I wrote what I believe was a very objective cost comparison between the cost of reloading vs. buying match-grade factory ammo, and I bet you’d get a kick out of checking it out: The Cost of Reloading vs. Match Ammo.

      My article is a few years old now, so it’s interesting that you found similar results recently. Thanks for sharing!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  5. Mare Lambrechts

    Just reread that article“ you should have placed a bet and how i long for those costs!

    I do wonder about something else though, why wouldn’t shooters with especially with the big sixes and maybe the 6GT rather opt to use the heavier 115gr bullets? I did a quick comparison on Bison ballistics and Berger and doctored the velocity for the 115gr bullet until the wind drift sort of match. (the results are remarkably similar)

    6mm , 105gr VLD @ 2950 ft/s, 39 gr powder and a rifle weighing 20lbs, Recoil – 4,1ft/lbs (PRB V-data)

    6mm , 115gr VLD @ 2780 ft/s, 39 gr powder and a rifle weighing 20lbs, Recoil – 4,1ft/lbs (V-doctored data)

    6,5CM, 154gr VLD @ 2700 ft/s, 39 gr powder and a rifle weighing 20lbs, Recoil – 5,7 ft/lbs (Berger loads)

    Range Velocity (fps) Energy (ft-lbs) Elevation(mils) Windage (mils) TOF (s)
    115 VLD 1000 1406 505 -8.96 2.16 1.51
    105gr VLD 1000 1420 470 -8.24 2.2 1.46

    153gr 1000 1570 843 -8.53 1.71 1.45

    Even at that low velocity, for the 6mm’s, the recoil is the same (similar) and you still have more energy on target. The 6,5CM with the heavy bullets is actually one hell of a performer! If you have to benchmark against the 105gr @ 2950, it actually outperforms it. No wonder some stuck with it, sacrifice on recoil and follow-ups but gain on trace, impact and wind drift.

    Any thoughts on this…

    https://bisonballistics.com/calculators/recoil
    https://www.bergerbullets.com/ballistics/php/bb.php

    • I’d bet they don’t use the 115 gr bullet because it’s not as consistent as the Berger 105 Hybrid, Berger 109 LRHT, or Hornady 110 A-Tip. Over the past several years we’ve learned a lot with Doppler radars, and we’ve learned that the BC from bullet-to-bullet can vary more among some brands and bullet designs than others. The Science of Accuracy Academy by Applied Ballistics features a Bullet Guide for their members that includes some great data on that. They didn’t publish anything on the 115 gr bullet in particular, but they did have one bullet made by Sierra (the 107 SMK) and it had below average consistency for their BC. When you’re shooting long-range, have a bullet with consistent drag shot-to-shot really matters … especially when you are doing precision shooting at long-range. So I think that’s why you don’t see more guys using the 115, even though it’s BC is high. If it was all about BC, there wouldn’t be a ton of guys using the Berger 105 Hybrid bullet … but it has one of the most consistent BC’s bullet-to-bullet, which is why so many guys are running it. I’ve heard Chad Heckler talk about that several times on his Miles to Matches podcast. Consistency is the name of the game in the PRS, and that is especially true for bullets. Having a really high BC is not as important as consistency.

      I do agree the 6.5 Creedmoor with heavy bullets has some impressive ballistics. That’s why there are a few guys running it. But, one of the other keys to the game is being able to spot your own impact, because nobody can be coached on the clock. So you have to see your bullets and make corrections, and increased recoil makes that more difficult. So we’re all trying to strike “the right balance” and some think the 6.5 Creedmoor is worth it … and others don’t. This is all pretty subjective stuff, but that’s part of what makes it so interesting to see what other people are using. If it was all just math on paper, this wouldn’t be as fun to read about! 😉

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Mare Lambrechts

        Cal,

        I have not considered the BC variations on the bullets, that make so much sense. In terms of a paper exercise choosing the best bullet and caliber, that was fun though..

        Keep well and thanks for the articles.

  6. What ever happened to the 6XC? Why nobody seems to be using it anymore?

    • Hey, Alfonso. I personally started off shooting 6XC when I first got into PRS-style matches. I was a big fan. At the time, Norma brass was the only option – and honestly they aren’t in the same league as Lapua or Alpha. Those two stand alone when it comes to top-shelf brass. But Alpha did sell brass for the 6XC II at some point, but it looks like they discontinued it. So I guess my hunch would be the lack of quality brass. I just looked and 92% of these guys use either Alpha or Lapua brass. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way over the years. If you want your ammo to have super-consistent muzzle velocity, with SD’s in the single digits – doing it with anything but Lapua or Alpha brass is either a whole lot of extra work, or even impossible with some brands of brass.

      So I’d say that’s the biggest thing limiting it’s popularity. I don’t think it’s anything inherent about the chamber design or case capacity not being ideal for this sport. It is basically between the 6 GT and 6 Creedmoor. But, there simply aren’t great brass choices for it.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  7. George Katsampes

    Hey, Cal… outstanding article!!…and thank you for doing it. You probably don’t remember me; you were responsible for helping me get into long range precision shooting back around 2008. I was shooting .308 WIN at the time and you introduced me to the amazing 6.5×284 NORMA. A lot has changed over they years to where just recently I purchased a Barrett MRAD-SMR chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. So needless to say, seeing the Creed a top choice among the pros was rather exciting, enlightening and encouraging at the same time. I haven’t shot the SMR yet; being in California I have to wait 10 days… 4 to go. But boy am I looking forward to it. Anyway, hope all is well with you and yours. Take care, my friend… and I cannot thank you enough for all you do. Best, George

    • Hey, George! 2008 was a long time ago! That sounds like an awesome rifle. I know some professional shooters who can’t say enough great things about the Barrett MRAD. I bet you love it. The 6.5 Creedmoor is such a capable round. I still find myself recommending it to more friends than anything else. If I could own just one rifle, it’d absolutely be chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. Hope you love it!

      Thanks for the kind words,
      Cal

  8. Were those guys running 26” barrels in Tac division? I only ask because my 20” 308 is shooting the 185 berger gold medal match at 2620. I’d think that 176 being 10 gr lighter would be easily running 2800 from a 26”. If it wasn’t for the goofy rules of Tac division I wonder what would really be the top bullet

    • Yes. It looks like almost all of them were running 26″ barrels. 5 of 7 were 26″ and 1 was 24″ and 1 was 27″. And you make a good point. I honestly, forgot that they limited the bullet choices for the tactical division. But, for anyone interested, here is an excerpt from the official rules for the Tactical Division:

      2.2.1 Tactical Division rifles are restricted to .308 Winchester and 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington calibers only.
      2.2.2 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington has a bullet weight cap of 77 grains and muzzle velocity cannot exceed 3,000 fps (+/- 30 fps for environmental factors and equipment discrepancies).
      2.2.3 7.62 NATO/.308 Winchester has a bullet weight cap of 178 grains and muzzle velocity cannot exceed 2,800 fps (+/- 28 fps for environmental factors and equipment discrepancies).
      2.2.4 No modified wildcat rounds such as the .223 Ackley Improved are permitted to shoot in the Tactical Division. Anyone discovered violating this rule will receive an automatic Match DQ.
      2.2.5 Tactical Division shooters will shoot the exact same COF as Open Division.

      I agree that seems goofy. I get limiting the chambering, but I’m not sure I understand why they need to restrict the bullet and velocity. But, I don’t compete in that space. I prefer the Open Division, personally. It would be interesting to see what would be on top without that rule, but I guess if you’re competing in the Tactical Division you have to live with it.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  9. What powder were the 308 guys using for their loads?