The Last Cartridge Standing
The Last Cartridge Standing

The Last Cartridge Standing

It all started in 2007, but no one really cared. When ballistic engineers at Hornady modified the 30 TC cartridge case – or maybe the 250 Ackley Improved, we’re still not really sure – to accept a 6.5 bullet, most of the world just yawned. When shooters saw it was a few fps short of what the 260 Remington was capable of, they were simply too thoughtless to look further down range, or get into the twistiness of everything.

Hornady was desperate to make their new 6.5 Creedmoor a success, and during the next few years they spent lots of money on marketing. All the gun writers wrote about how wonderful it was, and guess what? Nobody cared. Most figured it was a fad, and three years in, with only a few factory loads offered, it looked to be as doomed as its ancestor.

Then, thanks to Hollywood, something magical happened. Right smack in the middle of the Obama presidency, at a time when America needed a hero more than any other, the movie American Sniper was released. It became the highest grossing war film of all time. Snowflakes hated it, patriots loved it, and if some numbers geek somewhere had access to all the data, he would tell us that the sale of precision rifles spiked the day after it was released.

All of a sudden, everyone wanted to be sniper. Well, actually that’s not true; no one wanted to be a sniper and do sniper shit, they just wanted to own and shoot a sniper rifle. That’s when shooters started to seriously look at ballistics. 300 Winchester and 338 Lapua Magnums became popular for a bit, but it did not take soft shouldered shooters long to realize both had a thing called recoil and the ammo for these cannons was expensive.

Then the stars aligned again. Some unknown shooter, on some unknown range, in some unknown location, had spent all morning trying to hit a steel target at 1000 yards with his 308 Winchester. He was just about to give up and go home when he noticed the guy in the last bay at the end of the line was hitting the 1000-yard target repetitively. Intrigued, he asked about the cartridge; it was a 6.5 Creedmoor. That night that guy posted what he’d seen on some Internet forum, it went viral, and the crescendo began.

All of a sudden, folks began believing what all the gun writers had written less than a decade prior. All of a sudden new 6.5mm bullets so skinny and sleek, they’d pass through the air as easy as a fart escapes the sphincter, were everywhere. All of a sudden shooters were hitting at distance better, because their rifles were not knocking the slobbers out of them. And, all of a sudden, the 6.5 Creedmoor was the most popular rifle cartridge in the world.

The 6.5 Creedmoor can get the job done for hunters, even at distances approaching 600 yards, like with this blesbok.

But, there was a devoted group of shooters afflicted with neophobia who banded together and swore the Creedmoor was the work of Satan. They viciously attacked Creedmoor shooters in chat rooms and on social media. While demanding exorcisms and trying to prove their point, they loaded their 260 Remington’s so hot primers flattened out like dimes on a railroad track. It was all to no avail. The shooting consumer had spoken and competitors and hunters were making the switch to the cartridge that offered the best balance between external ballistics and recoil yet offered.

As hunters began to get behind the Creed, naysayers began bashing them for not using enough gun, claiming the 6.5 nothing more than a “deer cartridge.” Then, some savvy shooter pointed out that Scandinavians had been killing moose with the 6.5×55 with no problem at all for more than 100 years. Since the 6.5 Creedmoor essentially duplicates the terminal ballistics of the Swede, the cynics had to begrudgingly accept that it was indeed, the one-cartridge answer to almost everything.

Moose? Not a problem with a 6.5 Creedmoor. This bull was taken at a bit more than 300 yards with a 140-grain Nosler AccuBond and a less than stellar shot.

Sales of the 260 Remington, 308 and 270 Winchester, even the mythical and beloved 280 Ackley Improved, and, well, just about everything else, began to wane. Most astoundingly, the customary practice of every new rifle introduced being chambered for the 30-06 no longer applied. There was a new world order and the 6.5 Creedmoor became the chosen one. Those who could not afford a new rifle and those who still refused to accept ballistic science formed a rebellion, and clung to their less ballistically efficient cartridges, just like progressives who are unwilling to accept that chromosomes – science – are what determine gender.


Bullets matter – a lot! With long slender bullets and the fast twist barrels on 6.5 Creedmoor factory rifles, it will outperform many cartridges a lot of shooters have love affairs with.

But it was too late and facts, being what they are, are irrefutable. It took a decade but the unlikely short-action cartridge, with bullets too small for hunting and a powder capacity too small for long-range performance, had established itself as the standard by which all other cartridges would now be judged. The 30-06 is dead, the 308 Winchester is old news, and the 300 Winchester Magnum is nothing but a lot of recoil and noise. In the world of metallic rifle cartridges, nothing but the 6.5 Creedmoor seems to matters any more.

There will always be folks who refuse to get with the times. Some still refuse to use e-mail. Others shiver at the thought of a smartphone. And, for many, the idea of “steaming” a movie is as complicated and dirty as sewage science. My grandfather – a simple but smart man – described the intricacies of plumbing to me some 40 years ago. While I was standing in a mud hole holding a shovel in one hand and a pipe wrench in the other, he said, “All you need to know is, hot on the left, cold on the right, and shit won’t run uphill.”

Slender, sexy, short, and compact, the 6.5 Creedmoor will do 90% of what any shooter needs done, and 90% more than what most shooters are capable of.

Rifle ballistics are just as simple; all you need is a cartridge that shoots flat, hits hard, and won’t jar your boogers lose. That perfectly describes the 6.5 Creedmoor. Like Arthur of Camelot, the 6.5 Creedmoor has pulled the sword from the stone. Regardless of how bad that hurts your feelings, or undermines your love for some other cartridge, the Creed just might be, the last cartridge standing.