4 Best Deer Cartridges: No. 2, the Open-Country Cartridge
Richard Mann 11.13.17
Yes, there are places where thick timber borders open country, places where you might shoot your buck at 50 yards or 500. That’s not the kind of place we are concerned with here. In parts of Texas, you’ll sit a tripod stand looking down a sendero 200 or 300 yards long. In Wyoming, you might hunker down near an alfalfa field just as far across.
This type of deer hunting calls for a specialized rifle chambered for a cartridge that minimizes the guesswork of shooting at distance and in wind. For this type hunting, many needlessly turn to hard-kicking barrel burners, but they’re not necessary.
Consider the 6.5 Creedmoor
When most hunters think of going long for deer, they think of a magnum cartridge. Magnums launch bullets at higher velocities, and this helps the bullet fly flatter and hit harder at distance. The big thing is, a large part of high velocity and hitting harder at distance, is determined by the bullet, not the cartridge. For a bullet to fly flat and hit hard, it must retain its velocity, and to do that it needs a high ballistic coefficient (BC). Few bullets have higher BCs than those in 6.5 caliber.
This is the main reason the 6.5 Creedmoor has become so popular. It will shoot with the magnum cartridges, primarily because the bullets are so aerodynamic. A high BC bullet from a 6.5 Creedmoor may start out slower than some, but at distance it holds its own. The 6.5 Creedmoor does this without a lot of recoil, and any real rifleman knows that the less a rifle recoils, the better you can shoot it.
Ballistically speaking, the 6.5 Creedmoor isn’t any better than the older 260 Remington or even the ancient 6.5×55 Swede. However, because of the shorter case, the Creedmoor allows longer, more aerodynamic, flatter-shooting bullets to be used. And too, since the cartridge has become so popular, there is a wide array of ammunition to choose from that is suitable for shooting deer at distance.
The 6.5 Creedmoor has a lot to offer even though its packaging is small. For that reason, it has become the hottest cartridge on the market, and more new rifles are chambered for it every year than any other.
If you’re looking for a good hunting bullet, check out the Precision Hunter load from Hornady that uses its ELD-X bullet, or the Trophy Grade load from Nosler topped off with a 129-grain AccuBond. And, if you just have to have more velocity, you might consider the new Hornady 6.5 PRC cartridge.