The 6.5 PRC is quickly gaining in popularity.
When it comes to long range hunting cartridges, you cannot have a conversation about them these days without the 6.5 Creedmoor being mentioned. Some hunters love it, others hate it. There are few cartridges out there that have so divided shooters on handling and performance.
Around the Creedmoor, literally dozens of similar hunting cartridge permutations have popped up in recent years. Each new one claims to have re-invented the wheel that is the big game hunting rifle round.
One of those rounds is the 6.5 PRC, which stands for precision rifle cartridge. Don't let the name scare you off. This round may have been designed with long-range shooting competitions in mind, but it's starting to become a go-to hunting round as more and more people discover the benefits of this short action cartridge. This is everything to know about the 6.5 PRC and some of the many rifle options on the market today.
6.5 PRC Hunting Ammunition
The 6.5 PRC was the brainchild of George Gardner of GA Precision. While he had the idea around 2013, Hornady didn't take to it until around 2018 when the first rifles and ammunition hit the market. Like the Creedmoor, it's a 6.5mm bullet that uses the .300 Ruger Compact Magnum cartridge as a parent case. The big difference between this and the Creedmoor is that most shooters gain an extra 200-300 fps of muzzle velocity from the PRC. That's because it's a slightly larger case capacity and holds just a little more powder.
You'll hear a lot of comparisons of this round to the iconic .270 Winchester, mostly because this cartridge produces near identical ballistics, just with all the added benefits of a faster-cycling short action rifle. At the same time, the PRC doesn't compromise on speed, which isn't too surprising considering how fast 6.5 caliber bullets are. Depending on the size of the hunting bullet, you're still looking at nearly 3,000 fps muzzle velocities. Hornady has a few different offerings in sizes that are going to be perfect for whitetails, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope.
Hornady's 130-grain CX Outfitters are doing 2,975 fps at the muzzle and are delivering about 2,555-foot pounds of energy. It slows to 2,782 fps at 100 yards. At 500 yards, it's still doing 2,086 fps. If you up the weight to Hornady's 143-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter series, you're still looking at 2,960 fps of muzzle velocity and 2,782-foot pounds of energy. Hornady says their 143-grain bullets are still doing 2,248 fps at 500 yards. Going up to Hornady's 147-grain ELD Match factory ammunition, it's achieving 2,910 fps at the muzzle and is pumping out about 2,764-foot pounds of energy.
Hornady isn't the only factory ammunition manufacturer to jump on the 6.5 PRC bandwagon. Winchester has developed a 142-grain bullet in their Expedition Big Game Long Range line that's doing 3,020 fps at the muzzle while delivering 2,875-foot pounds of energy. Nosler also released a PRC, a 140-grain Accubond round in their Trophy Grade ammunition line. They say it has a muzzle velocity of 2,900 fps and 2,614-foot pounds of energy.
We should note that it's probably going to be a little easier for reloading enthusiasts to squeeze some extra speed out of the projectiles. We've heard of some handloading enthusiasts reaching up to 3,100 or even 3,200 fps muzzle velocities out of the round in some instances.
One thing we've neglected to mention is the flatter trajectory of this round compared to others. It's not uncommon to find factory loads that advertise zero, or as little as three inches of drop at distances between 100 and 300 yards. If you're hunting an open western state, the 6.5 PRC is a great option for long range.
The one downside we need to mention is barrel life. Most PRC rifle shooters report their guns started going downhill after as little as 1,000 rounds. Others report 1,500 to 2,000 can be expected. If you're buying strictly with hunting in mind, this shouldn't be too much of a concern. For the average hunter, that's going to last you years. If you're looking for something to take in competitions or to the range every weekend, well, you're going to want to keep track of how many bullets you're hurling downrange. Odds are the barrel is going to start deteriorating faster than you might think. Now, let's address some of the rifles out there for this speedy round.
This rifle has a 24-inch 4140 chromoly steel barrel with a 1:8 rate of twist. That twist rate is right in the sweet spot for what manufacturers recommend for the 6.5 PRC. The barrel is also fluted and threaded straight from the factory. Bergara gives these rifles a Cerakote finish to help protect them from the elements wherever you might be hunting. The action on these guns is made from a single piece of metal. Bergara guarantees groups of one MOA or less at 100 yards when firing match grade factory ammunition. This rifle uses Remington 700-style scope bases.
Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Hunter
If you're looking for a smooth action, the Ruger Hawkeye uses Mauser-type extractors that have stood the test of time. This rifle has a free floating 22-inch stainless steel barrel with a matte finish and a 1:8 rate of twist. There's also a radial port muzzle brake. Ruger gave this rifle a laminate stock that brings the weight to a manageable 7.2 pounds, and ships this rifle with a 20 MOA picatinny rail ready for the optic of your choice.
Christensen Arms Mesa FFT
Christensen Arms has been a huge supporter of the 6.5 PRC since it first came out. Their FFT (flash forged technology) rifles are still relatively new to the market. Christensen has managed to make these new FFT rifles lighter than just about everything else because of these sophisticated stocks. The bolt handle has also been skeletonized and excess weight has been cut from every space possible. Most start in the 5.5-pound range. Their 6.5 PRC version of the Mesa has a 20-inch barrel with a 1:8 rate of twist. Christensen Arms offers this rifle in either a tungsten or bronze Cerakote finish to protect it from the elements.
Savge Arms 110 High Country
For hunters who are looking for a rugged rifle in open western states, the High Country may be just the ticket. This rifle has a 24-inch barrel with a 1:8.6 rate of twist. It's a heavy rifle, so Savage cut the weight down by spiral fluting the barrel and bolt. The muzzle is also threaded straight from the factory. The receiver and barrel are made of stainless steel and feature a Cerakote finish to handle all the rigors of hunting in the high country, miles from the nearest road. This rifle also features Savage's popular AccuFit system that allows users to adjust the length of pull and comb height themselves.
Winchester Extreme Hunter XPR
The XPR is one of the newest additions to the Winchester lineup. This rifle features a tough Cerakote finish made for the backcountry. Their 6.5 PRC model features a 24-inch free floating, threaded barrel with a 1:8 twist rate. Winchester kept the weight manageable at seven pounds exactly. An Inflex recoil pad helps soak up the kick and keep you on target for fast follow-up shots. The MOA trigger system provides a nice clean beak to help you make sure those long shots are on target.
Springfield Armory Waypoint
Another relative newcomer to the market, the Waypoint features a 24-inch fluted 416 stainless steel barrel with a removable radial muzzle brake and a 1:8 twist rate. The bolt is also fluted and is made from 4140 steel nitride. This rifle offers some nice customization thanks to the carbon fiber M-Lok stock which allows you to adjust the comb height. A Pachmayr recoil pad helps to soak up the kick and keep you on target longer. Springfield Armory also gave this gun a Cerakote finish. It comes in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces and is sure to become a popular hunting rifle in the years to come.
Mossberg Patriot Predator
If there's one other downside to the 6.5 PRC, it's the price for some of these rifles. However, not to worry, Mossberg has an affordable option in their popular Patriot line of rifles. This one can usually be found for sub $500, even less with sales sometimes. This rifle has a fluted and threaded 24-inch barrel with a 1:8 twist. It even comes with a Cerakote Patriot Brown finish and Strata Camo synthetic stock. It comes fitted with a picatinny rail ready for the optic of your choice. Oh, and Mossberg knows how to keep them light. This rifle weighs just 6.5 pounds. Overall, there's a lot here for a low price tag.
Sauer 100 Atacama
Built specifically for hunting open spaces of the American West, the Sauer 100 Atacama has a cold hammer-forged 24-inch barrel with a 1:8 twist rate. There is an option for a threaded muzzle too. This rifle features a Cerakote finish on the barrel, bolt knob, and action to keep it protected from the elements when you're hunting in tough conditions. The light desert camo pattern may look a little odd, however, it is specifically designed to help the rifle vanish into that high desert sage or small stand of timber without looking too blocky. This rifle also features an adjustable trigger and a 60-degree bolt lift for faster cycling when you need a follow-up shot.
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