Is a 6.5 Creedmoor a good 270 Winchester replacement?
We get questions at RonSpomerOutdoors.com, and today’s asks what cartridge could replace a well used, effective 270 Winchester deemed by the questioner too similar in performance to his 7mm Rem. Mag.
Could a 6.5 Creedmoor Be My 270 Winchester Replacement?
Dear Mr Spomer,
I hope this message finds you well wherever you are just now. I was wondering if you might be able to give me some advice as I have been following your website for the last while.
I am in a bit of a conundrum about choosing a new rifle to replace a pair that I currently have, an old .270 working rifle and a 7mm Remington magnum which is rigged for slightly longer ranged hunting. I live in the NW Highlands of Scotland along the coast which means I’m subject to rather strong licensing otherwise I believe I would just keep both rifles and just change my old .270 for a new one but I have a few other firearms and these two overlap duties as hill rifles so I believe they could be combined into a single rifle and free up space on my license.
I am torn between getting a rifle chambered in either 6.5mm Creedmoor or .280 AI. Whichever chambering I choose the rifle will be stainless or cerakoted with a fibreglass, carbon or synthetic stock and a 20-22” barrel for use with a moderator plus a lightweight dial able scope thus borrowing from both previous rifles. I very much like the idea of the .280 AI as it is close to the Rem mag in performance but slightly less and can benefit from the better selection of bullets than the .270, however ammunition is not available in the U.K. as the design is not CIP certified and even .280 Remington cases and ammo are scarce meaning I will have to hand load all my ammo. I am an accomplished hand loader so this isn’t a huge problem but certainly needs to be thought about.
My other option is the 6.5mm Creedmoor I believe as it offers a lot of bang for its buck especially in a lighter rifle and from what I hear is an effective round on most game, plus factory ammo and hand loading components are common. My caution comes from years of .270 use and it has become my benchmark for a game getting cartridge in the hills when I’m faced with shooting in very adverse conditions, Gael force winds and driving rain are my most common adversaries on the coast and the .270 has always carried the goods for me so I’m unsure about going to a smaller calibre. I appreciate any insight or advice you can give me.
Condolences for having to sacrifice some of your personal freedoms in a vain governmental attempt to punish criminal behavior. Guilty until proven innocent, I guess.
But you didn’t ask for my political opinions, so let’s tackle your cartridge selection challenge. First, as you know, your 270 Winchester and 7mm Rem. Mag. are a bit redundant. If you want a significant step down in recoil without suffering too much in decreased trajectory, the 6.5 CM is a viable option. Study these two ballistic tables and you’ll see how they stack up.
270 Win., 150-gr. Nosler ABLR
6.5 Creedmoor, 142-gr. Nosler ABLR
Given the hype surrounding the 6.5 Creedmoor, you may be surprised to see that the 270 Winchester shoots flatter. A 200 fps MV advantage pays off. But you’ll also note how the superior B.C. of the 6.5 bullet gives it the wind deflection advantage beyond 500 yards. This may be more important to you than drop. In the energy column you’ll note a significant advantage to the 270 Winchester, but also note that the Creedmoor catches up at extreme range thanks to its efficient, drag resistant bullet. My studied opinion is that the 6.5 CM can nearly match your best 270 Winchester performance with significantly less recoil (find relative levels of recoil near the end of this article) so you might want to consider it.
Energy Concerns with 270 Winchester Replacement?
If you’re concerned about impact energy, I wouldn’t buy a 6.5 CM as a 270 Winchester replacement. Personally I wouldn’t worry about it. I haven’t seen a Creedmoor bullet bounce off any game. History since at least 1891 (birth of the 6.5×55 Swede) has proven that a good .264 bullet in the right spot is wonderfully effective at terminating medium to large game. Thousands of deer, stags, moose, elk, bears and even several hundred African elephants (Karamojo Bell alone accounted for 300) have been felled by light 6.5mm cartridges ballistically similar to the Creedmoor.
All that said, I would be remiss to not show you what you could expect from the 280 AI shooting a high B.C., 175-gr. Nosler AccuBond Long Range at top velocity. Impressive, and your Rem. Mag. will do slightly better.
280 AI, 175-gr. Nosler ABLR
If you want to step up ballistic performance in your 270 Winchester replacement rifle, you might consider the 6.5 PRC. It fits many short action magazines, yet matches or slightly exceeds 270 Win. performance, as this table shows. But with this you’re again flying close to 7mm Rem. Mag. performance.
6.5 PRC, 142-gr. Nosler ABLR
26 Nosler As 270 Winchester Replacement?
If the 6.5 PRC fires your imagination, you might take the next step up to the 26 Nosler which adds a solid 300 fps to the PRC’s top end. Notice that in the 26 Nosler data below I adjusted zero range so that 100-yard impact would nearly match the PRC above. Both can be further refined to extend maximum point blank range even farther, but this provides a reasonable comparison. It’s pretty obvious how increasing MV makes significant contributions to downrange performance in all categories.
26 Nosler, 142-gr. Nosler ABLR
Recoil Levels Rise
The only fly in the ointment might be recoil. While the 6.5 CM punches with just 14 f-p recoil, the PRC 17.9 f-p, and the 270 21.7 f-p, the 26 Nosler recoils with 31.7 f-p. That’s significantly more than the 280 AI at 24 f-p and even a 7mm Rem. Mag. (175-gr. bullet) which recoils just 27 f-p. All of these are with rifles weighing 8 pounds.
Phil, I don’t envy you trying to make this choice when you’re limited by your government in the number of firearms you can own. Oh, one more thing: another way to approach this is to establish bullet B.C. and M.V. you’d like to work with. With that done, you can search for cartridges that match, knowing that all will have the same trajectory curves. Caliber doesn’t matter. Only the downrange energy levels will change, the heavier bullets always carrying more. Who knows, you might find a hot 6mm cartridge that meets your needs. I’ve cleanly taken dozens of deer weighing roughly 150 to 250 pounds with a 243 Win. and 6mm Rem. These days you might consider the 6mm Creedmoor. Cheers and best of luck with your tough choice!
Ron Spomer has worked with and hunted with dozens of cartridges and rifles over the years, enough that he knows shooter performance (shot placement) means much more than the cartridge used to launch the bullet.