Dane, Tyler and I have built 16.5” 6.5mm Creedmoor’s. We wanted a handy short barrel rifle that still possessed the accuracy we are accustomed to with our match rifles. We also wanted to shave off as much weight as possible. We didn’t know what to expect but continued with the project anyway. Most of the short barrel rifles we have seen were chambered in .308 Winchester. We wanted to stick with the Creedmoor round because we have been very happy with its performance. We all have plenty of 6.5mm bullets and cases, so it’s nice to keep things the same.
Tyler and Dane went with the McRee carbine chassis for their builds. The carbine chassis is a great choice because it saves weight over the standard set up (McRee Carbine Chassis review). For my build I went with the standard McRee chassis. I like the fully adjustable rear stock and longer fore stock. Both set ups turned out great. The carbine chassis is the lighter of the two and they are both lighter than our match rifles.
One of the first things we noticed was our standard team load (139 Lapua Scenar/H4350) shot great out of the Rock 5R 1-8” twist 16.5” barrels. We obviously lost velocity but not as much as we thought. The team load shoots about 2,550-2,600 feet per second from the short barrel. The short barrel rifles are very accurate and have very little, to no shift between a muzzle brake and suppressor. The short barrel is a natural for a suppressor and I think a Delta P. Design 6.5mm Brevis would be a great addition to our short barrel 6.5mm Creedmoors. The 16.5” barrel and 5” added length of the Brevis would still keep the rifle shorter than most standard set ups or competition rifles.
Once we had the rifles together and knew they were shooters, Dane and I started playing with lighter 6.5mm bullets and different powders. We wanted to see if we can make up for the loss of velocity with our team load. We utilized the Lapua 123 gr Scenar and found with Varget we can get them going 2,730 fps, the load is very accurate! Using IMR XBR 8202 we were able to get a velocity of 2,752 fps and believe we may be able to squeeze out a little more speed. The IMR load also shoots well and the short barrel do not seem to be as picky as longer barreled rifles.
The 6.5mm short barrel rifles give up nothing to their .30 cal counter parts except for energy on target. The 6.5mm has about 100 ft/lbs less but are ballistically superior. The 6.5mm short barrel rifle shoots flatter and does better in the wind. Both the 139 gr and 123 gr bullets have significantly better ballistic coefficients than most .30 cal bullets. We plan to give a few more things a try and see if Dane and I can reach our bench mark of 2,800 fps with a 123 gr bullet.
All things considered we are very happy with how the rifles turned out. The short barrel and folding chassis makes them very easy to pack and stow. The short barrel also makes them very easy handling rifles. They are perfect for suppressing and maintain the accuracy we wanted. We both chose U.S. Optics scopes for our rifles. I will keep everyone updated on our continued load development for these rifles. Right now it looks like IMR has a slight speed advantage but the Varget load has proven to be very accurate. I’m curious to see what we can do with some of the Alliant RE powders.