I'm certainly glad to see interest in the 6.5mm cartridges. I really like my 6.5-06 AI. I'm in the same situation, I didn't need it and my main hunting rifle is a .30-06 AI.
The furthest I've taken a game animal with the .30-06 AI is 489yds on a Mule deer Buck. I shoot 165g bullets out of it at an honest 3125FPS with a 26"bbl.
I actually wanted the 6.5-06AI first, but I built the .30-06AI instead because It was more practical and really made more sense at the time. It was my first custom, so I decided to go the more practical route. This was also before I LRH. If I had stoppped here first, the 6.5-06 AI would have been built and the .30-06 AI would never seen the light of day, I'd have built bigger like a .338 Edge.....Can't change the past...
However, looking at you're choice of a Barnes, I can see why you're not sure about the VLD bullets as hunting bullets. They work in such diffrent ways that it's unfair to both Barnes and Berger to truely compare them. I've harvested with both, and I can definately say that both have there place. However, when talking about "long distance" hunting, the VLD would be my go to bullet. They have a better BC than the Barnes and don't drop as much. at the extended distances, they are less effected by the wind as well. The Bergers work just like they say, they go in 2" or so then they abruptly come apart and shred what ever is in the way. A Double lung shot is prefered. There won't be an exit, but you won't have to track the game, they'll hemorage and then die within a few yards. This is exactly what I did with a large 4X4 Muley buck.
Barnes are all about holding together and smashing what ever they come in contact with. They will almost always pass through (as you well know).
Anyway, it sound like a nice 6.5 Cal rifle would suit you just fine. Hope you come to some decision, if I can help..... let me know!