Passing Judgement on the Creedmoor
By Darrell Holland
Is it media hype that is responsible for the all the excitement, much like the hullabaloo that was created over the WSM series of cartridges, or is the Creedmoor the near perfect cartridge for everything short of T-Rex? Inquiring minds would like to know?
As a custom gunsmith I can chamber for over 130 different cartridges, anything from custom wildcats to testosterone based magnums burning a hundred grains of powder or more. I’ve been fortunate to hunt around the world and successfully shoot hundreds of animals in all shapes and sizes. In over 40 years of big game hunting I’ve had four magnum rifles; one a custom 7x300 Winchester Magnum, a 338 Bull Buster (an Improved 338 Winchester Magnum), a 30-338 Winchester and a 300 H&H Magnum. Recoil, ammunition cost and fire-forming were all issues in one degree or another.
I then stepped on the path of “Less is More” and shot 7-08s, 7-08 Improved, 308s, 280s 280 AIs, 6mm-06s and 6mm XCs to name a few. Handloads were the norm in those days as factory ammo back then did not offer much in the line of bonded bullets or any high BC rounds for paper and steel. Brass, bullets, powder and assorted dies were require to feed this variety of chamberings and more time was spent on the loading bench than shooting. Hmmm, I wanted more time in the field and less time prepping, annealing, sorting and loading ammo. Was there a better easier solution?
Enter the Creedmoor. Until then I never really considered a 6.5, I was a 6mm, 7mm and 30 cal guy to the core. The 6.5s were a European distraction and the bolt face for 6.5x55 was an odd-ball to say the least. A dozen articles later I needed to give the Creedmoor a try. I order my first reamer from Ken Humbert at JGS and chambered a Krieger bbl. for a 700 action I had hanging around. In a few hours the love affair had begun. The early factory rounds were 140 A-Maxs and I used them to ring steel easily at 600-800 yds and cull South Texas whitetails to 500 yards. Wow, all with factory ammo that costs a tad over $20.00.
My NEW Creedmoor rifle: NEW Holland PRS EXTREME HUNTER vertical grip thumbhole stock, Proof carbon fiber barrel, LEUPOLD VX-6 3-18x50 scope with Advanced Reticle Technology. Jewell trigger, detachable mag system, Holland Signature Series Action. The vertical grip design is extremely comfortable and places the thumb and index finger in the perfect alignment for trigger compression.
I'll christen this rifle on Oregon elk and Montana deer this year! Nolser 140 gr. Accu-bonds and 43.0 gr. H-4350 in LAPUA sm. primer pocket brass should do the trick.
Mild recoil, good accuracy, decent barrel life, what more could one ask for? Being love struck, I needed more. I now have 5 Creedmoors in a variety of barrel lengths and contours, each has a purpose and I seldom shoot anything else.
I’ve hunted deer, elk, and all the African Plains Game many times over and have killed well over 200 animals from 80 to 875 yards. I’ve come to know its limitations and the best bullets for each application from hunting to paper and steel .
When it comes to hunting the 140 Nosler Accu-bond is the BEST choice, it has a decent BC and performs well in all game animals from 60 lb. springbuck to 1000 lb. elk and eland. Zebras, wildebeest, kudu and gemsbuck are no match for a well placed bullet to 500 yds. Ringing steel it’s really hard to beat the factory 140 gr. ELD MATCH rounds, the BC is roughly .61 ( G-1 drag function) and the MV averages 2735-2780 fps depending on ones barrel length.
Powders and handloads are easy enough to master, just grab a jug of H-4350, Fed 205Ms and LAPUA small rifle primer brass. While Hornady brass is of good quality, the LAPUA brass is just off the scale and SDs are often single digit with .0015 neck tension. In my rifle I load 42.5 grains of H-4350 for a MV of 2818 fps. Sierra 142 SMKs are another good choice for paper and steel as this is a very user friendly bullet in all of my rifles. Berger is also a fine bullet with the 130 and 140 gr. weights being the preferred choice. On thin skinned deer-sized animals the Berger is marginal as a game bullet with erratic penetration at times. It does kill, but seldom exits on large deer size critters (200 plus lbs).
I often hear chatter from the extreme range crowd that the Creedmoor isn’t a 1000 yard game round. True enough, but should we really be shooting at game animals that far away with any cartridge? Rugged country, the “one step oops factor”, unseen wind, a less than perfect trigger break and a wounded animal is on the move! When it comes to tracking wounded animals, most hunters “tracking skills” suck, to be rather blunt about it. How certain can you find the exact where he animal stood from 1000 yards, you crossed the creek climbed 600 feet uphill to find that there are dozens of look-a-like stumps on the hillside where you thought the animal stood. Deer and elk tracks are everywhere, no blood, no hair, no indented tracks to indicate the animal jumped at impact. Now what? Impact velocity, expansion of the bullet, will it exit the animal are all important considerations that get overlooked in our quest to shoot farther than the next guy. How many hunters even consider the above before taking a shot?
In the grand scheme of things when we set aside one’s EGO (my cartridge burns 100 grs. of powder v/s your 42.0) we can see the real benefit of the Creedmoor. One can enjoy mild recoil, cost effective shooting ( 2.5:1 shots over the 100 grain barrel burners) and deadly to 600 yds. on almost anything we want to put a fork to or mount on the wall.
In closing, I’m reminded of a student who drew a coveted Montana sheep tag. He came out for a two day refresher course to get ready for the hunt. At the end of day two he was 99% on targets to 500 yards in reasonable winds. He felt confident as he headed home and I wished him luck. Several days later I received his text; SUCCESS! On day one he could have killed him at 500 yards, but the terrain was such that he could stalk closer and did so, making an instant kill at less than 200 yards. THAT’S HUNTING!
Earn your stalking MERIT BADGE before you start blazing away at animals beyond your guaranteed ability.
- Custom riflesmith
- Holland's Shooter Supply
- First Gunsite Gunsmith
- Defensive and L/R rifle shooting instructor 30 plus years
- Author, patent holder
- Designer of Advanced Reticle Technology in Leupold and Schmidt& Bender rifles scopes
- Manufactures the LIGHTNING STRIKE FIRE STARTER ( World's BEST fire starter)
- Did consulting work for Savage Arms