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The Ruger M77 Hawkeye - 6.5 Creedmoor Part II
Handloading the 6.5 Creedmoor for the M77
By Joe D'Alessandro Editor | RealGuns.Com

 

I grew up in New Jersey where language, or dialect more specifically, made for some relatively... unique understandings. For example, a number of my teen years were spent hustling street races on what was then known to me as "Route 21, Macarta Highway". Twenty years later, returning from a business trip and on my way home from Newark Airport via Route 21, I saw an old street sign laying in the grass along a rundown industrial stretch of road. The sign read, "McArthur Highway". So it came as no surprise, that what I once understood to be "The hole is greater than some of its parts", is actually an expression of Holism, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts".,, which has everything to do with the 6.5 Creedmoor chambered Ruger M77 Hawkeye which, during the run of the project, was simply referred to as "The Creedmoor".

Cause it's got... personality

From the standpoint of shooting personality, this particular Ruger took on a personality of its own. A few shots were required to make the long barrel hanging out in front feel comfortable and steady when shooting from the standing position with cantilevered arm support. Once settled in, the gun felt natural to point and shoot. The recoil, not non-existent as I had anticipated, was... crisp. A little swat on the shoulder that is by no means disconcerting, but certainly more than the actual 14 or 15 lbs of recoil the top loads generate. It was very much in keeping with the recoil of 130 grain .270 Winchester loads.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is not a barrel burner, so I suspect long barrel life would follow. Using the RealGuns relative overbore calculation, the Creedmoor comes in as being quite mild: 6.5 Creedmoor 12.2, 257 Weatherby 20.8, .264 Winchester 19.3, 270 WSM 18.6, and .270 Winchester 15.7. Despite the light sporter barrel profile, the barrel remained relatively cool during the shooting session and accuracy was unaffected as shots fired accumulated.

The 6.5mm, a magnum amongst compact cartridges...

Factory Ammunition

Range in Yards

Cartridge Bullet Type Grains   Muzzle 100 200 300
6.5 Creedmoor Hornady SST 129 Velocity 2950 2757 2571 2393
Energy 2493 2176 1894 1641
Trajectory -1.50 1.50 0.0 -6.8
6.5 Grendel Hornady A-Max 123 Velocity 2620 2435 2257 2087
Energy 1865 1619 1392 1190
Trajectory -1.5 2.20 0.0 -9.00
6.8 SPC Hornady V-Max 110 Velocity 2550 2319 2100 1893
Energy 1588 1313 1077 875
Trajectory -1.5 2.2 0.0 -9.2
.260 Remington Nosler AccuBond 130 Velocity 2800 2613 2434 2262
Energy 2263 1971 1711 1477
Trajectory -1.5 1.8 0.0 -7.7

 

There are larger capacity 6.5mm cartridges, but none that would feed through a short action rifle and provide lots of clearance for slick, heavy high sectional density and high ballistic coefficient bullets that will produce a high degree of retained velocity and energy. The 6.5 Creedmoor does the same for AR 10 type guns and it does a pretty good job of outshooting the .260 Remington in both bolt and autoloader, which is saying a quite a bit.

The factors influencing the 6.5 Creedmoor's capabilities are covered in The Ruger M77 Hawkeye - 6.5 Creedmoor Part I, however, I will say that the cartridges performance is a joint effort between gun and cartridge manufacturers. In addition to the Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye, Ruger also chambers their M77® Mark II Target rifle with a 28" barrel and their No.1 Standard with 26" barrel for the 6.5 Creedmoor. Based on cartridge capacity and performance per inch of barrel, it wouldn't surprise me if a lightweight 20" or 22" barreled M77 might eventually appear. Pure speculation, but it would make a great whitetail gun at 5 lbs and change with...somewhat snappy recoil and report.

Which took me to here...

The 6.5 Creedmoor is an easy cartridge to load and the long barrel of the Ruger M77 allows a choice of powder from fast to slow without the concern of not having enough barrel for complete powder burn. There are lots of bullets to chose from, some more specialized long range hunting and competitive shooting, but these four were selected as being typical for hunting applications.

Not exactly light loads... more toward heavy loads, the gun shoots and cycles reliably, cases grew by no exceptional amount, primers looked pristine... with the exception of the telltale dent in their finish. Report was a little loud, the 6.5 Creedmoor has a pretty good bark, but nothing serious. The Hornady SSTs, seated out above the cannelure, had a distinct sound, almost a slight echo. Nothing wrong, just different.

Bullet Type Bullet
Weight
Grains
*Bullet
Length
Inches
C.O.L.
Inches
Powder
Type
Charge
Grains
Muzzle
Velocity FPS
Muzzle
Energy
ft/lbs
100 Yard
Three Shot
Group"
Sierra HP Varminter 100 0.930 2.580 Re17 47.5 3333 2467 0.90
Sierra HP Varminter 100 0.930 2.580 H414 49.0 3381 2539 1.00
Sierra Spitzer 120 1.080 2.740 IMR4350 46.5 3101 2563 0.60
Sierra Spitzer 120 1.080 2.740 H414 47.0 3156 2655 0.80
Prvi SPBT 139 1.205 2.740 H4350 44.0 2874 2550 0.90
Prvi SPBT 139 1.205 2.740 Re19 46.0 2918 2629 1.00
Hornady SST 140 1.390 2.825 IMR4350 43.5 2826 2483 1.25
Hornady SST 140 1.390 2.825 H4350 43.5 2862 2547 1.10

CCI 200 primers used for all loads - *bullets as measured

 
I was impressed with the accuracy. The groups were shot from a forearm rest, but no aft rest or bags and there weren't a lot of discarded handload attempts before arriving at those that worked well. The trigger felt good. It may be non-adjustable and a bit heavy with just over a five pound pull, but the release came with a surprise... which is a good thing. Crisp, no creep, no speed bumps to navigate.
 
 Infero editio
 
 
The combination of the Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye and Hornady's 6.5 Creedmoor is another example of a pretty nifty rifles coming out of a consortium of the two companies. Hornady seems to be able to design and produce useful and modern cartridges at will and Ruger seems to know how best to take advantage of the cartridge's potential. The results are always good for the shooting community, even if they are not meant for every shooting opportunity.
 
In sporter version, I could see this cartridge as an excellent choice for antelope or deer, where shots are long and in the open, and bullet stability and resistance to wind deflection are of consequence. A 22", or even 20" version, would easily make for an excellent woods rifle that could go the extra distance if a longer shop presented itself. For a handloader, like myself, getting 155 rounds out of canister of  powder with this level of performance is perfect and 0.264" bullets are relatively inexpensive. Yup, nice job on the parts of Ruger and Hornady. Interesting combination.

The Ruger M77 Hawkeye - 6.5 Creedmoor Part I
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye - 6.5 Creedmoor Part II

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