6.5 Creedmoor for Black Bear Hunting: Will It Do the Job?

VD November 11 2021

6.5 Creedmoor has gained popularity among hunters and competition shooters due to its versatility. Hunters have been switching from .270 Winchester to 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting elk, moose, and deer due to its armor-piercing capabilities. The ballistics of the 6.5mm cartridge is well suited for a wide variety of game at a variety of ranges in a multitude of conditions.

The smaller diameter bullet in comparison to other "magnum" cartridges results in less meat destruction when taking shots at close range or multiple shots on larger animals when harvested at longer distances with larger calibers. This is why it makes sense that hunters are opting for this cartridge over the more popular .30 caliber family members, such as .308 Winchester and .300 Win Mag.

6.5 Creedmoor has become a very versatile cartridge. Many hunters have been taking this cartridge from deer to elk and moose successfully, as well as other medium-sized games such as black bear. The ballistics of the 6.5 Creedmoor are well suited for a wide variety of games at a variety of ranges in a multitude of conditions.

There have been many questions to check the possible application of this cartridge. One of the popular questions was, can we use 6.5 Creedmoor for black bears? What will be the effectiveness and performance in this situation?

Is 6.5 Creedmoor effective against bears?

Hunters already use this cartridge for deer hunting, and it should be enough to hunt a black bear with it as long as it is in 500 yards range. Bear has a very sturdy frame, especially its thick shoulder bones, so make sure to use a heavy bullet of 140 grain with an expansion effect. But the common consensus among hunters is that 6.5 Creedmoor can take a black bear down.

In reality, a short answer can not do justice to the question. To understand everything perfectly, we have to take a more detailed and in-depth view of the animal’s anatomy and the round’s working.

The black bear is considered to be a large-sized animal, but it still needs to abide by the laws of physics and physiology. This means that we should consider the size of the bear as well as precisely what kind of damage the cartridge can do even if it fails to meet its target.

For example, a headshot from any caliber may not have an exit wound whereas a quartering towards thick shoulder bone might cause massive damage from smaller bullets. In short, you need to know how your particular round performs at the near-point blank range on a medium-sized animal.

Speaking of which, black bears have 3-inch diameter vital organs surrounded by hard thick shoulder bones. These two make difficult kills. The bear’s bones absorb the bullet and keep it from making vital organ damage, and at the same time, its muscles toughen to compensate for the impact of the shot.

To say it more simply, one must consider that bears have a very thick layer of fat under their skin that is also hard enough to stop even high powered bullets; we should as well mention the bone structure as well as dense muscle fibers as they are responsible for absorbing all those energy kicks. Bearing this in mind, hunters need to use caliber 62-caliber or higher with at least 140 grain for penetration and stopping power against bears. The average weight of any bear varies between 250 and 600 pounds, but black bears usually do not exceed 400 pounds.

Since there is not a large variation of the weight among these animals, we can conclude that any of them will absorb a .30-06 bullet just as well as another would. In this case, it makes sense to use a heavier bullet with less penetration power – something in between 150 and 180 grain for black bear hunting.

Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that bears have more water content than other animals which means more blood loss upon impact so it does not mean you need a larger caliber to take one down; in most cases, bigger calibers are used because hunters like to see broadside shots when dealing with elk or moose. Instead of wounding an animal by shooting at its head or legs, they opt for broadside shots.

In a nutshell, a black bear will only absorb the impact of a .300 Winchester Magnum bullet with ease at 100 to 250 yards range. Beyond that, you need something in between .300 and .338 caliber for quick kills.

To conclude this lengthy piece, I’d like to say that 6.5 Creedmoor can be used against black bears but not without its drawbacks such as limited penetration power and reduced energy transfer through the cartridge’s shoulder walls so it is not suitable for hunting large-sized game such as elk or moose. Hunters should go above .30 caliber if they wish to use 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges against big game animals unless these bullets are heavy enough and constructed in the right way to guarantee penetration and expansion.

Is 6.5 Creedmoor adequate enough?

The conventional method hunters use to take a bear down is by baiting it closer and then firing a short shot. If we follow this method, 6.5 Creedmoor can be considered adequate, but is it adequate enough? The male black bears have larger builds and weigh up to 600 pounds. They have natural layers of defenses in the form of thick hide and fats in addition to strong and large bones.

Let me make it more clear for you, generally a 6.5 or .26 cartridge should be enough to open a hole in the bear to reach its vitals. But the problem is .26 cartridge punctures a small opening which the bear’s hide or fats can constrict. In that case, there will be minimal exterior blood loss, making the tracking process very difficult and dangerous at the same time.

So, even though 6.5 Creedmore can take a bear down it should not be used as a primary choice for bear hunting. We should know that even.30 Winchester has taken many bears down. Though 6.5 Creedmoor has superior energy and velocity to .30 Winchester cartridge, Winchester opens a bigger puncture hole. But .30 should also not be used as a primary choice for bear hunting. We just mentioned it to provide a comparison between 2 lighter cartridges and their effect on bears.

Conclusion: 6.5 Creedmoor vs black bear

Concluding everything, we can say that even though 6.5 Creedmoor has the capability to take a bear down, it certainly is not in the top echelon of bear hunting cartridges. Talking about myself, I personally will never go hunting a bear with a 6.5 Creedmore chambered rifle.

You should always remember one thing when going hunting, especially for dangerous games such as bears: it makes sense to be a little over-gunned rather than being a little under-gunned.  

Respect is something that every animal out there deserves. As hunters, you should give respect to the prey and make proper preparations for quick and clean kills. This is the least a hunter should do when taking the life of an animal.