6.5 Creedmoor: Is It Really Enough to Kill a Bull Elk

VD November 11 2021

Every hunter knows that elks are tough animals and are not easy to take down. They can even survive after taking a gunshot. So, the professionals often tell newbies to keep shooting until the elk stop moving. You are probably wondering what caliber you should use to make sure the elk don't get up. As it turns out, there is a special cartridge by Hornady called 6.5 Creedmoor that has all the qualities of the best hunting rifle calibers.

When choosing a rifle caliber, you have to keep in mind that it needs to be compatible with your weapon's action type. For instance, bolt action rifles are usually chambered for magnum cartridges because they have plenty of power for shooting long distances.

Having said that, a relatively new cartridge known as 6.5 Creedmoor has become explosively popular in the world in a small amount of time. So many people are wondering if they can use 6.5 Creedmoor on an elk.

Can 6.5 Creedmoor Kill an Elk?

The majority of hunters think 6.5 Creedmore to be very light, but it can actually kill an elk. The foot-pound energy rule is often used to measure if a cartridge can kill or not. In the case of bull elk, a cartridge should have 1500 ft-lbs of energy to put it down, and the Creedmore maintains this energy only within 300 yards. But 6.5 Creedmore has a lighter weight, thin diameter, and less penetrative power than conventional elk rounds. This means that you will need to use an appropriate bullet to make it hit hard.

Still, this doesn't mean that 6.5 Creedmoor is not enough for elk hunting. To put down a bull elk, you can rely on the 156 gr ELD-X bullets that are driven at 2,960 fps out of your rifle's barrel. With its long-range ability and flat trajectory, this cartridge offers a great shooting solution for most types of hunting conditions.

There is also a significant difference between 150 gr and 156 gr rounds when it comes to energy levels – the latter has 50 ft-lbs more energy within 200 yards compared to the former – but overall they're both very lethal cartridges.

If you want to kill a specific elk with your 6.5 Creedmoor, it is best to select its vital areas and shoot from a close distance. In this case, the data on the cartridge's performance becomes irrelevant because you will aim for an instant kill. However, if you're hunting in open areas where both of you are more than 200 yards apart then you will need some heavy-duty bullets that retain more energy at long distances.

3 criteria to tell if a cartridge can kill a heavy-bodied animal or not

  • First, is the ft-lbs rule, with which one can determine if a cartridge can kill? Mind you, this is a very generic way and can not be completely trusted.
  • The second, use the Hornady HITS Formula that calculates the hunting power of a cartridge. For elk-sized animals, a score of 900+ is recommended. This is a relatively precise method to measure power.
  • The third is velocity. Bullets expand at different speeds, some at 1700 fps, and some do not expand even at 2000 fps. According to my experience, generally, most bullets expand at 1900 fps.

Roughly at 250-300 yards, 6.5 Creedmoor has around 1600 ft-lbs energy, a Hornady rating of 900+ and a velocity of 2300 fps. According to this analysis, we can see that 6.5 Creedmore can kill an elk in a range of 250 yards. Even though this round has killed elks from longer ranges, our data shows that it is unreliable.

This is how 6.5 Creedmoor limits the hunters

You can kill an elk using 6.5 Creedmoor, but it puts certain limitations on you. You have to find the right angle and wait for the perfect timing to take the game down. Because if you shot from a bad angle or at the shoulder, it might not penetrate enough to kill.

You can consider it like going 160 back in the past. We are saying this because you are putting yourself at a disadvantage by limiting the power and penetration power compared to other modern cartridges. But you will be fine as long as you keep it in mind.

If you're hunting in an open area, go for a headshot. Go for the neck and the spine when it's on your shoulder. These areas will give you maximum penetration power.

But don't worry. 6.5 Creedmoor is accurate enough to hit these spots at 300 yards, provided that you have selected the right target and have shot from a good angle.

6.5 Creedmoore’s low recoil helps elk hunters

There are many other options when considering elk hunting, so why should you choose the 6.5 Creedmoor? The main reasons to choose this round are its low recoil and flat shooting ability. So this cartridge is relatively easier to use.

When comparing 6.5 Creedmoor’s recoil with a 30-06, you can think of the difference as being punched by a heavy-weight boxer or a lightweight boxer. Sometimes using a lighter cartridge that you can handle can improve your shooting capabilities.

A hunter can shoot a few rounds an hour if he/she is hunting in open terrain, so it's important to be as precise as possible. A flatter shooting cartridge with low recoil would enhance your accuracy and improve your chances of taking down the game quickly.

6.5 Creedmoor’s light recoil often lets you know when you hit the target

The main reason for this feeling is the lack of energy transfer. You should be very accurate when using this round because elk movement through forests and grasslands comes with a lot of vibration and noise, which might move it away from where you think it is standing at just one inch off.

You have to wait until the right moment to make sure that there's no room for error.

Also, the low recoil plays a part in accurateness. Even when you're shooting from an unstable position or on your knees, it's still easy to keep steady since you are not forced down by the impact's power.

For close distances, 3-shots should be enough with this cartridge because sometimes even one shot can miss due to its lack of energy transfer and do more harm than good. So 3 consecutive accurate shots would be best with 6.5 Creedmoor.

6.5 Creedmoor’s Modern Trajectory Helps with Accuracy

Unlike other cartridges that were designed back in the early 1900s, 6.5 Creedmore was recently developed with modern features that allow hunters to shoot accurately with low recoil.

The most important of these features is its flat trajectory, which allows hunters to take down the game from a greater distance without compromising on accuracy. This feature makes long-range hunting much easier and safer.

Since the cartridge has an average weight of around 140 grains, it can be used in both short and long barrels and still shoot at the same velocity and energy. So this helps you use an appropriate rifle depending on your hunting environment: whether it's open, forested, or mountainous terrain, etc. There are rifles out there optimized for each scenario as well as those that can handle all of them, but make sure you choose one that would offer maximum accuracy for such a small cartridge like 6.5 Creedmoor (Such as this Ruger Precision Rifle or Savage 11-111).

Another thing you should know about the 6.5 Creedmoor is its ability to take down elk with a single shot. This means better hunting and fewer bullet fragments and disturbance to the area after taking down an elk (which can be dangerous if there are other wild animals that might come to eat the carcass).

6.5 Creedmoor Completes The Comfortable Hunting Environment

All of these features described above complete your comfortable hunting environment, which helps you shoot accurately even at long distances while keeping your target in sight without worrying if it's going to get away from you due to recoil. In addition, bullets have been designed specifically for this cartridge so they give maximum damage to the elk at a certain distance, minimizing bullet fragments.

In conclusion, 6.5 Creedmoor is a great cartridge for hunters who want accuracy and comfort without compromising kill power.