The 6.5 PRC: Complete Cartridge Profile

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

The Hornady is a relatively new cartridge, designed in 2002 by Ballistic Products and Services, to be a flat shooting cartridge for the PRS circuit. The 6.5 PRC was designed with hunting in mind, specifically Elk hunting - it is not a common sight at your local range or 3-Gun match. It will be an uphill battle for this cartridge to gain ground, but it has proven itself worthy of consideration.

One of the most important parts of our job as reloaders is that we are able to provide accurate ammunition for shooters all over the world. The 6.5 PRC gives us an opportunity to do just that - increase accuracy AND precision at long ranges while still providing excellent terminal ballistics when hunting a big game.

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a popular name these days. The cartridge was developed in 2018 by Hornady with a 6.5 mm shell as short action ammo.

What is 6.5 PRC?

Precision rifle cartridge  (PRC) is a centerfire rifle cartridge. It is made to shoot at high velocities for better accuracy, with flat trajectories.  The 6.5 PRC has the ability to take down large game species within 300 yards. It uses an extremely long bullet in comparison to other cartridges, so it can be used by hunters who are planning on shooting their prey over long ranges of 250 yards or more.

6.5 PRC is for short action with a centerfire configuration. The reason behind designing this cartridge was to shoot a bullet at 3200fps from a short-action rifle. It became mainstream in 2021, in fact, it was quite popular even when it was first introduced. But due to insufficient production and supply, the round was never able to reach average hunters.

Slowly but surely, 6.5 PRC has carved a place for itself, and it can be seen as the second most popular cartridge after 6.5 Creedmoor on shelves in ammunition stores.

Pros of 6.5 PRC

  • High accuracy due to flat shooting;
  • Improved velocity and wind resistance due to high ballistic constant;
  • The rifles that use 6.5 PRC have lighter weights due to shorter barrels;
  • Another plus of using this cartridge is improved barrel life. Rifles using this round enjoy a decent barrel life in comparison to other similar cartridges.

Cons of 6.5 PRC

  • Many hunters only use it for the lighter game as it cannot take large-bodied animals like elks down efficiently.
  • A cartridge with a smaller case capacity will have a shorter barrel. So the rifle that uses this caliber needs extra money to add an additional barrel for increased accuracy.
  • Despite its increasing popularity and availability, this round is pretty expensive.
  • The majority of hunters think the future for this cartridge is unpredictable (in terms if it will be popular in the long term or not).
  • The cost of handloading is high in comparison to other cartridges. The latest technology has made it possible to make reduced loads using less powder and bullets at reduced velocities, but it still requires money and time for handloading which can be expensive and time-consuming for beginners.

General Features of 6.5 PRC

  1. 6.5 PRC is a cartridge designed for long-range shooting. It has the ability to take down game species out to 300 yards or more. If you are looking for a hunting round that doesn't require heavy bullets, this will be your ideal choice.
  2. The one major drawback of using 6.5 PRC is its inability to take down large game species like elk efficiently. As it weighs 140 grains, it cannot produce enough energy to knock down the heavily muscled big game animals out too long ranges (over 250 yards). So it should only be used sparingly when targeting smaller varieties of deer because even though it's powerful enough, larger caliber rounds can do much better in terms of delivering quick 'one shot-one kill' results.
  3. There is a limited amount of powder behind the bullets which makes it only effective for short-range hunting.
  4. It's not just the design but also the fact that they're available in large quantities at affordable prices which further increase their demand among hunters who want good quality projectiles that won't bust their budget after every trip. A decent price tag on hand loads is another reason why hunters opt for this round.
  5. Newer bullet designs and manufacturers entering the market have made it possible to deliver relatively high velocities using lower powder loads, but handloading components are still expensive in comparison to other cartridges.
  6. 6.5 PRC bullets are good for hunting lighter medium game species, but not large ones. Even though it's powerful enough, larger caliber rounds can do much better in terms of delivering quick 'one shot-one kill' results on bigger game species out to longer ranges (over 250 yards).
  7. On the plus side, there is a wide variety of bullets available for different target types which hunters can match according to their needs or preferences.

6.5 Ballistic Performance

6.5 PRC is an incredibly powerful round as it can shoot fast, flat, and at larger distances. Its effective hunting range is almost 730 yards at this distance, other cartridges lose velocity and power. Compared to other cartridges, 6.5 PRC shows its dominance in the long-range as it can take down elk from 520 yards with 1500 ft-lbs energy and a deer from 810 yards with 1000 ft-lbs energy.

An interesting piece of information about this round is that it had the highest sales in Wyoming when we looked at the sales chart. This again tells us that this cartridge is great at long-range shooting because people love to hunt antelopes in Wyoming.

6.5 PRC is becoming more popular day by day with its flat trajectory and high performance at long ranges. It will be interesting to see if this cartridge can maintain its presence in the hunting world as we move forward.

Hunting Capability

Hunting big and strong animals like elk and moose require a powerful cartridge that can take them down with one shot even from long distances, which is why hunters mostly prefer 6.5mm cartridges like the .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, 6mm Creedmoor (which was developed based on this caliber), or their parent case such as 7-08, etc., but they find it difficult to find ammo for these rounds because of low production and unavailability.

However, 6.5 PRC provides them an option to fulfill their needs due to the high availability and production of ammo for this caliber. It can be used to take down animals up to elk which is why it has become the go-to option for hunters nowadays. Loads like 130 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip or 140 grain G1 Scenar perform great on medium-sized game like deer, hogs, goat, etc., but if you want to hunt larger game like elk or moose then choose something heavier like the 154gr Sierra Matchking or 160gr Accubond.

6.5 PRC can efficiently take an elk down. Of course, a proper shot from a good angle with controlled bullet expansion will be necessary to effortlessly push through the animal. 1500 ft-lbs is the energy recommended when hunting an elk, and 6.5 PRC generates this much from 500 yards. Surprisingly even with this much power, it only produces a mild recoil.

If you want to hunt a black bear, 6.5 PRC can help you effectively, but it is not recommended for grizzly bears because of its lighter weight. 6.5 PRC produces 2481 ft-lbs at 100 yards which is more than enough to hunt a black bear.

6.5 PRC is a perfect cartridge for deer hunting as it delivers 1000 ft-lbs energy from a whopping 810 yards.

6.5 PRC can be used to hunt a moose. Taking this animal down requires multiple shots; the low recoil in the case of 6.5 PRC helps to fire multiple follow-up shots.

Final word

6.5 PRC is an excellent cartridge when it comes to hunting any animal in North America. Its long-range performance is unmatched when compared to other cartridges like .260 Remington or 6mm Creedmoor, but it costs less than these two rounds with the same level of performance.

Fully understanding this caliber's capabilities is important for hunters who want maximum effectiveness when they load their rifle chambers. Keep your shots within effective range and aim at vital organs of the game, and the result will be great!