Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting Elk & Deer In 2020

More people are using the 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting than ever before. Here are a few great brands of 6.5 Creedmoor ammo that should serve you well next time you hit the woods.

Originally designed for long range competitive target shooting, the 6.5 Creedmoor performed so well in that role that it was just a matter of time before the cartridge caught on in the hunting community. Known for its exceptional accuracy, flat trajectory, low recoil, high energy retention at long range, and really good terminal performance, more and more hunters are using the 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting elk, deer, feral hogs, pronghorn, and other species of big game these days.

Since the 6.5 Creedmoor started off as a target shooting cartridge, there is quite a bit of 6.5 Creedmoor rifle ammo out there that’s much better suited for competitive shooting than for hunting.

While they are very accurate and are certainly capable of killing big game animals, I don’t recommend using ammo lines like the Federal Gold Medal, Hornady American Gunner, Hornady Match, Sig Sauer Elite Performance, or Winchester Match for hunting. Bullets like the Hornady ELD Match and Sierra MatchKing usually aren’t designed for optimum terminal performance on big game animals. The same goes for open tip match (OTM) and boat tailed hollow point (BTHP) style bullets in general.

For that reason, it’s best to stick with 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition specifically designed for hunting.

Fortunately, the major ammunition manufacturers produce multiple varieties of 6.5 Creedmoor ammo designed for hunting big game. So, regardless of what or where you’re hunting, you’ll probably find something that will work well for you on the list below of the best 6.5 Creedmoor ammo for hunting.

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Hornady Precision Hunter 143gr ELD-X

Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting elk, deer & Other Big Game hornady eldThe Hornady Precision Hunter line is an excellent all around choice for 6.5 Creedmoor hunting ammunition, especially for game like deer and pronghorn. That said, if you want to use the 6.5 Creedmoor for elk hunting, then Hornady’s Precision Hunter 143 grain ELD-X 6.5 Creedmoor ammo wouldn’t be my first choice (keep reading to learn what I recommend), but it’ still a very good option.

These 143 grain bullets are among the heaviest projectiles with the highest sectional density that you’ll find for the 6.5 Creedmoor. The ELD-X bullets have a very high ballistic coefficient and they’re designed for reliable, but controlled expansion over a very wide range of impact velocities.

Add it all up and you’ve got a bullet that’s quite accurate in most rifles, has a very flat trajectory, retains velocity (and kinetic energy) even better than virtually any other 6.5 Creedmoor hunting ammo, and will still penetrate deep enough to reach the vitals of really big animals like elk at reasonable shooting ranges and angles.

On paper, using the 6.5 Creedmoor for elk may seem like a bad idea, but it’s certainly possible if you use a good quality bullet like the 143gr ELD-X and place your shots properly. Heck, Scandinavian hunters have been using the 6.5×55, which is a virtual ballistic twin to the 6.5 Creedmoor, for hunting moose and caribou for well over a century. With that in mind, there is no reason you couldn’t use the 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting elk, moose, or other massive animals. If you punch a hole through their heart and/or lungs with a quality 6.5mm expanding bullet, the animal will never know the difference.

  • Bullet Type: Extremely Low Drag – Expanding (ELD-X)
  • Bullet Weight: 143 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient: 0.625
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,700 feet per second

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Also Available At: Brownells

Nosler Trophy Grade 140gr PartitionBest 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting Elk, Deer & Other Big Game nosler partition

Nosler recently started offering 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition as part of their Trophy Grade line with a 140 grain Partition bullet.

This is an outstanding choice for 6.5 Creedmoor hunting ammunition suitable for everything from deer all the way up to elk and even moose. In fact, if you want to use the 6.5 Creedmoor for elk hunting, then Nosler’s Trophy Grade 140 grain Partition 6.5 Creedmoor ammo is probably your best option out of all the choices on this list.

Why?

First, these are among the heaviest bullets with the highest sectional density that you’ll find for the 6.5 Creedmoor. Second, these bullets are designed for rapid, yet controlled expansion over a very wide range of impact velocities. After all, the Nosler Partition was among the first controlled expansion bullets ever designed and it’s still one of the best (if not THE best) available.

The 143gr ELD-X is a good bullet, but especially at shorter ranges, I think this load featuring the 140 grain Partition is better than virtually any other 6.5 Creedmoor hunting ammo for hunting large game. It’s really hard to beat the Nosler Partition when looking for a bullet that you can rely upon to penetrate deep enough to reach the vitals of really big animals like elk.

With those things in mind, this is my #1 recommended 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition for hunters after REALLY big game like elk and moose at short range.

Additionally, the Partition still offers very rapid expansion, which, combined with the deep penetrating characteristics of the bullet, makes for devastating terminal performance on game like whitetail deer, mule deer, pronghorn, and black bear.

  • Bullet Type: Partition
  • Bullet Weight: 140 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient: 0.490
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,600 feet per second

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Nosler Trophy Grade Long Range 142gr AccuBond Long Range

Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting Elk, Deer & Other Big Game nosler ABLRThe 142 grain Nosler AccuBond Long Range is another good competitor to the Hornady 143 grain ELD-X. While the Hornady bullet is more established and has a great reputation itself, the 142 grain AccuBond bullet might come out ahead in the long run for many hunters.

This is especially true for those who want a better constructed bullet that’s better suited for use on larger game like elk. The 142 grain AccuBond Long Range is almost as heavy, has virtually the same sectional density, and has exactly the same ballistic coefficient as the 143 grain ELD-X.

However, the AccuBond Long Range is a bonded bullet, so it’s a little more durable and well-constructed than the ELD-X. Like the Partition, the AccuBond Long Range still offers very rapid expansion. The AccuBond Long Range isn’t quite as durable as the Partition, but it’s still a tough, deep penetrating bullet.

If it shoots well in your rifle, the 142 grain Nosler AccuBond Long Range is a GREAT load to hunt all manner of game with: these bullets will absolutely hammer deer and pronghorn at virtually any reasonable range, plus they’ll still hold together and penetrate deep enough to reach the vitals animals like elk and moose.

With those things in mind, this is my #2 recommended 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition for hunting elk (after the 140 grain Nosler Partition).

  • Bullet Type: AccuBond Long Range
  • Bullet Weight: 142 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient: 0.625
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,600 feet per second

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Also Available At: Palmetto State Armory

Barnes VOR-TX 120gr TTSX-BT

picture of Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting Elk, Deer & Other Big Game barnes vor tx
Naturally, Barnes produces a couple different kinds of 6.5 Creedmoor ammo featuring their legendary copper X-Bullet. In particular, the 120gr VOR-TX load is a really good choice for a person who wants to use the 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting a variety big game at short and medium range like mule deer, pronghorn, Himalayan Tahr, sheep, mountain goat, and chamois.

Additionally, the TTSX-BT is optimized for rapid expansion, high weight retention, and deep penetration, making these bullets excellent choices for hunters after game like black bear, whitetail deer, mule deer, and pronghorn.

It’s also 100% copper, which makes the VOR-TX an ideal brand of 6.5 Creedmoor hunting ammo for use in states like California that that require the use of lead free bullets.

  • Bullet Type: Tipped TSX Boat Tail (TTSX-BT)
  • Bullet Weight: 120 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient: 0.412
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,910 feet per second

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Also Available At: Brownells

Hornady Superformance 120gr GMX

Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting Elk, Deer & Other Big Game barnes hornady gmx
If you want a high velocity, flat shooting load to use in your 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting the widest possible variety of big game, then it’s really tough to go wrong with Hornady’s Superformance 6.5 Creedmoor 120 grain GMX ammunition. Not only does Hornady’s Superformance line of 6.5 Creedmoor ammo give you a higher muzzle velocity than any other brand of factory loaded 6.5 Creedmoor hunting ammo, but it also uses the outstanding GMX bullet. Made of a monolithic copper alloy (so it’s lead free and legal to use in California) it’s a tougher bullet than the Hornady SST. Designed for reliable expansion, deep penetration, maximum weight retention, and a relatively flat trajectory, the 120 grain GMX is suitable for use in the 6.5 Creedmoor for elk, smaller animals like deer, and animals that sometimes require longer range shots like pronghorn, mountain goat, sheep, tahr, and chamois.

All things considered, the Superformance line of 6.5 Creedmoor ammo will work extremely well for hunting deer, feral hogs, antelope, elk, and most species of African plains game.

  • Bullet Type: GMX
  • Bullet Weight: 120 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient: 0.450
  • Muzzle Velocity: 3,050 feet per second

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Also Available At: Lucky Gunner

Federal Fusion 140gr

Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting Elk, Deer & Other Big Game federal

Federal’s 140gr Fusion Soft Point load is another excellent option to consider if you’re planning on taking your 6.5 Creedmoor deer hunting. First off, this particular load is one of the least expensive 6.5 Creedmoor ammo choices out there that’s appropriate for hunting. Fortunately, just because the ammo is reasonably priced doesn’t mean that it’s low quality.

The Federal Fusion Soft Points have a jacket that’s molecularly bonded to the core to prevent component separation. This helps ensure high weight retention and deep penetration. Though Federal designed the Fusion line of ammunition specifically for deer hunting, it will also work really well for just about any other species of thin-skinned game. So, regardless of whether you want to take your 6.5 Creedmoor antelope hunting, mule deer hunting, or whitetail hunting, you can count on this load to get the job done.

  • Bullet Type: Soft Point
  • Bullet Weight: 140 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient: 0.439
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,750 feet per second

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Remington Core-Lokt 140gr

Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting Elk, Deer & Other Big Game remington core lokt

The Remington Core Lokt has been around for a long time and hunters have successfully used this line of ammunition to take virtually every species of North American big game. Remington now offers the Core Lokt in 6.5 Creedmoor. So, if you’re a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy who wants a reasonably priced and dependable load to use in your 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting deer, black bear, feral hogs and even elk, then the Remington’s 6.5 Creedmoor 140 grain Core Lokt will probably work really well for you.

  • Bullet Type: Pointed Soft Point
  • Bullet Weight: 140 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,700 feet per second

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Winchester Deer Season XP 125gr

If you’re planning on taking your 6.5 Creedmoor deer hunting, then you should certainly consider using Winchester’s Deer Season XP line of ammunition. Designed specifically to compete with ammo like the Remington Core-Lokt and Hornady American Whitetail that were extremely popular with whitetail hunters, Winchester attempted to build an accurate and reasonably priced bullet that would produce a giant wound channel and minimize the distance a deer would run after being hit.

All things considered, Winchester was successful in that regard and the Deer Season XP line of ammunition has been very well received by deer hunters. This is a solid ammunition choice to use in your 6.5 Creedmoor for deer hunting (or any other thin skinned game for that matter).

  • Bullet Type: Extreme Point Polymer Tip
  • Bullet Weight: 125 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient: 0.540
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,850 feet per second

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Browning BXR 129gr

Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting Elk, Deer & Other Big Game browning
Browning’s 129gr BXR is a great load to use in your 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting deer. It’s also pretty reasonably priced, utilizes a lighter bullet with a higher ballistic coefficient, and is fired at a relatively high velocity. These factors combine to result in a relatively flat trajectory, making it a good 6.5 Creedmoor ammo choice for longer range shots on thin skinned game.

Designed for rapid expansion on thin-skinned game, the the Browning BXR 6.5 Creedmoor ammo is great for whitetail, blacktail, mule deer and pronghorn hunting.

  • Bullet Type: BXR Rapid Expansion Matrix Tip
  • Bullet Weight: 129 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient: 0.557
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,850 feet per second

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If you’d like to learn more about how the 6.5 Creedmoor stacks up to a few other popular hunting cartridges, read the articles below.

260 Remington vs 6.5 Creedmoor vs 6.5×55 Swede

6.5 Grendel vs 6.5 Creedmoor: Which 6.5 Is Right For You?

25-06 vs 6.5 Creedmoor vs 270 Winchester: The Results Might Surprise You

6.5 PRC: Ultimate Guide To What You Need To Know

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37 thoughts on “Best 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo For Hunting Elk & Deer In 2020”

  1. Hi John- Thanks for the article. Specifically for elk hunting, what are your thoughts on the ELD-X vs Barnes VOR-TX (speed, penetration, etc)
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Jerome.
      I really like the Barnes VOR-TX and use it for almost all of my hunting. When it comes to penetration and weight retention, the Barnes bullets beat the ELD-X hands down. Especially at shorter ranges, the Barnes bullet is the way to go (in my opinion anyway) on big game like elk.
      John

      Reply

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