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 suitable for everything from whitetail deer all the way up to elk. In fact, 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 is probably your best option out of all the choices on this list.


First, these are among the heaviest bullets with the highest sectional density that you’ll find for the 6.5 Creedmoor. Second, the ELD-X bullets have a very high ballistic coefficient. Third, these bullets are designed for reiable, 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 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


Also Available At: Brownells

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, elk, and red stag. With those things in mind, this is another outstanding 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition choice for hunters after REALLY big game like elk and moose at short range.

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


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


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


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


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


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


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”

    • The 143gr Hornady Precision Hunter ammo is probably the best choice for hunting moose and deer if you want to use the same ammo for both species.

  1. hi John I see ammo for all kinds of big game animals listed here. But none of them, do you claim to be good for black bear. Were I hunt here in New York I may come across a chance to take either a whitetail deer or hopefully a large black bear. Did you intentionally leave the black bear off your list or just forgot. I’m looking for something that if necessary could handle it. Or can I assume that whatever can down an elk or moose would be more than enough?

    Thank you

  2. I see remington now has it in 140gr. coreloc. I use coreloc in everything now, a truly great freezer filler. But again do you approve for Black bear.

    Thanks George

    • George,
      Thanks for your comments. Leaving black bear off the list was an unintentional oversight. Any ammo that will work on deer, elk, or moose will also probably work really well on black bear. The 140gr Remington Core-Lokt is another nice ammo choice.

  3. John,
    I hunt deer primarily in Texas and am looking for the best 6.5 hunting load. Also, your choice of 6.5 factory load for long range shooting.

    • Just about any of those loads will work fine on deer. The Winchester Deer Season XP and Remington Core Lokt are the two least expensive loads. For long range shooting, go with the Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X. The ELD Match is also really accurate, but it’s not designed for hunting.

  4. I have used Sierra matching ammo for 18 year 168 grain in 308 Winchester caliber and have shot at least 25 deer some being mature bucks. Also killed many hogs with it also. Have never lost a animal using this bullet Sierra calls a target bullet. Try Sierra match king you will be amazed with the knock down power and they make for no tracking hunts.

    • I have no doubt that you’ve killed a number of big game animals using Sierra MatchKing bullets (and I’m sure they shoot very accurately for you), but I highly recommend against the practice, especially when using the smaller 6.5mm MatchKing bullets. The MatchKing is a great bullet for target and competition shooting, but it’s not designed for consistent performance on big game animals. Like you have noted, it will absolutely take down deer with excellent shot placement, but even the manufacturer specifically recommends against using them for hunting.
      To quote Sierra: “While they are recognized around the world for record-setting accuracy, MatchKing® and Tipped MatchKing® bullets are not recommended for most hunting applications.”
      As ethical hunters, we owe it to ourselves and the animals to use ammunition specifically designed for the task, not target or military surplus ammunition that might do the job in a pinch if everything works out perfectly.

  5. I just purchased a 6.5 an I use it strictly for deer hogs an sometimes coyotes from 25 yards to 200 I am looking toward the hornady eldx what is your thoughts

    • The ELD-X will probably work really in those situations. To be quite honest with you, all of the ammo recommended in this article will work really well on hogs, coyotes, and deer inside 200 yards. The ELD-X really shines when you’re trying to take longer range shots.

  6. Hello John,
    I also like the 6.5 creed or very much. I have been loading the Hornady 140:grain bullets with Hodgdons 4340 powder and Federal 210 M primers with great groupings at 100:yards. I am now placing 6 rounds in 3/4” pretty well. I do spend a lot of time on case prep, but it has shown to be wort it. I like Speecd Goat hunting here in Idaho so common shots are at least 200 yds. I enjoyed you post…. Thanks
    Larry in Idaho

  7. I saw the Hornady Whitetail mentioned above. My son dropped a 100lb boar in its tracks this spring using them. The shot was about 50 yards.

  8. Looking for the best copper 6.5 ammo for hog and deer hunting in CA, as we are not allowed to use lead-based ammo for hunting. I’ve heard great things about Hornady 120gr GMX. Wondering if Federal’s 120gr vital shok trophy copper tipped boat tail works well? Or any other you copper ammo you recommend?

  9. Hello John,

    Just stumbled across your article. Great information and I appreciate it. Read through your recommendations and I have a better understanding of factory ammo available for the 6.5, but want to confirm your opinion. I’m looking for the best option in long range hunting ammo, has to be no lead and capable of hunting wide variety of animals from elk to coyotes. The bullet needs to be effective not only at close ranges, but longer ranges (500 yards+) as well.

  10. can a carcano be adapted to shoot 6.5 creedmoor bullets ? rifle is in excellent shape ,bore is very good , bolt action is smooth .needs minor altrations for sights & scope mounts any help is great .

    • That’s a very good question. I’m not 100% sure, but I’m leaning towards no. The 6.5 Carcano is about 1/4 longer overall and has a smaller rim diameter than the 6.5 Creedmoor. Most Carcano rifles are also designed to shoot .267″ instead of .264″ bullets. It might be possible to do so, but my initial thoughts are that making that conversion would be more trouble than it’s worth.

  11. Hi and thanks for an interesting article!
    I am about to start hunting, primarily wild boar. Do you think the Hornady ELD-X 143 grain precision hunter would be effective?

  12. Hi John!
    I just stumbled over your site and this topic couldn’t be more timely as I just picked up a 6.5 Creedmoor yesterday.
    I see where you’re very fond of the 143 grain ELD-X which is also convenient considering I grabbed a box of those when I got the rifle.
    My question is this will be a good bullet weight for extremely close shots on whitetails or should I go with something lighter?
    Here in South Georgia I may find myself with a deer literally at the base of the tree in the deep woods in the morning and then 300 yards across a peanut field in the evening.
    Your thoughts?

    • Chuck,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Check out that 127gr Barnes VOR-TX load as well. It will work great at close range, but it’s another good choice for shots out past a couple hundred yards.

  13. John; enjoyed your article on the 6.5 .
    You answer my questions before I asked them.
    The other one I have is what’s your opinion on the perfect mid range load in 6.5 Creedmoor?

  14. Hi John, Great article, thank you for the information. I purchased a Howa 1500 a few months back. I would suggest testing what your rifle likes. After sighting in and testing, my Howa preferred the 140 grain over the 120 grain ammo. Both did really well, just the 140 grain had a tighter group. I’ll test your hunting suggestions next. I have knocked down a few elk with Core-Lokt 30.06 in the past so I am leaning towards that. Wanted a 6.5 Creedmoor because I’m flinching with my mule kicking 30.06

  15. Has anyone used remingtons new barns bullet copper solid ammo 120 I think it’s xtp or hog ammo and what other game will it work on


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