There is no question or argument in the hunting world about how tough elk are. Bull elk are well known for having been able to take gunshot wounds and survive as if nothing happened. Many experienced hunters will give the same advice of “keep shooting until they stop moving.” This is actually great advice for such a tough animal, and even the smallest elk is full of bone, muscle, and a will to live that can beat even the best shots. With that being said, is the 6.5 Creedmoor for elk hunting? Read on to find out more. Our comparison in this article is the 6.5 Creedmoor vs 270.
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Due to the fact elk are tough and can take a beating. Many hunters choose to go bigger and heavier for their elk hunting calibers. Many will select hard-hitting magnums and bigger rounds. The 7mm Remington Magnum seems to be the bare minimum amongst most elk hunters. Many will choose something like a 300 magnum or even bigger 338 and 375 magnums. There is nothing wrong with these big calibers. They definitely have enough power and knockdown power to effectively kill an elk.
These larger caliber rifles are chosen because they have the three primary characteristics that make a good elk rifle.
Because elk are three or four times bigger than most deer. It is even more important to have a gun that can push a decently sized bullet fast enough to kill your intended target. These bigger cartridges do just that. Along with providing hunters a forgiving margin of error because they do it so well.
So what about the 6.5 Creedmoor? This relatively new round has made some big waves in the hunting world and has grown in popularity faster than almost any other caliber in history. But even with how much love and popularity it has received, is it a capable and effective elk hunting caliber? There seems to be a big debate amongst hunters about this. Whether or not it is big enough or powerful enough to ethically take a bull elk.
If you compare it to one of the most popular western hunting calibers in the world, the 270 Winchester. The results might surprise you. This popular caliber will be shooting 140-grain bullets around 3,000 feet per second out of the muzzle, with about 2,700-foot-pounds of energy. This is more than enough to kill an elk. The 270 is often considered to be on the lower end of the spectrum of elk hunting calibers as well.
The 6.5 Creedmoor, by comparison, also shoots a 140-grain bullet but does it around 200 feet per second slower than a 270. The Creedmoor’s bullets, however, have a much higher ballistic coefficient and the difference is virtually non-existent downrange.
At a range of 500 yards, the 270 will have around 1500 foot-pounds of energy and be traveling around 2,200 fps. The 6.5 Creedmoor will also have around 1,500 foot-pounds of energy at the same range, and be traveling around 2150 fps. Looking at these stats it would be tough to pick a winner in the 6.5 Creedmoor vs 270 Winchester debate.
As you can see, both of these calibers are almost identical in the amount of speed and energy that they carry downrange. They also have more than enough power to effectively kill an elk. Some hunters will argue that 1,000 foot-pounds of energy is on the lower end for elk. Even then, at 1,500 foot-pounds of energy, the Creedmoor can still bring sufficient energy and speed in order to penetrate vitals out to 500 yards.
With all that being said, should you use a 6.5 Creedmoor for elk hunting? The answer might depend on a number of factors. Including how good of a shot you are, bullet size, and intended range. Personally, I would not shoot a bull elk over 400 yards with a Creedmoor. Honestly, not over 300 yards if I can help it. That being said, I consider myself a decent shot and do not mind shooting a rifle with a heavier recoil. Such as my go-to elk rifle in 300 WSM. Not everyone can comfortably shoot bigger rifles though. Giving even more weight to the argument of the 6.5 Creedmoor as a viable elk rifle.
Not every hunter can shoot a rifle like a 300 WSM or even a 30-06 comfortably, let alone accurately. Whether it is a 115-pound woman or a small child, these rifles simply might not be the best options. In fact, even some male hunters who think they can handle some magnum-sized rifles would be better suited to shooting something like the 6.5 Creedmoor, as it has very mild recoil and extremely easy to shoot. They might just be afraid to admit it!
The biggest key to selecting a good elk rifle and successfully harvesting an elk actually has nothing to do with the caliber you are using. The most important part to killing an elk is your shot placement. Even a giant caliber like a 338 Lapua will not successfully kill a bull elk if you make a bad shot and shoot it in the guts. So the best caliber will be the one that you can shoot the most accurately. I would much rather hunt with someone who is very comfortable and accurate with their smaller caliber like a 270 Winchester or 6.5 Creedmoor, than someone with a big caliber that they are not comfortable shooting.
It is important to know your own capabilities and limitations and thoroughly practice with your gun before ever heading to the elk woods. The 6.5 Creedmoor has enough speed, energy, and power (with a mild recoil) to provide anyone with a deadly elk rifle. But is it the best choice? For some people, it will not be, but for others, the 6.5 Creedmoor could be the perfect combination of accuracy, power, and low recoil to be a good elk rifle. After learning its limitations and plenty of practice, you can head out on an elk hunt confident in your decision!