Handloads: Other Powders For The 6.5 mm Creedmoor

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posted on April 10, 2023
6.5 mm Creedmoor

6.5 mm Creedmoor specsHodgdon H4350 is so popular for handloading the 6.5 mm Creedmoor that the propellant is frequently unavailable or is in short supply as a result. However, the 6.5 mm Creedmoor is such a well-balanced cartridge that many other propellants perform just as well. A good problem is to pick one.

To set a reference point for selecting an alternative propellant, I loaded 41.5 grains of H4350 with Hornady 140-grain ELD Match bullets and shot the cartridges in a Ruger American Predator rifle. I also loaded and shot six other propellants with burn rates similar to H4350 while using the Hornady bullets. Reloder 17 and 23 produced slightly higher velocities, tighter groups and a similar standard deviation of velocity (Sd) as H4350. IMR 4451 and Norma URP shot groups not much larger than 0.5" with low Sds, however, their velocities were nearly 100 f.p.s. slower than H4350. Hybrid 100V pretty much mirrored H4350. Ramshot Hunter grouped Hornady bullets in 0.87" and fired them nearly 75 f.p.s. faster than H4350. The charge of Hunter was slightly compressed by a seated bullet, which aided in an even burn and an Sd of 11.

All six propellants would make a good replacement for H4350, but Reloder 17 and 23 and Ramshot Hunter particularly stood out. I settled on Hunter, and additional shooting confirmed it was a good choice. Hunter is a spherical propellant that flows precisely through a powder measure. The 45-grain charge of Hunter was dropped from a measure and produced an Sd of 12 across nine shots. The Ruger shot five, three-shot groups that varied in size from 0.64" to 1.28". 

Ramshot Hunter is commonly available, so there is no reason to lie awake at night worrying about a suitable propellant to handload the ever-popular 6.5 mm Creedmoor should Hodgdon H4350 not be an option.

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