The 6.5 Creedmoor is regarded as a modern marvel by many shooters. On the other hand, the 6.5 x 55 Swede is a cartridge that has been around forever. The question is, how do these two rounds compare? Can the old cartridge do what the modern marvel can? Is it even better or does the modern technology embodied in the form of the 6.5 Creedmoor win?

Looking at the history, both rounds are perfect to compare. Very often, when you compare one round or one gun with another, you have two that have a different purpose and based on it follow different requirements. In the case of the 6.5 Creedmoor and the 6.5 Swede, both are 6.5 mm rounds that are perfect for hunting but originally made for something else.

One thing is different, however, besides the age of the cartridges. The 6.5 Creedmoor is well known and loved by many in the USA, but the 6.5 Swede is more or less obscure. Having been around for more than a century, the 6.5 Swede gained popularity especially in Europe. So, let`s tart with this one.

The 6.5 Swede

Designed in 1891 by a Swedish and Norwegian commission, it was meant for the armies of both countries. At that time, there were a number of countries adopting the 6.5 mmm as their military caliber. The reason for that is quite simple. Already at that time, it was no secret that a bullet with a diameter of 6.5 millimeters can achieve a very high ballistic coefficient. That allows for the bullet to be propelled at a relatively high velocity without getting too much recoil. Also, it was known that a lighter kick allows the average soldier to hit better.

The case itself was designed in a quite modern way. With little taper and sharp shoulder, it could feed rapidly. This allowed a smooth action for bolt action rifles and machine guns. Originally, it used a blunt nosed projectile with a weight of 156 grains, which achieved a muzzle velocity of 2379 fps (feet per second).

In 1941, a spitzer bullet was introduced that with 140 grains achieved a muzzle velocity of 2650 fps. While these numbers are very good for its time, it did not get to do much work. The Norwegians did not last long against the German army, and Sweden remained neutral.

Without a great performance in war to show for itself, it is quite understandable while this cartridge did not make it into the mind of the average American. However, there are American shooters who know about it and like it. Some of them found out about it while hunting in Sweden. Going after moose, they witness locals using the 6.5 Swede flatten everything in the path of the bullet. This very fast shows the true performance of this cartridge that sits between to big rounds that are too heavy and too light rounds that just do not bring the necessary oomph to the table.

Bringing this knowledge back to America, these hunters have now a new and excellent choice. Without too much recoil, they can drop whitetails any day. As an added bonus, there is not much meat getting destroyed by the hits.

However, not only these few shooters with Swedish experience bring the 6.5 Swede to us. There is also the Creedmoor itself that makes this caliber more and more known and acceptable. Shooters using the 6.5 Creedmoor, are looking for ways to increase their accuracy even more. Some of them almost automatically give the 6.5 Swede a try. This in turn has created some demand on the market. The natural result is that there are more and more factory loads available.

The 6.5 Creedmoor

The 6.5 Creedmoor is one of the best-known cartridges with a ton of articles written about it. Reading just a few of them, you might think it has magical attributes. At the beginning, this little fellow convinced only target shooters. Then, 5 or 6 years later, hunters tried it out as well, and then the big frenzy started.

While this cartridge is not the uber round it is made out to be, it is also nothing to trifle with. In fact, there are very few cartridges in this world, that are that well designed. Everything that could be taken into account was considered. You can see that also in the fact that there is no one seriously trying to make this little cartridge any better. There are no new rounds based on it, and normally, we like to play with them and create new versions.

The success of the 6.5 Creedmoor is also owed to the fact that it was not created to be a record breaker that is faster than anything else on earth. Instead, the design is made to achieve rather modest velocities. Firing a 140-grain bullet, you get a muzzle velocity of 2700 fps. For long range shooting, that is a very good choice. There is no need to try to reach extremes with greater velocities if this diminishes other important characteristics.

This brings us to the original question, which one of these ballistic wonders is better?

1. Long Range Shooting

Meant for long range competitions, the Creedmoor as a clear advantage. While the Swede is precise as well, it is meant for military rifles as a standard issue round, not as a sniper round. This means, that you are at a disadvantage with it. OK, if you want, you can get close to the performance of the Creedmoor, but you would have to invest a few thousand $ and still not replace or even win over the Creedmoor. This means, the Creedmoor clearly wins this round.

2. Accuracy

The 6.5 Creedmoor is made for competition shooting. For that, it had to produce .500 groups with 5 rounds, and that reliably. For the Creedmoor, that is no problem at all making it one of the if not the most accurate factory round on the market.

While the 6.5 Swede comes with great accuracy, it is not that good. Sure, with a well-made rifle, you will shoot very tight groups, but it is not that easy to go .500. This means that in this round, the Creedmoor comes out on top.

3. Your Gun

Every shot fired puts stress on your barrel. Long before it is completely gone, it loses accuracy. However, as both cartridges aim exactly at that, it is important to compare how long a given barrel gives you the best accuracy shooting them. On average, you get 2000-3000 rounds out of them before accuracy starts to suffer. The exact number is hard to determine as there are different variables to consider, not only for the barrels, but also for the loads. For this reason, we have to accept this rather wide estimate. However, overall, the 6.5 Swede works in some loads with a lower pressure so that at least in some cases a rifle might last longer shooting it. Apart from these loads, there is a tie between both.

4. Recoil

The Recoil of a round is very important factor, not only for the comfort of the shooter, but especially for the accuracy. In this regard, both rounds excel. Neither of them gives you a hard kick. Measuring the recoil, both sit in the area of 11 or 12 foot pounds of energy. While this might sound like something, in practice, that makes it actually hard to feel the shot. Using a 7-pound rifle, you might be forced to listen for the sound of the shot instead trying to feel that it went off. This means that in this round, there is no winner.

5. Hunting

Going hunting, you want your round to drop the animal where it is standing. Both cartridges are highly effective and make it easy to get the game with one shot. Any difference in this regard is marginal as both rounds shoot virtually the same projectile at the same speed. This means, this round is a clear tie.

6. Availability

To shoot a round, you need to find it first. For the 6.5 Creedmoor, that is no challenge. This cartridge makes it into the top 10 of the most loaded rounds. You will not only find it practically everywhere were ammo is sold, you will be able to choose between different loads. The range includes cheap bargain stuff as well as expensive premium rounds.

In comparison, you will find it harder to get a hold of 6.5 Swede ammo. If you find it, the available choices will be limited, and you need to pay more. However, this refers to the US. Around the globe, you can be sure that there are areas where it is much easier to find 6.5 Swede ammo than 6.5 Creedmoor. Focusing on the US market, the Creedmoor wins this round.

7. Handloading

Handloading either of these two cartridges is a no brainer. There are no hidden secrets or special tricks. However, being in the USA, you might find it easier to handload the Creedmoor as it is easy to find all the necessary components. For that reason, the Creedmoor wins this round.


Overall, Creedmoor wins but not easily. Its performance is only a little bit better than that of the Swede, and this only in some characteristics. It owes its victory more or less to the fact that you would have to invest a lot into a rifle made for the Swede to come close to the Creedmoor without actually outdoing it.

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