Every so often, a product comes along that makes a light go on in your head, and you think: “Why didn’t they ever do that before?” Hornady’s new ammunition in 6.5 Creedmoor is just such a product. Well, actually, two products.
Since its introduction, the 6.5 Creedmoor has become successful beyond anyone’s expectations. A Hornady development, it is essentially the ancient wildcat .250-3000 Ackley Improved necked up to .264, creating a mid-range 6.5mm cartridge not unlike the myriad 6.5mm military and civilian cartridges that first saw light in the 1890s.
That sounds like damning with faint praise, but it is not. Those old 6.5s all had their virtues, but they shared one drawback: They were chambered in rifles of varying strength, history, and dimensions. By coming up with a whole new cartridge on a very old pattern, Hornady created a cartridge without baggage, and hence one that could be loaded to its full potential. The 6.5 Creedmoor has been seized upon by both target shooters and hunters, and has found application in sniper, long-range benchrest, and varmint rifles.
Obviously, such a wide range of uses demands a wide range of ammunition and, in some cases, ammunition that will fill multiple uses in the same rifle. This brings us to Hornady’s new 140-grain ELD (Extremely Low Drag) Match ammunition, and its sibling 143-grain ELD-X, for hunting. They are not billed as being interchangeable, but in the rifle I have at least, they are so close that for all practical purposes you can use either in the same rifle without changing sight settings.
This may seem like a small thing, but in fact the problem of having affordable practice ammunition that duplicates the performance of expensive hunting rounds, I believe, causes many hunters to not get the practice they should have. This applies to both dangerous-game and plains-game rifles. And in case you think the well-heeled among us would ignore such factors and burn up ammunition at ten bucks a bullet without thinking twice, that has most emphatically not been my experience. In fact, the wealthier the hunter, it seems, the more they resent paying the price for premium ammunition.
SIG recognized this problem when they began introducing their superb tactical ammunition for concealed-carry guns, a year or two back. That line is still expanding (the latest to come will be tactical ammunition in .44 Special) and, for every tactical load, there is a SIG practice load that is considerably cheaper. Constantly adjusting sights back and forth is even more of an irritation in a handgun, particularly a defensive one, than it is with a rifle, so the SIG innovation was extremely welcome.
Two firearms everyone should practice with a lot are their CCW pistol and their big-bore for dangerous game, yet very few people do nearly enough. The lack of availability of appropriate, affordable practice ammunition is one of the discouraging factors.
Whether Hornady can load an inexpensive 140-grain bullet to duplicate the ELD-X, at least at shorter practice distances, is known only to them, but I suspect they’re working on it. Meanwhile, here’s a suggestion. Since Hornady makes and sells bullets and brass as components, and publishes one of the best loading manuals known to man, why not include in their next one the necessary formulae for handloaders to load their own practice ammunition that duplicates, ballistically, their excellent factory loads?
This might not work for everyone, but it certainly would for many (your faithful correspondent included.) This data could also be used by the growing number of small, custom handloaders to offer a desirable product to non-handloading hunters. And, of course, it would sell more Hornady bullets in the process.
This would be a good spot to compliment the foursome of original component bullet makers (Nosler, Sierra, and Speer, as well as Hornady) for the contribution they’ve made, not just in producing extraordinary bullets, but in promoting progress in loaded ammunition over the years. Some, like Nosler and Hornady, have ventured into the field themselves, as well as supplying bullets to companies like Norma and Federal.
All of this has added up to extraordinary progress in the quality of hunting ammunition, loaded with premium game bullets. As a diehard handloader, I will never stop rolling my own, but I tell you, it’s getting tough to compete!–Terry Wieland