U.S. Special Operations troops will soon be fielding sniper systems in a new caliber that will double their hit probability at 1000 meters, has less wind drift, increases their range by a half and cut down on the weight of their ammunition.
The 6.5mm Creedmoor which has been kicking around for about a decade is the new choice for the US Special Operations Command for their sniper systems. The venerable 7.62x51mm-sniper round will be replaced as the Creedmoor has superior long-range ballistic performance and has been a favorite of civilian long-range precision shooters for some time now.
The Creedmoor 6.5mm has much less recoil than the traditional 7.62mm and in an article by the NRA’s Shooting Illustrated, the cartridge is far more flatter with less wind drift.
The 140-grain 6.5 Creedmoor and the 168-grain .308 Win. both leave the muzzle at 2,700 fps, and the trajectories stay pretty even out to 500 yards. The Creedmoor needs 10.0 MOA of holdover, while the .308 needs 10.5 MOA, but the 10-mph crosswind will start to show the advantages of the higher B.C. of the Creedmoor. The .308 will need 3.25 MOA of wind adjustment, while the Creedmoor needs 2.5 MOA. Take it to 750 yards, the Creedmoor needs 19 MOA of vertical adjustment, and the .308 Winchester needs 21 MOA, so the 6.5 bullet offers a mildly flatter trajectory, if a 15-inch difference in point of impact fits your definition of mild. With regards to the wind, the 6.5 Creedmoor needs 4.25 MOA of wind hold, and the .308 Win. requires 5.5 MOA. The Creedmoor is moving 175 fps faster than the .308 at this point.
At the magic 1,000 yard mark, things change radically. Looking at the trajectory, our Creedmoor needs 30.75 MOA, the .308 needs 35.5 MOA, and that’s a big difference. The Creedmoor requires 6.25 MOA of wind adjustment in the 10mph wind, and the .308 needs 8.25 MOA – a difference of 20 inches. But the velocities at this point is where the Creedmoor shows the advantage over the .308; the 6.5 Creedmoor 140-grainer is moving along at over 1,400 fps but that .308 Win. bullet has slowed down to about 1,150 fps – just past the cusp of the transonic window. That’s where things can go haywire, and a bullet can often do quirky, silly things. If you’re shooting at higher elevations, that point may stretch out a bit, but at the coastal elevations, especially in cooler temperatures, it can pose an issue. The Creedmoor – again according to the Hornady calculator – will carry out to about 1,175 yards before it hits that window.
If the military wants to convert the current weapons to 6.5mm, it would require only a barrel change, the magazines would still hold the same amount of ammo. SOCOM is also trying to cut down on the weight of the ammo by going to a polymer ammunition which would bring the weight down to a load similar to 5.56mm.
We’ve also read that the Department of Homeland Security is following USSOCOM’s lead and switching to 6.5mm as well.
Recently a two-man sniper team from 1st Special Forces Group took home the award as the top sniper team during the recent USASOC Sniper Competition besting other teams from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, including teams from the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School, the Army Sniper School and Naval Special Warfare Command.
The USASOC Sniper Competition tested the team’s abilities to move and communicate in a very short amount of time (six minutes) and still accomplish their assigned missions. Drew Brooks the military editor for the Fayetteville (NC) Observer posted about the challenges the snipers faced.
At Range 62B, their communications skills were further tested. Twenty targets were mixed amid a range that includes numerous obstacles, buildings and mock vehicles. Each was marked by a symbol and a color denoting the type of weapon that should be used — pistol, carbine or sniper rifle.
Working together, the competitors had to look at a card shown to them by an instructor, find that symbol and shoot the target with the appropriate weapon.
“It’s essentially ‘Where’s Waldo,’” said a Special Forces Sniper Course instructor overseeing the event. “It’s designed to suck them in, get them distracted or moving faster than [they] needed to be.”
The point is, a sniper has an extremely difficult job to do, even in perfect circumstances. If they are carrying a weapon, such as the 6.5mm Creedmoor which effectively extends their range and cuts down on the number of adjustments they’ll be forced to make, it only makes them much effective at the job and they’ll no doubt be faster in doing it. That will save lives.
We’ve reached out to some long gunners on if they’ve shot the new round yet and what their perspective is on it. And we get those, we’ll update this.
Photo: US Army