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Accuracy Aces
DPMS' Panther and Hornady's 6.5 Creedmoor wear out the X-ring.
By Greg Rodriguez

 
The author tests the Panther 6.5. Note the reading on the Shooting Chrony: 2,820 fps. That is the lowest velocity reading the author got with the remarkably consistent Hornady ammunition.
 

I'd heard a great deal of positive things about DPMS' offerings for years but only got around to testing one for the first time in 2007. That rifle, an LR-204 in .204 Ruger, actually started out as a parts kit. I built the rifle myself, so I had a darn good idea of the quality of the parts. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. Not surprisingly, the finished product turned out great, too. It was accurate and ran like a top, despite the fact that it was assembled by my less-than-skilled hands.

That project made a favorable and lasting impression on me. So when I got the hankering for an AR-based rifle for long-range steel targets and deer hunting, my first stop was going to be the DPMS website. I planned to order a .260 Remington or .308 Winchester, but a chance conversation with Hornady's Steve Johnson clued me in to the fact that DPMS was about to announce a purpose-built, long-range rifle chambered for Hornady's new 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. Johnson's description of the ballistics and enthusiasm for the new cartridge sold me on a test run of the latest DPMS offering, the Panther 6.5 Creedmoor.

The 6.5 Creedmoor
I'm a huge fan of 6.5mm cartridges. In fact, I do the majority of my target shooting and a great deal of my deer hunting these days with a 6.5-284 or a .260 Rem. Those long, pointy bullets shoot flat, retain heaps of downrange energy, buck the wind well, and are downright deadly on deer-sized game. They are also extremely accurate when shot out of barrels with the appropriate twist rate.

Lately, there has been a resurgence of interest in the 6.5s. In fact, custom gunsmiths I've spoken to report a sizeable increase in orders for 6.5-284 and .260 Rem. rigs. The 6.5s are making huge inroads in the world of competitive shooting, too. At sniper matches like the Sniper's Hide Cup, rifles chambered for both cartridges are showing up more frequently and are impressing in greater numbers every year.

While production rifles and ammunition for both rounds are still limited, progressive manufacturers like Hornady have taken notice of this trend. Hornady took a good, long look at the .260 Rem. and decided to do what they've been doing quite a bit of lately: improve on an existing product and make it their own. Hornady's Senior Ballistic Scientist Dave Emary worked with two-time NRA National High Power Champion Dennis DeMille of Creedmoor Sports to develop a cartridge accurate enough that it would allow match shooters to be competitive with factory ammunition. They christened the new cartridge the 6.5 Creedmoor.

DPMS Panther 6.5 Creedmoor

Model Panther 6.5 Creedmoor
Purpose Big game, varmints, and target shooting
Manufacturer DPMS Firearms, 320-258-4448
Capacity 19 rounds
Receiver Material Aluminum
Caliber 6.5 Creedmoor
Barrel Length 24-inch, bull profile
Rifling Six grooves, 1:8.5 RH twist
Sights None; Picatinny-spec rail for scope mounting
Metal Finish Matte-black Teflon-coated receiver; matte 416 stainless-steel barrel.
Safety Mechanical trigger disconnect.
Trigger Type Single-stage
Pull Weight 3 pounds, 7 ounces
Stock A2 Black Zytel Mil-Spec material/type: w/trap-door assembly
Overall Length 43.6 inches
Accessories Owners manual, nylon sling, 2 magazines (4 and 19 round), and hard case

The 6.5 Creedmoor's case is 1.920 inches, which is slightly shorter than the .260 Rem. case, but it's a bit longer than the 6.5x47 Lapua case. Case capacity is 53.0 grains of water. According to the folks at Hornady, the shorter case length was designed to avoid overall length issues when combining long, pointy bullets and short, .308 Win.-length magazine boxes. It is a particularly useful improvement for shooters who favor AR-based rifles.

The 6.5 Creedmoor also has a sharp, 30-degree shoulder and an aggressive body taper. Hornady claims these improvements allow the new cartridge to deliver higher velocities than other 6.5mm cartridges while operating at standard .308 Win. pressures.

Claimed velocities for the new cartridge are 3,020 fps for the 120-grain A-Max load and 2,820 fps with a 140-grain A-Max. At 600 yards, the 120-grainer drops 74.3 inches, and the 140-grain A-Max falls 81.3 inches. Compare that to the 168-grain A-Max load for the .308 Win. that drops 89.3 inches at the same distance. The new cartridge should excel in the wind drift and retained energy departments, too.

The 6.5 Panther
Like all of DPMS' offerings, the new Panther is built on a lower receiver that is milled from a solid billet of 6061-T6 aluminum. The trigger guard is an integral part of the receiver. It protects a crisp and light single-stage trigger that, on my gun, broke cleanly at 3 pounds, 7 ounces. A standard A-2-style pistol grip and buttstock are standard parts of a gun that looks very much like a .223 AR save for an oversize magazine well that accommodates the included 19-round magazines.

Article from Shooting Times