Why the Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor?

This was a cartridge that could have been a kin to the .308 Winchester parent cartridge but wasn’t. Hornady produced this original cartridge in 2007 and has grown steadily ever since in both the target world and the hunting world. Just between the .243 and .270 there was room to create a cartridge who’s mild recoil is similar to the .243 Winchester but shoots bullets 100 grains to 140 grains from Prairie Dogs to Elk. The .243 is not an Elk cartridge and the .270 has not been a favorite of Bench Rest Target shooters for pure accuracy. In order to make this 6.5 special required making its own Cartridge which is a bit smaller and shorter than the .308 Winchester but unwittingly a great big game cartridge.

The Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator does justice to this Cartridge in many ways. The laminate stock is as strong and precision cut as if made from a pure synthetic material. The stainless steel barrel that is hammer forged is the finest barrel for the price. And the Ruger controlled feed action ensures a very high degree of reliable feed. The trigger is a fully adjustable 2 stage target trigger and comes in the 2 pound class making it a fine long range target or predator rifle. It is recommended that adjustments are made by a qualified gunsmith.

The 6.5 Creedmoor round is said to be great on barrel life so for those who shoot large quantities of ammo are in for a treat. Go to my first article far below to begin reading this in the correct sequence.

© 2015

6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge Reloading Overall Length for 120 grain Sierra Pro- Hunter

If you are following my writing on the 6.5 Creedmoor tests, I had great luck with more 100 yard tests reloading for third time with same Hornady brass which has stiffened some, making it easier to press the bullet into the cartridge.

Even thought the SAAMI Max Cartridge Overall Lenth (COL) is 2.825 this does not aid the reloader much in finding the best COL.  I knew from previous tests with this particular rifle (every rifle is different) the 120 grain Sierra Pro-Hunter flat base bullet flies well at 2.53 inches COL (and poorly at 2.70 inches so I loaded two (three shot) groups today 6 rounds with 2.65 inches COL where the bullet was seated totally into the neck.Group 1 was 1.5 inches Group 2 was 3/4 inch. It is possible that one of group 1 shots was errant and due to a slight pull of the trigger. Group 3 and 4 was shot at COL of 2.60 and measured 1 inch for group 3 and 5/8′ for group 4. Based on this data, I am confident that best COL length is between 2.53 and 2.60 resulting in sub MOA performance. A bullet seated less than 2.53 is near to the curved o-give. I would perhaps settle on just less than 2.60, say 2.58 for future tests on the Sierra 120 grain. Speed is 2892 fps at the muzzle. Below is the calculation of performance to 300 yards on deer size game. Max Point blank range is 278 yards where the bullet stays within a 6 inch circle when zeroed at 238 yards. Bullet energy at 278 yards is 1322 ft lbs. Plenty nuff energy for a whitetail hit in the heart/lung area but must account some for a light 10 mph wind that can throw the bullet off course by 7 inches left or right. Vertical error is around 2 inches at max range from a bench rest. In the field you will need a good rest to take a shot at that range and practice, practice, practice. Check out the JBM Ballistics data below. http://www.jbmballistics.com/cgi-bin/jbmtraj-5.1.cgi. A side note on the size of a bullseye with the Leupold VX-6 Scope. I ran out of preprinted targets so I used copy paper and scribbled a circle bull at 1/2 inch but the crosshairs filled the bull and the target center disapeared. Thus your bull should be larger than 1/2 inch (perhaps 1 to 1.5 inches) to be seen correctly so that the shooter knows that the crosshair is in the center of it. Shooting a fly at 100 yards would be difficult indeed, but since we are not shooting flies negates the matter. I do like the VX-6 bold crosshairs very much as they stand out clearly.

6.5 120 g

Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge – Initial Observations

The first thing I discovered is that new Brass for the Creedmoor does not appear to be abundant. In fact I found Hornady brass to be the one of the only available new brass in stock. Nosler Brass was out of stock. If you have read my previous articles on the 6.5 Creedmoor you will see that the Hornady brass is soft, thus making it difficult to reload. Lots of case prep to bevel the inside of the case neck without creating a sharp flair edge is difficult indeed. Pressing on with the only new brass in town, I have succeeded in reloading it more than twice. The brass is stiffer as it becomes harder with use and better for pressing the bullet into the neck.

Of great interest should be Cartridge Overall Length (COL) ; The Max SAAMI Over All Cartridge Length is specified as 2.825.

I am shooting 120 grain Sierra Pro-Hunter heads as I am a hunter first and a target shooter second. I originally set the COL for this head with case at 2.53 inches and later discovered that I could push the head out as far as a COL of 2.70 and still have enough of the bullet seated. Groups of the 2.53 COL show excellent results as groups are 1 inch or less. Yesterday I shot several rounds set at a COL of 2.70 and the result deteriorated with fliers in the 2 inch group area. One would think that groups would improve as the bullet is closer to the rifling. Not so in this case, perhaps because the case had very little of the bullet in it. I perceive that the 120 grain is still a small bullet for the 6.5 and that heavier and larger bullets will make better use of the max COL.

Bullets are readily available from most all manufacturers, key bullets like the Nosler AccuBond  are available as are several Berger Hunting Bullets, et al. The reloader must experiment with COL to see what works best and provides best groups.

On powders, my only experience is with Hodgdon Hornady Superformance at this time and I like it very much because it is a smaller kernel and meters well with less variation than larger kernels. Nosler folks suggest powders such as Varget, W760, IMR 4007 SSC, Big Game, H4350, RL17 and Hunter.among others.

Since the Creedmoor Cartridge is new, older reloading manuals do not have it. Nosler does provide load data at http://www.nosler.com/nosler-load-data/65-creedmoor/  and SAAMI specifications. Hornady has the 6.5 listed at http://www.hornady.com/store/6.5-Creedmoor but no data for reloading. Check out the scrapbook of game animals taken. It includes a record Gemsbok. © 2015

Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator System Test – 6.5 Creedmoor – Updated

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System Test: All components to make the shot.

Rifle – Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator  6.5 Creedmoor

Scope: Leupold VX-6 3-18x44mm B&C Reticle

Brass – Hornady

Bullets – Sierra Pro- Hunter spitzer 120 grain flat base

Powder Hodgdon Hornady Superformance at 47.5 grains

Max Cartridge OAL is 2.825

Cartridge overall length used in this test is 2.53 inches due to my own flawed empirical tests. The longer reach to the rifling I used does not appear hurt hunting accuracy at all.


A system test is one which integrates all factor into one. The shooter, rifle, brass, bullet, powder, scope,trigger pull etc. On 5/20/ 2015, I shot at my club range at 100 yards. I had to wait till late afternoon to shoot as the wind was blowing gusts past 20 mph for most of the day. In less than 10 mph wind I shot a 4 shot 1 inch group that I was just “ok”  at 100 yards See photo below.  That group  below is truly excellent for a hunter but if you are target shooting, then I expect sub-MOA groups such as 1/2 inch or tighter from this 6.5 Creedmoor since that its derivative, a supreme target rifle that a hunter can use as well. Trigger pull average of several pull sequences is 2 lb 2.6 oz and very consistent and very crisp. As a hunter this is too low, I think,  for the average shooter but in competent well practices hands is just fine for bean field hunting at long-range where there is a rest involved.

Ruger Hawkeye Pred 6.5 Creedmoor  1st 4s group 100 yds 1.0 in.

That night I chose to change only one of the factors. The cleaning of the barrel was the factor that was easiest to eliminate as a contributor to this mediocre performance. Accordingly, I scrubbed the barrel with a brush and Butches Bore Bright alternating to patch and back to the brush until it shined like a mirror. It is often the case that new barrels need some break-in rounds.

The next morning I went to shoot at 600 yards as pictured in the prone position above and found that my set up, rest and such was too low indeed as I struggled to relax. I shot just 5 shots and hit the target each time but I was not at an optimum position. Groupings reflected my suspicion as they were in the black but grouped greater than 12 inches with  no wind. With 1 inch groups at 100 yards translates to 6 inch groups, and that was just not happening. I stopped shooting at 600 yards and went back to my club and shot a 100 yard target to see where it fell. I had to reset the Leupold back to its zero point having adjusted it 12 minutes up for 600 yards. So I cranked the vertical adjustment back down to its 100 yard zero (48 clicks). This is a test point for the Leupold scope! It should be back where I left it at about 1 inch high above the bull.

Below is the 2nd 3 shot group at 100 yards. Yes, three shot group! The first two bullets went through the same hole at 100 yards and the third printed just 5/8 inch above.

Ruger Hawkeye Pred 6.5 Creedmoor 2nd 3s group 100 yds .625 in. aft bbl scrub

More alternate shooting and cleaning will aid to base line the accuracy of this load. Am I happy with the second group ever out of this rifle? You Bet. The weather was perfect with almost no wind, sunny and bright.

The only component of this system that gave me difficulty was the Hornady Brass. I found that the shoulders were too soft and any pressure to press the bullet into the case resulted in a slight bulge of the case where the shoulder meets the rest of the case body. Trial and error and lots of chamfering were successful however. I would try other manufacturers if I need more brass but as I recall there were no immediate choices, and preferred Nosler brass (none available).

Component Score (10 is the highest)                                               Score

Rifle – Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator  6.5 Creedmoor                    10

Scope: Leupold VX-6 3-18x44mm B&C Reticle                               10

Brass – Hornady   Neck Too Soft                                                      6

Bullets – Sierra Pro- Hunter spitzer 120 grain flat base 2891 fps      10

Powder Hodgdon Hornady Superformance at 47.5 grains                10

System Score (without Brass)                                                        10

Overall Comments:

The rifle with this Leupold scope is just right for an adult hunter to carry afield and recoils so little that a young shooter with a rest could shoot it well. Cranking the Leupold scope up 48 clicks and down proved exact for where I created the scope elevation zero at 100 yards proving its accuracy in this case. On reloading the Brass; As I reload the brass it will stiffen so over time it will be less of an issue.

Bottom line I need to be better prepared to shoot Prone at 600 yards with a better adjustable rest or front bi-pod with rear bag support. The prone bi-pod is perhaps the best overall afield as my son suggested recently. Perhaps some target bullets too. I plan to purchase a roll out prone blanket, change the Prone Rest and test it before hand. As you can see, we all learn from our mistakes. If we make none, we learn little.

Happy Shooting! © 2015


Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator 6.5 Creedmoor & Product Tests – Day One

Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator with Leupold Gold Ring 3-18x44mm

Ruger® M77® Hawkeye® Predator 6.5 Creedmoor & Product Tests – Day One

Day One – I did not waste a moment when I picked up this rifle from my FFL friends at State Line Guns Ammo and Archery in Plaistow today. Yes, I am like a big kid in a candy store when it comes to new rifles and scopes and I am sure most all of your rifleman out there are just the same. Upon receiving the rifle, I inspected it and all was as it should be visually a beautiful rifle with the laminate stock. I mounted the brand new Leupold VX-6 3 -18 x 44mm CDS Scope to test too.(Above Photo by Author). The combination looks stunning! Future Testing includes the use of Hornady Brass, CCI Primers, Hodgdon Hornady Superformance Powder and Sierra bullets a combination that I believe will work supremely well.

I inspected the bore but it was a dull shine so I swabbed the bore with Butches bore bright. It is a good idea to clean the bore of a new rifle so you have a pristine starting point. Test shots are taken at the factory as was very likely in this case.

patchs 1 and 2 from new Ruger 6.5 Creedmoor

(Photo by Author)

The swab on the right was a first pass. Finding this, I ran a brush just once and then swabbed again with the patch to the left. I ran more till the bore was clean. Having owned several Ruger’s,  I placed the bolt in the rifle and it worked smoothly. I did read the manual to see if there was anything new and found there were video’s which could be viewed on line for use and dis-assembly plus the lock they provide for safety and a pair of 20mm Ruger scope rings. Luckily I had a pair of 30mm rings for the Leupold VX-6 to attach to the Ruger scope platform.

I used a Wheeler Fat Wrench to torque the mounting and scope ring screws. (Photo by Author)

Wheeler Fat Wrench

Next is to load the new Hornady cartridge cases, I could not get any Nosler cases as they were out of stock but the Hornady Cases look terrific. (Photo below by Author)


The brass necks and shoulder have been annealed (softened) for reloading. Now off to the reloading bench. I have found that the necks of this new brass need to be really hand chamfered quite a bit on the inside edge so that the flat base bullet does not distress the case neck angle. I ruined a few cases and bullet heads in the learning process but all is well.  It took some time and trial and error to determine the cartridge length to the rifling inside the barrel (approx.2.53 to 2.6 inches by my reckoning seems a good COL for the 120 grain bullet based on later tests). Once known you should seat the bullet a bit deeper, so as not to contact the rifling. Good reloading manuals will help with this distance away from the lands and it varies from bullet to bullet and brand to brand. I used CCI 200 large rifle primers.

My research indicates that Hodgdon Hornady Superformance Powder is one of the best powders for my Sierra 120 grain Pro Hunter bullet for the 6.5 Creedmoor. Also Alliant’s Reloader 17 has been cited for excellence with the Creedmoor too.

Inspection of several fired rounds indicate that I am good to load up some ammo for another day. The recoil was pleasingly mild and the trigger seemed perfect. I will measure the trigger pull next with an electronic trigger pull gage along with other attributes.

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I loaded less than a recommended load by a grain and a half, shot the round and examined the primer and cartridge. All looked normal so I shot the recommended load and it looked normal as well. Great! Now to load up some rounds for bullet speed by chronograph and accuracy with the new scope for this load and bullet. End of Day One. Much more to come… © 2015




A Box of Gold – The Leupold VX-6


This is a rifleman’s “Box of Gold.” Inside this box is a device known to rifle hunters World Wide. It contains a Leupold Gold Ring Scope arguably one of the finest rifle scopes on planet earth with its Quantum Optical System. NH Rifleman will test it!

Leupold VX-6 3-18x50


This scope is in 3 -18x44mm CDS riflescope with an Illuminated Boone and Crockett Reticle. (Photo from Leupold.) CDS stands for Custom Dial System and a dial can be created free that will be for your best bullet and with a twist dial your yardage. More later.


Above is the Boone and Crockett reticle (image from Leupold) and power selector values for cartridges (more on that later). Also visible is the 10 mph shift posts we will use in testing

The Box of Gold also contains an instruction guide, Scope caps and a neoprene cover are the other gems included.  When I was a kid, most hunters that had a scope shot 3 power or 4 power fixed. Then the industry produced a 3-9 power that was affordable, and filled the tube with nitrogen, an inert gas to prevent internal fogging. Today, Leupold uses second generation waterproofing exclusively using a blend of Argon/Krypton gas. Now with supreme engineering and optical know-how Leupold offers hunter the power of close hunting at say 30 yards with the 3x all the way to 600 yards up to 18x. A new way to sing “You Got The Power”, a scope that is best of both short and long-range hunting and target shooting. In the coming months we will talk again and again of our experience with this world-class scope on the Ruger and Savage rifles.  In my testing will include the internal twin bias erector system that can handle most any caliber in the field or in the African bush. Look for more on this scope soon!