In the market for a long-range rifle for shooting competitions? Your first consideration will likely be caliber. While there’s world of choices out there, the reality is a relative handful of calibers currently dominate the long-range rifle field-and for good reasons.
According to Curt Vaughn, Head of Product for Ballistic and a long-range shooting competitor, various 6mm and 6.5mm’s are the top choices for today’s distance shooters. “The ballistic efficiency of the 6mm and 6.5mm-in rounds like the 6.5 Creedmoor–along with reduced recoil, has really brought them to the front of the long-range shooting arena,” said Vaughn.
What about the venerable and accurate .243 Win? It’s a decent choice, Vaughn added, though it doesn’t quite have the zip for the longer shots. “The 243 Ackley Improved works better than .243 Win,” he explained. “The 260 Rem is also very popular and works quite well. You might also consider the 260 AI, but you have to keep the muzzle velocities under the maximum allowed by the specific competition.”
If you’ve been shopping for a long-range rifle, you’ve probably noticed that most of the bigger manufacturers offer their “competition-ready” rifles in either 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win. The 6.5 Creedmoor is, of course, the current “hot round” in long-range shooting.
For decades, though, the .308 Win was the go-to cartridge for many long-distance shooters and was favored by precision shooters in the military and law enforcement. As Vaughn noted, a handful of today’s long-range competitors still use rifles chambered in .308 Win. But the 6.5 Creedmoor and its cousins shoot flatter and are less affected by wind drift, and do so in a short-action bolt with more compact magazines.
The 6mm and 6.5MM calibers also stay super-sonic for greater distances than .308 Win. That’s very important for the distance shooter because once a bullet drops into subsonic velocities, that bullet is usually going to tumble. No accuracy there! – no wonder the 6MM and the 6.5mm’s rule the ranges.
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