Over the last few years the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge has become increasingly popular among precision rifle enthusiasts. However, availability of cases was limited to only a few manufacturers and shooters desired better case life. In early 2017 Lapua introduced its own 6.5 Creedmoor case with a unique attribute – the case has a small rifle primer pocket versus the large primer pocket utilized by other brands.
We received a brand new box of these cases (100 count) from the good folks at Graf & Sons to test. We took a sample of these cases and conducted a number of measurements to assess the level of manufacturing consistency. Additionally, we subjected a case to a durability test to see how many repeated reloading cycles it would endure. We were primarily interested in the ability of the primer pocket to remain tight as loose primer pockets are a common complaint among those who reload for the 6.5 Creedmoor. For that reason, we would steer reloaders to the 6.5×47 Lapua as it has a small primer pocket, a reputation for durability, and similar performance characteristics.
The primary objective of our test was to assess the durability of the Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor case. We also gathered data that is indicative of potential accuracy. However, we did not perform specific accuracy tests due to the many variables associated with such an undertaking.
Based on our experience with the 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge, we hypothesized that the small primer pocket would sustain at least 15 reloading cycles without coming loose. This compares to the half dozen reloads that many shooters are reporting with other brands utilizing a large primer pocket. We did not anneal in order to represent a worst case scenario, but we didn’t expect to see any failures related to work hardening (e.g., split neck) based on our previous experience with Lapua.
For our durability test, we repeatedly reloaded a randomly selected case as follows:
- Dillon 550 press with standard tool head
- Whidden full length sizing die with a .288″ bushing and factory expander ball resulting in .001″ neck tension
- Shoulder set back .001″ during sizing
- We did not anneal between firings
- Cleaned the fired case with a paper towel and periodically removed ash from the primer pocket to ensure proper primer seating
- Lubricated the case with Imperial Die Wax and wiped off the wax prior to firing
- Seated the bullet to magazine length and did not attempt to achieve any particular setback from the lands
- Seated the bullet with a Whidden seating die
- Rifle based on a trued Remington 700 action and 26 inch Broughton 8 twist barrel built by RBros Rifles. Factory non-bushed firing pin aperture. Thunderbeast 30-P1 suppressor
- CCI 450 small rifle magnum primer
- Hornady 140 ELD Match bullet – this is a popular weight for the 6.5 Creedmoor
- 43.1 grains H4350 powder (note: We have observed hot and cold lots of H4350 – this is a hot lot)
WARNING: We deliberately used a very stout load for our testing. DO NOT attempt to duplicate. This load was shot in a faster-than-average barrel with a chamber set up for long 140gr bullets. You may not be able to achieve similar velocities — maybe not even close. As with all hand-loading, always start low and work up charges in small increments.
Measuring tools used:
- Digital vernier caliper
- Whidden headspace gauge – measures from cartridge base to shoulder datum. Very similar to Hornady Lock-N-Load headspace gauge
- Sinclair concentrity tool
- RCBS digital scale
- Mangetospeed V2 choronograph
We repeatedly fired the case 20 times without observing any loosening of the primer pocket. This was verified by feeling the insertion force required to seat the primer and attempts to dislodge a seated primer using a decapping stem with full hand force.
We capped off our durability test with two above maximum loads that our attorney Saul Goodman told us not to publish for liability reasons. We fully expected a sticky bolt but there was none. We did this two times and the primer pocket remained tight. There was cratering of the primer that we normally observe even with mild loads shot in factory Remington 700 actions. The primer had very slight flattening but the radiused edge was maintained. There was no evidence of gas leakage.
Case after 22nd firing
As we didn’t anneal we had to periodically adjust the sizing die to maintain shoulder setback due to spring back of the work hardened brass. After 22 firings the neck did not split.
We achieved an average muzzle velocity of 2,871 fps with SD of 4 fps. This is a very respectable speed for a 140 grain bullet. The low SD of 4 fps indicated we were within or very close to an accuracy node.
We measured weight, base to shoulder datum, neck runout, and overall length of 31 randomly selected cases:
||Base to Shoulder Datum (Inches)
||Neck Total Indicator Runout (.001 Inches)
||Case Overall Length (Inches)
Our hypothesis was confirmed. The utilization of a small primer pocket resulted in a level of durability that we have come to expect from other small primer pocket cases notably the 6.5×47 Lapua. This level of durability exceeds what reloaders have reported from other brands of 6.5 Creedmoor cases that utilize a large primer pocket (typically 6-8 reloads before the primer pockets come loose). Lapua has addressed a main concern of those wishing to reload the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge – poor case life.
We also believe that shooters might be able to safely push their bullets significantly faster than they typically could with less durable 6.5 Creedmoor cases. This hypothesis will have to be confirmed through more detailed testing and field experience.
The measurements we took of 31 randomly selected cases indicate a high degree of manufacturing consistency. It is generally accepted that potential accuracy and manufacturing consistency are positively correlated.
Overall, our tests indicate that the introduction of the Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor case with its small primer pocket may be a seminal moment in the history of the 6.5 Creedmoor. Lapua is providing a combination of durability, performance, and consistency that 6.5 Creedmoor shooters have been seeking.
For further reading, please take a look at the article by Accurate Shooter.
You can learn more at Lapua’s 6.5 Creedmoor page.
Editor: Ed Mobley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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