A Look at Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass

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.

Hypothesis

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.

Procedure

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

Components used:

  • 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

Results

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:

Weight (Grains) Base to Shoulder Datum (Inches) Neck Total Indicator Runout (.001 Inches) Case Overall Length (Inches)
Mean 165.47 1.5183 1.016 1.9104
Median 165.40 1.5185 1.000 1.9105
Min 165.10 1.5150 0.500 1.9100
Max 165.90 1.5205 2.000 1.9110
Extreme  Spread 0.80 0.0055 1.500 0.0010
Std Deviation 0.18 0.0010 0.382 0.0003

Conclusion:

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 (ed@65guys.com)

Copyright 6.5 Guys LLC

Latest Comments
  1. A.R.

    Why the small magnum primer instead of a small bench rest primer?

    • 65guys

      Hi,

      The small magnum primer just gives better results overall from our experience. It all depends on the combination of components. Also the CCI 450 primers are a lot less expensive.

      Regards,

      Ed and Steve

  2. HERMANN KESSLER

    THANKS GUYS FOR THE GREAT ARTICLE ON THE 6.5 GREEDMOOR BRASS I JUST RECEIVED A BOX AND WILL WORK ON THAT AND PREPAIR THEM FOR MY
    TIKKA T3 TAC I HAVE A 6.5X47L ALLSO SMAL PRIMERS A308 WITH PALMA BRASS SMAL PRIMERS NOW I WONT TO ASKE YOU FOR MY 260 REMINTON
    I WONT TO USE THE PALMA BRSS SMALL PRIMER AND NEK THEM DOWN FOR
    THE 260 REM WILL IT WORK ? PLEASE LET ME KNOW
    GRETTINGS HERMANN

    • 65guys

      Hi – Folks used to neck down Lapua .308 brass before Lapua produced .260 Remington brass. I see no reason you can’t do the same with their Palma brass. Depending on your chamber, you might run into issues with neck thickness in which case you might have to turn the necks. I doubt you’d have an issue with a factory chamber but more likely with a tight match chamber.

      Regards,

      Ed and Steve

  3. R C Jones

    Do you know the diameter of the flash hole? Is it 1.5mm like the 6.5 X 47 Lapua?

    • 65guys

      Their specs claim 2mm. Thanks for reading and watching!

      • 65guys

        We stand corrected – it’s 1.5mm NOT 2mm.

  4. Pete

    Lapua have really cottoned on to something with the SRP pockets. They should offer 22-250 Rem brass also with a small pocket. That will do for the 6XC what they’ve done for the Creed. It would certainly give Norma a nudge in the ribs. Or make SRP 6XC brass too, whatever!

    Great review, you guys rock!

    • 65guys

      Thanks for the comments Pete. We’ve pretty much standardized on small rifle primer whenever possible. For example, we shoot the Lapua .308 Palma brass as it uses a small rifle primer.

  5. Jim Eddy

    Gents

    love your work (the stress test was very illuminating) however I am certain the Lapua brass has the smaller 1.5mm flash hole and this is crucial for guys ordering their resizing dies. I have just been through this – it is a pain bit apparently the combustion consistency is better.
    This from the Lapua website
    “We’ve also incorporated our smaller diameter flash hole (1.5mm, rather than the industry standard 2.0mm), which has proven to provide enhanced accuracy, and is used in a number of our other accuracy oriented cases. In this respect, the new 6.5 Creedmoor joins the ranks of our other dedicated accuracy cartridges such as the .220 Russian (6mm PPC), the 6mm BR Norma, the 6.5×47 Lapua and the .308 Win. Palma cases.”

    Here is the link

    http://www.lapua.com/en/headlines/335/6.5-Creedmoor-is-here!

    Best

    Jim

    • 65guys

      Thanks for sharing this information!

  6. James Hogan

    The flash hole seems smaller than my de-primer rod. Is the normal?

    • 65guys

      Hi,

      Lapua flash holes are 1.5mm and my Lee Decapper comes in at slightly above that (1.52 mm). Personally I have ignored the difference although one of these days I plan to turn down the decapping pin.

  7. Sylvester Dixon

    Did you find that 6.5×47 lapua and 6.5 lapua Creedmoor were equal in accuracy? If not, which would you say is more accurate?

    • 65guys

      There is no reliable method to be able to isolate all other variables to test differences in how the brass from these manufacturers impact overall accuracy. What we can say is that consistency of components used in your hand loads and consistency in your reloading process is critical to have consistent and accurate ammunition.

    • 65guys

      Hi,
      We have limited experience with the 6.5 Creedmoor. The 6.5×47 Lapua is so easy to load for and has slightly better barrel life so we intend to stick with it. If we wanted to play around with 140gr bullets the 6.5 Creedmoor might be worth exploring given the opportunities for higher velocities. We shoot the 6.5×47 with 130gr Berger VLD bullets.

  8. Mike

    It would have been useful to take 10-20 cases and fire them with the stout load until they show some evidence of stress. From what I can see they are good for 20 firings, but are they good for another 10, 20 etc?

    • 65guys

      Hi Mike,

      We set our baseline at 20. Past that, your eventually going to get a head separation as the case grows. When that happens is really a function of how much shoulder setback one uses. From experience, you will not run into that problem at 20 rounds. Even if the primer pockets hold up for 30-40 rounds, you end up having to deal with an entirely different problem.

      Nevertheless, it would be an interesting academic study to see how far one could take the case with .001 – .002 shoulder setback. Unfortunately, we only have so much time given our busy day jobs so we’ll have to leave that test to somebody else for now.

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