In the world of precision shooting, new cartridges continually promise to unlock previously unreachable long-range performance by pushing the limits of ballistic performance. This is especially true in the last several years. Among these, the 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is slowly becoming a popular round for big game hunting in bolt action rifles.
This new cartridge — with one of the best ballistic coefficients in the business — makes 400-yard shots a breeze thanks to its blistering muzzle velocity and high-tech design. To examine the case for the 6.5 PRC, we highlight six of the best rifles to use. And walk through the benefits, risks, and history of this fascinating new round that seeks to dominate at long ranges.
In This Article:
6.5 PRC Rifle Comparison
Below is my list of the best 6.5 PRC rifles for 2022. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.
Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of rifles.
6.5 PRC Rifle Reviews
The Seekins Precision Havok is an excellent example of the sort of rifle that takes advantage of the precision rifle series.
Coming with an overall length barrel of 24” to get the round up to speed, this rifle has everything you could want in a precision: there is a rail to mount optics, a threaded muzzle, and a rock-solid action bedded into a lightweight body. Add in a three-pound trigger and a box magazine, and the Seeking PRecision Havak is an awesome rifle choice for this round.
For a slightly more traditional look, the Sauer 100 Pantera XT is an excellent choice. There are a few things on this one that make it stand out. First is that the barrel is a little shorter at 22”: the size and weight savings are nice out in the field.
Also, the user-adjustable cheek comb, length of pull, and plentiful sling swivels make this an easy rifle to set up for your individual ergonomic preferences. Comfort matters in long-range shooting: the better the rifle fits you, the better you will shoot. That adjustability continues in the trigger, making this one a real “shooter’s rifle.”
Another version of the S100 we had to include (because it’s a gorgeous gun) is the S100 Fieldshoot. All of the same adjustable features are present here, but now in a sexy laminate wood stock.
With an overall length of 44”, the S100 series are handy rifles that are just as comfortable in the field as they are shooting from a bench, and make excellent all-rounder rifles in the 6.5 PRC. Mount an optic and bipod of your choice on this fantastic rifle, and we have a good feeling you’ll be blown away with its performance.
Borrowing its looks from military sniper rifles, the Browing X Bolt foray into 6.5 PRC is another great option for those seeking a gun that is exceptional both in the field and on the range.
This one caught our interest thanks to its included muzzle brake. The 6.5PRC is not that high recoiling of a round, but being able to keep on target a little better between shots makes life easier for those of us who end up doing our shooting and spotting alone. As is par for the course in this list, the X-bolt also has an excellent trigger and a rail to mount optics, to get you putting rounds on target as fast as possible.
5. Savage Arms
Aimed squarely at the serious hunter, the Savage Arms 110 is — barrel to butt — loaded with features that make this a very comfortable and accurate firearm. The first thing you’ll be dazzled by is the camouflage finish, but there’s a lot more to this excellent rifle than just style.
Starting at the barrel, there’s threading to add a suppressor, which may come in handy in some hunting scenarios. From there, the stock has over-molded sections to add comfort, as well as the length of pull and comb height adjustments. Adjust the trigger, add a scope, and you’ll have one of the best hunting rifles available on the market today.
Bergara refers to this as part of their premier line, and they are in no way kidding. The bolt is one of the best on the market in terms of repeatable lock up, and the trigger is similarly superb.
In terms of the barrel, expect great accuracy out of the 26” free-floated and tapered barrel. The whole action is then bedded in a black synthetic stock that is not going anywhere. This is the rifle you want if small groups at extreme range is your goal. The muzzle is additionally threaded for any muzzle devices you might care to add.
Why Choose a 6.5 PRC?
In the world of rifle shooting, the quest for more accuracy and longer range hunting and target capabilities has been going on since about the 18th century, and 6.5 PRC rifles are an evolution of that same quest.
For a lot of folks, a 6.5 PRC rifle will be used mostly for putting holes in paper, or to be used in long-range shooting competitions. In those settings, many of these rifles will excel, assuming you do your part as the shooter. With some of these, shots out to 1,000m are not only possible but repeatable.
The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge (PRC) was designed from the ground up to be an accurate cartridge that can reach out and touch a target at unbelievably long range. There are others, such as the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5-248 Norma, and the .300 Winchester magnum, but among these (all of which are somewhere in the neighborhood of 6.5mm cartridges) the 6.5PRC has two major tricks up its sleeve.
High Ballistic Coefficient
The first is an extremely high ballistic coefficient, which means that it is a very aerodynamic round and is stable in flight, especially at high speeds.
Second, compared to the other rounds, the 6.5 PRC has a high case capacity, meaning more powder and increased muzzle velocity. A high BC bullet, flying fast, can make a believer out of most.
The long-range capabilities of the cartridge make these rifles in 6.5 PRC excellent hunting rifles. For people who might need to take game at extended ranges, or are hunting larger game that goes down easier with higher-velocity cartridges, the 6.5PRC is, again, an excellent option. I think that a 6.5 PRC rifle is a worthy choice of folks who are looking to shoot at extended ranges, whether that’s just for fun or so that you can put food on the table.
Types of 6.5 PRC Rifles
While all 6.5 PRC rifles take advantage of this excellent long-range cartridge, there are a few design cues in rifles that suggest that they have slightly different purposes.
Some rifles, like the Premier HMR pro, are exceptionally accurate and adjustable, for instance having removable pads on the end of the stock to adjust the length of pull, as well as an adjustable cheek comb.
The addition of the threaded barrel from the factory and ease of attaching a bipod let you know this rifle is one that privileges accuracy above all else and thus is likely to be best suited to bench shooting for long-range accuracy. They’ll be heavy but that weight will work for you at remarkably long ranges.
Other rifles, like the Browning X Bolt Hell’s Canyon, are much less adjustable but are a lot lighter, coming with a simple stock and a muzzle brake already on the gun, as well as the ability to mount an optic that attaches via Picatinny rail. These rifles, due to their simplicity, look to use like they’re more geared towards hunting rather than the ultimate in precision shooting at the range. The more simple rifles in their furniture and optics set up are probably a little harder to knock out of adjustment in the field, which we appreciate.
Some 6.5PRC rifles, though they are still excellent performers, take style cues from old big game rifles. Here, we’re thinking of the Sauer S100 field shot, that looks like it would be just as at home on a safari in Africa as it would be on the bench rest at a local shooting competition.
While the stock and optic setups for these rifles might vary a fair bit, they all are based around the same general principles, namely that a bolt action with a heavy, long barrel and a quick-flying round is a recipe for accuracy. Where this theme gets varied upon is mostly in look, stock construction, and adjustability. Some of these rifles also come with detachable magazines, whereas others are fed through the action into an internal magazine.
Whichever of these rifles is most interesting to you, we expect your primary concern to be around getting maximum accuracy, whether that’s in the context of range shooting, hunting, or some combination of both. We expect that the sort of person who is buying one of these will likely be pleased with the overall accuracy of any of the rifles, and will likely be making their choice on some really specific details.
Essential 6.5 PRC Features
- Built for Accuracy. If you’re considering one of these rifles, I assume that the most important thing to you is likely going to be accuracy. All of the rifles I list here will be a lot more accurate than the commonly found ARs you’ll see today. Some things can affect the accuracy a little bit, including stock material and muzzle device. If you want the most accurate rifle, generally go with something in a polymer stock with an aggressive muzzle brake to keep recoil down.
- Stock Style. Second, the kind of stock that the rifle comes with will help make it more or less suited to certain applications. For instance, I love the look of a wooden stock, but not having the ability to adjust the length of pull or cheek height easily makes them a little less well suited to bench shooting for extremely consistent groups. Similarly, the stocks that are hyper-adjustable also have nooks and crannies for dirt to fall into when you’re out in the field, so perhaps something a little simpler in its design would be more suited to people who might need to go hunting in rough conditions.
- Muzzle Device Support. Muzzle device compatibility is also a concern here. Most of these rifles come with threaded barrels from the factory, and we’d be way more than tempted to throw on a suppressor for a quiet and accurate combination. With that in mind, many folks will also want to consider a muzzle brake to help retain the ability to spot your own shots, so making sure that the rifle you buy is compatible with the muzzle device of your choice is more than worth considering, though some of these do come with excellent options from the factory.
- Optics. Lastly, the kind of setup for optic mounting makes a big difference here. Today, many accurate rifles come with Picatinny rail sections over the action for easy and repeatable scope mounting that will work most of the time but will occasionally require you to re-zero the firearm. For the most accurate setup, a rifle that has to be drilled and tapped for scope mounts will likely give you the best and most consistent zero, with the caveat that this should be done by a qualified gunsmith who has a lot of experience with precision rifles.
6.5 PRC Rifle Pricing
- $1,000 Range. Rifles in 6.5 PRC are, we’ll admit, a little expensive. For around $1000, it’s possible to get a decent rifle that will likely come with a non-adjustable stock but will still have a quality barrel and nice trigger, such as the Savage 110
- $1,000-$1,500. At around $1500, you’re looking at a few more options, including rifles that come with highly adjustable stocks and probably a little nicer muzzle device than those at the lower price range.
- $1,500-$2,000. For about $2,000, you’ll be into the rifles that come with great stocks, are free-floated, and have been factory tuned to be extremely accurate.
Aside from the expensive rifles, it’s also worth mentioning optics here. Since all of these are precision rifles, you’re likely going to end up spending as much as you did on the rifle, on a scope. With that in mind, a setup of a good 6.5PRC rifle and a quality scope will likely be one of the most accurate weapon systems you will ever shoot.
6.5 PRC is a new and interesting cartridge, and being able to shoot it from a precision rifle will be more than a little pricey for most people.
History of the 6.5 PRC
The 6.5PRC is new, having been announced in 2018 by Hornady at SHOT Shot. It is a thoroughly modern cartridge: its design reflects the latest in the use of computer modeling to design a hunting bullet to work at maximum performance out to the extreme range.
It stands as a competitor to more traditional long-range rounds, like .308 and .270 Win, as well as more niche rounds like the .244 Valk and 6.5 Grenel. While there has not been much time, relatively speaking, to put the 6.5 PRC to the test, the data looks like this will go down as one of the best precision rifle rounds in the world.
As one of Hornady’s head designers, George Gardner, makes the case for the 6.5 PRC, the main benefit is sheer accuracy at range and their desire to craft a bullet that maximized performance within the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) rules — which stipulates a 3,200 ft/sec maximum velocity for any caliber rifle .30 cal or below.
It just so happens that 6.5 bullets offer the highest ballistic coefficient you can push safely to 3,150 fps. 6mm can get there but have a lower BC, and 7mm can’t get to 3,150 fps safely in a short action cartridge — so the 6.5 PRC gives you the best ballistic coefficient with the PRS rulebook in mind.
For big game and target shooting at ranges out to 1,000 yards, factory loads of 6.5 PRC are likely some of the best ammo you can buy today. The 6.5 PRC gets close to Winchester Magnum ballistics, but does so without burning out barrels by working better with faster-twist rages and modern powders to extend barrel life.
The 6.5 PRC can also remain supersonic well beyond 1,600 yards, no easy feat.
Since a lot of these are made with Hornady’s eld-x bullets, you can expect these to be fairly expensive rounds. That’s nothing new for long-range shooting (it kind of comes with the territory of the precision rifle game) but makes for great hunting and target rounds if you are willing to pay the gold price.
The iron price is best avoided.
Second, George Gardner has expressed some concerns about barrel life in these rifles. While this is unlikely to be a major concern for most of us, some competition shooters might find themselves replacing barrels more often than they would like, even with the PRC’s focus on preserving barrel life.
The 6.5 PRC is an excellent rifle cartridge looking for the bleeding edge in bullet technology, and long-range shooters will not want to miss out on its innovations in ballistics.
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