I’ve been wanting a 6.5 Creedmoor for several years. I ended up getting a 350 Legend first, and pretty much fell in love with it.
6.5 Creedmoor is 30 percent more powerful than 350 Legend, and it has 350-yard longer effective range. The 350 Legend has an effective range of 250 yards and the 6.5 Creedmoor is good to 600 yards for deer. 350 Legend is a good choice for a compact gun, but 6.5 Creedmoor needs to be a long rifle.
Two modern, popular cartridges that have both proved effective. What should you get? That depends on your needs.
6.5 Creedmoor has 350 yards Further Effective Range than 350 Legend
A 350 Legend will kill a deer out to 250 Yards, but the 6.5 Creedmoor still has enough energy to kill deer at 600 yards. It’s not easy to shoot that far, but the Creedmoor still has enough energy and penetration potential. At 200 Yards, both are effective but the 350 Legend will make a bigger hole.
The 6.5 Creedmoor has been called a magic cartridge. A more descriptive saying would be “it shoots magic bullets”. It was designed from the ground up to make full use of every modern innovation in bullet technology. Two of the big points are a streamlined and aerodynamic bullet.\
let’s look at this velocity chart. It’s a pretty good example of what I’m talking about.
|100 yards||200 yards||300 yards||400 yards||500 yards||600 yards|
|6.5 Creedmoor||2557 fps||2419 fps||2285 fps||2155 fps||2030 fps||1909 fps|
|350 Legend||1745 fps||1439 fps||1199 fps|
The 350 Legend is limited because it just doesn’t hold its energy. Its practical limit is about 250 yards. Beyond that, it just doesn’t have the energy to make a clean kill. 250 yards is pretty much a wall it can’t go past.
The 6.5 Creedmoor has enough bullet energy for deer at 850 yards, but the bullets may not function well past 600 yards. I’m going to agree with my pal Jim Harmer over at backfire.tv and say that many hunting bullets do not function properly below 1900 fps. That’s why I give it a 600-yard limit. Some bullets will fail at or just past 600 yards.
The 350 Legend’s bullets are different. They are designed more like pistol bullets. By that, I mean they still expand at around 1100 fps velocities. Since it’s a lower velocity cartridge, it makes sense to have a low-velocity functional bullet.
The magic of the 6.5 Creedmoor is that it’s highly aerodynamic. Compared to older, less aerodynamic designs, the 6.5 Creedmoor just doesn’t slow down. Basically, it’s a long, skinny bullet, and it’s heavier than you’d expect for a 6.5 mm (25 caliber) bullet.
That’s how it keeps its energy longer. It’s a heavy bullet with a small amount of air resistance. the 350 Legend is a heavy bullet with a whole lot of air resistance. That’s why it starts slower and slows down quickly.
The 350 Legend makes a Big Hole
The 350 Legend is a slow-moving, heavy, fat bullet. Even at velocities below 1,200 fps, it makes a very impressive wound. Within its effective range, it’s especially devastating on deer and hogs. It works especially well with 180-grain bullets, which is about the heaviest you can get.
After expansion, the 350 legend bullets will usually expand to around 3/4-inches. That’s a pretty big hole being cut. besides the hole itself, the bullet makes a pretty sizeable wound channel from hydrostatic shock.
The Creedmoor is a very efficient cartridge with a very efficient bullet. It stays going fast for a long time. One of its issues is that even though it has a heavy for caliber bullet, it still fires a lightweight bullet. the heaviest, and one of the best hunting bullets, is 143-grains.
Its main issue is that it’s a 25-caliber bullet. That’s pretty skinny. Yes, it penetrates very well and has a lot less wind drift, but it doesn’t make a big hole. That’s its primary downfall. It’s just a skinny bullet.
Now, it works fine for deer, but for larger animals, it often comes up short because, even though it penetrates enough, it makes a relatively small wound.
For that reason, My buddy Jim will no longer use it on anything larger than whitetail deer. He had several bad experiences hunting animals larger than whitetail with his 6.5 Creedmoor.
350 Legend has 40% less recoil than 6.5 Creedmoor
The 6.5 Creedmoor averages 12 pounds of recoil while the 350 Legend averages 7. The difference of 5 pounds of recoil makes the 350 Legend markedly easier to shoot and better suited to small children. Both are low-recoiling cartridges, but the 350 Legend is very low-recoiling.
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The 6.5 Creedmoor has a bit of a whop to it. Not a bad whop, but I can feel it when I’m shooting. It recoils about like my dad’s old 30/30. Not really bad, unless a small child is shooting it. Still, the 350 Legend is significantly lower recoiling.
In my opinion, the lesser recoil makes it not only easier, but more fun to shoot. A lower recoiling gun encourages you to shoot it more. that means you will tend to want to put in more practice with it. Light-weight guns do tend to help a shooter better develop their skills.
My favorite part of hunting with a low-recoiling gun is how little the gun rises with recoil after a shot. It’s pretty easy to keep the semi-on target for follow-up shots. Low recoiling guns are capable of getting off follow-up shots very quickly.
What does the reoil feel like? the 6.5 Creedmoor recoil feels like a light punch to the shoulder, whereas the 350 Legend is more like a quick, solid shove. I can shoot the 350 Legend all day long without the slightest sore shoulder.
Too much recoil will ruin a young shooter. It instills bad shooting habits
350 Legend likes Short Barrels, 6.5 Creedmoor Does Not
The 6.5 Creedmoor performs best in a 26-inch barrel, but it still has a 500-yard effective deer hunting range with a 16-inch barrel. The 350 Legend shoots well in a 16-inch barrel and only gains approximately 11 fps per additional inch up to 25 inches. Both work in a short barrel, but the 350 Legend comes closer to max performance.
A 16-inch barrel will work for both calibers. But, you can get nearly max-performance with the 350 Legend in a 16-inch barrel. There is around 100 fps gain if you go up to a 25-inch barrel, but that only equates to about 30 yards of additional effective range.
The Creedmoor gains about 200 fps from a 16 to a 26-inch barrel, and it holds that extra velocity for over 600 Yards. The difference is about 200 ft/lbs. of bullet energy at 600 yards. That’s an 11 percent increase in power, which is getting significant.
6.5 Creedmoor and 350 Legend are Great for Deer
Both the 350 legends and 6.5 Creedmoor are excellent choices for deer hunting. They carry enough energy, have more than enough penetration capability, and have great overall wounding functions for deer within practical hunting distance.
Deer are easy to kill. There are a ton of great guns for deer Hunting. My favorite is the 350 Legend because within the distance that I shoot, it’s the lightest recoiling and hardest punching cartridge.
For deer hunting, I say that you need a minimum of 750 ft/lbs of bullet energy to kill a deer with a bullet of around 30 caliber. well, the 350 and 6.5 both fall on opposite ends of the 30 caliber mark, but we could say it still applies. But, remember the 6.5 needs more velocity to expand well.
That’s not a problem since it has the velocity to make it work. both of these will put a serious whammy on deer. Up to 200 yards, the 350 Legend will create a larger amount of destroyed tissue. But, it won’t go so far as to destroy needless amounts of meat. the 350 Legend is pretty good at making a big hole but not completely blowing up a shoulder roast.
Both are Light for Elk
The 6.5 Creedmoor has been used to kill thousands of elk, some at long-distance. The 350 Legend has successfully taken elk at close range. But, both are quite light for elk. Elk can get big. Depending on the type of elk, they can get to 900 pounds. That’s a pretty big animal.
The 6.5 Creedmoor has enough penetration with good ammo, but as I touched on earlier, it makes a small hole. Big animals need a big hole to bleed out quickly. I’ve seen more than a few instances where the Creedmoor made a good hit, but either just didn’t penetrate, or it did, but the animal needed to be tracked a good long while and shot again.
The 350 legend will make a big enough hole, but it has a very low sectional density. It can have a hard time wanting to penetrate deeply. While fine for deer and hogs, on a large elk, it may not do the job at the 200-250 yard mark.
If you had to shoot an elk with the 350, it would likely need to be kept within 150 yards. At this point, the 180-grain bullets “should” handle the job. the 6.5 Creedmoor, I’d personally keep to 200 yards max for an elk.
If you did want to try either cartridge for elk, I’d recommend considering an all-copper bullet like Remington’s HTP line of ammo. The copper hollow points expand well and penetrate more deeply than pretty much any other expanding bullet. It’s a combination of velocity (lighter bullet) and the sharpness of the copper leaves that help it to penetrate.
Quite literally, as the copper hollow point opens up and peels back, it begins to slice through flesh. That causes significantly more penetration than a standard lead core bullet since the lead had to push and crush its way through. The Copper bullets give less resistance in soft flesh. Weird but true.
AR-15 vs AR-10
6.5 Creedmoor is compatible with the AR-10 design. They can be a little heavy and they get expensive. The 350 Legend was based on the 223, so it’s compatible in an AR-15 rifle. the difference is that the AR-15 is lighter, usually more compact, and oftentimes, cheaper.
Both are also commonly available in a bolt-action. But, if you want a semi-auto, you will pretty much need to get an AR-15 or AR-10. My 350 Legend is an AR. In both the AR-10 and AR-15, recoil is reduced compared to a bolt action. Some of that energy goes into cycling the action instead of recoil.
There is nothing wrong with either the AR-10 or AR-15. But, if you already have an AR-15, you can simply buy a barreled upper chambered in 350 Legend, pop the pins, switch uppers, and you’re good to go. hunting with the 350.
Buying just an upper is usually half the cost of buying a complete AR. That’s what I did because well, I didn’t have $700 for a complete AR-15. I actually bought a complete upper for about $250 shipped to my door from Bear Creek Arsenal. Some people knock that company. Personally, I’ve bought 4 uppers from them and have been happy with them.
Convert an AR-15 to 350 Legend with Just a New Barrel
If you like tinkering, or have a friend that does, you can convert a 5.56/223 AR into a 350 Legend with a barrel swap. Everything else is compatible. If you have the tools or have a friend who works on ARs, it’s a piece of cake. And, you can get just a barrel for $100 to $150. Just another option that may save you some cash and help you to get a solid hunting rifle.