6.5 Creedmoor is an effective cartridge for a rifle that can touch targets hundreds of yards away, whether a deer or paper target. However, it’s not the cheapest round to shoot which may lead one to consider reloading. But understanding the true cost of reloading 6.5 Creedmoor ammo might surprise you.
If you’re lucky, you may find soft budget points for $20 per box of 20 cartridges. But you’re going to spend $30, $40, or even more for a box of good ammo!
And we don’t even want to talk about precision match-grade ammo.
Loading your own seems like an easy way to save money. But is this really the case?
Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor will save you money whether you’re hunting or making 1,000-yard shots at the range. The cost is about even when you’re plinking.
Let’s look at what goes into reloading this exceptional cartridge so you can see if the savings are worthwhile for you.
How Much Does Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor Cost?
6.5 Creedmoor is like any other necked rifle cartridge, which means there are only a few components you need to load a case:
Bullet selection is essential when reloading because it affects case capacity, how much powder is required to attain the desired velocity, your shot’s terminal ballistics, etc.
But for our purposes, we only need to know how much a single 6.5 Creedmoor bullet costs. This is so we can calculate your total cost per round, which is an excellent way of comparing reloaded and factory ammo.
Most .264/6.5 bullets now cost around $40 for a box of 100. And they often cost more for higher-quality bullets.
We’ll use $0.40 as a generic price for now, though we’ll go over several more specific loadings later.
To push that bullet, we need some powder. 6.5 Creedmoor likes medium burn rate powders, so we’ll use a pound of Hornady Varget in this calculation.
At the time of writing, that powder is $54.99.
The powder charge depends on many factors but ranges from 32 to 42 grains, so we’ll use 37 grains in our generic load.
To ignite that powder, we’ll need a primer.
Whether you use a large rifle primer or a small rifle primer depends on the case. But both types are the same price, starting at $5 per 100 primers.
So, we have a $0.05 primer, $0.29 worth of powder, and a $0.40 bullet to cap it off. Our generic load costs $0.74 per round.
That’s just under $15 for a box of 20 rounds, which is an excellent deal for a hunting or target load.
However, this presumes you’re reloading used cases. New 6.5 Creedmoor brass will set you back anywhere from $0.33 to $1.20 each.
How Much Money Do You Save Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor?
If you’re using new brass, then you don’t save anything the first time you load that case when you’re making plinking or hunting loads.
If you’re making precision target loads, however, you’re still coming out ahead on your first load.
Medium-quality precision cartridges will set you back $2 or more per shot when you buy factory ammo and you can make them for $1.93!
Once you’ve started reloading used cases, the price drops astronomically.
You can typically reload 6.5 Creedmoor about 6 to 9 times before the neck starts to split or the primer pocket loosens, depending on how much powder you use and whether or not you anneal the case.
This means that $1.16 new brass will cost you about $0.19 per reload. That generic load now costs you $0.93 or less.
The cheapest hunting load I found costs you $1.50. And factory match ammo starts at $2.
So, you can easily save $0.50 – $1 per shot when you reload 6.5 Creedmoor. I call that worthwhile.
The savings only gets better when you compare your hand-tailored reloads with high-quality match ammo.
What About the Reloading Equipment?
Of course, the costs above only take into account an individual round’s cost.
You need a reloading press, die set, and more equipment to start loading that first round.
This can easily cost you $600.
However, if you’re using this equipment to load match ammo, you will save $1 per shot or more.
Since a 6.5 Creedmoor barrel lasts 2,000 rounds or more before needing to be rebarreled, you’ll save that $600 and then save enough money for a new rifle by the time your old one is shot out if you reload instead of buying factory 6.5 ammo.
Comparing Reloaded 6.5 Creedmoor with Factory Ammo
Now let’s compare reloading and buying factory ammo using three types of loads:
- Precision target shooting
To do this, I’m using components sourced from Sportsman’s Warehouse. Compared with their competitors, I’ve found them to more consistently have reloading components in stock whenever I visit.
For factory ammo, we’ll use Sellier & Bellot as the cheap plinking ammo, Hornady American Whitetail for hunting, and Hornady Match ELD as the target shooting option.
These are all quality yet inexpensive choices.
For reloading, let’s use Speer Hot-Cor, Hornady InterLock, and Hornady ELD bullets.
The powder will remain Varget, and we’ll use CCI #200 Large Rifle Primers in Lapua cases.
The reloaded cost per round with a reused case is only for the bullet, powder, and primer. The case’s price isn’t included.
|Factory Load||Cost per Box of 20||Cost per Round|
|Sellier & Bellot 140gr SP||$16.99||$0.85|
|Hornady American Whitetail||$29.99||$1.50|
|Hornady Match ELD||$41.99||$2.10|
|Reloaded||CPR w/New Case||CPR w/Reused Case|
|With Hornady ELD Match Bullets||$1.93||$0.77|
*Prices current as of spring 2023
Conclusion: Is It Worth Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor vs. Factory Ammo?
There are two more factors that can go into whether it’s worthwhile to reload 6.5 Creedmoor and both still favor reloading:
- The ability to tailor loads to your rifle
- The time spent on reloading
Due to manufacturing tolerances, every rifle is unique ballistically.
Unless you get super lucky, no factory load will be able to match the tight groups you can get when you’ve dialed in a great hand load.
As for the time you spend at the reloading bench, even if you’re a slow reloader who only gets 100 rounds done in an hour, you’re still saving $50, $100, or more per hour.
I wish I made $100 per hour!
So, go ahead and reload 6.5 Creedmoor.
You’ll get tighter groups and save money at the same time.