ULTIMATE 6.5 PRC Hunting Load: Berger 156 Elite Hunter + N565

We set out to develop an “Ultimate 6.5 PRC Hunting Load” and our results are covered in this story! The formula? A heavy-in-class hunting bullet, great accuracy, and some serious stopping power, all with great long-range performance. Read on to find out what we came up with!


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Background: A Tale of Two Rifles

For this story, we decided to test two 6.5 PRC rifles that we have at the shop: A full custom, and a factory rifle you can buy off the shelf!

Light-Weight Full-Custom Carbon Hunter

A while back I built what I call my “Ultimate Backpacker” light-weight hunting rifle. This 6.5 PRC rifle features a titanium action, carbon fiber wrapped barrel, and carbon fiber stock. Here’s my first results after completing that build:

Bergara B-14 HMR Wilderness

The 6.5 PRC Carbon Hunter is a bit pricy and exotic, so we thought we’d include a factory rifle as well. My Bergara B-14 HMR Wilderness is a fantastic rifle for big game hunting, and has a very reasonable price tag. Here’s my review for that rifle:

Components: Berger 6.5mm 156 grain Elite Hunter, Vihtavuori N565

You all asked for more content covering the Berger 156 grain Elite Hunter bullets, and here it is! Check out my TESTED story covering these bullets for more insights.

From the Berger Product Page, here’s the specs for thisbullet:

And here’s an up-close picture of the bullet from the same page:

And here’s some information about Vihtavuori N565, from the product page:

Designed to fill the gap between Vihtavuori N560 and N570 high energy rifle powders, the N565 was created specifically for the .338 Lapua Magnum with 250 gr bullets. In addition to a precisely tailored burn rate, this powder is extremely temperature stable, giving uniform results across a wide range of environments. We’ve also incorporated improved hygroscopic stability and our new decoppering agent to ensure a cleaner barrel when shooting. N565 is REACH compliant without DNT or phthalates.

Physically, N565 grains have the same size as those of the N560 powder. As all Vihtavuori powders, it flows smoothly through powder measures and ensures good loadability and uniformity. The burn rate of the powder is a bit closer to N570, roughly splitting the difference between the two. Vihtavuori N565 is a single perforated extruded powder, having a bulk density of 960 g/l and an energy content of 4000 J/g.

While N565 was developed specifically for military sniping applications, it also has a wide range of sporting uses, particularly within long range shooting and ELR. The N565 has proven to be an ideal choice for calibers such as the 7mm Rem. Magnum, the .30-06, .300 Win Mag, .300 Norma Mag as well as the .338 Norma Mag.

Vihtavuori N565 rifle powder comes in 1 lbs and 1 kg bottles as well as 8 lbs containers.

Initial Load Development

Travis Fox worked on these loads, and used the following load data:

Berger 156gr EH + N565
Cartridge Spec 6.5 PRC
Case ADG
Bullet Berger 156 EH
Powder VihtaVuori N565
Powder Charge 54, 54.5, 55, 55.5, 56
Primer CCI BR2

Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors in load data on this website. Always cross-reference load data with manufacturer’s published data.

Test Results

Carbon Hunter

The “Carbon Hunter” has shown to group well if you prevent the barrel from heating up. For the testing in this article, shots were taken in high ambient temperatures with only 10-30 seconds between shots. This caused the barrel to “walk” a bit which showed up as vertical stringing. Mirage could also have played a roll here! The groups shown in yellow exhibited the most vertical stringing:

I’m guessing that with some “cooling time” between shots, these groups would look even better, like they did when I originally tested this rifle with factory ammunition.

And here’s the velocity data both with the bare muzzle, and with a suppressor (56.0 grains N565):

What’s curious with the above velocity data is the higher SD observed with the suppressor. That could be a factor of the high barrel temperature in this case.

Bergara HMR Wilderness

The Bergara HMR Wilderness was shot in the XLR Element Magnesium 4.0 Chassis, and it performed very well!

And velocity data was impressive! (56.0 grains N565)

Look at that SD, that will work! And sub-half-MOA for that load as well. Success!


I agree with Travis, I absolutely would hunt big game with this load!

You can find these components at Creedmoor Sports:

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