Match -vs- Hunting bullets Head-To-Head (6.5 Creedmoor)

6.5 Creedmoor hunting vs match bullet in Ballistic gel

This article was written by Travis Fox

Should you hunt with match bullets? There’s a lot of noise on this issue. With all the talk, we wanted to get some hard evidence for our audience. Our Clear Ballistics Gel Blocks just arrived, so we put 2 different popular bullets to the test to shed some light on this topic. Before we got started I had some ideas about the types of tests we’d run, and some guesses about what would happen.

My thoughts are, hunting bullets hold up better than a match bullet, so they are the better choice. So, if we shoot 2 sets of ballistics gels with 2 different bullets, we should be able to capture the evidence and prove it … or will we? 

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Hypothesis

I was on the edge of my seat as I waited to see if my thoughts were accurate. 

Through our preparation process I was thinking about the differences in design between Hunting and Match bullets. Hunting bullets are designed for mass retention and transfer of energy on animals. Also, the hunting bullet jacket is thicker and typically bonded to the lead core in various manners. However, Match bullets are designed with a thinner jacket and are typically not bonded to the core. They often fragment on target impact. Thus the match bullet will “come apart”, lose mass and have limited penetration in the gel while the hunting bullet will retain its mass and penetrate further into the gel. Well, that was my hypothesis at least!

The Set Up

Preparing for this test, we wanted to have as much control over the variables as possible. The focus was sharp on what was going to happen when these bullets hit the gel. We only had 2 shots to find the results we were looking for, unless we wanted to melt down and recycle the gel to redo any tests that may have failed. So we got everything dialed tight, and set up right. 

For this test, I was rocking the Ruger RPR in 6.5 Creedmoor as accurized here at Ultimate Reloader

The Bullets

The 2 bullets we used for this comparison were the Hornady 6.5mm 140 grain ELD-M (match), and Hornady 6.5mm 143 grain ELD-X (hunting) bullets.

The Media

We were prepared with 4 Ballistic Gel Blocks from Clear Ballistics. We want to give a shout out to Clear Ballistics for getting us these blocks so we could deliver you the crystal clear results we were looking for.

This is something I have been talking to Gavin about for months! For quite a while I’ve been itching to conduct a test looking at the differences in bullet construction between a hunting bullet vs a match bullet – and I was aiming to clearly put it on display using ballistic gel. 

It seemed like time was not moving fast enough as we waited for our materials to arrive. Once we had all our materials, it was time to set up for the shoot. We set up our “backwoods lab” with the Edgertronic High Speed Camera and blasted our scene with High powered Godox lights. We set up our Ballistics gel on an old card table in front of a dark backdrop. I got sighted in, then it was time to pull the trigger.

How do we get the results? 

We paid careful attention to detail – after all, this is a scientific test!  

We have a load with the two different bullets, that share these controlled variables:

  • Caliber
  • Velocity
  • Distance 
  • Rifle
  • Environment, & Conditions

We made sure to load on the same gear across the board. 

The rifle of choice was the 6.5 Creedmoor, loaded with Hornady Brass, CCI LR, Hodgdon H4350 41gr, on the Forster Co-Ax press at C.O.L. 2.710,

Our velocities on these 2 very similar bullets only vary slightly:

  • 140 ELD-M: 2645 fps
  • 143 ELD-X: 2638 fps

Using a high speed camera to capture the test gives us a leading edge on our visual data. And the most important part, it’s really cool to watch! If high speed footage like this interests you, check out some of our other content using this Edgertronic! 

Click on Image below to see 500 Smith & Wesson Vs Cinder Blocks.

To get ahead of the curve, we studied some other YouTube videos conducting similar tests. While we found several videos that delivered their content well, we found that videos with lighter backgrounds made it harder to study the details of the footage. We opted for a dark background to give us more contrast. We also made good use of a solid surface for the gel to sit on!

The rifle barrel and ballistic gel were set up at the same level. This was a challenge to dial in, but it was the crux of the experiment! The bullets needed to travel centered and straight into the gel for the best results. Before we did any damage, we used a test box target as an HSC function and for bullet path confirmation.

Now that you’re up to speed on our thoughts, our setup, and gear, let’s get into the results! Below, we have broken down the stats and results of the test for each bullet.

Test 1: 140 grain ELD-X

High-level results for this test:

  • Measured jacket wall thickness .037″
  • Velocity average of 2645fps and approximately 2200ft ft-lb of energy at the muzzle
  • Bullet penetrated gel 24.5in
  • Retained mass 104.24 gr

Test 2: 143 grain ELD-M

High-level results for this test:

  • Measured jacket wall thickness .023″
  • Velocity average of 2638fps and approximately 2200ft ft-lb of energy at the muzzle
  • Bullet penetrated gel 19.5″
  • Retained mass 97.92 gr

Let’s See the Data

Here’s a chart breaking down all of the data and metrics from these results:

As you can see, things are pretty similar between these match and hunting bullets.

Conclusion

Ok that was AWESOME! What a super fun test to run! We can definitely say there will be more to come! Not only did we have a blast conducting this test, but we gained some crucial data towards answering the question that got us here in the first place.

What did we learn? Well my hypothesis was mostly disproved! The match bullet, while it was 5 inches shorter on penetration, did retain most of its mass. Would I use it to hunt? Yes! … and sometimes no – a loaded answer to a loaded question!  For me, it would depend on several factors, the animal being hunted, the terrain, the shot distance potential, and the caliber.  Deer size and smaller – yes. Elk size and larger – no way! On larger Game I would definitely opt for the ELD-X!

After looking at this data it begs the question – does Hornady have a bullet that is good for both hunting and matches in the ELD-X? While it is Possible – That is for you the shooter to decide. What do you think? Please leave a comment!

Get your gear here

Here are some of the items used during the production of this story:

Hornady 6.5mm 143 grain ELD-X bullets

Hornady 6.5mm 140 grain ELD-M bullets

Hodgdon H-4350 Powder

Ruger RPR 6.5 Creedmoor

Clear Ballistics Gel 

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Thanks,
Travis Fox

2 thoughts on “Match -vs- Hunting bullets Head-To-Head (6.5 Creedmoor)”

  1. I thought match had thicker jacket for the increased heat in barrels during matches ie that what berger does. Can you compare else with berger?

  2. I saw a video where they put elk bone in the gel -meaning very little gel at entry point of rectangular gel-so the gel acted as body tissue. I would stick to hunting bullets . They are made stronger for a reason. We’re you to hit bone it is likely the hunting bullet will be less frangible.

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