6.5 PRC: Cartridge Profile

The 6.5 PRC is a relatively new centerfire rifle cartridge released in 2018 by Hornady.  It is popular for long-range shooting because of its flat trajectory and inherent accuracy, while still offering mild recoil and decent barrel life.

Basic Stats & Specs

Date Originated: 2018
Designed By: Hornady
Bullet Diameter: 0.264″ (6.5mm)
Cartridge Overall Length: 2.995″
Parent Case: .300 RCM
Maximum Pressure: 65,000 psi


Backfire’s Hunting Power Rating

What is this?

Our proprietary formula ranks rifles on a scale of 0 - 100 to analyze its killing power. Included in the formula is frontal area of the bullet, speed at several common hunting distances, bullet weight, and sectional density.


Backfire’s Real Recoil Rating

What is this?

We track average rifle weight in each caliber, and a percentage of popular rifles using a muzzle break in each caliber, to make our composite score of recoil energy and velocity more accurate. A score under 50 is unlikely to make an average adult shooter flinch.

3,005 FPS

Avg. Muzzle Velocity

What is this?

We track average rifle weight in each caliber, and a percentage of popular rifles using a muzzle break in each caliber, to make our composite score of recoil energy and velocity more accurate. A score under 50 is unlikely to make an average adult shooter flinch.

6.5 PRC Ballistic Trajectory

Distance Drop Velocity
Muzzle +1.5″ 3,005 fps
100 Yards 0″ 2,915 fps
200 Yards -2.8″ 2,674 fps
300 Yards -10.5″ 2,516 fps
400 Yards -23.7″ 2,365 fps
500 Yards -43.2″ 2,218 fps
600 Yards -69.6″ 2,077 fps
700 Yards -103.95″ 1,941 fps
800 Yards -148.1″ 1,811 fps
900 Yards -203.0″ 1,688 fps
1,000 Yards -269.9″ 1,571 fps

6.5 PRC Energy and Flight Time

Distance Energy (FPE) Flight Time (Seconds)
Muzzle 2,707 0″
100 Yards 2,548 0.10″
200 Yards 2,143 0.22″
300 Yards 1,898 0.33″
400 Yards 1,677 0.46″
500 Yards 1,476 0.60″
600 Yards 1,294 0.74″
700 Yards 1,130 0.90″
800 Yards 984 1.06″
900 Yards 854 1.24″
1,000 Yards 740 1.43″

The data in the above tables averages several different common loads for the cartridge.  It is an average to give shooters an idea of what performance is normal from the cartridge, but faster and slower speeds can be accomplished depending on the particular load.  This data is for cartridge comparisons, and not for creating a dope chart for your rifle.

1,328 Shots of Barrel Life

The 6.5 PRC has an average barrel life of 1,328 shots, which is 80% worse than the 6.5 Creedmoor. Because of its high max pressure, velocity, and powder capacity, the barrel of a 6.5 PRC is somewhat shorter than other rifles, but is at least in the acceptable range, unlike some fast magnum cartridges.

$2.38 Per Cartridge on Average

Across different brands and loads from various online and physical stores, the average current cost per shot for 6.5 PRC ammunition is $2.38 in the United States.  The average price per box of ammunition is $47.66.  Overall, the price of this ammunition is higher because of its newness on the market.


#12 in Bolt-Action Rifle Popularity

1.81% of all bolt-action rifles today are made in 6.5PRC.  It is the 12th most popular bolt-action rifle cartridge on the market.  This relatively new cartridge is becoming very popular.

$2.67 Real Cost Per Shot

While the cost of each cartridge is just $2.38, if you factor into the cost of a shot the barrel life and how expensive it is to replace a barrel, the average cost per shot increases substantially.

Taylor's Knockout Factor

What is this?

This early 1900s formula accounts for bullet weight, caliber, and velocity to estimate killing power. It fails to account for frontal area and long-range ballistics. A .243 scores 9.9 on this scale, and a .300 win mag scores 24.07

Backfire's Ballistic Efficiency Rating

What is this?

Our proprietary formula ranks cartridges ability to shoot a heavy projectile quickly while using the least amount of powder. The scale is 0 (not efficient) to 100 (perfectly efficient).

Muzzle Mathematic Stress (N/m2)

What is this?

Mathematic stress gives an idea of how much force is placed on each square millimeter of area that the bullet will contact when it initially hits an animal. It is a helpful indicator of penetration.

Bullet Frontal Area (mm2)

What is this?

Bullet frontal area is the surface area of the projectile when placed facing toward the measurer. It shows how much area will be impacted when a bullet hits.

Mule Deer and Whitetail Deer

The 6.5 PRC is an excellent deer hunting round which is capable of shooting with a surprisingly flat trajectory out to extended distances.  It produces over 1,000 foot/pounds of energy which is recommended for a clean kill on deer out to 790 yards.  It is well-suited for lightweight hunting rifles due to its mild recoil.


The 6.5 PRC can be used to ethically kill elk.  While many North American hunters prefer .30 caliber rounds for elk hunting, the 6.5 PRC has proven itself effective with proper shot placement and bullet construction.  It produces 1,500 foot/pounds of energy out to 480 yards, and its light recoil enables hunters to shoot accurately.

Black Bear

The 6.5 PRC is a a good choice for bear hunting.  The round is flat-shooting and retains high energy at distance for spot-and-stalk bear hunts that sometimes require longer shots.  For closer shots on bear such as from a tree stand, the 6.5 PRC produces 2,707 foot/pounds of energy.

Grizzly Bear

The 6.5 PRC is not an adequate round for hunting grizzly bear.  While it is capable of killing such a large animal in a defensive situation, no reputable hunting guide would allow a client to use a 6.5 PRC to hunt bear because of the risk of wounding the animal, and the inherent danger.


The 6.5 PRC can kill moose cleanly and quickly.  In fact, it produces more foot/pounds of energy than the .30-06 at distances beyond 200 yards.  While the PRC’s 2.64 caliber bullet may not mushroom out as large as the .30 caliber bullets on impact, the added velocity causes excellent damage because of hydrostatic shock.


The 6.5 PRC is a capable round for hunting hogs.  While many hunters use very small .223 caliber bullets and aim for the brain, a larger caliber bullet is needed for shoulder shots on hogs, which can be very tough and hardy animals.  The 6.5 PRC provides great power for shots on hogs from imperfect angles.


The 6.5 PRC is a nearly perfect cartridge for hunting caribou.  In large, open country, it can shoot flat out to any distance a hunter can accurately shoot, and it packs more power past 200 yards than even a .30-06.  Caribou are not particularly difficult animals to kill, and the 6.5 PRC certainly can do the job.


The 6.5 PRC is an ideal sheep or goat hunting round.  It is extremely flat-shooting for long-range shots, carries excellent energy, and its light recoil makes it a good chambering for ultra-light-weight rifles.  I have personally shot an aoudad sheep with a 6.5 PRC and it died almost immediately.

Theoretical Free Recoil (Assumes 9 lbs gun)

Theoretical Recoil Velocity (Assumes 9 lbs gun)

Free Recoil as Typically Configured (Uses our data on average gun weight for this caliber)

Recoil Velocity as Typically Configured (Uses our data on average gun weight for this caliber)

Backfire's Real Recoil Rating

What is this?

Ballistic efficiency is a cartridge's ability to move a heavy bullet quickly while using the least amount of powder. Backfire's efficiency rating is a scale from 0 to 100 with lower scores being less efficient than higher scores. We consider a score above 45 to be an efficient cartridge.

A Look at Recoil

The 6.5 PRC is a mild recoiling cartridge which can easily be used by most adult shooters.  It produces 16.76 foot pounds of free recoil energy and 10.94 foot pounds of recoil velocity.  It has slightly less recoil than a .30-06 Springfield and slightly more than a .308 Winchester.

A Look at Efficiency

The 6.5 PRC is not branded as a magnum round, but it burns enough powder to be called one.  Consequently, it is less efficient than some other cartridges, but it is not particularly inefficient either.


If you have questions about this cartridge, we’d be happy to help! Here are a few answers to the most common questions.

Is the 6.5 PRC a short action cartridge?

The 6.5 PRC is generally regarded as a short-action cartridge, but its overall length is 2.95″ and a short action cartridge is usually about 2.8″.  It sometimes does not fit in short-action platforms and magazine boxes.

What is the effective range of the 6.5 PRC?

The 6.5 PRC is capable of shooting targets out to 1,000 yards with only -281.7″ of drop on average.  In hunting situations, the 6.5 PRC retains 1,500 ft/lbs of energy out to 485 yards, and 1,000 foot/pounds of energy to 755 yards on average.

What does the 6.5 PRC compare to?

The 6.5 PRC is most directly comparable to the 6.5-284 Norma, but shoots about 100 fps on average faster at the muzzle.  For those more familiar with the 6.5 Creedmoor, some regard the PRC as a magnum version of the Creedmoor as it shoots about 250fps faster and consequently has a much flatter trajectory and produces more energy. 

Is the 6.5 PRC here to stay?

The 6.5 PRC is quickly rising in popularity, which is a sign that it may stand the test of time.  It is currently the 12th most available cartridge in bolt-action rifles, and reports from retailers suggest it is in the top 10 for sales. The 6.5 Creedmoor is popular but lacking hunting power, so it’s possible the 6.5 PRC will take over market share and consequently become a cartridge we remember in 20 years.