February 02, 2021
We're in the middle of a pretty interesting new cartridge boom. But do we really need more? Is the hot new round that much better than what you’ve been using for years? Will it be around in 10 years? That last question might be the hardest to answer. Some new rounds offer minimal improvement over long-established cartridges or answer a question that no one was asking. Plenty of others are great cartridges—innovative, useful, and needed additions to the scene—still don’t connect with consumers and eventually wither and die. Then there are others, like the 6.5 Creedmoor to use an obvious recent example, that are exactly what we didn’t know we wanted and take root and flourish.
Two of Hornady’s recent entries into the new cartridge race, the 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC, look to be the types of designs that offer the innovation and performance improvements that today’s hunters and shooters are looking for.
Both use the same principles behind the wild success of the 6.5 Creedmoor. To oversimplify, the idea is using a heavy-for-caliber, highly aerodynamic bullet for the best ballistics and a cartridge design that maximizes accuracy. The result are rounds that can deliver accuracy and power at long ranges, making them ideal for Precision Rifle Competitions, long-range hunting, and, in the case of the .300 PRC, US Military snipers.
The 6.5 PRC is often called a “magnumized” 6.5 Creedmoor, it pushes the same 6.5 bullet roughly 300 fps faster. The .300 PRC might be even more interesting. When looking for a new round for US Special Forces snipers, SOCOM specified it needed to be a heavy round that worked in standard magnum actions and gave snipers a 50-percent hit probability for a man-sized target at 2000 yards. Tall order, but they decided the .300 PRC delivers. While there is no shortage of very good .300 caliber magnum rounds for hunters, there is no doubt that the .300 PRC offers some real improvements and is ideal for many types of hunting. Judging how more gun companies are chambering their best hunting rifles in these new rounds, I predict a bright future. Here are some of 2021’s best new rifles available in 6.5 and 300 PRC.
Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint
This is a brand-new family of rifles for Springfield Armory, and it’s making some big promises—well, small promises in the form of a .75-MOA guarantee. There are a ton of features and options on the Waypoint (pictured above), but it’s also based on quality manufacturing and some of the company’s tactical DNA in the rifle’s design. You can get one with a fluted stainless-steel tube or one with the steel barrel in a carbon-fiber jacket (both threaded, of course). The adjustable carbon fiber stock, pillar bedding, adjustable trigger, and promised accuracy make this a perfect fit for the 6.5 PRC. $1,600 | springfield-armory.com
Browning X-Bolt Western Hunter Long Range
The Browning X-Bolt has proven itself a great modern hunting rifle, with an accurate action, attention to detail, and constant evolution and improvement. There are many good versions on the market, and this new one is ideal for western hunters. The heavy sporter-contoured barrel and adjustable cheekpiece on a classic synthetic stock improve accuracy. The new feather trigger is crisp, and it breaks clean every time. It’s chambered in both 6.5 PRC and 300 PRC. $1,179 | browning.com
Nosler M48 Mountain Carbon Rifle
This rifle is exactly what the name says and what we’ve come to expect from Nosler: a lightweight, accurate rifle designed to withstand the extreme hunting conditions of the high country. At 6 pounds, there are more svelte lightweight rifles out there, but there are few that offer this much performance and premium features at this price. Some of the highlights: the 24-inch cut-rifled, carbon-wrapped barrel; Timney trigger, Cerakoted action, glass bedding, carbon-fiber stock. This mountain rifle is perfectly matched with the 6.5 PRC. $3,140 | nosler.com
Savage 110 Timberline
Another mountain rifle, the timberline is built for longer shots in the tough conditions of the high country. The stock uses Savage’s adjustable-stock system with its solid integrated bedding. The rifle is Cerakoted on the fluted barrel, action, and other parts protect against the elements. At 8.1 pounds, it’s not exactly light for a mountain rifle, but it’s not heavy either and is a better choice for those who struggle to shoot light rifles accurately. It’s available in 6.5 PRC. $1,165 | savagearms.com
Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic Green
For a long time now, Vanguard rifles have delivered great accuracy at a great price, so they are a natural fit for today’s new breed of long-distance cartridges, Weatherby's own as well as others. So, it’s great to see 6.5 PRC in the Weatherby Vanguard line, including this new Vanguard Synthetic Green. The stock has a bunch of insets for an improved grip, a great two-stage trigger, and guaranteed sub-MOA accuracy. $619 | weatherby.com