A few years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find a 6.5 Creedmoor deer rifle in hunting camps around the country Legendary gun writer Jack O’Connor’s favorite, the .270 Winchester? Of course.
Same thing for the .30-06 Springfield, the .30-30 Winchester, the .308 Winchester, and the .243 Winchester. For that matter, you probably would have found a few 7mm Remington Magnums and the flat-shooting 7mm-08 Remington, especially in Texas. Maybe even a few lesser-used calibers like the 6mm Remington, the .280 Remington, and the .25-06 Remington.
But that was then, and this is now — most deer camps have several 6.5 Creedmoors. The 6.5 might even be the cartridge that dominates the slots in the gun rack.
Why is that? First, it’s trendy; everybody has one or everybody wants one. Second, it’s a relatively flat shooter that packs just the right amount of wallop for white-tailed deer. Finally, it’s a cartridge that’s easy to find different ammunition loads for, not to mention several different rifle models.
If you’re in the market for a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle this deer season, here are 10 options that are available from Academy Sports + Outdoors, all for $500 or less:
Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Bolt-Action Rifle ($499.99)
This Wyoming gun maker has cranked out great bolt-action rifles for years and this version of the popular Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 is no exception.
With a cold hammer-forged barrel, a drilled and tapped steel receiver, three-position safety, two-stage trigger, and a hinged floor plate that has 4+1 bullet capacity, there’s a lot of nuts and bolts to like in this gun. Add in the rifle’s handsome Monte Carlo Griptonite stock – featuring a pistol grip, fore-end inserts, and a right palm swell – and there’s little not to like about this top-notch rifle.
Winchester XPR Compact Bolt-Action Rifle ($499.99)
One of America’s longest running gunmakers, Winchester, has another winner with this XPR Compact Bolt-Action.
Featuring a synthetic stock, a 20-inch sporter barrel that’s drilled and tapped, a steel receiver, and a Minute of Angle (M.O.A.) trigger system – there’s plenty to like with an outward glance. Look a little bit deeper, and there’s even more, thanks to features like 3+1 bullet capacity, 1 in 8-inch rate of twist, weight of 6.12 pounds, and overall rifle length of 42 inches. Add it all up, and this is a great 6.5 Creedmoor to invite to deer camp this fall.
Weatherby Youth Vanguard Synthetic Bolt-Action Rifle ($499.99)
While this Weatherby Vanguard is built for youngsters and smaller-framed adult shooters, there’s nothing small about this bolt-action rifle’s performance.
With a 22-inch barrel, synthetic stock, three-position safety, and two-stage trigger, the Weatherby Youth Vanguard Synthetic Bolt-Action is a serious big-game hunting weapon that can deliver a power-packed punch to the biggest of bucks this fall.
And with its 4+1 bullet capacity, 1 in 8-inch rate of twist, and length that can be custom fitted thanks to several stock additions, this handsome rifle can grow with a shooter as they tag one good bruiser buck after another through the years.
Browning AB3 Composite Stalker Bolt-Action Rifle ($499.99)
Known for making high-performance rifles that shine in the mountains, plains, and deer woods, this Browning AB3 Composite Stalker continues that legacy from the Utah gun maker.
With a hand-reamed chamber, free-floating button-rifled barrel, and rugged synthetic stock featuring textured panels, an Inflex recoil pad, and an oversized trigger guard for wintertime gloves, this rifle has plenty of features typically associated with guns costing quite a bit more.
Able to be accessorized, this Browning high-performance rifle gives hunters a 5+1 bullet capacity, a nickel-plated bolt body that has a 60-degree lift and bolt unlock button, and a top tang safety, finishing off a package that anyone would be proud to take to deer camp.
Winchester XPR Bolt-Action Rifle ($499.99)
Like the compact version mentioned above, the Winchester XPR Bolt-Action is a feature-laden rifle from the iconic American gunmaker, giving deer hunters plenty of bang for their buck.
With a 22-inch sporter barrel, blued steel receiver, synthetic stock, and 3+1 bullet capacity, this rifle is handsome in the gun safe at home, in a gun case slid into the back of a pickup truck, and out in the field as daybreak dawns over a favorite deer blind.
Just a little heavier than the compact version, the XPR 6.5 Creedmoor checks in at 6.75 pounds and brings a 1 in 8-inch rate of twist to get bullets moving downrange accurately.
Ruger American Rifle Bolt-Action Rifle ($429.99)
As the numerous five-star reviews on academy.com attest, this is a superb 6.5 Creedmoor package from East Coast gunmaker Ruger.
In fact, the Ruger American Rifle Bolt-Action is enthusiastically described by one reviewer as the “best budget deer hunting rifle out there.” While you’ll have to figure out what review it’s worthy of, odds are it’s a good one with a package that weighs 6.62 pounds, features 4+1 bullet capacity, 22-inch tapered threaded barrel, and moss-green composite stock.
With an adjustable trigger, one-piece aluminum scope rail, top tang safety, and 1 in 8-inch rate of twist, there’s little doubt as to why the Ruger American rifle is well-regarded.
Savage Axis II XP Gray Rifle ($429.99)
The first entry in this article from Savage Arms, the Axis II XP Gray Rifle, is also the first wooden stock rifle we’ve covered.
But make no mistake about it, this 6.5 Creedmoor is no shelf queen. It offers plenty of rugged features including a blued carbon-steel barrel, a steel receiver, and the hardwood stock for a total weight of 7 pounds.
With a detachable box magazine, three-position safety, Savage Arm’s famous AccuTrigger, 1 in 8-inch rate of twist, and a mounted and bore-sighted scope, this 6.5 Creedmoor is almost ready to go out of the box.
Just head for the range, take a shot or two to confirm the rifle is zeroed and you’re good to go with a gun that will win the camp award for best-looking rifle, and one of the best performing ones, too.
Mossberg Patriot Predator Bolt-Action Rifle ($399.99)
Long regarded as a superb American gun maker, Mossberg builds on its legacy with the Patriot Predator Bolt Action.
Bringing a 5+1 bullet capacity to the table, the Patriot Predator also has a Cerakote Patriot Brown barrel finish to give the rifle its distinctive good looks. With a Strata camo finish on the synthetic stock and a fluted and threaded barrel, this Mossberg version of a 6.5 Creedmoor will be right at home in any deer hunter’s pickup truck.
Savage Axis XP Bolt-Action Rifle ($299.99)
With a price point just below $300 and a Weaver 3-9x40 scope already mounted on top, there’s little doubt that Savage has upped the ante with the Axis XP Bolt Action.
For plenty of curb appeal, add in the rifle’s carbon-steel barrel, matte finish, and synthetic stock. With a tang safety, four-round magazine, 1 in 8-inch rate of twist, and overall weight of 6.3 pounds, this gun might be one of the top choices if you’re looking for high-end deer hunting performance without spending too many dollars.
Thompson Compass Bolt-Action Rifle ($299.99)
The specs are simple on this 6.5 Creedmoor by Thompson. To start, the Compass Bolt Action is American-made and checks in with a price tag under $300.
Add in the rifle’s magazine capacity of 5+1, a composite stock, an adjustable trigger, and plenty of accuracy and downrange performance for either a bench shooter at the target range or a deer hunter out in the woods, and the result is apparent.
This is a simple, no-frills rifle from a great rifle maker that brings dependable performance, great value, and toughness that will last for years and years of annual deer camp visits.
No matter which 6.5 Creedmoor you choose at Academy Sports + Outdoors, the bottom line is that it’s a hard-hitting caliber that’s here to stay in the American deer woods. It might not be your grandpa’s rifle, but it’ll do the same job – perhaps even better when Mr. Big comes calling.
And after all, that’s what deer hunting is all about, right?