6.5 PRC vs 7mm PRC Cartridges: What’s The Difference?

6.5 PRC vs 7 mm PRC

In long-range shooting, ammo selection is crucial in ensuring an enjoyable shooting experience. The 6.5 PRC and 7mm PRC are both known for their excellent range and power. While the 6.5 PRC is a smaller caliber, it can still compete with the higher velocities and energy of the 7mm PRC. But what are their main differences, and, more importantly, which cartridge should you choose? Let’s find out!

What Is The 6.5 PRC?

The 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a short-action magnum centerfire rifle cartridge. It’s a high-performance rifle cartridge designed primarily for long-range shooting.

It uses a 6.5mm bullet and is known for its flat-shooting capabilities and precision. The cartridge is based on a more powerful and flatter shooting concept than the 6.5mm Creedmoor, although it does not use the same cartridge case​​.

It requires a magnum-sized bolt head and a magazine that feeds a 300 WSM-size cartridge.

6.5 PRC

What’s The History Of The 6.5 PRC Cartridge?

The 6.5 PRC was designed by George Gardner of GA Precision and Hornady in 2013 and was officially released at the 2018 SHOT Show.

It was developed as an evolution of the 6.5mm Creedmoor, offering more power and a flatter trajectory. The 6.5 PRC also boasts an 18% larger cartridge capacity than the 6.5 Creedmoor, allowing for higher muzzle energy.

This design was a response to the growing demand for a high-performance, long-range cartridge in a relatively compact form​​.

What Is The 7mm PRC?

The 7mm PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a modern 7mm magnum cartridge. It is a long-action centerfire cartridge designed for long-range hunting and competition shooting.

It improves upon the 7mm caliber by incorporating contemporary cartridge design principles, enhancing the performance of the 7mm/.284-caliber bullet.

This cartridge is designed to offer performance potential superior to the 7mm Remington Magnum without the limitations of previous high-performance 7mm rounds​​.

7 mm PRC

What’s The History Of The 7mm PRC Cartridge?

The 7mm PRC is a very new member of the PRC cartridge family by Hornady. It was introduced and approved by SAAMI in 2022.

It is based on the necked-down and shortened 300 PRC case, which in turn is a necked-down 375 Ruger. This design increases case capacity while keeping the overall length compatible with standard long-action rifles.

The 7mm PRC aims to match or surpass the performance of classic 7mm magnums while offering better accuracy and affordability​.

With the ability to handle 175 to 180-grain heavy bullets and given its stellar ballistic performance, it has quickly become one of the most popular big-game rounds in North America and Africa,

What are The Differences Between 7mm PRC vs 6.5mm PRC Cartridges?

When we compare two cartridges, we mostly look at the five differences.

  1. Ballistic Comparison
  2. Use Cases
  3. Recoil
  4. Shooting Ranges
  5. Cost & Availability

1. Ballistic Comparison

I mostly use a 143-grain and 147-grain bullet weight in my 6.5 PRC. But, for this comparison, let’s use the 143-grain, which is the most popular.

The 6.5 PRC achieves a muzzle velocity of 2,960 fps, a ballistic coefficient (BC) of 0.625, and a muzzle energy of 2,783 ft-lbs. It has a maximum effective range of 686 yards (2,000 fps), although you would rarely hunt a game animal at that distance.

The 7mm PRC uses 160, 175, 180, and 195-grain bullets. However, my preferred size is the versatile 175-grain option.

The 7mm PRC 175-grain bullet achieves a slightly faster muzzle velocity of 2,970 fps than the 6.5 PRC, even though its bullet weight is 32 grains heavier. It has a BC of 0.689 and a very impressive muzzle energy of 3,498 ft-lbs. It also has a maximum effective range of 770 yards (2,000 fps).

The 7mm PRC shows a clear advantage in trajectory, with about 30-40 inches less drop at 1,000 yards compared to the 6.5 PRC​.

2. Use Case Comparison

I mostly use the 6.5 PRC for whitetail and mule deer, although I have shot elk with the 6.5 PRC.

However, for elk-sized game, you need to hunt at sub-400-yard ranges and ensure optimal shot placement. Otherwise, your bullet’s energy will be too little to take down an elk effectively. Also, I wouldn’t try to hunt dangerous game with it -you’re asking for trouble.

The 7mm PRC, on the other hand, is ideal for larger game like elk, moose, and even eland (African game) at closer ranges but is considered light for large dangerous game like brown bears​, bison, and buffalo.

3. Recoil Comparison

Recoil is always something you should look at when choosing your cartridge.

The 6.5 PRC, with a 147-grain bullet, offers a lower felt recoil energy of 16.7 ft-lbs, making it more manageable for most shooters, especially novice target shooters.

In contrast, the 7mm PRC, with its higher bullet weight and energy, generates a higher recoil energy of 27.7 ft-lbs​​.

4. Shooting Range

For long-range target shooting within 1,000 yards, I would go with the 6.5 PRC due to its increased barrel life and lower recoil. Don’t get me wrong, it can comfortably clear the 1,000-yard mark, but its trajectory and other ballistic characteristics start to become unpredictable.

I would also limit hunting to within 650 yards for medium-sized game, and within 300-400 yards with optimal shot placement for large-sized game.

Beyond 1,000 yards, the 7mm PRC is your better cartridge. It offers better performance with slightly higher velocity and less drop, though with much more energy and recoil.

For hunting, I would limit it to within 700 yards. Don’t get me wrong, it can easily take down an animal at 1000 yards, but at that distance, it always becomes a question of ethical hunting. For large game, don’t exceed the 500-yard mark.

5. Cost & Availability

Economically, the 6.5 PRC is generally less expensive than the 7mm PRC. This is because the 6.5 PRC is a more established cartridge, and it uses less powder.

Generally, 6.5 PRC factory ammo costs between $2 to $5 per round, depending on the type and quality. In comparison, 7mm PRC ammo starts above $3 per round.

So, even while the 7mm PRC wins in most categories like ballistics and range, cost and availability always remain factors when choosing a cartridge.

Which Cartridge Should You Choose: 6.5 PRC or 7mm PRC?

You should choose the cartridge that best matches your specific shooting needs and preferences.

If you want a medium-sized hunting cartridge with cheaper ammo and lower recoil, the 6.5 PRC is ideal.

For long-range shooting and hunting larger game, you should opt for the 7mm PRC.

Which Is Better For Hunting: 6.5 PRC or 7mm PRC?

For hunting, the choice depends on the game size and hunting range. Like the 6.5 Creedmoor, the 6.5 PRC is excellent for medium-sized game like deer and antelope, offering sufficient power with manageable recoil. The 7mm PRC is more suited for larger game, such as elk and moose, providing greater terminal performance at longer ranges.

Criteria 6.5 PRC 7mm PRC
Bullet Diameter 6.5mm 7mm
Recoil Generally lower recoil Moderate to higher recoil
Ballistic Performance Excellent long-range performance Excellent long-range performance
Bullet Selection Wide variety of high BC bullets Wide selection of bullets
Long-Range Accuracy Known for flat trajectories Effective at long distances
Energy Retention Good energy retention at distance High energy transfer at impact
Ammo Availability Increasing availability Increasing availability
Rifle Platforms Various rifles available Various rifles available
Hunting Application Versatile for various game sizes Effective for larger game species
Personal Preference Depends on shooter’s preference Depends on shooter’s preference



Should You Use 6.5 PRC or 7mm PRC For Elk Hunting?

For elk hunting, you should use the 7mm PRC.

It is the better choice, particularly for longer-range shots. Its higher energy and bullet weight make it more capable of taking down larger animals like elk, especially at distances beyond 300 yards.

Should You Use 7mm PRC or 6.5mm PRC For Deer Hunting?

For deer hunting, both cartridges can be effective, but I prefer the 6.5 PRC.

It has lower recoil, and its lower energy ensures less meat damage than with the 7mm PRC.

Should You Use 6.5 PRC or 7 PRC For Grizzly Bear Hunting?

I wouldn’t recommend you use either the 6.5 PRC or the 7mm PRC for grizzly bear hunting.

But, if you had to choose one, I would definitely go for the 7mm PRC because of its higher power than the 6.5 PRC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is More Popular: 6.5 PRC or 7 PRC?

The 6.5 PRC is more popular than the 7 PRC. It has been around longer and has established a significant following among long-range shooters and hunters, making it currently more popular. However, the 7mm PRC is gaining attention for its impressive long-range capabilities.

Can The 6.5 PRC And 7 PRC Cartridges Be Used Interchangeably?

No, the 6.5 PRC and 7 PRC cartridges cannot be used interchangeably. They are different in size and ballistics, so they aren't compatible with respective rifles.

The Bottom Line

The 6.5 PRC, being a decade old, has established itself as one of the premier long-range shooting cartridges. Meanwhile, the 7mm PRC, being introduced in 2022, is quickly gaining traction and popularity among long-range shooters who desire a powerful and highly accurate cartridge.

Ultimately, choosing between these two cartridges boils down to accurately discerning their differences and identifying what cartridge is best suited for your use case. Happy shooting!

About the author

Charles Neser

I'm a life long hunter & gun lover. Currently pursuing my Master's Degree (M.Sc.) in Animal Nutrition at University of the Free State.

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