And Now, The ULD Rifles

Looks as though I’m going to have to learn how to shoot the 6.5 Creedmoor, based on the majority of comments… [grumble, grumble]

Okay, time to look at the rifles.  All cost in the region of $850 – $1,700 except where noted, and the prices are approximate street (ATOW), not MSRP.  There are two categories:  those with 20″ barrels, and those with 24-26″ barrels.  The pics are not to scale, obviously.  Let’s start with the longer-barreled rifles:

Howa 1500 Bravo ($1,000)

My affection for this rifle is based on its performance at BoomerShoot 2022.  The 24″ barrel isn’t heavy, but the extra inches will add, I think, a lot more accuracy at distance.  And the trigger is excellent, as good as any I’ve ever fired on a rifle.

Savage 110 Elite Precision ($1,600)

I like the Savage 110 line, and this one comes with a 26″ barrel and the excellent Accu-Trigger.  I have to say that Savage’s legacy in long-distance shooting does count.

Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range ($1,300)

I’d have no problems at all shooting this Browning (which also has a 26″ barrel), and it has a track record of being wonderfully accurate at pretty much any distance.  All X-Bolt rifles, both the ones I’ve shot and those belonging to friends, have good triggers.

Sako S20 Precision ($1,700)

Yeah, it’s a Sako.  Finnish precision in a gorgeous-looking rifle, and a 24″ barrel.

Now for the heavy-barreled 20″ rifles.

Bergara B14 HMR ($950)

I’ve never fired a Bergara before, but it comes highly recommended by several people known to me, whose opinions I respect.  I hate the vomit-colored stock, of course, but then again it’s not my rifle.

Ruger American Hunter ($850)

I like this rifle a lot, and the muzzle brake — while somewhat antisocial on the line — attenuates the recoil considerably.  The trigger is adjustable down to 2oz (!) but I’ll probably stop at 4-5oz, if I adjust it at all.

Tikka T3X Compact Tactical ($1,100)

I haven’t fired this particular rifle at all, but I’ve fired several Tikkas before, and been impressed with all of them.  I’m expecting this one’s trigger to be at least as good, or better than those, so it’s not that much of a leap into the unknown.

The above are the rifles on the shortlist, so far.

“But Kim,”  I hear the cry, “what about your favorite, the CZ?”

Well, CZ have stopped making the excellent 557 Varmint line, and replaced it with the new 600.  Except that all the 600s are under a factory recall, which puts a wrinkle in my thingy.

CZ 600 Range ($1,000)

I don’t mind the looks of this rifle, and at least it has a wooden (albeit laminate) stock.  This will make it heavier than the others, but weight in a bench rifle is a Good Thing.  A negative for me is that it’s not being offered with a set trigger, which was always a strong point of the CZ rifles.  If CZ can straighten out its recall issue(s) in time, I will certainly add this one to the list, though.

Regardless of the rifle chosen, I intend to mount the excellent Meopta Optika6 3-18×50 4C FFP ($800) because after having fired several other brands, I always seem to come back to this company’s offerings.

All comments on the rifle list are, of course, welcome;  but any one of them would be a good choice.

Now, because of the in-stock supply issues, I’m probably going to open the entries some time in the early fall so that I can guarantee having the rifle in hand for sighting-in by December 2023 at the latest (so that if I get a dud, I can return it and get something else). As always, the amount of money from ticket sales will determine the rifle/scope combination, with the balance going towards subsidizing my trip to BoomerShoot.  The ticket price will remain at $25 unless circumstances (Bidenflation coff coff ) change dramatically.

So watch this space…


  1. Of all of them, I’d lean toward the Tikka.

    I have to ask: do any of them have threaded muzzles? That would definitely sway my vote. I have a .30 caliber CGS Hyperion suppressor that’s been it hing to have some 6.5CM out through it…

  2. I am currently very tempted by the Seekins Havak Bravo. Same stock as the Howa – better barrel and bolt.

  3. I have spent a lot of time working the Bergara offerings. The Premier HMR Pro is very nice. Stack your favorite Leupold on top and you will have an outstanding set up.

  4. Good call. Of the choices, I’d preferentially start with the Savage…because of the trigger, or the Sako, because of the finish.

    And 6.5 Creed has replaced my 7.62×51 and .300 Win Mag for long-distance hole punching.

    I bought a case of Hornady 147 gr ELD-M and it works so well in my rifle I don’t have any feeling I could work up a better load.

  5. Bench rest isn’t really my thing, although I might buy a ticket this year anyways. The question I have is how many of those weird looking stocks are southpaw friendly? Too many times the semi-pistol grip stock has grooves for the thumb and trigger finger that works well for righties, but is just awkward or even impossible for lefties. And I’ve passed on rifles that had a raised check piece only for righties but absolutely no way to shoot leftie. I’m ok handling a right-handed bolt action (necessity being a mother and all that), but the stock has to accommodate a left-handed hold.

    Both the Ruger and the Tikka look suitably ambidextrous. Not sure about the others.

    1. The Savage, Bergara, and Tikka are available in left hand versions. Tikka also has left handed T3x models with 24″ barrels – the Tactical A1, which is similar to the Savage Elite Precision, and the Sporter, which looks like a CZ 600 set up for competition.

      1. My post was which of the rifles Kim might purchase for the raffle would be southpaw friendly. I understand there are left-handed bolt actions available, but I’m betting Kim ain’t planning to buy one. Plus they are generally more expensive and rare that any other rifle you might find. Granted, if I had a couple grand to spend on another rifle I’d be looking at a Winchester 1873 repro instead.

  6. All really solid choices. I built a long range setup on the Tikka CTR 6.5 a couple years back. Put it in a KRG Bravo chassis and topped it with a Vortex Viper PST 5-25. This rifle will put 140gr Sierra Matchkings one on top of the other if I do my part. The bolt and trigger on the Tikkas are fantastic. Love the setup so much I built a mini trainer version in 22lr on the T1X. Got to the point that I shoot the rimfire almost exclusively. That lil rifle is pure joy. It is scary accurate and @ 100 yards is pure joy with CCI SV. Finns make nice rifles.

  7. The Tikka wins the beauty contest for sure. Maybe it doesn’t shoot the best of the bunch, but I only slightly exaggerate when I say the rest are fughly.

  8. Ditto on the threaded barrel; it’s a plus. Can put a compensator on, or a flash hider, if that’s you preference, or a suppressor.

    Of the choices, any would work just fine; the differences are too small to make any difference. Pick the trigger you like. Given your comments re: the .308 savage, a heavy barrel may be a good choice. The added length adds some velocity, but makes no difference in accuracy (aside from any advantage the added velocity may bring.

  9. I love Savages, own a few myself, but that thing looks like it was hand forged by Ronnie Milsap. If the appearance means more accuracy down range I guess it’s worth it but I think most of these would exceed my abilities as a shooter. I’d go with the Saco or Tikka.

  10. The Salvage [sic] for me, please. I own two older models (.22H and .223) and both shoot better than I can.

  11. I’ve got a 22 mag and a 350 legends in the ruger series. they are both very accurate rifles with good triggers. the CZ is also a warm spot for me. Ruger would get my vote.

  12. I am amazed at the popularity of this relatively new 6.5 Creedmore. After all, over 100 years ago the Swedes with their 6.5 x 55 were producing accurate rifles, and the Swede is still popular in Europe for hunting. So the case dimensions are different but the bullets can be the same. Maybe someone could have just chambered these rifles in the Swedish caliber and obtained the exact same results?

    Think of your new purchase as the 6.5 “Swedemore” and that may assuage any misgivings about adopting (and adapting to) a new caliber.

    1. The biggest difference is that the 6.5×55 requires a “full length” action, a la 8×57 or .30-06, due to the length of the loaded round. And the old standby American 6.5, the .260 Rem, is not much better in that regard, as the cartridge is long enough it limits how far a bullet can protrude before it hits the front of the magazine as well, which winds up mandating either light bullets or single-loading the rifle.
      The 6.5 CM is rather shorter, which does reduce powder volume and therefore available top velocity, but there is room galore for the long-nosed and high ballistic coefficient .264 bullets previously useable only in long actions. Combine that with more modern powders, and the CM’s practical ability is within the spitting distance of an asthmatic having an attack of its larger and older brothers’ historical performance. And with more and more folks getting into hand loading, the powder savings add up, for it achieves nearly identical paper numbers, and practically identical field performance, with less powder and therefore more efficiency.
      As something new and different, the 6.5 CM is a big hohum yawn. There ain’t a thing actually new about it. As a logical development of acceptable accuracy and power in as small a package as possible, though, it is rather noteworthy, especially as it flies in the face of decades of continual development of ever larger and ever more powerful rounds to grace the glossy pages of gun magazines.

  13. I happen to have a Savage in .308 with a 20″ heavy barrel. About a decade ago, the “urban tactical sniper” guys started touting the 20″ heavy barrel because it’s stiffer and the barrel harmonics generate less whip. You also lose some velocity. However, your typical LE sniper is going to be shooting inside 300 yards the majority of the time, and probably never over 600, I would guess.

    I polled a friend who competes in F-Class and he says go with the 24″ barrel, there is no upside for a stiff 20″ at longer ranges. He also favors the 6.5 Creed in your choices, FWIW. You’re a global small arms expert of no little repute. But my buddy is my go-to expert on long range precision shooting. Hope that’s helpful.

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