6.5×284 Norma

Just where did the 6.5×284 come from and why is it significant? The 6.5×284 has been a long time wildcat cartridge. Its widely known that the 6.5mm bullets have exceptional ballistic coefficients and sectional densities, especially for their grain weights. The 142gr Sierra match king is one of the notables here, with a ballistic coefficient that is higher then the 200gr .30 cal Match King, and approaching the BC of the 220gr .30 Match King. If you look at some of the other bullet manufacturers like Lapua (139gr Scenar) and Berger (140 VLD) these BC’s even get higher, well into the 6’s. So, with the popularity of the 6.5×284 wildcat growing over the past 20 years, Norma decided to standardize the caliber and it is now CIP registered. The cartridge is derived from the .284 Winchester necked down to the 6.5mm (.264 cal) bullet. This also leads to a wide case cartridge that has become so popular with accuracy folks for universal and consistent burn rates. It is also short enough to be chambered in some short actions. The recoil is about even with a heavy .308, depending on the load, but nothing like the .300 WM or 7mm Rem. and it has ballistics that are better than the A191 .300 Win Mag Match 190gr load. So, it is somewhat obvious as where the popularity comes from.

The down side is that it is a rebated rim cartridge, which “can” provide some feed and function problems, but most good quality bolt actions don’t have a problem. The other problem is the limited availability of brass (that doesn’t need to be re necked from something else) and loaded ammo. We thought this was changing when the 6.5×284 was on its popularity high, but there is still just a very few ammo makers loading factory ammo for it. Rifles, of course, are also limited and generally only available from custom rifle builders. What does this caliber offer over the other 6.5’s that have recently become so popular? Well, it is probably the hottest of the bunch. It can get velocities a decent amount faster, but the downside is that when loaded hot, the barrel life is effected with some rifles and ammo combos getting less than 2000 rounds of life from a chamber. But if you are looking for a long range cartridge with moderate recoil in a small package, this cartridge is a fine choice.

Recommendation: The 6.5×284 will work great for military and law enforcement applications, though there is limited variety of factory loads and rifles. If this resolves itself, it can be an exceptional load. Penetration is also a significant concern, as the sectional density of the 6.5 bullets can be very high, and penetrate deep, so watch over penetration if your agency selects this cartridge, though it provides good armor & barrier penetration.

Military Applications:

Note: The Black Hills 142gr was chosen as my preferred load for military applications. This load sends the 142gr match king at 2950fps and out performs the .300WM 190gr Match loads at long ranges.

  • Black Hills 6.5×284 Norma Match 142gr Sierra Match King at 2950fps

Bullet Drop (Inches)

+12.0 +21.0 +25.0 +23.3 +15.3 Zero -23.6 -56.6 -100.6 -157.3

Energy (Muzzle – 2744Ft.-Lbs)

2454 2185 1941 1718 1514 1329 1156 1002 865 747

Wind Drift (Inches) 10mph Crosswind

0.5 2.1 4.9 8.9 14.3 21.3 30.1 40.8 53.6 68.8

Law Enforcement Applications:

Note: I have chosen the HSM 142gr load here for LE applications because it is loaded 110 fps slower than the Black Hills. The lower power load will help with over penetration issues and provides a little less recoil and report to aide in followup shots. The accuracy with the HSM load has been excellent. Please insure proper tests are executed to investigate the penetration of this round.

  • HSM 6.5×284 Norma Match 142gr Sierra Match King at 2840fps

Bullet Drop (Inches)

    50y/45m 100y/92m 200y/183m 300y/275m
HSM -0.2 Zero -3.3 -12.0

Energy (Muzzle : 2561 ft-lbs)

HSM 2418 2283 2030 1799

Wind Drift (Inches) 10mph Crosswind

HSM 0.1 0.5 2.2 5.1