The versatile, ultra-accurate 6.5-284 cartridge has exploded in popularity in recent years. From 600- and 1000-yard benchrest, to the tactical and F-class shooting disciplines, this round has made its grand entrance and is here to stay. The 6.5-284, originally a wildcat version of the .284 Winchester, is now more popular than its parent. The .284 Win case was created, as a 7mm hunting round, to deliver 30-06 performance in a shorter case, but it never caught on as a competition cartridge. Today, the 6.5mm version is one of the most successful long-range match rounds ever invented. The 6.5-284 has far eclipsed its parent case--at least for the time being. (The new, high-BC 7mm bullets have inspired some shooters to revive the straight .284, using necked-up 6.5-284 brass.)
The 6.5-284 is a powerful cartridge but is not without its complexities. In competition circles this cartridge is highly valued for its performance at 1000 yards but competitors find that throat erosion causes a deterioration in extreme accuracy between 700 and 1000 rounds. To some, having to re-chamber a rifle at 800 rounds is annoying. For others, re-chambering is simply normal maintenance. In recent years, with advancements in 7mm projectile design, some competitors have gone back to using the less overbore parent cartridge, the .284 Winchester. Other competitors have moved back to the 6.5x55 AI and .260AI. Those who do use the 6.5-284 and parent .284 still prefer the short fat case design over the .30-06 based cartridges due to the powder burning characteristics of the short fat case.
For hunting, the 6.5-284 produces high power from short action rifles but again, this is not a clear cut issue. In a short action, VLD type projectiles, popular with long range hunters, must be seated deep in the .284 case to fit short action magazines. Velocity loss is not so much of an issue however excessive bullet jump can significantly reduce accuracy with VLD type bullets. If the rifle has it’s chamber cut short for minimum bullet jump from a short action magazine fed rifle, velocity does suffer. The 6.5-284 can of course be housed in a long action rifle but in some ways, is almost counterproductive.
Generally speaking, as a hunting cartridge, the 6.5-284 suits hunters interested in specialized long range hunting due to the technical aspects involved in chambering etc. Goal velocities for the 6.5-284 are 2950fps with 140 grain projectiles. Using an extremely soft projectile such as the 140 grain Berger VLD, these speeds produce wide wounding on medium game out to a maximum of 600 yards. At longer ranges, cartridges with a higher initial muzzle velocity produce wider wounds which for the long range hunter, should be of the same importance as accuracy.