January 04, 2011
Though not a follower of the 6.5mm cartridge cult, I have recently felt symptoms of the addiction that draws shooters into its fold, especially since Hornady began producing its revolutionary new Superformance ammo in 6.5 Creedmoor.
The 129-grain SST load was the first bullet introduced in the company's Superformance line and quickly proved both accurate and effective on game. Recently, Hornady added its homogenous 120-grain GMX (Guilding Metal Expanding) bullet, and I was lucky enough to try it out in the field. The GMX load exits the 26-inch barrels of the various Ruger Hawkeye rifles we shot at right around 3,100 fps and grouped fairly well out of the loaner rifle I had on the hunt. Even off of a relatively primitive bench, I was able to keep three-shot groups hovering around 1 inch.
I hunted axis deer in Texas's Hill Country, and though these deer are an exotic and are often viewed as easy to hunt, these inhabited some very broken, canyon-cut, thickly forested country. In fact, hunting them reminded me of elk hunting in my native southern Utah. When my chance came, it was at 270-plus yards, and as the trigger broke, I knew I'd screwed up: I'd been holding into a persistent wind and my crosshairs moved slightly too far. I hit the big axis too far back.
But even though I hadn't done my part perfectly, the bullet did, keeping the axis from going far until I was able to move in for a finishing shot.
I examined close to a dozen other animals on that trip, all of which had been taken with the new 120-grain GMX load. I was amazed at the consistently dramatic damage in the wound channels. Shots were taken from short range to over 300 yards, and though not extreme, the distance did not seem to make a difference in the terminal performance.
Though many would consider it light for game larger than deer, I wouldn't hesitate to hunt elk with the load. It's accurate, shoots very flat, and hits like a diminutive freight train.