U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has always been quick to take advantage of new technologies and has done so again by adopting the smaller 6.5mm Creedmoor round to replace the NATO 7.62mm round for its semi-automatic sniper rifles. SOCOM brought together 27 snipers from Special Forces, SEALs and MARSOC for three days testing two new rounds (6.5mm Creedmoor and .260 Remington) against the currently used NATO 7.62mm round in the three semi-automatic sniper rifles currently used in SOCOM (M110A1, SR-25 and Mk20). Each of these rifles can easily be adapted to fire the 6.5 Creedmoor or .260 (6.6mm) Remington with a barrel change. The two smaller rounds had been developed by simply putting the smaller bullet in the same case used by the .308 (which the NATO 7.62mm round is based on). This means that there is no appreciable weight or space savings. The Creedmoor simply supplies better performance as a sniper or sharpshooter round.
The 6.5mm round has long been popular with hunters and snipers in Europe but it never caught on in North America where the heavier 7.62mm (“.30 caliber”) round was preferred. But the 6.5mm design always had the potential to surpass the 7.62mm round and it was the 6.5 Creedmoor, which became available in 2008 (a decade after the similar .260 Remington) that did just that. The three days of SOCOM tests confirmed what many civilian and military users have been saying, that the 6.5mm Creedmoor was a superior round. The SOCOM tests showed that the 6.5mm Creedmoor had longer effective range (1,000 meters) than the 7.62mm (700 meters) and has higher accuracy as well as less wind drift and recoil. Since the 6.5mm Creedmoor uses the same case as the 7.62mm round the same magazines could be used and all that needed to be changed in existing rifles was the barrel. SOCOM will begin issuing the new 6.5mm versions of their semi-automatic sniper rifles in 2019.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army, which is seeking a new design (and rifle round) for its light machine-gun and assault guns will take the SOCOM findings into account although the army does not expect to have candidate rifles to test until 2022. Many police organizations have, also, adopted the 6.5mm Creedmoor and it continues to be a popular round for long-range target shooters and many hunters.