PRC ammo comparison
The “PRC” line of rifle cartridges has been trendy over the last few years. Lately, half of the rifles in the store are one of the PRC cartridges, but which one should you pick? Let’s take a deep dive.
All three PRC rifle cartridges are based on the .375 Ruger’s beltless case. They sit on a magnum bolt face, given their .532″ head diameter, and find headspace on their 30-degree shoulders.
If you’re a football fan, think of the 6.5 PRC as a wide receiver–thin, light, and fast. Think of the 7mm PRC like a runningback–powerful, efficient, and capable of doing many jobs on the field. Think of the 300 PRC like a linebacker–brute force but quick on his feet and hits like a freight train.
To understand these cartridges, let’s first compare their stats. To make it a fair comparison, they outreach all using Hornady’s Precision Hunter line of ammunition.
|Cartridge||Bullet Weight||Bullet||Muzzle Velocity||BC||Muzzle Energy||Recoil Energy||Recoil Velocity|
- Short Action Length
- Comparable to 6.5-284 Norma
- Low Recoil – 48% less than the .300 PRC and 27% less than the 7 PRC.
- Smaller Caliber – Not ideal for hunting elk-sized game.
- High BC Bullets
- Highest Rifle/Ammo Availability
- Long Action Length
- Comparable to the 7mm Rem Mag
- Moderate Recoil – tolerable for most adults using a lightweight rifle.
- Mid-size Caliber – 7mm bullets are perfect for hunting elk
- Highest BC Bullets
- Very Poor Rifle/Ammo Availability (Still new)
- Magnum Action Length
- Comparable to the .300 Win Mag
- Very High Recoil – Usually chambered in a heavy rifle, and use a brake/can.
- Large Caliber – 30 caliber bullets have 26% more frontal area than a 6.5mm
- Higher BC Bullets
- Good Rifle Availability, but Ammo is Hard to Find
Ballistic Performance in Hornady Precision Hunter Ammo
To take an apples-to-apples comparison of these three cartridges, let’s look at the Hornady Precision Hunter ammunition for each cartridge.
|Cartridge||The energy at 200 Yards||Max Effective Range (2,000fps)||Drop at 400 Yards||Drift at 400 Yards||ELDX Bullet Weight||Muzzle Velocity|
|7 PRC||2,840 ft-lbs||770 yards||23″||7.3″||175 gr||2,970 fps|
|6.5 PRC||2,270 ft-lbs||686 yards||22.63″||8.2″||143 gr||2,960 fps|
|.300 PRC||3,153 ft-lbs||670 yards||24.72″||7.1″||212 gr||2,860 fps|
The Purposes of Each PRC Cartridge
6.5 PRC – This cartridge was designed for PRS rifle competitions, with a limit of 3,200 fps. They first tried The 6mm bullets but couldn’t achieve as high of a BC. They tested the 7mm bullets but couldn’t perform 3,150fps in a short-action cartridge. The producers also considered 25 and 277 calibers, but there wasn’t a robust library of shots. Thus, the 6.5 PRC was born. I wrote a complete Cartridge Profile of the 6.5 PRC here.
7mm PRC – This cartridge was announced in November 2022, but many shooters have wanted a 7mm version of the PRC line of cartridges to take advantage of the extremely high BC 7mm bullets. You can find my complete profile on the 7mm PRC here. See my favorite rifles chambered in 7 PRC here.
.300 PRC – The .300 PRC was created for long-range shooting with long, heavy bullets with high BCs. The US Department of Defense selected the cartridge for its extended long-range sniping program. One design consideration was the ability to hit steel at a mile and hit it with enough authority to make a clear impact on the target. When lighter bullets hit steel at this distance, it can be tough to see the effect from a distance.
PRC ammo comparison
As you might expect, case length proportionally increases as you move through the PRC lineup.
The cartridge’s overall length is worth some special attention. The 6.5 PRC max COL is 2.955.” This length pushes the short-action platform to the limit. You’ll see notched feed ramps and have to pay special attention to which specific magazine you use for optimal feeding. I’ve never had issues with the rifles I’ve shown on the channel, the Bergara B-24 Wilderness HMR, or custom carbon fiber build.
7mm prc vs 300 prc
The 7 PRC and 300 Win Mag have the same COL. This aspect means that at 3.340″ max overall length, the 7 PRC will fit comfortably into any long action. 300 PRC, at 3.700″ max COL, pushes the long action platform to its limits, just like the 6.5 PRC does for the short action platform. 7mm prc vs 300 prc.
Case heads and shoulder angles are the same for all cartridges. This scenario is excellent, as I can use the same Short Action Customs comparator inserts for all cartridges.
7mm prc vs 6.5 prc
The 6.5 PRC takes a large rifle primer, while the 7mm PRC and 300 PRC use magnum large rifle primers. There may be some primer interchangeability with the 6.5 PRC, but consult the manufacturer’s load data. 7mm prc vs 6.5 prc.
I spoke with Hornady, and they said a 1:8.5 twist would also work with the 7mm PRC, but I prefer to stick with the SAAMI specs. Finding a 1:8 twist 7mm barrel blank can be complex, so it’s an option. I worked with Bartlein Barrels, and they were instrumental in my getting the build done on time.
I’ve built 300 PRC rifles with a 1:8.5 twist barrel and a 1:9.5 twist barrel.
Based on SAAMI spec bullet weights and velocities, we are taking match bullets and extrapolating hunting results. Actual results will vary.
- 6.5 PRC: 147 grain @ 2900 fps
- 7mm PRC: 180 grain @ 3,000 fps
- 300 PRC: 225 grain @ 2,800 fps
An example is the Hornady 4DOF calculation for the SAAMI spec bullet weight and twist rate.
First, we compared trajectory. This data is based on a 100-yard zero and shows come-ups in inches. The 7mm PRC is the clear winner, with a 228.812 drop from 100 to 1,000-yard depth. The 6.5 PRC and 300 PRC both had approximately 30-40 more inches of depth.
When considering velocity, we looked at known data points. Two thousand (2,000) fps is typically required for optimal expansion of copper hunting bullets. Hornady says 1,600 fps results in acceptable development with their ELD-X shells. This chart shows all velocities 2,000 fps and over and green and anything between 1,600 fps and 2,000 fps in yellow. All three cartridges offer reliable expansion with ELD-X bullets out to 1,000 yards. If you are looking for 2,000 fps + velocity, the 7mm PRC holds this velocity to 900 yards. The 6.5 PRC and 300 PRC last reach 2,000 fps at 700 yards.
Energy is another consideration. I’m using an arbitrary number of 1,500 ft-lbs as the energy needed to drop an elk. Keep in mind that your threshold may be above or below that. 6.5 PRC lags behind the crowd in energy, falling below 1,500 ft-lbs at 600 yards. Most hunters’ shots will be within 500 yards anyways, so it is still a viable elk cartridge. The 7mm PRC and 300 PRC have similar performances when it comes to energy – the 7mm PRC barely falls short of 1,500 ft-lbs at 1,000 yards, while the 300 PRC is just above.
Please note this is all hypothetical. A 1,000-yard shot on an elk is exceptionally far. I wouldn’t recommend anyone do that, but the ballistics data shows it is possible with the 7mm PRC and 300 PRC.
Wind drift affects both target shooters and hunters. The 7mm PRC bucks the wind the best, with a 44.7538-inch sense at 1,000 yards. The 6.5 PRC has the most significant wind drift.
It’s fascinating to compare these three PRC cartridges. All are good for hunting, but I believe the 7mm PRC is especially suited for hunting and target shooting. Recoil is mild, and velocity and wind drift performance is impressive.
I have yet to be able to conduct my complete accuracy tests and load development. Still, my first three shots out of my custom BAT action 7mm PRC build with Hornady 180 grain Accuracy Match fell into a 0.359″ group. I have confirmed the published velocities and found higher rates with my 28″ barrel. The Bergara build focused on more compact and suppressor-friendly handling dynamics. It is about 150 fps behind the 28″ barrel in velocity.
Initially, I suspected Hornady would neck up the 6.5 PRC, but instead, they created a competitor to the 7mm Rem Mag and 300 Win Mag that beats them both in factory comparisons.
The 6.5 PRC is the only PRC that fits a short-action platform. The 7mm PRC is what I call the “all-rounder.” It’s easy and accurate to shoot, with excellent ballistics for shooting and hunting. I’ve also found it easy to load. It also drops into a standard internal or detachable magazine and feeds into the long action with no issues. The 300 PRC is the heavy-hitter of the group.
The 7mm PRC is just as good as the 300 PRC in terms of pure ballistics. All three cartridges will work and get the job done unless you plan on taking elk past 500 yards.
Feel free to browse our ammo inventory here.