6MM Creedmoor Meets Delta 5 Pro
Announcing the marriage of Daniel Defense’s Pro rifle and the distance queen of the 6mms.
By Joseph Von Benedikt
Photos by Joseph Von Benedikt and Tyson Bybee
This article was originally printed in Guns & Ammo Magazine.
Recently, Daniel Defense paired its new, refined Delta 5 Pro with the far-shooting 6mm Creedmoor. With such a pedigree, it’s no surprise that the offspring is already winning prestigious long-range matches. Let’s take an individual look at the cartridge and the rifle and then dig into how the two perform at the range.
6MM CREEDMOOR: THE CARTRIDGE
The incredibly rapid evolution of the most popular, capable 6mm rifle cartridge in America was rivaled only by that of the sport it dominates: Precision Rifle Series competitive shooting.
Shortly after Hornady announced the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge in 2007, Outdoor Life’s John Snow necked it down to 6mm (.243) and commissioned a custom rifle from GA Precision’s George Gardener. The resulting article was published in 2010 and kindled an interest in a lot of shooters’ minds.
Before long, Gardner began building and offering custom rifles chambered for the wildcat 6mm. It began winning in regional and then national matches. Eventually, Hornady legitimized the cartridge.
PRS-type shooting wasn’t mainstream yet, but the cartridge and the sport would grow together meteorically. The 6mm Creedmoor became the dominate factory-loaded cartridge used in such competition and remains so to this day.
|Cartridge||6mm CM (tested), 6.5 CM, .308 Win.|
|Capacity||10 rds. (AICS compatible)|
|Barrel||26 in., 1:7.5-in. twist, cold hammer forged|
|Overall Length||46.25 in.|
|Finish||Black, Coyote Tan, Olive Drab|
|Trigger||Timney Elite Hunter|
|Muzzle Device||Area 419 Hellfire|
|Options||Colors, barrel profiles|
|MSRP||$2,499 base (black qualifies for PRS Production Class)|
- The buttstock is rigid, fixed, and configurable to any shooter. Grips are AR pattern, and the thumb rest can be swapped to left side..
- The metal chassis assists with accuracy by minimizing point of impact shifts.
At $2,499.99, the new Pro version qualifies beneath the $2,500 cap for Production Class. Daniel Defense loaded the Delta 5 Pro with cutting-edge features that make it not just competitive but commanding in that category.
That’s not to say the rifle is only good for PRS-type competition shooting. It’s an outstanding precision rifle for acrossthe- spectrum work where accuracy and rifle configurability are vital. One of those features, of course, is the fact that it’s available in 6mm Creedmoor as well as 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester.
Delta 5 Pro rifles are built around DD’s three-lug, turnbolt, stainless-steel action. It’s a push-feed design with a 60-degree bolt throw. The bolt head is a floating design, so it finds a natural equilibrium bearing equally on all three lugs. This benefits accuracy. The go-switch is Timney Trigger’s excellent single-stage Elite Hunter trigger.
Up top, the Delta 5 action is fit with a scope base with 20 MOA (5.8 MRAD) of elevation built in. It’s bolted down with four robust 10-32 screws. Unlike the rifle you see in these photos, the standard rail is action-length rather than running all the way to the tip of the forend. Daniel Defense sent our test rifle equipped with the special full-length rail you see here.
A 26-inch, match-grade, cold-hammer-forged barrel with a heavy “varmint” contour is fit to the action. It’s significantly larger in diameter than the H-Palma contour on the standard Delta 5. As a result, it’s stiffer and handles high-round-count shot strings better — both important to achieving competitive levels of accuracy.
Subtle but attractive spiral forging lines grace the barrel’s surface. It’s worth pointing out that the barrel is user- changeable, making it easy to swap calibers or replace a shot-out barrel. Up front, the barrel is threaded 5/8-24 and wears an aggressive and tunable Area 419 Hellfire brake.
Daniel Defense points out the fact that the contour, bore, and chamber are all forged as one process around one mandrel, eliminating pesky accuracy plagues such as chamber reamer runout and inequal barrel wall thickness. Proponents of cold-hammer-forged barrels tout best-in-class barrel life thanks to the work-hardened inner surfaces. There are no burrs left from cutting the chamber, so there’s little need for traditional barrel break-in processes.
The barreled Delta 5 Pro action is mated into a rigid, configurable chassis via a metal-on-metal mechanical bedding system. It’s engineered for precision and performance — more on that later.
Just what is it about this sleek little cartridge that makes it so good?
For starters, it’s just inside the cusp of balanced cartridge performance in terms of internal ballistics. This gives it inherent consistency and accuracy while allowing it to produce a lot of velocity. Just as importantly, Hornady spec’d the 6mm Creedmoor with strict dimensions. This, too, aids accuracy.
Fast rifling in the 6mm Creedmoor makes it compatible with long, sleek projectiles that flow through the atmosphere with minimum friction, enabling bullets to hold onto speed, buck wind, and hit faraway targets effectively. Hornady’s first factory load utilized 108-grain ELD Match bullets and proved to be so effective that it’s still winning matches.
Another key element of the 6mm Creedmoor is its relatively short case length and steep shoulder. This optimizes the way gunpowder burns inside and, more importantly, leaves plenty of “head height” for those long, fine-entry bullets to protrude out the front of the case and still fit inside short-action rifle magazines.
Only one downside affects the 6mm’s performance at long range: Its projectiles are not quite as inherently aerodynamic as its 6.5mm and 7mm big brothers. Even the best long-range 6mm projectiles’ G1 ballistic coefficient tops out in the mid-.500s, while a really sleek 6.5mm or 7mm can achieve BCs ranging from the mid-.600s up to the high .700s.
However, the 6mm Creedmoor achieves more velocity in a short-action cartridge case than any 6.5mm or 7mm, and it recoils less than either. That swings the pendulum its way. Competitive shooters found the 6mm Creedmoor trounced the slower 6.5s and 7mms.
The 6mm Creedmoor is not perfect. Many “Open Class” champion-level PRS shooters opt for slightly mellower, non-factory cartridges that offer nearly the same ballistic performance and are easier on barrels. The 6mm BR, 6mm Dasher, and GA Precision’s own 6mm GT are examples. However, all those must be handloaded.
The 6mm Creedmoor may burn barrels out a tad faster, but shooters can buy match-winning factory ammo off the shelf and can trust the speedy 6mm projectiles to help them overcome wind and uncertain shooting conditions.
DELTA 5 PRO: THE RIFLE
When Daniel Defense’s Delta 5 came out, it was named the Precision Rifle Series’ bolt-action rifle of the year in 2019. A few years and a lot of copper and lead through the bores later, we have the Delta 5 Pro version. As the name suggests, it’s a tip-of-the-spear version with refinements recommended by top shooters.
Most telling, up front, is the fact that DD is guaranteeing sub-half-MOA accuracy. Testifying of the rifle’s capability is Daniel McLeroy’s recent win at the GAP Grind using a Delta 5 Pro rifle.
- Delta 5 Pro actions are mated with a chassis via a mechanical, metal on metal bond.
- Refined bells and whistles such as a thumb rest aid shooter consistency.
- A Mark IMS base holds a Leupold Mark 5 7-35x56mm atop the Delta 5 Pro.
The magazine well accepts AICS-type magazines and has a massive mouth that enables fast, easy reloads. An ambidextrous mag release lever is incorporated into the lower front of the triggerguard, so it’s both protected and easy to access and activate. Each rifle comes with a 10-round Magpul PMAG.
Deep serrations are machined into the front wall of the magazine housing, enabling it to serve double duty as a barrier stop. The Area 419 forend portion of the chassis is long and fundamentally square with an ARCA-compatible rail incorporated into the bottom. A plethora of M-LOK slots range down both sides, the bottom, and the faceted top of the front end at 11, 12, and 1 o’clock.
To enable the use of high-octane scopes with very large objective housings, the top of the forend is cut out just north of the action. I’m a big fan of this feature, because it allows shooters to mount scopes nice and low, enhancing handling characteristics and lowering the system’s center of gravity. This in turn makes a rifle sit more solidly whether on a bipod, locked into a tripod, braced across a barrier, or propped in an improvised position.
Because this test rifle shipped to me with the full-length optic rail shown, I mounted a 7-35x56mm Leupold Mark 5 in a one-piece Mark IMS 35mm base. It worked perfectly when I raised the rifle’s adjustable cheek rest up to near maximum height.
Behind the action, the chassis’ features amp up. Grips are AR-15 type, and the Delta 5 Pro comes with a nice DDM4 overmolded grip. For precision shooters that employ a relaxed grip and don’t wrap their thumb around the grip, an adjustable thumb rest is bolted into a slot just above the grip. Slide it forward or rearward until comfortable or swap sides if you prefer wrapping your thumb.
Although the chassis is compatible with a stock hinge, the Delta 5 Pro has a solid, non-hinging buttstock for good reason. Hinges, no matter how perfect, introduce play and movement. Both are detrimental to accuracy and are not ideal on a rifle maximized for precision like the Delta 5 Pro.
Aft, the chassis’ buttstock frame is ultimately configurable. Cheekrest height, angle, and right/left position are adjustable. Length of pull is adjustable. Buttpad height and cant are adjustable. If you’re not familiar with those terms, here’s the takeaway: You can position it however you want.
Ten QD sling points are machined into the chassis. There’s four in the front and six in the back. If you can’t find a comfortable way to sling this rifle, you ain’t trying hard enough.
Beveled edges on the magwell make for smooth, sure reloads. Each rifle comes with a 10-round Magpul PMAG. Note the ambidextrous mag release incorporated into the lower front of the triggerguard.
While all ammo shot well in the Delta 5 Pro, top honors went to Hornady’s 108-grain ELD Match load, which averaged just .33 inch at 100 yards. That’s for three consecutive three-shot groups — without allowing the barrel to cool.
How does this PRS rifle perform? With the Leupold Mark 5 scope aboard, a Ckye-Pod clamped to the forend’s ARCA rail, and a selection of 6mm Creedmoor match loads, I headed to the range to find out.
Because the Delta 5 Pro is a precision rifle geared for fast-paced competitive shooting, I put it through a rigorous accuracy testing protocol I reserve for just such rifles, firing three consecutive three-shot groups without allowing the barrel to cool. This enables me to determine whether accuracy degrades as the barrel heats and, just as importantly, whether point of impact shifts.
With the scope boresighted, I ran a series of groups with Hornady’s American Gunner ammo. It’s loaded with 105-grain HPBT bullets, and while billed as an entry-level match load, it shoots well. In the Delta 5 Pro, it averaged .59 inch, a great start. No accuracy degradation or POI shift occurred.
SIG’s Elite Performance ammo loaded with 107-grain Sierra MatchKings was next. Holy moly, three consecutive three-shot 100-yard groups averaged just .38 inch, easily validating Daniel Defense’s sub-half-MOA accuracy guarantee. It takes a very good rifle to achieve that level of accuracy with a tuned handload.
It takes something special indeed to do what the Delta 5 Pro did next, averaging four-tenth MOA or less with both remaining loads tested. Top honors went to Hornady’s 108-grain ELD Match factory load with a .33-inch average.
Even in a heavy-barrel precision rifle built for the purpose, averaging .4 MOA or less with 75 percent of the factory loads you feed it is almost unheard of. I’ve never seen it before.
Daniel McLeroy, DD’s product design director, recently won the Production Class at the 2022 Gap Grind PRS match. When researching the Delta 5 Pro, I read with skepticism Daniel Defense President Marty Daniel’s statement on the company website: “I firmly believe the Delta 5 Pro is the most accurate production gun in the world, and Daniel [McLeroy’s] win this past weekend supports that.”
As a journalist, I frequently encounter such statements, and most are pure hyperbole.
This one seems to be on the money