The “PRC” line of rifle cartridges has been incredibly popular over the last few years. Lately, it feels like 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 of the PRC rifle cartridges are based off 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 like 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 really understand these cartridges, let’s first see a comparison of their stats. To make it a fair comparison, these numbers are 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 a brake/can is used.
- 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
In order to take an apples-to-apples comparison of these three cartridges, let’s look at the Hornady Precision Hunter ammunition for each cartridge.
|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 where there was a limit of 3,200fps. 6mm bullets were first tried, but they couldn’t achieve as high of a BC. 7mm bullets were also tried, but they couldn’t achieve 3,150fps in a short-action cartridge. 25 and 277 calibers were also considered, but there wasn’t a robust library of bullets to choose from. Thus, the 6.5 PRC was born. I wrote a full Cartridge Profile of the 6.5 PRC here.
7mm PRC – This cartridge was just announced in November 2022, but many shooters have wanted a 7mm version of the PRC line of cartridges in order to take advantage of the extremely high BC 7mm bullets. My full profile on the 7mm PRC can be found here. See my favorite rifles chambered in 7 PRC here.
.300 PRC – The .300 PRC was created for very long range shooting with long, heavy bullets with high BCs. The cartridge was selected by the US Department of Defense for its extended long range sniping program. One design consideration was the ability to not only hit steel at a mile, but to 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 impact from a distance.