6.5 Creedmoor vs .308 Winchester

6.5 Creedmoor vs .308 Winchester

If you’ve researched short action rifles recently, you may have seen some rifles being offered in 6.5 Creedmoor. Using a case similar, but not quite the same, as a .308 Winchester, the 6.5 Creedmoor uses skinnier, lighter bullets and sends them downrange faster. 6.5 Creedmoor has gained in popularity as a great selection for medium to long range (500-1000 yards) shooting. Ballistically speaking, the skinny 6.5mm bullets perform exceptionally well, very closely matching the ballistic profile of a 300 Winchester Magnum, but with a LOT less recoil and cost. Since I thought many other people out there would be looking at pro’s/con’s to the 6.5 Creedmoor vs the 308, I thought I’d do some research and summarize in an article.

Ballistic Performance

308 is a decent performer in the grand scheme of things, but it is not the pinnacle for shooting at really long range. Within 500 yards, you’re really splitting hairs between the 6.5 CM and 308 Winchester as far as drop goes, but the 6.5 does offer a bit better resistance to wind drift. At 700-1000 yards, 6.5 Creedmoor offers a substantial advantage in hit probability.

Case Design: 6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 Winchester

While the 6.5 Creedmoor looks somewhat like a 308 Winchester, it’s actually based on the .30 TC case. Worthwhile noting if you intend on reloading for your 6.5 Creedmoor. The 6.5 CM also has a sharper shoulder at 30 degrees than the 308’s 20 degree shoulder. This will make brass last longer in the 6.5 Creedmoor, but feed more reliably in semi automatics for the 308.

There are lots of match quality and . . .value priced brass for 308 Winchester.

6.5 Creedmoor brass is pretty limited. I’ve seen Norma and Hornady brass, that’s it.

Brass Availability Win: 308

Currently (10/18/2015), both 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 brass from Hornady go for $38.99, so there isn’t really a cost advantage if you’re comparing similar quality brass.

Bullets

There is a surprising selection of bullets for 6.5mm. Small shops will still have more 30 cal bullets for reloading, but most will also have some perfectly usable 6.5mm bullets as well.

Really, bullet selection comes down to what is useful considering case design. In 308 Winchester, bullets in the 170+ grain size are hard to load to magazine limitations AND get enough powder and speed out of. The Sierra Matchking 175 grain in a Federal Gold Medal Match has a BC of .496 at the speeds a 308 is sending it along (2600 fps). Compare that to the 6.5 Creedmoor, which is sending a 140 grain bullet out at 2710 fps with a better BC of .526-.535, the Creedmoor is sending a ballistically superior bullet at higher speed. So the 308 has more selection and availability, but the 6.5 Creedmoor is using ballistically better bullets. Those bullets drop less at range and drift less in the wind.

For hunting North American big game (CXP2-CXP3 game), both cartridges are very similar and very much up to the job. Hornady’s GMX or Interbond, or Nosler’s Accubond will do the job if you need more penetration, otherwise there are plenty of decent hunting bullets. If you want to hunt CXP3 sized game at longer ranges, you’ll still need to go to a magnum loading like the 7mm Remington Magnum or 300 Winchester Magnum and the differences in range between the 6.5 and 308 are not worth worrying about. The 6.5mm bullets do have better Sectional Density (more lead behind less surface area) than comparable 308 bullets, which should give them better penetrating potential.

Cost-wise, 6.5mm bullets cost less to ship and use less material and so 6.5mm bullets are slightly cheaper to buy than 308 bullets from most manufacturers. Sierra lists their 140 grain HPBT Matchking in 6.5mm at $41/100, while their 175 grain 30 cal version is $44.24.

Rifle Selection

A clear win for 308 Winchester. It’s available in pretty much any bolt action rifle style that you might be interested in. 6.5 Creedmoor is starting to show up in more rifle models, but it’s still pretty rare to see one sitting on a rack. Buying online or from a bigger gun shop and you’ll find the 6.5CM’s showing up. The Ruger Precision Rifle is offered in 308, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 243, and I’m curious to see how much it helps bolster the popularity of 6.5 Creedmoor. The rifle is an ideal entry rifle into long range precision shooting, so 6.5 Creedmoor should be the cartridge of choice for it due to the better long range ballistics.

As a comparison of availability, 6.5 Creedmoor is available from Savage in about 10 models, while 36 of their models come in 308.

Recoil

Firing lighter bullets, the 6.5 Creedmoor will have less recoil than a rifle of the same weight in 308 Winchester. Because it’s also in a short action, 6.5 Creedmoor may have a chance at unseating 7mm-08 and 243 as the low-recoil CXP2 cartridge of choice.

Barrel Life

With higher speeds and a smaller bore, the 6.5 Creedmoor will see a shorter lifespan than a comparable barrel in 308, but it’s not ridiculously overbore (like the 6.5-284, 26 Nosler, etc) so it shouldn’t be too terrible. Still, a win for the 308.

Factory Ammo

Box front

You’re not going to find a box of 6.5 Creedmoor at the local fishing place that also sells ammo anytime soon, but it is available at big box outfitting stores. Hornady has several styles for hunting or matches. Cabelas.com lists 6.5 Creedmoor ammo with A-Max bullets at $28.99 (10/18/2015) and 308 with A-Max for $30.99. Realistically, there’s going to be more availability for low cost ammo for the 308, especially if you want cheap surplus ammo for practice, but once you look at high quality match or hunting ammo, costs should be similar or slightly lower for 6.5 Creedmoor. If 6.5 Creedmoor gains in popularity (which appears to be the case right now), it may be harder to find because stores will have issues keeping stock.

6.5 Creedmoor

Summary: Better Performance, If You Want It

The 6.5 Creedmoor is clearly a ballistically better cartridge than 308. The 308 was designed in 1952 for a semi-automatic military rifle, while the 6.5 Creedmoor was designed in 2007 for better long range target performance in a bolt action rifle. That said, ballistics aren’t everything. It’s nice to be able to find a box of shells at the only store within 200 miles of your hunting camp, and 308 is very common. And at the distances that most people hunt, 308 is absolutely capable of taking any North American game. So if you’re looking to get into long range target shooting, the 6.5 Creedmoor should be your choice, while a regular range hunting rifle will be just fine with the venerable 308 Winchester. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the good old 30-06 either.

6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 vs 30-06

  • Shinesman

    So basically, you just told me all the reasons a 6.5 is better, and at the end of it all you like 308 because its sold at more places. If you run out of rounds deer hunting, you shouldn’t be hunting. It is hard to look past your biased in this article. I really am researching which one I would like overall because I own neither, but this article was humorous in its spin.

  • BobinMI

    Did you even read the entire article? I would recommend trolling somewhere else. If you want a 6.5 CM get it, but don’t be butt hurt when its not everyone else’s choice.

  • Shinesman

    I did read the article there fella, which is why it was so easy to see the problem with it. I like 308, I don’t own a 6.5. But the whole article was ruined by the authors bias. I am not trolling. What the F*** is there to troll? Its an ammo comparison, but when the guy’s tone is overwhelmingly biased it isn’t a comparison, its a sales pitch. I am not butt hurt, you are the one who is pissy. Truth hurts, and little butterflies like yourself who can’t even take someone expressing concern about an article you didn’t even write is the problem with people today. Go punch yourself in the face and learn how to read because its obvious you didn’t read or more likely couldn’t comprehend the article and have never taken a composition or lit class in your life. See ya later bobby.

  • Brett Schuler

    “So basically, you just told me all the reasons a 6.5 is better, and at the end of it all you like 308 because its sold at more places”

    Actually the end of it all the author states the choice should be based on philosophy of use:

    “Better performance if you want it…so if you’re looking to get into long range target shooting, the 6.5 Creedmoor should be your choice, while a regular range hunting rifle will be just fine with the venerable 308 Winchester.”

    “If you run out of rounds deer hunting, you shouldn’t be hunting”

    An obviously reactionary and inflammatory comment.

    Please try to be less emotional (and more objective) and or read the whole article.

    Regards

  • Vic Svic

    What bias is there? The ballistics don’t lie the 6.5 is a superior performing round. You can build a gun with 6.5 in any ballistics program and compare with .308 and it will also show you the 6.5 is better across the board. The author mentions .308 is still good and one advantage is availability in not only bullets but rifles. He also mentions that 6.5 is good for target shooting and smaller game but if you want to take down big game you’ll need something like 300win mag.

  • tophat1234

    He gave you alot of info that you needed…. Pay attention and make your own decision based on the info given. 308 is available everywhere. That is a big bonus. If that doesnt bother you that much and you want to shoot very long distances such as 1000 yards, get the 6.5 creedmoor. Its quite simple. Otherwise get the 308. I will be getting the 308 personally as I have no place around em where i can ever shoot 1000 yards and i also like the 308 for more power.

  • Matt…

    You don’t need a .300wm for ANYTHING in North America.

    The .308 has been used to take every type of medium sized to big game in America, and has proven effective. It’s all about proper shot placement.

  • Sam Spade

    Everything isn’t about deer hunting.

  • Sam Spade

    Everything isn’t about deer hunting. Nor is hunting the only reason to own arms.

  • Sam Spade

    I didn’t see any bias there at all. In fact, when it came to wind drift etc., he gave the nod to the 6.5.

  • Ethan

    I have a 6.5 CM love it have a 308 love it long range creedmore wins knock down 308 it don’t matter as far as power and damage go. In this argument it all comes down to price.

  • Jeremy Chartier

    He lays out his findings well. The body of the article is hardly biased. The end surmises his findings and includes his brief personal opinion. I personally see no significant bias in this article, but your mileage clearly varies, which is fine.

    The way I read the article I’m left with the opinion that both have their place:

    .308 is readily available and perfectly serviceable for hunting, which is a true and reasonable statement.

    6.5 CM is obviously laid out in this article to be a wiser choice for long range, high performance shooters who are willing to trade minor inconveniences in supply, rifle choice and barrel life for the higher performance at distance.

    To the Author: Thank you for the informative article, it was just what I was looking for.

  • George Fournier

    The commercial offerings for the 308 Win suffer from lack of high BC bullets and velocity. Currently we are addressing these issues and there soon will be bullets on the market that make the 308 Win clearly outperform the Creedmore. I have been testing a machined 150 gr copper bullet with a BC of .475-.490 (measured myself with a Berger 185gr as a standard in the test) that can be launched at 3100 fps from a 24 in 308 Win Bartlein barrel. At 500 yds that bullet arrives with 250-500 more foot pounds of energy than any 6.5 Creedmore offering (9 inches less drop than the 143 ELDX Hornady 6.5 Creedmore load at 500 yds). We have used that bullet in Africa on plains game. The largest animal we killed was a 600 lb Blue Wildebeest at 482 yds that dropped like a truck hit it. The powder used was Leverevolution, which for the 308 Win has proven to be superior to any other powder on the market. Strange that there is no published data for this powder in the 308 Win. I have shot well over 750 shots with bullets of all types and weights (lead core jacketed, all copper with weights ranging from 150 to 196 gr) from both my 308 Win rifles in temperatures from close to 0 F up to the mid 90’s F. That bullet/powder combination makes the 308 Win perform more like a 7mm Rem Mag than a typical 308 Win. If you are a handloader that is comfortable trying different things, the 308 Win can be a phenomenal cartridge. No other cartridge yields as much energy/grain of powder and has as long a barrel life as the 308 Win.

  • Marc

    There is a video on youtube 6.5 creedmoor and 260 vs 308 win at 700 yards, the 308 hit harder than both

  • Randy G Meek

    Who do you work for and when will this be available

  • George Fournier

    You could visit us on our Facebook open page at Badlands Precision and see what we do. The bullet I was referencing in the post above is a 150 gr all copper machined hollow point (called 150BD) with an aluminum tip capable of shooting 0.5-0.75 MOA to 500 yds. Our BC testing of it used an acoustic time of flight method that was also used to test the BC of the Berger 185 OTM Tactical. We actually measured a BC on the Berger slightly below their advertised BC (0.545 vs 0.555 advertised) by that method. The average BC we saw for our bullet was 0.480. Using a Lab Radar we have measured BCs of 0.490 The bullet is intended for hunting, and will expand reliably in 10% gel down to 1930 fps impact velocity giving it an effective range of 575-650 yds from the 308Win under standard conditions depending the muzzle velocity. It is suitable for 1:10 twist barrels. I use 49-50 gr of Leverevolution (LVR) and a COL of 2.890. To start out though would start with 46 gr of LVR and work up in 0.5gr increments and use a chronograph. From a 20 in 1:10 barrel I get 2920-2950 fps MV and from a 24 in 1:9.5 barrel I get 3100 fps. Have to use slightly less powder in the longer barrel. If you are interested in buying some, shoot me an Email with your name and contact information and shipping address. We price these at $44.80/50. We also make a 155 gr all copper solid bullet intended for long range target shooting with the same profile as the 150BD that has a higher BC (0.511). It was tested against the Sierra 155 TMK using radar to determine the BC. The Sierra bullet had a BC of 0.485 in that same test. We price these 155 Palma as we call it, at $30/50 bullets. Loads for that bullet also use LVR but use Lapua Palma brass and a CCI 400 small rifle primer which gives extraordinarily consistent MV of 3040 fps. We think this will be a good 1000 yd target load.

  • Atticus

    Own both, Here is my experience.

    Get an itch to go to the range, I want to shoot the 6.5, I go to the store and they say or have vanilla or chocolate…. some time neither. On the other hand,
    Get an itch to go to the range, I want to shoot the .308, I go to the store.. Welcome to Baskin Robbins what flavor would you like… would you like to try: the gucci premium blah blah blah flavor.
    I have learned that owning the 6.5cm has its quirks, I now buy ammo.. if I see it (not all ammo just the specific ammo i like.. all do not shoot the same in my rifle) because when I want to go on a whim, Im not at the mercy of poor availability. Many will say “just purchase online” yes, you are korrect.. but again I have to plan in advance.
    A few times, I have spent the rounds I had on hand and did not restock. I cannot afford to purchase xxxx rounds at a time. I currently do not reload but I keep all my brass because that is the next obvious path I need to explore….. Currently I’m on the treadmill..on repeat-marathon mode/ a few weeks down the line.. again, Get an itch to go to the range,. I go to the store and they say or have vanilla or chocolate…. some time neither. On the other hand, Get an itch to go to the range, I want to shoot the .308
    YMMV

  • Ray Sheriff

    George
    I will call to order some 155 Palma.
    Thanks for the info and finding your company is what I have been looking for !!!

  • George Fournier

    Glad to hear it. You can message me directly with your contact information cell number is 605 660 7808

  • killerasteroid

    Troll. He said the 308 has better barrel life, wider gun selection, wider bullet selection, better ammo availability while the 6.5 is ballistically superior and has a bit less recoil. READ THE ARTICLE!!!!!!!

  • killerasteroid

    Good post.

  • Chris Whiddon

    My two cents…unless you’re shooting competitively, the .308 is the way to go. Brass and bullets are easier and cheaper to come by (see link below), but the same can’t be said for the 6.5.

    https://eastcoastreloading.com/collections/rifle-brass/products/308-winchester-brass-for-reloading-308win-7-62-51mm-nato

  • Jon

    One thing that needs to be very clear there is a difference between targets and animals while the 6.5 is a better TARGET bullet it seems the amount of energy it carrys is less than the 308, As a hunting round it stops at about 500 yds where the 308 stops around 600 because anything less than 1000# of energy is not enough for hunting in MHO anyway, Bucking wind and elevation is for targets, But you need energy for hunting, At least that’s the way I look at it, It is a great TARGET round

  • Ultra_C

    you absolutely answered the exact questions that I had in this article, thanks. I’m strongly considering the new savage AR primarily for deer hunting, it is available in both the 6.5 MM and the 308, looks like the clear winner for my purposes is the 308.

  • John Norwood

    The bottom like is if you’re picking one platform and your primary reason for owning one is for target practice and self defense, no sane person on this planet would choose the 6.5 over a 308 win in 168 grain. If your soul reason for buying a rifile is to hit targetshower and or steel at ranges that fair exceed responsible hunting distance ( 400 yards) is pushing it but go on and chase game blood trails as you wish. 308.win out to 500 yards is as good as the 6.5. This range is,more than any sane person shoots. If your really into hitting steel at 800+ yards buy a damm 338 Lapua mag. Good lord guys.

  • steve

    I own both,you my friend don’t know the difference,so why look?just be like every other gun idiot and get your self a time proven 30-06 and be done with it.

  • Hugh Mungus ♂ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Looking at either buying or customizing a new lightweight hunting rifle. 6.5CR has me intrigued.

  • Tom Smith

    Good article and a good comparison between the two . I still operate on my dads principle : 30-06 , 12 gauge and .22 are available just about anywhere you go . The same cannot be said for 6.5 , 10 gauge and .17 HMR . If I cant get ammo for it …it’s a pretty club .

  • Matt Carrasquillo

    No body said anything about hunting being the only reason?

  • Michael Sterling

    I have to agree with you on price. This article starts out stating the 6.5 comparison as “… but with a LOT less recoil and cost.” After looking at prices, the 6.5 is nearly double (todays prices) as opposed to the .308 Winchester. I was considering a 6.5 but at twice the cost per round for usage, I may have to reconsider.

  • John Lear

    Disclaimer: I’m a 6.5 fan boy but from my understanding of ballistic coefficient is that it is an index for ability to resist wind resistance, or its aerodynamic effect. A higher number means that it is a flatter round, less variation vertically.

    What’s important to note is that side to side wind effect is better impeded by heavier rounds, so the .308 is better horizontally.

    With the mass availability of online ammo vendors, there really is limitless availability on the 6.5CM as well as most ammo types. And I have been buying 6.5cm from local bait and tackle shops too.

    Not trying to troll. Just weighing in on the science and my availability in NH.

  • The Power

    It all comes down to what you want out of your rifle. I will built my AR10 in 308 initially since I can shoot lots of cheap surplus mil 308. then later, if I decide I need better BC I can upgrade to 6.5 Creedmoor or maybe 300 WSM. For most people, 308 will get’r dun. 6.5 is for making holes in paper at long range with low recoil. That is what the cartridge was designed for after all.

  • Hotbutterknife

    I had the 6.5 in my hand and asked for a box of ammo and the guy couldn’t find one. Sure I can buy it online but in a zombie apocalypse when the internet goes away I am pretty sure 308 is going to be around.

  • Jeff Pollard

    Forget both of these ! You were correct at the end ! There’s always your “dependable 30.06” ! It will do everything a 308 and Credmore will do, but with more power. Hand Load down to 308 size loads with a 30.06, and you reduce Barrel Harmonics and your have tight groups too ! Credmore has the longer range, but lack the power down range. If you have to take down a Terrorist with Phase 4 Body Armor in a San Bernadino situation, you better have your 30.06 with 220 Grains, because there is nothing other than a Shotgun Slug at short range that can handle that, other than moving up to 300 Win Mag ! Try a Barrel Tuner on your 30.06 if you want extra accuracy with THE POWER ! Check out Browning BOSS System (Barrel Tuners) ! I still have 2 30.06’s (by brother stole (kept) one. He wouldn’t give it back !) He was a 308 fan, and has a .270 for accuracy. He kept my Browning 30.06 BOSS. I got another Browning BOSS, but got a 300 Win Mag instead of another 30.06. You will ALWAYS find a lot of ammo choices and any store with 30.06 ! Not so with 308, and impossible with 6.5 Creedmore ! I have a friend who has a 6.5 Creedmore and always has a hard time. Had to get back into loading himself again ! Always much easier to just buy a few boxes and go shooting, than plan in advance around reloading.

  • Jeff Pollard

    Rethink ! Ammo is hard to find with Creedmore !

  • Jeff Pollard

    Sounds like you are Hot Loading a little bit. These numbers are more for 30.06 ! You’re about 200fps faster than Sammi specs. 150 Grain shouldn’t launch faster than 2980fps. MAX ! Should be around 2900 and 30.06 around 3000 to 3060fps. Anybody can Hot Load, but you risk blowing up your gun and yourself ! Switch to a Heavy Barrel or Bull Barrel, and you can get away with it, but be careful ! Just do what I did when I wanted more power ! Get a 300 Win Mag instead of Hot Loading a 308 !

  • George Fournier

    For the 308 loads I referenced, I use Leverevolution powder. No published data in the 308 for that powder, but I keyed off the Hodgdon data for the 338 Federal round. Couple that higher energy powder with a our bullet (150 Bulldozer) that has lower friction because of a small bearing surface and shoot it out of high quality custom barrel (24 in Bartline) and you are up to and beyond conventional 3006 MV’s. Obviously things like depth of bullet seating, primer type, chamber dimensions, and brass wall thickness will impact on chamber pressure. One thing, though, the Leverevolution powder will give higher velocities than Varget, H4895, H414 etc. at SAAMI max pressures. These loads are very safe. They show no signs of overpressure and I have used them in ambient temperatures of up to 90F in direct sunlight. They will shoot at 1/2 MOA out to 500 yds. I figure the effective hunting range of the 150 gr bullet under standard conditions (range at which the bullet slows to 2000fps and will expand reliably) is around 585 yds lauched at 3050 fps. Compare that to the Barnes 150 TTSX. Our testing has shown that the BC of that bullet is only 0.396 and that expansion becomes unreliable at impact speeds of 2200 fps or less. Figuring these results places the effective range of the Barnes bullet launched at the same MV (3050 fps) at 375 yds. We tested our bullet in an African Plains Game hunt last year using a 20 in barreled 308 Win rifle wherein the load had 2920 fps MV and got single shot dead-right-there kill on a Blue Wildebeest at 482 yds. 6 other animals shot at shorter ranges were also DRT 1 shot kills. Testing the accuracy of the load from that rifle before the trip showed it was holding a 0.6MOA vertical spread out to 500 yds. You can see the video of that shot on YouTube by searching Badlands 150 Bulldozer vs Blue Wildebeest. The video speaks for itself. A Barnes 150 TTSX at that distance starting at the same speed would have only 1896 fps residual velocity, an impact speed not high enough to expand the bullet reliably.

  • killerasteroid

    I think the 62 gr green tip 5.56 (sold at Walkyworld) will penetrate it and it can be shot in an AR-15

  • Eric Wittman

    “hard to find”? What? Do you live in Antartica without Wifi? I can buy 6.5 Creedmoor all day/everyday. I go the range, fire some rounds, and replace the amount like I do with any of my other calibers- 22lr, 22wmr, 22-250, 223, 243, 270, 308, 44, 45/70… I take two boxes with me if I’m going away to hunt. Only Nancy Pelosi needs more than two boxes of ammo to go on a hunting trip. Bottom line- 6.5 Creedmoor isn’t hard to find.

  • It’s been a year and a half since I wrote this article, and 6.5 Creedmoor is still in short supply around my parts. None in stock at our big box retailers like Cabela’s or Wholesale Sports. If you were to forget the ammo at home and go on a sheep hunt, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t find any to buy in the mountains. If you never forget anything when you go on hunts, it shouldn’t be an issue.

  • pewpew

    LOL if a zonbie apocalypse happens, there wont be any ammo around. stock up before or even your 9 wont get fed.. IMO anyway

  • Ronald Nelson

    If you are into long range competition or sniper marksmanship… the 6.5 Creedmoor is the round to use.

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