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6.5 Creedmoor vs .308: The Numbers Don't Lie

6.5 Creedmoor vs .308: The Numbers Don't Lie
March 29, 2023 Edited April 4, 2023 34037 view(s)
6.5 Creedmoor vs .308: The Numbers Don't Lie

Over the past five or six decades, the .308 Winchester has carved out a healthy niche as one of the best all-around medium-game centerfire cartridges in North America. The .308 uses projectiles that range anywhere from 110-grain super light varmint loads, all the way up to 180-grain and even some 190-grains.

The best part about the .308 is it carries most of the punch of a .30-06 with the same bullet, but with far less felt recoil. Oh, and did we mention it’s the original chambering of the venerable but potent AR-10? The 6.5 Creedmoor is also a short-action caliber, perfectly suited for the same actions as a .308, including a 6.5 Creedmoor AR-10 upper. 

But let’s not put the cart before the horse, now. Let’s take a look at these two middleweights that always punch up. 

History

These two calibers may be first out of the same make and model of rifle, but their histories are quite a lot different from one another. One was designed by the Army arsenals as a combat arms cartridge (the .308), while the other was designed from the ground up as a long-range target shooting caliber. 

The great irony here is that they both have become wildly popular in medium-game hunting, even though neither one was intended for hunting use in the first place! Of course, this isn’t anything new: the venerable .30-06 Springfield is the most used centerfire caliber in North America (so probably the world), and it was a main battle rifle caliber introduced in the earliest years of the 20th century. But I digress. 

.308 Winchester

.308 ammo

The .30-06 went into service with the U.S. Army in 1906, hence the name. It was the mainstay rifle during World War I in the M1903 rifle. It was then used in the M3 machine gun, and of course, the M1 Garand.

However, they wanted a case that could deliver comparable performance out of a substantially smaller case. The shorter case results in a more compact overall weapon profile (short-action versus long-action). In fact, if you think about it, issuing M1903s and M1 Garands to the average sized mail 1906-1945 is pretty amazing; the average height in the early 20th century was around 5’7”. A Garand is a huge rifle for guys that size.

The M1 carbine was much more compact and was paired up with either a 20-round or 30-round magazine which provided a lot of firepower, especially against a K-98 Mauser or a Japanese Type 99. However, the .30 carbine, a straight-walled cartridge, leaves a little to be desired in a main battle rifle. 

The .308 afforded most of the knock-down power of the .30-06, most if not all of the range, in a cartridge that could operate in a smaller weapon, more compact magazines, etc. 

6.5 Creedmoor

6.5 creedmoor ammo

Conversely, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a dedicated long-range competition caliber that has been adopted into hunting circles as a competent and efficient long-range caliber. Since it is a comparable size to the .308, it is easily adapted to short-action rifles (Remington Model 700, Savage Model 110, Winchester Model 70 and so on). 

The 6.5 bullet translates roughly to .264”, so in practical terms it is slightly smaller than a .270 Winchester. Common bullet weights are a little lighter than the .308 and align closely with .270, ranging from the blistering-fast 95-grain Hornady V-Max, to the heavy 147-grain match bullets. 

It is also a youthful caliber, first introduced by Hornady in 2007, unlike the .308 which hails all the way back to the World War II-era. 

6.5 Creedmoor Long Range

Ballistics

These two calibers are compared all over the internet because of their similar case sizes which allow them to be chambered in similar firearms, and they are used in similar sized game. Perhaps the best selling point is the ability to buy a single AR-10 lower receiver and use either caliber with the swap of an upper. Of course, you get to tailor the optics for whatever is best suited for that caliber of upper. Ultimate versatility.

We are going to speak in generalities here because there are almost unlimited combinations of bullet weights and styles that could be compared. 

Velocity

The Creedmoor gets the nod here, predictably, since it is generally a lighter projectile. For example, 125-grain Deer Season XP from Winchester scoots along at 2,850fps from the muzzle. Ok, so the same exact bullet in .308 exits the muzzle at 2,820fps. Not exactly earth-shattering, right?

Well, let’s take it out to 200 yards. Practically speaking, this is about as far as any whitetail hunters that I know are taking shots. 

6.5 Creedmoor: 2,520fps, 1,763ft/lbs, and -3.3” drop. 

.308 Winchester: 2,368fps, 1,867ft/lbs, and -3.7 drop. 

 

Nothing crazy here. 

 

Now take it out to 500 yards:

6.5 Creedmoor: 2,069fps, no energy reported, and -41” drop.

.308 Winchester: 1,773fps, no energy reported, and -48.3” drop.

Wind Deflection

At really long ranges, the 6.5 Creedmoor is less affected by wind, making it less critical of wind calls. The 6.5 Creedmoor also has a distinct advantage over the .308 at long ranges where there’s little time to make wind decisions.

With a 10 mph wind at 500 yards, Backfire.tv averages 6.5 Creedmoor's wind deflection at 16.1 inches and .308 at 21.3 inches. At 1,000 yards that contrast increases with 6.5 Creedmoor at 76 inches of wind deflection and .308 with 101 inches. 

Accuracy Comparison

Long range shooting is a fast growing sport and there’s serious demand for improvements to simplify dealing with trajectory and wind drift. In 2007, Hornady introduced the 6.5 Creedmoor into a market hungry for a round that offered flat trajectory and the ability to shoot low drag projectiles while having the capability to run in AR 10 and M1A rifles. Both these systems were designed for the 7.62 Nato or .308 Winchester caliber and while the .308 has been a standard for long range shooters since its introduction, there was considerable room for improvement.

In reality, the 6.5 Creedmoor has no advantage in accuracy over the .308. Accuracy is based on barrel quality, bedding of action to stock, and quality of the ammunition. The Creedmoor advantage comes from being more forgiving of the external effects on accuracy, such as wind deflection and the shooter’s ability to correct for it. In short, the 6.5 Creedmoor is more forgiving in wind calls. [Both 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 are popular calibers available in AR-10 rifles; see other AR-10 Calibers explained in our new blog post.]

6.5 Creedmoor Barrels

Barrel Life

Born in 1952, the .308 Winchester/7.62 Nato has been one of the best all-around cartridges for decades. The .308 lends itself to accurate shooting, it’s easy to reload, available everywhere, and it’s reasonable to get over 5,000 rounds worth of extreme accuracy from a barrel.

At some point, it became obvious that a cartridge with a higher ballistic coefficient would yield higher competition scores because wind deflection at 300 and 600 yards is a major factor. Smaller calibers like .243, and later various 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges were tried.

The problem was that barrel life on smaller calibers is short, as little as 2,000 rounds, and the average serious match shooter shoots more than twice that in a season. This meant re-barreling in the middle of the shooting season and that was a problem.

For the casual long-range shooter or hunter, however, this is most likely not an issue as they are unlikely to shoot more than 2,500 rounds through a barrel.

Recoil

Normal hunting bullets for the Creedmoor are between 130 and 143 grains. Normal bullet weights for the .308 are between 165 and 180 grains. If recoil is an issue, the advantage goes to the Creedmoor. In competitions like Precision Rifle, low recoil makes it easier to stay on target after the shot allowing the shooter to spot misses and take a fast follow-up shot.

Hunters Choice

Whitetail deer are the most common medium game hunted in North America, so operating on that principle the choice is pretty obvious: the .308 is inexpensive, available everywhere, and unless you start reaching out to long distance ranges of 500+ yards, the performance benefits are negligible. 

However, .308 is regularly available in loads that are much heavier than what the 6.5 Creedmoor can handle, making it a great all-purpose round for all deer, black bear, and most anything else. The one exception would probably be antelope, where the long range is key. 

[Check out our 6.5 Creedmoor uppers and 308 uppers for your next AR-10 build!]

6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 bullets side by side

The Winner?

Based on what we've looked at so far, the 6.5 Creedmoor has less bullet drop, wind deflection, and recoil than .308. 308 Winchester wins in the hunting, ammo selection, and barrel life categories, however. 

Life is about compromise and success depends on choosing the right compromise for the situation. Not many people regularly shoot beyond 300 yards and at that distance, the .308 is just as accurate, yields about double the barrel life, and has more energy at ranges under 300 yards than the 6.5.

So which do you choose? It depends on your goals and what you like. Both are accurate hunting calibers, both are capable of extreme accuracy in good rifles with good ammunition. The .308 has more recoil, but is arguably better for larger game and has longer barrel life. The 6.5 is flatter shooting, requires less wind correction and has less recoil but shorter barrel life. It’s your choice, I like both. Why not have at least one of each?

Now, here’s the really cool thing: if you have an AR-10, you can enjoy the benefits of each caliber with one base lower receiver. It is the obvious choice; pull out two pins, swap receivers, shoot. 

What do you have to lose? Especially if you’ve thrown down money on a good trigger assembly. Don’t buy another rifle, just grab another upper. 

[Make sure to read our newest blog posts on 50 Beowulf and the basic parts of ammunition and comment your preference between .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor below.]

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Lee Johnston
July 20, 2021
I will stick with .308 as long as the Ammo holds out.
Ray Clark
July 20, 2021
I prefer to stick with readily available military ammunition 7.62x51as well as 7.62x39, 5.56, 12 gauge and .45 ACP, as if the SHTF I will be able to use what ever is laying around. 7.62x51 is what I learned with in the Marine Corps while carrying the M14 until being issued the Mattel Toy and it is my go to caliber {.308}
Mark DeBoer
December 13, 2021
Agreed, though the M14 was before my time, I still perfer the M14 & now have a really nice AR10 to compliment it. The 1911 is my go to...
Mark Smith
July 20, 2021
You might look at Barnes 308 Win with 110 gr and 130 gr data. Laser beams.
LBL
July 21, 2021
First time I did 12 out of 12 on the 8 inch steel at 400 yards, was with 6.5 Creedmoor, 100 grain Barnes bullets. Best I can do with a 308 at 400 yards, so far, is roughly 2 out of 3. When I went to the range today, it looked real calm. So I was thinking about this article when I grabbed the 308. BUT the wind picked up pretty quickly. On the other hand, I like practicing with the 308. :-)
260 remington
July 27, 2021
I still think the 260 remington is better. It is faster for one thing. Shoots the same bullet. The biggest thing is I all ready have 6.5 in the 260 and no need to get the vreedmoor
Billy bob
November 1, 2021
Unfortunately this article wasn’t about the Remington 260. The article was about the difference between the 6.5 creedmore and the 308 win.
Mark T. Davis
November 14, 2022
6.5C is a fanboy/marketing round like .300BO. It doesn't really do anything better than rounds that are more commonly available and less expensive. .308 is a better choice under 300-500 yards, and for shots beyond that (which very few shooters even attempt) there are far better cartridges than 6.5C. It's not a bad round, it's just mostly hype.
Frankzilla80
April 11, 2023
@Mark That is totally the truth. I know landowners in South Texas, w/o guide for whitetail and aoudad, that won't allow 6.5Cr on their property b/c of game loss issues.
RLD454C
November 14, 2022
At 100 yards my Ruger American produces sub MOA with 150 grain interlocks and 165 grain interlocks that I handload . I have killed several elk and nice whitetail bucks with it at ranges out to 400 yards .
Forrest Hunt
April 11, 2023
I’m just hooked on the .308, my military time was with the 5.56 and .308 NATO. I’ve built my Arsenal around my experience and what I’ve come to like. The 6.5 Creedmore I’m sure is a great shooting round. I may have to give up the $350 on a good 6.5 Upper and give it a try. I’m sure it will find space in my safe.
TheHoneyBadger
April 11, 2023
When the SHTF or the balloon goes up, you won't be able to find 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, but there will be plenty of .308Win/7.62x51 NATO.
Timothy Mowery
April 11, 2023
I myself prefer the 308 as well. I have seven different ones. I have no trouble with them. I also have tw0 6.5 Creedmoors. I've tried loading them. Not very good results. Where I'm from. I've experienced from other hunters and shooters. They've had issues with the 6.5 . They don't have the connetic energy that a 308 gives. Would I hunt with the 6.5. Absolutely not.
Jim Fields
April 11, 2023
The 6.5 is a long range paper puncher , just good marketing. And I don’t have enough hair left for a ponytail which seems to be a requirement lol. I’ll stick to my 308.
Twilla Garrett
April 12, 2023
CORRECT...good marketing 7.62 or 30 caliber is hard to beat
Dwayne Tharp
April 11, 2023
The article states the average height 'mail' in the early 20th century was 5'7; how tall then was the average size 'femail' (casually assuming the still-present reality that there were only two genders back then)?
Dean Wilson
April 12, 2023
I too think that all the buzz about the creedmoor is hype. What new caliber was it that was all the rage before the creedmoor? Does anyone remember? I've seen rifles that look like crap kill coyotes at 400 yards with a shot to the head. However the person who was shooting is an exelent marksman. There is where accuracy starts. With the shooter.
Twilla Garrett
April 12, 2023
truth is companies need to sell more guns,,products,,,ammo so here came the 6.5 creedmoor
George Breckenridge
April 26, 2023
Current Event: I attempted to order the BC 10 upper with a 24" lightweight barrel and according to your website, UPS and Fedex refused to carry it to Washington State prior to the law our governor and his AG pushed that pretty much bans anything that is black. That law went into effect yesterday. I was looking to buy the side charger and use the upper as a manually operated bolt rifle. I expect other states to copy what Washington State just did, and it may be a while before we know how much of this law will stick. I'm hoping that Bear Creek will offer some side charger 24" uppers in .308 with no gas block, no gas tube, and no gas port drilled in the barrel. This should allow me and perhaps thousands of others to order the upper and enjoy it as part of a long-range manually operated bolt gun. This allows a person to pick the more expensive brass off the end of the bolt VS look for it in the weeds or brush. Bear Creek offers good value for the money, I look forward to my next build.
Gerry Good
June 9, 2023
I like simple...and the simple fact is that the two cartridges are very different. I don't make an effort to compare, contrast, or justify one over the other. I understand that each is good for a specific range of performance. My favorite cartridge is the 30-06. However, I like the 308 Winchester, too. For the kind of hunting where I need heavier bullets, the 308 is one of my choices. I don't take 1,000 yard shots when hunting mid to large game with a 308. No need to do so. On the other hand, I live in Arizona and I love to bust coyotes and I will take long shots on coyotes...maybe longer than is prudent with a 223 Remington. In those situations, the Creedmoor is more than adequate. The bottom line is that I like to have choices. I like reloading and I like playing around with ballistic performance. For a long time I was not interested in a boutique round...specially, the 6.5 Creedmoor...for a lot of reasons (association with a strictly competition cartridge at the time was paramount). I have a 24" barrel, .223 Remington that is a sweet little rifle and it kills coyotes all day long at 800 yards or less so I didn't feel the need. However, as time went by and I looked at "the numbers ", I realized there was a niche for the CM...for me. I enjoy an open mind when it comes to firearms so I built one. And I like what it does. I don't ask my CM to act like a 308 Winchester or visa-verse in the field. I don't have a caliber identity disorder. None of my rifles associate as a different caliber than what they actually are so I don't run into caliber issues, either. I just like accurate rifles. - Good shooting -
308 Please and thank you
June 24, 2023
For deer hunting at any range under 500yrd the 308 is hands down better. I love shooting the 6.5CM the push is quite a bit softer but we've seen too many animals lost or hits needing follow up shots.
William Sommi
July 23, 2023
BCA PLEASE when you guys will bring back to stock AR10 uppers in left hand configuration I Still waiting for more than 11 months to get a .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor in 20' 416R SS fluted barrel NO ONE can tell me that by phone I called several times ANY ANSWER HERE.
Stan
August 2, 2023
I'll stick with the tried and true .308 Win/7.62 × 51. The 6.5 Creedmoor may beat out .308 slightly ballistically, but advantage .308 Win with a ~10k round barrel life vs ~2.8k round barrel life on 6.5 Creedmoor. I'll also take the .308 Win/7.62 × 51 bullet availability and cost vs 6.5 Creedmoor everyday. 6.5 Creedmoor is a very niche round for a niche group of shooters who seem to have a very specific need for the round, I can't hate on those folks and the round given their need, but the rounds just isn't for me.
Dave Sarber
February 27, 2024
7.62x51 forever.
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