Review: 6.5 Creedmoor versus .308 Winchester

By Wilburn Roberts published on in Ammunition

Recently, Springfield introduced the iconic M1A rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor. This got my attention. The AR rifle has sucked the life from most other self-loading rifles but not the M1A. This is a big step. Perhaps, I should look harder at the two cartridges—6.5 and .308 for brevity.

Federal 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition box

Federal’s new hunting loads makes the 6.5 Creedmoor even more attractive.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is similar enough to the .308 that re-chambering a popular rifle isn’t a problem for the major makers. The Creedmoor uses a skinny light bullet to achieve good ballistics. This isn’t necessarily a higher velocity loading, but instead, it is a very efficient loading. The 6.5 is a popular long-range number that has seen much use the past decade or so for firing beyond 500 yards. And that’s the deal right there—long range.

The .308 is a great go-anywhere do-anything cartridge but it isn’t the finest long-range cartridge. Long range results with the .308 hinge on a great rifle and optics, and also a great shooter. At ranges up to 500 yards—with proper load selection—I don’t see that much difference, except perhaps in wind resistance. At 1,000 yards you see the 6.5 has a big advantage in hitting the target easily with less calculations.

I hesitate to discuss feed reliability as my two current M1A rifles are well used and have never stuttered. However, the 6.5 has a 30 degree shoulder, the .308 a 20 degree shoulder. The 6.5 should feed better.

Federal Juggernaut .308 ammunition box

The .308 offers real versatility. This is the Federal Juggernaut using the 185 grain Berger.

While 6.5 brass is being produced in great quantity by Hornady, .308 brass is certainly plentiful. A few years ago, during the great ammunition shortage, some of us were rocked by the fact that .308 brass was difficult to find. I never forget such things. If you stock up on new brass, there isn’t a difference in price—perhaps when total cost is applied, the 6.5 may be less expensive. However, used brass strongly favors the .308.

As for bullets, there are plenty of 6.5 bullets available for hunting, target shooting, or varmints. I use the Hornady SST for .30 hunting. But for long range and pure accuracy, the Sierra Matchking is, well, king. The Ballistic coefficient of this bullet is .496. At about 2,600 fps, or a bit more from my Savage Model 12, this is a superbly-accurate cartridge.

The Creedmoor’s 140-grain bullet has a ballistic coefficient of .626 at 2,700 fps. Bullets for the 6.5 actually cost three to five percent less overall. So, the 6.5 has an equal footing with bullet selection, if not as broad a selection. If you are going for moose or long range on ram, you are going to have to buck up to the 7mm Magnum in any case, so the 6.5 and .308 are each pretty close. At present, the 6.5 isn’t available in any of the less expensive ‘combination guns’ such as the Savage Axis. I suppose it will be eventually.

Springfield Armory M1A chambered for 5.6 Creedmoor right profile

Springfield Armory is now offering a 6.5 Creedmoor chambering in the M1A.

A big plus for the 6.5 that cannot be debated is recoil. The 6.5 Creedmoor produces less recoil energy than the .308 Winchester. I do not find the .308 offensive, but some complain of the effect after a day’s shooting. So, there is a definite plus if you are shooting a lot at targets over a long distance and like to lower the shock to the shoulder after firing a few hundred cartridges on a good day. After all the .308 was designed to replace the .30-06, which it did, and the 6.5 was designed as a long range, easy to shoot, target cartridge.

Personally, I find nothing wrong with the .300 Savage, but that’s another story. I think, in many ways, we should own both rifles and both cartridges. We are not concerned with a NATO supply line and fun is the name of the game, given an effective caliber choice.

.308 Win. or 6.5 Creedmoor, which caliber do you prefer for hunting or long-range target shooting? If you have both, which rifle shoots the best groups? How does the recoil compare in your book? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (53)

  • Dan Ramirez

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    The BOTTOM LINE:

    If you want to use your rifle to kill and punch paper at less than 500 yards buy a .308

    If you want less recoil punching paper at 500 plus yards, don’t want to kill anything, and don’t mind paying more for ammo buy a 6.5

    END OF STORY! Everybody can go home now.

    Reply

  • dale smith

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    I had to say one more thing then I am out.
    Had a mod. 70 in 30-06. Creedmoor, way easier to shoot! In Utah, 300 yards ain’t nothing.
    My sister shot her last deer @ an honest to God 660 yards. Instant kill! No drama, no being inhumane. That’s just how it is out here, everything is far away. We also shoot a lot of steel. Brother-in law’s shoots .338 Lapua, but that’s a whole nother thing. 1000 yard range set up here, and we’ working on the 1 mile range.
    I was going to buy my rifle in .308, Not flat enough, sorry! Again, I don’t follow trends, just being practical. My rifle- Rem 700, 22” varmint barrel, threaded for a suppressor I am waiting on…

    Reply

  • Cecil Collins

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    I’m no expert, just bought my 6.5 Creedmoor for an honest chance at a deer 300-400 yards away in the Hayfield. I’ve seen a few but just not comfortable that far away shooting my 30-06.
    I can’t shoot it enough to get proficient with that much recoil. The 6.5 solves that problem, low recoil and a little flatter trajectory. With my 4-12 Nikon BDC I might have a chance after shooting enough to be confident. Ammo readily available at local discount stores and big box sporting goods stores and online. Also looks handy for predator and varmits, what’s not to like or love, I see a lot of negative responses but the 6.5 Creed outshines most common calibers for my needs.

    Reply

  • Hoyt

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    Don’t get me wrong I like my 308 savage but my 6.5 from Ruger is sweet . It’s just easier, no rock and roll when you fire. The 6.5 is easier on the shoulder and the ears. I spend less time with target adjustments for wind and distance. So 308 good round 6.5 great round.

    Reply

  • Walt

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    This article is severely flawed.

    Yes 6.5 vs 308 have different advantages. As far as scientific long range calculations, the author is clearly undereducated on the subject. I suggest reading Brian Litz’ Applied Ballistics. It is inhumane to shoot an animal over 50lbs and over 500 yards with a light weight bullet (no matter what the caliber). Real long range shooters handload and use heavy bullets, esp beyond 500 yds, and especially when hunting. A good all around minimum would be 175gr. Bullet, although I tend to use 210gr. with a 1/10 twist.
    6.5 Creedmoore has no special magic when correcting for windage, elevation, temp, humidity, air density+the Earths spin. 6.5mm through 30 cal does hold the most awards for long range competition.

    Reply

    • Bill

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      Exactly!!! Everybody is jumping on the Creedmore bandwagon. I’m not shooting anything at 500 yards. I don’t think I’d want to try anything over 250, but that’s just me. Too many factors go into this long range crap. That said, the 308, up to 250 is the better round, hands down. This Creedmore mania reminds me of the .40 caliber pistol craze years ago. After drank the Kool-Aid and seen that it’s not what it was cracked up to be, its dying a slow death.

      Reply

    • Brian

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      It doesn’t matter what caliber you are shooting. Minimums to humanely harvest an animal is 1800 fps velocity and 1200 Ft lbs. of energy. Find where these fall for your caliber/grainage/powder and at what yardage. That is your effective range.

      Reply

  • Robert

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    Um the 6.5 is offered in the savage axis

    Reply

  • Cam

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    I don’t get the gripes about ammo availability when it comes to 6.5 creedmoore. They sell it at big box stores, and fewer people are shooting it, so it’s always in stock. I wouldn’t even gripe about the price. From the cheap range ammo to the good match rounds, 6.5 is only around $2 or $3 more than .308 per box.

    Reply

  • Cliff Morgan

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    Amazing marketing. Roy Weatherby came out with the 257 Magnum (6.5mm = .257inches) in 1945? He went on to say that it was all the gun needed East of the Rockies. West, consider a 300. If you want maximum range in 308 or 6.5 look at a Weatherby.

    Reply

    • Billy fite

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      6.5mm = .264

      Reply

  • HERB

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    6.5 HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE WW2, THE SWISS, THE ITALIANS, ETC., ALL HAD THEM,. 30-06 WAS THE U.S. STANDARD THEN. THAT WAS FOR WAR. THE 308 WAS INTRODUCED FOR LESS RECOIL AND VERY CLOSE PERFORMANCE TO THE 30-06, AND IT DOES. SMALLER PROJECTILES/CASES EQUAL LESS FELT RECOIL, SIMPLE. FOR HUNTING 243, 270 AND 308 CAN’T BE BEAT, AND ALL THREE ARE READILY AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE, PERIOD.

    Reply

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