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)

  • Chet

    |

    I sit here and shake my head. Where do some of these people come up with their data? You are listening to too much hype being put out there by the companies who sell the new calibers. The 6.5 Creedmore is a poor attempt to out shoot the calibers already out there so the ammo companies can sell you higher priced ammunition. 260 Remington is every bit as good and can be loaded hotter as it has more powder space, And if you need faster comfortable shooting in 6.5 try the 6.5 Swede. I am sorry I sold mine, but I wanted heavier bullets for bear and elk.

    I read someone saying how the 308 is not a long range gun. But yet many military snipers have used it for targets well over 1200 yards and accurately! Back in Nam the company men and special forces used more 308 than any other. There were some who sent home for custom guns in many different calibers, but the mainline bolt gun was ’06, 7.62×51, and variants of the ’06 like 270 Win.etc.

    My 300 Win Mag only out shoots my ’06 by a mere 150fps to 180 fps. It is my long ranger, but my comfort gun is my 30-06, it hits accurately and true. But to each his own!

    Thank you for reading this elders words.

    Reply

    • Bob

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      Nobody mentions barrel life which is substantially less in 6.5 Creedmoor

      Reply

  • Dwight Crumpacker

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    I have shot both cal. And for all around I prefer the 6.5. My 10 yold grand daughter loves her. She is close to out shooting Grampa. 6.5 cant go wrong.

    Reply

  • Mac Mantle

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    Add soon as the writer wrote that the 6.5 wasn’t available in the “less expensive combination guns” the entire argument is irrelevant based on ignorance. Catch up, every “cheaper” gun has the 6.5.

    Reply

    • Mike

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      I was thinking the same thing. I guess the Savage Axis that I bought in 6.5 Creedmoor about a year ago is imaginary… I stopped reading when I saw that and checked the publish date thinking I found an old article. Nope, just some writer that makes statements without research or fact checking.

      Reply

  • Jim in Conroe

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    Since I am a hunter and limit my shots to what I consider my “ethical” limit of under 300 yards, the .308 (I actually shoot .30-06) would be my choice. I don’t look at the 6.5 as an all around hunting cartridge, though for specific game and at longer ranges, it would certainly have an advantage.

    Reply

    • wr

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      I agree.
      But the 6.5 is very interesting.

      Thanks for reading.

      Reply

  • Dino Nucci

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    There’s no reason for anyone to be supporting anti 2nd amendment Springfield, none. Return the rifle. Read up.

    Reply

    • Wild Bill

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      No need to support anti 2nd Smith and Wesson until they take the locks off the revolvers.

      Reply

  • DeadArmadillo

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    I already have a .308 (and a .270). Sorry, but either of them will do anything I want them to do. I don’t need the 6.5 and doubt that I’ll need the “next big thing” in rifles.

    Reply

  • Cmac

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    308 because you can walk into most any two bit country store that sells any ammunition and get 308 but the 6.5, not so much.

    Reply

    • Chet

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      I totally agree with you Cmac! They are in every sporting goods store and every big box store that has ammo.

      Reply

    • William Costello

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      I have many rifles but I like my 308 the best been shooting one from 61 till now carried one in the military in Nam for almost 2 years it was a M1a Springfield never jammed or misfired with many rounds put through it you can keep you 6.5 I can buy 308 anywhere even in my little town

      Reply

  • Jerry Marshall

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    I beg to differ with your assertion that 6.5 Creedmore isn’t available in lower priced rifles. When I bought my Thompson Center Compass a year ago ($225 after rebate), the 6.5 Creedmore was their most popular selling caliber. I chose .243, because I didn’t plan to shoot targets at 1000 yards, but could have easily gotten the 6.5.

    Reply

    • wr

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      Sir,
      Thanks for reading and pointing this out.

      The 6.5 has become much more popular since I began my research.
      Best
      WR

      Reply

  • Cecil Collins

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    You’re missing one point, the 6.5 Creedmoor is available in most budget rifles. Mossberg Patriot, TC Compass, Savage Axis and Savage Axis II (I purchased an Axis II, bull barrel, camo stock and 4×12 scope $359 out the door).

    Reply

    • MMullen

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      I have purchased two 6.5CM. First is a Christensen Mesa LR and the Ridgline, far from budget rifles and grouping .316-.323 @ 300yrd. I was amazed because I have always purchased rifles from the usual gun stores
      …. Gander Mountain, BPS, cabelas. Look into Christensen Arms for whatever calibers.

      Reply

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