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)

  • Oconnor

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    Thanks for the info !

    Reply

  • Ken Jolly

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    I have a 6.5 CM in the Savage Axis. Love the accuracy of the gun.

    Reply

  • David Saum

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    I have a TC Compass in 6.5 Creedmore (naildriver at 800yds)
    and a M77 in .308 and as a company sniper in Nam, I used the XM21 in .308, most shots were less than 400.
    The 06 in the Winchester or Rem frame had too much recoil to be an all day shooter. I was a light weight back then, 156 pounds.
    The 6.5 would have been an ideal weapon for me. (but not available back then)

    Reply

  • Paul M.

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    I have a 308 Win and a 6.5 Cm in the Weatherby Vanguard. Both have the same Bell and Carlson stock; Same Timney Trigger and the same Nikon Monarch 3 4-16×42 scope. I also handload and have “fine tuned” the loads for both rifles and they both are sub MOA. If I am having a good day at the range they will shoot sub 3/4 MOA.
    I cannot tell the difference out to 500 yards as far as precision. Since they are hunting rifles and if I could have only one rifle, I will choose the 308 every time. I believe it is a more versatile hunting cartridge. The ME of the 308 is much greater than the 6.5 way beyond my ethical hunting/shooting capabilities.

    Reply

  • Bryan

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    I own both in bolt and AR-10 platforms.
    My bolt .308 is a Old Ruger M77 Mark 2, real wood stock.
    It is my all time favorite deer hunting rifle. It could be considered a beater i suppose, because it is a real wood rifle with a old Bushnell Trophy 3-9×40.
    This combined with Winchester X 180 grain is a deadly combo. Every deer that i have shot in the past 20 years with this rifle have dropped were it was shot. No trailing needed.
    I have a newer Ruger American in 6.5 Creed. I LOVE this rifle. I have a SWFA SS 6X42 Sniper scope on it with a flash hider.
    This rifle right out of the box is incredible. Has the green synthetic stock with floating barrel and it is threaded.
    I love shooting this rifle for deer hunting when i have to do a long stalk. It is light and i am shooting Hornady Whit Tail 147 grain. MOA is ridiculous at 300-500 yards. Very low recoil. Can shoot this rifle all day without paying the price later.
    All in all, i prefer my ole trusty, .308 for my deer hunting. I use it 98% of the time.

    As far as my AR-10’s
    I love them both equally. As expected, the .308 shooting Hornady match 150 grain is a tack driver at 300 yrds. Using a Aim Point Pro scope.

    The 6.5, With SWFA 6X42 scope, however. I can’t say enough about the ease of use and consistency at 500-700 yards using Hornady Match 129 grain. Will blink plates all day long at long at the range.

    I am in process of finding and purchasing a bolt riifle in the .6 Creedmoor and build the .6 Creedmoor in AR platform as well. Excited to compare to the .308 and especially the 6.5.

    I would post pics here, but it won’t let me.

    Reply

    • Jamie L Calvert

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      If you get the chance check out the 6.5 PRC, better than the 6.5 creed. Hornady talks about it quite a bit on you tube.

      Reply

  • Jim

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    I am strictly a hunter could care less about long-range target shooting, I just know I wouldn’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere and find I forgot my shells or lost my shells and have to go looking for 6.5 Creedmoor I have seen 308 Anne. 6 is sold in gas stations, don’t think you’ll find a 6.5 Creedmoor sold in a gas station as always this is just my opinion

    Reply

    • Robert

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      I have never seen ammo in any gas station

      Reply

    • Bob

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      You don’t live in WI. Many stations have ammo.

      Reply

  • Jamie L Calvert

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    6.5 PRC, what you can call 6.5 Creedmoor’s big brother. You get 3150 fps, flat, fast and hard hitting.

    Reply

  • Clifffalling

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    I can’t say too much. I haven’t had the bug to get a 6.5 yet. Although, looks like the military is leaning toward a 6.x something or other. That may be interesting. I love the .308 and 30.06. They are easy to load, dependable, and as others said, truly plentiful. I am not a long range shooter anyway. About 200 or 300 meters is it for me. When hunting, anything farther usually means I have to walk down and then up to retrieve game. No bueno!

    Reply

  • Lee

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    Too much hype over the 6.5. The .308 has been a long range cartridge since the 1960’s. Camp Perry and Milt. snipers have proven it’s capabilities. Stop talking about shooting at 1,000 yds. How many 1,000 yd. ranges does the have. person have access to? Much less know where to begin shooting at that range. When was the last time anyone saw anything to shoot at around 1,000 yds? Only a few clubs have such ranges and most do not shoot the 6.5 cartridge.

    Situation: You are looking at a nice bull elk about 250 yds. away. He is standing broadside. It is cold and windy. You have two rifles to chose from and are exactly alike. One in .308 and a 200 grain Nosler bullet.
    The other is a 6.5 Creedmoor and a 140 Nosler bullet.

    What would be your choice?

    Reply

  • John C Duncan

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    Wow, Mr. Roberts, where were you in 2017, By that fall all the major players were offering budget 6.5 Creedmoor rifles. That fall if you include rebates, and every discount I could find, I paid under $185 for a T/C Compass, and under $225 for a Savage 12Fv , both in 6.5 Creedmoor.

    Reply

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