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)

  • Kent

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    I’m not going to argue like a HOMER which round is better. Article should have been titled, “which round is better for you”. Personally, I have all three(add the 30-06)… Depending on the job, 7-1000 yards all three have been known to work. I’ve found it depends on the Rifle, Scope,
    Ammunition, but mainly an experienced shooter.. Each has some major advantages if the SHTF.

    Reply

  • Dennis

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    This was a comparison between 6.5 Creedmoor and .308, not .260 or 30-06.

    Reply

  • Bob Aganush

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    I have looked at the 6.5 Creedmore but I am so invested in the 308 Winchester that I see no benefit to ME in switching over. That said the 6.5 seems to be able to do the job for long range. My long range go to is my 300 Win Mag. I really love this caliber. Course my size (6′ 7″ and 400 lbs) make the recoil easy to handle. For new shooters the 6.5 Creedmore seems to be a good caliber and as it gets more popular more components become available.

    Reply

  • joe b

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    I have both 65 and 308 i can definitely tell the difference in the two for target shooting i like the 65 for target and for hunting over 300 yards under that i like the 308 this just my opinion but i like them both that and the 3o o6

    Reply

  • Tom Benton

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    I own three .308 rifles. I never, ever have any plan to shoot at game over 300 yards. I live in the Southeast and shots of that distance are extremely rare. I think there are few hunters that reliably can attempt a guaranteed kill shot over 300 yards. That said, if I were younger and looking for a new rifle, I would look at the 6.5 Creedmore, 6 mm Creedmore and 6.5 PRC. They are all excellent long range cartridges with less recoil. If a hunter needs to run in a corner store for emergency cartridges, he has not planned a successful hunt. I handload many .308 concoctions and most all shoot well enough to be deadly at 300 yds. I would love to try a 6.5 but would never part with my .308’s.

    Reply

  • dale smith

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    I bought my creedmoor on a whim, never one to really follow a trend( no plastic fantastic’s for me thanks, still carry a s&w model 469 for my edc ccw), but I gotta tell you, even with basic factory ammo, my rem. 700 shoots .5 moa and it’s just a sharp jab when you shoot it and you can’t miss with this thing! I live in the middle of Utah, literally, and ammo is easy to find. Holdover?!? What holdover? I am sighted in 3” high @ 100 yds. As for the comparison to the 6.5 swede, isn’t that a long action?

    Reply

  • Richard Jensen

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    I appreciate the author touching on the older calibers (which several do it better) being ingnored. The 260 beats it, the 6.5 Swede is a sweetheart, the 6.5 Jap isn’t bad, the 6.5×284 unloads a huge boatload on the Creedmore.
    The Creedmore does play nice in the AR-10 platform but when moved into the bolt action arena it shows a bit anemic.
    IMHO, Creedmore is more about reigniting the spending machine than offering something actually “better”.

    Reply

  • h

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    What is the barrel life of 6.5 Creedmoore?
    I heard a rumor that 308 barrels last much much longer than 6.5 Creedmoore barrels.

    Reply

  • Don Thursby

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    The 6.5 may be fine for target shooting. But when it comes to hunting game the 308 smokes it. By the time the 6.5’s superior ballistics kick in, the bullet energy is no where near adequate for an ethical kill. The 308 has a good 100 yard advantage in that department. The 6.5 is way over rated.

    Reply

  • JOSH EDWARDS

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    Call me old fashioned but .308 has been and always will be my go-to round for big game. I feel once you have a relationship with any round or rifle, if it hasn’t failed you then why fix or replace it. I’ve had several 600-800 yd takedowns with my 30 year old pebble slinging .308 and haven’t divorced yet.

    Reply

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