Ammunition

Review: 6.5 Creedmoor versus .308 Winchester

Savage rifle with bipod on a shooting mat

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)

  1. 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.

  2. 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…

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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”.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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)

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    1. 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.

  21. 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

  22. 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!

  23. 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?

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    1. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

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

    2. 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

  29. 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.

    1. Sir,
      Thanks for reading and pointing this out.

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

  30. 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).

    1. 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.

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