6.5 Creedmoor vs .308
If you are in the market for a new AR-10 or bolt action rifle you’ve likely come across two common calibers: 6.5 Creedmoor and 308. But what’s the difference between 6.5 Creedmoor vs 308? Let us dive in.
These two calibers are two of the most common calibers in both AR10 platform rifles and bolt action rifles and are popular in both hunting applications and shooting sports.
But what does 6.5 Creedmoor vs .308 Winchester really mean for you? In this ammo comparison article, we will break down the difference based on the following criteria.
History of 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win
These two rounds are 55 years apart so how does one even compare to the other? You would surely hope that technology and innovation and come a long way in the cartridge would in 55 years, but let’s dive in and see how these stack up against each other.
6.5 Creedmoor was a caliber developed by Hornady and was introduced in 2007. The 6.5 Creedmoor is birthed from the .30 Thompson Center cartridge and is a rimless bottle-neck rifle cartridge that uses both small and large rifle primers depending on the ammo manufacturer.
The original purpose of the 6.5 Creedmoor is for long-range target shooting, also known as bench shooting.
However, it has gained popularity in the hunting space and is edging in on .308 Winchester’s market share.
The .308 Winchester round was introduced in 1952 from its parent case the .300 Savage.
Like the 6.5 Creedmoor, the .308 Winchester is a smokeless powder rimless bottle-necked rifle cartridge.
The 308 Winchester was a product of the US Militaries T65 series of experimental ammunition. While many think it was adopted after the military started using it the .308 Winchester was actually brought to the civilian market 2 years prior to NATO adoption of the round.
Since the creation of 308 Win, it has become the most popular short-action big-game hunting round in the world.
Performance and Design
Which round is better really boils down to the performance of the round for what it was created for. There is no one-size-is-best round to win them all but there are clear winners if there are objectives you want the rounds to meet.
6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 Case Comparison
Both of these cases are very similar the base diameter of the 6.5 Creedmoor clocks in at .4703 in and the .308 Winchester comes in at 0.4709 in.
The 308 case is slightly longer than the 6.5 Creedmoor case 1.92″ vs 2.015″. But the overall length with bullet the 6.5 Creedmoor edges out the 308 Winchester at 2.825″ vs 2.81″, very slight but still a little longer.
6.5 Creedmoor Weight vs 308 Weight
Grain weight of the bullets that the 6.5 Creedmoor and the 308 Winchester fire is probably the largest difference in the two rounds.
Since the 6.5 Creedmoor was originally created for competition shooting at long ranges it uses heavier and longer bullets.
The grain weight range for 6.5 Creedmoor is pretty vast spanning anywhere from 90-160 grain.
The most common grain weights for 6.5 Creedmoor are:
- 120 Grain
- 129 Grain
- 140 Grain
- 143 Grain
6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 Power and Range
Both the 6.5 CM and the .308 have an effective range of 1,000 meters or more. But there is a clear advantage to the 6.5 Creedmoor round.
Currently, the 6.5 Creedmoor round has less recoil and double the hit probability at 1,000 meters. The 6.5 also has 30% more energy on target at 1,000 meters.
While these stats can’t be ignored both rounds really have a solid place in the market. The availability of the .308 is undeniable and its effectiveness is also highly supported by real-world use.
Recoil is a fickle topic and is only partly related to the round or shell you’re shooting.
The gun is a massive factor in recoil and muzzle rise so you can’t compare the recoil round to round directly unless you have the same gun with a different chamber.
But the 6.5 Creedmoor has proven to have less recoil nearly across the board. It’s one of the major selling points of the round over the .308 round.
Availability & Cost
In recent years both of these rounds have been hard to come by but are still obtainable from online ammo retailers.
The 308 round has been in production so long that it wasn’t as impacted by the ammo shortage during the COVID-19 crisis.
I was able to get some 6.5 Creedmoor ammo at the beginning of the COVID ammo crunch and it’s still available in smaller quantities but the price is still elevated over pre-2020 prices.
Usage of the bullets
308 Winchester is one of the most common hunt rounds in existence. It can be found nearly anywhere ammo is sold and is available in bulk quantities everywhere. Some of the online retailers have been pretty good about keeping 308 ammo in stock, such as Palmetto State Armory or Optics Planet.
Since 6.5 Creedmoor is a relatively new round it is less popular and is much harder to come by but still not extremely difficult to find due to its wide adoption by gun manufacturers. Like 308 Winchester many only retailers have stocked 6.5 Creedmoor well including Palmetto State Armory and Optics Planet.
6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 Terminal Ballistics
The grain weight of the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 rounds are very similar to each other.
One of the closest .308 rounds that match the 6.5 Creedmoor in weight is the 125-grain bullet that clocks its muzzle velocity in at 3,100 feet per second with 2,668-foot lbs of energy on target.
The 6.5 Creedmoor has a 120-grain bullet that has a muzzle velocity of 3,020 feet per second and 2,430-foot lbs of energy.
Supersonic and Subsonic Ammunition
Like most ammo calibers, both 308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor have supersonic and subsonic ammo options.
Most ammo is supersonic but won’t be labeled as such because it’s not a selling factor since most centerfire rifle rounds are inherently supersonic.
Which for those that don’t know are rounds traveling faster than the sound of 1,086.9 feet per second. That is slightly subject to change based on weather conditions but 1,086.9 feet per second is largely recognized as the sound barrier.
The reason you would want subsonic ammo for your 308 or 6.5 Creedmoor is if you wanted to suppress the round so bringing the round under the sound barrier removes a lot of the “crack” of the round breaking the sound barrier thus allowing you to shoot much quieter.
However, slowing down the round heavily reduces its effectiveness and energy on target, often referred to as “knockdown power”.
What’s the best round 6.5 Creedmoor or 308 Winchester?
Which caliber is best really boils down to what is your intended use for the round.
In simple ballistic numbers, the 6.5 Creedmoor is better. But that is just too simple.
What id energy on target is more important than distance and a flat trajectory? Then the 308 Winchester may be the more logical round to use in this case.
Just like when purchasing a firearm I think it’s more important to start with the why than “what’s best”. If you have a clearly defined purpose it will make choosing a rifle and caliber much easier.
Personally, I say neither round is truly best. I think both have their pros and cons for certain applications.
It’s like the classic 9mm vs 45 ACP argument or the 9mm vs .40 caliber debate. Are they both good rounds? Yes, but they both have their pros and cons and that’s the same with 6.5 Creedmoor vs 308.
If you want to dive deep into more ammo information be sure to take a look at our ammo articles.
Is a 308 more powerful than a 6.5 Creedmoor?
Yes, in terms of muzzle energy the 308 is more powerful.
However, there is more to the story as the 6.5 Creedmoor round features a flatter trajectory at range.
What’s better for hunting 308 or 6.5 Creedmoor?
Depends on the range at which you’re hunting. With nearly identical terminal ballistic inside of 1,000 yards determining which is better for your hunting trip largely depends on the distance, you are likely to take your game at.
Do Snipers use 6.5 Creedmoor?
USSOCOM has been using 6.5 Creedmoor rifles in certain applications since 2018. By using modified FN mk20 rifles with a 6.5 Creedmoor upper.
What is a 6.5 Creedmoor equivalent to?
The direct head-to-head caliber most associated with the 6.5 Creedmoor is the .308 Winchester round.
The 6.5 is however known to be a flatter shooting round at range with less recoil.
What is a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle good for?
The 6.5 Creedmoor round was originally created as the ultimate bench rest shooting round but has since be adopted by hunters and military units for specific applications.
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What about the 6.5 jap it is all most the same as the 6.5 creedmoor
I have both .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor. I reload most of my ammo. The 308 is easy to reload for and get excellent results, the 6.5 CM not as much. Go to a ballistic calculator, punch in the numbers for bullet weights of the same, or close ballistic coefficients, and run the data to 1000 yds.
I think the bottom line is that 6.5 and/or 6.8 is the wave of the future for “.308” like ballistics . I myself have experienced much in 35 years of shooting, as a youth hunter, combat Marine and many civilian events/ranges. The bottom line is that current round selections make it possible for .308, 7mm08 and 6.5 to be nearly identical for most applications. Yes, bigger bullets make bigger holes and have more frontal surface, but looking at ballistic coefficients and sectional densities 6.5 comes out favorably. It comes down to preferences that are small and personal as to which is best for you. I have found that the ballistics of 6.5 creedmoor with 143 grain round to be very comparable to .308 with 175 grain. I could argue the .308 being a better version of the 30-06 is now replaced with 6.5 being a better “version” of the .308. If you really want or need greater power you need to look at 7mm mag, .300 or.338, otherwise 6.5 creedmoor fills most peoples needs of .308 or 7mm08 power. Significant differences in recoil, and improved drop and windage, outweigh barrel life for most all shooters regardless of plinker, hunter or long range king status. Most plinkers and hunters will never burn out a 6.5 creedmoor even with hot loads. Those that shoot competitively will swap barrels with any significant velocity loss, resulting in 700 to 1200 rounds on a barrel. It should be noted that when an average competitive shooter loses sub half MOA they change barrels. Most all other shooters will double their barrel life on average. As far as hunting applications, heavier bullets always penetrate deeper, however shot placement trumps this in my opinion, and 6.5 creedmoor has many options available that are closing the gap of penetration. Lastly it’s nearly impossible for any article to do this subject justice as there is so much involved in these comparisons. I could literally write my own book after having digested thousands of articles, reviews and threads and hundreds of books on calibers and ballistics. Regardless I came around to 6.5mm due to my experience in what I will call the “30cal world” and have come to appreciated the 6.5mm creedmoor as I age, and instruct others of medium and advanced skill levels. Bottom line is that there is no true replacement for .308 power, but with very close numbers and less recoil, drop and drift, 6.5 creedmoor works for more people than .308. As I age, I appreciate more and more the “6-6.8mm” offerings.
Please dont take my word for it, deep dive your own research tailored for your specific needs. With diligence you will find the right choice caliber in this “category for your needs…and probably more often than not end up choosing a 6.5 creedmoor.
6.5 vs 308- who really cares ? Get out and shoot. This splitting hairs crap is getting tired. What’s worse is we got to hear it all over again from the children of the gun scribes trying to pave a career path for them. Give me a break.
I personally enjoyed this article.
I believe it to be fairly accurate as well. In most cases, the average shooter will not be talented enough to vitalize the capability of the 6.5creedmor. I went with a .308 because it has more ammunition varieties and cheaper to practice with over the 6.5creedmor. To truly take advantage of the 6.5creedmor one would have to be pushing 600-1000 yard mark. Most hunters/recreational shooters will not be pushing those boundaries. I am a very good shooter but i know my limits. I will gladly take the .308 over the 6.5 creedmor. The flatter trajectory is nice, but i will never be talented enough to reach those longer ranges to validate the increase in ammunition with the 6.5creedmor. Most of us are not Special operative snipers haha
If you want cheaper ammo and a strong cartridge, and not pushing passed 500 yards, i highly recommend the .308 over the 6.5creedmore
I have a buddy that bought a brand new ruger precision rifle in 6.5 creedmor, he does not train often but he really wanted the 6.5creedmor. Even after trying to talk him out of it he went ahead and dropped the $2,000 for it, plus a vortex pst 6-24x optic. After 2 years, he still has not even taken it out to the range.
In a head-to-head comparison, it was stated that the .308 is most directly related to the 6.5 Creedmore. Im not trying to be synical but wouldnt the closest relative of the 6.5 be the .260 Rem or am i missing something? I know the 260 rem is a rare round but wouldnt they both shoot the 6.5 wildcat projectile?
You are actually right there that the 260 Remington round is much more similar to the 6.5 Creedmoor. However, I think most people compare these two rounds when gun shopping. I should have probably been more clear about that. Thanks for your comment!
Another ridiculous article. WHY can’t you people compare bullet to bullet and allow the data to talk for itself?
If you are shooting paper, get a 6.5. If you are actually using your rifle for what it is intended, get the .308 – or another actually capable rifle.
The 6.5 is a gimmick at best.
One thing that always surprises me about these reviews is the reviews are always tailored.. yes the 6.5 is better on target beyond about 750yds. But who hunts out there . Here in Australia we hunt to about 400.. a 308 will just drop things. Just does , this makes the vital area bigger. The cross sectional area is 38 % larger and at better than 1900 fps gives better expansion.. a bigger hit. If you want to kill paper at 1000 use a creedmoor.. if you are a part timer and just want to drop things at 300y pick a 308 .. A full expansion bullet works
I simply found the article to be exactly what I was looking for in terms of difference between the two rounds. Especially helpful in determining my need to purchase a Daniel Defense Delta 5 Pro in 6.5 Creedmoor. Thanks
Good article. At this point the only real debate is cost and availability. Ultimately the same result will be acheived regardless of the goal.
Not sure why you pick the 120gr .308 as being so popular! Personally only the 150 and 165gr loads are worth a snot for serious hunting or law enforcement type use. 120/130 are ok for coyotes etc but lose velocity and energy way to fast. And the 6.5 Swede was around way before both of ’em!
Credes are fine but Swedes were first!
You have an extremely valid point the 120gr probably isn’t the most popular, rather it’s the closest grain weight for a terminal ballistic comparison.
I updated the article to make that a bit more clear.
Thanks for the comment!