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.