6.5 Creedmoor vs 308: Comprehensive Shootout Showdown

Posted by refactortactical.com on Dec 11th 2023

6.5 Creedmoor vs 308: Comprehensive Shootout Showdown

Originally posted here.

Ever been stuck in the crosshairs of a decision between the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .308 Winchester?

Well, you’re not alone.

The debate between these two cartridges, often referred to as the “6.5 Creedmoor vs 308” debate, is as heated as a midsummer shooting range.

6.5 Creedmoor vs 308: Comprehensive Shootout Showdown
Size comparison left to right: .308 Win., 6.5mm Creedmoor, .243 Win., 6.5mm Grendel, .223 Rem. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

This blog post will help you navigate the dispute and find your bullseye—whether you’re a hunter, a target shooter, or a ballistic enthusiast.

Key Takeaways

  • The 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester are frequently compared in a “ballistic battle” to determine which is the better cartridge for long-range shooting.
  • The 6.5 Creedmoor offers reduced wind drift, 25-30% less recoil than the .308 Winchester, and is known to be more accurate across distances. Accuracy still depends on shooter skill & atmospheric conditions.
  • Ultimately, choosing between these two cartridges comes down to individual needs & preferences when it comes to target shooting or hunting game of varying sizes.

The Origin and Evolution of 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester

The origin story of the 6.5 Creedmoor round is as precise as the cartridge itself. The journey started in August 2005, at the Camp Perry, Ohio during the National Matches Service Rifle Week. It was a remarkable event for many.

The goal?

To create a cartridge for long range precision shooting that would hit the mark every single time. Like a well-aimed shot, it hit the bullseye. The 6.5 Creedmoor fires 6.5mm or .246 caliber projectiles with bullet weights ranging from 120 to 147 grains. Its long history as a competition shooter’s favorite round has only grown with the rise of long-range hunting, due to its renowned accuracy and downrange performance.

The .308 Winchester, on the other hand, is the old reliable of cartridges. It’s highly regarded for its versatility and effectiveness, and it’s the most popular short-action, big-game hunting cartridge in the world.

The .308 Winchester fires .30 caliber projectiles with bullet weights ranging from 150 to 180 grains. Its high ballistic coefficients and great aerodynamics make it an excellent choice for long-range target shooting. This, along with its versatility, has caught the attention of long-range and accuracy-driven hunting enthusiasts, making it a favorite among many.

Yet, these two cartridges are not only defined by their individual merits, but also by their unique differences. The 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester each have their unique qualities that make them the cartridge of choice for different applications.

The 6.5 Creedmoor, with its lighter bullet weight and higher muzzle velocity, is favored for long range target shooting. Meanwhile, the .308 Winchester, with its heavier bullets and higher muzzle velocity, is a favorite for big game hunting.

The Ballistic Battle: Creedmoor vs Winchester

Like two marksmen locked in a duel, the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester are often pitted against each other in a ballistic showdown. Their respective fans have their reasons.

Some who favor the .308 Winchester call it “God’s Caliber” and brand the 6.5 Creedmoor the new “hipster” cartridge, while those who favor the 6.5 Creedmoor view it as a progressive development in ballistic science and a more advanced cartridge for long range shooting.

6.5 Creedmoor vs 308: Comprehensive Shootout Showdown
Lance Cpl. Seth M. Richardson, a Carbondale, Illinois, native, prepares to fire an M40A5 sniper rifle Aug. 17 at the Central Training Area in Okinawa, Japan. The M40A5 rifle is a bolt-action sniper rifle with a muzzle velocity of 2,550 feet per second and an effective firing range of up to 900 meters. Richardson is a reconnaissance man with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Cedric R. Haller II/Released)

This section will analyze their trajectory and wind drift dynamics to help you make a choice.

Trajectory Analysis

In long-range shooting, trajectory can significantly affect your performance. Imagine it as an invisible arc your bullet travels along, from the muzzle of your rifle to your target. So, how do our two contenders fare in this aspect?

At the muzzle and intermediate ranges, the .308 Winchester has an edge over the 6.5 Creedmoor in terms of kinetic energy due to the additional mass of the heavier bullets, offering a significant advantage.

For long-range ballistic performance, we used Nosler and Hornady data for accuracy. The results? The 6.5 Creedmoor is often considered a superior choice for precision rifle shooting due to its flatter trajectory and reduced wind drift compared to the .308 Winchester.

At 1,000 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor demonstrates more accuracy with less bullet drop and wind drift. It offers values of 7.2 mil and 1.5 mil in those aspects, while the .308 Winchester has 9.1 mil and 2.1 mil respectively.

But remember, trajectory is just one aspect of the shooting equation. Both 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester are available in a variety of rifles chambered for these cartridges, offering shooters a wide range of options to choose from. So, while the 6.5 Creedmoor might have the upper hand in the trajectory department, the choice between these two cartridges ultimately depends on your specific needs and shooting conditions.

Wind Drift Dynamics

In shooting, wind drift can unpredictably alter your shots. It’s the horizontal deviation of the bullet from its intended point of impact due to crosswinds. So, which of our contenders handles this gremlin better?

The advantages of the 6.5 Creedmoor over the .308 Winchester include:

  • Lighter bullet weight
  • Higher ballistic coefficient
  • Reduced wind drift
  • Flatter trajectory

These factors make the 6.5 Creedmoor a more forgiving cartridge in windy conditions, providing a significant advantage for both target shooting and hunting.

However, keep in mind that both 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester are popular rifle cartridges with different strengths and weaknesses depending on your needs and preferences. So, while the 6.5 Creedmoor may exhibit reduced wind drift, the .308 Winchester offers more options for semi-automatic rifles, making it a popular choice for those looking for a versatile rifle round.

Precision and Performance: Accuracy Across Distances

In shooting, accuracy is paramount. It’s the golden ticket that can make or break your shot. Both the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .308 Winchester are suitable for sporting competitions. Let’s compare how they perform in this area.

Both cartridges demonstrate exceptional accuracy, with sub-MOA accuracy attainable when using match-grade loadings. However, the 6.5 Creedmoor takes the crown here, offering enhanced accuracy from the get-go, with 1/2 MOA and 3/4 MOA groupings attainable with ease.

In other words, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a sharpshooter’s dream, consistently hitting the mark across a variety of rifles, including semi-automatic rifle, and loads.

However, keep in mind that atmospheric conditions and your shooting skills primarily determine accuracy. Regardless of the cartridge you choose, practice is key. After all, the sharpest arrow is useless without a skilled archer.

The Recoil Factor: Comparing Shooter Comfort

Recoil energy refers to the backward momentum of a gun when it is discharged. It’s something every shooter has to contend with, and it can significantly impact shooter comfort and accuracy. But how do the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester stack up in this regard?

The 6.5 Creedmoor offers several advantages over the .308 Winchester, including:

  • 25-30% less recoil
  • A more gentle push compared to the .308 Winchester’s firm shove
  • Reduced felt recoil, which is beneficial for those who spend long periods at the range or in the hunting field.

But why does this matter? Recoil has an impact on shooter comfort and accuracy.

  • Less recoil means you can stay on target more easily for follow-up shots.
  • It also means you’re less likely to develop a flinch, which can seriously hamper accuracy.
  • Lower recoil may help some shooters to perceive trace and quickly execute a corrected second shot on target in windy conditions.

Hunting with 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester

6.5 Creedmoor vs 308: Comprehensive Shootout Showdown
Photo: Faxon

Now that we’ve assessed the accuracy and recoil of these two cartridges, let’s consider their application in hunting. After all, that’s where many shooters will be putting these cartridges to the test.

Both the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester have made a name for themselves in the hunting world, but how do they compare when it comes to taking down game?

The Ideal Cartridge for Whitetail Deer

When it comes to hunting whitetail deer, both the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester have proven their worth. But which one takes the prize?

The 6.5 Creedmoor is gaining popularity among deer hunters, particularly due to its outstanding long-range accuracy. It allows for precise shot placement, increasing the likelihood of an ethical kill. Moreover, its long-range accuracy allows for shots to be taken from greater distances, which can be beneficial in scenarios where getting closer to the deer is not feasible.

However, the .308 Winchester has been a reliable deer hunting cartridge for a long time. While it may not have the long-range prowess of the 6.5 Creedmoor, it certainly packs enough punch to take down a whitetail deer. Ultimately, the choice between these two will depend on your hunting style and personal preference.

6.5 Creedmoor vs 308: Comprehensive Shootout Showdown
Photo: Faxon

Choosing a Round for Larger Game

What about larger game? When the quarry gets bigger and tougher, which of these cartridges should you choose?

When selecting the appropriate cartridge for larger game, factors such as bullet construction, shot placement, and energy transfer should be taken into consideration. The .308 Winchester, with its heavier bullets and higher muzzle energy, has been a reliable choice for larger game. However, the 6.5 Creedmoor has proven itself capable of taking down larger game as well, with the right bullet and precise shot placement.

However, keep in mind that both cartridges can effectively hunt larger game when used appropriately. Solid copper bullets, such as those in the X line, are renowned for their almost 100 percent weight retention, providing deep penetration and high weight retention. Heavier-for-caliber bullets in a given material and construction tend to penetrate better than lighter ones. But remember, regardless of the cartridge you choose, accurate shot placement is paramount.

Cost Considerations: Ammo, Barrels, and Rifles

When evaluating the cost and performance factors for shooting enthusiasts, the choice between 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester is crucial.

However, the groundbreaking advancements by Faxon Firearms in barrel design for these calibers have set new industry benchmarks.

Cost-Effective Ammunition and Rifle Choices

While .308 Winchester ammo has been traditionally favored for its affordability and availability, the 6.5 Creedmoor, with its decreasing ammunition costs, is becoming an increasingly viable option. For instance, the price gap between Winchester’s USA Ready brand for .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor is narrowing, indicating a shift in the market trend.

HORNADY 308 Win 178 gr ELD-X® Precision Hunter®

That being said, the prices for 6.5 Creedmoor ammo have been decreasing in recent years. For instance, USA Ready brand from Winchester costs $1.00 per round in .308, while it is only $0.80 for 6.5 Creedmoor. So, while the .308 Winchester may be the more affordable option now, the 6.5 Creedmoor is catching up.

HORNADY 6.5 Creedmoor 143Gr ELD-X 20pk

Faxon Firearms’ Pioneering Barrel Technology

Faxon Firearms stands at the forefront of this evolution. Their cutting-edge barrel designs for both 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester calibers are not just about precision; they’re also about redefining longevity and durability.

This is particularly significant given the traditionally shorter barrel life of the 6.5 Creedmoor compared to the .308 Winchester.

Faxon’s barrels are engineered to extend the life of your rifle, ensuring that your investment lasts longer, even with heavy usage.

However, keep in mind that factors such as:

  • projectile speed
  • powder charge relative to bore size
  • firing schedule
  • bullet velocity
  • bullet diameter
  • barrel wear due to heat generated during firing can affect barrel life

Some manufacturers, such as Eagle Eye Precision, even utilize a slower, cooler burning propellant blend to reduce throat erosion and optimize barrel life.

So while 308 Winchester may have a longer barrel life on paper, the actual lifespan of your barrel can depend on several factors.

Introducing the FX7 Bolt Action Rifle Line

Faxon Firearms’ commitment to innovation is further exemplified in their new line of FX7 bolt action rifles. Chambered in both 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester, these rifles are a testament to Faxon’s dedication to quality and performance.

The FX7 line represents a fusion of traditional craftsmanship with modern engineering, offering shooters an unparalleled experience in both calibers.

RELATED – Product Highlight: Faxon Firearms FX7 Bolt Action Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 Win

Final Verdict: Which Should You Choose?

So, after weighing all these factors, which cartridge is right for you? The 6.5 Creedmoor or the .308 Winchester?

The 6.5 Creedmoor is generally regarded as the superior cartridge because it offers:

  • Enhanced performance at extended ranges
  • Reduced shoulder recoil
  • Higher velocity at long distances
  • Longer, more aerodynamic projectiles, which can result in improved penetration.

However, the .308 Winchester has its own set of merits. It:

  • Hits harder
  • Is more cost-effective and widely available
  • Has a greater impact
  • Is capable of taking down a variety of game
  • Has a higher bullet velocity at extended ranges
  • Has a higher drag coefficient, resulting in better long-range performance

Both the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester cartridges have their unique strengths and weaknesses. The 6.5 Creedmoor stands out for its superior long-range performance, accuracy, and reduced recoil. On the other hand, the .308 Winchester offers more punch, wider availability, and a longer barrel life.

Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your specific needs, whether it’s for hunting, target shooting, or general shooting needs. The key is to understand each cartridge’s capabilities and how they align with your shooting requirements and preferences.

In the end, both cartridges offer high accuracy and impressive performance at long ranges. So, the question is not so much which cartridge is better, but which one is better for your specific needs and shooting conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 308 more powerful than a 6.5 Creedmoor?

The 308 Winchester has a slight edge in muzzle energy, but the 6.5 Creedmoor outperforms the 308 at longer ranges, with superior ballistics data past 500 yards. The 308 Winchester loses energy faster than the 6.5 Creedmoor, meaning the latter is more powerful at long range.

What is a 6.5 Creedmoor comparable to?

The 6.5 Creedmoor is most commonly compared to the .308 Winchester round, offering flatter trajectories and less recoil at range.

Should I get ar10 in 308 or 6.5 Creedmoor?

Given its higher recoil but better accuracy for larger game, the .308 is a good choice. However, if you prefer less recoil and wind correction, 6.5 Creedmoor is the better option with shorter barrel life.