If you are an ammunition enthusiast and keep reading about the various types of bullets and cartridges, you’ll be familiar with the ever going debate on which of the long-range rounds is better, the 6.5 Creedmoor or the .308 Winchester (or 208, as it is called). Some have also hailed the 6.5 Creedmoor as the new 308, considering the time of their respective launches and the performance.
6.5 Creedmoor has gained immense popularity amongst the medium to long range target shooters, between 500 to 1000 yards. Both ammo, while having a similar base, differ quite well in their performance, mainly ballistic and recoil.
Ahead, we’ll compare the 6.5 Creedmoor against the .308 Winchester and see whether it really is the upgrade you were looking for. Before that, let’s take a quick overview of both the ammo.
Launched in 1952, .308 has long been the preferred short-action ammo for target shooters and hunters. It is a rimless cartridge and was used to derive the 7.62x51mm NATO rifle, commercially. Therefore, it has been used by civilians as well as military agents alike.
Due to its short case, the .308 Winchester became very popular with and suitable for the short action rifles. If loaded with an expanding bullet, the round tears into the target and therefore, the 308s are ideally extensively used for hunting large targets as well, like a black bear, whitetail deer or even an elk. The 308 load has more drop at longer ranges, resulting in lower muzzle velocity.
The 6.5 Creedmoor is a newer launch, having released in 2007. However, it has taken over a lot of market share due to its high ballistic performance and lower recoil than other rounds. It is a centerfire rifle cartridge, with a length of 2.825 which can accommodate short-action bolt rifles as well as AR-10 semi-automatic ones.
The 6.5 Creedmoor was designed for long-range target shooting and can deliver as further and beyond as 1,200 yards. It has also taken over the .308 Winchester in terms of being highly accurate in its aim. It also has a lesser recoil, making it a preferred choice over other long-range rounds among target shooters since lesser recoil means faster re-aiming.
6.5 Creedmoor is hailed as the upgraded version of the 308 Winchester, one that offers a lot more in the same domains. Even the parent cartridge of 6.5 Creedmoor was derived from the 308.
Let’s compare both these rounds in terms of their performance, availability, price and ballistics, and see which one comes out looking better.
The 6.5 Creedmoor is sleeker and longer, making it ergonomically more aerodynamic. It can shoot as further as 1,000-1,200 yards, while the 308 is bounded to approximately 500 yards.
The 6.5 Creedmoor propellants weigh 120 grains whose muzzle velocity after 500 yards is 2,078 feet per second, which is brilliant for long-range target shooting. The 308 uses bullets in the 150 grains weight range and the muzzle velocity drops to 1,963 feet per second after 500 yards.
The difference between the two can be a huge deciding factor when it comes to precision shooting. They both start at a similar velocity, with 6.5 CM firing at 3,010 feet per second and the .308 Winchester firing at 3000 feet per second, but the .308 considerably slows down to the projectile weight and structure. The longer and thinner bullets of 6.5 CM allow it to keep its fast velocity stable over long distances.
6.5 Creedmoor has a substantially shorter case than the 308 Winchester. The case for 6.5 CM is derived from its parent cartridge, the .30 TC. The shorter case means a longer bullet, which is why it performs better in terms of ballistics.
There is a difference in the sharpness of the shoulders of the two as well, which is why the recoil varies. The 6.5 Creedmoor has a 30 degrees shoulder angle as opposed to the 20 degrees of .308, making it sharper. The length of the shell casing of 6.5 CM bullet is 48.8mm.
When used for longer periods, there is another difference that comes to light that brass in 6.5 Creedmoor lasts longer than the .308 Winchester, making it more durable.
The bullets for the .308 Winchester weight about 150 grains, while those for 6.5 Creedmoor weigh 30 grains lighter at 120 grains. There is a huge variety available for both. The cost does not differ much, with the ammo for both at similar price levels.
The bullet selection for .308 Winchester is essentially more than the 6.5 Creedmoor since it has been there for about 60 years, but the performance of the projectiles used by the latter is a lot better, having better ballistic caliber and more speed. They have a lower drop. The 6.5 Creedmoor bullets also have a better density which results in higher penetration into the target. For the 6.5 Creedmoor, a bullet weighing 140 grains has a higher caliber of .526 and a velocity of 2710 feet per second, which is more than what .308 has to offer.
Some bullets available for the 6.5 Creedmoor are Hornady ELD Match 120 grains, 147 grains; Nosler Match Grade Custom Bullet Tip 140gr; Nosler Ballistic Tip 140gr, etc.
The .308 Winchester uses Federal Fusion Ammo 165 grains, Fiocchi Barnes TTSX Load 168 grains, Federal Premium Vital-Shok 165 grains, and a whole lot more choices.
With most brands, the ammo for the .308 Winchester is cheaper and more readily available than the 6.5 Creedmoor.
The 6.5 Creedmoor definitely sees a lesser recoil due to the lighter weight of the bullets used. This makes the shooting considerably easier and takes lesser time in reacquiring the target, which is why it is preferred by the target-shooter and becoming more popular with the hunters as well.
The barrel lifespan is more for the .308 Winchester. Due to a smaller bore of the 6.5 CM and the fact that it has a higher firing velocity, the barrel life is a little shorter than its rival.
As with the ammo, the rifles for 6.5 Creedmoor are not very easily available due to its recency in the launch. On the other hand, there is a huge availability of all short-action rifles style you’d want for the .308 Winchester. For example, if you take Savage rifles, they have about 10 models suitable for the 6.5 CM while a whopping 36 for the .308 Winchester.
Also, the 6.5 Creedmoor being a dominantly long-range round, the rifles available are a little difficult to find because they are all precision, high-quality rifles, which cost more and have a specific use. Still, in the current market, the precision rifles for the .308 are a lot more easy and widely available than for the 6.5 CM.
There are some precision rifles that do are apt for both cartridges, for instance, the Ruger Precision Rifle. It is also a beginners rifle for long-range shooting, so the fact that it caters to 6.5 Creedmoor should really punch up its popularity further.
There isn’t a lot of difference between the pricing of 6.5 Creedmoor and the 308s. However, on an average, a round of 308s will cost about 10 cents less than a round of 6.5 Creedmoor.
For example, with the Federal Premium Gold Medal Berger, a round of .308 Winchester costs $1.47 while a round of 6.5 Creedmoor costs $1.57. On the other hand, the Hornady American Whitetail ammo costs the same for both, priced at $1.07/round. However, the 6.5 Creedmoor is made by Hornady, therefore, any ammunition that comes from the brand is bound to be cheaper for the CM.
The main difference between the 308s and the 6.5 Creedmoor lies in the range delivered and the precision. The 6.5 Creedmoor has a longer range and better accuracy, in short, a better ballistic performance. For long-range target shooter, the high velocity due to the aerodynamic build of the cartridge does a better job.
The .308 Winchester is, however, more deadly when it comes to tearing the target down and has a longer barrel life. The ammo is widely and more readily available and there is a wider selection of rifles built for it. The bullet is more deadly and does more damage as well due to wider diameter. It falls short when it comes to long-range shooting when compared with the 6.5 Creedmoor due to heavier bullets and the structure.
If you are looking for a round to target anywhere within 500 yards and have a restricting budget, .308 Winchester should be your go-to choice.
For anyone looking at precision shooting at a range longer than 500 yards, 6.5 Creedmoor is a clear choice. It is definitely a little more expensive considering it’s still in its nascent stage of popularity, but the accuracy and the performance offered surpasses the long-standing reliability of .308 Winchester.