Most seasoned gun enthusiasts are familiar with the rifle caliber .308. It is a very popular hunting round and has its place in the military as well. But look out, .308 fans, — there is some stiff competition in the shooting realm. Have you heard about the 6.5 Creedmoor caliber yet?
The 6.5 Creedmoor was developed by ammunition manufacturer Hornady in 2007, and has slowly gained popularity over the last decade. It was created for long-distance shooting, but it has gained some success with hunters because of the similarity in size to the .308.
So, let’s do some comparison between the two rounds. The 6.5 Creedmoor bullet is slightly smaller at 6.72 millimeters in diameter versus the .308’s 7.8 millimeters. Since it is a smaller round it is also lighter. A .308 bullet typically weighs around 150 grains, while 6.5 Creedmoor bullet weighs around 120 grains. Smaller, lighter bullets are great for speed, but are not quite as effective for hunting larger game.
Where the 6.5 Creedmoor excels is distance shooting. It does not have the fall rate that .308 has. It is also less resistant to windage, meaning that it stays straighter longer.
The initial muzzle velocity is similar, both being around 3,000 feet per second. However, due to the more aerodynamic shape of the bullet, the 6.5 Creedmoor maintains its velocity better at long distances. At a distance of 500 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor bullet is traveling at 2,078 feet per second, while the .308 bullet has slowed down to 1963 feet per second.
There are pros and cons of each round. The pros of the 6.5 round are that it can travel farther and keep more velocity. The farther you’re shooting, the more difference this will make. In particular, it is great for target shooting at distances past 500 yards.
The cons: Ammunition for the 6.5 costs a bit more, usually about ten cents more expensive per round than the .308 cartridge. Of course, lower-grade ammunition in either caliber will be less expensive than high-performance rounds of each.
Another con is the actual firearm itself. The 6.5 Creedmoor is generally available only in performance rifle platforms. Therefore, you will likely pay more for a rifle chambered in 6.5 over a rifle chambered in .308.
The third con of shooting 6.5 Creedmoor is that it does not perform quite as well for hunting purposes. This is due to the fact that it is a skinnier round than .308. It delivers less takedown power when hunting medium to large game.
The pros of .308 are found in the price and the performance under 500 yards. The larger projectile gives this round an added effectiveness and more tissue damage (which means a cleaner, faster kill) when used for hunting purposes.
Also, because it’s such a common round, .308 ammo is easier to find in your local stores. The rifle platform is also very common and priced a little bit more reasonably.
The con of the .308 round is its distance limitations. Up to 500 yards, both cartridges perform very well. But you start reaching out to distances of 700 to 1,000 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor round really outperforms the classic .308.
So, which round is better? That really depends on the application of the shooter. If you are looking for a competitive edge on a long range, the 6.5 Creedmoor is the way to go. If you are hunting medium to large game at a distance of 500 yards or less, then the .308 round would be the best choice. Of course, I believe that variety is the spice of life, so I say buy them both!
Jenny Malone grew up in the Charlotte County area and is an NRA-certified pistol instructor and range safety officer. You can talk guns with her at J&J One Stop Gun Shop at 2324 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte.