6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 Winchester – Caliber Comparison

When it comes to ammunition, there are many different types available, some with similar intended uses and dimensions. As more and more cartridge types surface, the use of older models starts to become questioned. Newer cartridges threaten to phase out older ones sometimes, but older models tend to build a following that remains loyal.

One of the most recent debates was sparked when 6.5mm Creedmoor cartridges were invented. At that time, the 6.5mm Creedmoor vs. .308 Winchester debate began, and it hasn’t subsided yet. If you’re having trouble picking between these two cartridges, you’re not alone. We’re going to cover all of the major factors between each, helping you decide which you should use.

Understanding What a Cartridge Is

If you’re new to the world of firearms, it’s important to understand the difference between a cartridge and a bullet. Many new shooters tend to confuse the two. When you’re talking about a bullet, you’re talking about the projectile fired from a firearm. A bullet is part of a cartridge. The cartridge itself is the combination of a bullet, propellant, and igniter, all housed in a single metal casing. When you’re comparing cartridges, you’re comparing the effects that the housing and propellant have on the bullet that’s being fired. The cartridge affects many different factors, all of which have to be taken into consideration when choosing one.

6.5 Creedmoor vs. .308 – A Brief History of Each

When you compare these two cartridges, it’s important to understand the origins of each, and why they were created. Let’s take a look at the .308 and the 6.5 Creedmoor individually.

.308 Winchester – Improving on What was Considered Perfection

In the early 1950’s, there were many advancements being made to firearms and cartridges. The US Army had just replaced the M-1 Garand rifle with the M-14, chambered in the (new at the time) 7.62x51mm cartridge. It was similar to the .30-06, also firing a .308” bullet. However, the case was smaller, and delivered the same ballistics as the .30-06.

Winchester saw the opportunity to bring the 7.62x51mm case to the civilian and sporting market, and began work on the .308 Winchester. It proved to be more accurate than the .30-06, while being able to provide the same results, all in a smaller package. This meant it could be used in short action rifles without any issues coming up. From the .308 Winchester would come a variety of other cartridges, but none would become nearly as popular as the original. It would remain the standard for long range shooting for decades, up until the early 2000s.

6.5mm Creedmoor – The Ideal Long Range Cartridge

In the early 2000s, Dave Emary and Dennis DeMille wanted a cartridge that had aspects of the .308 Winchester, but with improvements. By this point in time, the .308 had been around for over 50 years, and was the standard for anything considered long distance. The pair saw an opportunity to improve this classic design, and reduce recoil, wind drift, and flatter trajectory.

Emary and DeMille modified a .30 Thompson Center case to shoot .264” bullets. The case was large, and could use class 4350 propellants. The two also built a rifle to handle these cartridges specifically, introducing a 1:8” twisting rate. By the end of it all, the ideal long range cartridge had been built. The cartridge allowed for long, heavy, bullets with high ballistic coefficients. They were still capable of being used in a short action magazine, as well. The 6.5mm Creedmoor is a cartridge that has minimal recoil and high accuracy, and is able to use high BC bullets to eliminate wind drift.

6.5 Creedmoor vs. .308 – Size

Overall length between the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester is very similar, though there are some notable differences. The Creedmoor is ever so slightly longer than the .308, but it has a shorter case length. Following the cartridge down, you’ll find the Creedmoor has a sharper shoulder angle, and less taper than the .308. The two have the exact same rim diameter of .473”. They hold nearly the same amount of powder, and have the same maximum average pressure of 62,000 PSI.

For the exact dimensions of each cartridge, take a look at our chart below:

6.5 Creedmoor .308 Winchester
Bullet Diameter .264” .308”
Case Length 1.92” 2.015”
Maximum Overall Length 2.825” 2.81”
Rim Diameter .473” .473”
Case Capacity 52.5gr H2O 53.5gr H2O
Max Pressure 62,000 PSI 62,000 PSI

6.5 Creedmoor vs. .308 – Ballistics

When comparing the Creedmoor and the .308, many wonder about ballistics. When you look at the two, especially when the bullet being fired is similar in weight, You’ll find that the Creedmoor tends to outperform the .308 Winchester. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering the 6.5 Creedmoor fires a bullet with a higher ballistic coefficient. As the bullet travels, it will experience less drop over its flight distance, meaning that shots at longer ranges are far more accurate.

Another thing to take into consideration when riveting the ballistics of each is the amount of wind drift experienced. The Creedmoor will experience far less drift, even at distances up to 500 yards, in comparison to the .308 Winchester. This is one of the reasons that you’ll find the 6.5 Creedmoor is the most talked about long distance cartridge. You can also read our guide on which are the best scopes for .308 Winchester.

6.5 Creedmoor vs. .308 – Recoil

When you’re firing bullets that need to travel a significant distance, recoil plays a big part. The less recoil experienced, the more accurate the shot is. Now, when you talk about the 6.5 Creedmoor, it’s impossible to separate it from recoil. Low recoil is why the cartridge was designed, and is where the cartridge excels. The .308 is a relatively low-recoil cartridge itself, but the Creedmoor outshines it yet again.

Reviewing the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .308 Winchester, let’s take a look at two comparable cartridges. For the 6.5 Creedmoor, the cartridge in question is firing the 143gr ELD-X bullet. The .308 Winchester is firing the 178gr ELD-X bullet. Let’s look at the specs below for each in terms of recoil.

6.5 Creedmoor .308 Winchester
Muzzle Velocity 2,700 feet per second 2,600 feet per second
Powder Load 41.5gr 42.5gr
Rifle Weight 8.1 pounds 8.0 pounds
Recoil Velocity 10.47 feet per second 12.06 feet per second
Free Recoil Energy 13.8 foot pounds 18.08 foot pounds

As you can see, even with a higher muzzle velocity, the Creedmoor is able to outperform the .308 Winchester in every aspect. The weight of the rifle is negligible, at best. This means that with a lower powder load, the Creedmoor can create higher velocity and less recoil. It’s sole focus is to make long range shooting hassle free, and it does just that.

.308 vs. 6.5 Creedmoor for Deer

Which is better for hunting deer? This is a question that gets posed a lot when you’re talking about the debate between .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor. The truth of the matter is that both are exceptional as a hunting cartridge. The real debate isn’t about what game you’re looking to take down, rather the way in which you’re hunting your game.

Before we go any further, let’s clarify what that means. Many people are concerned with taking down larger deer, elk, or moose with a bullet as small as what’s in the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. The fact of the matter is that hunters have been doing such a thing since long before the Creedmoor was developed. Moose and elk have regularly been taken down using the 6.5x55mm Swedish. Creedmoor can do the same thing, as long as the bullet is placed well.

So, what’s it come down to then? Hunting conditions. It all comes down to your range, and that comes down to the type of terrain you’re hunting in. Are you hunting your prey within 200 yards in wooded areas? Choose either. If you want the cheaper option, choose .308. Both are going to perform exceptionally.

Are you hunting on wide open fields? Are you spanning long distances, trying to make your shot at distances of 300 yards or greater? The cartridge that’s going to give you better results is the 6.5 Creedmoor. You’ll have less to worry about when it comes to trajectory, as well as wind drift. This can make all the difference when you’ve got the perfect shot lined up. See the best long-range scopes for 6.5 Creedmoor.

Final Thoughts

Both .308 Winchester and 6.5mm Creedmoor are soaked in history. This is largely due to the fact that the .308 has been around for decades, and the Creedmoor aimed to perfect that the .308 had already done. Now, the biggest thing to keep in mind between the two is distance. After that, it’s price. Creedmoor is going to cost a pretty penny more than .308. Keep that in mind when you’re planning your next hunt. As always, stay safe, and happy hunting!