When it comes to guns and ammunition, the continuous debates in regards to which cartridges are best for which rifle and for what kind of shooting are often full of conflicting opinions and unclear conclusions.
As the hunting and sport shooting assault rifle platform continues to grow, develop and evolve, more people are paying more attention to finding the right cartridges for their shooting needs.
We would like to discuss the differences between a 6.5 and a .308 cartridge, mainly by focusing on things like recoil, accuracy, effectiveness, long range performance and a few other important characteristics.
The first thing we would like to take a look at is the different recoil properties of both types of ammunition. Recoil is most often measured as recoil energy, and is denoted in units of ft-lbs (foot-pound force).
There are four crucial variables whose values are needed for recoil calculations. These variables are bullet weight, bullet velocity, powder charge weight, and firearm weight. A static firearm weight should be used in all calculations.
The 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge has a bullet weight of 143 grams, a bullet velocity of 2700 feet per second, and a powder charge weight of 31.5 grams.
The resulting recoil energy is 13.02 ft-lbs.
The 308 Winchester cartridge has a bullet weight 178 grams, a bullet velocity of 2600 feet per second, and a powder charge weight of 39.5 grams.
The resulting recoil energy is 19.21 ft-lbs.
As the results have clearly shown, the 308 cartridge produces significantly more recoil energy than the 6.5. Exactly 6.19 ft-lbs more recoil energy.
Our next characteristic under comparison between the 6.5 and .308 cartridges is the difference in accuracy. In many cases, the relative accuracy of a specific cartridge will be considered to vary at different distances. In our case, comparing the 6.5 and the .308, this is an important factor to consider.
The 6.5 Creedmoor when tested in comparison to the .308 shows less bullet drop at all distances, however the most obvious difference can be seen at longer ranges. Once the 6.5 has hit 800 – 900 feet, it is traveling over 3 feet higher than the .308.
With this being said. Bullet drop is relatively easy for shooters to account for, the real prowess of the 6.5 cartridge shows through in its ability to fight against wind speeds. Wind speed is much more difficult for shooters to predict and compensate for when taking their shots, and a 6.5’s ability to counteract these effects is notable.
Under the effects of a 10 mile per hour crosswind, the .308 is shown to have been pushed over 6 inches further than a 6.5 cartridge at a distance of 500 yards. When a centimetre can quite literally mean the difference between a hit and a miss, this accuracy discrepancy is something to definitely take into consideration.
Price, Variety & Availability
When it comes to price, variety and availability, the .308 Winchester cartridges have the edge over the 6.5 Creedmoors. The .308 will be much easier to find and in more variety, while the 6.5 is also significantly more expensive in comparison.
Due to a number of factors, 6.5 ammo is more expensive than the .308 and will often not be as readily available at ammunition retailers.
Effectiveness On Game
In regards to the comparison of the .308 and the 6.5 when it comes to effectiveness on game, there isn’t too much of a difference on overall knockdown power. However, there are a few things to be considered.
Firstly, the .308 has about 15 percent more muzzle energy than the 6.5 Creedmoor does. This means that at closer ranges, the .308 will technically produce a significant amount more killing power than the 6.5. It can use heavier bullets, but in real world situations there won’t be too much of a difference in effectiveness on game.
Barrel life is something that strictly hunters do not need to worry as much about as sport or competition shooters who are shooting their rifle frequently. Regardless, there are notable differences in the average barrel life between the .308 and the 6.5.
The best possible estimate for .308 barrel life is right around 5,000 rounds. On the other hand, the 6.5 is significantly lower with an estimated barrel life of 2,000 to 2,500 rounds. The edge here clearly goes to the .308.
Ease Of Handloading
When it comes to loading ammunition and the ease of handloading, there isn’t too much to compare between the 6.5 and .308.
Neither cartridge has any notable peculiarities, drawbacks or well-known pro tips that make one an obvious better choice than the other when it comes to handloading. It can be said that the Creedmoor has somewhat of an advantage because of the fact that it accommodates longer bullets without powder space intrusion.
Performance At Long Range
Many hunters and sport shooters specialize in long range shooting, which is usually considered to be 800+ yards. The comparison of performance at long range between the .308 and the 6.5 is one that reveals a few important things.
The 6.5 Creedmoor has a velocity of right around 1,370 feet per second and a bullet drop of 348.59.
The .308 on the other hand has a long range velocity of 1,203 feet per second and a bullet drop of 386.
Obviously, the 6.5 will provide more accuracy at long range given the fact that it travels faster and experiences less bullet drop than the .308 at long distance.
Should I Buy A .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor?
When we take a look at all of the statistics and evaluate the pros and cons of both the .308 and the 6.5 Creedmoor, we can decide on a recommended buy.
Based on what we have discussed, it seems as though the 6.5 Creedmoor is the better buy. More accuracy, especially at long range, and significantly less recoil make the 6.5 seemingly superior. One thing to be aware of however is that at shorter ranges, there isn’t much that sets the two apart.
Will A 6.5 Creedmoor Kill A Bear?
The most accurate answer to the question of whether or not a 6.5 Creedmoor will kill a bear or not is that it depends. A number of things would need to be evaluated including target distance, bullet grain weight, firearm condition and of course the size of the bear.
In this case our answer to that question is no, a 6.5 Creedmoor is considered underkill for a grizzly or brown bear and will potentially not kill it. Under average conditions and from a mid-range distance, a 6.5 in many opinions will not deliver the desired killing force.
In order to conclude our comparison review of the 6.5 versus the .308, we would like to choose one that has an edge over the other.
After evaluating a number of ballistic aspects related to each model including recoil, accuracy and performance at long range, we can come to the conclusion that the 6.5 is considered the better cartridge.
With less recoil, significantly better performance and accuracy at long distances as well as a number of other notable advantages, the 6.5 has proven itself to be the superior choice over the .308.
When it comes to killing power and effectiveness on larger game like bears, the 6.5 can do the job, however conditions such as downrange target distance and the size of the target itself need to be considered. The one aspect to be aware of is the fact that the 6.5 is in some cases not as readily available as the .308 is at big retailers. In the end however, the 6.5 Creedmoor is clearly the better choice, especially for hunters and sport shooters who are shooting at longer distances.