Cartridge Face Off: 6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 Win

Posted by Matt M. on Mar 3rd 2023

Cartridge Face Off: 6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 Win

We’re kicking off our first cartridge face-off with arguably, the most hotly debated cartridge comparison around. The tried and true 308 Win vs the 6.5 Creedmoor. They are very similar-sized, short action rounds that go about things a bit differently. Each has its own pros and cons, and I’ll give you my take on them below.


Before we dive into this cartridge battle, a little background on my experience with them. Around 2009, I really started to dive into long range shooting. Back then, it seemed like everyone shot 308’s from a heavy barreled Remington 700 of some sort. So of course, thats what I was drawn to at the time. My first “nice” rifle was a Remington 700 PSS chambered in 308. It featured a heavy barrel, solid HS precision stock and was very accurate right out of the box. This rifle kick-started my passion for long range shooting really. One thing is certain, I learned a ton shooting that first rifle over the 5 years or so I owned it. I probably put 3k - 4k rounds through it. Fast forward to 2016 and my first rifle chambered in 6.5 Creed. It was a Savage Ashbury Precision Rifle and it was a shooter! Along with my shooting partner, we had twin rifles and used them for RTC and field-style matches. Between that first rifle and my other 6.5’s since, I probably have close to 10k 6.5 creed rounds under my belt currently, mostly in a competition setting, but also on a few hunting trips as well.

Felt Recoil:

The most noticeable difference between the 2 rounds for me, has been the recoil. My 308 hunting rigs of the past, kicked pretty good. Not 338 Win Mag levels by any means, but enough that you couldn’t spot your impacts and wouldn’t want to shoot them all day long. The 6.5 by comparison, is a joy to shoot. Recoil, non-scientifically, feels about half as harsh as the 308. I read a while back a comparison where recoil was measured between the two. With both rifles weighing around 7lbs, the 308 firing a 175gr round and the creed firing a 143gr bullet, the 308 had around 6 more ft-lbs of recoil energy. When you’re shooting a lot of rounds at a match or practicing at the range, this makes for a huge difference, especially when a new shooter is behind the trigger. But the biggest plus for me, is being able to spot hits and make corrections as needed.

Terminal Performance:

This is how a bullet acts once it has entered the target or game. There are a ton of opinions on this, different schools of thought and so on, on the subject. Without getting to deep in the weeds, comparing bullet construction, metallurgy and so on, I’m going to give you may take on it all.

The 6.5 is usually loaded with longer, sleeker projectiles than the 308. Theoretically, these smaller diameter rounds are able to penetrate deeper into game. But these smaller diameter bullets, traveling faster, have a harder time imparting all their energy into game, which is what ultimately causes damage to vitals and kills the animal.

On the flip site, the 308 has a much bigger frontal surface, which allows it to impart more energy on target. This round has shown itself to be devastating on game inside of 400 yards or so. Beyond that, the larger, heavier bullets typically lose too much speed and energy to effectively expand and deliver as much energy.

This is the real trade-off between the 2 rounds. You can have a very effective cartridge inside of 400 yards or more down range speed and energy for longer shots. Personally, I prefer the option of more energy, further down range and that’s why I go with the creed here. Besides that, I haven’t had any issues with it on close range targets. Everything thus far has died in its tracks, without taking more than a step or 2.


This is where the differences really come into play. For this comparison, we’ll look at

Hornady’s precision hunter loadings for each. The 143gr ELD-X 6.5 creed(my go-to load) and the 178gr ELD-X 308 Win. Both at published velocities, and for my local environmental data. The results speak for themselves and show why so many are getting on board with the 6.5 Creed.

Below is the raw data from Hornady’s ballistics calculator. One that I’ve found to be very accurate. As you can see the 6.5 starts out moving around 100fps faster than the 308. The 6.5 creed bullet also has a lower drag coefficient, which will help it retain speed and energy.

In velocity and retained speed, the 6.5 is the clear winner here.

When it comes to energy, the 308 is packing quite the punch right out of the gate, but is eventually overtaken by the 6.5 around 900 yards. I’ll call this one a draw since they’re both carrying plenty of energy to kill big game like elk out to around 600 yards.

This chart is the most telling in the difference between the 2 rounds. They are fairly close until 600 yards or so.Then the heavier, slower and less-efficient bullet in the 308 makes it drop like a stone comparatively. At 1500 yards, the 308 drops 15.75 feet more than the creed. For many scopes, this would exceed the maximum adjustment range, meaning you’d have to hold over to make the shot.


It should be no shocker here that I am going with the 6.5 Creedmoor, 100%. Except for initial energy, it simply outclasses the 308 in almost every area, and that is with a good 30 cal bullet. Most ammo out there use bullets that are nowhere near as efficient as the Hornady 178gr bullet and would do even worse in this comparison. Now, having said that, the 308 still has its place. It’s an excellent hunting round with a proven track record. I also recommend it to anyone getting into long range. Why, you might ask? Because its downfalls force you to become a better shooter. Things like reading and adjusting for wind are much harder with the 308. So once you get good with it and move into a 6.5 or 6mm creed, everything seems a bit easier. It’s also worth noting that 308 ammo is usually much cheaper, making it more cost effective to learn with. So those long range days don’t hurt the wallet so much.