Why Bother with a .308 Win?

Before we go any further, please extinguish your torches and put away your pitchforks. Let me be clear. I absolutely love the .308 Winchester cartridge, as well as its close-but-not-the-same brother, the 7.62x51mm NATO. I’ve been shooting both most of my adult life and it is one of the most useful and legendary cartridges of all time. The .308 firmly holds a comfortable spot in history as one of the military’s workhorses, both in precision shooting as well as crew-served weapons. It’s reliable, accurate, and most importantly, ubiquitous. Any corner sporting goods store carries it, and it deserves every accolade we can throw at it.

Winchester introduced the .308 in 1952 as a short action hunting round for big game. The aim was to create something that gave comparable performance to the .30-06 Springfield, but in a shorter cartridge. Since its inception, shooters have cemented the .308 as one of the most versatile ever created. Hunters, target shooters, military and LEO sharpshooters—all laud the greatness of the legendary round, and deservedly so.

308_6_5_picture

Progress

We should keep in mind that while the .308 is a legend, it wasn’t exactly designed for long range target shooting. In recent years, several attempts have been made to replace the .308 Win in a number of its current roles. In 2007, Hornady introduced the 6.5 Creedmoor. It’s becoming the most popular contender out there to replace the .308 for tactical rifle shooting. However, in regards to bullet drop at ranges around 500 yards, the two cartridges are very similar. From a pure ballistics standpoint, the 6.5 CM is the clear winner however. It mops the floor with the .308 in pretty much every category. If your distances are known, even a novice shooter can adjust for bullet drop quite easily with the right tools. Modern optics, ballistic calculators and range finders make this process a relative snap as long as you have your fundamentals in order. Where the 6.5 CM shines is with a much less predictable variable—wind.

The Elements

At 700-1,000 yards, the Creedmoor just plain doesn’t care about wind as much as the .308 Winchester. Some tests put the 6.5 at greater than 25% better performance in regards to windage. Ballistically speaking, the sharp shoulder and long neck help provide a more efficient round. We should take note that the 6.5 delivers all this with a comparatively smaller amount of felt recoil compared to the .308.

Availability

Great. So the 6.5 Creedmoor does a better job at long distance target shooting than the .308 Win. Should we all put our .308 rifles in mothballs? Not so fast. While there are a ton of rifles available in 6.5, you going to get a lot more options with the .308. Just about everyone makes one, so you can hand pick your rifle from any of your favorite manufacturers. There’s also an endless amount of knowledge to pull from. Shooters have been studying and documenting the performance of the .308 for decades. If you’re looking to learn more about your firearm or it’s cartridge, someone has already done the work for you. With the 6.5 CM, your options are much more limited, but not terrible. Savage, Ruger, Bergara, Browning, Howa, Tikka, Weatherby, and many others offer a full line of 6.5 bolt guns.

Doesn’t the 6.5 Burn Through Barrels?

Not really. A lot of .308s are often thought to be around 5000 rounds or more of barrel life. The 6.5 tends to burn up a barrel somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 rounds. That’s a lot of shooting. Even if you’re shooting every single week, you probably aren’t going to burn through that many rounds in the first couple of years. Even if you do, barrels can be found for a couple hundred bucks. Therefore, while this round does go to the .308 for barrel longevity, it isn’t really a category I care too much about. Tools wear down and need to be replaced or repaired over time. It’s as simple as that.

6.5 Creedmoor barrel

6.5 Creedmoor barrels may burn up faster, but replacements like this one are very affordable.

Which One Is Right For You?

It depends on what you want to do. If you’re hunting game, I’d actually prefer the .308. I can buy hunting ammo at any corner store in the county. The area where I hunt, I’m usually not trying to hit targets beyond 500 yards anyway. The .308 Win hits with plenty of energy and has been dropping game all over the world long before many of us were born.

If you’re a beginner at long-range precision or tactical shooting, get yourself a 6.5 Creedmoor. You’ll spend less time correcting for windage and won’t leave the practice range thinking you aren’t cut out for this sport. Everyone should be able to leave the range with a smile, and the 6.5 Creedmoor is up to the task. Match grade factory ammo is now available in more places, so you won’t have trouble feeding your weapon.

Wrapping Up

While the .308 is not a bad choice for distance shooting, the 6.5 Creedmoor is just plain better. End of discussion. Availability of ammo and longer barrel life just doesn’t outweigh the superior ballistics of the 6.5.

What are your thoughts on the 6.5 Creedmoor? Are you still attached to your old .308 Win? Let us know in the comments below.

66 Comments On This Article

  1. I did not see any energy comparison so I’m assuming the 308 whips the tail off the 6.5 grain for grain as the 6.5 can’t handle the heavy loads.

    • For the average shooter I doubt whether the 6.5 is going to be of that much more if any value difference when factoring in the givens of hunting. The biggest value issue given in this comparison is the distance accuracy and a reduced recoil. The majority of hunters wouldn’t be affected with either of these for most shooting applications. Sorry, I don’t buy your cited advantages for promoting this round in making it superior. It may have some certain advantages but not overall.

    • Hey James, I’ve actually done a ton of research and shooting with both of these rounds. The 6.5 after 500 yards actually whoops the .308 in kinetic energy. Because of the projectile design, b.c. advantage, the 6.5 looses less energy through all distances compared to the .308. As far as 100-200 yards shooting a 143 grain round from the 6.5 it has 2200-2100 ft lbs of force compared to 150 grain 308 Hornady sst with 2700-2600 ft lbs. So yeah the .308 within 500 yards outshines the 6.5 as far as energy goes but not by a ton, the deer don’t know the difference lol and I still prefer my .308 with any round over the 6.5 cause realistically if I’m hunting I’m not taking shots over 200 yards! To much can go wrong

    • 308 beats 6.5 CM out to 800 yards then 6.5 catches up with it. It passes the 308 at 1200 yards and stays trans sonic out to 1800 yards like the 338 Lapua @ sea level farther at higher altitudes . Where it really shines is in wind drift it bucks the wind as good as or better than the 300 win mag. The bullets high sectional density means it will penetrate better than the 308. All of this with only one more foot pound of recoil than the 243. The swedes hunt moose regularly with the 6.5×55 the 6.5 CM is a 6.5×55 +P. The military is currently using the 260 in special forces applications. The 260 is fine if you don’t reload but if you do the 260 paired with VLD style bullets will have neck sizing problems on the case.

    • Agreed! The information on the terminal performance of the .308 compared to the 6.5 CM is not discussed. So although I new much of the content and realized the differences and strong suits of each caliber respectively, the omission of that data he’s left me still sitting on the fence…

  2. I reload, already have a ton of .308 brass, dies…and rifles. And I mostly hunt, at not especially long ranges, so….(sigh). Can’t justify it.

  3. I’d love to have a 6.5 and may eventually buy one! But for now I’ll just keep playing with my 308’s since I own two and have plenty of a wide variety of ammo. I already knew the creedmore was better for long range, but this was a great, informative article! Thanks.

  4. It should also be known that the available ammo and price of ammo is a factor. There is a big difference in price and availability.

  5. ” The .308 Win hits with plenty of energy and has been dropping game all over the world long before many of us were born.” Oh, now that is cruel….

  6. “The legendary .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO round has been around for 65 years, and it is showing its age. It’s time to let the much venerated round rest in peace and start shooting the 6.5 Creedmoor. ”

    What moron write that lead-in? Can you say… asinine? If the 6.5 had been created five years before the 308, and been in use for 70 years, would that have made the comparison any different in your opinion?

  7. While I still prefer the 308 in almost every setting, I will say on really good thing that I’ve noticed about the 6.5… As the 6.5 has risen in popularity, the cost of the 308 has started dropping. While the price isn’t anywhere near the neighborhood of the 7.62×39 another favorite round of mine, it has come down slowly but steadily as more people start to test the waters with the Creedmoor.

  8. When TSHTF – and it WILL – patriots will have to forage for ammo in gun shops, sporting goods stores, military and L-E armories, whatever. That’s why standard calibers such as .308 Win., 9X19mm, .45ACP and the “poodle-popper” 5.56X45mm are preferable to the 6.5mm Creedmoor. Jus’ bein’ practicul, dassoll…..

    • Agreed. The last thing I want in my personal weapons collection is any sort of ‘exotic’ round that might be expensive or hard to find. I just sold my M1A and ammo, but still have rifles in 30-06, 5.56, 7.62X39, 7.62X54 Russian, 39-30 and of course, .22LR. All ammo that is readily available and inexpensive. It’s the same for handgun ammo; 9mm, .45ACP, .38 Special and .357 are all common and easy to obtain in quantity. Whether it’s a SHTF situation or just regular shooting and practice, KISS is the best policy.

  9. If you are going to switch from a .308 to a 6.5 bullet, why not switch to the .260 Remington cartridge? The bullet is the same and the case capacity is (slightly) greater.

  10. I’ve been shooting 6.5 x 55 Swede surplus rifle’s both short and long barrel versions for 30 years and regularly hit five gallon metal cans at 500 to 600 yds. with the Norma factory load 140 grains, with open sights Go figure…. The Creedmoor is just a hot-rod Swede in my book.
    I’m surprised the Creedmoor wasn’t more popular long before now. I love and will keep my 308 but the 140 gr. 6.5 BC whips tail at longer ranges.
    Me and my son both have Ruger predator rifle’s all factory no mods. in the Creedmoor that shoots one dime size hole at 100 yds. (both guns) out of the box with factory Hornady ammo. Glass is a Vortex hunter grade scope, out of the box gun, glass and ammo 6.5 Creedmoor extreme accuracy for the common guy.
    The 308 is gonna be around for a long time and for most of us is all that is needed for 500 yds. in. with great ammo availability not to mention faith in it’s ability to perform.
    I love both and will keep shooting both, will also keep shooting my Swede rifles, they are a lot of fun and the iron sights keep it real even with my old eyes!

  11. Well, about 30 years ago I solved these issues by switching to the 7mm/08. I wouldn’t swap it for its mother, the .308, or its cousin the 6.5 Creedmore.

    • NOW SOMEONE HAS FINALY HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD. THE 7 MM-08 IS THE ANSWER. THE .284 CALIBER FITS RIGHT IN BETWEEN AND IS ALREADY POPULAR IN AMMO AND RELOADING.

  12. As a .308 and a 6.5 cm shooter, I agree that they both have their place. As a shoot with bad shoulders I must say that you can’t beat the recoil of the creedmoor. as for the hunting aspect hornady eldx bullets dropped my deer where it stood at our 300 yards. My choice is with the 6.5 cm. It has done everything I wanted.

  13. I did not see any price on ammo, ether 308 or 6.5. So I will stay with the 308 and 270 for, hunting they both get job done. So why go to something that cost a lot more money.

    • He did state that the .308 is a better choice for hunting, but if you want to get into long range target shooting (beyond 500 yards) the 6.5 is better.

  14. My .308’s are not going to get the moth ball treatment. I have an AR10 and a Savage boltgun.i hunt with both. Im staying with knock down power over a bit more accuracy.

  15. How does the 6.5 cm compare to the 22-250 for long range shooting? I have been consistently dropping Deer (head shots), Turkey, and Groundhogs, at 400 to 500 Yards in changing heavy cross winds and changing elevation to reduce heavy crop damage. I use a Savage model 16 and Remington Premier AccuTip 50 grain. Is there a 6.5 cm that will compare with that?

  16. For safety reasons, it should be said to nubies that a 5.56 Creedmore is not the same as a 5.56 Nato,fot those that have a 223/5.56 Nato. Or am I incorrect?

  17. I have a older Ruger Rifle in .308 and have droped lot’s of White Tail Deer with it, and I don’t need some new 6.5 to do the job!

  18. I like my 308. I had a lot of accuracy over the years. The 308’s are available at mostly all game shops plus most shots are taken at close range when hunting.

  19. Although you presented good arguments for both and I would love to try the 6.5 the plain truth is when I talk or teach I always saw go with what is available out in the country because the mom and pop stores will not have the exotic ammo when you run out or forget your ammunition

  20. i did not see any stats, just a lot of talk! i will keep my 308 and 30-06 for i know what to expect and knowing the knock down punch.

  21. Rober Wolers,M.D.

    Ubiquitous yesWhen Britain invaded the FAulklands to restore sovereinty to British citizens, they found that they and the Argentines both used the NATO round.The Argies had FAL rifles with a capacity for sustained,read that machine gun fire. Therefore the Brits when capturing weapons, they gladly exchanged for the rapid firing rifles of their enemy.

  22. While the argument is thought provoking it sounds more like a sales pitch, as others here have stated the 308 is plentiful and cheaper and just how many shots does anyone make beyond 500 yards or even a 100 for that matter?

  23. 7.62X51 is more than just adequate & there is no compelling reason to replace it as a military standard. Capricious spending by bureaucrats and pencil pushers is undergoing closer scrutiny so that reaching into the taxpayer’s wallet for a career pet project is becoming more difficult.

    I already have gear and materials for .308; I see no need to run out to get “something better”. My stuff, for me is not only the best performing I can make it, but it’s — Already Paid For. Been looking at the 6.5 and also .300 Blackout, but, alas they’re just just something else I’d need to devote time and development in reloading and shooting.

    • The first centerfire rifle I ever shot was the M-14 in Basic Training. I weighed 148 pounds and that round kicked my butt. Since that time, I have fired both 30-06 and .270, but I gained some muscle first. The 7.62X51 is not for small people. So, not everybody will be able to handle it as a hunting rifle.

  24. In a shtf scenario with the 6.5 your screwed, 7.62/308 ammo is found nearly everywhere. So if your only interest is long rang target shooting go with the 6.5 but if your rifle is survival go with the 7.62.

  25. This article left out the most useful and desired information. WHere are the ballistics comparisons? I expectd to see a comparison, but there is none.

  26. I shoot .308 ,.243 ,and .224 calibers in rifles ! Reload for 30-06 , .308 , .243 ,and 5.56×45 /.223 ! I don’t need any other calibers , not in N.America anyhow ! I also reload handgun calibers from .32 – .45 , all of them . I think l’m set up pretty well !

  27. I have boxes and boxes of .308 brass to include new Lapua as well as Forster and RCBS match reloading dies and a sealed box of 500 175 grain Match King bullets.

    I built a 6.5 Creedmoor out of my .308 JP Industries AR and the upper is for sale as well as all of the above listed stuff. Anyone interested?

  28. For myself I decided to try out the Ruger Precision Rifle in .308. There’s tons of ballistic information available for.308 ammunition and I already have lots of it in my stocks. If I decide I enjoy long distance shooting, I might then consider 6.5. Right now there is lots of match grade .308 available that I can feed to my M1A’s if long-range isn’t for me. This is not the case for having a lot of 6.5 Creedmore .

  29. My 308 is a deer and elk rifle. My antelope gun is a 25-06 or a 270-depending upon whether or not I am hunting deer at the same time. The 6.5 Creedmoor can challenge the 25-06 as an antelope gun. I cannot just make a comparison between the 6.5 and the 308 because there are other guns that will work -depending on one’s use of a gun. My match gun is a M-1 Garand and I don’t shoot farther than 600 yards. I would not eliminate the 6.5 from consideration.

    • I’ve seen Elk drop at 600yrd with a 6.5 so I was thinking about it for my next rifle. My personal Elk rifle has been the .270 and has never failed me yet. Just would like an all around Gun for shooting

  30. Like Steve said, what this article is saying about the 6.5 Creedmor is practically all relevant to the .264 diameter bullet, not just the 6.5 Creedmor. If you choose to rebarrel for the .260 Remington instead of 6.5 Creedmoor in a switch-barrel gun like a Savage, you can use the same head-space gauges for a .260 Remington barrel as a .308 Winchester barrel & be able to swap them back & forth at will & the .260 Remington cartridge sends the same bullet downrange slightly faster because of slightly better case capacity. Brass is easy to form from .308 Winchester brass too, not so for the 6.5 Creedmor.

  31. Funny thing is that he never once said you needed to go and buy. 6.5, I think 90% of the comments here are rubbish, the 6.5 CM is superior in almost every aspect vs. the .308. it is a new load to the market and in the next few years I fully expect there to be as many of not more choices for the 6.5 as the .308.. the .308 will live on as one of the best if not THE best and most popular cartridge of all time.. but the point of the article was not to sway you into buying a 6.5 right now, he’s essentially saying go check it out at look at the round a little closer, there’s good things in store for this caliber.

  32. I still can’t understand why the 6.5 Creedmoor is becoming so popular when the 7mm-08 that has been doing that job for 50 years. Whether you’re shooting antelope, deer, or steel rams at 500 meters or less, the 7-08 is the cartridge, especially with 120 gr loads. I used to shoot .308 with 168gr bullets for silhouettes, but after 40 consecutive shots, I was beat.

  33. I just love these comparison articles. Shoot what you like (or just plain have available) and let everyone else do the same. If SHTF, we will be the ones who need to work together. A lone wolf can only go so far. Ignore the unarmed liberals and bury the thugs who will try to take advantage. A case could be made for almost any gun and/or caliber. If it works for you, great!

  34. I’ll stick with REM 700 in .308 or my DPMS .308 Panther LR. I never shot at any thing over 200 yards. I have taken 70 Whitetail deer, starting in 1952.

  35. I carried the Pig in the Army. I hit the 1100 meter target every time at the range. It was a 6 round burst, but I never missed it. It was 7.62 NATO, which is almost identical to the .308 Winchester round. How much better could the 6.5 Creedmoor be with open sights as we hat on the Pig?

  36. Why do you need to shot 600 yards are further? We do not need another cal. to replace the 308.Anything over 600 yards can not be seen clearly, so why shoot oat it

  37. Rather than just state the ballistics are better, I would have liked seeing the evidence in real life form and not just from a company that sells it.

  38. The point of this article is, that with the rise in popularity of long-range target shooting (especially with the cost of the Ruger Precision rifle, superior optics that don’t cost an “arm & leg”), the 6.5CM makes sense for someone that wants to get into the sport with minimal ballistics knowledge. Personally, I use a 270 win to deer hunt (most of the time I am not shooting anything over 200 yards). For hogs, I use the .308 for its superior knock down power, and when I am at the range, can easily shoot 600 yards without much effort. I do think the “fun” of long-range shooting is the ability to compensate for the elements and put a round on target…but this is from someone who has been shooting for over 40 years.

  39. Sure, I guess if you want an expensive to shoot, hard to find target cartridge you could get a 6.5 cm. I don’t see the point

  40. I’ve shot the .308 out to 1200 yards with very good success. I have also competed against the 6.5, and found the 175 grain .308 bullet fought the wind better than the 6.5 round. The 6.5 is a great round, with excellent ballistics, but the .308 is very reliable and effective. I’ve actually seen the 308 strike targets out to 1600 yards. I’ve never done it, but witnessed it. Not much energy, but it hit the target.

  41. Why is it people want to tell others what they should be doing/shooting all anyone needs is a ballistic chart they are fully capable of deciding for themselves what they want. Dont stop writing just stop telling.

  42. I would be leery of yet another ‘new kid on the block’. It may have the better ballistics but I thought the same thing when I purchased a Browning A-Bolt in 243WSSM. The new kid was dropped & now it next to impossible to get ammo for. Just be cautious when jumping into a new caliber guys…..

  43. I own a couple of 30-06s, a 1903A3 and an M1 Garand I very much like; however, I have always been interested in the .308 Winchester (or 7.62X51). Several years ago, I bought an M1A at an online auction. It is in magnificant shape and shoots like a charm (even better than my Garand but about equal to the 1903A3). Since, I built an AR for 7.62 NATO. It was definitly a challange using a PSA lower, Aero Precision upper, ER Shaw 18″ barrel, etc. Extracting and ejection were big problems but were overcome. But I digress. I have not owned a 6.5 or even shot one that I can remember but I will stick with the 7.62 because I have plenty of ammo, speaking of which, 2,000 to 3,000 rounds greater barrel life is important considering the work to make the AR gas correctly not to mention some mods to the feed ramps and buffer issues. I know, my problems are my own because of the mutt I built but it is what it is. The 7.62X51 or 6.5 Creedmore are both probably comparable so I have no preference other than where my experience takes me.

  44. I own and shoot a 260 Rem, and a custom 6.5×284. I love the thrill of hitting the bulls eye, and the sound of ringing steel, time after time out at 800 to 1000 yards. You can look at ballistic charts all day and argue over numbers, but the facts are in. Simply spend a couple bucks and attend an F class, or a 1000 yard match, and see what people are shooting. The winners are shooting a 6.5 is some configuration. There are some people who have never tried one, and don’t care to, because they have a 308 and must justify what they own. Sorry, I have several 308’s, and they all have a place in my tool box. However, if I am going out to shoot just for the fun of it, I open the safe and time after time, I reach for one of the 6.5’s Better accuracy, less recoil, really shines out past the normal yardage. OH… I forgot the new 6.5 Nosler, all you speck guys, look that one up.

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