Is the 6.5 Creedmoor replacing the .308 Winchester?
The 6.5 Creedmoor is drawing a lot of attention as more people are using it for long distance shooting. When a round starts winning at competitions, people take notice. More and more people are using it for hunting as well. Ballistically speaking, it has been proven to be superior to the .308 Winchester. It’s been a progressive ten-year journey for the 6.5 Creedmoor and its popularity keeps growing. Does that mean we will be retiring the 65-year-old .308 Winchester anytime soon? The answer to whether the 6.5 Creedmoor will replace the .308 Winchester is a firm yes, no, or maybe.
Some History First
Ammunition trends change as new technologies emerge, military needs are identified, or wildcat rounds go mainstream. The .308 Winchester was no different and was designed from the 300 Savage to replace the military’s 30-06. Though the military would approve it in 1954, Winchester released it first in 1952 to get a foothold in the civilian market. The .308 stayed with the military a main battle rifle round until the adoption of the M16A1 in 1969. However, the .308 is still in service with the military just not in a main battle rifle configuration. You still see used it machineguns and sniper rifles.
Unlike the .308, the 6.5 Creedmoor did not have its humble beginnings in the military. The idea for a new round was born from a theoretical discussion between two friends, during a competitive shooting match, one of which was a Hornady engineer. Fast forward two years and the 6.5 Creedmoor was introduced by Hornady in 2007. In a span of 10 years, the round has more than proven itself. It’s built up a following because it shoots flatter and has less wind drift than the .308. Erven in its best configuration, the .308 still lags.
So why is the answer yes, no or maybe? Let’s take each answer individually.
The Answer is Yes
According to factory ballistics data, most .308 loads will shoot relatively flat out to 150-200 yards, but start to drop significantly beyond that. At approximately 500 yards, the .308 can experience a drop of as much as 60 inches with a 200-yard zero. Experienced shooters agree that the maximum effective range for the .308 is around 1,000 yards.
The military uses two standards for the .308; one for the Army and one for the Marines. The U.S. Army sets its maximum effective range at 800 meters (about 875 yards) while the U.S. Marine Corps has it at 915 meters (1,000 yards even).
The 308 was designed as a military round. The 6.5 Creedmoor was designed for better long-range performance for competitive shooting. Within 500 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 Winchester run about the same except for wind drift. After 500 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor is ballistically a better cartridge than 308.
The 6.5 offers better resistance to wind drift. At 700-1000 yards, 6.5 Creedmoor is a much better choice, giving the shooter an approximate 25% advantage over the .308. It also recoils less. The answer is YES if long distance shooting is your primary goal.
The Answer is No
The .308 has a proven 65-year history both in and out of the military. Trained snipers routinely make hits on targets beyond 800 yards. Hunters have killed large game with it. It’s a staple in law enforcement sniper circles as well.
Ammunition in .308 can be purchased just about anywhere. Most of the time, depending on what you’re looking for, the .308 ammo is cheaper to buy. It also comes in a wide variety of bullet designs and weights. You can find something you can shoot for any reason; plinking, hunting or precision work.
Since .308 Winchester is hotter than NATO ammunition, if your rifle is chambered for the .308 Winchester, it’s safe to shoot military 7.62 X 51 surplus ammo in your rifle. The 6.5 Creedmoor has no military surplus option so it’s either factory or handloads.
My dividing line is distance. If you don’t plan on shooting beyond 500 yards, the answer is NO. Stay with your trusted .308.
The Answer is Maybe
You must first decide what you are going to use the rifle for. Is it for hunting? Is it for plinking? Are you a long distance competitive shooter? The answer to those and a few other questions set the stage for your final answer.
If you want an all-around rifle, the .308 in an 18” barrel is a good choice. You might want the 6.5 Creedmoor if you want a rifle that shoots with more precision. If you haven’t decided what your rifle’s primary role will be, you really can’t go wrong with either one. Unless you are a serious competitive marksman, most of us will never outshoot either rifle. The answer, in this case, is MAYBE.
I don’t think the .308 is going anywhere anytime soon. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a great round, but it will be a long while before it completely overtakes the .308 for any reason. Either way, they are both a lot of fun to shoot and will both serve you well.
If you’d like more information or have any questions, feel free to email me at Murgado.firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember that Live Free Armory is here to help you whether you choose to buy from us or not. We believe that obtaining the right information should always be your first step.