Three Reasons to Hunt with a 308 Winchester Instead of a 6.5 Creedmoor

I have seen more arguments about whether to use a .308 Winchester or 6.5 Creedmoor for hunting or long-range shooting than any other caliber combination. In my opinion, the time-tested .308 Winchester and newcomer 6.5 Creedmoor are both capable cartridges for most big game hunting situations. There are also a number of reasons why I chose the .308 over the 6.5 CM when purchasing my newest hunting rifle.

As I considered which caliber would best fit my hunting needs there were a few things that guided my decision. I wanted a caliber that would be adequate for taking western big game (deer, elk, moose, etc.) to about 600 yards. It needed to be a short-action caliber because I don’t like carrying around magnum rifles with 24-inch barrels. The recoil needed to be manageable because I usually hunt alone and like to have opportunities to track an animal after a shot and want my wife to feel comfortable with the recoil. And I wanted a caliber that wasn’t too expensive to shoot.

To be clear, both the .308 Win and 6.5 CM meet all these objectives, but I gave the edge to the .308 in a couple of categories that put it over the edge. Particularly, the .308 Winchester is a great caliber for the budget-conscious hunter who wants a do-everything rifle. For more information on my top rifle caliber choices, check out this article.

1. The Ballistics are Almost Identical

There are plenty of articles out there that analyze and compare the ballistics of these two calibers in-depth. Here I’m just giving a quick overview of the ballistics differences out to 600 yards. Why 600 yards? That’s the farthest I’d take a shot on a big game animal. So for a hunting rifle, any ballistic differences beyond 600 yards don’t matter to me.

I only considered two ballistics metrics, energy and bullet drop. Energy gives a measure of how devastating the bullet will be on a target downrange and bullet drop affects accuracy. The more a bullet drops the more exact the range measurement has to be to score a perfect hit. Less bullet drop can negate more shooter error and still provide a lethal hit.


If we consider the 6.5 CM shooting a 143 gr. Hornady ELD-X at 2700 fps (muzzle velocity) and the .308 Win shooting the 178 gr. ELD-X (I prefer 168 gr bullets, but we’ll stick with this to keep the bullet consistent) at 2600 fps (muzzle velocity), we get the following results.

At 100 yards the .308 has 100 ft. lbs. more energy than the 6.5. At 600 yards the .308 has 40 ft. lbs. more energy than the 6.5. For energy that’s basically a wash. You can’t really say one’s better than another.

Bullet Drop

Now let’s consider the difference in bullet drop between the two calibers. At 300 yards the 6.5 CM point-of-impact is 2 inches higher than the .308 Win. At 400 yards it’s 4 inches higher, at 500 yards it’s 8 inches higher and at 600 yards it’s 13 inches higher.

So the 6.5 CM shoots substantially flatter than the .308 Win at ranges greater than about 400 yards. Once again this comes out as a wash to me because I hope most of my shots fall inside of 400 yards (preferably inside of 300 yards).

My takeaway here is that there are no substantial differences in the ballistic metrics that matter to for my specific hunting situations. Ballistically, either caliber would be sufficient for my needs. Now that we’ve established the ballistic similarities, let’s move on to my other factors.

2. Versatility

Hands down, the .308 Win is more versatile than the 6.5 CM. Partly because there are just so many more bullet options for 30 caliber rifles that the more niche (though still very popular calibers).

Do you want some high-velocity loads with a light bullet for varmint hunting? The .308 has a load for that. Or maybe you want some 220 gr bullets to hunt moose or elk at close range. The .308 can do that too.

Versatility is not required for hunting. You could still use a 6.5 CM with 130 or 140 gr bullets for both those tasks and do just fine. It’s just something the .308 has that the 6.5 doesn’t.

If you value and are seeking versatility in your rifle cartridge the .308 has it in spades.

3. Cost to Shoot

This is where the .308 Win has the real advantage over the 6.5 CM, especially if you want to get cheap plinking ammo. Because the .308 Win has been used by military and law enforcement for many years it is easy to find bulk ammo at reduced prices. It’s not uncommon to find brass-cased .308 Win FMJ or hollow-point ammo for $0.50-$0.80 per round. You can even get steel-cased ammo (if you’re into that) for less than $0.40 per round. Of course, these prices will be inflated anytime we elect a democratic president.

While 6.5 CM ammo is still relatively cheap for a rifle caliber (it’s common to get brass-cased ammo for just over $1.00 per round) it’s consistently more expensive than .308 Win.

For reloaders, the price difference may not be as stark. Still, brass for the .308 Win is easier to come by and costs less than 6.5 CM brass. In fact, during ammo and component shortages, .308 components are much easier to come by at a fair price because there is simply a greater amount of product out there.

Additionally, because there are so many other 30 caliber (yes, 30 caliber bullets actually have a diameter of .308 inches, crazy, I know) rifle cartridges available it can be easier to find deals on .308 bullets.

All of this makes it slightly easier and cheaper to get good ammo for the .308 Winchester than the 6.5 Creedmoor.


In the end, either one of these calibers will be adequate for hunting most big game species in most situations. The decision to choose one caliber over the other will boil down to your personal hunting, shooting, family, and financial situation. For a dedicated hunting rifle, I prefer the affordability and versatility of the .308. Check out this article for a review of the rifle I shoot.

You could write this same article with three reasons to choose the 6.5 CM for hunting instead of the .308. In a different situation where I had unlimited funds to spend on ammunition and did more long-range (beyond 600 yards) shooting, I would probably opt for the 6.5 Creedmoor. For a dedicated youth rifle or rifle for my wife, I would probably also select the 6.5 Creedmoor because of its lower recoil.

Don’t let the arguments out there deter you from one caliber or the other. Consider your situation and use cases and try to objectively decide which one will work best for you. The calibers are similar enough that whichever one you choose will be a great investment.

Konrad Hafen

Konrad is a natural resource scientist who spends much of his free time hunting, fishing, hiking and backpacking on America's public lands.

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