6.5 Creedmoor vs 30-06

6.5 Creedmoor vs 30-06

A side by side comparison of two popular hunting rifle cartridges, the 6.5 Creedmoor and 30-06 Springfield.

Timeless classic or modern innovation? That might be a good, quick way to describe the comparison of 6.5 Creedmoor vs 30-06 Springfield. While one has been providing accuracy and performance for well over a century, the other is a newcomer to the market, quickly earning the attention of shooters of all varieties.

Which one is right for you? That depends on how you shoot, what you hunt, where you hunt, what rifles you prefer, and many other factors. Let’s dive in and learn more about these two calibers and how each might fit your needs.

About the .30-06 Springfield

30-06 Springfield rifle with ammo

Made specifically for military purposes, the .30-06 Springfield has branched out from the service to become one of the most popular private-use rifle cartridges in the country. It is larger and more powerful than many competing rounds, although it was originally designed as a lighter and faster alternative for armed forces. Above all, accuracy was the goal for the original designers, who released the .30-06 Springfield in 1906.

It has been used in numerous conflicts and could arguably be the most important small-arms cartridge in American history. The 30-06’s service spans both world wars, the Korean War, and Vietnam, but it’s also one of the most popular hunting cartridges in the country.

• Released: 1906
• Bullet Diameter: .308 inches
• Rim Diameter: .473 inches
• Case Length: 2.494 inches
• Total Length: 3.34 inches
• General Bullet Size: 110 – 220 grains
• Commonly used in bolt-action rifles

About the 6.5 Creedmoor

6.5 Creedmoor rifle made by Ruger

Designed originally for target shooting at long distances, the 6.5 Creemoor is a popular option all across the country, especially for fans of semiautomatic rifles. Created by Hornady, one of the most innovative ammunition companies in operation, the cartridge delivers reliable speed and power while maintaining a size that fits in short-action rifles.

The 6.5 Creedmoor actually took an opposite route as the .30-06. Made for private use, the cartridge was eventually adopted by some military and security forces and has been used as a long-range sniper cartridge. For private owners, it is effective for high-volume target shooting and medium-range hunting.

• Released: 2008
• Bullet Diameter: .2644 inches
• Rim Diameter: .473 inches
• Case Length: 1.92 inches
• Total Length: 2.825 inches
• Bullet Weight: Ranging from 95 to 150
• Used in bolt-action and semiautomatic rifles

6.5 Creedmoor vs. 30-06 Springfield

 30-06 Springfield6.5 Creedmoor
Released19062008
Bullet Diameter.308 inches.2644 inches
Rim Diameter.473 inches.473 inches
Case Length2.494 inches1.92 inches
Total Length3.34 inches2.825 inches
Bullet Weight110 - 220 grain95 to 150 grain
FirearmsBolt-actionBolt, Semi-Auto

Price Comparison

Pricing is important to practically all firearms owners, but with so much overlap, and so many different products, determining if 6.5 CMDR or 30-06 is more affordable can be quite complex. In general, however, we can say that the .30-06 will cost you slightly less to shoot.

As of writing this article, you could get the cheapest .30-06 ammo at about $0.52 per round, while the lowest-cost 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition was $0.57 per round. We should probably note, these were two different products from different manufacturers though.

If we look at similar rounds from the same manufacturer, we see that the .30-06 still holds an advantage. For example, Sellier & Bellot makes soft-point ammo for both cartridges (180-gr .30-06 and 140-grain 6.5). The .30-06 Springfield cost $0.75 per round, while the 6.5 Creedmoor cost $0.79 per round.

With more available products, the .30-06 Springfield tends to be slightly more affordable.
Winner: .30-06 Springfield

Velocity

Shooting a 6.5 creedmoor rifle at the range

Speed has a major impact in the overall performance and accuracy of a cartridge. Once again, we see a lot of overlap, as many products have the same or similar velocities; there are .30-06 cartridges that are faster than certain 6.5 Creedmoor rounds, and vice-versa.

In general, however, if you are looking at two cartridges with similarly-sized bullets, the .30-06 Springfield will be faster, largely due to the extended case. For example, the Winchester makes 125-grain .30-06 Springfield soft-point and 125-grain 6.5 Creedmoor polymer-tipped cartridges. The .30-06 logs a muzzle speed of 3,140 feet per second, while the 6.5 sits at 2,850 feet per second.

But of course, if you’re willing to sacrifice bullet weight, you can get a faster 6.5 Creedmoor round. For example, Hornady’s GMX ammo is available in both cartridges, but the .30-06 is 180-grains, while the 6.5 is 120 grains. The .30-06 has a muzzle speed of 2,600 fps, while the lighter 6.5 delivers a muzzle speed of 2,925 fps.
Winner: Draw

30-06 vs. 6.5 CDMR on Energy

While there is a debate over speed, it appears that the .30-06 Springfield is the clear winner in energy, at least muzzle energy. Downrange, however, the 6.5 Creedmoor seems to excel.

To keep things simple, let’s look at the two 125-grain Winchester products we referenced above: the .30-06 soft-point and the 6.5 Creedmoor polymer tipped.

 30-06 Springfield6.5 Creedmoor
Muzzle2,736 foot pounds2,254 foot pounds
100 Yards2,145 foot pounds1,996 foot pounds
200 yards1,662 foot pounds1,763 foot pounds

What we see above is that the .30-06 has stronger muzzle velocity, but after 200 yards the 6.5 is the more powerful projectile.

So let’s look at another comparison. How about Federal Premium’s Nosler AccuBond cartridges, which are available in 165-grain .30-06 and 140-grain 6.5 Creedmoor:

 30-06 Springfield6.5 Creedmoor
Muzzle2,872 foot pounds2,675 foot pounds
100 Yards2,493 foot pounds2,501 foot pounds
200 Yards2,155 foot pounds2,334 foot pounds

Once again, we see the .30-06 is more powerful coming out of the barrel, but downrange the 6.5 Creedmoor has higher energies.
Winner: Draw (.30-06 wins muzzle energy, 6.5 wins downrange energy)

Trajectory Comparison: 30-06 vs 6.5 Creedmoor

6.5 creedmoor ammo vs 30-06 ammoThese two cartridges are so similar in speed and energy, and there is so much overlap in performance, that downrange drop also overlaps.

For example, for the two AccuBond products referenced above, when zeroed to 100 yards, the drop at 200 yards for the Springfield is 3.6 inches. The same metric for the Creedmoor is 4.1 inches.

For another example, we can look at the GMX products from Hornady. When zeroed to 200 yards, the .30-06 drops 9.1 inches after 300 yards of travel, while the lighter 6.5 Creedmoor drops 7.1 inches.

With so many variables, it’s virtually impossible to claim that one drops less than the other.
Winner: Draw

Recoil Comparison

Although neither is among the most high-powered, heavy-hitting cartridges available today, it’s reasonable to say that most 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges will have a slightly lighter recoil. If you are concerned about saving your shoulder over dozens of rounds, then the Creedmoor may be the ideal option for your needs. That said, the .30-06 offers manageable recoil for most shooters as well.
Winner: 6.5 Creedmoor

Conclusion: Rifle Preference Matters

In the end, which rifle you prefer may guide your decision. If you enjoy the slide of a bolt-action rifle, then the .30-06 Springfield may be your choice. However, if semiautomatic rifles are more your speed, then perhaps you would enjoy the 6.5 Creedmoor. If ego is your goal and you need a rifle with cool factor, that’s another category of comparison that really doesn’t have a winner among these two. The 30-06’s military pedigree makes it an icon of the shooting world while the Creedmoor’s AR-style options and relative newness make it a hot topic among trendsetters.

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