.243 Win. vs 6.5 Creedmoor
Ballistics Performance Comparison of .243 Win. vs 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridges
The .243 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor are both excellent cartridges for deer and medium sized game. The 6.5 Creedmoor has more applications at distances over 300 yards, and hunters have had more success using it on larger game such as moose and elk. However, the .243 Winchester is a trusted cartridge with significantly less recoil. These considerations will help you determine which caliber is right for you based on your unique hunting style and needs.
The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the .243 Win. vs 6.5 Creedmoor based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.
.243 Win. 95 gr vs 6.5 Creedmoor 143 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.(Note: Bullet grain selected based on most popular hunting usage.)
|243 Winchester||6.5 Creedmoor|
|Bullet Velocity (Muzzle)||3,185 ft/s||2,700 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds||2,908 ft/s||2,556 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds||2,649 ft/s||2,417 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds||2,404 ft/s||2,282 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds||2,172 ft/s||2,151 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds||1,953 ft/s||2,025 ft/s|
|Bullet Energy (Muzzle)||2,140 ft⋅lb||2,315 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 100 yds||1,784 ft⋅lb||2,075 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 200 yds||1,480 ft⋅lb||1,855 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 300 yds||1,219 ft⋅lb||1,654 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 400 yds||995 ft⋅lb||1,470 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 500 yds||804 ft⋅lb||1,302 ft⋅lb|
|Usage @ 0 yds||Toughest Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 100 yds||Large Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 200 yds||Large Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 300 yds||Medium Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 400 yds||Medium Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 500 yds||Small Game||Medium Game|
|*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures takend from Sportsman's Warehouse rifle ballistics and rifle recoil tables. Recoil score based on weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity normalized between 1 and 10.|
As we compare the velocity of these calibers, it’s important to keep in mind that we are comparing a lighter .243 Winchester (95 grains) to a heavier 6.5 Creedmoor (143 grains). This difference in bullet weights will impact how quickly they travel through the air.
Still, we can see the lighter .243 takes a significant lead over the 6.5 Creedmoor at shorter distances. Right out of the muzzle, the .243 has a 485 ft/s lead over the 6.5 Creedmoor. However, this distance narrows as we get to longer distances, with the advantage being just 122 ft/s by the time we get to 300 yards.
At 500 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor has overtaken the .243 Winchester and is traveling 72 ft/s faster. If you intend to hunt at distances past 300 yards, we can see how the 6.5 Creedmoor is already bringing the advantage.
The extra weight and higher loading pressure of the 6.5 Creedmoor translates to a higher energy across the board, with a difference that only grows more pronounced at longer distances. Out of the muzzle, the 6.5 Creedmoor is moving with an extra 175 ft-lbs of energy over the .243 Winchester.
That difference grows rapidly with every hundred yards out. At 300 yards, the Creedmoor is already moving with an extra 435 ft-lbs of energy over the .243, and at 500 yards, it’s packing an additional 498 ft-lbs.
The heavier 6.5 Creedmoor bullets are more susceptible to bullet drop than the lighter .243 Winchester. At 200 yards, the .243 has about 2” less drop than the Creedmoor. When we get out to 400 yards, the .243 has about 25” of drop compared to the 6.5 Creedmoor’s 30”. However, as we get out to long ranges, the increased energy of the Creedmoor gives it the advantage: the calibers have the same bullet drop at 700 yards, and at 1,000 yard we see the Creedmoor drop 322” and the .243 drop 353”.
Another way to measure trajectory is through wind drift, which analyzes the impact of a 10mph crosswind on a bullet’s path. The 6.5 Creedmoor is less susceptible to wind drift than the .243 Winchester, likely aided by its aerodynamics. At 300 yards, a 90 grain .243 Winchester will be knocked 8.0” off course, while a 140 grain Creedmoor will move 6.6”; at 500 yards, the same .243 Winchester will move 24.5” compared to the Creedmoor’s 19.7”.
Recoil is where the .243 Winchester has a significant advantage. While felt recoil is highly subjective and will vary between shooters, our metrics show that the .243 Winchester has a much milder recoil than the 6.5 Creedmoor. Recoil can impact your ability to shoot the gun accurately, and to follow up quickly with a second shot when needed. The light recoil of the .243 Winchester makes it a strong choice for beginning hunters, hunters with smaller frames, and those who will be shooting many rounds over the course of a long day of hunting.
It’s worth noting that there are plenty of hunting rounds on the market with significantly greater recoil than either of these cartridges. While the 6.5 Creedmoor has a stronger recoil compared to the .243 Winchester, it is still considered a mild recoiling cartridge for its power.
Both of these calibers are excellent choices for deer and other medium game that you’ll be shooting inside of 300 yards. If you’ll be shooting more like 500 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor does have a significant advantage. It maintains higher energy and velocity across these distances, and shoots a flatter trajectory, helping you hit the small target of a vital zone. Both calibers have also been used to take larger game: while some hunters believe that both are a bit too light for larger game, the 6.5 Creedmoor is more up to the challenge.
Price & Availability
Both of these cartridges are highly popular and generally available in most ammunition stores. The 6.5 Creedmoor is just a bit more common than the .243 Winchester. They are both available fairly cheaply and at similar price points depending on the brand of ammunition. Handloaders will be able to find reloading components easily, and the bullet sizes of both are shared with many other popular cartridges.
Width and Length / Size Comparision
The .243 Winchester and the 6.5 Creedmoor are both rimless bottlenecked cartridges that are very close in size. They both have a rim diameter of .473”, and their case lengths are both sized for use in short-action rifles. The 6.5 Creedmoor has a stronger slope in the shoulder, at 30 degrees compared to the .243’s 20 degrees. This gives it a similar case capacity even though the Creedmoor’s case is shorter.
However, the bullets within these cases are different sizes. The .243 Winchester uses a .243” diameter bullet (as you might expect), while the 6.5 Creedmoor uses a .264” bullet (6.5mm). There are also differences in the weights available for each caliber: the .243 is typically used with 55-115 grain bullets, while the 6.5 Creedmoor uses bullets from 95-160 grains. The 6.5 Creedmoor is also loaded to a higher pressure by about 2,000 psi.
Both cartridges are designed for use in short-action rifles, which means you can get a lighter rifle for backcountry hunting. Note that the difference in recoil will likely be even stronger in a light rifle, when felt recoil is greater. These cartridges are the most common in bolt-action rifles, and you’ll find plenty of options for both, though you may find a few more for the 6.5 Creedmoor. The 6.5 Creedmoor is also very popular in AR-style Modern Sporting Rifles.
It’s worth noting that the .243 Winchester will wear out the barrel of a rifle faster than the 6.5 Creedmoor. The average barrel life of the .243 Winchester rifle is 1500 rounds, while the 6.5 Creedmoor’s is 3,000 rounds. Now, keep in mind, if you are primarily using your rifle for hunting, it will likely take you many years even to get to 1,500 rounds. If you’re a competitive shooter or do a lot of target practice, those numbers might be more significant.
Which Caliber is Best?
The choice of caliber will depend greatly on your hunting needs. If you’ll be targeting deer and other medium game inside of 300 yards, these calibers are highly comparable, and the .243 Winchester’s lighter recoil might convince you. If you’ll be shooting longer distances or want to target larger game with more confidence, you may need to consider whether you can handle the extra recoil and go for the 6.5 Creedmoor.
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