.30-06 vs 6.5 Creedmoor
Ballistics Performance Comparison of the .30-06 Springfield vs 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridges
The .30-06 Springfield and the 6.5 Creedmoor are two of the most popular medium to big game hunting cartridges on the market today. While the 6.5 Creedmoor has taken the market by storm in recent years, the .30-06 Springfield is a classic cartridge that is hard to beat. Both are excellent choices for deer hunting, but there are some differences between them that may inform your decision. While the .30-06 Springfield retains more energy at mid-range distances, the 6.5 Creedmoor is less susceptible to bullet drop. Still, the .30-06 Springfield has longer effective range, and is a more reliable choice for large game targeted over more than 200 yards.
The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the .30-06 Springfield vs the 6.5 Creedmoor based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.
.30-06 Springfield 165 gr vs 6.5 Creedmoor 143 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.(Note: Bullet grain selection based on most popular hunting usage.)
|30-06 Springfield||6.5 Creedmoor|
|Bullet Velocity (Muzzle)||2,940 ft/s||2,700 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds||2,731 ft/s||2,556 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds||2,532 ft/s||2,417 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds||2,341 ft/s||2,282 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds||2,158 ft/s||2,151 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds||1,984 ft/s||2,025 ft/s|
|Bullet Energy (Muzzle)||3,167 ft⋅lb||2,315 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 100 yds||2,732 ft⋅lb||2,075 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 200 yds||2,348 ft⋅lb||1,855 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 300 yds||2,007 ft⋅lb||1,654 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 400 yds||1,706 ft⋅lb||1,470 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 500 yds||1,442 ft⋅lb||1,302 ft⋅lb|
|Usage @ 0 yds||Toughest Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 100 yds||Toughest Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 200 yds||Toughest Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 300 yds||Toughest Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 400 yds||Large Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 500 yds||Medium 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.|
Velocity is a strong indicator of a bullet’s power across various distances, so let’s start here in our comparison of these cartridges. The .30-06 Springfield as the advantage here out of the gate. Remember, in the above chart, we are comparing a 165 grain .30-06 Springfield bullet against a 143 grain 6.5 Creedmoor bullet. This means we’re seeing the Springfield fire a heavier bullet with higher velocity right out of the muzzle, with an advantage of 240 ft/s.
However, over longer distances, the more aerodynamic bullets of the 6.5 Creedmoor start to reverse this advantage. By the time we get to 500 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor has pulled into the lead by 41 ft/s. Overall, this means we are looking at highly comparable trajectories between these two calibers.
The heavier bullets and higher energy give the .30-06 Springfield the advantage in stopping power. While the. 30-06 Springfield does have the advantage at all ranges, the difference closes at longer distances thanks to the 6.5 Creedmoor’s more aerodynamic bullets. Right out of the muzzle, the .30-06 Springfield is firing bullets with 852 ft-lbs more energy than the 6.5 Creedmoor. However, as we get out to 500 yards, the .30-06 has a much smaller advantage of 140 ft-lbs.
When it comes to trajectory, the 6.5 Creedmoor has the advantage. At 500 yards, a 143 grain 6.5 Creedmoor will experience 15.6” of wind drift, while a 150 grain .30-06 will see 22.9” of drift. At shorter range, these differences are much smaller. The same 6.5 Creedmoor will see just .6” of wind drift at 100 yards, while the .30-06 will have .8”. At 300 yards, it’s a difference between the 6.5 Creedmoor’s 5.3” and the .30-06’s 7.5”.
Recoil can be a subjective thing, but there are ways to measure it more objectively. The .30-06 Springfield has a significantly stronger recoil than the 6.5 Creedmoor, and its recoil energy is more than double. Lighter recoil was a highly intentional part of the 6.5 Creedmoor’s design. Many shooters do find the .30-06 Springfield to have a manageable recoil, but the increased energy we’ve seen above does have its impact on the shoulder. Before deciding on a cartridge, know how recoil affects your ability to shoot accurately: that extra energy isn’t a benefit if it causes you to miss every target.
Both cartridges are excellent, tried and true deer hunting calibers, especially at medium ranges. They have both been used to take larger game as well, though some hunters argue over the 6.5 Creedmoor’s effectiveness on larger North American game such as elk and moose past 100-200 yards. The larger diameter bullets of the .30-06 Springfield, combined with its heavier weight and greater energy, make it a much stronger option for larger game at longer distances.
Price & Availability
Both the .30-06 Springfield and the 6.5 Creedmoor are very popular rounds, even though the 6.5 Creedmoor is a far newer development. This means you can find both rounds with most standard ammunition suppliers, and should have a range of factory options to choose from. Both are affordable rounds, though the 6.5 Creedmoor can run as much as double the price per round as the .30-06 Springfield. Make sure to factor this into your budget, especially if you plan to shoot a high number of rounds through target practice or other activities.
The .30-06 Springfield is a noticeably larger cartridge than the 6.5 Creedmoor. It is longer overall, and uses a longer case. This means the .30-06 Springfield is used in a long action or standard length action rifle, while the 6.5 Creedmoor is intended for short action rifles. Both calibers use a .473” diameter, though the bullets for the 6.5 Creedmoor are .264”, while the bullets for the .30-06 Springfield are .308”. The smaller Creedmoor bullets have a higher ballistic coefficient and sectional density, when compared at equal weights. The 6.5 Creedmoor is loaded to a higher pressure.
The shoulder of the 6.5 Creedmoor is more angled at 30 degrees, while the .30-06 has a more gradual shoulder at 17.5 degrees. These factors give the .30-06 quite a bit more room in the case than the 6.5 Creedmoor has. If you are looking for heavier bullets, the .30-06 Springfield will be the right choice: the 6.5 Creedmoor can typically be found in bullets from 95-160 grains, while the .30-06 Springfield is used with 110-220 grain bullets.
As described above, the .30-06 Springfield uses a significantly larger bullet than the 6.5 Creedmoor. This means that it can only be chambered in long or standard length action rifles, which will typically be larger and bulkier than the short action rifles the 6.5 Creedmoor is designed for. If you’re carrying your rifle across the back country, this difference in gun size and weight may be a serious factor as you rack up miles in search of your target.
Which Caliber is Best?
The .30-06 Springfield and the 6.5 Creedmoor both have devoted fanbases – so this isn’t an argument we’re going to solve anytime soon. However, we can see that the heavier weight and greater energy of the .30-06 Springfield gives it more stopping power for larger game at longer distances. However, if you are primarily hunting deer or hunting at shorter distances, you might prefer the lighter recoil and lighter rifle offered by the 6.5 Creedmoor.
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