6.5 Grendel vs .308 Win.
Ballistics Performance Comparison of 6.5 Grendel vs .308 Win.
The 6.5 Grendel and the .308 Winchester have a lot in common: they are both comparably strong hunting calibers for medium game within 300 yards, and they are both popular in semi-automatic rifles, including the AR platforms. Still, they have important differences: the .308 Winchester does quite a bit better at longer distances, but also gives a more powerful recoil.
The .308 Winchester has been a popular big game hunting cartridge since it was released in 1952, and was part of the U.S. military’s effort to replace the .30-06 Springfield as its round of choice. The .308 Winchester was able to fit the same ballistics into a smaller bullet, making it instantly popular with many hunters. The 6.5 Grendel is a newer cartridge, just released in 2003 specifically to respond to demand for a cartridge that improved the AR-15’s applications in hunting.
The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the 6.5 Grendel vs .308 Winchester based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.
6.5 grendel 123 gr vs .308 win 125 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.
|6.5 Grendel||.308 Winchester|
|Bullet Velocity (Muzzle)||2,580 ft/s||2,675 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds||2,410 ft/s||2,389 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds||2,246 ft/s||2,121 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds||2,088 ft/s||1,871 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds||1,937 ft/s||1,642 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds||1,791 ft/s||1,437 ft/s|
|Bullet Energy (Muzzle)||1,818 ft⋅lb||1,986 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 100 yds||1,585 ft⋅lb||1,584 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 200 yds||1,377 ft⋅lb||1,248 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 300 yds||1,191 ft⋅lb||971 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 400 yds||1,025 ft⋅lb||748 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 500 yds||876 ft⋅lb||573 ft⋅lb|
|Usage @ 0 yds||Large Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 100 yds||Large Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 200 yds||Medium Game||Medium Game|
|Usage @ 300 yds||Medium Game||Small Game|
|Usage @ 400 yds||Medium Game||Small Game|
|Usage @ 500 yds||Small Game||Small 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.|
The .308 Winchester has an advantage over the 6.5 Grendel in velocity, especially at shorter distances. Out of the muzzle, the .308 Winchester shoots slightly faster than the 6.5 Grendel. However, this difference narrows pretty rapidly.
By the time we reach 100 yards, the 6.5 Grendel (123gr) is shooting slightly faster than the .308. If you’ll be shooting at longer distances, the difference in velocity will not be as much of a factor between these two calibers as the difference in energy.
The .308 Winchester has more capacity for powder than the 6.5 Grendel, as detailed above in the Size Comparison section. This translates to more energy, which means better stopping power on game. Right out of the muzzle, the .308 Winchester is traveling with faster than the 6.5 Grendel. As we get out past 100 yards, that difference narrows, and the 6.5 Grendel overtake the .308. (Note: It's important to remember we're comparing the 6.5 Grendel 123 gr to the 308 125 gr round. Larger 308 bullets and loads may out perform the Grendel.)
The increased energy means that the .308 Winchester also has less bullet drop and is less susceptible to wind drift than the 6.5 Grendel. With a 10 mph crosswind, you’ll see 33.4” of wind drift from the 6.5 Grendel, while you’ll only see 23.3” of wind drift from a comparably weighted .308 Winchester. This can make a significant difference if you will be hunting in windy conditions, and learning to correct for it is a big part of ensuring a clean, ethical kill.
Recoil is often subjective, and felt recoil will vary by shooter and by rifle. However, looking at recoil energy and our recoil score, the 6.5 Grendel has a bit of an advantage over the .308 Winchester. Depending on the load size, the 308 will produce a greater recoil than the 6.5 Grendel. The .308 is still not viewed as a particularly intense recoil for a big game hunting cartridge – which goes to show how mild the 6.5 Grendel can be for these applications. Recoil can greatly impact your ability to shoot accurately, so it is an important consideration for hunters and target shooters.
The 6.5 Grendel is a medium range round. It’s a great round for deer, and it’s a strong general-purpose option. This means that you’ll primarily be targeting medium game at medium distances, though the 6.5 Grendel can take some larger game at close ranges. The .308 Winchester has more applications: it can be used for long-range target shooting or big game hunting, and it’s been used in tactical settings as well. The .308 Winchester can take much more serious game than the 6.5 Grendel, including elk and bear – just about anything you can find in North America.
Price & Availability
The 6.5 Grendel has been gaining popularity in recent years, thanks to avid fans of the AR-15 who are looking to expand into deer and medium game hunting. However, it is still not quite the staple of the market that the .308 Winchester has been. As a consequence of this, there are fewer options available, and it is generally more expensive than the .308 Winchester. However, neither ammunition is particularly expensive or hard to find – this is just a matter of degree.
Handloaders will also find components for each caliber to be ready available, though the .308 is again more common. The .264” bullet of the 6.5 Grendel is shared by fairly popular cartridges such as the 6.5 Creedmoor and .260 Remington, but the .308” bullet of the .308 Winchester is shared by classic cartridges such as the .30-06 Springfield, .300 Win Mag, .300 PRC, and more.
The .308 Winchester is quite a bit taller than the 6.5 Grendel. The Grendel was initially designed for the AR-15 platform, which keeps it under the AR’s maximum size. Because the .308 Winchester is a much longer bullet, it must be used in a larger rifle – which might be an issue if you are a backcountry hunter traveling over long distances. However, the increased size of the .308 Winchester does have an advantage in giving the .308 a much larger capacity: its factory loads come in 110-180 grains, while 6.5 Grendel is typically shot in the 90-130 grain range.
The choice between purchasing a rifle chambered in the .308 Winchester and a rifle chambered in the 6.5 Grendel is often a choice between rifle platforms. The 6.5 Grendel was designed specifically as an AR-15 cartridge, and many shooters choose it because they are passionate devotees of the AR-15 and want to use it for big game hunting. The .308 Winchester is chambered in many different types of rifles, and usually requires a longer barrel to get the velocity necessary for a clean, ethical kill.
Which Caliber is Best?
The .308 Winchester is a more powerful cartridge, with higher energy, faster speed, and flatter trajectory. It can take down all game animals in North America, while it’s debated whether the 6.5 Grendel can take larger North American game such as elk and moose. However, if you’re looking for a big game hunting cartridge for the AR-15 platform, the 6.5 Grendel will do just fine at close distances, and provide a bit less recoil, too.
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