6.5 PRC vs 308 Win
Ballistics Performance Comparison of 6.5 PRC vs 308 Win Cartridges
The 6.5 PRC and the .308 Winchester are both high-quality big game hunting cartridges. But while the .308 Winchester is a long-beloved cartridge that hunters have used to take big game since the 1950s, the 6.5 PRC was only introduced in 2018. The 6.5 PRC offers improved ballistics over the .308 Winchester without adding recoil, but it is far less readily available. The right cartridge for you will depend on your shooting needs and goals.
The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the 6.5 PRC vs 308 Winchester Magnum based on bullet weight and performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.
6.5 PRC 147 gr vs 308 Win 150 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.
|6.5 PRC||308 Winchester|
|Bullet Velocity (Muzzle)||2,910 ft/s||2,940 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds||2,775 ft/s||2,715 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds||2,645 ft/s||2,502 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds||2,518 ft/s||2,298 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds||2,395 ft/s||2,103 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds||2,275 ft/s||1,919 ft/s|
|Bullet Energy (Muzzle)||2,764 ft⋅lb||2,879 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 100 yds||2,514 ft⋅lb||2,455 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 200 yds||2,283 ft⋅lb||2,084 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 300 yds||2,069 ft⋅lb||1,758 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 400 yds||1,871 ft⋅lb||1,473 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 500 yds||1,689 ft⋅lb||1,226 ft⋅lb|
|Usage @ 0 yds||Toughest Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 100 yds||Toughest Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 200 yds||Toughest Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 300 yds||Toughest Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 400 yds||Large Game||Medium Game|
|Usage @ 500 yds||Large Game||Medium Game|
|Recoil Energy||15.7 (143gr)||15.8|
|*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures taken 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 may come out of the muzzle with a small advantage, but the 6.5 PRC overtakes it within 100 yards. Out of the muzzle, the .308 Winchester is flying 30 ft/s faster than the 6.5 PRC. But already at 100 yards, the 6.5 PRC is flying 600 ft/s faster. At 300 yards, the 6.5 PRC’s advantage has grown to 220 ft/s. At 500 yards, the 6.5 PRC is flying 356 ft/s faster than the .308 Win. Therefore, we can see that the 6.5 PRC is moving faster at every relevant distance, and only increases its advantage over the .308 Winchester as we get father out.
Exactly as was the case with velocity, the .308 Winchester has more energy out of the muzzle, but is immediately overtaken by the 6.5 PRC. At the muzzle, the .308 Winchester offers an extra 115 ft-lbs of energy. However, at just 100 yards, the 6.5 PRC already has an advantage of 59 ft-lbs. At 300 yards, that advantage has grown to 311 ft-lbs; and at 500 yards, it’s expanded to 463 ft-lbs. Unless you’re planning to shoot your target at point-blank range, the 6.5 PRC clearly is the winner here.
Trajectory is a crucial factor in your ability to hit your target, especially over long distances. Let’s compare a 150 grain .308 Winchester and a 143 grain 6.5 PRC, both zeroed at 200 yards. By 300 yards, the .308 will drop 8.1”, while the 6.5 will drop 6.4”. At 500 yards, the .308 will drop 47.1”, while the 6.5 PRC will drop just 36.2”.
We can also compare how each of these calibers will hold up against a 10mph crosswind. At 200 yards, the .308 Winchester will drift 3.0”, while the 6.5 PRC will drift just 2.0”. At 400 yards, the .308 will drift 12.6” while the 6.5 PRC will drift 8.2”. At 500 yards, the .308 will drift 20.5”, while the 6.5 PRC will drift 13.2”. We can see that both in bullet drop and in wind drift, the 6.5 PRC is shooting flatter.
With its superior ballistics, it would be natural to wonder whether the 6.5 PRC has a more intense recoil than the .308. However, while felt recoil will vary from shooter to shooter, we can see that these calibers shoot with nearly identical recoil – if anything, the .308 Winchester kicks back just a little more than the 6.5 PRC. This equalizing factor could cause one to see the 6.5 PRC as an improvement on the .308 Winchester.
The 6.5 PRC and the .308 Winchester can both be used to take just about any game in North America inside of 200 yards. However, if you’re targeting larger game such as moose or elk, it’s unlikely you’ll really be inside of 200 yards. If you want to hunt large game at longer distances, the 6.5 PRC is the best option. However, if you’ll be targeting more medium game such as deer, the .308 Winchester will do well out to longer ranges.
Price & Availability
Here is the big knock against the 6.5 PRC, at least for now: it is a very new ammunition, and very few manufacturers are producing it. You won’t have a lot of options for factory loads, and you’ll need some trial and error to find an ammunition store that carries it. It’s also more expensive as it’s still a specialty cartridge. On the other hand, the .308 Winchester is considered a classic hunting cartridge and is readily available from most manufacturers.
The .308 Winchester and the 6.5 PRC have some key differences in size. The bullet diameter of the .308 Winchester is (as the name suggests) .308”, while the 6.5 PRC is quite a bit smaller at .264”. However, they have similar case lengths at 2.015” for the .308 and 2.03” for the 6.5 PRC. The .308’s overall length is just a bit smaller, at 2.80” compared to the 6.5 PRC’s 2.955”. The .308 has a smaller case capacity at 56 grains H20 compared to the 6.5 PRC’s 62 grains H20.
While the 6.5 PRC may not have a ton of ammunition options on the market, you can find several high-quality rifles chambered in this caliber. You won’t have quite the sea of options available in .308 Winchester, but it’s not too restricted a supply either. Both the 6.5 PRC and the .308 Winchester can be chambered in short action rifles, which is useful for those who want a lighter rifle tot trek through the backcountry on longer hunting expeditions.
Which Caliber is Best?
The 6.5 PRC has the advantage in speed, energy, and trajectory, all while maintaining the same recoil as the .308 Winchester. If you are going to be hunting large game at long distances, the 6.5 PRC is the only one that can do the job. However, if you want a cartridge that can swing between medium and large game and value having ammunition and rifles readily available to you, the .308 Winchester might be the best fit.
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