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6mm Creedmoor vs 6.5 Creedmoor

Ballistics Performance Comparison of 6mm Creedmoor vs 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridges

The 6.5 Creedmoor has taken the hunting world by storm since its release, but there’s even a newer option on the market: the 6mm Creedmoor. Both the 6mm Creedmoor and the 6.5 Creedmoor are excellent deer and medium game hunting cartridges, but the 6.5 Creedmoor’s larger bullets give it more energy and more recoil. To determine which caliber is right for you, we’ll analyze the differences across the key factors in choosing a cartridge.

6MM Creedmoor vs 6.5 Creedmoor

The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the 6mm Creedmoor vs 6.5 Creedmoor based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.

6mm Creedmoor 108 gr vs 6.5 Creedmoor 143 gr

(Note: Bullet grain selected based on most popular hunting usage.)
6MM Creedmoor 6.5 Creedmoor
Bullet Velocity (Muzzle) 2,960 ft/s 2,700 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds 2,786 ft/s 2,556 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds 2,618 ft/s 2,417 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds 2,456 ft/s 2,282 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds 2,299 ft/s 2,151 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds 2,148 ft/s 2,025 ft/s
Bullet Energy (Muzzle) 2,101 ft⋅lb 2,315 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 100 yds 1,861 ft⋅lb 2,075 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 200 yds 1,643 ft⋅lb 1,855 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 300 yds 1,446 ft⋅lb 1,654 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 400 yds 1,267 ft⋅lb 1,470 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 500 yds 1,106 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 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

It’s important to note that the 6mm Creedmoor and the 6.5 Creedmoor shoot different weight bullets, which impacts the velocity and energy. Our table compares a 108 grain 6mm against a 143 grain 6.5. We can see that the light bullet gives the 6mm an advantage in velocity: out of the muzzle, it has 260 ft/s on the 6.5. This difference decreases as we get out to longer distances, but the 6mm is still ahead by 123 ft/s when we get out to 500 yards.

If you’re intrigued by long ranges, the 6.5 Creedmoor will stay supersonic out to 1,450 yards, while the 6mm Creedmoor stays supersonic out to 1,375 – both very impressive.

Energy

The heavier weight of the 6.5 Creedmoor pays off when we analyze the difference in energy between these calibers, which also remains fairly consistent over the distances. Out of the muzzle, the 6.5 packs an extra 214 ft-lbs of energy over the 6mm. As we get out to 500 yards, the difference has remained remarkably similar, with the 6.5 carrying another 196 ft-lbs of energy past the 6mm. This means the 6.5 Creedmoor is capable of taking larger game at longer distances than the 6mm Creedmoor.

Trajectory

The 6mm Creedmoor flies flatter than the 6.5 Creedmoor thanks to its lighter weight. For bullets zeroed at 200 yards, a 103 grain 6mm will have 6.2” of bullet drop at 300 yards, while the 6.5 will have 7.9” inches. The difference increases as we get out to longer distances: at 500 yards, the same 6mm will have 36.1” of bullet drop, while the 6.5 Creedmoor will have 44.4”.

While the extra weight of the 6.5 causes more bullet drop, it also makes it a bit less susceptible to wind drift. Wind drift refers to the impact of a 10mph crosswind on a bullet, and here the extra weight helps the 6.5 stay on course just a hair better. At 200 yards, a 103 grain 6mm sees 5.4” of wind drift compared to the 6.5’s 5.2”; out at 500 yards, the 6mm has drifted 15.9” compared to the 6.5 at 15.1”.

Recoil

Both calibers have a mild recoil for a cartridge of their size. Still, the 6mm Creedmoor does have a slight advantage over the 6.5 Creedmoor, which is not surprising for a lighter bullet shot at the same pressure. Recoil can affect your ability to shoot your firearm accurately, which is very important to ensure a clean, ethical kill when hunting. If you are not planning to hunt larger game or longer distances where the 6.5 Creedmoor’s advantage shines, the difference in recoil may be a significant factor.

Versatility

The extra weight and power of the 6.5 Creedmoor give it more applications in hunting. You can hunt game over longer distances, and the difference becomes more pronounced after 300 yards. You can also hunt larger game, though some hunters see both of these calibers as a bit underpowered for game such as elk and moose. If you will not be using the cartridge for these applications, it may not be a concern, but you do have more options for hunting with the 6.5 Creedmoor.

Price & Availability

The 6.5 Creedmoor has exploded in popularity in recent years, and many see it as a hot new cartridge that ammunition and rifle manufacturers have been excited to compete for. The 6mm Creedmoor is still newer and unknown, and while more options are becoming available, there are not a ton of factory options available for it yet. For handloaders, both are easy to find loading components for. Both calibers are comparably priced, depending on the brand of ammunition.

Size Comparison

The primary size difference is right in the names of these cartridges: the 6mm Creedmoor has a bullet diameter of 6mm, while the 6.5 Creedmoor has a bullet diameter of 6.5mm. Otherwise, these two calibers are the same up to the shoulder (though their overall case length is slightly different), and they are loaded to the same pressure of 62,000 psi. Their rim diameter is .473”, and they use long, heavy bullets that allow them to be used for competition shooting.

Rifle Type

Both of 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Creedmoor were made to be chambered in short-action rifles. This means you can purchase a smaller rifle, which makes a difference if you’ll be traveling long distances across the backcountry to find your target. They are both common in bolt action rifles, but the 6mm Creedmoor was also specifically designed for use in semi-automatic rifles, including the AR-10 platform. 6mm Creedmoor rifles typically have a shorter barrel life, as many 6mm calibers do. If you’re hunting and thus shooting your rifle infrequently, it will still take many years to wear out your barrel. You can also use a slower cooler burning propellant to extend barrel life if this is a concern.

Which Caliber is Best?

If you’re shooting inside of 300 yards, you have two highly comparable calibers, with the 6mm Creedmoor bringing flatter trajectories and lighter recoil. If you’re shooting longer distances or larger game, the extra punch of the 6.5 Creedmoor can help make sure you have the stopping power necessary to take down your target.

Disclaimer: Sportsman's Warehouse assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information on this page. Although we strive to provide the most accurate information as we can the information contained in this page is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.