6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag Ballistics & Uses – Which One Is Better?

Do you believe in the notion that bigger is always more powerful when it comes to cartridges? If you do, you still have a lot to learn about ammo tech. What was only possible with a magnum cartridge five decades ago, can now be done with a short-action cartridge. 

What if I tell you that a cartridge half the size of a magnum cartridge, and with a smaller bullet can match its performance. This is what you’ll find when you read through this comparison of the 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win Mag. 

TL;DR: 6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag

Here’s a quick pros and cons comparison of these rounds if you are interested in just skimming the facts.

6.5 Creedmoor

Photo credit: fiocchi.com

300 Win Mag

Photo credit: fiocchi.com


6.5 Creedmoor

Low recoil and short-action size

Potential future round for the U.S Military

Better ballistics than a .308 Win at 400+ yards

Versatile round capable of short or long range uses

Capable of taking down big game even with its small 0.264 inch bullets

Long effective range of about 1,300 yards and good barrel life (~3,000 rounds)

300 Win Mag

Maximum effective range of 1,600 yards in the right hands

Wide range of bullets with high ballistics coefficient and sectional density

Exceptionally flat shooting with heavy .308 bullets and a non-magnum length

Capable of taking down any big game. It can kill elk at 700 yards with the right loads and skills


6.5 Creedmoor

Somewhat less ammo and rifle options

Needs a long barrel and rifles are quite pricey

300 Win Mag

Heavy recoil and chunky rifles

Better alternative are available today

Pricey ammo and short barrel life (~1,200 rounds)

Best For

6.5 Creedmoor

The 6.5 Creedmoor is a versatile cartridge with a great long range capability and it can hunt some big game animals as well.

300 Win Mag

The .300 Win Mag is perfect for hunting big game with surety and it has a long effective range. Good for hunting, competitions and tactical use.

6.5 Creedmoor Overview

The 6.5 Creedmoor is an intermediate, centerfire rifle cartridge developed in 2007 as a result of a collaboration between Hornady and Creedmoor sports. It was designed for long range accuracy and distinguishes itself with its high sectional density and high ballistic coefficient bullets. 

The concept of 6.5mm bullets is not new, and there have been many such cartridges in the past, like the 6.5x52mm Carcano, and 6.5x55mm Swedish. However, the short-action design with an appropriate case capacity and the ability to fit long bullets makes the 6.5mm Creedmoor stand out from the crowd. 

Photo credit: wikipedia.org

This round is capable of delivering sub-MOA accuracy and is effective on targets out to 1,200 yards. The exceptional performance of this cartridge has led to the U.S Military adopting it for sniper rifles. Additionally, some special forces units plan on using it as a universal cartridge for all their firearms.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is ballistically superior to the 7.62 NATO cartridge, and has started to gain a lot of traction in the civilian and military circles. This round has been used as a parent case to derive smaller versions like the 6mm Creedmoor and the .22 Creedmoor by necking down the case. 

300 Win Mag Overview

The .300 Win Mag is a belted, bottlenecked, belted magnum rifle cartridge designed by Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1963. It is a .308 inch caliber round which fits in a standard action despite being a magnum round. This is what differentiates it from many other popular magnum cartridges, even though they surpass it in power. 

This round is known for its long range accuracy, and also the fact that it can shoot the heaviest .308 inch caliber bullets out to long distances. It is very popular with big game hunters, and is also widely used by the military as a sniping round. Additionally, the .300 Win Mag has won many 1,000 yard competitions, and is an absolute favorite of competitive shooters. 

The .300 Win Mag is also a better alternative to the .30-06 Springfield cartridge which uses the same caliber bullet, and is also similar in dimension. However, it has almost 30% more recoil and kicks like a 12 gauge shotgun. 

This round is capable of taking down any big game animal in North America, and is also used by the military in limited capacity for its sniper rifles. The .300 Win Mag has a neck that is shorter than the diameter of the bullet, which requires it to seat deeper and may cause accuracy issues. Additionally, while most people love it, some people do not like the belt on the case. 

Photo credit: wikipedia.org

6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag: Cartridge Specs

Take a quick look at the dimensions of these cartridges, and a side-by-side comparison. 

6.5 Creedmoor300 Win Mag
Bullet Diameter.2644 in (6.72 mm)0.308 in (7.8 mm)
Neck Diameter.2950 in (7.49 mm).339 in (8.6 mm)
Base Diameter.4703 in (11.95 mm).513 in (13.0 mm)
Case Length1.920 in (48.8 mm)2.62 in (67 mm)
Overall Length2.825 in (71.8 mm)3.34 in (85 mm)
Case Capacity52.5 grains93.8 grains
Max Pressure (SAAMI)62,000 psi64,000 psi
Typical Casing MaterialBrassBrass
Typical Bullet Weight (gr)120-150 grains160-220 grains

Although the 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win Mag are long range rounds, they differ quite a bit in their dimensions and other specifications. Starting with the basics, the 6.5 Creedmoor uses a 0.264 inch diameter bullet, whereas the .300 Win Mag uses a .308 inch diameter bullet. This will mean a difference in sectional density, weights and ballistic coefficients. The 0.264 inch bullets are inherently longer and more aerodynamic. 

Moving on to the case dimensions, the .300 Win Mag is a magnum-power round with a standard/long action overall length which is a unique characteristic. In fact it is just on the borderline of being called a magnum-action cartridge. On the other hand, the 6.5 Creedmoor is also on the borderline of being called a long-action round with its 2.8 inches of overall length, although it is a short-action round. 

This difference in length and base dimensions also mean that the .300 Win Mag is a fatter cartridge that has a higher case capacity. In fact it holds almost twice the powder as the 6.5 Creedmoor, which makes sense because it has to propel bigger and heavier bullets to the same long-distances. 

Being a 0.260 caliber round, the 6.5 Creedmoor rounds are light to medium weight, topping at just 150 grains. The 143 grain bullets are generally considered an optimal weight for this cartridge. The .300 Win Mag fires heavy bullets ranging from 160 to 220 grains and as heavy as 250 grains for handloads. It is also loaded at a slightly higher pressure to compensate for the bullet weights. 

6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag: Ballistics

The ballistics data helps us determine the accuracy and effectiveness of a round against different types of targets and at different ranges. The three main characteristics to be studied under ballistics are the trajectory, velocity, and kinetic energy of a particular bullet. Another important characteristic is the ballistics coefficient (BC) which determines the ability of a bullet to overcome air resistance in flight. The higher the value of this BC, the lesser drift will be seen in the trajectory of the bullet. 

6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag: Trajectory

The first and most important characteristic to observe for these rounds is the trajectory. A flat-shooting round is considered more accurate for long distance shooting when coupled with the velocity factor. 

6.5 Creedmoor

24” barrel/BC 0.497/120 grains Trophy Copper24” barrel/BC 0.365/130 grains Barnes Triple Shock-X24” barrel/BC 0.509/140 grains Nosler Accubond
200 yds: 3.3“ Drop200 yds: 3.7“ Drop200 yds: 4.1“ Drop
300 yds: 12.1“ Drop300 yds: 13.9“ Drop300 yds: 14.6“ Drop
400 yds: 27.4“ Drop400 yds: 31.6“ Drop400 yds: 32.4“ Drop
500 yds: 49.9“ Drop500 yds: 59.3“ Drop500 yds: 58.5“ Drop
1,000 yds: 327“ Drop1,000 yds: 451.6“ Drop1,000 yds: 381“ Drop

.300 Win Mag

24” barrel/BC 0.398/165 grains
Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullet
24” barrel/BC 0.507/180 grains
Nosler Accubond
24” barrel/BC 0.608/200 grains
Edge TLR
200 yds: 2.9 “ Drop200 yds: 3 “ Drop200 yds: 3.4 “ Drop
300 yds: 11 “ Drop300 yds: 11.2 “ Drop300 yds: 12.3 “ Drop
400 yds: 25.5 “ Drop400 yds: 25.3 “ Drop400 yds: 27.4 “ Drop
500 yds: 47.3 “ Drop500 yds: 46.3 “ Drop500 yds: 49.6 “ Drop
1,000 yds: 344.2 “ Drop1,000 yds: 300.3 “ Drop1,000 yds: 301.8 “ Drop

While many long range shooters prefer to zero their rifles at 200 yards, I took the simple average Joe route and zeroed these at the common 100 yard more to obtain average data for short, medium, and long range. 

As you can see, the competition between these two rounds is quite stiff from the very beginning. That data shows that even at a short range of 200 yards, the .300 Win Mag delivers better trajectory than the 6.5 Creedmoor. This gap widens and only expands close to a foot at 500 yards. So if you are punching paper or steel targets and just want accuracy, plus, you do not mind 13-14 inches of extra drop and prefer lesser recoil, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a good option. 

The trajectory performance of the 6.5 Creedmoor seems somewhat comparable to that of the .308 Winchester and .270 Remington loads within hunting range. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a flatter round than the .308 Win, but then, the latter has more hitting power. 

Photo credit: winchester.com

The .300 Win Mag is an exceptionally flat-shooting round that drops to just 300 inches at a 1,000 yards with heavy 180 and 200 grain bullets.Interestingly, it has bullets with better ballistics coefficient, hence, it certainly has an edge in accuracy. 

However, I will still greatly appreciate the 6.5 Creedmoor which gives the .300 Win Mag a tough fight, even with almost half the size and case capacity. Also remember that both these rounds work optimally with a 24 inch barrel, so rifle size is almost the same. What plays an important differentiating factor is the mule-kick recoil of the .300 Win Mag. 

6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag: Velocity & Kinetic Energy

The velocity and kinetic energy values will help us determine the effective range and suitability of these rounds against different game animals. 

6.5 Creedmoor

24” barrel/BC 0.497/120 grains Trophy Copper24” barrel/BC 0.365/130 grains Barnes Triple Shock-X24” barrel/BC 0.509/140 grains Nosler Accubond
100 yds: 2,689 ft/s, 1,926 ft.lbs100 yds: 2,576 ft/s, 1,916 ft.lbs100 yds: 2,501 ft/s, 1,944 ft.lbs
200 yds: 2,510 ft/s, 1,679 ft.lbs200 yds: 2,341 ft/s, 1,581 ft.lbs200 yds: 2,334 ft/s, 1,693 ft.lbs
200 yds: 2,510 ft/s, 1,679 ft.lbs300 yds: 2,118 ft/s, 1,294 ft.lbs300 yds: 2,173 ft/s, 1,467 ft.lbs
400 yds: 2,174 ft/s, 1,259 ft.lbs400 yds: 1,906 ft/s, 1,049 ft.lbs400 yds: 2,018 ft/s, 1,266 ft.lbs
500 yds: 2,015 ft/s, 1,082 ft.lbs500 yds: 1,711 ft/s, 845 ft.lbs500 yds: 1,870 ft/s, 1,086 ft.lbs
1,000 yds: 1,349 ft/s, 485 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 1,047 ft/s, 316 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 1,264 ft/s, 496 ft.lbs

.300 Win Mag

24” barrel/BC 0.398/165 grains
Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullet
24” barrel/BC 0.507/180 grains
Nosler Accubond
24” barrel/BC 0.608/200 grains
Edge TLR
100 yds: 2,810 ft/s, 2,892 ft.lbs100 yds: 2,774 ft/s, 3,075 ft.lbs100 yds: 2,660 ft/s, 3,141 ft.lbs
200 yds: 2,582 ft/s, 2,442 ft.lbs200 yds: 2,595 ft/s, 2,692 ft.lbs200 yds: 2,514 ft/s, 2,806 ft.lbs
300 yds: 2,365 ft/s, 2,049 ft.lbs300 yds: 2,424 ft/s, 2,348 ft.lbs300 yds: 2,373 ft/s, 2,500 ft.lbs
400 yds: 2,159 ft/s, 1,707 ft.lbs400 yds: 2,259 ft/s, 2,039 ft.lbs400 yds: 2,236 ft/s, 2,221 ft.lbs
500 yds: 1,963 ft/s, 1,411 ft.lbs500 yds: 2,100 ft/s, 1,763 ft.lbs500 yds: 2,105 ft/s, 1,967 ft.lbs
1,000 yds: 1,197 ft/s, 525 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 1,419 ft/s, 805 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 1,520 ft/s, 1,026 ft.lbs

Now let’s shift our focus to the velocity and energy data. While the 6.5 Creedmoor clocks close to 2,800 fps at the muzzle with its various loads, the .300 Win Mag swooshes at about 3,000 fps. That is impressive when you take into account the heavy bullet weights of 180 and 200 grains. However, the poor 6.5 Creedmoor shouldn’t be blamed for this because it carries far less powder. 

Both these rounds carry their supersonic speeds past 1,000 yards, making them suitable for that range. However, the 6.5 Creedmoor drops below supersonic speed at 1,200-1,300 yards, whereas, the .300 Win Mag drops below that speed at about 1,500 yards. So it is a better long range round capable of shooting farther. 

What impresses me is the fact that with its short-action design and lightweight bullet, the 6.5 Creedmoor can carry about 1,500 fpe at 300 yards. So basically, you need about 1,500 fpe to kill an elk, about 1,000 fpe to kill a deer. Since about 50% of all elk are killed at a range of 150 to 300 yards, it means that you can avoid other bulky and big calibers with high recoils, to hunt big game. 

Photo credit: quora.com

In comparison to the 6.5 Creedmoor, the .300 Win Mag is a bigger powerhouse with almost 30% more energy at any given range. A big 200 grain round of a .300 Win Mag is capable of killing a deer at 1,000 yards and an elk at 700. However, why take the extra bruises on your shoulder, when you can do the same with a 6.5 Creedmoor. 

Also remember that my opinion is subjective to elk and moose only. The .300 Win Mag is a more powerful sure-shot round that can be used to hunt any big game animal on this planet and has more stopping power. 

Wonder what is stopping power? Keep reading and you’ll be amazed to learn about it. 

6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag: Stopping Power

The stopping power is the measure of the ability of a round to do its job with the least effort and in the quickest time. For example, if a round kills a deer almost instantly, compared to a round that needs two shots or takes more time to bleed (not considering right shot placement here), the former will have more stopping power. 

In even simpler terms, a round with high (optimal) penetrations and the ability to create a large wound channel (more tissue damage) is said to have more stopping power. Additionally, stopping power is regardless of the caliber and size of a round. Sometimes a smaller round has more power than a bigger round. 

6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag: Momentum & Sectional Density

The two most definitive metrics to measure the stopping power of a round are momentum and sectional density. 

6.5 Creedmoor

24” barrel/BC 0.497/120 grains Trophy Copper
Sectional Density: 0.246
24” barrel/BC 0.365/130 grains Barnes Triple Shock-X
Sectional Density: 0.266
24” barrel/BC 0.509/140 grains Nosler Accubond
Sectional Density: 0.287
100 yds: 46 ft.lb-s100 yds: 47 ft.lb-s100 yds: 50 ft.lb-s
200 yds: 43 ft.lb-s200 yds: 43 ft.lb-s200 yds: 46 ft.lb-s
300 yds: 40 ft.lb-s300 yds: 39 ft.lb-s300 yds: 43 ft.lb-s
400 yds: 37 ft.lb-s400 yds: 35 ft.lb-s400 yds: 40 ft.lb-s
500 yds: 34 ft.lb-s500 yds: 31 ft.lb-s500 yds: 37 ft.lb-s
1,000 yds: 23 ft.lb-s1,000 yds: 19 ft.lb-s1,000 yds: 25 ft.lb-s

.300 Win Mag

24” barrel/BC 0.398/165 grains
Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullet
Sectional Density: 0.248
24” barrel/BC 0.507/180 grains
Nosler Accubond
Sectional Density: 0.271
24” barrel/BC 0.608/200 grains
Edge TLR
Sectional Density: 0.301
100 yds: 66 lb.ft-s100 yds: 71 lb.ft-s100 yds: 76 lb.ft-s
200 yds: 61 lb.ft-s200 yds: 66 lb.ft-s200 yds: 71 lb.ft-s
300 yds: 55 lb.ft-s300 yds: 62 lb.ft-s300 yds: 67 lb.ft-s
400 yds: 50 lb.ft-s400 yds: 58 lb.ft-s400 yds: 63 lb.ft-s
500 yds: 46 lb.ft-s500 yds: 54 lb.ft-s500 yds: 60 lb.ft-s
1,000 yds: 28 lb.ft-s1,000 yds: 36 lb.ft-s1,000 yds: 43 lb.ft-s

The sectional density (SD) of a bullet tells us about the penetration it can deliver. SD is the ratio of the mass and cross-sectional area of a bullet. So the lesser the area, the more SD is expected from a bullet, but the mass also plays an important part here. 

As you can see in the data, a 120 grain 6.5 Creedmoor bullet has a similar SD to a 165 grain .300 Win Mag bullet, and a 140-grain bullet sits close to a 200-grain bullet. Another fact to understand here is that the value of SD also tells us the suitability of a bullet against different types of game animals. 

An SD of less than 0.220 is good for small game, an SD of 0.220 to 0.260 is suitable for deer-sized game, an SD of 0.260 to 0.300 is good for big game like elk, and anything more is good for anything bigger. 

Interestingly, the small 0.264-inch diameter bullet from a 6.5 Creedmoor with just 140 grains of weight is capable of taking down an elk out to 300 yards. This is where bullet technology has got us, and you don’t always need a big round for a big game. 

The next important metric is the momentum which explains us about the intensity of energy transfer. So the higher its value, the more damage will be done by the bullet. Since momentum is a product of mass and velocity, the .300 Win Mag always has more momentum at any given range. Couple that with the diameter of the bullet, and you will always have a larger wound channel. 

Photo credit: tactical-life.com

6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag: Use Cases & Effective Range

The 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win Mag are both very popular rounds, and are mostly used for long range applications or hunting. Let’s evaluate the best uses for these rounds in detail.

Small and Medium Game Hunting

Hunting small game with either of these rounds is out of the question because of their immense power. As far as hunting medium game (deer, hogs, etc.) is concerned, I will always vote for the 6.5 Creedmoor. That’s because the .300 Win Mag is absolute overkill for deer, and you need not bruise your shoulders with recoil when there are better alternatives around. 

The 0.264 calibers has long been used to effectively harvest deer of all sizes. However, if you already own a .300 Win Mag and want to hunt deer with it, that’s your choice. 

Big Game Hunting

The .300 Win Mag is more than capable of hunting down big game, and possibly any game animals roaming this planet. It has been used for many years to hunt big game, but the new kid on the block definitely has some cool moves to show off. 

Like my data (and experience) tells us that a 6.5 Creedmoor retains enough energy to hunt an elk out to 300 yards. It seems to be a lighter and better choice for hunting any game, big or small. However, the larger bullet diameter and 30% more energy of the .300 Win Mag make it a sure-shot big game round. So even with a little off-shot placement, the damage done will be immense. 

Photo credit: gameandfishmag.com

Long Range Competition

It is a fact that the .300 Win Mag has been used for a long time now to compete in long range competitions. However, these are mostly club-level competitions and not serious matches. That’s because there are other low-recoiling and more controllable options available today. Like the 6.5 Creedmoor is a great alternative to .300 Win Mag if you do not mind that extra two-three feet drop at 1,000 yards. 

The 6.5 Creedmoor has presented itself as a very viable and popular long range competition caliber, although it is maybe not very suitable for F-class competitions (although people still use it) and especially T-class. Similar cartridges like the 6.5-284 Norma and 7mm magnums are popular for F-class matches. 

The .300 Win Mag is a good F-class round and has the potential to be used in T-class ultra long range matches (1,600 yards or more). 

Tactical and Military Applications

The .300 Win Mag has been inducted in the military as a sniper’s cartridge and many branches use it for tactical applications. However, you will be amazed to know that the 6.5 Creedmoor has a higher level of acceptance in the U.S Military and the USSOCOM has inducted it and is planning to use it as a universal cartridge for their sniper, rifle, and machine gun platforms.

Due to its smaller size, and power potential, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a versatile round capable of handling short to long range engagements out to 1,000 or 1,200 yards. On the other hand, the .300 Win Mag is exclusively a medium to long range round which can reach out to 1,500 yards with ease, but is of less use at short range. 

6.5 Creedmoor vs 300 Win Mag: Costs, Availability, & Compatibility

Here’s the info on the costs and potential options for using these cartridges

Easily Available but Somewhat Pricey

The .300 Win Mag is widely popular and is easily found in any gun shop online or offline. The same is the case with the 6.5 Creedmoor, as with its growing popularity, more and more dealers have started to carry it. But there’s one thing for sure, the prices of ammo have gone up a quite high post the Covid-19 panic buying. 

The .300 Win Mag ammo can be found for $2.5 to $7 per round, and the 6.5 Creedmoor rounds are available at $1.8 to $4.5 per round. The common rounds are not very expensive and their price seems justified, but the match grade ammo is a wallet-buster. 

Low and Pricey Rifle Options

Since these are precision long range cartridges, there are only a few good rifle options available from some leading manufacturers. Luckily, both bolt-action and semi-auto rifle options are available for these cartridges, but the price of rifles averages out at $2,000. That’s almost two-three times the price of a basic AR-15.

Photo credit: gunsamerica.com

Bottom Line

The .300 Win Mag was introduced in 1963 and quickly became an alternative to bigger magnum rounds because of its shorter length and good ballistics. This round is a powerhouse that can retain almost 1,000 fpe at 1,000 yards, and also shoots very flat. It is a favorite big game hunting round across the world, and also a favorable long range competition round, also in some use by the military. 

The 6.5 Creedmoor is a fairly new innovation in the ammo industry and delivers an amazingly flat trajectory out to 1,000 yards. It carries enough power to hunt an elk in the 200-300 yard range, and has almost half the recoil and a smaller size. It is also a great hunting round, good for 1,000 yard matches and perfect for short or long range tactical uses. 


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