When we talk about ammunition for the AR-15, the most likely mentions include .223 Remington, 5.56x45 NATO, and .300 Blackout. Why? Because they are the most popular and readily available rounds available for sporting rifles today. But they are not the only rounds available.
Have you heard of the debate between 6.5 Grendel vs. 6.5 Creedmoor? Firearms enthusiasts everywhere can argue for hours about the two rounds and their ideal uses, kinetic energy ratings, and price per round comparisons.
Did you know that in Europe, the 6.5 caliber is immensely popular? Both hunters and target shooters adopted the round over a century ago. Here in North America, we stuck to what we know. That is changing, though. Both of the 6.5 caliber rounds we discuss here are making waves.
The History Behind 6.5 Grendel Vs. 6.5 Creedmoor
6.5 Grendel next to a standard 5.56mm round
Both the 6.5 Grendel and 6.5 Creedmoor were designed with unique goals in mind. Like most other AR-15 ammunition, though, 6.5 Grendel stems from a desire to replace the iconic .223 Remington, while 6.5 Creedmoor hails from the .308 Winchester round.
During the Vietnam War, the M-16 and 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge saw extensive military use. That use left a lot to be desired, though. Soldiers in the field reported inaccurate ammunition and regular weapon jams. A better platform and caliber were necessary.
Many companies sought to improve upon the .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm rounds. Thus Bill Alexander, the creator of the .50 Beowulf, set out to develop the 6.5 Grendel by modifying a 6.5mm PPC case. He succeeded.
The 6.5 Grendel is significantly more potent than the original .223 Remington while still running in an AR-15.
6.5 Creedmoor, on the other hand, was developed because of the competitive shooting scene. Dave Emary and Dennis DeMille, of Hornady Manufacturing, worked on the cartridge in the early 2000s. Their goal was simple: create a round for high-power rifle competition shooting, specifically one with a high ballistic co-effecient, that was more shootable than a .308.
Again, they saw success. The 6.5 Creedmoor was as accurate as the .308 Winchester but offered less recoil, less wind drift, and a relatively flat trajectory. In fact, most people in the precision community now consider .308 to be a completely dead round for the sport, with no reason to choose it over the 6.5 Creedmoor.
6.5 Grendel vs. 6.5 Creedmoor: Cartridge Sizes
As 6.5 Creedmoor was based on the .308 cartridge, it's naturally a larger round. The 6.5 Grendel features a rim diameter of .441”, while the 6.5 Creedmoor is .473”. The larger size means the Creedmoor round achieves a higher maximum average pressure, because it has a larger case capacity for more powder.
- Bullet Diameter: .264”
- Case Length: 1.52”
- Maximum Overall Length: 2.26”
- Rim Diameter: .441”
- Case Capacity: 35gr H2O
- Max Pressure: 52,0000 psi
- Bullet Diameter: .264”
- Case Length: 1.92”
- Maximum Overall Length: 2.825”
- Rim Diameter: .473”
- Case Capacity: 52.5gr H2O
- Max Pressure: 62,000 psi
The sheer size difference between the two rounds means a significant gap in ballistics. That being said, both rounds were built with unique purposes in mind. One was meant to replace .223 Remington, while the other was meant to improve upon .308 Winchester—two distinct rounds with massive differences of their own.
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,580 fps, 1,818 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 100 Yards: +2.2”, 1,581 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 200 Yards: 0”, 1,376 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 300 Yards: -9.2”, 1,189 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 400 Yards: -26.4”, 1,023 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 500 Yards: -52.8”, 876 ft-lb.
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,925 fps, 2,280 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 100 Yards: +1.6”, 1,968 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 200 Yards: 0”, 1,693 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 300 Yards: -7.1”, 1,448 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 400 Yards: -20.6”, 1,232 ft-lb.
- Trajectory – 500 Yards: -41.6”, 1,024 ft-lb.
Comparing Their Uses
6.5 Grendel and 6.5 Creedmoor are, as you can see, fantastic rounds that successfully improve upon their respective parent rounds. But like all other rounds, each one has its uses.
For starters, both calibers are excellent for hunting small game, like feral hogs, whitetail deer, and fallow deer at short- to medium-range distances. If you wish to hunt large game, bigger than a deer, then 6.5 Creedmoor is the go-to choice. In Europe, hunters take down moose with 6.5 Swede, which is fairly close to the 6.5CM round.
If your goal is home defense or range shooting, then 6.5 Grendel will suffice. For competitive shooting, 6.5 Creedmoor is the clear winner.