What cartridge?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by JudgeHolden10, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. JudgeHolden10

    JudgeHolden10 Member

    May 5, 2013
    St. Louis
    I'm thinking about buying a bolt-action rifle so that I can stop borrowing those of my friends when we head to our rifle ranges. Primarily, I plan to use it shooting at my club (maximum 200 yards) or my friend's club (maximum 600 yards, but I am not likely to shoot that soon). It may also see duty in the future as a deer rifle.

    A while ago, I thought that I would buy the venerable .30-06. It is a good all-around cartridge that is available everywhere. Then I thought about .308. Ditto. For the last year or so, I find myself wondering if it would be smarter to choose 6.5 Creedmoor. Those 6.5mm bullets have such good numbers, and that round would be more pleasant to shoot at the range.

    The tricky thing is that this isn't one of those buy-all-three situations. I plan to spend decent money on a scope, and with kids in the house, my disposable firearms income sadly isn't what it used to be. This is likely to be my only bolt-action centerfire for a long time.

    Gordon, fireside44, Bfh_auto and 2 others like this.
  2. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    SE GA
    It sounds like your going to be doing more shooting than hunting so I would opt for the 6.5. Also, the 6.5 will be good for nearly all game in the lower 48 and definitely all the game you will run into in your neck of the woods.
  3. Legionnaire
    • Contributing Member

    Legionnaire Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    6.5 Creedmoor. It's what I'd buy if I wasn't already invested in .260 Remington (and .243 Win and 7mm-08 Rem).
    Gordon, Bfh_auto, horsey300 and 3 others like this.
  4. hillman23

    hillman23 Member

    May 25, 2017
    Some folks really like the 7mm-08, as well. Personally, I'd spend more energy getting the right rifle than the "one" cartridge.
  5. redbullitt

    redbullitt Member

    Nov 9, 2008
    Morgantown WV
    260 remember or some other flavor of 6.5mm would be my choice if you're for sure wanting something like that. The 308 will do the job with better barrel life, though the wind blows it notably more at 600 yards.

    If funds are tight, a 223 or 556 bolt rifle can easily do the job, if legal to hunt with in your state. There are a few bullets that do very well on deer at modest range, and the heavy target bullets work fine at 600. Overall a very economical way to do it if you don't mind the downsides of the smaller caliber.

    To me it would all come down to cost and how much it would matter/ how much I'd be shooting.
    Trashyshoots and 2ndtimer like this.
  6. LoonWulf
    • Contributing Member

    LoonWulf Contributing Member

    Jul 3, 2010
    pretty hard to pick a bad one. really the only way would be to get one thats either really kicky, blasty, or both.....
  7. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

    Feb 13, 2007
    Buckeye Country
    I'm already invested in a very nice 308. Also happened into a 30-06 mauser for a song as a project to play with.

    If I could only have one do-all, I'd grab a 6.5 or 6 creedmore
    LoonWulf and Legionnaire like this.
  8. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

    Mar 21, 2018
    Up State New York
  9. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

    Sep 3, 2018
    I have to agree that the Creedmoor is the way to go, if you are shooting out to 600 yards.
    Easy recoil, a nice flat shooting caliber.
  10. Skeptic13

    Skeptic13 Member

    Aug 18, 2019
    Colorado Springs
    The 6.5 Creedmoor probably has superior ballistics especially at longer distances if you are looking at target shooting. However the selection of ammunition for the 308 and the 30-06 is far superior and the ammunition is more affordable. You are also able to shoot a wider range of bullet weights out of the 308 and 30-06. Military surplus ammo and steel case ammo are also available for 308 and the 30-06 if that is a direction you want to go. If you are hunting deer you most likely be taking the majority of your shots under 200 yards and I don't think the superior ballistics of the 6.5 CM will give you any advantage.

    All of these calibers are great choices. I shoot 308 because it gives me more choices at a better price without losing much performance. Just some things I considered when making this same decision.
    Gordon, JudgeHolden10 and LoonWulf like this.
  11. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

    Jan 27, 2012
    Justin, TX
    I’m thinking along those lines too. Sounds like OP will be doing mostly target shooting and little hunting if at all. That being the case I’d probably be looking at .223, .243 or 6.5 Creedmoor, and I don’t believe it makes any difference what chambering is picked. Of course .223 will cost less to shoot.

    I believe in the not too distant future that 6.5 Creedmoor ammo availability will exceed 30-06 and probably be close to .308. Ammo prices will be much closer too.

    I’d be looking at 6.5 Creedmoor too if I wasn’t already invested in 6.5x55.
  12. rayatphonix

    rayatphonix Member

    Dec 27, 2011
    I find high quality ammo cheaper for the 6.5 Creedmoor is cheaper than its 308 counterpart. Prime Ammo is a good example.
    LoonWulf and cdb1 like this.
  13. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    Given: Plinking to 300 or 600, a little deer hunting, money a concern, (assume) not reloading and not gonna, kids in the house who (also assume) might want to shoot this sooner or later with you.

    My output is 6.5 Grendel, 243win, or 6 Creedmoor, in that order. No concessions or limitations for hunt capabilities due to performance, inexpensive and widely available ammunition (less so for the 6 creed than other 2, which is why I place my favorite of the 3 at the back of the list - different circumstances), low recoil, great trajectories at the considered ranges...

    I have been a lover of the 7-08 for deer for many years, but have really found the 243win to be the most efficient and effective deer cartridge on the market - same capacity as 7-08, but lower recoil. The 6 creed matches it, and the Grendel doesn’t quite match it, but is usually a little cheaper, and with lower recoil and lower muzzle blast. The 6.5 creed doesn’t thrill me, but in hunting fields, it does everything the 7-08 or these others can do - with even greater market popularity in the last ~10 years. Can’t pretend it’s a bad choice, but 7-08 and 6.5 creed do host greater recoil than the 3 I mention above. Great choices, still, just not in front of these other 3, in my opinion.
  14. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

    Jul 10, 2017
    Oklahoma, out in the red dirt.
    I was in the same situation many years ago, wanting one all-around rifle for some shooting and mostly hunting.

    Long story short, I ended up with a very serviceable Savage 114 in 30-06. I do reload, so I can make it useable in most situations I'm liable to encounter. It has done, and continues to do, everything I need.

    Looking at the decision 25 years later, if I had it to do over, I'd get a .308. Less weight, less recoil, less powder per shot. Also, I can't think of anything that I need to do with a 30-06 that can't be done with a.308.

    Sort of a less-is-more situation.
    Trashyshoots, LoonWulf and Bfh_auto like this.
  15. edwardware

    edwardware Member

    Feb 23, 2010
    In your situation years ago I picked a .270. I still like it.

    In your situation today, understanding that you'd like to enjoy shooting without hearing a cash register cha-ching every shot, consider ammo cost as a significant factor. It seems that 6.5 Creedmoor is very poplar, so there'll be price competition on decent ammo for some time. That's good for you, and the caliber gives up nothing in capability vs your other choices.

    My second choice would be .308, since it's capable and as broadly available as anything. Of course, your second rifle will need to be a good target-capable .223; that should be your first but for the deer hunting requirement.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
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  16. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    I would be in the 6.5 cm boat if I wasn't it's so many other cartridges.
    One thing people who tout the glories of military surplus forget is the fact that we can't buy new manufacture surplus anymore. It will all be gone one day. Then your stuck with something that kicks more, is more expensive to feed and doesn't shoot as flat.
    Elk hunting would be the only time a 30-06 would best a 6.5 as my choice.
    Hooda Thunkit and LoonWulf like this.
  17. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

    May 24, 2014
    Atlanta GA
    If you reload ammo prices are close, if not I've seen 308 ammo cheaper than 6.5cm or 30-06, but the 556/223 is even less.
    I started with 30-06 in the early 70s and still like it and use it, I sight in most at 200yrds, a little high at 100 and a little low at 300, I've only had one 300yrd shot and most are less than 100yrds, for a hunting rifle that is good enough for me. I feel the 30-06 offers a little more than your other choices especially if you reload, it has been around over 100 years
    Slamfire likes this.
  18. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

    Feb 5, 2010
    Hawkeye East
    If hunting is out of the equation and you’re buying the ammo, .223 There should be no shortcomings at your range and it will provide a bit of challenge at your buddy’s, depending on target.

    Depending on circumstances you might also consider an AR rather than bolt action for the sake of versatility, especially given the possibility of sharing your hobby with your household.

    On a personal note, I have found that engaging my wife and children in shooting sports not only affords us meaningful family time but also more leniency in budgeting for it. That may not be a universal tenet but it couldn’t hurt.
  19. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

    May 26, 2007
    For under 600 yards punching paper 223 is cheap to shoot and accurate. 600 yards is doable, but that is about as far as I'd want to shoot 223, at the 200 yard where you shoot it would be ideal. The 6.5 CM is by far the best option if you want to go bigger If you want to hunt you can make an argument that some cartridges, for example 270, are slightly better, but you'd be splitting hairs. A 6.5 CM will kill any animal that a 270 will kill. As a target round and dual purpose big game round 6.5 CM is as good as it gets with recoil splitting the difference between 243 and 308..

    10 years ago maybe. 6.5 CM rifles and ammo in 2019 is far outselling either of those and while there may still be more options for cheap, inaccurate military surplus ammo in 308 and 30-06 there are many more accurate target loads for 6.5 and they cost less. I was looking at sales numbers for one of the rifle manufacturers a few days ago. In 2018, 52% of the rifles they sold were chambered in 6.5 CM, 308 was down to only 6%, 30-06 was lumped together in the "other" category as to sales. They no longer are even offering 30-06 in some of their models.
  20. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

    Mar 18, 2009
    Central Arkansas
    It's all personal preference. Dozens of calibers will do the job you are asking it to do.
    I would choose the .308 Win, but that's just me.
  21. lightman

    lightman Member

    Feb 7, 2011
    It sounds like a 223 would be a good choice for what you plan to do. A 308 or 30-06 will have too much recoil for youngsters to shoot. Other large centerfire cartridges will be expensive. Right now, 223 ammo is cheap and plentiful.
    Bfh_auto likes this.
  22. Llama Bob

    Llama Bob Member

    Feb 25, 2016
    To my mind it would depend a little bit on what you see your range round count being. If it's relatively low, I'd go fairly small bore - .243 or 6.5CM. These would be the lower recoil options suitable for deer and both have plenty of oomph for targets at 600. However barrel life on the smaller bores isn't great, so if you're expecting to eventually shoot thousands of rounds at the range I'd go with a .308 for barrel life. That also gives you the option of inexpensive surplus ammo sometimes.

    The .30-06 is recoil and expense you have no need of.

    The other option is .223 which is a little light for a deer rifle and not legal in all states. With the 60gr Partition load it's ok for small to medium deer though. It's by far the cheapest option, and has a long barrel life. I would try to find a 1:8" twist rifle to have a wider range of ammo options for 600y targets.
  23. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    Ya know, I ALMOST went there when I wrote my response above, because the 223/5.56 fits his plinking desires so perfectly, but I deleted it out because I just don’t love the 223 for deer. I usually say the 243win is the most effective and efficient whitetail cartridge without concessions... the off-the-edge end of that spectrum includes the 223rem, which does carry significant concessions in deer woods.

    It’s a delightful cartridge, joy inspiring to shoot, but does carry specific limitations. It certainly deserves a tip of the hat in this consideration - if deer hunting really is few and far between, and the OP is ok with the restrictions it carries, then the 223rem should be a front runner in consideration.
    Bfh_auto and Skylerbone like this.
  24. rust collector
    • Contributing Member

    rust collector Contributing Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    Pierre, SD USA
    I suggest that you consider the 6 Creedmoor. As noted above, the 6 creedmoor ammunition is currently more expensive per round, but every type I have encountered is very accurate and lighter recoiling than the bigger bores.
    Of the cartridges mentioned by the OP, I would rank 6.5 creed, 308, then the venerable 30-06. If game larger than varmints is off the list, can't go wrong with 223 or 6.5 grendel.
    Bfh_auto likes this.
  25. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

    Sep 16, 2015
    Since deer hunting sounds like something you don’t have immediate plans for I would suggest a 223 simply because of the economics of shooting. You can get good accurate ammo that will allow you to shoot out to 500-600 yards for as low as $.50 a round. Most other centerfires will be double that for quality ammo.

    When you have more firm plans for deer hunting you can cross that bridge with a used rifle, a savage axis a TC compass, or just borrowing a rifle.

    If you are dead set on getting one rifle for everything I would get a 6.5 creedmoor. It’s a superb round that balances range use and hunting very well.
    Trashyshoots and Bfh_auto like this.
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