In the 6.5 Grendel vs 308 debate, everyone is always asking “which is better?“
To that I ask another question: “Better for what?” If Better means more powerful, then the .308 is unquestionably better.
But by that logic, is a .50 BMG is better than a .308? I’m exaggerating to make a point, but I think you get the idea.
Does more powerful mean more effective?
Think about it. Once you have enough power to reliably kill an animal (or enemy soldier), does more power really help? There’s an often repeated story about how a hunter (Mark Larue) killed an Elk with a 6.5 Grendel at just over 400 yards.
Elk are tough.
A 6.5 Grendel killed one at 400 yards.
Because Animals are tough, but they aren’t that tough. Humans are even more fragile. Put a Quality bullet through the heart and lungs and the animal will die.
I have a whole article on terminal performance, but I can sum it up pretty easily. The bullet needs enough mass and velocity to reach the “boiler room” (heart/lungs) AND cause cavitation. (the actual source of a damaging Temporary Cavity)
Anything beyond that doesn’t help, and can hurt. Truthfully, I think the 6.5 Grendel has three big advantages compared to the .308: Lighter weight, lower recoil and less expensive ammo.
Lighter weight means less fatigue when it’s time to shoot.
Lower recoil means more attention to shot placement.
Most importantly, less expensive ammo means more practice and thus better shot placement.
You can buy 6.5 Grendel Ammo for as little as $0.28/round. (which is $5.60 for a box of 20)
FYI: If you buy after clicking most of the product links on this page, I'll make a few pennies out of each dollar you spend. It's not much, but it keeps the website going and I would appreciate your support. 🙂
Plus, that ammo is Wolf’s 100 grain “military classic”. It’s is constructed like the infamously lethal 7N6 bullet, which is pretty deadly stuff.
For those who are tactically minded, I’ll get there in a minute.
Now, lets talk actual ballistics.
The .308 has two loadings that seem to crop up everywhere. They are
- 168gr Sierra Match King (SMK) @ 2650 feet per second
- 175gr Sierra Match King (SMK) @2600 feet per second
The 6.5 Grendel has one almost omni-present loading,
- 123gr Hornady AMAX/SST @ 2550
Here’s what their trajectories look like according to http://gundata.org/ballistic-calculator/
Don’t look much different do they? The Grendel drops about 10 Inches more at 800 yards. The .308 drifts about 2 inches more in a 10mph crosswind.
At 800 yards the velocity is identical, even thought the .308 bullet starts out 100fps faster. That’s because the 6.5 Grendel bullet is more aerodynamic.
So if long range shooting is your aim, there’s not a whole lot of difference…
Except in recoil.
The 308 has double the recoil of 6.5 Grendel. Recoil causes flinch, which will ruin a shot faster than a politician will “forget” campaign promises.
For hunting, be real people.
(tactical shooters hang on, I’m getting there)
Most deer are taken under 100 yards. Virtually all the rest are taken under 200 Yards. Most shooters have ZERO business taking longer shots. I’m a pretty good shot and I wouldn’t dream of shooting game farther for ethical reasons.
Since probably 90% of game are taken at those ranges, realize there is ZERO effective difference between the 308 and 6.5 Grendel’s ability to reliably anchor game…
If (and ONLY if) you hit the boiler room with a high quality bullet. You can’t miss fast enough to fill your hunting tag.
Missed shots mean lost game. Bad shots (which hit, but not the boiler room) often mean tracking game for hours to end the suffering YOU caused by missing. Simple solution: don’t miss.
That means practice, Lot’s of practice.
And which brings up back to the comparison. 6.5 Grendel is lighter which means less fatigue after carrying the rifle around for hours. Grendel has less recoil which means less flinch, and it costs less to shoot meaning you can practice more for your hard earned money.
The .308 only has size and raw power in it’s corner.
Ross Seyfried (an extremely successful African Hunter and Game guide) summed it up this way:
“It is not about size and power, but precision and great bullets”
That’s it in a nutshell.
And BTW, great bullets are available in factory loaded ammunition for the 6.5 Grendel here. For hunting I would recommend their 100gr Barnes TTSX or the 129gr Accubond Long Range ammo.
(NOTE: One of the most accurate 6.5 Grendel barrels is also one of the least expensive. It’s made by Saturn, has the improved Grendel II chamber, a reputation for excellent accuracy, and comes with a matched bolt of very high quality. It goes out of stock regularly, so I would grab one if you’re considering a Grendel build.)
Would you rather carry a heavy, high-recoil AR-10 or a lightweight AR-15 if they were both equally as effective to at least 400 yards?
If you prefer to driving finishing nails with a 8lb Sledgehammer, then I suppose 308 makes sense. Personally, I’d prefer a tool better suited for the job.
Everything I just said about hunting goes double for combat because deer don’t shoot back! You can’t miss fast enough to win a gunfight.
In close quarters, lighter recoil is ESSENTIAL for shooting that’s BOTH Rapid and Accurate.
Lighter weapons are on target faster and will make you less tired in extended combat. Lighter ammo also means more rounds for a given weight.
But if you can’t hit your target reliably, then it doesn’t matter.
The famous Western Gunslinger Wyatt Earp once said: “Fast is fine, But accuracy is final.”
If you can’t hit the enemy, you can’t win the battle. It’s as simple as that.
Hitting means accuracy.
Accuracy means practice.
If we’re talking maximum range, then shot placement rules here as well. The US Special Forces have achieved one-shot kills at 700 yards… with a 5.56!
Shot placement. Accuracy. The Grendel can do elk to at least 400 with good shot placement. It should go out a lot farther on humans who aren’t nearly as tough….
But ONLY with good shot placement.
Your maximum range (in combat) is determined primarily by your skill and your accuracy with your rifle.
If you want a .308, then get one. Just practice with it. A LOT
If you want a 6.5 Grendel, then get one. Just practice with it. A LOT
Because you can’t miss fast enough to win a gunfight or fill a hunting tag.
P.S. If it sounds like I’m coming down hard on the 308, it’s because I am. I have an article titled “Why the .308 sucks – And the military knew it” if that tells you my opinion of it.