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Recently a discussion came up around rifle calibers, specifically "precision" calibers. 

Specific to terminal ballistics, is there much consideration between a 6.5 or .308 offering? Or are the reasons for one over the other minimal or focused on different factors?

I know there is a tonnnnnn of info out there but I've had trouble digesting it. Especially given what appears to be fanboyism surrounding 6.5 and nostalgia for .308, but that could just be a bias on my part.

What's up with these two?

Original Post

6.5 has less recoil, flatter trajectory, and better long range (500 yards and further) wind-bucking performance.

In LE situations is that really needed? 

Comes down to "Most Likely" vice "Most Dangerous" threats.  Precision 308 is probably more accessible as a factory-loaded round -- not applicable if your organization is allowed to hand load for optimum performance. 

It appears Federal and Hornady have generic off-the-shelf 6.5 Creedmoor match loads.  Black Hills, Federal, Cor-Bon, and HSM have factory 260 match loads.

An officer or department could have 308s re-barreled to .260 Remington (6.5-08) once they've burnt out.

Image result for .260 remington

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I think if you're beating steel to death at distance, the 6.5 is the ticket.  The exterior ballistics are just better. Less drop, less wind drift.

BUT - to get that requires a decently long barrel. I don't know how it does if you chop it down to 16" (like the FBI is doing to all their rifles) so you can add a can and not have a ridiculously long and heavy rifle. Speaking of barrels - It burns them out at a much faster rate. From what I hear, there is no comparison. The .308 will last forever comparatively. If it's a work gun - try telling your admin that every few years you'll need a new barrel compared to the .308 that will last 2 careers.

How does the 6.5 do in gel through intermediate barriers? Are there barrier rounds available? What does the supply line for whatever round you find going to be? Can you get enough to practice with a lot on whatever your budget is (I think in terms of PD buying ammo).

Are you talking about a work gun? Let's be honest - most sniper shots average in the 50 yard range (per ASA). How much better ballistics do you need to shoot across the street? And 500 yards is so stupid easy with a .308 and good boolits, what would be the point? Plus, I know how my .308s perform with our open air round and barrier round (we just call it a glass round, because I don't see us shooting through stuff we can't see - even though we technically could).

What you want to use it for totally drives this train. If you want to stretch out, play at long range and murder the shit out of steel targets way out there - the answer is clear. The 6.5 CM. If you want to shoot bad guys at cop sniper ranges, the .308 for now. Always subject to change, but I'll take something that I know works and I know there is adequate supply at a decent price. 

PS - I want a 6.5 CM, but can't make myself buy one since I get free .308 and my everyday range only goes out to 500. I can set up a 950 yard range in an afternoon, but that also isn't really that hard with a .308 either. So unless I can really stretch it out somewhere reasonably close and reasonably accessibly on a regular basis, I'll keep buying unnecessary crap for my jeeps (I actually own 3) instead of a new rifle, ammo and optic. 

FWIW,

I've been experimenting with 6.5CM this past year despite having some dynamite 308 handloads pushing 185 Jugg's around 2700fps, I am now a believer in the 6.5cm.

I can honestly say I'm now a believer in the 6.5CM.  The factory loads I'm using are surpassing the 308 handloads  and are doing it with far less felt recoil.  Make no mistake, it's not a flash-in-the-pan and it's here to stay.

The only "downside" I see is the 40% barrel life of that of a 308.  That said, I have far less frustration with the 6.5 CM than with factory 308's... and the 6.5 is cheaper.  When my SWAT sniper days are over, so will be my commitment to 308.   Given that a wider variety of loads and bullets are coming out for the 6.5CM, I don't think the 308 will have anything left over the 6.5 in that department when speaking in terms of bullet expansion and barrier defeat.  Remember a lot of what we are using for barriers in 308 (bonded's, solids) were hunting rounds.  6.5 is following suit.  I think it will be a parallel to the 9mm vs. 45ACP debate in that when the rubber meets the road, they're more similar than different and projectile selection is the real issue.

I agree with some of SPDsnyper's sentiments in that some may not get the benefit and would do fine to stick with 308 if they choose in the context he gives.  That being said, I think there is a ton of institutional inbreeding that weighs down progress in the LE sniper community...but that's a topic for another day.

Where I REALLY started to observe the difference and become a believer was at intermediate (300-700y) ranges on sub-MOA targets.   

 

...food for thought.

Maybe, just maybe,   if the 6.5 CM thing gathers the momentum and starts to edge out the .308 for LE   (which quite honestly I don't think will ever happen, but hear me out....)  --a "quick change" barrel might be in order.  What does a LE .308 barrel usually go before groups start to grow-6000+ rounds maybe?  8000?  I heard from a local SWAT sniper team leader a few years ago they were getting about 8000 before they were seeing problems.   So, what is the (local) cost to re-barrel a rifle- maybe $2-300 for installation, then another $2-300 for the barrel itself?  How long does it take for a LE sniper to get up to 8000 rounds? 

 Then, IF a 6.5 CM has half of that (4000 rounds)  bore life,  the bean counters are going to have to factor that in.   

Now, if someone made a quality rifle that a guy could switch out a barrel relatively easily-----and the 6.5 CM ammo (specifically bullet offerings) got into the variations that are now available for .308, it would appear there wouldn't be any real reason NOT to go to 6.5CM.

But alas, a whole bunch of evolution would still have to take place.   6.5 CM is a great round, no question.  I believe a couple of things would have to improve in order to "win" in the LE market.  (Not to mention trying to convince agency administrations with shallow pockets they want to change to another caliber. Hell, my former agency's bean counters shit little green apples when we told them we needed to switch from Sightron (!!!????) to Nightforce!)

As I dyed in the wool .308 guy, it pains me to admit that the 6.5CM, at least on paper, is the superior long distance round.  If I were in the market for a 6.5, I would definitely go with the .260 Remington instead of the Creedmore.  That Remington screwed the pooch on supporting this round is not the .260s fault.

In a perfect 6.5 world as M6 mentioned above, the 6.5x55 Swede romps over the 6.5 kingdom without going too crazy.  That it needs a long action seems to put people off but loaded to its peak in a strong, modern action, it is an excellent round.

Bill, the Surgeon Scalpel is very easy to re-barrel yourself and if I ever went to .260, that would be the rifle I would use.  Unfortunately, I bet not too many departments will go for a $5k rifle.

I  have nothing to "take care of" or shoot through glass or even hunt, so I leave it to the pros to talk about killin' and such.  I have three bolt guns to cover the spectrum of threats to my well being by AR500 zombies.  My .223 (which can really reach out there with 80 and 90gr VLD bullets), my beloved .308 and the .338LM boomer.  But maybe someday I'll a 6.5 of some sort a try.

Bill, Idaho posted:

Maybe, just maybe,   if the 6.5 CM thing gathers the momentum and starts to edge out the .308 for LE   (which quite honestly I don't think will ever happen, but hear me out....)  --a "quick change" barrel might be in order.  What does a LE .308 barrel usually go before groups start to grow-6000+ rounds maybe?  8000?  I heard from a local SWAT sniper team leader a few years ago they were getting about 8000 before they were seeing problems.   So, what is the (local) cost to re-barrel a rifle- maybe $2-300 for installation, then another $2-300 for the barrel itself?  How long does it take for a LE sniper to get up to 8000 rounds? 

 Then, IF a 6.5 CM has half of that (4000 rounds)  bore life,  the bean counters are going to have to factor that in.   

Now, if someone made a quality rifle that a guy could switch out a barrel relatively easily-----and the 6.5 CM ammo (specifically bullet offerings) got into the variations that are now available for .308, it would appear there wouldn't be any real reason NOT to go to 6.5CM.

But alas, a whole bunch of evolution would still have to take place.   6.5 CM is a great round, no question.  I believe a couple of things would have to improve in order to "win" in the LE market.  (Not to mention trying to convince agency administrations with shallow pockets they want to change to another caliber. Hell, my former agency's bean counters shit little green apples when we told them we needed to switch from Sightron (!!!????) to Nightforce!)

Barrel swaps made easy,

http://www.accuracy-tech.com/r...nversions-explained/

To paraphrase from John "Shrek" McPhee at his sniper class. 6.5 CM has a better ballistic coefficient, is flatter, and better for long distances. However, you do not really see the benefits until you get over a 20" barrel, which means a heavy rifle.  The added weight over a 16" .308 still makes the .308 a better option for a LEO sniper.

FWIW I also asked Bill Rapier at a class his thoughts on the 6.5 CM vs .308 debate and he said .260 Remington is the way to go, specifically Black Hills ammo, is better than both the 6.5CM and .308.

Just the thoughts of two snipers from both of the respective tier one SMU.

Performance wise, the .260 and 6.5CM are very, very close...damn near identical in factory loads.  A bit more can be squeezed out of the 260 for a handloader.  That 260 BH load may be awesome, but it's going to be expensive; I don't have my price list in front of me but I bet it's $2 and some change...likely double factory 6.5 CM.  Again for buying match factory ammo off the shelf, 6.5CM beats 308 and 260 on price.  

The other problem with 260 is now guys want to go longer and longer (147gr since they think bigger is better).  This can become a problem given the 260 COAL and how it fits into magazine.  This gives the CM another advantage in that respect.  

On that subject, I've been toying with 6.5 CM in lighter bullets like 130gr and 136gr in the hopes of trimming some barrel length.  Talking to some wiser than me... using these bullets, upping the twist rate a bit and chopping the barrel down to 20" might be the "just right" recipe for getting the 6.5mm in a good reasonable place.   True, we aren't going to see 6.5 shine in a 16" semi auto just yet, but they said the same thing about 308's  in sub-16" barrels years ago, and look what was done with them lately (hint: new bullets and faster twist).

I'm using the 130gr Berger AR Hybrid FGMM load (paid about $1.15/rnd shipped) in my LaRue 6.5 creedmoor 22" ultimate upper. About a month ago I took it out to this long range setup some friends and I go to (steel from 650m to 1600m) and was amazed at how easy it was to consistently hit the 1200m target.

Previously when going out there I've been using my LMT MWS with 16" .308 CL barrel and 175gr FGMM. I was able to hit the 1200m steel with that too, but it wasn't easy or very consistent. (about 31mils of elevation IIRC), and the rounds were hitting it while dropping near vertically.

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The Q "Fix" rifle is supposed to also have quick change barrels. I always didn't care about features like that because I never needed it. Then again I didn't know about the 6.5 chewing through barrels faster either.  

I personally still don't care much for a quick change barrel and I'm far from doing the volume that might require one (especially in these calibers). 

 

Very interesting though.

I didn't think the end-user barrel swap ability was a big deal in guns until I got a wild urge to go shorter (26 down to 20") on my AW and swapped out barrels 2 days later in my garage in about 15 minutes...

I didn't think I had any interest in going from the AW to an AX until I swapped back and forth between 6.5 and 308 freely on the firing line one day during testing for a true side-by-side comparison.

After fucking around with gunsmiths, there is no way in HELL I will muck with a precision rifle that can't be swapped by the end user.  

...not sayin' you should; just sayin' ya never know.

 

Regarding the barrels, it's not an overly expensive endeavor in the grand scheme of things...compared to the $5000+ in ammo it's going to take to get to that point.  And as I said before, I've found myself expending fewer 6.5 rounds in a range session at distance compared to the amount of spoilers (and rounds sacrificed when I loose my cool and get frustrated) I sometimes require when pushing the 308 to its limits...mileages vary.

You can probably count on one hand the LE sniper shots in this country that exceeded 200m. You might need to take your shoes and socks off to count the number of glass/barrier shots that have been taken. So most LE snipers could walk to the line with a 16" AR, good bonded .223 round, and 1-4 power optic, and be set up to succeed in "almost" every encounter they will see. I don't think 6.5, or 6mm, really take care of the "almost". LE guys tossing around 6.5 are living in some fantasy land because the difference in performance within 200 yards between a 140 grain vs 168 grain is basically negligible. Sure, recoil is a consideration, but if you struggle with .308 recoil on your 12 pound rifle you're not cut out for this kind of work anyway. If your agency will pony up for you to have the newest thing, thats great, but we're already seeing a trend toward 6mm Creedmore, and now the .223 Valk in the long distance circle because guys like flashy things and saying that they can hit steel a long way off. These rounds have a lot of value in "sniper light" platforms, but they aren't yet proven stoppers when you are talking barriers and glass.

A big, well constructed, 150 grain+ bullet doing 2000 FPS + is still a great recipe for lights out.

In the 200 and in game, .308 does a lot of things well. It is accurate, available in short actions, gives great barrel life (3-4 LE sniper careers at most agencies), and has high quality factory rounds that are known performers. Changing this to pick up better performance in the 400+ ranges is dubious on the LE side.

From Doc Spears off the P&S bookface page

 

"There's nothing to dislike about 6.5 and nothing magic about it either. It will give you wind brackets much closer to 300WM of about 6mph. I just picked up several cases of 140 ELD Match for $197/200 round case, so, about what you can get 175gr FGMM for on a good day. It is as pleasant to shoot as it gets. Don't believe any drivel at either end of the love/hate spectrum about 6.5."

 

I'd say that's fair.

Lot's of good info.

From a terminal ballistic perspective, .308 generally offers better capability than .260 Rem/6.5C for LE use.  At this time, for the vast majority (like 99.5%) of LE use, the .308 is likely the better option for all the reasons discussed in the posts above.  However if one is in an assignment where shots beyond 500 yds are the norm, then .260 Rem/6.5C are far better choices. 

Concur that .224 Valkyrie is likely a better long range paper puncher than 6.5G out of an AR15.

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