6.5 Grendel vs .308, which is best for hunting?

I like the 308 and 6.5 Grendel. They are both fun guns, and effective in their own way.

The 6.5 Grendel and .308 are both good for hunting. The .308 works on bigger animals and has a further effective range. The 6.5 Grendel has much less recoil, fits in an AR, and makes a better youth rifle. Ammo is easier to find for a .308, but the Grendel ammo is available online. Both will kill a deer at 400-yards.

Which is better, 6.5 Grendel or .308?

The Grendel is an easy shooting, general-purpose deer rifle. It’s an effective choice to kill most game out to 400-yards, and it’s a perfect youth rifle in a lot of circumstances. The .308 is more of a man’s rifle and will kill all North American Game. The .308 is a better option if you plan to hunt moose, grizzly, or elk, or to hunt past 400-yards.

The 6.5 Grendel shoots a .264 inch diameter bullet, which is the same as the 260 Remington and the 6.5 Creedmoor. The big difference is the Grendel shoots a lighter-weight bullet, usually around 123 grains, and at more moderate velocities.

It’s a very fine cartridge for most hunters in the country. I personally love mine, and it will suit me well for everything I will hunt unless I plan to travel up north or out west for some of the really big game.

As far as deer hunting, and even black bears, it’s a fine option for 400-yards give or take, depending on the specific ammo and how fast it shoots in your gun. Some people do use it on bigger animals, but I don’t recommend trying that.

Given standard military ammo, the 6.5 Grebdel actually squeaks out ahead by 1,000 yards due to its more streamlined bullet. Even though the Grendel starts out slower, the .308 slows down faster and ends up slower at 1,000 yards.

The Grendel is notably better at penetrating armor at long range as well. In part due to its skinnier bullet, but also because it retains its kinetic energy a bit better downrange. Both cartridges require a good level 3 armor to stop them at tactical distances.

If you are considering body armor, I own and recommend the level 3+steel armor kit from RTS tactical. Here’s a link to the setup I own. ( Should you buy one, I will earn a small commission)

This Ballistic chart compares the Hornady SST hunting load in .308 and 6.5 Grendel. Your results will vary a bit, but this is a solid and fair representation of both calibers side-by-side.

6.5 Grendel200 yards250 yards300 yards350 yards400 yards450 yards500 yards550 yards
Energy1267 ft/lbs.1158 ft/lbs.1056 ft/lbs.961 ft/lbs.874 ft/lbs.793 ft/lbs.720 ft/lbs654 ft/lbs.
Velocity2180 fps2084 fps1990 fps1899 fps1811 fps1724 fps1643 fps1564 fps
Energy2182 ft/lbs.2116 ft/lbs.1860 ft/lbs.1727 ft/lbs.1598 ft/lbs.1460 ft/lbs.1339ft/lbs.1227 ft/lbs.
Velocity2440 fps2346 fps2263 fps2171 fps2082 fps1996 fps1912 fps1830 fps
Note: red indicatres maximun effective range and the minimum velocity (1800 fps) for the SST bullet to expand well.

6.5 Grendel has 1/3 the Recoil of .308

A .308 has around 18 foot-pounds of recoil while the 6.5 Grendel generates about 6 foot-pounds of recoil. That’s two-thirds less recoil. It’s a big difference and often helps to increase the accuracy of the shooter. The difference is that the .308 can feel like a harsh whack, and the 6.5 Grendel feels like a fast shove.

So, here’s an interesting point to consider. The US Army considers the .308 to have more recoil than most people can handle. In other words, the recoil of the .308, and anything above 17 ft/lbs., tends to have a negative effect on overall accuracy.

They found time and time again that both requires and marksmen tended to score higher at the range with low-recoiling rifles. basically, the lesser recoil helped them to calm their nerves at the range.

The .308 isn’t a particularly hard-hitting gun, recoiling similar to a 20-gauge shotgun with light target loads. But, it’s often enough to cause flinching issues. and if you don’t think you flinch, everybody flinches to some degree. I’ve been working on ridding myself of a flinching issue for 15-years. It’s better but still shows up sometimes.

I know that a lot of people can hit a quarter at 100-yards with their .308 shooting off of a rest. But, not everyone takes that time to learn to shoot well. A lot of us have picked up some fairly poor shooting habits from starting out with too much recoil as a kid.

There’s also the issue of if the gun recoils uncomfortably, you will practice less with it. Basically, if you are not completely comfortable and at ease with your rifle, you will not shoot well. If you want a great deer hunting rifle but the .308 is just a bit uncomfortable, I recommend you go with the 6.5 Grendel.

.308 has Nearly Twice the Hunting Range of 6.5 Grendel

The Hornady 178-grain ELD-X .380 bullet will expand adequately at 1600 fps. That’s between 600 and 700-yards in most rifles. Because the .308 has more power and a lot wider market to sell ammo, there are some wonderful long-range hunting loads.

178-grain ELD-X .308200-Yards300-Yards400-Yards500-yards600-Yards700-Yards
Energy2042 ft/lbs.1744 ft/lbs1543 ft/lbs.1321 ft/lbs.1134 ft/lbs.972 ft/lbs.
Velocity2273 fps2118 fps1870 fps1828 fps1694 fps1568 fps
This chart shows about 650-yards max range for expansion. You should keep it under 700-yards.

Personally, I’m not going to be taking a shot past 400-yard shot on a deer. If you want to, the Grendel isn’t your medicine. The .308 isn’t considered a long-range rifle, but with a true long-range hunting bullet, it becomes an easy 600-yard death machine.

If you have a longer barrel, you can probably get to 700-yards or farther. If you want to know the max distance a bullet will work, you need to look up the expansion threshold, sometimes called the velocity threshold, of that particular bullet. you may need to just call the manufacturer.

Then, you need to shoot that bullet in your rifle through a chronograph to get a velocity reading. Take that velocity, together with the bullet weight and Ballistic Coefficient of the bullet (available online), and enter them into a ballistic calculator like this one at Shooterscalcolator.com. It will tell you downrange velocities and you will find your max.

.308 will Take Moose, Elk, and Big Bears

The .308 is probably the lightest rifle that is capable of easily taking all of North American big game. In fact, the state of Alaska recommends hunters use a .308 with a 200-grain bullet for bears. They reported a higher chance of wounding a trophy bear with a 300-Mag, or another similar high recoiling rifle.

That’s because, as they said that a lot of hunters don’t shoot a 300-Mag very accurately, but everyone seems to shoot a .308 well. I would not hesitate to take a .308 ( I actually don’t own one right now) out west on an elk hunt, or north to Canada to hunt bull moose eh’. The .308 works.

I suppose the Grendel will take an elk. I mean, people have been getting by with a .243 for elk, and the Grendel shoots a heavier, wider bullet. I’m sure it’s fine for something smaller, but I’d hate to have to take a shot at a massive Rosevelt Elk bull with it.

If you want to get a kid on a smaller elk, it’s probably just fine. Especially with the all-copper bullets like Barnes TSX bullets. The big issue with the 6.5 Grendel is ammo selection and availability. The 6.5 Grendel hasn’t caught on well and ammo is hard to find. A lot of the common ammo manufacturers have dropped 6.5 Grendel from their lineup.

6.5 Grendel is Good for Deer, Black Bear and Hogs

The 6.5 Grendel is a perfect rifle for deer, black bears, and hogs to 400-yards. It’s hard to beat as a mid-range rifle for the 300-pound class of animals. It creates impressive wounds and penetrates more than other low-recoil rifle cartridges. With suitable ammo, it’s a perfect hunting rifle for most applications.

What is 6.5 Grendel Comparable to?

The 6.5 Grendel is similar to the .243 win. Both have a bit over 400-yard max range for deer, and both use higher B.C. bullets. The Grendel has slightly more drop, but much less recoil. It also shoots a heavier bullet which penetrates better. The 243 shoots a lighter, faster bullet but the Grendel uses a heavier, higher B.C. bullet.

How Far Will 6.5 Grendel Shoot Accurately?

The 6.5 Grendel can hit bullseyes at 1,000-yards. Many target shooters consider it a 700-yard cartridge. Due to its low velocity, drop and wind drift increased sharply after 700-yards. The best long-range ammo hits the sound barrier at 1,100-yards, so it’s best kept under that.

Jordan Buck

Jordan Buck is an outdoor writer, a man of faith, and a family man. He grew up hunting, fishing, and trapping. Jordan has taught marksmanship, woodsmanship, and self-defense classes. He has earned black belts in four martial arts and is a certified Krav Maga instructor. He also runs his own Gun Blog and YouTube Channel. Jordan enjoys giving his time and resources to help others and has spent 15 years volunteering in a boy's mentoring program He is and will always be an American Patriot. MOLON LABE

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