American Hunter | Head to Head: .25-06 Remington vs. 6.5 Creedmoor
Yes, I put the 6.5 Creedmoor back in the mix. And before you swipe away or hit the back button, or use some means of escape, please realize that while I recognize the merits of the Creedmoor design, I don’t blindly adore it either. But there’s no denying that it’s popular, and getting enough requests for an alternative cartridge with a similar level of performance that I think a comparison between the two is warranted.
For deer, antelope, sheep and similar sized game, the .25-06 Remington has long been a favorite among hunters. Remington has a knack for adopting wild cartridges and bringing them to the masses; The list includes the .22-250 Remington, the .35 Whelen, the .257 Roberts, (perhaps controversial) the .416 Remington Magnum, and the .25-06 Remington. The cartridge was available in different iterations and was developed by Charles Newton as early as 1912. The versions were offered by AO Neidner and even the Frankford Arsenal during World War I, but it wasn’t until 1969 that the .25-06 Remington would be available in its commercial form.
It’s a simple design: nothing more, nothing less than the Springfield .30-06 case, which is necked to accommodate 0.257 inch diameter bullets. In contrast to the .270 Winchester and .280 Remington, which use the .30-03 Springfield as the parent case and keep the case length of 2.54 inches, the .25-06 Remington (and the .35 Whelen) use the shorter one. 30-06 Springfield as a parent case and shares the same shoulder angle of 17 degrees and 30 minutes. The overall length of the .25-06 Remington is slightly shorter than that of the .30-06 (3,250 inches versus 3,340 inches), and the factory ammunition usually has bullets weighing between 85 and 120 grains, with hunting being the most popular between bullets 100 and 120 grains.
The .25-06 is primarily a hunting cartridge and is well suited for wildlife up to the size of caribou. Although the .25-06 caught moose, moose, and bears, there are certainly better tools out there for the job. When I was younger, it was considered the epitome of an antelope cartridge. The 100-grain bullets exit the muzzle at over 3200 fps – and that includes a number of monometal options – and the 117 and 120-grain choices have an average muzzle velocity between 2950 and 3100 fps. This makes for a great trajectory for the hunter. If you look at the stern tip of Federal’s 117-grain Sierra GameKing sharpener boat, you’ll see a trajectory almost identical to that of the 300 Winchester Magnum with a 180-grain bullet. With a 200 yard zero, your ball hits 6.7 inches deep at 300 yards and 19.7 inches deep at 400 yards. If there is a problem with the .25-06 Remington the bore diameter is 120 grains so using it on larger species may not be the best decision. Despite the high speeds, the recoil of the .25-06 Remington is negligible compared to other big game cartridges and can be used effectively by almost all shooters.
Based on the now opaque .30 T / C (designed to achieve true .30-06 ballistics in a short action cartridge), the 6.5 Creedmoor has won both lovers and haters over the past decade. Released in 2007, the 6.5 Creedmoor has a shorter case than the similar .260 Remington and can use the longer, high ballistic coefficient (BC) bullets in a short-term magazine much more easily than the .260 and is equally suitable at home in the hunting fields as it is is on the target area. The recoil is very manageable and the availability and choice of ammunition is increasing year by year. While it was designed for the AR-10 magazine, it has established itself in the bolt action rifles of target shooters and is also a good choice on the hunting grounds. The high BC diameter and 6.5mm bore diameter bullets retain much of their energy and withstand the effects of wind deflection well. Therefore, the Creedmoor (and many other 6.5mm cartridges) is a good choice for dual use as a hunting and targeting cartridge.
Hunting ammunition is typically built around bullets weighing between 120 and 140 grains, using a handful of charges of the 156-grain bullets. The muzzle velocities for the 120-grain bullets are 2900 fps, the 130-grain bullets leave the barrel at around 2850 fps and the 140- to 143-grain bullets run at around 2700 fps. The 140-grain bullets are the most popular, and given the Federal Terminal Ascent’s 140-grain hunting load, the trajectory isn’t much worse than that of the .25-06. If you use that 200 yard zero, that 140 grain ball hits 8.5 inches at 300 yards and 24.3 inches at 400 yards.
For the hunter looking for a cartridge for species lighter than moose, what is the better choice? With a slender ball, both cartridges hold over 1,000 ft. Lbs. Power close to the 500 yard mark, and both provide a trajectory any hunter can quickly adapt to. I think the Creedmoor’s extra bullet weight can be of benefit to those who insist on using the cartridge on moose and larger species. I also think the Creedmoor is a better choice for the marksman who wants a rifle to serve as both a hunting rifle and a target rifle. However, at common hunting distances, the two can be so similar that the choice doesn’t matter other than the bullet weight.
I have to give the 6.5 Creedmoor the edge based simply on bullet weight, although I would point out that the .25-06 Remington is a very useful, accurate, and balanced cartridge. Among the .25 caliber cartridges, it may be my favorite as it is fast but not terrible on barrels and hits harder than paper ballistics suggests. In this case, it is easy to compare the 6.5mm bore to the 0.25 caliber bore. The 6.5’s additional bullet weight makes it a more flexible choice.
Looking for previous installments on our Head to Head series? We’ll cover you.
• .444 Marlin vs. .45-70 Government
• • 7x57mm Mauser vs. .280 Remington
• • .300 Win. Mag. 300 Wby. Like.
• • .375 Ruger vs. .375 H&H Magnum
• • 7mm-08 Remington versus .280 Remington
• • .280 Remington vs. .280 Ackley improved
• • 7mm vs. .30 caliber
• • 6.5 Weatherby RPM vs. 6.5 PRC
• • .338 Win. Mag. .340 Wby. Like.
• • .300 RSAUM vs. .300 WSM
• • .500 Jeffrey vs. .505 Gibbs
• • 7mm RUM vs. .300 RUM
• • .308 Winchester vs. 7mm-08 Remington
• • 6.5 Creedmoor vs. .260 Remington
• • .303 British against 8×57 Mauser
• • .30-06 Springfield vs. All other .30s
• • .17 HMR vs. .17 WSM
• • .450 Nitro Express vs. .470 Nitro Express
• • 350 legend against .35 Remington
• • .280 Ackley Improved against 7mm Rem. Like.
• • .404 Jeffery vs. .416 Rigby
• • .243 Winchester vs. 6mm Creedmoor
• • .300 PRC vs. .300 Win. Like.
• • .30-06 Springfield vs. .270 Winchester
• • 6.5 Creedmoor vs. 7mm-08 Remington
• • 8×57 Mauser against .318 Westley Richards
• • .358 Winchester vs. .350 Remington Magnum
• • .22-250 Remington vs. .220 Swift
• • .270 Winchester vs. .270 WSM
• .26 Nosler vs. 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum
• .458 Win. Mag. 458 Lott
• • 7mm Rem. Mag. 300 Win. Like.
• • .243 Winchester vs. 6mm Remington
• • 7x57mm Mauser vs. 7mm-08 Remington
• • .25-06 Remington vs. .257 Weatherby Magnum
• • .338 Winchester vs. .375 H&H Magnum
• • .30-30 Winchester vs. .35 Remington
• • .257 Roberts vs. .250-3000 Savage
• • .270 Winchester vs. .280 Remington
• • .35 Whelen vs. 9.3x62mm Mauser
• • .416 Rigby vs. .416 Remington Magnum
• • .308 Winchester vs. .30-06 Springfield
• • .22 Nosler vs. .224 Valkyrie
• • .300 Win. Mag. 300 WSM
• • .223 Remington vs. .22-250 Remington