Monthly Archives: September 2016

Stepping “up” to the 6.5 … :)

If you’re a 30 cal shooter (most likely a 308) you have no doubt been inundated with claims that you need to start thinking seriously about going to the 6.5 mm caliber–either in the ubiquitous Creedmoor or one of the other variants.  The internet and gun shop and shooting match conversations surely by now have you feeling as though you’re kidding yourself if you think you can keep up the good shooting with a 308 Winchester.

Gold Medal Match

Amusingly, we also hear quite often that the 308 is a good “starter” rifle, that you’ll need to step up from once you’re able to ride without the training wheels.  I’ve still not understood such logic, but like many myths it just keeps proliferating.  😦

As of this writing, I know of at least four (4) long range gunners who shoot both the 308 and a second rifle which they’ve “stepped up” to in our long range matches (we allow them to enter both guns).  The 6.5 caliber was the choice in most of these instances. But based on match scores I’m looking at, they really haven’t stepped up; they’re actually (every one of them no kidding!) out-shooting their 6.5’s with the 308 that they cut their teeth on.  And they’re using those 308’s to shoot higher scores than 80 to 90 percent of the 6 and 6.5 calibers in the contest!

6.5 creedmoor

Is this because the 308 is a superior cartridge? No. The 6.5’s in fact do drift less in the wind, and trajectories are typically flatter when compared to most 308 Winchester loadings.  The real reason is simple:  They *know* the 308.  They began with it, they learned on it, and they *know* it.  Anything that their new 6.5mm does, it will always do in the shadow of the knowledge base they built shooting the 308.

If these four (and counting) shooters continue to shoot both rifles regularly, with the same amount of trigger time given to each one, developing the same skill level on each rifle, the day may come when the 6.5’s come to the front. But this will not be easy to do.  In order to keep up the good performance with the 308, they’ll need to hang on to the intuitive wind holds and flight times they learned in the beginning.  And the line will continue to blur when they switch to the 6.5mm cartridge.  The tendency would likely have them holding too much windage with one cartridge, and too little with the other.  Shooting each rifle to its maximum potential would be no easier than switching cars in the middle of a race.  Even if the second car is faster and handles better, you’re not going to drive it as proficiently as the one you began the race with.


So… with that said, when someone asks us what rifle to begin with for long range shooting, the answer is always the same:  The one you plan on staying with.  This will be the gun you build your foundation on, and the design of that foundation will dictate what you can and cannot do with the structure you build upon it.

In the BangSteel classes we see very often folks who have two different rifles, with a lot of money invested in each one, but which are two totally different animals.  Our advice is for them to choose one, and either sell the other, or re-barrel it so that their main rifle and back up rifle will work virtually the same.  This is the way to be your absolute best.

This isn’t to say that you can’t have more than one cartridge in your “arsenal” … :/   🙂  You can compliment the 308 Winchester with the 6.5mm Grendel.  Velocity and trajectory can be quite similar on these, at least out to a given range with selected loads.  You can compliment your 338 Lapua Magnum or 300 Win Mag with the 260 Remington or the 6.5mm Creedmoor using 140’s; the trajectories and velocities are quite similar if you choose the right loads for each cartridge.  The .243 Winchester shooting heavy bullets will behave much like the Creedmoor and other 6.5’s…  etc.

Your “shooting intuition” must be understood and maintained. Realize that there are mental processes going on behind your conscious thoughts for every shot you make.  (Read Secrets of Mental Marksmanship by Miller and Cunningham for a great treatise on this issue).  If you confuse those base understandings, and complicate the equations that are being sorted out intuitively… unconsciously… you’ll harm your hit count in the end.

We know that many of you who read this have gotten rid of your 308’s in favor of 6mm’s or 6.5mm’s long ago, and have not really looked back.  You’ve “reinvented” that foundation (if in fact you started with the “lowly” 308 Winchester), and you’re doing reasonably well with some trophies and prizes and perhaps money to show for it.  That’s great.  Keep up the good work!  But if you’ve found that you’re not living up to your own expectations after “stepping up” to the .243 or .260… and 308 shooters are still getting the best of you on match day, you might want to consider going back to your roots, and dusting off the old “starter” gun… your old 308 Win.  And perhaps it’ll surprise you.  Perhaps you’ll even surprise yourself. 😉

bangsteel brochure

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