Caliber Choice And What The U.S. Army Got Wrong…Again

Army SOCOM 6.5 Creedmoor Intermediate Round Sniper Rifle

courtesy soldiersystems.com

By John Stewart, chief gunsmith of Kiote Rifles

In the spring of this year, several media outlets reported that SOCOM command had chosen the 6.5 Creedmoor for it’s “intermediate” caliber of choice. I read as many of the articles as I could find and even called up a close SF SgtMaj friend of mine to ask him about what was going on. His response was something to the effect of “No hit, no idea. That’s some crazy shit.”. My sentiments exactly.

Upon further discovery, it seems that someone with a heavy enough collar decided to put 6.5 Creedmoor up against the .260 Remington and the .308 Winchester for the purposes of their study. Unfortunately, no one I know is privy to the exact specifications of that study or the actual data that resulted from it. So, as is usual for me, I approached it from an analytical perspective to find out if, in fact, it was the best choice they could have made.

Here’s the approach I took:

• Compare the exterior ballistics of the 6.5CM, .260 Rem, .308Win, .300 Win Mag, .300 Norma Magnum & the .338 Lapua Magnum;
• Compartmentalize the results of the 6.5CM, 260 Rem & .308 Win for direct comparison;
• Use the three larger calibers for comparison in long-range testing;
• Use a projectile type most commonly found in the U.S. arsenal;
• Compile data derived from the average velocity, barrel length, and twist rate for each caliber;
• Derive results from there (charts & graphs at end of article).

Here’s a list of the parameters used for each caliber:

• 6.5CM: 142gr SMK pushing 2700fps with a BC of 0.510 G1, 1:8”, 26” OAL
• 260 Rem: 142gr SMK pushing 2850fps with a BC of 0.510 G1, 1:8”, 26” OAL
• 308 Win: 175gr SMK pushing 2700fps with a BC of 0.475 G1, 1:10”, 24” OAL
• 300WM: 180gr SMK pushing 2900fps with a BC of 0.482 G1, 1:10”, 26” OAL
• 300NM: 225gr BTHP pushing 3000fps with a BC of 0.670 G1, 1:10”, 26” OAL
• 338LM: 250gr SMK pushing 2800fpsh with a BC of 0.614 G1, 1:9”, 26” OAL

* yes, we know that these are boat tail projectiles and therefore should probably use the G7 drag model, but all reports indicate that the G1 model was used for the test in question.

This is what we found in our study of the three calibers examined by the U.S. Army:

• Comparing the 6.5CM, .260 & .308, it’s clear that the .260 has the better performance in terms of both drop and effective range (effective range for the purposes of this study is defined as the distance at which the projectile goes subsonic at sea level with an ambient temp of 80F, relative humidity of 25% and a barometric pressure of 29.92 inHg).
• The .260, even when using the last choice of projectiles from the bigger manufacturers, beat out the 6.5CM by 200 yards (reaching 1500 yards before going subsonic) and the .308 by 500 yards.
• Using 600 yards as the benchmark for the long end of an intermediate range, the .260 drops 3.25 MOA (11) less than the 6.5CM (14.25) and 3.75 less than the .308 (14.75).
• As it pertains to kinetic energy, the .260 blows both of the other calibers out of the water at 600 yards. The .260 has 1302 ft-lbs; whereas the 6.5CM and .308 have 952 ft-lbs & 1093 ft-lbs, respectively.

Conclusion: the .260 is the obvious winner in terms of both ballistics and killing power.

M2010 ESR Enhanced Sniper Rifle Army .300 Win Mag

M2010 ESR courtesy wikipedia.org

It’s been a few years since the Army decided to switch from the .308 to the .300 Win Mag (from the M24 to the M2010 ESR). More recently, the Marine Corps has fielded their version of the .300 Win Mag, transitioning from the M40A6 to the Mk 13. So while we were at it, we decided to look at the hard facts of those two calibers. The results are as follows:

• The .300 WM does, in fact, despite its mechanical faults, have a better ballistic range than the 308 by about 200 yards. The .300 WM goes subsonic at 1200 yards vs the 1000 yards of the 308.
• When it comes to Kinetic Energy, the Win Mag only offers a slightly higher rating (64 ft-lbs) than the 308 at 1200 yards but they rapidly approach nearly identical numbers with each subsequent 100 yards thereafter.

Conclusion: We had to choke this one down just because the Win Mag is obsolete in our minds when it comes to precision shooting. However, it is clearly the winner in this challenge – when considering what’s currently available to our military shooters.

In the last couple of years, the 300 Norma Magnum has been gaining more and more attention as a solution to solve everything that ails the military shooter. Sure, it’s by no means considered an “intermediate” caliber. But if you had to choose one caliber to do everything from zero to 1.5 miles, its your huckleberry. In the last year, I’ve made a few of them for exhibits at SHOT Show, personal use and coming soon, our exhibit at the Modern Day Marine Expo at MCB Quantico.

For those of you unfamiliar with the .300 Norma, here are a few quick facts:

• Shortened .338 Lapua case
• Necked down to a .308 caliber throat
• Wide variety of projectile options
• By virtue of its design, shorter OAL than the Lapua while maintaining superior performance
• Less recoil than the Lapua – given that both rifles weigh a minimum of 12 pounds and each round is loaded with the minimum powder charge, the Norma produces 30.5 ft-lbs at a rate of 12.8 ft/s while the Lapua produces 33.3 ft-lbs at a rate of 13.4 ft/s according to JBM Ballistics.

But the real proof is in the pudding. Here are the numbers for the Norma vs the Lapua (and I’ll even throw in the Win Mag numbers for effect) at 1000, 1500 & 2000 yards. The numbers are listed as drop(moa)/KE for each respective distance.

• .300 Win Mag: -30.25/669, -68.25/368, & -128.25/266
• .300 Norma Mag: -23/1506, -46/820 & -81.75/521
• .338 Lapua Mag: -28/1261, -58.75/686, & -105/481


Conclusion: if you want just one rifle to cover the entire gamut of precision shooting, the 300 Norma Magnum is the obvious choice. While it may be a little overkill for hunting anything smaller than an elk at distances less than 600 yards, it is the winner of these 3 calibers.

So where does that leave us? Well, according to the U.S. Army’s study, it looks like you and I as tax payers are in for another long ride on the big green weenie, just like the $5 million dollar UCP camo fiasco. Hopefully, it doesn’t last that long or cost that much. But the wheels of the government turn slowly. So grab your lube and let’s hope that the powers that be recognize their mistake quickly.

As promised, here are screenshots of the charts and graphs developed from our study. It’s interesting to note that the .260 and .300 Norma have almost identical curves despite the obvious nature of the .260 to drop quicker than the Norma.

Comparitive Balistics Chart 1 (image courtesy kiotecorp for thetruthaboutguns.com)
Comparitive Balistics Chart 2 (image courtesy kiotecorp for thetruthaboutguns.com)

comments

  1. avatar pwrserge says:

    Begun, the caliber wars have.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Caliber wars are a lot like the “war” between North and South Korea. It has gone on forever with an occasional skirmish and no significant changes.

      But correct me if I am missing something – wasn’t the point of switching to 5.56 NATO to carry more, lighter rounds, and because the current military doctrine was for shorter ranges and faster rates of fire?

      Why is this guy comparing EVERYTHING out to 1,200 yards? Even with a modern ACOG the average infantryman can’t hit a man-size target past 300 yards with any precision or reliability.

      Long-range shooting has its place on the battlefield, but it should definitely NOT dominate the choice of small arms caliber in general.

      And if .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua Mag are not significantly better than 7.62 NATO (.308), then why do all the military snipers prefer them? This entire exercise makes no sense.

      1. avatar pwrserge says:

        I haven’t had much of an opportunity to compare notes with legit scout snipers. However, I suspect that they spend FAR more time on the details of their fieldcraft than they do worrying about the minute differences in the performance of their rifle cartridges.

        But you’re right, in my experience. Hitting a man sized target that is trying to avoid getting hit, with a rifle, past 300 yards, is an exercise in volume of fire, not the capabilities of the individual rounds you throw at him. An interesting exercise I’ve come up with is to set up a dueling tree at 200 yards and painted in an appropriate camouflage pattern. (You can pain the backs of the targets orange to easily call hits.) Do that, and you start to have an understanding of just how difficult it is to hit a low-profile target at any appreciable range. I can honestly say, that with a red dot, this drill is an exercise in frustration. Even with an ACOG, it’s still a VERY hard drill.

      2. avatar Alan says:

        is it supposed to Make Sense, or is it simply a case of We Want New Toys? I simply wonder which is the case.

      3. avatar John says:

        You missed something major! The reason he was comparing them 600m-1000m and also extended it to 1200m and 1500m was because the Army supposedly picked 6.5CM as it’s intermediate “Sniper” cartridge.

        Currently the Army has gone to 300WM as it’s long range cartridge and the 7.62 NATO is it’s intermediate cartridge. I am not sure what loading they are using but I was under the impression they were following the NAVY’s lead and loading a very hot non-SAAMI 300WM cartridge with a 190gr. bullet The MK248 Mod 1 cartridge. The Army has never had the 5.56 NATO as an official sniper cartridge let alone the “Intermediate Sniper Cartridge” at best you saw them do a DMR “Designated Marksman Rifle” in 5.56 NATO. The upside is that you can kind of hide a DMR rifle as just another M16 or M4 to untrained eye’s but a bolt gun, Barret 50BMG, M14 etc….all stand out and scream “Sniper” which is not what you want. On top of that those weapons do not use the same ammo that the rest of the squad/platoon uses so logistics aka “beans and bullets” becomes an issue as well. Traditionally the Army has mostly used Snipers to harass and slow enemy during a retreat and usually controlled at battalion level or higher as a norm. The Army and Navy have traditionally not used Sniper’s in the same way especially post WWII two totally different priorities. Keeping in mind that the Marines are part of the Navy.

        In 1993 I went off to college. In 1995 I got my first apartment I bought a rifle in 300WM after growing up in the Army for 20 years and a Dillion 550B progressive press! I told my gunsmith I grew up shooting X-Course and Palma and wanted to upgrade! I learned to shoot at Ft. Benning! I was thinking about getting a 50 BMG target rifle. He talked me into getting a 300 Win Mag and a reloading setup instead of 50BMG. I loaded with 180gr, 190gr, 200gr 210gr and 220gr. My OAL was limited with a production gun but even an idiot could see that the sweet spot was to stay at or above 180gr. and load hot! I settled on 190gr. and seating the bullet out after I re-barreled so I did not have to compress the load so much! The short neck limits you as does the SAAMI COAL and stock chamber reamers. I like to think that since I was taught by the Army that they have people at least as smart as a 20 year old college kid in his first apartment that fancied himself a target shooter. In fact the AMU when I was a young teen was using 30-338 WM/AMU you would normally see it listed as 30/338AMU but today people normally call it 30/338WM it had slightly longer neck which made it very popular for a while.

        If you look at most other countries especially European countries most of them have dropped the 7.62 NATO and have gone to 338LM to do much of what we used rifles 50BMG for. So most of them have dropped 7.62 NATO and 50BMG and issue the 338LM rifles for 90% of what their Snipers need to do and only equip. the 50BMG for very specialized anti-material needs as needed. The 338LM can do most anti-material mission and anti-personnel with one rifle. The rifles are also much lighter and cheaper than a 50BMG rifle!

        We have a lot of Remington 700 Long Action bolt guns that were designed originally to be chambered for 300WM what 3 or 4 decades ago and they chambered them in 7.62 NATO to save on Ammo cost but they used a long action though so they could easily be setup for 300WM. The Marines used a short action Remington 700 so they did not have the option of just opening the bolt face and re-chambering the barrel to 300WM. You can not easily build a 338LM on a Remington LA and most people think that doing a 338LM on a regular Remington 700. It can be done Remington does do it but many people think it is irresponsible to do so. Many custom gunsmiths think that the safety margin just is not there and think it is a bad idea.

        If the Army had went to a 338LM it would not have been able to re-use all the Remington 700’s in inventory with out undergoing a lot of testing to make sure the margin of safety was still present in the Remington 700. Smart money though would have been to go to something more like the 300 Norma Magnum of modern design not the older Norma 300 from the 1960’s.

        The US Government has some nice weapon systems but the individual infantry man has been using compromised rifles, outdated cartridges and bullets for a long long time and snipers even more so. In fact most of the weapon systems in the USA are from President Reagan’s time in office and the rifles go back to Korea and Vietnam Era.

        Cheer’s!

  2. avatar Todd Mills says:

    Shat an idiot. If you are going to compare the cartrdges, use ACTUAL data from ACTUAL sources. There is not a 60moa difference in drop if the exact same bullet is fired at only 150 fps difference. Which it’s not, but for the sake of your table. The .300 WM uses a 220 gr. projo. So use that with the .300 NM. And, the .338 has moved along to the sleeker 300 gr. projo. Your numbers are way off.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Yeah, all of these numbers are trash. Not only is the velocity for 6.5 CM vs. .260 Rem a total joke, so are the tables. The numbers seen here have faked the ballistic coefficient down on 6.5 and up on .260! Even using the author’s own BS velocity figures, Applied Ballistics and Strelok Pro both show less drop for the 6.5 and more for the .260 than in his tables and the kinetic energy is even farther from reality for those calibers and .308, too.

      Complete fabrication with no bearing on reality.

      1. avatar Robert w says:

        The velocity on the 308 is bogus too. Most .308 175 smk loads are in the 2600 fps range, and 6.5 creedmoor with 142s can easily beat 2700.

      2. avatar New Continental Army says:

        Maybe if you weren’t such a shitty shot, you wouldn’t need such an accurate bullet?

        How’s that for some caliber flame war 😛

      3. avatar John says:

        You do understand that the Remington 260 shoots a 6.5mm bullet the same ones the 6.5CM typical shoots. You do understand that the Remington 260 holds more powder? You do understand that you can get match 260 Brass today from Lapua and Norma? You would have to be an idiot assuming you reload to think that the 6.5CM in some way out performs the Remington 260! Santa Clause is not real neither is the Tooth Ferry or the Easter Bunny and the 6.5CM and the 6.5PRC are not magical! LOL Likewise you can make the older than dirt 6.5×55 outperform the 6.5CM as well that is why it ruled for so long X-Course and in various other High Power shooting sports for a long long time! Do you like to play Dungeons and Dragons? I thought so since you like magic and believe marketing hype! LOL

      4. avatar Luke Bonney says:

        Also he has the bc wrong its not .510 its .645 which makes it a better roubd for longer shots

    2. avatar JasonM says:

      I was thinking the same sort of thoughts. If this guy is the chief gunsmith at Kiote Rifles, I’ll make sure not to buy one of their rifles.

      1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        I don’t know if being a fantastic gunsmith needs to have any correlation with an ability to do ballistic calculations or understand military procurement decision making process. From everything I’ve seen, the rifles that come out of Kiote are freaking awesome.

        1. avatar John says:

          Do explain how the 6.5CM makes perfect sense from a military procurement stand point over the Remington 260?

      2. avatar Chicago Steve says:

        I’m with you, if this is the quality of their work that they choose to publish, no thank you.

        This may have backlash for them…..

        Every other independent source generally confirms that the .260 is very slightly better in an apple to apples comparison, but not enough to make any meaningful difference in real world applications. Additionally, given that the 6.5 fits way better in existing military .308 magazines and rifles, that kind of sealed the deal.

        This guy is objectively an idiot. The only way for him to save face is to publish the raw input data, but that seems unlikely.

        1. avatar John says:

          How does the 6.5CM “fit way better” in 308 Win chambered rifles? You obviously have no clue that the Remington 260 is nothing more than a 308 Win case necked down to 6.5mm.

          Also the Army does not use a short action Remington 700 they are all built on Long Action Remington 700’s since the Army originally planed on them all being chambered in 300WM but at the last minute had them built for 7.62 NATO with the option of converting them to 300WM in the future.

          No the people that push the 6.5CM always limit the bullet weights used to favor the 6.5CM and the false narrative that the 260 Rem is not far better and more flexible. They always down play the huge difference in SAAMI recognized chamber pressure limits between them as well. If you load the 260 to equal pressure which it can safely do it again grossly out performs the 6.5CM especially when you are not artificially limited to 140gr. bullets and lighter!

          The real prob. in the market is that many people are not so smart and bought into the nonsense of shorter actions being stiffer and more accurate than standard/long actions. So you have all these guys with tons of short actions that have even shorter OAL for the magazine well which limits performance, overall bullet length if you want to feed from the magazine and on and on! So a whole lot of ego stroking and lies are being tossed about.

          If you want to shoot VLD’s in 6mm, 6.5mm, and 7mm only a fool would do so on a short action because it limits you far too much. It can be done but why?

          Not a single gun writer, gunsmith, or internet expert can produce any research demonstrating that a short action is more accurate than a standard, long or magnum action. No one can produce credible research that stiffness behind the locking lugs so everything after the lugs has any impact on accuracy. If it did we would all be using cannon/howitzer style actions with no bolt and no locking lugs just interrupted threaded breach like a cannon especially those bench rest boys! In fact you would think muzzle loaders would be the most accurate rifles if stiffness was the prime factor likewise single shots break actions and rolling blocks would be the best actions on earth for long range accuracy but that is not the case is it?!?!

      3. avatar neiowa says:

        Apparently has some hardon for 6.5mm. Dozens of cartridges listed for their niche market rifles but NOT 6.5 CM. Even including .224 Valkyrie How’s that?

        I throw the blathering BS card on this rant.

  3. avatar kap says:

    personally bring back the all around 30-06
    some Senator got his finger in the Pie, Jobs for home state and their back pocket!

    1. avatar whoopie says:

      In comparing the .308 to the 300 Win Mag I came to the same conclusion.

  4. avatar Ralph says:

    I must be getting old. I can still remember when TTAG was promoting the .300 AAC Blackout and pimping the 9X19 over the .40S&W.

    Good times, man. Good times.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      I think the 9mm has well proven that was correct as .40 has been dropped like a bad habit nationwide by the vast majority of agencies/departments that used it. In favor of 9mm.

      300 BLK continues to gain in popularity in all circles, from special operations down to recreational shooters. It’s a good caliber if you’re able to shoot suppressed.

      1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

        While I am not saying that 9mm is not a better choice for most. I do posit that what various government agencies choose it hardly proof of it’s superiority. It’s not like they haven’t been wrong before.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          That’s true. But I think going back to 9mm after trying something else at least makes a fairly strong statement about that something else. Maybe 9mm isn’t the best possible choice but I’m pretty sure we’ve determined it’s better than .40.

      2. avatar jwtaylor says:

        “300 BLK continues to gain in popularity in all circles, from special operations ”
        The exact opposite is true. It is being abandoned left and right. SOCOM has no need for it.

        1. avatar Mike says:

          This is interesting. I am considering an AR pistol In 300BLK and was wondering if it was gaining in use by “Government agencies”.

          I have no idea if you are a 14 year old typing in Mommy’s basement, or are a General in charge of all SF in NATO, but I would love to see proof, if it exist that 300 BLK is in use.

          Was the SIG Rattler made and sold to an agency, or is it just a product made by SIG to sell to the public?

        2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          JWT would know pretty well. If you’re saying that I believe you have good reason and info. It’s the opposite of what I’ve heard from some folks who sell to the special operations community though and what limited public info I see. For instance, SOCOM has an open RFP for 300 BLK uppers: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=09f78d7e84c745853607ecc571c0003c&_cview=0

          This was opened after a couple years’ experience using it in a more ad hoc fashion within certain JSOC groups.

          Contracts are coming in globally, too, and have been ramping up over the last few years. From what’s publicly visible, at least.

          Dunno. I suppose I’d believe it either way.

        3. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Jeremy, note that RFP is now over a year old and still unfilled with no actions. It’s dead.
          There will be some 300BOs PDW uppers bought and used here and there for sure, just as there are 6.8SPC guns in current use by SF units, just not in common use.

        4. avatar neiowa says:

          SOCOM hasn’t rcvd the memo yet but the brushfire “war/s” BS of the last 15yrs are fading in the rear window. The threat to the US is the Chicoms (and Russians) and their surrogates. As has been the case since WWII. Armor/Inf Bn/Bde/Divisions (and the supporting AF/Navy ass and trash) are the future. See also 1980. Will we be able to respond to the challenge?

      3. avatar VieteranGunsmith says:

        Jeremy,
        The actual reason behind dumping of the .40 S&W in favor of 9MM is twofold. First, most shooters find the .40 S&W round to be a bit too snappy in a handgun, and therefore were not as accurate in terms of hitting the target and group sizes. Second, many of the handguns that were adapted to fire the .40 S&W from an original 9mm platform were showing excessive frame wear in the form of small cracks where the barrel lug rested in the frame in the top of the magazine well because the recoil of the .40 was battering the frame in that area.

        Sorry to say it was not a case of a superior caliber, but it was as most ballistics choices are, a compromise to effect a better end result. The same is true of this choice of rifle caliber by the ordinance board. It is true that they can be seen as getting it wrong, but they are not solely concerned about round performance, instead it is platform longevity which is their main focus. If they can find a good compromise in ballistics, shootability and endurance of the weapons the ammunition is chambered for, that is the choice the ordnance board makes.

        Besides, your average soldier is not going to be getting the most of any of these choices as many cannot hit a man sized target at more than 300 meters reliably. The fact is many of the longest range sniper shots ever recorded were made with the less adequate calibers in this list. This proves that rather than caliber being the deciding factor in how deadly any round is will always be the shooter.

      4. avatar John says:

        No you have to have some actual knowledge that has to be had over a long period of time.

        First the 9mm Luger as used by the Germans in WWI and WWII was on par with todays 9mm+P ammo. SAAMI set low limits because of all the garbage Italina nd Spanish handguns that flooded the market post WWII.

        Second the popularity of the 9mm because of movies like Lethal Weapon and then the US Army adopting it as well as almost every police force in America drove companies to invest in it! This lead to some fantastic 9mm bullets today that perform fantastically today that did not exist 30 years ago. The 9mm was notorious for penciling through people with out stopping them for decades. Everyone jumped on it like free money because they liked the idea of 28 rounds in a single magazine. For at least 20 years you could not have given me a handgun chambered in 9mm Luger but today I would carry one and be fine with it!

        No one that has used a 5.56 NATO in combat thinks it is fine! Surprising one is idiotic if it is not subsonic ammo. The M16 and M4 do not function well suppressed with standard ball ammo in fact cycling has always been an issue with a suppressed M16/M4. The 5.56 does not do great out of shoter than orginal length barrels they had to change the twist and go heavier to make up for a shorter barrel and the cartridge not penetrating things well and not stopping people quickly or well!

    2. avatar Rob kool-aid drinker says:

      Several years ago, i allowed TTAG to heavily influence me to build a suppressed 300 blk sbr ar and carry a 9mm. I believe it was good advice then. Im not aware of better alternatives for my unchanged application now. Thanks TTAG.

    3. avatar gunter wilhelmeir says:

      9×19 is a far better choice than .40. Seriously .40 can have more recoil than .45 in a lot of guns.

  5. avatar Accur81 says:

    300 grain pills in .338 have .818 and better G1 BCs, and your comparing hot .260 vs milder 6.5. The military shoots a lot, so barrel life is a consideration as well.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      He’s comparing extremely hot .260 to target load 6.5, while saying the loads are all average for the cartridge. Then using different BCs in the ballistic tables even though the projectiles are identical. Also making claims about how USSOCOM (or “SOCOM Command,” which I think is a unit inside the inside of the Department of Redundancy Department) tested the rounds that are contrary to reality and suggesting that external ballistics is the sole factor in deciding which caliber should be used. Which is farcical.

      1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

        Yes, how he could compare weak loaded 6.5CM to hotter loaded .260 and find meaningful information about which cartridge is better from that is illustrative of his critical faculties. Also, he is fat;-)

    2. avatar maynardb says:

      I was wondering how the 6.5C drops 3 MOA over the .260 with a 100 fps (200?) muzzle velocity disadvantage.

  6. avatar Joe R. says:

    So, none of the other rounds are (also) door-kicker rounds.

    .308 WINs again.

    The winner should be determined by looking down at the tops of a full mag of each caliber.

    1. avatar Robert w says:

      Damn right, most 260 rem loads won’t fit in standard semi-automatic rifle magazines. 6.5 creedmoor can though.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        I just meant the ogive dirt gap (not the band outta AL).

        Plus, pick the one that least makes you think “damn, I wish I had more rounds”.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          The three that socom was comparing (.308, .260, & 6.5) all have the same magazine capacity. Assuming the .260s you want to shoot aren’t too long to fit in the magazine in the first place, of course. A factor in socom’s decision that the author overlooked. Along with every other major and minor consideration outside of [incorrect] external ballistics, actually.

      2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        What’s all this crap I keep hearing about the .260 not fitting in mags? It has the exact same damn COL as a .308. Anything that holds a .308 will hold a .260 just fine.

        AND, the 6.5 Cree dmoor has a COL that’s 0.025″ longer than .260.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          Modern, high BC bullets are long and the shorter case length of the Creedmoor moves the neck down, which allows for a longer ogive without increasing cartridge overall length beyond spec. That is a semi-common thing to do in order to run these bullets in .260 and isn’t necessary in 6.5. It’s one of the reasons given (or at least reported) for socom’s choice…less restriction and more future ability for projectile development.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          I get that there’s an advantage to the Creedmoor with bullets over 142gr in that they don’t have to be set in as deep into the body of the c ase. But COL is the maximum the cartridge can be from the base to tip. If the Creedmoor has a COL that’s longer than the .260 how can it possibly fit into magazines that the .260 can’t. That makes no sense.

        3. avatar New Continental Army says:

          “Modern, high BC bullets are long and the shorter case length…”

          Modern? Hasn’t Russia been doing this since the 1890s? I thought all these “new” BC ideas for rounds originated with the 7.62×54 platform? Isn’t the 5.45×39 also in this league? At least when it comes to bullet shape and case length, I know powders now are far better.

        4. avatar Joe R. says:

          More ‘necking-down’ and “longer thinner bullets” = dirt gap at the top of the mag. Dirt could be gas-impinged carbon/exhaust.

          We need a cartridge that’ll “reach-out” more, and more accurately. The 6.5 Creedmore and .224 Valkyrie will do it, AND AS SOON AS THEY ARE FULLY ADOPTED THERE WILL BE SOMETHING ELSE COMING DOWN THE PIPELINE.

          Before your enemy has something better than you, you need to upgrade, TRUE, but everything’s a trade-off.

          Someone mentioned the 6.5 PCC / PATRIOT / TCU, REPLACING THE 5.56 MIGHT BE BETTER LOOKED AT FIRST.

      3. avatar John says:

        What are you talking about? You know it is against the law to recruit a person with an IQ bellow 83 into the military?!?!

        The 260 Remington is a necked down 308 Win case with a 6.5mm bullet instead of a 7.62 bullet. On top of that the 7.62 NATO is allowed to be a bit larger than a 308 Win and can be loaded to far higher pressure limits. So any rifle that is set up to function with the 7.62 NATO will work just find with 260 Remington! Prove me wrong! LOL

        I suppose you think the Army is running some kind of idiotic short action rifle? Only those that are ignorant think they have COAL issue like idiots running short action bolt guns with magazines and attempting to load accurate ammo with VLD bullets that will feed from the magazine! LOL The people that design weapons for the US Army and the Armour’s in the US Army are not that stupid even the M1903 is a long action and the M24 is a long action and even the M1 Garand and M14 could be made to handle the 260 Remington no problem! Any weapon system designed for the 7.62 NATO will also work just fine with the Remington 260!

  7. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    So what do they really want these rifles to do? What is really the mission profile?
    For a long time people were playing with .270 for military caliber rounds and a some of the conclusions were that the .270 was best..
    M1 was not originally chambered in .30-06 and I think the FAL and maybe an early bull pup rifle was supposed to be .270-.280 as well.

  8. avatar Spencer says:

    I’ve been running .260 Remington’s and 6.5×55 Swede’s for a very long time. Watching the 6.5 Creedmoor take off like some magic formula was discovered in it has left me less than enthusiastic about the Creedmoor. That the US shooting community suddenly seems to have figured out what has been around for a century in the 6.5×55 is just sort of disappointing.
    Welcome to the party folks.
    Now when is the 6.5 Patriot /TCU going to be “discovered” by the rest of the shooting community?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      The magic, compared to those other 6.5mm cartridges, is fitting in an SR25/AR10 magazine with high BC bullets and giving the caliber massive factory ammo support at a good price. As much as people seem to enjoy claiming that “anyone who cares about long range shooting loads their own ammo,” it simply doesn’t match reality. 6.5 Creedmoor brought factory ammo options and high performance at a low cost and low barrier to entry to the market in a caliber that works in the guns people want to shoot.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I’m new to the 6.5 field and picked the .260 because the ri fle I wanted was chambered in it. But I’ve thought for a while that the Creedmoor was over-hyped and actually kind of pointless since it does nothing the .260 didn’t do a decade before. Personally I think it’d be awesome if the mili tary adopted the .260 and all the Creedmoor fan-boys were stuck with their boutique cartridge.

      1. avatar Southern Cross says:

        I think the advantage of the 6.5CM over the .260 Rem is the slightly shorter OAL which makes it easier to fit into .308 length magazines. Especially with the long 140g projectiles.

        But .260 has an advantage of being able to easily make cases from .308 brass whereas 6.5CM needs more effort.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Despite my Wikipedia induce disimformation above, a quick check of my Hornady rel oading manual reveals that both the Creedmoor and the .260 have a COL of 2.80″ and the .308 has a COL of 2.81″. Being 1/100th inch shorter than a .308, I can’t see how any magazine issues would come up with either.

          The .260 c ase is also a little thicker in the neck which would aid in c ase life and possibly with hot loads, so the .260 would be the hands down winner for the reloader IMHO.

    3. avatar Biff says:

      The 6.5×55 is a great cartridge, but it doesn’t fit in a short action. The 6.5 Creedmoor also has a more efficient case design. This pretty much excludes 6.5×55 from consideration by target shooters.

      Remington blew it when they introduced the .260 because they didn’t offer enough factory ammo choices. Hornady immediately offered both hunting and match ammo at prices competitive with .308. They also had load data available so anyone could duplicate factory ammo. I also think that the Creedmoor offers a better case design with its longer neck.

  9. avatar Gapharmd says:

    I love all 3 calibers and each serve their purpose well.

    For pure shooting and precision I favor the 260 hands down but that’s just my preference. The ballistics when compared correctly are damn near identical .

    Due to cost and availability alone I would prefer 308 for military

  10. avatar Biff says:

    One thing people tend to forget about when touting the latest Uber Magnum for long distance shooting is how much they beat up the shooter. It’s hard enough to make a 1000 yard hit. Add a flinch from the shooter and it’s impossible. There is a reason that target shooters try to use the smallest caliber they can get away with. It’s why the 6mm Creedmoor is now popular.

    A military cartridge has to deliver a certain amount of energy at range, compared to just poking a hole in a piece of paper. They are also going to be more concerned with barrel life. Weight is also a concern since they have to lug both the rifle & it’s ammo.

    Given all this I would think that a 6.5mm round based on the .308 case is ideal. Great high BC bullets that give good long range performance, decent barrel life and low recoil. It’s also an easy conversion for any existing rifles, all you need is a new barrel. I don’t see any downside.

  11. avatar Illinois_Minion says:

    Didin’t Jeremy S just tell us the other day how 6.5CR was superior (to .308)?

  12. avatar billy-bob says:

    If the .260 and .338 Norma are so great, why are those options not available on the products they sell?

  13. avatar W says:

    Wow, 260 is better than 308.
    And 26 Nosler is better than either.
    Then again, 6.5-300 Weatherby Mag says, “hold my beer.”

    What a bunch of hogwash. It sounds like people just wanting to blow taxpayer cash for the coolest stuff. The real question is how the 308 is performing in the field and what the issues are. Would there be substantial gains from changing the current system? As opposed to other changes? Or again, are we just looking for a way to spend money and say this caliber is better than that caliber?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      It’s specifically for a sniper role and even more specifically with a strong focus on semi-auto sniper systems. SOCOM found the .260 and 6.5 CM doubled hit percentage over .308 at 1,000 yards. Doubled. With 30% less recoil. And slightly less weight. The only change needed to currently-fielded rifles for either of those calibers is a new barrel. The larger cartridges were not in consideration. Only ones that can fit in a semi-auto .308 magazine.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Isn’t 1000 sniper duty the purview of the .300 Win Mag at this time, as opposed to the 7.62/51? Obviously the 6.5s would reduce recoil significantly, but the Win Mag is still going to hit a lot harder at that range.

      2. avatar W says:

        So, you’re saying that snipers are less than 50% with the 308 at 1000 yards? That’s an interesting data point, but the real number would be more enlightening.

        1. avatar Biff says:

          One big advantage the 6.5mm high BC cartridges have at extended range is they drift about 25% less than a .308. Less drop is nice, but with modern laser range finders it’s pretty easy to get an exact distance to a target. However wind calls are much more difficult and the less a bullet drifts, the more margin for error you have as a shooter to still get a hit.

  14. avatar Chris says:

    All seems pretty academic when the other guy has an AK

    1. avatar VieteranGunsmith says:

      Chris – regarding the AK wielding bad guy –

      That depends on how far away that AK is. The AK has a reputation for being questionable accuracy wise at ranges much past 150 meters because the weapon while reliable just isn’t capable of match grade accuracy.
      The ammo quality varies widely, and from one AK to the other the same is true of the platform. There are some AK’s that can drive tacks at range, but the intent of the design was not to make it a long range weapon in the first place. It was designed for close range firepower with an intermediate power cartridge and it does that just fine, but I don’t know anyone who would use it for fine marksmanship work. If you have ever seen slo mo footage of the weapon during firing you can see how much it oscillates during strings of sustained fire, whether that is semiauto or automatic. It’s basically a bullet hose and was intended to replace the submachine gun instead of the battle rifle. If you match a force wielding AKs, versus ARs, the guys with the ARs can engage them at ranges that the AK isn’t really in the fight.

      Unfortunately through popular culture the AK has reached an unmerited level of mythic power. If you test them head to head, it quickly becomes apparent which is the superior platform.

      7.62×39 caliber is superior to 5.56 NATO when it comes to penetration and impact, and I suppose if all your combat is within 75 meters it is better than 5.56 NATO, but the Soviets/Russians tipped their hand when it came down to their weaponry in the 1980’s when they brought out the 5.45×39 cartridge. They revealed that the damage inflicted on the enemy by the NATO round was as traumatic as their 7.62×39 round, and it was also being outranged by the NATO round.

      That, I think pretty much says it all about the AK.

  15. avatar Mike says:

    In my opinion 9mm is a great all round cartridge, a good compromise. And If I am paying for it there is a big advantage.
    Most NATO/Western countries have gone to 338 Lapua for snipers. This article gives the impression that 300 win mag is not much better that 7.62. 338 can be used when in the past a .50 BMG was needed.

    Are 4.6 or 5.7 used by any military for their intended PDW use?

  16. avatar Old Guy from AZ says:

    Fired my first 30.06 and 7.62×59 at age 11 both kicked like a mule, the 06 won the war, yes the vets that are still around will tell you they were rough to shoot, but you dropped what you hit, so why did they go away from it? Remember the first M1A/M14’s were 06 caliber, it was the other countries in the UN that wanted the 7.62

  17. avatar Old Guy from AZ says:

    Fired my first 30.06 and 7.62×59 at age 11 both kicked like a mule, the 06 won the war, yes the vets that are still around will tell you they were rough to shoot, but you dropped what you hit, so why did they go away from it? Remember the first M1A/M14’s were 06 caliber, it was the other countries in the UN that wanted the 7.62 and the Russians had to change that to make it livable.

    1. avatar Rich says:

      they left the 30-06 for the 308 for a very simple reason — they could do just about everything the 30-06 could do.. in a short action rifle.. with almost identical velocities .. more accurately (inherent in shortening the powder stack in the same parent case) with less ammo weight translating into more rounds per lb.. etc ….etc.. it could be used in infantry weapons M14 but also light machine guns.. M60.. shortening the logistics list at ammo plants…

      it goes on and on .. but I think you get the point

      308 is to the 30-06 light the short mags and other modern cartridges today. doing the same or more with less powder burning more consistently in superior case designs and shapes.

    2. avatar rich says:

      the M-14 was never fielded – to my knowledge with the US Mil as a 30-06.. is was specifically designed around the improved 7.62 over the 30-06 garrand round

    3. avatar zebra dun says:

      No. The M-1A and the M_ 14 were only chambered in 7.62×51 mm NATO.
      The Europeans wanted something less, used either it or stayed with 30.06 or rearmed with captured weapons. The US was going to 5.56x45mm while still using 7.62×51 as standard.
      There were M-1 Garands however issued in 7.62×51 rechambered or using a device that filled the space in the chamber usually plastic.

  18. avatar RogueVal says:

    This is what happens when you let dummies post.

    You know what should have been included too, since he’s including 338 LM, how about 155mm, or 30mm? Or maybe a slingshot, seem as appropriate.

  19. avatar New Continental Army says:

    I agree whole heartedly with this article. 6.5 creedmore is a stupid liberal cartridge only used by stupid liberals. And I personally know a guy that shot a 6.5 Creedmore once. Turned him gay. Turned him gay right on the spot I say.

    How’s that for some caliber war flaming? Seems that’s what TTAG is devolving into. Might as well join in. By the way, I hate you and I hate whatever caliber you like.

    1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      “And I personally know a guy that shot a 6.5 Creedmore once. Turned him gay. Turned him gay right on the spot.”

      He should’ve said, “ no homo” immediately after… it would’ve reverse the gaying process and negates all prior gay actions.

      “No homo” saved my butt more than once in Thailand.

      1. avatar Rad Man says:

        Literally, I’ll bet. Good to see you HC.

        1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

          Good to be back. Took a bit of a hiatuses.

  20. avatar Big Al says:

    Famous words – “a 9mm bullet (projectile) may expand but a 45 sure as hell won’t shrink”!

  21. avatar ButtHurtz says:

    What a bunch on pansies! Anyone with more than 3 brain cells KNOWS that the 224 Valkyrie is superior.

  22. avatar Rich says:

    First — he lost me at ‘SOCOM command’ … as Special Operation COMmand .. command is in the acronym so he obviously has no idea what he is talking about..

    further .. the article talks about a decision on a ‘intermediate range’ caliber… remember SOCOM operators are not the big green army.. where every solder just gets one rifle of a certain flavor.. they have different rifles and equipment in the cage to pick and choose from to satisfy the operational requirement of the given task..

    so talking out your ass hat and only talking drop. in MOA no less that the military doesn’t even use… is useless..

    advantages for using an ‘intermediate’ caliber for intermediate mission engagement ranges generally translates to better accuracy .. not just drop numbers… this article doesn’t mention accuracy at ranges..

    just like in high power across the course or various ranges shooting F .. etc.. the right caliber and accuracy for the job at hand..

    another half qualified dimwit ‘contributing’ here on TTAG… thanks for a laugh on a Sunday morning..

    1. avatar zebra dun says:

      The nephew did three tours as an 0311 in the sandboxes Iraq and Afagastan. I asked him if he carried an M-4 or a M-16A4 he said, “On every tour with the 6th Mars he carried and only saw the M-4A2 in every rifleman’s hands.” The regular Grunt Army or Marine doesn’t carry weapons we, they and the author wishes/thinks they do.

  23. avatar kap says:

    use a 7mm08 with heavy VLD bullets, a 1:8 twist Barrel, soft recoil + 1200 yard performance
    or .243 (6mm) with 107 grain Sierras, 1 in 9 twist also a 1000 yard gun. for a people popper I still like the 30-06 except humping that Grand was a bitch!

    1. avatar Biff says:

      7mm08 would be an ideal for change for the M240. It would extend the range by a few hundred yards and still give decent barrel life.

  24. avatar GS says:

    Excellent article. Free of sarcasm, full of useful information, and written with the intent to provide all the data so that one can recreate the test.

    Mr. Jeremy S. could learn a thing or two from this article.

    -Thistlebeard34

  25. avatar cisco kid says:

    As a former NRA across the course rifle competitor few arm chair commandoes realize how much time and money goes into training a real rifleman. When on considers how little time and how little money is spent training the average recruit in the disciplines of rifle marksmanship it is not surprising that few can hit even man sized targets once the range is beyond 100 yards.

    During WWII the Russian Military found out through observation of Russian Soldier’s in battle than those with bolt action rifles and even semi-auto rifles seldom fired their weapons but those that were issued machine guns felt invincible and with a large magazine capacity put it to good use by spraying down the battlefield as one would do with a hose watering ones garden. The Russian Military found that true fire fights whether in the cities or country often took place at very close ranges usually well below 100 yards but even at such short ranges the marksmanship was so poor that enemy soldiers were often wounded rather than killed outright.

    These studies did not go unnoticed by the U.S. and it was one of the reasons at least in the beginning that the M16 was adopted and originally issued in full auto. An assault rifle was more powerful than the pistol caliber sub-guns used by the Russians in WWII but the assault rifle could still carry a large amount of ammo if the caliber was small. The smaller rifle caliber, much like the pistol sub guns was more controllable in full auto fire than assault rifles issued in full power caliber weapons. The Germans tried this too but their 8×57 full auto assault rifle was not the gun they were looking for either. I am speaking of the little known Fallschirmjägergewehr 42

    The bigger is better caliber wars are never ending even though down through history many militaries went to smaller and smaller rifle calibers. Even as far back as the early 1900’s the Savage .22 High Power using an 80 grain bullet was used to slay grizzly bears, one of the toughest carnivores on earth to bring down and keep it down. So much for the idea that bullet diameter is paramount to incapacitation. Professional African Big Game hunters proved that a myth also over 118 years ago as many used the 6.5mm over the big bore blasters of the day. I might add that before the coming of the .223 Remington the preferred caliber used by Eskimo’s was the .222 Remington and they killed not only caribou but polar bears as well with it.

    And remember the difference in diameter between the 9mm (.355) and the .45 acp (.451) actually less than 1/10 of an inch. I think now one should realized how asinine the theory of bigger bullet diameter means a more deadly caliber.

  26. avatar James Drouin says:

    Guys, “drop” does NOT equal “minutes of angle”, it equals “inches”.

  27. avatar Matt says:

    Of course the data is bad. Not even bothering to enter real data for any of those, M80 ball at 147gr FMJ Lake City is going to be supersonic out to roughly 1050yds give or take a few depending on atmospheric conditions and altitude. Certainly past 1000.

    A 175gr SMK is easily going to do out to 1200. Not some “barely” 1000yd BS. A good 6.5CM load will be supersonic to a good 1400yds.

  28. avatar zebra dun says:

    Obvious observation, none offer more or less than the already standard in the logistics train over the 7.62 x 51mm/.308 Winchester.
    End of wishful thinking, hindsight and story.
    This is obvious.

  29. avatar Russ H says:

    While SOCOM may have decided to standardize something into the inventory for convenience, members of the SOF community can and do buy firearms off the shelf or for special purposes as needed – it’s not very hard. Those troops can get anything they want so I wouldn’t lose sleep over this if it is true.

  30. avatar Jack says:

    Ok lets look at real facts. Cost to upgrade to said objective, performance, recoil, size and weight. Of all the guns Changing the upper to a Grendel is what should be in the hands of men in green. Its small cheep deadly because of low recoil to do follow up shots. its wonderful surpressed. and 26 rd in a clip is also nice. It is the smart choice in a tight spot as it shoot great out of a 12” barrel or as a Lazer in a 20” barrel.
    It is deadly in a childs hands which means it is that way in anyones hands.

  31. avatar Fek says:

    Your numbers are wrong and your data is bad. Invalid comparison.

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