.338 Lapua vs. 6.5 Creedmoor: What’s The Difference?

Today I’m going to show you the difference between .338 Lapua vs. 6.5 Creedmoor.


  • Cost
  • Ballistics
  • History of each cartridge
  • Lots more

So if you’d like to know the difference between the two cartridges, you’ll love this article.

Let’s get started!

.338 Lapua: A Brief History

The .338 Lapua Magnum was developed in the eighties specifically to provide Military snipers a round capable of delivering high powered impacts to targets at extended range.

(If you’re looking for the best .338 Lapua rifle, check out this guide).

The cartridge has been held in high esteem since its introduction by professional and amateur shooters alike, being described as a “death laser” for its propensity to maintain pinpoint accuracy up to and past a mile.

In 2009, CoH Craig Harrison used a Lapua round to hit two insurgents at a range of 2,707 yards, or roughly a mile and half!

6.5 Creedmoor: A Brief History

The 6.5. Creedmoor is the brainchild of Hornady Manufacturing Company.

Inspired by the classic .308 Winchester, the Creedmoor was developed specifically for long range target shooting in partnership with Creedmoor Sports, from which its name is derived.

When testing the ammunition at 1000 yards, Ray “Raydog” Sanchez called it “boringly accurate.” The Creedmoor has also been used with some success to hunt big game, and has become a wildly popular cartridge since it’s introduction in 2007.

But which one is better…

.338 vs. 6.5 Creedmoor

That may be an unanswerable question due to a plethora of variables. But one question that can be answered is…

Which Cartridge is best for you?

Depending on what your long range shooting needs, and the funds that you have available to supply the habit, you might find that one cartridge or the other better suits your needs.

Power and Range

If you’re determining your success by the distance that you can reliably hit dead-center bullseye, than the .338 Lapua is fat and beyond best bet.

The cartridge claims a maximum effective range at 1750 yards, so anything short of a mile can be consistently gunned down.

Further more, the billets that are propelled by a Lapua cartridge are expelled with so much force, they can penetrate body armor of better-than-standard issue quality at 1000 yards.

The Lapua is lazer-accurate and death ray-effective. 

The Creedmoor also delivers astoundingly consistent accuracy, but not at quite such long distances.

It’s effective range peaks at 1000 yards.

The reduced maximum range packs a smaller whallop, as well, and as a result, the Creedmoor has a substantially reduced recoil, making it easier to use as a target-practice round, or in a more rapidly firing weapon.

The United States Special Operations Command, or USSOCOM, adopted use of the Creedmoor for its Long Range precision snipers as well as carbines and assault machine guns. 

In short:

If you are looking to hit a target further than 1000 yards, load the Lapua Magnum every time.

If you aren’t trying to knock a moose off it’s feet at 1000 yards, want to avoid shooter’s fatigue from rifle recoil, or are aiming at targets within 100 yards, the Creedmoor might be more reasonable.


Cost is where the Creedmoor really begins to separate ourself from the Lapua in terms of efficiency.

Straight from a commercial retailer, Creedmoor ammunition starts at .70 cents a round.

The Lapua starts at $2.70 per round.

Even if you are all prepared to reload ammunition yourself at home, with all the dies and scales necessary, you’re still looking at $1.15-$1.60 per round in reloading costs.

At the end of the day it boils down to a question of budget. If you have the time and money to invest into firing .338 Lapuas downrange every weekend, enjoy every minute of it.

The Creedmoor is definitely the more affordable cartridge.

Wrapping It Up

To recap:

If you’re going to hit long-range targets (1,000 yards+) and willing to spend $2.70 (on average) per round, then go for the .338 Lapua.

However, if you aren’t doing that long of range shooting and want to save money on ammunition, then the 6.5 Creedmoor is for you.

With all that said, now I’d like to hear from you:

Have you ever shot a 338 or 6.5? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments down below.

33 thoughts on “.338 Lapua vs. 6.5 Creedmoor: What’s The Difference?”

  1. I’m trying to decide which rifle to buy and am torn between the Lapua and the Creedmoor. This article has simplified my decision making process with really useful information. Thank you for putting this together.

    • I own both and have to say that the Creedmoor will be better in the long run.
      First the 338 ammo is 5 times as expensive.
      Finding any place that will let you shoot the 338 is difficult because they are worried about you penetrating their steel targets.
      Finally at 1000 yards I only gain about 10 MOA less drop from the 338 over the 6.5.

      • While I also enjoy both calibers from a quality rifle, what you’re talking about is a little over 8 feet… not exactly what I’d call insubstantial, esp taking into account what your f.o.v. may be with your chosen optic, or at least mine. Granted, I like to crank my mag squeaky tight, as I usually have no spotter. But for cost? You are so “on the money”, pun intended! Rock Steady!

    • I installed a hydraulic buffer in my 6.5 AR 10 style rifle. It’s like shooting a 22. I can stay on target and deliver all the rounds I need up to and beyond 1k yards. The. 338 Lapua is a powerhouse. It is impossible to acquire a target rapidly after firing. It kicks like a mule. But rest assured your target will be pulverized. A mile away is also impressive. It’s a poor mans 50 cal. But at 3 bucks a round compared to a dollar for the 6.5. I’m going with the 6.5.

  2. I built my creedmoor from scratch and I was surprised at how incredibly accurate it is. I used a Wilson combat 24” barrel. I love it. I just purchased a ruger precision rifle in .338 lapua, ……… WOW!!!! Incredible!! Accurate…. so happy with both these rifles!!!! Go for both!!!

    • Agree. Get both. If you get the right gun, chassis, muzzle brake you can shoot the lPua all day (if you can afford it). Both are accurate and fun to shoot.

  3. If I could only have one longer range rifle, hands down it would be the 338LM. Magnificent rifle, in every way. I,own two and three 6.5C. Not knocking the 6.5 bitchen stick.

    I,can just accomplish more with the 338lm. ” I load my own ammo” and have scavenged thousands of once fired casings, over the years. Keeps,my costs down.

    I usually run the VV n-165 powder, but am comfortable with many other powders. Also shoot either the 250g, or the 300g, only. Other great ammo,availble, for a price.

    Do yourself a favor, learn to load, learn to be very particular about each and every round you load. Consistency wins the day?

    Best to you, brothers.

    • I just purchased a .338 lapua where do you suggest I get my loading gear and what brand is best? Also brass, bullets and so on is best?


    • I have many Creedmoor Bras once fired but need some .338 Lapua brass, any chance you would like to do some trading?

  4. I have a 6.5 and at 800 yards it’s awesome I want to try 338 but like before mentioned there’s just really no place to shoot it. So as for me I’ll stick with 6.5 for now. Be safe all and remember one shot one kill!

  5. I have been lucky in life and can afford to shoot the 338 Lapua and the 6.5 Creedmoor. It is enough to say, I wouldn’t give either of them up. But the 6.5 is less expensive to shoot. But if you are going for distance the 338 Lapua is my go to gun. I purchased a 6.0 Creedmoor , over two years ago. I can’t for the life of me tell you why I don’t really like this caliber. I would be interested in hearing some other thoughts on this cartridge.

    • Yes, 338 barrel may start to get bad at 900-1000 rounds, Creedmoor should outlive you if you’re not dumping mags and letting your barrel cool, those bigger Magnum rounds you’re going to burn out barrels quicker it’s just going to happen..

  6. I own both rifles and I shoot the 6.5 alot more than the 338 due to the price of ammo.Once I start getting into reloading things would probably change. But for now over $5.00 a round for 338 is crazy.

  7. I have a Ruger PR Gen3 6.5 Creedmoor and love it. I was not a fan of the stock adjustable butt stock (didn’t like the feel and my shooting shirt pocket would constantly hang up on the stock), so I replaced it with the Magpul PRS Gen3. I would compare the recoil to slightly heavier than an AR15 5.56. I had the opportunity this last summer to shoot out to 1000 yds for the first time ever and had 2 hits out of 5 shots on a 18″x24″ steel target with 3-7mph crosswind (not bad for someone that’s never really shot past 300 yds ). While I have entertained purchasing a 338LM, and would love the opportunity to shoot one, there just isn’t the space within a reasonable distance from me in western Oregon to safely shoot at a distance to make it worth spending the money on the firearm and ammo. As an added note, while the 338LM ammo cost is higher, 6.5 Creedmoor match grade ammo is ridiculously expensive now ($2.75-$3.50 a round) and hard to find, so am happy I stocked up last year when it (Hornady ELD 140 gr Match Grade) was readily available at $1.35-$1.60 a round.

    • Lol!! I miss the days when $3.5/rd was considered ridiculously expensive.

      I just bought a box of 20 .338 from Turner Outdoors for $150!!
      Only 3 varieties to choose from, and the other ones were $8/rd. None of the other chain gun stores even carry them anymore, and the mom and pop shops are even more expensive, or sell stale ammo (15-20 yrs old per mfr date on the box). 😒

      To put things in perspective, it cost me over $50 just to zero my new scope on the RPR .338 Lapua. 😩

      And I went up and down the state to find 6.5 a few months ago, and some old prick owner of a hole in the wall in South Oregon shafted me $50 for a box of 20 mfred ten years ago, but all the shelves were empty elsewhere, so that was that…

      I switched to compound and crossbow for hunting for a bit, but the crazy ass licensing fees and lottery BS is a PITA. Not to mention the damn tag fees (mountain goat can cost you $1.5k+!!). I can buy kobe steak for that price.

      Long range shooting is becoming a rich man’s sport. I’m dusting off the .308 at $1/rd.
      The 12 gauge is next at this rate. Or I might go Rambo hunting and set traps on my own land…

      • If your crappin out due to cost. Dep where u r. Maybe we can get together and you can teach me and I can help you with costs.

  8. One thing I havent seen mention is the difference in rifle. I have a 338L semi auto and bolt action. The bolt action sees very little use because it kicks pretty hard, if you cant afford to get or build a quality semi I would stick with the 6.5. The other reason I like the 6.5 is there are very few ranges by me over 600 yards and the 6.5 is more then capable and half the price to shoot.

    • . 338L semi sounds insane, though I’d love one. What make and model? Soar shoulder aside, how does it cool down the barrel? I’d expect the trajectory get pretty wobbly after running a few rounds and barrel expansion…

  9. I have both calibers and I really would like to shoot the 338 Lapua better than the 65. I reload my own so cost is not too bad for either one the Lapua is a little heavier gun if I was going hunting I would probably use the 65 creedmoor both are very dependable guns I feel.

  10. I own a 338lm it’s a Weatherby bolt action three rounds max with a muzzle break. Moa certified with a night force nx5 5.5-22×55 scope dropped a moose at 700 yards one shot. Also bagged a black bear at 800 yards up the mountain also one shot. Love it I pack two guns in my hunting buggy lapua and a 300 win mag with iron sights.

  11. Thanks for the article it was very informative and helpful. I have 6.5 but am considering adding to the collection

    I might point out there are several obviously spelling errors that take away from the overall quality of something otherwise quite well written.

    Recommend that you get the free gravely
    Grammarly account / plugin to help in future

  12. Like some of the others, I own my share of 6.5C rifles both bolt and semi. The longest range in my area is 1000 yards and don’t allow 338L. Smaller parks at 200 yards are hardly worth trying as the bullet won’t even be asleep at that distance. As much as I would love to have the big dog, the 6.5 is my current champion.

  13. I love my creed it has more kick and muzzle clap than what I like but my son is using it this year for central us deer and big game I personally like my trusty 308 even with factory loads I’m dead on at 500 not many places here to shoot longer shots but great article

  14. I own both a 338 Lapua and a 6.5 Creedmoor. To me part of the fun of shooting is reloading I feel you get a more accurate round, and the time spent doing it is quite enjoyable. I would stay from the 338 Lapua if you are the least bit recoil sensitive. The blast And punch will in time make you NOT want to shoot the Lapua. And that’s a shame. In closing if you are not recoil sensitive and have the ware with all to shoot the Lapua enjoy it. However if you can only afford one go with the 6.5.

  15. I also have both in Ruger 65 creedmoor and a 338 Lapua and I really do like the 338 Lapua I reload for accuracy and both are awesome but I really like the lapua.

  16. I have a 338Lm Ruger and I have a few custom
    built wildcat rifles 308-6mm and a couple I
    Chooo to keep to myself.
    Thanks to your article I
    am not going to build a 6.5 Creedmor . My own opinion anything over 1200 yards stick with old reliable 338Lm.
    Patattack M.

  17. I have built my 6.5 CM from scratch out of all Aero precision components, and it’s accuracy is incredible. I feel like a pro! I don’t use it for hunting as I have a 30-06 remington 700 on a KRG chassis with a criterion barrel, hands down the 6.5 CM is sweet to handle! 338 Lapua is on my radar and will be building one very soon!

  18. My 338 Lapua is a hoot to shoot, but the weight makes it a bench rifle at best. Definitely not going to drag its 15 lbs around in the field.


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