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Thread: The 6.5 Grendel, is it right for you?

  1. #1

    The 6.5 Grendel, is it right for you?

    How's that for a magazine article title? :-)

    I came to the Grendel the long way. I wanted a round I could hunt big game with in an AR. I tried 6.8 SPC. I tried 308. I dabbled with 300blk. None would do what I wanted. A friend had told me to get a Grendel, before I ever went the 6.8 route, but I thought that was a nutty choice, so I stuck with my plan. Well, he was right all along.

    What was I looking to accomplish? I have worn out a 14.5" 5.56 AR just about every year for the past 13 years or so, sometimes more than one. I get about 20,000 rounds out of an upper, and then it is too far out of spec to do what it should do. Shorter guns last less, sometimes quite a bit less. I've seen between 5,000 and 10,000 from the shorter guns. That equates to right around a quarter of a million rounds through the AR. That doesn't seem like very much to me, when you look at my pistol logs, but it is what it is.

    Over the last 13 years, I have come to really appreciate the design of the AR. Considering it's uncertain beginnings, it really has proven to be the Rifleman's Rifle. I say that because not only is it the military arm against which all others are judged, but it has taken over in most forms of rifle competition as well. In some cases it is an actual semi auto AR that is used (think things like service rifle, or 3 gun), but in other cases it is simply that the AR's fantastic ergonomics have been stolen for use in bolt guns or even single shots. Look at all the chassis systems out there in use in various practical rifle competitions, like PRS. Also in across the course guns, like the Tubb's 2000, and the host of tube guns used in that arena. I could keep going but I think you get the idea. The AR ergos are here to stay, and we are well off because of them.

    My main use of the AR is as a weapon, but if I can take advantage of the ergos, weight and size, while launching a big game killing round, then it seems that I can have my cake and eat it too. So, now that the gun has been chosen, what about caliber?

    I, and may others out there, have happily hunted anything they could hunt in North America with a 308. If you pick an appropriate bullet, and place it where you should, the game will die very quickly. There are many fine choices in caliber today, but the effectiveness of the 308 is not really up for debate. Unfortunately, the AR has to grow a fair bit before it will accept a 308. I have some of those and have had others over the years that are gone now. They are great guns, and I have carried one or another on several continents, but for pleasurable field use, I think they are a tad to big. So, how can I get 308 ballistics in an AR-15 size package? The 6.8spc comes close, and for pure hunting out to 300 yards, it can be a good choice. In my case though, I wanted more accuracy than the 6.8 seems to want to give. My ideal AR hunting gun was conceived on the plains of Montana, and though the initial shot never need be far, a wounded animal can run far and fast, so a follow up shot might need to be taken at longer than normal ranges. In addition, coyotes are fair game at most ranges, so a gun that can reach out there is a good thing.

    As a rifleman, I want a gun that can hit anything I can hit, under any circumstances. The little Grendel does that, and it does it very well. Add a good sling that allows for a solid loop up, and you have a package that is about as capable as any rifle ever fielded.

    The 6.5 Grendel offers about 80% of the terminal ballistics of the 308, while offering better wind bucking and a flatter trajectory, especially at long range. The differences in external ballistics are not enough to jump up and down about, but neither are the differences in terminal ballistics. Yes, the grendel is going a bit slower than more traditional 6.5 cartridges, but the long 6.5 bullets are built well and fly well. Even at slower velocities, they pack good killing penetration.

    Hornady makes inexpensive, match grade factory ammo. In my gun the 123 SST will hold .5 moa for 5 shots, and it drops deer on the spot as well. Coyotes and foxes have no chance, and the precision of the round makes the small vitals of a fox almost easy. If you need bigger game penetration, the 120 TTSX will do the job, though it does not have quite the longer range capability of the SST.

    My gun is a custom one, assembled by a family friend who no longer builds Grendels for the public. It uses a Lilja barrel, and is as capable of 1000 yard shots as any 308 I have. If I needed one today, I would start and stop my search at Precision Firearms. They have all sorts of sizes, weights, accuracy levels and price.

    One really important thing to keep in mind about the Grendel. I consider it to be an enthusiasts cartridge. Not suitable for mass issue. Not suitable as a general purpose weapon. I have no idea if it would pass a military trial, but I suspect it would not. The bolt face has to be opened up a fair bit to accommodate the bigger brass, and early Grendels had some durability issues becasue of that. Current ones seem to be good, but I don't really care if they are or not. It is a sporting arm for me, and in that arena, it excels.

    I'm sure I forgot to address some issues, so feel free to ask or add.
    Last edited by SLG; 01-07-2017 at 03:23 PM.

  2. #2
    I went through much of the same thought process as you did. However I went down this road quite a while ago. This was before AA opened the door to everyone producing Grendel based systems etc etc. As such it was still a boutique cartridge back then so I went 260 Remington instead. But IMO the 6.5g has finally hit a solid stride so I will finally build one up. On the bolt, there are now 6.5g specific bolts that seem to alleviate concerns.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    SLG, thank you for taking the time to write this up. Any advice on buffers/springs etc for use with the Precision uppers? I have a regular colt M16 stock kit on my 'cmp' rifle: ( Would that work? I didn't see any guidance on the Precision site, other than 'works with any lower'.

    Also, any magazine guidance?

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Site Supporter PNWTO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    E. WA
    SLG, thank you for taking the time to put some thoughts down.

    At the risk of heresy, the AR-15 as a family/platform/brand doesn't really excite me, for numerous reasons. I liked my issued M16A4 and M4, but don't miss them. I have been hovering around finally throwing something on my lower that has some practical (for me) value in the PNW and haved bounced between the 6.8 and 6.5. This post has convinced to seriously look at getting a Grendel set up. Thank you again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soggy View Post
    Also, any magazine guidance?
    This. Would also enjoy hearing your thoughts on a Grendel rig for a GP/Scout-ish for an enthusiast who is willing to do so.

    And in net forum tradition, I think we need some pics.
    "Do nothing which is of no use." -Musashi

    What would TR do? TRCP BHA

  5. #5
    Mags. I use Alexander Arms and ASC. Both work well for 15 rounds or less, but only the AA mags work for me above 15 rounds.

    Lowers. My Grendel has been on a 6920 lower and a S&W lower. Both worked just fine with the factory buffer and spring set up. If building one, I would start at H2, and go from there.

    I should mention that this rifle was built 3 years ago, and I have been using it non stop ever since. I thought i had a pic handy, but I don't. Here is a lnk to the sling I designed to basically compliment this concept. The rifle pictured is my 6.5 G.

  6. #6
    Now I found one.Name:  20160318_181125.jpg
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  7. #7
    Thanks for this SLG.

    LL mentioned you were going to share your thoughts on 6.5G when I asked him his opinion on it as an alternative to a 308 for medium/large game.

    Any thoughts on minimum barrel lengths to generate to velocities for hunting? I'm sure distance plays a role but do you have a sweet spot for handling VS velocity?

    Thanks again!

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    I use a 16" barrel. I prefer it for handling, and it still pushes out to about 1200 on steel without much drama. Longer is likely better, to an extent, but I would not personally go beyond 20 for a field gun. Just like with other caliber and barrel length discussions we've had on the forum, the differences are pretty minor, and anything between 16 and 22 will get the job done, depending on your preference.

    BTW, you polite guys are welcome.:-)

    I need to step out of the barn for a bit...
    Last edited by SLG; 01-07-2017 at 04:18 PM.

  9. #9
    Thanks for the info. I have a complete lower sitting around and have been hemming and hawing over an upper. I'm pretty well sold on the Grendel (for a lot of the reasons you laid out above), just need to find a suitable upper.

  10. #10
    Thanks for taking the time to put this all down SLG! Very useful.
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