Case Histories: 6.5 Grendel
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- Last updated: 10/04/2019
Over the 60-years since Eugene Stoner’s remarkable AR15 rifle was launched, it has been chambered in a multitude of calibres, with varying degrees of success. (For the benefit of muppet politicians, plod, journalists and broadcasters, AR stands for Armalite Rifle and not assault rifle). Whilst most of those chamberings have been for stock calibres, a few new cartridges have been designed with this rifle in mind, albeit with a bolt change. Such an example is the Alexander Arms penned 6.5mm Grendel (aka 6.5x39mm). It must be assumed that Bill Alexander is or was a student of Anglo- Saxon poetry since another of his successful designs is the Beowulf, the title of an epic Anglo-Saxon poem from the Nowell Codex. One of the leading protagonists in that poem is a character called Grendel. So, there we have it!
Officially launched at SHOT Show in 2004, the rimless, bottleneck wildcat cartridge traced its heritage to the legendary 7.62x39 (7.62 Soviet – the ‘AK’ round!). A collaborative development between Alexander, Arne Brennan and Janne Pohjoispää, it was intended to be low recoil and flat-shooting at ranges up to 750 metres. They took inspiration from the remarkable performance of the 6.5mm PPC, taking care to limit the dimensions to retain a double stack capacity fit in the profile of a conventional AR magazine.
The necked down case had a revised shoulder profile and the primer pocket changed from Large to Small Rifle. The well-known ballistic qualities of the 6.5mm (0.264”) projectile endowing the Grendel design with over 3000 fps from the Speer 90- grain bullet and almost 2600 fps from the 123-grain Lapua Scenar. Designed for use with rifling twists of 1:9, the heavier bullets offered the best performance.
In 2012, Alexander Arms relinquished their trademark ownership of the Grendel, freeing it for SAAMI registration and wider production, so changing it from wildcat to a commercial product. To date, Hornady, Federal and Underwood have joined Alexander Arms as suppliers of ammunition in this calibre, mostly in bullet weights ranging from 110 to 130-grains. Its sub-MOA accuracy potential has given the Grendel a wide range of applications from small/medium game hunting to credible target/metallic silhouette shooting in an increasing number of platforms from the original ARs to a number of bolt action designs from the likes of CZ, Ruger and Howa. In truth, it seems to offer something for almost everyone! Our esteemed Editor (Pete Moore) has been running one for years on a custom CZ527 chassis with a 22” 1-8.5” twist barrel with good results on foxes and deer using a Nosler 100-grain Partition reload, saying its light, recoilfriendly, easy to moderate and accurate!
Home-brewed ammo is not an issue. Data now appears in a number of recent manuals, the best coming from the Hornady 10th Edition. Tools are now catalogued by Hornady, Redding, Lee, Forster and Wilson. Bullets, powders and primers are regular shopping items. Whilst book figures are lower than those claimed by Alexander Arms, Hornady quote up to 2500 fps from their 120 to 123 grain bullets when driven by CFE223.
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