The 6.5 Meme
You may have seen the popular meme about some of the more popular 6.5 cartridges, in this meme there are some satirical characterizations about the owners of these most popular 6.5mm cartridges. The 6.5 Grendel character is represented by a kooky and eccentric looking fellow you may not want to approach in the truck stop parking lot. I always laughed a bit a this meme, but today I find myself with that same wide eyed stare…
The 6.5 Grendel
Today we are looking at a 6.5 Grendel rifle made from an Aero Precision M4A1 lower and a 22″ Grendel Hunter upper receiver. Its Upper features a 22-inch 8 twist barrel with a threaded muzzle pitched 5/8-24 and of course chambered in 6.5 Grendel.
The Grendel is a bit of an oddity in that it uses a cartridge case that uses a bolt face between the very common 223 Remington, and the 308 Winchester. There are only a few common cartridges that use this sized case, such as the 224 Valkyrie and the 6mm ARC. The Grendel allows you to shoot 6.5 (.264) caliber bullets from a small frame AR-15 type rifle, which can vastly change the utility of your AR-15. I have heard of people using the Grendel for hunting animals as big as Rocky Mountain elk, and having used bullets of the same size and velocity I can see why.
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The only difference I’ve noticed (apart from the 6.5 Grendel barrel) between this and other AR-15 rifles is the use of a different magazine. The Grendel magazines use a different follower, and I had a few laying around from my 6mm ARC project so they got put to good use.
The barrel is a fluted stainless one with a low profile gas block installed, and since it was threaded I fully intended on installing a suppressor to see how the rifle performed as a host.
The Aero Precision M4E1
After getting the rifle home, I set it on my bench and started looking for suitable accessories for the rifle. First and foremost it was going to need a good scope, for that I decided on installing my US Optics FDN17X, it seemed like a good match to the anticipated shooting for the Grendel. I also installed an MLok Harris bipod mount to the handguard so that I could install a bipod to shoot supported. I also grabbed my Yankee Hill Machine Nitro N20 suppressor to see how the rifle shot suppressed.
6.5 Grendel ammunition isn’t as common as most, so I knew going in I was going to have to improvise. I had a bunch of 6.5 Grendel brass already, yes I am unashamedly one of those range creeps that is always digging through brass piles. But I haven’t bought brass in years so I’ll happily take the troll title.
I have a broad selection of .264 bullets, but it seems that Grendel loads are frequently in the 100-120 grain category. So I decided I would load up some PRVI 120 grain BTHP bullets with some Hodgdon Benchmark in Hornady brass. While I claim no expertise in the dark art of handloading, I managed to get them together without any explosions or injury. So together with the outfitted rifle and my fresh loaded ammo, I headed into the hills to see how the rifle shot.
The upper features a 22-inch barrel with an 1:8 twist and a 5/8×24 TPI threaded muzzle, of course chambered in 6.5 Grendel
On the Range with the Aero Precision 6.5 Grendel
With a fresh target hung at one hundred yards, I laid behind the rifle to get it zeroed. I had already bore-sighted it before I left the house, so it was ready to put on paper. After the first few shots I made some adjustments to the scope, and fired a group to see how it patterned. My grouping wasn’t terrible, a five shot average of one MOA is at least somewhere to start from. It’s certainly possible the rifle didn’t care for my handloads, and had I been shooting some Hornady Match it might have shot under a half inch. I shot several boxes worth of ammunition through the rifle, and to be honest I can see why so many people like this little cartridge. The recoil is very mild for starters, and I can’t imagine it would be much worse even shooting 140 grain bullets.
It was even better when I added my suppressor to the rifle. I was able to stretch the rifle out to about five hundred yards where I found it still quite easy to hit targets the size of a deer’s vitals.
Pros and Cons
Everybody has their preferences, and I surely have mine so I’ll tell you what I would do with this rifle if I had a magic wand. First I think I’d cut the barrel down a bit, it seems cumbersomely long to me. The long length of the barrel also makes it very front heavy, which if your shooting from a bipod isn’t a big deal but it can be for an offhand shooter.
The Grendel is one of those cartridges where I wouldn’t expect to be blasting one shot rapidly after another, so the ten-round magazine is more than enough for my purposes but you may want more if you are a high volume kind of shooter.
I do like the construction of the rifle, but the lightweight handguard doesn’t have anything more than what you want. The quality coatings look good, and everything fits together great. The bolt carrier appears to be nitrided for durability and smooth operation, while the raw steel surface of the barrel gives you that 2006 vibe. Continue Reading Here…
The Grendel Hunter part of this rifle makes a whole lot of sense to me. You get a handy little lightweight rifle, but at the same time you get a whole magazine full of 6.5mm bullets to pummel whatever it is you’re after. I prefer to shoot my deer one at a time, but it’s always reassuring to know you have a stack of backup shots waiting for you.
Furthermore, I think this would be an excellent hog gun, where you may need a whole bunch of hard-hitting shots close together. Loaded with 140-grain bullets, I could easily see using this rifle for big Western game like elk and bighorns. We’ve killed elk using the same bullets and velocities tested in this rifle.
There is obviously no shortage of good choices in today’s firearms markets, but this rifle is a great option for someone who needs this kind of firepower and weight. The kooky eyes and hairdo are entirely optional (I wouldn’t recommend the look).