Guide to the 6.5 Grendel

17th Nov 2020

6.5 Grendel is an intermediate carbine cartridge. This ammunition bridges the gap between .223 and .308, delivering power and accuracy in a compact frame. With almost 20 years on the market, 6.5 Grendel isn't new, yet this round remains relatively unknown outside of small shooting circles.


The 6.5 Grendel is a high-accuracy cartridge designed for use with the AR-15 platform. This design is the product of almost two years of continued development by Bill Alexander, of Alexander Arms, and Janne Pohjoispää, an engineer working for Lapua.

Grendel ammunition takes inspiration from the .220 Russian cartridge — a necked-down 7.62x39mm casing made to fit a 5.6mm bullet. This parent case is shorter than .223 but has a larger diameter. This added volume packs more in powder per round to deliver longer shots with better ballistic coefficients than standard 5.56mm NATO rounds.

Standing right of the 223 Rem. and left of the 6.5 Creedmoor and massive 26 Nosler, the 6.5 Grendel demonstrates how it brings improved downrange ballistic and terminal performance to AR-15-length magazine rifles.

Left to right: .223 Rem, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 26 Nosler. Photo courtesy of RonSpomer Outdoors

Ballistic Overview of the 6.5 Grendel

6.5 Grendel Horndady 123-gr. ELD-Match vs 223 Rem. Nosler 69-gr.

Range (yards) 6.5 Grendel Velocity (fps) .223 Rem Velocity (fps) 6.5 Grendel Energy .223 Rem Energy 6.5 Grendel Drift (10 MPH @ 90 degrees) .223 Rem Drift (10 MPH @ 90 degrees)
0 2500 2957 1707 1340 0 0
100 2313 2642 1461 1069 1.25 1.45
200 2137 2357 1247 851 3.79 4.65
300 1969 2091 1059 670 8.26 10.37
400 1810 1843 895 520 14.87 19.12
500 1661 1617 754 401 23.89 31.44
600 1523 1416 634 307 35.57 47.94
700 1397 1249 533 239 50.17 69.12
800 1286 1122 452 193 67.87 95.06


Converting your AR-15 to shoot 6.5 Grendel is easy and something you can do at home. You'll need to modify your rifle by swapping in a 6.5 Grendel barrel and compatible bolt, and you'll need to use different magazines. In addition to fast and simple conversion, 6.5 Grendel offers multiple benefits on the range or in the field, including:

  • Higher velocity: The 6.5 Grendel provides an improvement in case volume over rounds like the .223 Remington or the .300 Blackout, giving it plenty of potential for speed. Furthermore, the inherently accurate design of 6.5 bullets means that velocity is retained over greater distances, giving the Grendel a lower drop rate than long-time favorites like the .308 Winchester.
  • Greater accuracy: These cartridges are specifically engineered for accurate shooting at 200 to 800 yards. With a 20-inch 6.5 Grendel barrel, some patience and time to develop your skills, you can use these cartridges to hit metal targets as far out as 1,000 yards — with precision — using your AR-15.
  • Excellent price: If you already have an AR-15, you only need to gather a few components. Grendel conversion parts are affordable and much less expensive than purchasing a new .308. The ammunition is also affordable, typically costing less than .308 and coming in at right around the same price as .223.
  • Better recoil: Any time you can reduce recoil, it's a win. Recoil puts wear on your body and makes it harder to keep your rifle on target. Compared to rifles chambered in .308, a 6.5 in an AR platform produces significantly less recoil, allowing for faster reset and more-accurate follow-up shots.
  • Overall weight: With a 6.5 Grendel barrel and bolt conversion for your rifle, you can take advantage of one of the top advantages of the AR platform — lightweight design. Rifles built to fire these cartridges often weigh significantly less than a typical .308. The ammunition weighs less too, making these builds easier to carry, aim and fire.
  • Ethical hunting: The design of the 6.5 Grendel cartridge allows bullets to better retain velocity while traveling, meaning they deliver more force on-target. This increased lethality on impact makes a 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle an ideal choice for varmints and game up to a full-size deer. The accuracy, weight and recoil all contribute to make these rifles a hunter's best friend.


At Wing Tactical, we have 16-inch, 18-inch and 20-inch 6.5 Grendel barrels for sale, along with matching bolts. We also have a massive selection of AR-15 parts for modifying your rifle. If you have questions or would like help placing an order, send us a message. We'll be happy to help.       

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