Are you looking to upgrade your AR-15 6.5 Grendel barrel? Maybe you are thinking about building a rifle from the ground up and are trying to decide which barrel would be best?
If any of these questions are on your mind, you can stop right here. When building a 6.5 Grendel AR-15, you need a good barrel if you want to get the most out of this accurate and powerful little round.
I’ve listed down the three best 6.5 mm Grendel barrels suited for the AR-15 that can improve its use.
Best Overall Value
|Faxon Firearms AR-15 6.5 Grendel Heavy Profile 20inch|| ||$229 Shop NowClick to read my review|
Best for long-range
|Brownells AR-15 6.5 Grendel Stainless Steel Barrel 24inch|| ||$349 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|BSF Barrels Carbon Fiber 6.5 Grendel Barrel 18inch|| ||$569 Shop NowClick to read my review|
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What Is a 6.55 Grendel?
The 6.5mm Grendel, often just referred to as the 6.5 Grendel, is one of the most versatile calibers that you can get for the AR-15. It’s due to the fact that it has a very low recoil and highly accurate cartridge that can outperform the more traditional 5.56x45mm NATO. This is all while still being not as large as the .308 Winchester of the AR-10 platform. As a result of its versatility, you can now also use the 6.5 Grendel in other kinds of rifles beyond the AR-15. One example is the AK-47 and various bolt-action rifle systems.
The piece of your rifle that has the greatest impact on your rifle’s accuracy and performance is the barrel. So, if you want to maximize the shooting performance of your 6.5 Grendel rifle, the barrel is the most important piece to upgrade.
Keep in mind that the main purpose of the 6.5 Grendel round is for precision use. It’s not a very common round, you cannot just find it everywhere like the 5.56 or the .308. Thus, choosing a new barrel for your 6.5 Grendel AR is going to need plenty of careful considerations. Thankfully, we’re going to dive into the specifics of the qualities your 6.5 barrel needs to have. We will also discuss our top three favorite makes and models of 6.5 barrels that you can buy today.
Why Go With the 6.5 Grendel?
Maybe you’re thinking about building a 6.5 Grendel AR from the ground up but aren’t sure if the 6.5 is the round you want to go with. That’s why before diving into the specifics of the best 6.5 barrels, we should first discuss the virtues of the cartridge.
The 6.5mm Grendel round was designed as a precision round. It could be used at distances up to around 800 yards or so (if not higher) and in the same magazines as a 5.56x45mm NATO round. AR-15 caliber most commonly uses this round.
The idea was that a precision shooter could have a precision AR-15 with superior ballistics without having to upgrade to an AR-10. It is larger and heavier that fires larger rounds such as the .308 Winchester. A 30-round 5.56 AR magazine holds 26 rounds of the 6.5 Grendel.
Furthermore, a 6.5 Grendel upper receiver fits onto the lower receiver made for the 5.56. So, if you already have an AR-15 chambered in 5.56, it won’t be necessary to buy an entirely new rifle or build a new rifle from scratch if you don’t want to. You can just put your new 6.5 Grendel upper on your existing lower, and you should be good to go.
The 6.5 Grendel round is slightly larger than the 5.56. This is why less 6.5 rounds fit in the 5.56 magazine, and it’s also why a 6.5 AR-15 needs a nonstandard bolt to operate.
Today, many AR enthusiasts considered the 6.5 Grendel to be an excellent compromise between the 5.56 and the .308. Not only is the 6.5 a superb choice for long-distance precision shooting, but you can also use it for hunting medium-sized game at long distances as well, including whitetail deer, wild boar, and pronghorn.
The 6.5 offers superior terminal energy at longer ranges than either cartridge. It is because the ballistic coefficient of 6.5 is higher. A 6.5 Grendel round with a bullet weight of 123 grains has superior armor penetration at 1,000 meters than the .308 does.
Of course, to get these kinds of ballistics out of the 6.5 Grendel, you need the right barrel. So, the next question is, what features does your 6.5 Grendel barrel need to have exactly?
Buyer’s Guide to Finding the Best 6.5 Grendel Barrels
These are the most important factors to consider when looking for a new barrel for your 6.5 Grendel.
Barrel Length and Gas System Length
The length of your AR-15’s barrel, as well as the gas system length, will have a direct impact on how far you can shoot your rifle accurately. The longer the barrel, the longer ranges youâll be able to shoot your firearm out to.
AR-15 barrels commonly come in three different variants: carbine length (16 inches), midlength (18.5 inches), and rifle length (20 inches). There are barrel lengths that are shorter and longer than those three, but those are the three most common lengths. For precision shooting at long distances, you’ll want at least the rifle length (20 inches) or longer. An 18.5-inch barrel works well for most precision shooting applications as well, however.
The length of your AR-15’s barrel, as well the gas system length, directly impacts how far you can accurately shoot your rifle out. The longer the barrel, the longer ranges you’ll be able to shoot your firearm out to.
The next thing to consider is the rifle’s barrel twist rate. The twist rate is the number of inches that the bullet travels to rotate fully around before exiting the barrel. So, a barrel with a twist rate of 1:8 means that the barrel would travel 8 inches down the barrel before completing one rotation.
The best twist rate for the 6.5 Grendel round is dependent on the bullet weight that you are using. Generally, a twist rate of 1:9 is good for bullet weights up to 160 grains. While a 1:12 twist rate is good for lighter loads around 80 grains. A barrel twist rate of 1:8 is good for handling a variety of different bullet weights.
A fluted barrel means that extra material, such as contours and textures over the surface of the barrel is removed. This means that the barrel is lighter in weight and cools easier over prolonged shooting periods. Getting a fluted barrel is a good decision for the 6.5 Grendel round so long as the barrel length is 20 inches or less.
Last but not least, ensure that your barrel is durable and can last for a long time. For an AR-15 barrel, examples of these are aircraft-grade aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, and stainless steel.
Stainless steel, in particular, is arguably the best choice for the 6.5 Grendel. That’s why each of the three barrels that we will review is built out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is very durable. It also resists corrosion better than most other metals do. This also includes when it has been left untreated.
Furthermore, stainless steel can absorb and release heat far more effectively than most other metals. This is excellent for preserving the life of your rifle barrel over the long term. It’s important for the 6.5 Grendel, which is a much hotter round than standard AR-15 calibers like the 5.56. When energy is contained longer in the barrel, the barrel heats up much faster, and it’s overall life before it begins to wear out shortens. Stainless steel ensures that energy is contained in the barrel to an absolute minimum before it is released.
Along with the durability in the barrel itself, you’ll also want it to have rust- and corrosion-resistant properties on the outside like stainless steel. It is often very rust and corrosion-resistant inherently. A nice and glossy bluing finish isn’t rust-resistant at all. Some AR parts manufacturers go as far as to cerakote the outside of their components, which makes them very resistant to rust and corrosion alike.
The Top 3 Best 6.5 Grendel Barrels
Here are our choices for the top three best 6.5 Grendel barrels on the market for 2021.
Faxon Firearms AR-15 6.5 Grendel Heavy Profile 20“
It’s hard to beat the Faxon Firearms overall. It provides you with a ton of value for the money. Its AR-15 6.5 Grendel Heavy Profile 20″ barrel is a durable precision barrel made out of 416R stainless steel. It has a nitride finish on both the inside and outside for excellent rust and corrosion resistance.
Another important feature about the Faxon Firearms is the fact that it utilizes 5R button rifling in the interior of the barrel. It maximizes the accuracy potential of the 6.5 Grendel round. This is because 5R rifling offsets grooves and lands in the barrel, unlike traditional rifling. Bullet distortion is kept to an absolute minimum as it travels down the barrel after you fire the rifle.
The muzzle is also threaded, so you can equip your 6.5 Grendel AR with anything from compensators to muzzle brakes to flash hiders. The barrel is also fluted to promote quick cooling after extended firing sessions. The 1:8 twist rate is sufficient to stabilize most 6.5 Grendel bullets.
Besides the 20-inch version, an 18-inch mid-length version of the Faxon Firearms is available as well. Although the 20-inch barreled version is preferable for long-distance precision shooting.
Overall, the Faxon Firearms Heavy Profile barrel is an excellent choice for a match barrel for your 6.5 Grendel AR-15. It’s durable, fluted, threaded at the end of the barrel, and has a rust- and corrosion-resistant nitride finish.
- Built out of durable 416R stainless steel
- 1:8 twist rate can stabilize many different bullet weights
- Fluted to promote fast cooling
- Has target crowned muzzle
- 5R bullet rifling ensures maximum accuracy for the 6.5 Grendel round
- Nitride finish on both the inside and outside for excellent rust and corrosion resistance
- Muzzle is threaded to accept flash hiders, muzzle brakes, or compensators
Brownells AR-15 6.5 Grendel Stainless Steel Barrel 24“
Are you looking for a barrel for your 6.5 Grendel that enables you to touch targets at long distances, such as at out to 1,000 yards or so? Then the Brownell’s Stainless Steel barrel is your choice. The Brownell’s also ships with a matching Type II bolt for the 6.5 Grendel, so you won’t have to go find and buy one on your own.
The Brownells AR-15 6.5 Grendel Stainless Steel is easily the longest barrel on this list at 24 inches long. As you can imagine, this is also an excellent barrel to use to tap targets at extremely long distances of around 1,000 yards or so.
Built out of very durable 416R stainless steel, this Brownells barrel is tapered for an overall medium profile. It has a threaded muzzle installed at the end so you can add muzzle brakes or compensators if you choose. These reduce muzzle flash and keep recoil limited, permitting faster follow up shots.
The 1:8 twist rate on the inside of the barrel is also versatile as it can accommodate a wide variety of different bullet weights.
The biggest downside to the Brownells is the weight as this is a very heavy barrel. While this is fine for shooting at the range. If anything, it enables you to get consistent groups. It isn’t fun for carrying around over long distances, such as if you wanted to take this out into the woods.
As part of the package, the barrel also comes with a matched Type II bolt to install on your AR-15. Remember that the 6.5 Grendel round requires a heavier bolt to function properly. More than likely, you won’t be able to use your 5.56 bolt.
For long-range shooting at 1,000 yards or so, or even for hunting at long range, the Brownell’s stainless-steel barrel represents a solid entry in the market. If you want to shoot your 6.5 Grendel round to ranges of 800 to 1,000 yards or more and do so out of a barrel that can handle a variety of different bullet weights, Brownells has you covered. The fact that it ships with a matched Type II bolt for the 6.5 Grendel round is also a major plus.
- 1:8 twist rate is ideal for a variety of different bullet weights
- Built out of durable 416R stainless steel
- Muzzle is threaded to accept flash hiders, muzzle brakes, or compensators
- Has an 11 degree target crown
- Ships with a matched Type II bolt for the 6.5 Grendel round
- Very heavy
- Not as useful in tight conditions
BSF Barrels Carbon Fiber 6.5 Grendel Barrel 18“
If you have money to spend on a premium, high-end 6.5 Grendel barrel, you’ll want to consider the BSF Barrels option. This is a match-grade, stainless-steel barrel that provides superb durability for a lifetime and accurate performance for your 6.5 Grendel AR-15.
The BSF Barrels Carbon Fiber 6.5 Grendel 18-inch barrel is a match-grade barrel that is also built out of a very durable 416R stainless steel. This is also the most expensive barrel on this list, but there’s a good reason for it. For example, this barrel comes with a carbon fiber wrap, which is three times stronger than steel, on the outside, but is not in direct contact with the barrel itself. This means that there is an air space between the fiber wrap and the barre, permitting faster cooling of the barrel as you shoot. This is also a very desirable feature to have when it comes to competition shooting.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the BSF barrel is the chrome and black colors used in conjunction with one another. This gives the barrel a very aesthetically pleasing look and feel.
The inner barrel of the BSF is also match-grade, with a .936-inch O.D. bull barrel that’s extremely comfortable. The 1:8 twist rate also ensures that the BSF can handle a wide variety of different bullet weights.
The BSF barrel for your 6.5 Grendel AR is very expensive, but it’s well worth the extra price that you pay due to its inherent durability, fast cooling properties, and match-grade qualities on the interior of the barrel itself.
- Very aesthetically pleasing
- Performs very well at long ranges despite being a midlength barrel
- Shorter length makes it more nimble and wieldy in tight conditions
- Match grade inner barrel
- Very durable 416R stainless steel
- Carbon fiber wrap around the barrel allows it to cool faster during extended firing sessions
- Excellent choice for competition shooting
- Very expensive
The 6.5 Grendel is an excellent precision shooting round for the AR-15, but it’s really only as good as the barrel you’re shooting it out of. The best 6.5 Grendel barrels are fluted, have the proper twist rate depending on the grain of bullets that you’re shooting, have corrosion and rust resistance, and be of a mid-to rifle-length to ensure superior performance at longer ranges.