Are you looking to upgrade your 6.5mm Grendel AR-15 by getting a new barrel for it? Or are you thinking about building a rifle from the ground up and are trying to decide which barrel would be best?
Either way, you’ve come to the right place.
Best Overall Value: Faxon Firearms AR-15 6.5 Grendel Heavy Profile 20”
It really is hard to beat the Faxon Firearms overall. Their 6.5 Grendel Heavy Profile barrel is fairly priced and provides you with a ton of value over the money, such as the durable 416R stainless steel construction, rust resistant nitride finish on the inside and out, and the 5R bullet rifling to ensure maximum accuracy for the 6.5 Grendel round.
Best Long Range Shooting Pick: Brownell’s AR-15 6.5 Grendel Stainless Steel Barrel 24”
If you’re looking for a barrel for your 6.5 Grendel that really enable you to touch targets at long distances (such as at out to a thousand 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.
Best High End Option: BSF Barrels Carbon Fiber 6.5 Grendel 18”
If you have money to spend on a premium and 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 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, due to the fact that it’s a very low recoil and highly accurate cartridge that can outperform the more traditional 5.56x45mm NATO while still being not as large as the .308 Winchester of the AR-10 platform. As a result of its versatility, the 6.5 Grendel is also starting to be used in other kinds of rifles beyond the AR-15, including the AK-47 and various bolt action rifle systems.
The one piece of your rifle that will have the single great 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 6.5 Grendel round is designed for precision use. It’s not a very common round that can be found everywhere like the 5.56 or the .308. As a result, choosing a new barrel for your 6.5 Grendel AR is going to require a lot of careful thought and considerations. Thankfully, we’re going to dive into the specifics of the qualities your 6.5 barrel needs to have and 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 yet sure if the 6.5 is even 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 that could be used at distances up to around eight hundred yards or so (if not higher) and in the same magazines that a 5.56x45mm NATO round, the most common AR-15 caliber, uses.
The idea was that a precision shooter could have a precision AR-15 with superior ballistics, but without having to upgrade to the larger and heavier AR-10 that fires larger rounds such as the .308 Winchester. A thirty round 5.56 AR magazine will hold twenty six rounds of the 6.5 Grendel.
Furthermore, a 6.5 Grendel upper receiver will fit onto the lower receiver made for the 5.56. So if you already have an AR-15 chambered in 5.56, it really won’t be fully necessary to buy an entirely new rifle or build an entirely new rifle from scratch if you don’t want to, since 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 will fit in the 5.56 magazine, and it’s also why a 6.5 AR-15 needs a non-standard bolt in order to operate.
Today the 6.5 Grendel is considered by many AR enthusiasts 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, it can also be used for hunting medium sized game at long distances as well, including whitetail deer, wild boar, and pronghorn.
The 6.5 actually offers superior terminal energy at longer ranges than either cartridge, because the ballistic coefficient of the 6.5 is higher. In fact, a 6.5 Grendel round with a bullet weight of 123 grains will have superior armor penetration at a thousand meters than the .308 will.
Of course, in order to obtain 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 For 2019
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 directly impact how far you can accurately shoot your rifle out to. The longer the barrel, the longer ranges you’ll be able to shoot your firearm out to.
AR-15 barrels commonly come in three different variants: carbine length (16 inches), mid-length (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. Ann 18.5 inch barrel would work well for most precision shooting applications as well, however.
The next thing to consider is the rifle’s barrel twist rate. The twist rate is simply the number of inches that the bullet travels in order to rotate fully around before exiting the barrel. So a barrel with a twist rate of 1:8 means that the barrel would travel eight inches down the barrel before completing one rotation.
The best twist rate for the 6.5 Grendel round is honestly dependent on the bullet weight that you are using. Generally speaking, a twist rate of 1:9 will be good for bullet weights up to a hundred and sixty grains, while a 1:12 twist rate will be good for lighter loads around eighty grains. A barrel twist rate of 1:8 will be 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 have been removed. This means that the barrel is therefore lighter in weight, and will cool easier over prolonged shooting periods. Getting a fluted barrel will be a good decision for the 6.5 Grendel round so long as the barrel length is twenty inches or less.
Last but not least, absolutely ensure that your barrel is built out of durable materials so it can last you for a long time. For an AR-15 barrel, examples of durable materials that are commonly used include aircraft grade aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, and stainless steel.
Stainless steel in particular is arguably the best choice for the 6.5 Grendel, and that’s why each of the three barrels that we will take a look at in a moment are built out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is very tough and durable, and it also resists corrosion better than most other metals do, including 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, and it’s especially important for the 6.5 Grendel, which is a much hotter round than standard AR-15 calibers such as the 5.56. When energy is contained longer in the barrel, the barrel will heat up much faster, and it’s overall life before it begins to wear out will shorten. Stainless steel ensures that energy is contained in the barrel to an absolute minimum before it is released.
Along with inherent durability in the barrel itself, you’re also going to want the barrel to have rust and corrosion resistant properties applied to the outside barrel. For example, stainless steel is often very rust and corrosion resistant inherently, whereas a nice and glossy bluing finish will not be rust resistant at all. Some AR parts manufacturers will go as far as to cerakote the outside of their components, which will make them very resistant to rush and corrosion alike.
The Top 3 Best 6.5 Grendel Barrels For 2019
Here are our choices for the top three best 6.5 Grendel barrels on the market for 2019:
Faxon Firearms AR-15 6.5 Grendel Heavy Profile 20”
The Faxon Firearms AR-15 6.5 Grendel Heavy Profile 20” barrel is a durable precision barrel made out of 416R stainless steel and with a nitride finish on both the inside and the 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, which will maximize the accuracy potential of the 6.5 Grendel round. This is because that 5R rifling offsets grooves and lands in the barrel, unlike traditional rifling. Bullet distortion will be 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 will be sufficient for stabilize most 6.5 Grendel bullets.
In addition to the 20 inch version, an 18 inch mid-length version of the Faxon Firearms available as well, although the 20 inch barreled version will be 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 resistance 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
Brownell’s AR-15 6.5 Grendel Stainless Steel Barrel 24”
The Brownell’s AR-15 6.5 Grendel Stainless Steel is easily the longest barrel on this list at twenty four inches long. As you can imagine, this is also an excellent barrel to use to tap targets at extremely long distances of around a thousand yards or so.
Built out of very durable 416R stainless steel, this Brownell’s barrel is tapered for an overall medium profile, and has a threaded muzzle installed at the end so you can add muzzle brakes or compensators if you so choose, which can 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
The biggest downside to the Brownell’s is the weight: this is a very heavy barrel. While this is fine for shooting at the range (if anything, it enables you to get consistent groups), I will not be fun for carrying around over long distances (such as if you wanted to take this out into the woods).
As part of the package, a matched Type II bolt is shipped with this barrel to install on your AR-15. Remember that the 6.5 Grendel round requires a heavier bolt to be installed in order to function properly (more than likely, you won’t be able to use your 5.56 bolt).
For long range shooting at a thousand 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 eight hundred to a thousand yards or more, and do so out of a barrel that can handle a variety of different bullet weights, Brownell’s 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 wieldy in tight conditions
BSF Barrels Carbon Fiber 6.5 Grendel Barrel 18”
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 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 in 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 will probably notice about the BSF barrel, however, is the chrome and black colors that are used in conjunction with one another, giving this 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 extremely comfortable. The 1:8 twist rate also ensure 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 will 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 mid-length 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 is. The best 6.5 Grendel barrels will be fluted, have the proper twist rate depending on the grain of bullets that you’re shooting, have a corrosion and rust resistant, and be of a mid to rifle length in order to ensure superior performance at longer ranges.
Featured image by RobinHoodie5