The 6.5 Grendel is a revolutionary caliber that has gained an increasing level of popularity in the firearms community, thanks in large part due to the superior ballistics that it offers over other common rounds such as the 5.56x45mm NATO and the 7.62x51mm NATO or .308 Winchester.
What’s more, is that you can use the 6.5 Grendel in a 5.56 AR-15. Or specifically, you can use it in an AR-15 lower. You’re going to need to get an AR-15 upper that is made for the 6.5 Grendel though, and that includes getting all of the components of the upper receiver as well.
One such component for the upper receiver that you’re really going to need if you want your upper receiver to function well at all is the bolt.
Best Overall Pick: JP Enterprises AR-15 6.5 Grendel Full Mass Bolt Carrier Group
The JP Enterprises Bolt Carrier Group may be expensive, but you’re also getting a bolt carrier group that is long lasting, durable, and lightweight all at the same time, while also having a very smooth surface to create an overall pleasant shooting experience.
Best Budget Pick: Brownells M16 6.5 Grendel Bolt Carrier Group Nitride
The Brownells M16 6.5 Grendel Bolt Carrier Group is made out of two kinds of heat hardened steel with a rust and corrosion resistant nitride finish. For the money, it’s a solid offering.
Best Looking Pick: Faxon Firearms M16 Bolt Carrier Group 6.5 Grendel Mil-Spec
The Faxon Firearms M16 Bolt Carrier Group for the 6.5 Grendel is a mil-spec and very durable mil-spec assembly with a nitride finish for wear and rust resistance.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the vital importance of upgrading to a new bolt for your 6.5 Grendel rifle, and the top features that your bolt will need to have. Then, we’ll dive into the top three best 6.5 Grendel bolts on the market today. As an added bonus, we’ll also first discuss the merits of the 6.5 Grendel round itself.
Let’s get started!
Why The 6.5 Grendel Round To Begin With?
The 6.5 Grendel, or officially the 6.5mm Grendel, was designed to be an effective round in the two hundred to eight hundred yard range that would offer much better ballistics and performance than the 5.56x45mm NATO or .223 Remington cartridge.
A major limitation that existed for the 6.5 Grendel was that it needed to function in the existing 5.56 AR-15 lowers, which also meant that it would need to function reliably in 5.56 magazines. AR-15 5.56 magazines are widely available and cheap, so it’s a major plus that you can use such magazines for the round.
Since the designers of the 6.5 Grendel were limited by the dimensions of the magazine, they needed to produce a ballistically superior round in the shorter diameter case of the 5.56, while also having enough space for higher ballistic coefficient bullets.
When firing factory loaded ammunition, you can expect to gain muzzle velocity from two thousand and five hundred feet per second up to nearly three thousand feet per second. This is with bullet weights that can range from ninety to a hundred and thirty grains. Depending on their bullet and case materials, each 6.5 Grendel cartridge will weigh between fifteen to eighteen grams.
What’s also notable about the 6.5 Grendel round is the fact that the case head diameter of the bullets is virtually identical to the 7.62x39mm rounds, which are typically fired out of AK type rifles. The case head diameter of the 7.62x39mm is also larger than that of the 5.56x45mm NATO, and for this reason you can fit less rounds of the 6.5 Grendel in the 5.56 magazines than you can with actual 5.56 rounds. For a typical 30 round 5.56 STANAG AR-15 magazine, you can expect to fit in twenty six rounds of 6.5mm Grendel ammunition on average.
Many advocates for the 6.5 Grendel round love the bullet because they claim that it offers ballistics in between the 5.56 and the .308 Winchester. In reality, the 6.5 Grendel is actually capable of offering superior terminal energy at longer ranges than either of those calibers. This is because of the higher ballistic coefficient of the round. A 123 grain 6.5 Grendel bullet has better penetration and delivers higher energy at a thousand yard range than a 147 grain .308 Winchester round will.
All in all, the 6.5 Grendel is undeniably a great round that offers much better performance than the 5.56x45mm NATO or .223 Remington rounds. If you want to improve the shooting performance of your AR-15 substantially, updating to a round with superior ballistics such as the 6.5 Grendel will be an excellent way to achieve that.
Why Upgrade Your 6.5 Grendel Bolt?
If you currently own an AR-15 in 5.56 or .223 and want to upgrade to the 6.5 Grendel, you are going to need to completely swap out the upper receiver. You can keep the existing lower receiver and the magazines that you used for your 5.56. But there are also 6.5 Grendel magazines.
When it comes to the upper receiver, the most important component is the bolt carrier group, often times referred to as the BCG for short. The role of the BCG is to push the new round from the magazine into the chamber of the AR-15, to fire the primer so the bullet is propelled out of the casing and down the barrel, eject the spent casing, and then repeat the process.
In other words, the bolt carrier group is one hundred percent necessary for the function of the rifle, and without it, you wouldn’t even have a functioning firearm.
The bolt carrier group to the AR-15 will consist of the following parts: bolt, firing pin, extractor, gas key, and the cam pin. The entire component as a whole rests within the upper receiver.
The 6.5 Grendel will technically work with a 5.56 bolt carrier group, but it will require a different bolt. However, some users of the 6.5 Grendel prefer to just completely upgrade the entire bolt carrier group as a whole.
The reason why is because the 6.5 Grendel is a larger and more powerful round than the 5.56, and some feel that the bolt carrier groups commonly used for the 5.56 round are simply not durable enough.
Aftermarket bolts and bolt carrier groups made specifically for the 6.5 Grendel will be commonly beefed up with forged steel or aircraft grade aluminum, which is significantly less prone to breaking apart or malfunctioning. Furthermore, these bolt carrier groups also often come with a rust and corrosion resistant finishing, which further aids in durability such as a nickel coating.
Bolt carrier groups made for the 6.5 Grendel can also help to significantly dampen the larger recoil of the 6.5 over the 5.56. In contrast to this, 5.56 bolt carrier groups will often do little to nothing to properly reduce recoil. If you want to bring down recoil investing in a good muzzle brake for your 6.5 Grendel might be a good idea.
Remember that the 6.5 Grendel is a larger round than the 5.56, and as such it utilizes a different gas pressure. As a result, sustained firing from the 6.5 Grendel with a 5.56 bolt carrier group can cause it to crack (potentially).
An upgraded and more durable bolt carrier group made specifically for the 6.5 Grendel, or even just a new bolt, can do a lot to ensure proper performance out of your 6.5 Grendel AR-15. A better bolt or bolt carrier group can improve reliability and reduce recoil.
The biggest downside to upgrading your bolt carrier group or bolt largely comes down to price. The 6.5 Grendel, for all of its significant advantages, is not a very common caliber. As a result, bolts and bolt carrier groups and other accessories and components are not very common, so when you do find them they are much more expensive.
It’s only up to you to decide if you want to spend the money on a bolt carrier group for your 6.5 Grendel. You will need a new bolt no matter what, but you may or may not want to buy an entirely new bolt carrier group to go with it.
Buyer’s Guide To Finding The Best 6.5 Grendel Bolts
These are the most important factors to consider when looking for a new receiver for your Ruger 10/22 rifle.
Bolt Carrier Group or Just The Bolt?
Again, when upgrading to a 6.5 Grendel AR-15, you don’t necessarily have to get an entirely new bolt carrier group, but you will most certainly need a new bolt.
Therefore, you can get a new bolt while keeping the old 5.56 bolt carrier group if you want to. But as we just discussed above, some people like to get an entirely new bolt carrier group for their 6.5 Grendel for the reasons we went over in the previous section.
Do you get just a new bolt for your 6.5 Grendel, or an entirely new bolt carrier group overall? That’s up to you to decide.
Regardless of whether you get an entirely new bolt carrier group or just the bolt, you will need to ensure that you get it in very durable materials that can easily handle the added pressures of the 6.5 Grendel caliber. Good options will be 8620 or 9130 hardened steel that have also been heat treated properly.
Durable bolts will prevent cracking and also ensure proper reliability and function.
Adjustable Gas Key
An adjustable gas key enables you to modify the gas pressure inside the chamber of your AR-15. Sometimes, this is necessary to modulate the recoil and performance of your rifle. For a round with additional pressures such as the 6.5 Grendel, you’re going to definitely need an adjustable gas key to go with it.
Rust and Corrosion Resistant Finish
Nickel boron, nitride, cerakote, OPQ, and stainless steel are all examples of finishes that can do a good job of resisting rust and corrosion when exposed to humidity. These finishes also do a good job of creating an overall smoother finish, so your gun operates smoother as well. This will help to create an overall more pleasant shooting experience.
The 3 Best 6.5 Grendel Bolts For 2020
Now that we’ve covered why you need to upgrade your bolt for the 6.5 Grendel round and what to look for in a new bolt or bolt carrier group. are the top three best 6.5 Grendel bolts for 2020.
Take note that each of the bolts we’re going to cover are included as part of a larger bolt carrier group system:
Brownells M16 6.5 Grendel Bolt Carrier Group Nitride Mp
The Brownells 6.5 Grendel Bolt Carrier Group is constructed using both 9130 steel and 8230 steel. Both of these components are often used in the construction of AR-15 bolt carrier groups in general, and have proven to be very long lasting and durable.
As this is a complete bolt carrier group assembly, in addition to the bolt itself, it also comes with the firing pin, cam pin, firing pin retention pin, and the extractor. It also has an adjustable gas key, which is a necessary feature you will want for the 6.5 Grendel round in order to help tame the larger recoil.
The bolt itself is a Type 2 bolt with a black nitride finish for superior rust and corrosion resistance. The entire assembly has been heat treated for superior durability, and a rubber insert and spring ensures proper functioning and reliability so the rounds won’t jam.
The biggest negative to this bolt carrier group is the fact that there are some noticeable imperfections in the group, such as tool markings. These won’t negative affect the function of the bolt carrier group in any way, but they are definitely not as aesthetically pleasing.
Then again, you’re also paying a lot less money for this bolt carrier group then several other bolt carrier groups on the market (including the two we’re going to take a look at next), so you really can’t complain.
All in all, the Brownells M16 6.5 Grendel Bolt Carrier Group is a solid option for the money. It’s durable, rust resistant, and functions well even if the tool markings do take away from its aesthetic value in contrast to other bolt carrier group.
- Built out of two types of grades of steel
- Black nitride finish for superior rust and corrosion resistant
- Heat treated for superior strength
- Comes with a rubber insert and spring to ensure reliability
- Tool markings
Faxon Firearms M16 Bolt Carrier Group 6.5 Grendel Mil-Spec
The Faxon Firearms M16 Bolt Carrier Group Assembly for the 6.5 Grendel is a mil-spec bolt carrier group assemble option that is built out of durable steel with a nitride finish to help reduce traction during shooting and general wear and tear over time.
This is a very smooth bolt carrier assembly that will lend itself naturally to a very pleasurable shooting experience. The smooth finish also ensure that the entire bolt carrier group is easy to clean. The adjustable gas block also enables you to control recoil while shooting, and the shrouded firing pin helps to protect it.
The entire assembly is built out of a very durable 9130 steel, and again it has been fully finished in nitride and heat treated for great rust and corrosion resistance.
The biggest negative to the Faxon Firearms M16 Bolt Carrier Group is that it is much heavier than other bolt carrier groups, so it will add some weight to your AR-15.
Overall, the Faxon Firearms M16 Bolt Carrier Group is a solid choice for a bolt carrier assembly. It’s adjustable, rust resistant, and very durable, if also a little heavy.
- Nitride finished for wear and rust resistance
- Built out of 9130 steel
- Mil-spec design
- Comes with an adjustable gas block to help reduce recoil
JP Enterprises AR-15 6.5 Grendel Full Mass Bolt Carrier Group
The JP Enterprises AR-15 6.5 Grendel Bolt Carrier Group assembly is built out of exceptionally tough 9103 stainless steel, and despite that is also very lightweight. That’s because JP Enterprises built this BCG with reduced mass, which also helps to improve the rapid fire handling.
The OPQ finish applied to the outside of the JR Enterprises BCG is very rust and corrosion resistant and also gives this upper assembly an overall smooth operation. Take note that this will also create a much more fun shooting experience as well. Each component to this bolt carrier group has also been precision machined.
Be warned that the JP Enterprises is very expensive, and can cost nearly as much as some lower costs AR-15s, and over what some entire upper receivers costs.
The JP Enterprises bolt carrier group is a lightweight and yet highly durable bolt carrier group with an improved cyclic rate and very smooth operation.
- Reduced mass reduces weight and improves rapid fire handling
- Very tough and long lasting
- Comes with a OPQ finish for maximum wear resistance
- Very smooth operation with minimal friction
- Precision machined
- Very expensive
And that concludes our list of the top three best 6.5 Grendel bolts for 2020! The 6.5 Grendel is an excellent round, but it requires the use of a unique and special designed bolt carrier group. Any one of the three bolt carrier groups that we have covered in this article will be a great option to consider.
The bolt carrier group that you get, regardless of whether it’s one of the bolt carrier groups in this article or not, will need to be very durable and also have the proper finishing to resisting normal wear and tear.
It also helps to have a fully adjustable gas key to help aid in function as well.
Overall, upgrading your bolt carrier group will help to improve the accuracy, function and reliability of your rifle.
Featured image by RobinHoodie5