6.5 Grendel AR-15 Rifle Complete

Best 6.5 Grendel Uppers

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Have you ever looked at your AR-15 and wished that it just had a little more Power.

Defending yourself from four-legged threats, harvesting game, or punching steel at really long distances — you just need a little more power sometimes. Thankfully, you can have it.

If you’re not sure what the hype is about 6.5 Grendel, we’ll let you in on the facts, give you the info you need, and cover the Best AR-15 6.5 Grendel Uppers!

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What Is 6.5 Grendel?

Designed by Bill Alexander of Alexander Arms (the same guy that gave us the 50 Beowulf) 6.5 Grendel was basically his attempt to build a better mousetrap for the AR-15 platform.

5.56 NATO Vs. 6.5 Grendel
(left) 6.5 Grendel (right) 5.56 NATO

While 5.56 NATO can do a lot of things, it isn’t the most powerful cartridge around nor does it reach out the furthest. 

Ol’ Bill wanted to give the AR-15 a boost in power and range, so he did.

Named after the monster that the hero Beowulf slays while defending his beer hall, 6.5 Grendel uses most of the same parts as a normal 5.56 NATO AR-15. 

Just change the bolt, barrel, and magazines and you’re good to go.

Depending on your ammo, 6.5 Grendel will stay supersonic past 1,000 yards and deliver over 1,000 ft.lbf on target past 400 yards.

Compared to 5.56 NATO, that’s a spicy meatball.

Type 2 Vs Type 1

Something a little odd that you might run across is that there are actually two specs for 6.5 Grendel bolts and chambers — type 2 and type 1.

Bill Alexander is proud of his inventions, as he should be.

When he invented 6.5 Grendel he chose to copyright the name “6.5 Grendel” and generally refused to license it out or charged a very high fee for it. 

Best 6.5 Grendel Bolts
6.5 Grendel cross section!

Not willing to put up with that nonsense, Les Baer Custom changed the spec slightly and started calling it “Type 1 Grendel” while the Alexander Arms original began to be called “Type 2”.

A couple of years later, Alexander Arms submitted 6.5 Grendel for SAAMI certification (SAAMI is the trade organization that regulates the official specs for cartridges and chambers).

As a part of that process, Alexander Arms was required to release the copyright on the name.

Type 2, the original spec for 6.5 Grendel, was granted SAAMI approval and has become the industry standard. In fact, it’s pretty hard to find anyone still making Type 1 Grendel these days.

But still — double-check to make sure you’re buying a Type 2 barrel and bolt, don’t even bother with Type 1. 

All 6.5 Grendel ammo is the same — there is no type 2 and type 1 for ammo. Just the barrel and bolt you want to read the description on and make sure it’s type 2.

Practical Applications

Hunting

Hunting with an AR-15 is becoming more commonplace and it’s really a great platform for to use.

A lightweight, ergonomic, accurate rifle with lots of options is a solid idea.

Grendel can really help maximize the AR-15 as a hunting rifle by giving you accurate long-range shots out much further than 5.56 NATO can.

While this adage is outdated and not entirely accurate, the idea of 1,000-foot-pounds of energy being the baseline for what you want to take whitetail deer is still a decent benchmark to aim for.

6.5 Grendel will reliably give you that out to at least 400 yards. For the vast majority of hunters, that is more than enough room.

Long Range

For hitting steel or paper at long distances, 6.5 Grendel has a lot more legs to it than most people will give it credit for.

Factory ammo is supersonic past 1,000 yards and can be very accurate. 

Given the right barrel and load choices, 6.5 Grendel can greatly outperform .308 Winchester at long range while also giving you less recoil, less cost, and longer barrel life.

Gredel Hunter 6.5 Grendel Rifle

I’ve taken my Grendel to 750 yards repeatedly and love it.

Pistols/SBR

Most cartridges lose a ton of kick as the barrel gets shorter, that’s not surprising really.

Grendel is one of those rare cartridges that do well out of a short barrel, like 12″, and out of longer barrels.

You’ll always get more muzzle velocity with longer barrels, but even with a 12″ barrel you can expect around 2,250 FPS, supersonic to 900+ yards, and 1,000 ft.lbf to at least 225ish yards.

That’s a lot of punch for only 12″ of barrel.

End Of The World

Grendel is a mixed bag on this front. While having more punch in your AR-15 is a great thing to have — the lack of ammo at the end of the world might be an issue.

But maybe you’ve stocked ammo deep or you’re a master at making do with what you got. In that case, Grendel can serve you well.

Better for hunting, better for long-range, and more punch in CQB — Grendel has a lot going for it when nothing but the cockroaches and mutants walk the earth.

Building A 6.5 Grendel Rifle

Just in case you’re not sure, what you need is a barrel, a bolt, and magazines — but the magazines are at least a little optional.

Everything else is standard AR-15 parts.

A new upper gives you what you need to just drop it in and hit the range. For most of us, this is the best way of getting into Grendel.

Clip vs Magazine
In a punch, 5.56 NATO mag will work for 6.5 Grendel

No need to worry about type 1 and type 2 when you get an assembled upper.

For magazines, real 6.5 Grendel mags are nice since they improve feeding — especially when you get 10+ round mags.

But in a pinch, standard 5.56 NATO mags work. You’ll just have to download them a couple of rounds.

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Best 6.5 Grendel Uppers

Palmetto State Armory 20″

20″ stainless steel barrel, BCG and CH included, and a 15″ M-LOK handguard — this upper has everything you need for a solid hunting rifle or punching paper/steel at long distances.

I like 20″ because it’s more energy than the 16″ or 18″ but doesn’t get too wildly hard to carry like the 24″ models.

With 20″ I’ve punched steel at almost 800 yards with ease.

PSA uppers are surprisingly good for the money, I’ve always found them to be accurate and durable. While this might not shoot sub-MOA with every load, you can generally find at least one factory ammo type that these will shoot MOA with.

If you want a highly flexible 6.5 Grendel upper, this is a solid pick.

Palmetto State Armory 12″ 

Basically the exact same as the 20″ except about 8″ shorter. Really, they’re the same upper. M-LOK handguard, solid construction, good barrel, you’re just trading a 20″ for a 12″ and going from rifle length gas to carbine length.

This means the recoil will be slightly sharper, but otherwise, it’s the exact same gun.

Just keep in mind that 12″ means your lower needs to be a pistol lower or an SBR.

Grendel Hunter 20″

As the name implies, Grendel Hunter is designed for hunters. Most of their barrels are fluted and all of them come with a really effective brake on the end to help tame recoil and keep you on target no matter what.

The fluted barrels really help to keep the weight down also, a major plus if you’re walking uphill both ways.

They have an amazing reputation for accuracy and quality. I’ve been a big fan of the uppers I’ve gotten to use and I strongly recommend them to anyone.

With lots of lengths and colors in stock, you have all of the options you need!

Sons of Liberty Gun Works East India Match 18″

SOLGW is a major name in the industry and has built an amazing reputation for quality and durability.

If you want an upper you can always depend on to get you out of trouble, this is where I would go for it.

This model comes without a handguard, kind of odd but at least that lets you pick your own.

Building a mountain hunting rifle? Get something lightweight. End of the world? Get a quad rail and live like a boss.

The choice is yours.

Bottom line, this is one of the best 6.5 Grendel uppers ever made. Even if it doesn’t come with a BCG or CH.

Anderson AM-15 16″

Most people think of Anderson for their crazy cheap stripped lowers. Back before the world got crazy, you could grab an Anderson lower for about $30.

But they also make other AR-15 items — like a 6.5 Grendel complete upper!

This upper isn’t anything really special to write home about. It’s functional, decently made, and you can count on it.

But it’s the bare basics. I wouldn’t bet on this upper to make small groups at 1,000 yards, but I would bet on it for being a solid deer harvester or general plinker.

And it’s coming in at a great price — plus comes with BCG and CH.

When the basics are all you need, Anderson is always a good option.

Wrapping Up

I love the 6.5 Grendel, I think it’s a great cartridge with a lot of potential for all sorts of different applications.

From a 20″+ long-range precision upper to a short little 12″ hunting upper, you have loads of options in the pre-made market and even more if you decide to build your own.

Get a wide range of ammo to test out and you’ll be sure to find something that works for you!

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