I didn’t end up with a 6.5 hunting rifle like most guys do. In fact, I ended picking up the 6.5 Grendel out of pure inconsequential luck. I am a gear guy; the newest, the hottest, the coolest…I’m a sucker to say the least. I have bought 4 packs and six flashlights this spring. I am not, however, a gun guy. I have hunted the majority of the last 20 years with one single Nosler rifle. I have always thought of my rifle simply, as a tool of the trade, but hypocritically don’t apply this to my flashlights or backpacks. In spite of this, I do own a bolt action 6.5 Grendel. After hearing my friends and fellow guides talk about the 6.5 for a couple of years, I came to the irrational decision (totally concocted in my own mind) that I had to get one of these mind blowing rifles.
This is where my 6.5 story goes sideways.
Thus my ownership of my new 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle.
For all of you gun geeks that are reading this article here is the “ important” stuff. The G.5 Grendel is a .264 cal bullet with the parent case 220 Russian. It is much more readily available in a AR platform than a more typical bolt action hunting rifle. In the U.S. it was brought out in 2004 as a hunting round at the shot show by a company called Alexander Arms.
Before you pick up your 6.5 grendel, it is good to know these statistics:
6.5 GRENDEL STATISTICS
- Case length: 1.520 inches (6.5 Creedmoor is 1.920 inches)
- Overall Cartridge Length: 2.26 inches (same as .223 Remington.)
- Head Diameter: .441 inches
- Base Body Diameter: .439 inches
- Shoulder Angle: 30 degrees
- Rifling Twist Rate: 1:8 or 1:9
- Velocities through 24-inch barrel:
- 100-grain bullet: 2,745 fps
- 120-grain bullet: 2,520 fps
- 130-grain bullet: 2,400 fps
- 140-grain bullets intrude too deeply into powder space to be recommend
I’m sure I messed this up a bit or forgot something but remember, to me it is just a tool.
What makes a good hunting rifle?
What makes a “good hunting rifle” is different to me than most gun guys, and this is where I will split from a typical ballistics discussion/Andorra pudding match about which caliber is better for this exact scenario. I will revert to seeing the gun as a mere tool in my hunting bag.
A good hunting rifle is one you can and will shoot a lot. A good hunting rifle is reliable, well balanced, must have a quality trigger and be comfortable to shoot. A good hunting rifle is capable of killing a certain sized big game animal proficiently and cleanly at a certain distance.
The 6.5 Grendel checks most of these boxes pretty well, albeit not perfectly. The Grendel is a rifle that can be shot often. Both on an economic level and a comfort level. Most, I’d say 90%, of 6.5 Grendel rifles in the USA are in an AR platform style. This reality has caused ammunition manufacturers to produce a lot of high quality ammo at a low cost, because it is typically being run through a 30 round mag at the range for fun and/or self defense training. With factory ammo readily available from many manufacturers, the Grendel can be shot very inexpensively in practice. A quick search shows multiple options of ammo bought in bulk at .75 a round.
Is the 6.5 Grendel comfortable to shoot
The 6.5 Grendel bolt action hunting rifle is also very comfortable to shoot. On the low side as to recoil, there is no reason it can’t be shot 50 to 100 times in a morning with proper barrel maintenance. I have shot mine 20-30 times in a morning at coyotes without proper barrel maintenance.
I’ve used my 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle on two big game hunts. Both were for medium sized game, which I feel is the biggest query the Grendel is capable of. In both cases the rifle performed as flawlessly as I shot it. In both cases I had a broadside, double lung shot at around 200 yards. I know these examples are not very exciting or telling as to the capabilities of the caliber, but a tool that does what it should is all I ask.
In looking at one of the bigger ammo manufacturers in the USA, Hornady offers 123-grain SST bullets in its medium-game hunting line. The box boasts a muzzle velocity of 2580 fps that gradually slows to just under 2,000 fps at 400 yards while delivering more than 1,000 foot-pounds of energy at 450 yards. The chart shows, when zeroed at 200 yards, the round drops just 8.7 inches at 300 yards.
What is the effective range of a 6.5 Grendel?
The 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle is a fair choice for small to medium game with a maximum range of 400 yards. Effective range of the 6.5 Grendel would be 300-400 yards. I have killed a deer and an antelope both at just over 200 yards very precisely with my 6.5 Grendel.
The final piece that will make the 6.5 Grendel a good pick for hunting is the availability of brass and low cost of reloading. A quick internet search of possible loads shows that the Grendel burns between 25-30 grains of powder, depending on the load. Compare that to the 39-48 grains for the 6.5 Creedmoor case and the 90 grains in the 26 Nosler, the fastest commercial 6.5 on the market. There is a trade off in velocity but the Grendel is much cheaper to reload. Also, due to the massive amount of brass produced by the black gun guys, the cost of components is very low for the Grendel.
Should you pick the 6.5 Grendel for hunting? I don’t know. I’m going on a mule deer hunt tomorrow in Utah and I am going to reach right around that 6.5 and get Scarlet, my trusty 300 WSM Nosler.
Is the 6.5 Grendel a good deer rifle?
The simple answer to the question, “is the 6.5 Grendel a good deer rifle?” is no, and it is definitely not as good as the 6.5 Creedmore. The 6.5 Grendel is compact with mild recoil and efficient ballistic performance, depending on the platform rifle. Even if you know how to utilise it i wouldn’t recommend it.
I made a mistake that day in the gun shop when I picked up the 6.5 Grendel. I, however, now know a lot about how to utilize the 6.5 Grendel as a good hunting rifle. This discussion will be directed toward the bolt action style rifle, rather than an AR platform type. Mostly because I consider myself too “old-school” to hunt deer with a “black rifle.”