Looking for a more powerful alternative to the .223 Remington to use in your AR-15? Here's What You Need to Know About 6.8 SPC vs 6.5 Grendel.
Most hunters and shooters would probably agree that modern sport rifles chambered for Remington .223 or 5.56x45mm NATO are great for predator hunting, target shooting and just plain fun at range. However, the use of these smaller cartridges in a larger game is a very controversial subject.
The AR platform is extremely popular in the United States and has many inherent advantages for hunters.
Because of this, designers have made many attempts over the years to build more powerful cartridges for the AR-15. Unfortunately, there are some significant challenges in building larger caliber cartridges that improve the performance of the .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO while still working reliably in an AR-15.
Because of this, hunters have two main options for medium barrel AR rounds: 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 Remington SPC. Both cartridges are solid performers and there is some overlap in their abilities, but each also has different strengths and weaknesses.
In this article, I will do an in-depth comparison between the 6.8 SPC and the 6.5 Grendel and discuss the pros and cons of both so you can make an informed decision on which cartridge is best for you.
Before I begin, I have a few administrative notes:
First, the .223 Remington and the 5.56x45mm NATO are technically different cartridges, but the practical difference in performance between the .223 and the 5.56 makes no difference for the purposes of this article. However, be very careful when trying to trade the .223 Remington for its NATO cousin.
For a more detailed discussion of the differences between .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO rounds, read this article:
223 vs 5.56: What should you shoot with your AR-15?
Second, some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue creating free content that is useful for hunters like you. Thank you for your support.
Finally, I recorded an entire podcast episode about the different cartridge options for the AR-15 (including the 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel). If you'd rather listen than read, click the appropriate link below to listen to this episode on your favorite podcasting service.
6.5 Grendel e 6.8 SPCPodcast
story of6.5 Grendel e 6.8 SPC
Every cartridge's story begins in the same place: with the .223 Remington and the AR-15.
The M-16 rifle and 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge got off to a bad start in Vietnam with the US Army and Marine Corps, although modifications to the rifle and ammunition solved most of the US personnel's problems. USA - The military still had serious concerns about the stopping power of the tiny cartridge.
These concerns were shared by civilian hunters who adopted AR-15 and .223 Remington cartridges during the last two decades of the 20th century. While the rifle and cartridge excelled at target shooting and predator/vermin hunting, the .223 Remington gained a reputation for underperforming at hunting the size of deer.
However, the AR-15 platform provided shooters with a number of advantages and, unsurprisingly, it was also very popular in the United States.
Gun designers who had their finger on the pulse of the American hunting and shooting communities realized that they saw a potentially enormous opportunity.
Since many people loved the AR-15, but the .223 Remington cartridge wasn't the best choice for big games, the designers decided to create a line of higher caliber cartridges that were more powerful than the .223 Remington but still worked. on AR-15 rifles.
This list includes cartridges like the.300 energy left, a.450 Bushmaster, .458 SOCOM e .50 Beowulf.
Bill Alexander (the same guy who developed the .50 Beowulf) designed the 6.5 Grendel in 2002 to quell this itch. When modifying a 6.5 mm PPC case (descendant of Russian .220 and7,62 x 39 mmcartridges) Alexander was very successful in building an efficient, accurate and sweet cartridge that worked very well on the AR platform.
The Grendel 6.5 cartridge is also significantly more powerful than the Remington .223. Additionally, the cartridge is extremely versatile, making it suitable for long-range shooting, worm hunting, tactical, law enforcement and big game hunting applications.
Initially, the cartridge struggled to gain wide acceptance in the shooting and hunting communities for a number of reasons, one of which was the fact that Bill Alexander trademarked the cartridge's name. However, Alexander dropped the brand in 2011 when the cartridge received SAAMI approval, which allowed other companies to produce ammunition, barrels, etc. called 6.5 Grendel.
Around the same time that Alexander was building the 6.5 Grendel, the Remington Arms Company received a request from the US Army Special Forces community to help them develop a more lethal alternative to the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge that would still work. 4 carabiners. 🇧🇷
The new 6.8mm Remington special cartridge (also known as the 6.8 SPC) was the result of this development.
Basically, Remington personnel in cooperation with the Army Marksmanship Unitused an abbreviationCase .30 Remington (cousin of the old .32 Remington and .35 Remington) neck to fire a 6.8mm bullet (caliber .270). The original target was a 115-grain bullet traveling at 2,800 feet per second (2,002 foot-pounds of energy). However, the initial charge offered to the public fired a 115-grain bullet at a velocity of 2,625 feet per second (1,759 foot-pounds of energy).
The 6.8 Remington SPC received SAAMI approval in 2004.
Like the Grendel 6.5, the SPC 6.8 was significantly more powerful than the 5.56x45mm cartridge and had approximately 40% more muzzle energy than the standard cartridge.Load M855the military used it this time.
In fact, the lethality advantage the 6.8 SPC had over the 5.56x45mm cartridge grew even more when both were compared to a shorter 16" barrel.
Unfortunately, as with many of the other cartridges Remington has developed over the years (such as the 6mm Remington, Remington .260 and .280 Remington) the company really screwed up the implementation of 6.8 SPC. In this case, the first 6.8 SPC rifles had a poor chamber design that caused pressure spikes in the original factory loads, causing Remington to unload the cartridge to keep the pressure at safe levels.
Remington has addressed these issues and shooters now have access to a 6.8 SPC II chambered with an additional 0.050″ of neck clearance compared to the original SAAMI spec design.
However, this did not happen until SAAMI approved the cartridge with the old specifications.
We now have a situation where the SAAMI specs of the 6.8 SPC still reflect the old chamber dimensions, so most factory 6.8 SPC ammo options are designed to fire rifles reliably with the original chamber dimensions.
Such factory loads can be safely used in rifles chambered for SAAMI 6.8 SPC or 6.8 SPC II, but the ballistic performance of these ammunition leaves much to be desired.
On the other hand, the chambered 6.8 SPC II can safely handle hotter loads, and handloaders who have a 6.8 SPC II rifle can make some custom loads that are closer to the full potential of the cartridge.
While the 6.8 SPC has several strengths, it's easy to see why this cartridge also struggled to gain wide acceptance in the wider sporting community.
6,8 SPC vs. 6,5 Grendel: cartridge sizes
As you can see in the photo below, the 6.5mm Grendel and the 6.8mm Remington SPC are somewhat similar, there are also some obvious differences between them.
First, both cartridges are the same overall length: 2.26″. The AR-15 can only accept cartridges up to 2.26″ in length, so both are reaching the limit that will fit in the rifle.
At 1.68″, the 6.8 Remington has a slightly longer body than the 6.5 Grendel (1.52″).
Coming from different parent cartridges, the 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel have different rim diameters: 0.422″ for the 6.8 SPC and 0.438″ for the 6.5 Grendel.
For these reasons, the case capacity for both cartridges is similar, but the 6.8 SPC generally has slightly more powder capacity than the 6.5 Grendel.
Each cartridge also uses bullets of different diameters: 0.264″ for Grendel and 0.277″ for SPC.
Most Grendel 6.5 ammo is generally 90 to 130g, with the 100g, 110g, 120g and 123g bullets being the most popular. 6.8 SPC ammunition typically uses 75-120 gram bullets, with 85 gram, 110 gram, 115 gram, and 120 gram bullets being the most common.
The 6.8 SPC is also loaded at slightly higher pressure than the 6.5 Grendel (55,000 psi versus 52,000 psi).
6,5 Grendel vs. 6,8 SPCBallistic
These differences in the external dimensions of the 6.5 Grendel and the 6.8 SPC lead to some interesting differences in their ballistic performance.
This is illustrated in the table below, which compares Hornady factory ammunition. The 6.5 Grendel payload uses a 123 gram ELD-M (0.506 BC), while the 6.8 SPC payload uses a 120 gram SST (0.400 BC).
Note that Hornady advertises a muzzle velocity of 2580 fps for this specific 6.5 Grendel load, but uses a 24-inch barrel for this. At the same time, they advertise their 6.8 SPC payload from a 16″ barrel at a velocity of 2460 fps. To make an apples-to-apples comparison as accurate as possible, I also recorded ballistics data for the same Hornady 6.5 Grendel payload at 2369 fps.from a 16″ barrel.
All three charges used a 100-yard zero.
As you can see, carrying a Grendel 6.5 with a 24" gun starts with about a 12% advantage in kinetic energy, which increases with range (about 40% more at 500 yards). This is because this particular load uses a heavier bullet with a higher ballistic coefficient and faster muzzle velocity.
Also, this particular Grendel 6.5 loadout has a flatter trajectory at all distances. As with kinetic energy, this benefit increases with range: you have about 1 inch less bullet fall at 200 yards, about 3 inches less bullet fall at 300 yards, about 7.5 inches less bullet drop at 400 yards and nearly 15 inches less bullet drop. at 500 yards.
However, things change a bit when the 6.5 Grendel is used in a shorter barreled rifle.
In this case, SPC 6.8 actually starts with 5% more kinetic energy. However, the 6.5 Grendel still uses a heavier, more aerodynamic bullet, so the slight advantage in kinetic energy diminishes, eventually shifting in favor of the 6.5 Grendel between 100 and 200 yards. At 500 yards, the Grendel 6.5 has approximately 15% more kinetic energy.
When fired from a 16″ barrel, the 6.5 Grendel also has almost exactly the same trajectory as the 6.8 SPC.
All in all, the difference in performance between cartridges at 200 meter ranges is quite small.
The graph below compares how much a 10 mph crosswind acts on the same 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC loads at 500 yards.
Once again, we see the 6.5 Grendel outperform the 6.8 SPC in terms of long range wind. This is true for both barrel lengths, although the difference in performance is less when the Grendel 6.5 is fired from a shorter barrel.
However, the 6.8 SPC is still a very effective cartridge at short and medium ranges.
The table below compares the recoil produced by loads very similar to those compared above for each cartridge when fired from identical rifles.
Perceived recoil varies from shooter to shooter and rifle to rifle, but recoil free energy is still a useful way to compare cartridges.
As you can see, both cartridges have very low recoil, but the 6.8 SPC has an advantage in this area. Specifically, the 6.8 SPC has approximately 25% less recoil free energy than the 6.5 Grendel. That's really saying something, because Grendel 6.5 is also known for its very smooth recoil.
So where do we find each cartridge?
6,8 SPC vs. 6,5 Grendel
The 6.5 Grendel fires smaller diameter and generally more aerodynamic bullets than the 6.8 SPC. Trajectories and stored kinetic energy are similar in typical hunting ranges when both rounds are fired from the same barrel. The Grendel 6.5 has a slight edge when used on longer runs.
The 6.5 Grendel is a relatively flat, moderately powerful cartridge that is also quite resistant to wind drift. This is particularly notable considering the cartridge packs this level of performance into a very small package that still fits within the relatively tight constraints of the AR-15 platform.
Although it has more recoil than the 6.8 SPC, the recoil of the 6.5 Grendel is still noticeably lighter than other soft recoil cartridges like the6.5 Creedmoor and the .308 Winchester, so most shooters and hunters can handle it easily.
Grendel 6.5 also has an advantage when it comes to projectile selection. Because 0.264″/6.5mm bullets are used, the 6.5 Grendel has a better choice of large BC bullets that are better suited for long-range performance than the 6.8 SPC.
Don't think I'm going to chase the 6.8mm SPC.
Make no mistake: this is a very good hunting cartridge with excellent final performance.
Although the 6.8 SPC has some ballistic performance compared to the 6.5 Grendel, this is particularly pronounced over longer distances. You should also note that it's possible to get slightly better performance with manual loads on a 6.8 SPC II camera, so the performance difference between the 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel narrows down a bit under these circumstances.
The same applies to the barrel length.
Remember: the situation changes a little when you compare the performance of these cartridges with rifles of the same barrel length.
The 6.5 Grendel has a clear advantage when comparing the performance of loads fired from a 6.8 SPC rifle with a 16" barrel versus a Grendel 6.5 with a 24" barrel.
While the 6.8 SPC still works great with a shorter barreled rifle, the Grendel's performance advantage diminishes as the 100-200fps velocity advantage disappears or is lost entirely when firing from a short barreled rifle.
The 6.8 SPC cartridge is more than powerful enough to hunt vermin, as well as medium-sized animals such as wild boar and deer, at close to medium ranges, while still providing excellent performance when used in short-barreled rifles.
He also uses a slightly larger diameter bullet.
Specifically, the larger 0.277-inch diameter shells used by the 6.8 SPC have approximately 10% more frontal surface area (also known as cross-sectional area) than the 6.5 Grendel (0. 0603 versus 0.0547 square inches). Other things being equal, a bigger bullet will make a bigger hole, cause more tissue damage, and result in more blood loss.
All in all, it's an exceptional hunting cartridge.
Glenn and Michelle Guess (who have killed literally thousands of pigs) are very fond of using the SPC 6.8 to hunt pigs, especially at night with a thermal sight. Watch the video below to see how effective the cartridge was on a pair of really big, beefy boars.
In addition to hunting, the 6.8 SPC is also a good choice for self-defense/personal protection for people who like the AR-15 platform.
And the accuracy of 6.5 Grendel versus 6.8 SPC?
On the one hand, the 6.5 Grendel has been used extensively in the hands of competitive shooters and has an excellent reputation in the field.
The 6.8 SPC is also capable of excellent accuracy.
However, the above advantages that the 6.5 Grendel has in terms of bullet drop and resistance to wind drift make the Grendel a much better cartridge for long range fire beyond 300 yards, especially when used in a longer barreled rifle. .
Either way, in the right hands, both cartridges are extremely accurate.
6,5 Grendelagainst 6.8 SPC ammo
With 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel targeting a specific niche in the hunter community, both are not very popular in absolute terms. That said, there are some good factory ammo options for both cartridges.
Notably, this list includes Federal with its Fusion MSR and American Eagle lines, and Hornady with its American Gunner, Black and Custom lines.
Alexander Arms still makes 6.5 Grendel ammo and Wolf also offers a very good and cheap Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) option for the cartridge. Nosler used to sell 6.5 Grendel ammo as well, but they stopped producing 6.5 Grendel ammo at that point.
Nosler produces 6.8 SPC ammunition through the Silver State Armory (SSA). Prvi Partizan, Remington and Sellier & Bellot also offer a few different 6.8 SPC ammo options.
As both cartridges are used by a relatively small segment of the hunting world, not all sporting goods stores carry 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 SPC ammunition. However, Grendel 6.5 is generally a bit more common of the two.
Ammo availability is generally very good online and large retailers often stock a good range of quality factory ammo for both cartridges.
BUY EXCELLENT GRENDEL 6.5 HUNTING AMMUNITION HERE
BUY AMAZING 6.8 SPC HUNTING AMMO HERE
If you want to learn more about some of the different fighter ammo options for the Grendel 6.5, read this article:
The best Grendel 6.5 ammo for hunting deer and other big game
Fortunately, reload components for both cartridges are widely available.
The Grendel 6.5 fires the same 0.264″ bullet size as the6.5×55 Swedish, 6,5 Creedmoor, .260 Remington e6.5 People's Republic of China(between others).
The 6.8 SPC is somewhat notable as it uses the same 0.277″ diameter projectile as the 0.277″.270 Winchester, .270 Weatherby Magnum y270 WSM🇧🇷 That said, the 6.8 SPC generally uses lighter bullets than these other cartridges, so there is a somewhat limited selection of .277 caliber bullets suitable for the 6.8 SPC.
Options for reloading the 6.8 SPC include Barnes TSX, TTSX and TAC-TX, Hornady GMX, InterBond, InterLock, SST and V-Max, Nosler AccuBond, Ballistic Tip, E-Tip and Partition.
Bullets such as Barnes LRX, TSX, TTSX and TAC-X, Hornady ELD-X, GMX, InterBond, InterLock, SST and V-Max, Nosler AccuBond, AccuBond Long Range, Ballistic Tip, E-Tip and Partition, Remington Core Lokt and Swift Scirocco and A-Frame (to name a few) are options to boost the 6.5 Grendel.
6.5 Grendel vs.6.8 RCParmas
Again, the Grendel 6.5 is a bit more common and there are quite a few semi-automatic and bolt-action rifles in this cartridge. On the other hand, there are only a handful of options for firearms chambered in 6.8 SPC.
Alexander Arms made the first 6.5 Grendel rifles and continues to do so. Since then, Wilson Combat and a few other companies such as Radical Firearms and Brenton USA have started making modern sporting rifles. It is also possible to purchase a superior Grendel 6.5 receiver and convert an existing AR-15 to fire Grendel.
The Ruger American Ranch and Predator rifles are currently made in Grendel 6.5. The same applies to the CZ 527 and Howa Mini.
On the other hand, the options for 6.8 SPC rifles are more limited. Barrett, Rock River, and Savage currently produce 6.8 SPC semiautomatic rifles. As with the Grendel 6.5, it is possible to buy a top 6.8 SPC receiver (like the one from LWRC) and convert an AR-15 to fire the round.
The Grendel 6.5 and SPC 6.8 can use regular M16 rifle/M4 carbine magazines with a slight decrease in magazine capacity. A typical 30-round magazine contains 25 rounds of 6.8 SPC and 26 rounds of 6.5 Grendel.
I am not aware of any current production 6.8 SPC bolt-action rifles, but the Remington 700 and Ruger Hawkeye were available in cartridge at one point and appeared on the secondary market from time to time.
buy a good oneGrendel 6.5 hunting rifle here.
buy a big oneHunting Rifle 6.8 SPC here.
6,8 SPC vs. 6,5 Grendel: Which one is right for you?
Do you mainly hunt medium-sized animals, such as deer, wild boar or black bears, at distances of up to 200 meters? Either shell will do the job for sure if you do your part, and there isn't a gargantuan difference between them ballistically within 300 yards.
Are you looking for a better cartridge for hunting long range game like mule deer or pronghorn outdoors where you may need to shoot several hundred yards? The Grendel 6.5 has a flatter trajectory, floats less in the wind and carries much more power beyond 200 meters.
Do you prefer to use a semi-automatic rifle for hunting or for self-defense? Both will work great in this role. There are more Grendel 6.5 ammo and rifle options, but the SPC 6.8 is still a solid choice.
Are you looking for the perfect cartridge for a short barreled rifle (SBR)? Go with SPC 6.8. With a shorter barrel of 16-18 inches, it develops almost all of its potential and loses minimal velocity with even shorter barrels. This is in contrast to the Grendel 6.5, which requires a 20" or larger barrel for best performance.
Are you sensitive to recoil and need a low recoil cartridge? Both have very light recoil, but the 6.8 SPC has significantly less than the 6.5 Grendel.
Want the most suitable cartridge for 400+ yard target shooting in a sniper rifle? Go back to the Grendel 6.5 and use a longer 20" or 24" barrel. Especially with longer barrel lengths, the cartridge has a longer practical range and actually outperforms the 6.8 SPC for long range precision shooting.
The 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC are solid rifle rounds. However, the differences between them (6.8 SPC vs. 6.5 Grendel) are quite large in many ways. Carefully assess your needs as a hunter based on the circumstances in which you intend to use the cartridge, purchase a good hunting rifle chambered for the cartridge you have chosen, learn to shoot well, use quality bullets and it will serve you well in the field.
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LosLyman 50th edition(S. 181-182, 195-196)Hornady 10th edition(p301-304, 348-350) reloading manuals were used as references for the history of cartridges. The data used to compare the trajectory of the cartridge was obtained from Hornady (herejhere🇧🇷 The data used to calculate recoil was taken from Hornady's Reloading Manual, 10th edition. Box capacities were taken fromhawk baboonsjLoadData.com.Maximum pressure obtained fromSHARE(pg. 23). used to beShootersCalculator.comto compare the trajectory and recoil of the shells.
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