Monday, February 05, 2007

Boomsticks: Caliber warz.

Reader Anonymous writes "Tam, not meaning to beat a dead horse, but would you be willing to rehash the 6.5 vs 6.8 argument?"


First, it's hard to imagine a horse any deader. That particuly equine isn't just "dead", it is bloating in the sun, all four legs sticking stiffly upright. To boil it down to its essence, 6.5 Grendel is a target round that isn't taking the target-shooting community by storm, while 6.8 SPC is a combat round that isn't being widely adopted by the military. Both will kill something deader than Elvis. 6.5 might be more accurate at a bazillion meters, if that sort of thing's important to you.

Of the two, 6.5 seems more likely to get Betamaxed, though through no particular fault of its own. 6.8 SPC has been embraced by the two 800-lb gorillas of the AR industry, DPMS and Bushmaster, while the Grendel is still mostly the sole province of specialty shops like Alexander Arms and Les Baer (Saber Defense makes them as well, but for such a large manufacturer, they sure have a low profile in the retail world. I couldn't tell you where to lay your hands on a Saber AR right now if my life depended on it, and I do this for a living.) Remington and Hornady load 6.8, while for 6.5 you need to count on imported Wolf or boutique Black Hills. On the other hand, 6.5 has a rabid band of adherents with a pack attack rep on the web second only to f u r r i e s. (I'm sure they'll be along to correct any slander in this post.) In other words, 6.5 is already shaping up to play Mac to the SPC's IBM.

This kind of caliber stuff is enough to make my eyes glaze over. Seven years ago I could get in passionate spittle-on-the-screen flamewars over whether or not 10mm did or did not totally pwn .45 Super, j00 n00b. Now I have a difficult time seeing how someone can get worked up over it at all. The difference in actual performance between, say 6.5 and 6.8, or 9mm and .40, or .30-'06 and .308 is so miniscule that to argue about it is to talk just to hear your head roar.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for a clearly understandable summary.
I guess I'm fashion-deficient. I'm still very attached to my M1 and M1A, but peer pressure has begun to get to me. Its' so embarrassing to be toting that old iron when all my friends have these AR thingies.
Now, if I could get something that offers me more, I could bring myself to make the switch. I'm just not a 'less-filling' sort. Maybe if someone offered a 45-110 platform?
Guess not. Well, wouldn't want my 1911 to get lonely, anyway...

Anonymous said...

6.5 Grendel is going to die by the creators own hand.

The licensing terms are outragous. It also won't run in a standard AR upper because the ejection port is too small.

For me, the 6.8 has it hands down. If I really want superior ballistics in 6.5mm I'll run 260 Remington through an AR-10.

Hmmm, AR-10. Now thats an idea for the refund check!

Earl Harding

Kristopher said...

7.65x45 czech.

You can fireform brass for it out of 6.5 Mannlicher-Schoenauer ammo ... which is really convenient.

I predict a rush to this calibre any day now.

Tam said...

"7.65x45 czech."

How bitter was I to discover it wouldn't fit in an AR mag.

(You can also make the brass from .220 Swift.)

comatus said...

"Minuscule." Damn tricky little word.

Anonymous said...

"The licensing terms are outragous"

We have a winner. New 6.5 upper $900 plus. New 6.8, $500 plus.

BTW, your word verification thing is ridiculous. No one should have to type: vybmmmkd


Standard Mischief said...

This is interesting. Let me state first off that I have no experience with either caliber.

6.5 Grendel is going to die by the creators own hand. The licensing terms are outragous

Yea, but isn't this just a design patent? Couldn't you get around it by utilizing the “6.5 Mischief Improved™” instead? I've just looked around and could not quickly find a summery of the licensing terms, just people moaning about it.

It also won't run in a standard AR upper because the ejection port is too small.

You could say that the 6.8 SPC can't either, because the barrel is a little too skinny. After all, the barrels on the AR system are not field swappable. How much Dremel work do you need to do to adapt the upper to 6.5 anyway? (OK, I just checked, “The ejection port is .002-inch taller.” from . I suppose that upper would still work OK if we changed it back to .223)

The performance edge is nice, but for me, it would all be about the availability of brass. If one or the other were adopted, the laws of supply and demand would likely tip in it's favor. Absent of that, I'd feel better if I could form the 6.5 Mischief from something fairly common, like say 7.62x39 rather than .30 Remington

But I don't shoot wildcats, or near-wildcats or funky stuff made out of an obsolete rimless .30-30. Because I'm not exactly an early adopter, I suppose my opinion doesn't really matter.

The most exotic round I shoot is 9x18, and you could make that out of 9x19 or (in theory at least) even .223.

J. Teela said...

Hmmm, New 6.5 Grendel upper also at $500 plus.

AA licencing terms at 0% but being selective on who can build.

6.5 Grendel easily fireformed from 7.62x39.

6.5 Grendel can use standard 7.62x39 AR bolts. 6.8 SPC requires special 6.8 bolt.

The 6.5 Grendel seems to have the parts swap and brass forming advantage that can give long life to a "specialty" cartridge.

...and 6.5 Grendel works fine with standard size 5.56 ejection ports.

Gregory said...

I have to laugh at the "two 800 pound gorillas of the arms industry" comment!

Wolf Ammunition has them both beat in the ammo world. Wolf just isn't an American company.

There are not too many offerings in the mass produced steel cased Wolf ammunition but 6.5 Grendel will be one in addition to the 6.5 Grendel Wolf Gold brass cased.

-Gregory Z.

Tam said...

See what I mean about the f u r r i e s?

J/K. Sorta.

Anyhow, I see that Rock River has now added the 6.8SPC.

That's RRA, DPMS, and Bushhamster now. Any one of those companies probably sells more rifles on the civilian market in one month than Alexander Arms, Sabre, and Les Baer combined sell in one year. Hence the "800-lb gorilla" statement.

Also, Wolf may be made in the largest ammunition plant in this spiral arm of the galaxy, but that doesn't do Joe Shooter a bit of good if he can't actually buy the stuff.

Kristopher said...

It comes down to cash. Grendel uppers are just too freaking expensive.

And I think we can still make that 7.62x45 Czech round fit ... maybe use shorter bullets? Logistical compatibility with obscure eastern European rifles is too important a consideration to ignore.

DirtCrashr said...

I wasn't aware of the big cost difference, that's never mentioned in the magazine coverage - not that it matters much here in CA, cash or no cash you have to be willing to do a tricky little stay-out-of-jail dance with the CA-DOJ gray-market list to get a lower that might shoot it. Maybe if they made an AR in .30-40 Krag I'd be interested. ;-)
I have never bought or shot any Wolf ammo, they're that big?

Kim du Toit said...

6.5mm Gren vs. 6.8mm SPC?

Bah. Both suck.

6.5x55mm Swede. Now THAT'S a cartridge for all seasons.

Too bad the .mil can't see it.

Anonymous said...

...and 6.5 Grendel works fine with standard size 5.56 ejection ports.

Does it now?

I guess that makes AA a liar since when I asked about just a barrel instead of of an overpriced upper I was told the port was too small for reliable ejection. That was 2 years ago now. Maybe the round has shrunk in that time?

Of course, if AA isn't a liar I have to machine the port for reliable operation. Either way it does not endear me to the cartridge or the company.

Barrels are not field changable, but they only require a few simple tools to change.

Machining the port requires fixtures and a milling machine.

Dremels are not a tool for working on uppers. They are a tool for the inept, at least around guns when using anything other than a polishing mop and rouge.

To suggest opening the ejection port on an upper with one just labels you as, well, a bubba.

Discussions about bolts are likelise a non-sequitor. You need a new bolt for either 6.8 or 6.5. The 7.62x39 bolt is no more or less special than the 6.8 SPC bolt. Both are readily available.

Discussions on brass are, today at any rate, irrelevant as I can buy either brass easily. I am not about to start fireforming 6.5 Grendel brass.

For one thing the case taper is markedly different between 7.62x39 and 6.5 Grendel so the brass will stretch an awful lot near the shoulder. It'll work but it is very far from ideal.

If AA want 6.5 to be anything other than a Boutique round then general availablity is the key. I can buy a chamber reamer for pretty much anything, except 6.5 Grendel.

Earl Harding

Bubba Mischief said...

To suggest opening the ejection port on an upper with one just labels you as, well, a bubba.

This bubba's got a micrometer (and he knows how to use it).

I haven't worked on an AR, but you should be able to file down a few thou with a diamond file or a ceramic stone (and I've got both).

We're talking (if my google search was correct) two thousandths of an inch here. I'll bet the manufacturing tolerances isn't even one thousand of an inch at that part of the upper (which would explain why some people are sucessful without ever opening it up).

This is certainly an easier job to pull off without the assistance of a machine shop than, say, chambering a barrel.

Brass availability today is not brass availability in the future. I'm pretty sure I'll always be able to get brass 7.62x39 anytime in the next 60-70 years. For .30 Remington, well if 6.8 ends up as a fad, then maybe I'm not so sure.

Jim said...

I would have gotten on the 6.5 grendel bandwagon because I love the idea of it, but it was just too damn much for the upper and for the ammo. Instead I finished my AR-45 upper.

Anonymous said...


Both cartridges have rather underwhelming ballistics and when applied to the M-16/AR-15 rifle are solutions in search of a problem. The developers of both cartridges dream that the military will adopt their cartridge. Don't hold your breath because the disadvantages of both outweigh the purported benefits.

As hunting or varminting cartridges, they both show poor energy and trajectory, falling short of the 250/3000 and .260. So what use are they?


Anonymous said...

Earl, 6.5 Grendel's are being built with standard .223 upper ejection ports and are doing fine.

...and the 7.62x39 bolts and ability to fireform do make a difference as I stated for a specialty cartridge to continue for a long time. Eg. if the 6.8 SPC ceases to exist you won't be able to find bolts. If the 6.5 Grendel ceases to exist you can still get bolts and make brass cheaply and easily.

Many posters keep saying 6.5 Grendel is way more expensive....but it is not anymore for about a year now the Tactical 14.5" and 16" have been out at not much more than the 6.8s.


Mike Miller said...

Word over at and lightfighter is that Remington is dropping the 6.8 SPC.

Tam said...

Haven't heard anything of the sort from Remington yet.

Anonymous said...

Just checked the Remington website. They still have the 700 in 6.8 SPC listed but it is priced lower than all the other 700 models. Even less than the .223 with a shorter barrel. Clearance sale?

Anonymous said...

I still can't find these $500 uppers if they exists who sells them?

6.5doesitall said...

AA Has 'em for $589 16" Tactical 6.5 Grendel

Tam said...

Anyone so passionate about a rifle caliber that they Google up arguments to get into and use it as a screen name is ghey.

Anonymous said...

My 6.5 Grendel has no problems ejecting out of the port. I don't know where you get your information, but I think that your source is out of date. Perhaps you are thinking of the .50 beowulf, also offered by Alexander arms, which has no port cover since they *do* have to enlarge the port to allow the .50 caliber cases to eject. The 6.8 *is* cheaper. No question. Of course, the 7.62x39 is even cheaper than that, and ballistically, the 6.8 has little, if anything, to offer over the 7.62x39. If you want a cheap and reliably rifle for ranges under 200 yards, then get an AR-47, or an AK of some type. Instead of $500 for an upper you can get the whole rifle for $300, mags are cheaper, reliability is unquestioned, ammo is dirt cheap, and you can spend the extra $200 you saved to get the thing tricked out.

OTOH, if you are looking for a cartridge that will fit the AR platform *and* has better performance and range than the 5.56, the 6.5 Grendel should just about fit the bill.

Anonymous said...

The Grendel can not use a 7.62X39 bolt because Bill A made the bolt face .012 deeper so you have to buy Grendel bolts from one source Alexander arms. That is what you call a special bolt.

Tam said...

"My 6.5 Grendel has no problems ejecting out of the port. I don't know where you get your information,"

He was quoting the Alexander Arms website, but what the heck would they know? You tell 'em, Anonymouse!