6.5 Grendel Ballistics

Measuring 6.5 Grendel ballistics at the shooting range

An in-depth look at 6.5 Grendel ballistics with velocity, energy and drop data for the most popular loads among American shooters.

6.5 Grendel ballistics offer shooters a NATO-standardized round with a few benefits that might have you swayed over the slightly smaller 223/5.56 loads out there and the slightly larger .308. Let’s take a look what Grendel brings to the table and see if it’s right for you.

  • Alexander Arms designed 6.5 Grendel to exceed the performance of the 5.56×45. The low-recoil 6.5 Grendel is extremely accurate at 200 to 800 yards, and also optimized for the AR platform.
  • Combines a higher capacity casing with a longer, heavier bullet than the 5.56 to deliver superior downrange energy.
  • Essentially a happy medium between the 5.56 and the 308 Win, with a higher ballistic coefficient than either predecessor cartridge.
  • Compatible with standard 5.56 magazines, but feeds better from a magazine tailored to its unique dimensions.

6.5 Grendel Ballistic Chart

Barrel LengthMuzzle100 yds.200 yds.300 yds.400 yds.500 yds.Muzzle100 yds.200 yds.300 yds.400 yds.500 yds.Muzzle100 yds.200 yds.300 yds.400 yds.500 yds.(G1)(G7)Sect. Density
Hornady Match - 123 Gr. ELD2425802410224720901940179618181586137911931028881-2.41.80-8.7-25.3-51.30.5060.2550.252
Wolf - 100 Gr. FMJ24269016070.205
Hornady Custom - 123 Gr. SST2425802410224720901940179618181586137911931028881-2.41.80-8.7-25.3-51.30.5060.2550.252
Hornady American Gunner - 123 Gr. BTHP24259018320.252
Hornady Black - 123 Gr. ELD2425802410224720901940179618181586137911931028881-2.41.80-8.7-25.3-51.30.5060.2550.252
Federal - 90 Gr. TNT JHP24300026412309200217211472179813941065801592433-1.51.80-8.2-25.1-53.60.2640.1350.184
Federal Am. Eagle - 120 Gr. OTM242610240322062019184016751815153912971086902747-1.52.30-9.4-27.4-55.60.4210.2120.246
Federal Fusion - 120 Gr. SP24260023512116189416891503180214731193956760602-1.52.410-10.22-30.18-62.370.3460.177
Prvi - 123 Gr. SP242657241021771957175115631928158712941046838667-
Prvi - 120 Gr. HPBT2426742462225920661905161413601137-1.50-3.7-14.40.415
Hornady Frontier - 123 Gr. FMJ242580237821852001182716641818154413041094912756-1.52.340-9.63-27.99-56.790.4270.216
Federal Gold Medal - 130 Gr. OTM242400225421131977184717221663146612891128984856-1.52.690.01-10.47-29.87-59.480.570.287
Remington HPR - 120 Gr. HPBT242590240522272057189517421788154113221128957809-1.52.270-9.3-26.83-54.060.4680.236
Barnes VOR-TX - 115 Gr. STX24259023702162196417771605171314351193985807658-1.52.36-9.82-28.7-58.62-58.620.3930.2

6.5 Grendel’s History

A 6.5 Grendel rifle made by Alexander Arms with ammunition at a shooting range

Alexander Arms designed the 6.5 Grendel with a specific goal in mind: to introduce a STANAG magazine-length round that would surpass the performance of the 5.56 at ranges of 200 to 800 yards.

Keeping their new round’s dimensions compatible with a STANAG mag demanded that Alexander Arms make its casing fatter, not longer. They based their concept’s case on the 220 Russian, a 1950s deer hunting cartridge. They coupled that with a long, high ballistic coefficient projectile. The fruit of their labor, the 6.5 Grendel, indeed fits in a standard mag. However, its wide case head diameter reduces mag capacity and further necessitates a non-standard AR-15 bolt.

6.5 Grendel’s performance serves as a middle ground between the 5.56 and the 308 Win. While the 300 AAC Blackout arguably serves as a better alternative to 5.56 ammo for tactical situations, the 6.5 Grendel’s ballistic coefficient is superior to that of both predecessor cartridges.

Grendel vs. Other Options

Hornady 6.5 Grendel ammo for hunting

The 6.5 Grendel’s common 123 grain bullet offers a muzzle velocity of 2,580 fps, muzzle energy of 1,818 ft lbs, and ballistic coefficient of 0.506. This allows it to keep a supersonic muzzle velocity at 1,000 yards. At that distance, it retains 400 ft lbs of energy.

Compare that to a 5.56 Ball M193 round’s 55 grain bullet, which delivers a 3,265 fps muzzle velocity, 1,302 ft lbs muzzle energy, and 0.272 ballistic coefficient. At 1,000 yards its 947 fps velocity falls beneath the speed of sound. You’ll get an energy of only 110 ft lbs at 1,000 yards.

If you had to select one of the two rounds for long distance shooting, the 6.5 Grendel’s flatter trajectory and added power would make it the clear front runner.

6.5 Grendel5.56x45
Muzzle Velocity25803265
Muzzle Energy18181302
Ballistic Coefficient0.5060.272
Velocity @ 250 yds.21642407
Energy @ 250 yds.1280707
Velocity @ 500 yds.17901699
Energy @ 500 yds.876353
Velocity @ 750 yds.14661185
Energy @ 750 yds.587172
Velocity @ 1000 yds.1211947
Energy @ 1000 yds.400110

The 6.5 Grendel’s 123 grain bullet also provides a sectional density of 0.252. That’s only one thousandth less than a 308 Win’s 168 grain bullet, making it inherently equivalent in penetrative ability. 

6.5 Grendel ammo is a good option for shooters who want a greater range than the 5.56 permits, but also a lighter weapon than one chambered for 308. The 6.5 Grendel serves splendidly as a hunting cartridge when it is outfitted with an expanding projectile. Ammo prices are getting cheaper now too as the cartridge gained popularity since its introduction in the mid-2000s.

Other Attributes

  • Compatible with bolt-action rifles, but ideally suited for semi-automatics.
  • Alexander Arms also designed the 50 Beowulf, making them the only ammunition producer to name multiple cartridges after the characters in an Old English epic poem.
  • Alexander Arms released their trademark of the name of “6.5mm Grendel” as part of the requirements for SAAMI standardization.

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