Best 6.5 Grendel Barrels: A Review and Buyer’s Guide

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A barrel is an integral part of any firearm. For your barrel to be effective, it has to be precision designed and in harmony with your rifle’s characteristics. 

If innovation in barrel making wasn’t where it is today, rifles would still be shooting like muskets. 

What is the 6.5 Grendel? 

An excellent hunting round, the 6.5 Grendel is a cartridge by Alexander Arms. This round was designed for long-range precision and shot placement to around 800 yards.

While used expansively on the AR15 rifle, the 6.5mm Grendel has been accepted for shooters of bolt actions and the ubiquitous AK-47. 

Many shooters maximize this cartridge’s power with the best 6.5 Grendel barrel as part of their set-up.

The 6.5 Grendel uses the same magazine as the most common caliber for AR15s, the 5.56 NATO. With a 5.56x45mm AR 30-round magazine, you can fit twenty-six 6.5 Grendel cartridges.  

The only major differences between standard AR15s and those chambered in 6.5 Grendel are in the bolt and the barrel.

Even though it’s specifically designed to reduce recoil, I wouldn’t call the 6.5 Grendel a round for the novice shooter.  See our article on hunting with a 6.5 Grendel for more information.

What Makes the 6.5 Grendel Cartridges so Unique yet Popular?

The idea behind the 6.5 Grendel’s design is that every long-range precision seeking shooter should have access to superior ballistics and accuracy. With a quick barrel change, AR15 owners don’t have to upgrade to heavier weapons such as the AR10 chambered in .308 Winchester.

The upper 6.4 Grendel receiver fits into the existing lower one that’s made for 5.56 NATO. Seeing as the 6.5 Grendel is larger than the 5.56, fewer rounds will fit into the NATO mag and a non-standard bolt is required for operation. 

This is an excellent hunting cartridge, the perfect compromise between shooting .308 Winchester and the 5.56x45mm round. It’s the superb choice for precision long-range hunting, suited to medium-sized wild hogs, pronghorn, and whitetail deer. 

Due to a higher ballistic coefficient, the 6.5 Grendel offers long-range terminal energy that’s superior to its counterparts. The 123 grain 6.5 Grendel delivers more penetration at 100o yards than the 5.56 or the .308 Winchester can.

This sort of performance is however possible only with the right 6.5 Grendel barrel. As a result, it’s essential to look at the features which the best 6.5 Grendel barrels should have before getting one. 

Long-range Performance

This cartridge offers long-range precision, performing accurately up to between 800 and 1000 yards. Based on the powerhouse that is the 6.5 Creedmoor, this round is ideal for extreme long-range pushes, even above 1000 yards.

Types of DMR rifles with longer range capability than regular AR15s will perform well with the 6.5 Grendel.  

The best 6.5 Grendel barrels work well to augment range capacities without adding too much weight to a platform. For bolt-action rifles, the 6.5 Grendel works to provide medium-range performance, but the round is more suited to semi-auto rifles.

If you are looking for longer range usefulness than you get from the 5.56x45mm, the 6.5 Grendel coupled with the right barrel does the job. 

The round is neither heavy like the .308 Winchester but lacks the refined specialization of a 6.5 Creedmoor.

Compatibility with the AR15 Rifle Platform

With the correct upper receiver, you can fire the 6.5 Grendel out of an AR15 type rifle. After attaching a grain weight-specific barrel, use the 5.56mm magazine to chamber 26 6.5 Grendel rounds in your AR15 

Any type of AR15 rifle accommodates this round, making the 6.5 Grendel a popular round by default. Recoil is to the standard AR15, and the 6.5 Grendel round can offer better long-range performance and ballistics when given the correct barrel.

Price Considerations

Firearms makers build guns to meet the demand for a particular round, not the other way round. When a cartridge on the market is beyond the affordability of most shooters, it’s difficult to generate interest or demand. 

During the last decade or so, the 6.5 Grendel round has become more affordable. Often cheaper than .308 Winchester, the 6.5 Grendel is also less pricey than the cheapest 5.56x45mm cartridge. 

Due to the popularity of the 6.5 Creedmoor, the barrels that accommodate this caliber have already become commonplace. This has brought down the cost of building a rifle chambered in 6.5 Grendel as opposed to other calibers on the AR15 platform. 

While offering better long-range performance, the 6.5 Grendel is bound to rise in popularity as shooters aim to fit out their AR15s.

What to Look for When Buying the Best 6.5 Grendel Barrels

Attributes of the right 6.5 Grendel barrel should boil down to its capacity to handle the gas expansion generation by this cartridge. The best 6.5 Grendel barrel maintains the power of the projectile at the required muzzle energy, which improves your accuracy.

When looking for a 6.5 Grendel barrel, some of the factors to consider include; 

Gas System and Barrel Length

The longer the length of your rifles gas system and barrel, the more accurate your shot placement at long ranges. When looking at the best 6.5 Grendel barrels to substitute your AR15s standard barrel; consider barrel and gas system lengths. 

AR15 barrel lengths are according to the rifle’s variant. These consist of 16-inches for carbine length, 18.5 inches for mid-length, and 20 inches for rifle lengths.

While there are barrels that are either shorter or longer than these, these three are the standard and most common lengths. 

Long-range plinking with the 6.5 Grendel cartridges requires the 20-inch rifle length barrel. You can also use an 18.5-inch barrel, which would also work for precision shot placement

Barrel Rifling Twist Rate

Another consideration when picking out the best 6.5 Grendel barrels is twist rate. Twits rate stands for the length a slug travels within the barrel while rotating due to the barrel’s rifling. 

These twist rate metrics are taken within one rotation of the bullet before it leaves the barrel.  If a barrel is marked as having a 1:8 twist rate, it means that before the slug completes one rotation, it travels eight inches down the barrel. 

The best 6.5 Grendel barrels twist rates’ must also factor in the weight of the bullet used. As such, a bullet weight of 160 grains suits a twist rate of 1:9, while 80 grains is good with a twist rate of 1:12. 

When you are looking for a barrel twist rate that can handle different bullet weights, a 1:8 twist rate is dependable. 

Fluting and Contour

A fluted barrel is lighter in weight and cools easily during and after continuous firing situations. Fluting a barrel means that its surface has been made free of textures and contours, smoothed and refined.

As long as your barrel length is 20 inches or less, getting a fluted barrel improves the performance of the 6.5 Grendel round. 

Materials and Durability

When shopping for the best 6.5 Grendel barrels for your rifle, ensure it’s made of durable materials.

Examples of durable rifle barrel materials include titanium, stainless steel, carbon fiber, and aviation-grade aluminum. For a 6.4 Grendel round, the stainless steel barrel is perhaps the best durability choice. 

While resisting corrosion better than most metals, stainless steel is tough and lasts long even in its untreated form.

Another attribute that endears me to stainless steel is the quick absorption and releasing of heat. Its rate of heat dispersion is higher than other barrel materials, a quality that contributes to barrel life preservation.

This is important seeing as the 6.5 Grendel is a hot round, hotter than the standard NATO calibers for AR15s. Stainless steel barrels contain only the absolute minimum heat before releasing it for a cooler, longer-lasting barrel.

The opposite would be a material that absorbs but contains barrel heat, wearing out quicker and shortening barrel life. 

Corrosion and rust resistance are the other properties you’ll be looking for in your rifle’s barrel. While stainless steel can be inherently rust and corrosion resistant, finishing the barrel in glossy bluing will reduce resistance considerably.

Cerakoted components from some AR part makers make them extremely corrosion and rust-resistant.

The Best 6.5 Grendel Barrels 

The best barrel for the Alexander Arms 6.5mm Grendel round must be compatible with your rig. You must ensure that your barrel can accommodate the size of this relatively large cartridge.

To avoid a potentially catastrophic predicament, put your trust in the following 6.5 Grendel barrels. 

Overall Best 6.5 Barrel

Rainier Arms UltraMatch MOD2 6.5 Grendel .750 Gas Block Fully Fluted Barrel

I am a huge fan of the UltraMatch barrel series by Rainier Arms. Not only are they well-constructed, but their finish and fit are also excellent.   

The Rainier Arms UltraMatch MOD2 6.5 Grendel .750 Gas Block Fully Fluted Barrel shoots great. You won’t get more per-dollar precision than what this barrel offers for the 6.5 Grendel round. 

Depending on what you are aiming to shoot, you’ll also find this barrel in the best barrel lengths for 6.5 Grendel.  

The MOD2 is a 16-inch barrel that weighs 2 pounds for the best accuracy balance. This barrel is made using a match grade stainless steel blank and features a twist rate of 1:8.

Rainier Arms is confident in its barrel craftsmanship, offering a return and full refund guarantee with the UltraMatch MOD 2 6.5 Grendel .750 Gas Block barrel. 

Pros 
  • Rifle length gas system
  • The twist rate of 1:8 suited to 6.5 Grendel round
  • Durable rugged construction
  • Extremely accurate and cryogenically tested
  • Lightweight and maneuverable 
Cons 
  • Limited compatibility with rifles outside the AR15 configuration
  • Pricey 

Alternative Pick Best 6.5 Grendel Barrel:

Faxon Firearms 6.5 Grendel 416-R Stainless Gunner Barrel Match Series

This is one of my go-to barrels for the 6.5 Grendel, first due to design and second because of price. The 18-inch Faxon Firearms 6.5 Grendel 416-R Stainless Gunner Barrel is the variant from their Gunner Profile barrel for 5.56 NATO. 

This profile involves removing barrel material from places where it’s not needed by the round and adding it closer to the chamber. Faxon Firearms Gunner Profile Barrels have a performance-enhanced design that’s lighter than a barrel in the NATO profile.

With less shift, you’ll get more precision with the Faxon Firearms 6.5 Grendel 416-R Stainless steel barrel. This is despite running it hard with the hot 6.5x45mm Grendel with little heat impact. 

A tighter receiver fit is also delivered by this barrel, whose extension coating is in nickel Teflon. This lightweight set-up gives you added precision while enabling a more smooth and reliable bolt lock or unlock operation. 

Faxon Firearm’s 6.5 Grendel 416-R Match Series barrel also has one of the best nitride coating finishes. This makes the barrel remarkably durable, holding up well against corrosion and rust for decades. 

Pros 
  • Made for durability with 416R stainless steel
  • Stabilizes a variety of bullet weights with a twist rate of 1:8
  • Fluted barrel disperses heat and cools fast 
  • 6.5 Grendel maximum accuracy assured by the barrels 5R rifling
  • Corrosion and rust resistance with nitride finish
  • Threaded muzzle that accepts muzzle breaks, compensators or flash suppressors
Cons 
  • The well-designed gunner profile is outdone in precision by a bull barrel

Most Affordable 6.5 Grendel Barrel: 

Rainier Arms Match 6.5 Grendel Barrel 

This is an 18-inch Satin Non-Fluted barrel from Rainier Arms that keeps the UltraMatch workmanship but makes it more affordable. The Match Grade 6.5 Grendel Barrel offers excellent ballistics and muzzle velocity at maximum range.

At 18inches, this barrel isn’t too unwieldy for your rifle, and you can maneuver it easily. The Rainier Arms Match 6.5 Grendel Barrel Satin has the contour for precision minus the bull barrel weight. 

Its contour offers more consistency than 5.56mm NATO round, although its profile is a bit thicker than pencil profile barrels. Rainier Arms guarantees this barrel’s performance, and you can return and get a full refund if you’re not satisfied with it.

Pros 
  • Compactly sized at 18-inches and lightweight for maneuverability and accuracy
  • Excellent weight to performance ratio with this barrels proprietary contour
  • Stainless steel match grade construction
  • Proper fit with excellent head spacing due to Rainier Arms top-notch quality control
Cons 
  • Outshined by a bull barrel in long-range precision

High End Best 6.5 Grendel Barrel: 

Rainier Arms UltraMatch Mod 2 6.5 Grendel .800 Gas Block Fully Fluted Barrel

The Mod2 6.5 Grendel .800 Gas Block Fully Fluted Barrel is another UltraMatch offering from Rainier Arms that’s made with match-grade stainless steel blank. This 18-inch fully fluted barrel has a twist rate of 1:8, and thread pinch of 5/8×24. 

The .800 gas block seat of this barrel uses Bleed Off impingement to directly adjust gas pressure by letting it out. Weighing 2.3 pounds, the UltraMatch MOD2 6.5 Grendel barrel comfortably couples with the AR15 platform. 

This bead blasted and polish finished barrel is cooler and cleaner, engaging the bolt with just enough pressure. Results are a smooth and drivable bolt and reduced felt recoil. 

Pros 
  • Gas block manufactured from 416 stainless steel 
  • Barrel finished in matt stainless or Melonite
  • Has a barrel diameter that accommodates the 6.5 Grendel round
  • Allows shot consistency at an affordable price
  • The twist rate of 1:8 improves power and accuracy
Cons 
  • Has a barreled action that offers no room for further customization

What are the Main Differences in the Best 6.5 Grendel Barrels?

Among the barrels mentioned above, there are subtle differences despite their looking identical from the outside. The best 6.5 Grendel barrels differ mainly in the gas system in that some use carbine strength while others employ full-length gas systems.

The length of a barrel determines the length of the gas system, a major differentiating factor of the best 6.5 Grendel barrels. Since longer barrels are for longer range capabilities and vice versa, your barrel and gas system length will be determined on the range you’re targeting for.

The weight of the best 6.5 Grendel barrels is also another consideration when looking at their differences.

The weight of a barrel will be determined by the material used in its construction, plus whether its flutes and contours. While manufacturing materials affect heat dispersion and durability, the barrel should also have rust and corrosion-resistant coating on the inside and outside.

Why Invest in the Best 6.5 Grendel Barrel for your Rifle?

The best 6.5 Grendel barrel should be obtained despite the price. This is especially if you’ve customized your AR15 to chamber 6.5 Grendel or you have an upper but are looking for a better barrel. 

Perks for selecting the best, top of the line 6.5 Grendel barrel for your firearm include 

Added Accuracy

The 6.5 Grendel is a brutally accurate and low recoil round, and is a caliber that excels at long-range shot placement. An excellent barrel upgrade will not only improve on your accuracy but will compensate for barrel whip, stiffness, or heat.

Recurring Costs

After about 15 to 20 thousand rounds, a barrel is most likely to ask for a replacement. This depends on the level of maintenance and the rate of fire, but high-end barrels tend to offer consistent performance while lasting longer.

Your replacement time is doubled when you buy the best 6.5 Grendel barrels.

Profile and weight: the best 6.5 Grendel barrel is more than just a hollow piece of metal. It features the appropriate weight through fluting and material and depending on length to positively impact your shooting performance. 

Parting Shot

As a long-range round, the 6.5 Grendel is excellent with the AR15, but it will only perform as well as the barrel you are using. The best 6.5 Grendel barrels will have the proper twist rate to accommodate your bullets grain weight, and it will be fluted.

To give a superior long-range performance, the best barrel will have a middle or rifle length. It will also be rust and corrosion resistant for augmented durability.

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