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Old 10-18-2008, 07:20 PM
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Default 5.56 vs 6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC article/review

I thought this was interesting. Obviously the 5.56 is the military's choice and the most available. The 6.5 Grendel is the one I play with the most and the one I like the best. The 6.8 Rem SPC seems to be slightly more popular in civilian life than the Grendel, although it is still pretty scarce. A visit to all the major gunshops in my county turned up no guns and no ammo for either the 6.5 Grendel or the 6.8 Rem SPC so both are mail-order propositions for most shooters, but the rounds are real improvements over the military issue 5.56 and easily bring the AR15 into the realm of a legitimate hunting weapon.

This article gives all 3 a critical look and offers some comparison with the 7.62 NATO round.
M4 Round Has Strong Competitors
M4 Round Has Strong Competitors
October 10, 2008
Tactical Life|by André M. Dall'au
Eugene Stoner and ArmaLite designed and built a lightweight, powerful, small-caliber shoulder weapon after the Army asked for help to develop a 5.56x45mm chambered military rifle in 1957.

The Army, looking ahead to a jungle war in Southeast Asia, picked the lightweight design to equip its new, highly-mobile soldier. But the Army did not fully adopt the specific design requirements that made the original AR-15 operate effectively.

No one recognized that the ball powder substituted by the Pentagon had a greater fouling effect on the AR bolt assembly and chamber area. In addition, troops were not properly trained on how to clean their new rifles. The result was a weapon that was susceptible to jamming in the field, giving the new rifle a bad reputation right off the bat.

The poor initial performance, together with the marginal incapacitating ability of the 5.56 round, led to doubts about the Stoner design that linger today. But the mobile warriors of today are frequently getting in and out of vehicles and need a shorter weapon. The loss of active barrel length in the M4 further cuts the overall effectiveness of particular loads of the 5.56 round that many already considered to be too small and weak.

Recognizing the dilemma, military and civilian manufacturers are developing rounds for the AR platform that could bridge accurate lethality and shorter barrels. Two different approaches are strong contenders: the 6.8 SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge) and the 6.5 Grendel.

Both the 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel have a greater potential for immediate lethality than the 5.56, based on a heavier bullet traveling at a comparable speed. During tests, shots taken at distances ranging from 50 to 75 yards with the 6.5 Grendel at medium-sized wild hogs produced many first-round lethal hits, as well as immediate incapacitation. The bullets did not exit but fragmented during passage through the tissue.

The accuracy of 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC was excellent. The groups for each caliber met or exceeded previously published data. The ability to stay on target during full-auto fire was achievable and far exceeded any similar .308-caliber weapon on hand for controllability. Our overall conclusion is that both the 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC demonstrate superior effectiveness when compared to the 5.56 -- transferring more energy using a larger, purpose-formed bullet.

The 6.8 SPC is a well-engineered combination of velocity, accuracy and reliability for combat engagements up to 500 meters. With a trajectory very similar to the .308 WIN, the 6.8 SPC provides almost 50 percent more downrange, terminal-energy than the 5.56 NATO at 100-200 meters. However, at distances greater than 400 yards, performance of the 6.8 SPC is inferior when put up against the .308 Win or the 6.5 Grendel.

The 6.5 Grendel bullet is designed for energy retention during flight and has about twice the mass of the 5.56 NATO, with ballistics superior to the soviet-era 7.62x39 mm round. It maintains a devastating impact on tissue at longer ranges. The flat-shooting round has demonstrated one minute-of-angle accuracy beyond 600 meters, where the performance of the 6.8 SPC falls off.

Overall, both the 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC offer similar hard-hitting short-and-intermediate range performance with .308 accuracy out to intermediate ranges. The 6.5 Grendel has the edge past 600 meters. Given a choice, I would take the better ballistic bullet of the 6.5 Grendel, which has incapacitating lethality for most tactical situations from CQB to out beyond 600 meters. However, the logistical support for the 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC has been inconsistent. In addition, the demonstrated ability of the 5.56 green-tip to penetrate light armor and steel plate better than the 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 SPC will be of interest to operators who might have to take on technicals when under fire.

Although no single caliber will provide the operator with a solution to every tactical problem, many warriors interviewed would still take the M855 5.56 due to overall satisfactory performance and ammo availability. One of the important aspects of the "is the M4 good enough" argument is to ensure that the "real" trigger-pullers have the loudest voice and overriding opinion about what works in the field.
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Old 10-19-2008, 02:11 AM
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Default Re: 5.56 vs 6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC article/review

part of the military's logic in switching to the .223 (5.56x45) round was to save weight. an M-16 and 200 rounds of ammo weight about half as much as a M-14 and 200 rounds of .308 (7.62x51), which weighs an appreciable amount less than an M1 Garand and 200 rounds of 30-06 (7.62x63).

The other part of the logic behind switching away from one of the most ballistically perfect rounds out thetre at 147-150 grain bullet weight, was that the .308 was TOO GOOD at killing enemy combatants. Battlefield math says killing a combatant means losing one enemy. Wounding a combatant ties up at least 4 people out of that same combat scenario and takes up a lot more resources from the other side than if all they had to do was mail a closed casket and letter home.

not quite a true statement:
No one recognized that the ball powder substituted by the Pentagon had a greater fouling effect on the AR bolt assembly and chamber area. In addition, troops were not properly trained on how to clean their new rifles. The result was a weapon that was susceptible to jamming in the field, giving the new rifle a bad reputation right off the bat.

It was recognized by Stoner before the rifle went into production and he warned the army about it loudly. When originally designing the AR-15, Stoner chambered it in .222. He rechambered it in .223 (5.56x45) for the military, but told them it needed a boat tail based bullet propelled by a non-laquered extruded base powder, rather than the powder they used in their .308 rounds.
Some genius contractor then convinced the military it was OK to substitute their standard laquer coated ball powder (BLC-2, or Ball, Laquer Coated, formula 2 to be specific - which is more tolerant of extremes of temperature and humidity than non-coated powders) and a different profile bullet, because it would make the manufacturing process simpler.

laquer when burned leaves a sticky residue. Ball powder does not burn as effeciently as the extruded powder originally specified, and so leaves more residue. Add in the humidity in SE Asia, and you have a fouling nightmare.


OK, off my soapbox.

Ruger started making the Mini-14 in 6.8 SPC in I think 2006.
It's becoming more commercially available, but is still easier to find from mail order companies such as Sportsman's Guide and Cheaper Than Dirt than Wal-Mart.
I don't know why, but the 6.5 Grendel does not seem to be making the transition to mainstream commercial loads/rifles.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:50 AM
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Default Re: 5.56 vs 6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC article/review

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Originally Posted by Erik View Post
Ruger started making the Mini-14 in 6.8 SPC in I think 2006.
It's becoming more commercially available, but is still easier to find from mail order companies such as Sportsman's Guide and Cheaper Than Dirt than Wal-Mart.
I don't know why, but the 6.5 Grendel does not seem to be making the transition to mainstream commercial loads/rifles.
The 6.8 Rem SPC rifles are built by about a dozen different makers, the cartridge is not a proprietary design and so anyone can make the rifles. That is why it has gained a small amount of commercial acceptance. On the other hand Bill Alexander owns the 6.5 Grendel and 'licenses' other companies if they want to build rifles to his chamber specifications. Sort of like the way Apple Computer licenses authorized software companies to develop products for those computers. The license is apparently free for the 6.5 Grendel but the manufacturer must agree to not deviate from the specs, etc. It may be one reason why the Grendel is consider so inherently accurate?

On the other hand the 6.8 Rem SPC is now on its second version, which required a different barrel twist and uses higher pressure ammo. The new ammo is only safe to shoot in the slower twist barrels and 6.8 "II" chambers. Very similar to the 223 versus the 5.56. Dimensions of the cartridges are the same, but the chambers are different, the pressures are different and slipping a 6.8 "II" into a 6.8 can result in very bad things happening. As I understand it, getting the 6.9 "II" ammo require that you prove you have the correct gun and stores are not carrying the ammo. I only know of Silver State Armory even making the newer "II" spec product and they don't list the specs for it, only for the original.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:30 AM
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Default Re: 5.56 vs 6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC article/review

I'm very curious to hear about your accuracy trials with the 6.5.
I hadn't heard about the 6.8 II - if they're requiring a slower twist, they must have switched to either a very long, heavy projectile, or a very light one.
I'm going to have to figure out a way to get more than 150 yards out of my backyard range next spring. (too much ground swell to get a good 300)
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Old 10-19-2008, 01:46 PM
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Default Re: 5.56 vs 6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC article/review

Actually they changed the twist rate to reduce the pressure by allowing the bullet to leave the barrel just a little quicker. The bullet is still the same 115grain bullet. They can't fit long bullets into the magazine so they will never get any of the heavier high ballistic coefficient bullets to function in an AR because of the need to feed from the limitations of the magazine.
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Old 01-24-2011, 10:55 AM
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Default Re: 5.56 vs 6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC article/review

Hello, is anybody still out there? I don't see any new posts for a couple of years
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:50 PM
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Default Re: 5.56 vs 6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC article/review

OK it's a year later and I'm still the last one to post. Has everybody gone elsewhere?
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:57 PM
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Default Re: 5.56 vs 6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC article/review

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OK it's a year later and I'm still the last one to post. Has everybody gone elsewhere?
This is a big forum. You must have just this thread bookmarked. They are still here and a bunch of newbies. Like me.
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