The AR-15 is the most common rifle sold in the United States over the past few years, and it is easy to understand why. The simple, basic, iron-sighted rifle hasn’t changed a great deal since it hit the civilian market 49 years ago in 1964, but in the past decade in particular, modern manufacturers have taken the modular nature of Eugene Stoner’s rifle and run wild with the possibilities.
One of the possibilities of the AR-15′s modular design is the ability to change just the barrel (and sometimes the bolt) and to fire cartridges far different than the common 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington calibers that made the firearm famous. AR-15 shooters know they have the option of picking cartridges ranging from the cheap and ubiquitous .22LR to the tiny-but-fast pistol-class 5.7x28mm, and up through the rifle calibers to the heavy-hitting short-range power of the .50 Beowulf — capable of taking down buffalo, bear, and other dangerous game.
One of these new cartridges designed specifically for the AR-15 is the 6.5 Grendel, which is one answer to the problem of extending Stoner’s mid-range rifle into a true-long range platform.
Named after the mythical monster from the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, the 6.5 Grendel was introduced to the world by Bill Alexander of Alexander Arms in 2003 at the long-distance precision-rifle training ranges of Blackwater (now Academi) in Moyock, North Carolina. The wind-slicing 6.5 bullet out-shot the standard 7.62 NATO cartridge used by many of America’s law enforcement and military snipers at long distances, with roughly half the recoil of the 7.62 round. It more than doubled the range of the standard 5.56 NATO cartridge and carried far more down-range energy at any distance.