Hornady’s 123-grain 6.5 Grendel A-MAX target shooting load.

The cartridge itself is designed to take advantage of the long, narrow profile and energy efficiency (called the ballistic coefficient) of the 6.5mm class of bullet, which has long been popular in Europe but had never really caught on in the United States thanks to the established preference of American shooters for .30-caliber rifles. A key development took place when competition shooter Arne Brennan took the nearly dormant 6.5 PPC cartridge developed in the mid-1980s in 1998, and spent two years testing thousands of rounds.

By 2002, Bill Alexander, who was then working for the British Ministry of Defense, heard about the 6.5 PPC cartridge and discovered it would would fit the .50 Beowulf bolt he’d already developed. After some collaborative work between Brennan and Alexander, Alexander took their work to┬áJanne Pohjoispaa to finally devlop specs of what became the 6.5 Grendel cartridge, tweaking to work off an existing .220 Russian case under manufacture by Lapua.