It has now been over three years since Bill Alexander
first began his slow torture upon me by pulling from his pocket
a cartridge that was to become the 6.5mm Grendel, the image of which
would haunt me for nearly two years before I could obtain one of
my own. For a little over a year now, I have owned that Grendel
Entry rifle. In order to not re-plow the same ground here,
I instead refer the reader to that earlier article for details about
that weapon. Suffice it to say that I purchased that test
gun, and am even more attached to it now than I was then.
We get email here at Gunblast, and get a lot of it.
Most are questions of the technical type, or someone either agreeing
or disagreeing with something that I have written. However, about
two days ago, I received a question from a reader wanting to know:
"Jeff, if you could have but one center fire rifle, what would
it be?" I hate that type of question. I like rifles. I like
just about all rifles. Choosing one would be extremely difficult.
I pondered the question for awhile. A good levergun is awfully handy,
and would serve for ninety percent of my hunting needs. A good long-range
bolt-action varmint rifle is needed from time to time. An AR-15
is handy for predator hunting and is good to keep around for a home
defense weapon. I also love old single shot Winchesters and
the newer Ruger Number 1 rifles. After a good bit of study,
I answered the reader: "I would choose my 6.5mm Grendel AR".
The answer somewhat surprised me too. It occurred to me that the
Grendel will handle just about all of the big game hunting that
I am likely to do. It has more than enough accuracy for long-range
predator and varmint hunting. Being built on an AR-15, it could
serve very well for home defense. It is fully capable of engaging
targets out to 800 yards and beyond. It has a wonderful trigger,
is portable, and is a delight to shoot. It is not as cheap to plink
away at targets as is the 7.62x39 or the .5.56mm, but I am not a
plinker. I am a rifleman. That is not to imply that I am an expert
marksman, for I am not. That is only to indicate that philosophically,
I prefer to place one aimed shot on target, instead of blasting
away with several. The 6.5mm Grendel is a wonderfully efficient
cartridge. It is relatively quiet, very flat shooting, extremely
accurate, has light recoil, and is a delight to shoot.
Alexander Arms offers a few different configurations
of the Grendel, all built with match-grade heavy barrels. They also
offer a few options such as railed hand guards and their wonderful
Tactical trigger. However, especially with the interest shown in
the 6.5mm Grendel by the US military, shooters have been asking
for a shorter, lighter, military-style AR chambered for the Grendel.
I have just recently received two such rifles for review; one from
Alexander Arms, and another from Sabre Defence Industries.
Both wear fourteen and one-half inch barrels with permanently attached
muzzle devices to keep them legal for US citizens to purchase without
an undue amount of government paperwork. Both are the latest M-4
style of rifle, with chrome-lined bores and M-4 profile exteriors,
bayonet lugs, and adjustable buttstocks.
Sabre Defence is new to the 6.5mm Grendel, but they
have been licensed to produce them by Alexander Arms. You can trust
that Bill Alexander would not have licensed Sabre to build the Grendel
if he did not have confidence in their ability to do so correctly.
I have also, through experience, come to expect a high degree of
quality and accuracy from Sabre Defence products.
While both the Alexander Arms and the Sabre Defence
rifles are built to fill the need for a lighter, handier, more combat-ready
Grendel rifle, they differ in the components used. This is
not intended to be a comparison of the two in order to determine
which rifle is better. Which is better will vary depending upon
the desires and needs of a particular shooter, and upon how much
money he wishes to spend. The Alexander Arms sample rifle
is basically a 6.5 Grendel chambered semi-auto M-4. The Sabre rifle
has pretty much all the tricked out parts that anyone could want,
at a somewhat higher price than the Alexander rifle. Alexander does
offer railed hand guards and their Tactical trigger as an option,
if one so desires.
Both rifles have adjustable buttstocks. The Alexander
rifle has a six-position CAR-style buttstock, and the Sabre uses
the adjustable SOCOM stock. On the test guns, the Alexander rifle
wore a flash suppressor with a closed bottom, and the Sabre wore
their proprietary "Gill-Brake". The Alexander rifle has
the standard A-2 style front sight, while the Sabre comes with flip
up front and rear sights.
Realizing that most everyone who purchases a Grendel
will want some type of optical sight on the weapon, I tested them
using military type optical sights. The Sabre rifle was fired using
an EOTech lighted reticle holosight, and I fitted the Alexander
gun with a Trijicon ACOG
tritium scope. Both sights performed very well on the two rifles,
and fit very well with the compact dimensions of the weapons.
For accuracy testing, I fitted each rifle with a Leupold
Mark 4 PR 4.5 to 14 power scope. This scope has excellent optics,
side focus, target adjustment knobs, a Mil-dot reticle, and a 30mm
tube. It has proven itself in the past, so I thought it to be a
good way to test the accuracy of the two rifles.
Since both the Alexander and the Sabre rifles have
M-4 contoured barrels that are chrome lined, I did not expect phenomenal
accuracy from either of them. I expected the tradeoff for the light
weight and handy carrying to be good, but not excellent accuracy.
I was wrong. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that both rifles
exhibited match grade accuracy. I firmly believe that if I could
hold them better, they both would shoot into one ragged hole at
100 yards. Both of these carbines shot into less than one-half
of an inch at 100 yards. This is superb accuracy, and that is one
of the traits that endears the 6.5mm Grendel to me. It is all about
the accuracy. Show me a 6.8 Remington that will do that. I have
yet to see one. The Grendel is a magnificent little cartridge that
outperforms its competition easily. It really shines at long range.
Again, I refer the reader to my
article of last year for more details on the Grendel ballistics.
The shorter barrels of these two carbines lose a bit of velocity
compared to the nineteen inch barrel of my Alexander Entry gun;
about two hundred feet per second (fps), depending upon the load.
My favorite handload clocks 2780 fps from my Entry rifle, and 2587
from the Tactical carbine.
I am very glad to see the 6.5mm Grendel availability
expanding. These short carbines, I predict, will be very good sellers.
Magazines are available that hold ten, seventeen, or twenty-six
rounds. Every option that anyone could want on an AR is available
for the Grendel. A shooter can buy a basic rifle or a full-blown
weapon with all the bells and whistles. At this writing, the basic
14.5 inch Alexander Arms Tactical carbine sells for $1015 retail,
with a complete upper selling for only $595. Adding a railed hand
guard and the Tactical trigger will add about 330 bucks to the price.
I highly recommend the Tactical trigger. The sixteen inch barreled
version is about eighteen bucks less. The Sabre Defence Tactical
carbine retails for $2279.99, equipped as shown here. It already
has an excellent trigger, and comes with a Samson railed
hand guard. Either will serve very well for hunting, target shooting,
or homeland security. The AR-15 platform continues to be refined,
and has evolved over the past fifty years into a superb weapon.
The 6.5mm Grendel gives the AR a whole new personality, and adds
greatly to its usefulness. I am very pleased with my Grendel,
and would be delighted to own either of these fine carbines.
Check them out online at: www.alexanderarms.com
For a better look at the optical sights shown here,
go to: www.leupold.com,
For Grendel magazines, ammunition, brass, and loading
dies, again go to: www.alexanderarms.com.
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