Sabre Defence & Alexander Arms New M-4 Style 6.5mm Grendel AR Rifles

   
   

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 20, 2006

 

 

 

 
 

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 and www.sabredefence.com.

For a better look at the optical sights shown here, go to: www.leupold.com, www.trijicon.com, and www.eotech-inc.com.

For Grendel magazines, ammunition, brass, and loading dies, again go to:  www.alexanderarms.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Alexander Arms (top) & Sabre Defence (bottom) new M-4 Style 6.5mm Grendel AR Rifles.

 

 

Cartridge comparison: 5.56mm (left), 6.5 Grendel (right).

 

 

Author appreciates the handiness and compact size of the M-4 Style 6.5mm Grendel carbines.

 

 

Alexander Arms' new M-4 Style 6.5mm Grendel AR Rifle.

 

 

Sabre Defence Industries' new M-4 Style 6.5mm Grendel AR Rifle.

 

 

Sabre bayonet.

 

 

EOTech lighted reticle holosight.

 

 

Trijicon ACOG.

 

 

Leupold Mark 4 PR 4.5-14x scope.

 

 

As Jeff expected from his prior experiences with the 6.5 Grendel and the products of Alexander Arms & Sabre Defence Industries, both rifles proved to be superbly accurate. Either rifle would be a fine choice!

 

 

 

 

 

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