Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel Hunter Model with Nightforce SHV Scope

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 4th, 2015


Click pictures for a larger version.







Synthetic free-float handguard.





Muzzle is threaded 9/16x24 TPI for the attachment of accessories.





The Alexander Arms Tactical Blade Trigger could possibly be the best AR trigger on the market. It is that good.





Ten-shot steel magazine.



3Bucc Brass Catcher.





I first became fascinated with the dandy little 6.5mm Grendel cartridge about twelve years ago while visiting the Alexander Arms booth at the 2003 SHOT Show. Bill Alexander is probably one of the most interesting people that you will ever meet, if you get the chance to do so. He is a wealth of information on all things ballistic, and is always willing to discuss the ballistic characteristics of one cartridge or another, or several at once, if you prefer. Bill is a Brit, and his accent testifies to that fact with every word. I find that after I talk with Bill for a while, whether in person or by phone, that by the time we are finished, I have developed a British accent as well. It was at this show that Bill pulled from his pocket the little cartridge that changed the way that I think about long range shooting.

The Grendel is a very efficient cartridge, far outclassing the oft-compared 6.8 SPC. The 6.5 Grendel was designed for long-range shooting, and that is the field in which it excels above its competitors. At long range, the 6.5 Grendel flies better than the 308 Winchester. I will not go into all the same details here as I did ten years ago, nor do I intend to plow that same ground again, but instead refer the reader to that previous article for those details.

Here, we are looking at one of Alexander Arms' latest versions of their 6.5 Grendel rifle; the eighteen inch Hunter. The Hunter model is, in my opinion, the perfect configuration for an all-around 6.5 Grendel rifle. The barrel is a fluted matte-black stainless steel with a medium profile, .700 inch at the muzzle, offering plenty of stiffness for fine accuracy, without being excessively heavy. The bore is button-rifled one turn in 7.5 inches. The muzzle is threaded 9/16x24 TPI for the attachment of a suppressor or brake, if desired. The barrel is free-floated inside a smooth two-inch diameter synthetic handguard which measures approximately twelve inches in length. There is one three-inch section of accessory rail at the forward end of the handguard, which may be removed or relocated every ninety degrees around the tubular circumference.

The telescoping buttstock is a B5 SOPMOD BRAVO unit, and all furniture is finished to match the upper and lower aluminum receiver halves, which wear the standard Kryptek camouflage pattern. The camo finish contrasting with the black bolt, mag, barrel, grip, buffer tube, and trigger gives the rifle a quality appearance. While on the subject of the trigger, this rifle has the superb Alexander Arms Tactical Blade trigger/hammer unit. This is absolutely one of the best triggers available for an AR. I have this trigger unit on my personal Alexander 6.5 Grendel, and it has served me very well for the past ten years. This trigger enables the user to take full advantage of the rifle's accuracy capability. The trigger does not make the rifle any more accurate, but makes it much easier for the shooter to shoot the rifle well. This trigger has a very crisp single-stage release, with no slack nor take-up, releasing on this rifle with an average of two pounds, ten ounces of resistance, as measured on my Lyman gauge. Perfect. The upper receiver wears an integral Picatinny rail, and the rifle ships without mechanical sights. The upper is fitted perfectly and tightly to the lower.

I wanted to set this rifle up correctly to be used as a hunting rifle for taking whitetail at close range, as well as to serve for long-range predator hunting, and for shooting targets at distances out past eight hundred yards, so the selection of an optic is as important if not more-so than the selection of the rifle. I wanted an optic that has the quality and precision to take full advantage of the rifle's accuracy, while not being so large and heavy that it made the package uncomfortable to carry and to use in the field. The Nightforce SHV 3 to 10 power scope shown here fits both the rifle and the task very well.

Many shooters flinch a bit when the name "Nightforce" is mentioned because of the price, but I have never heard anyone argue about Nightforce quality. Nightforce has a stellar reputation for building some of the best optics available at any price, and also for the quality of the people at the company. This new SHV riflescope maintains that reputation, and the price will surprise those who think that Nightforce is priced out of their budget. This SHV scope sells in the $900 US range, which is quite a bit less than I had anticipated when I went searching for the price on this optic. It is hard to describe the difference in the optical qualities of a riflescope such as the SHV compared to a lesser scope to someone whom has not looked through the scopes. The difference in optical clarity is easy to detect, even by a novice.

In a scope that is mounted merely to provide an aiming point to harvest a deer at eighty yards, most any scope sold these days will do the job. However, as distance and accuracy requirements increase, the precision of the aiming instrument must increase as well. Many shooters spend a lot of good money on a rifle, but then cheap-out on the scope, and to me, that is the opposite of how it should be. There are some really accurate three-hundred-dollar rifles available these days, and if I had $1200 to put together an accurate long-range package, I would prefer to put $300 into the rifle and $900 into the optic, as I believe that I could shoot better with such a package than I could by spending the bulk of that sum on the rifle, leaving too little for the scope.

The Nightforce SHV scope is an instrument worthy of being mounted atop such a rifle as this Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel, and I am glad that it was available to me to use for this review. I am fortunate enough to own a few quality scopes from Leupold and Trijicon, but until now, I had not spent much time behind a Nightforce scope, and am glad to have the chance to do so. The side focus is easy to reach and easy to operate, as is the power magnification ring. It turns smoothly with minimal effort. The turret adjustments are graduated in quarter-minute intervals, and are precise and predictable. I also like the fact that the turret adjustments have covers, to prevent the adjustment from being inadvertently screwed up by careless handling or by some goober-smoocher messing with the turrets.

In my previous review of the Alexander Arms rifle and cartridge, I discussed handloading the Grendel, as well as the factory loads which were available to me at that time. In the firing of this rifle, I have since acquired three other factory loadings that I ran through this weapon, in addition to some handloads that I use in my own Grendel. The new factory loadings performed very well, and accuracy photos accompany this review, showing pictures which are representative of the ammo as fired from this particular rifle.

The Wolf Gold 123 grain softpoint load performed admirably, with an average velocity of 2388 feet-per-second (fps), recorded ten feet from the muzzle of the AA Hunter rifle. The Alexander Arms 129 grain SST and 130 grain Sirocco ammunition clocked 2293 fps and 2133 fps averages, respectively. All velocity testing was done at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of sixty-seven degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity in the fifty-five percent range.

For accuracy testing, I placed the AA Hunter rifle into my Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest. I have a couple of different versions of their heavier Model 1000 as well, but find that I prefer the Model 500 for ARs. Firing on targets to check for accuracy at 100 yards, the rifle turned in a stellar performance, as I fully expected it to do as I approached this project. The Alexander Tactical Trigger, which is standard on this model, is one of the absolute best triggers for accuracy work available on any AR, at any price. It allows me to shoot as close to the rifle's potential as I am capable of doing, and is the perfect trigger for this six and three-quarter pound rifle. Again, the Nightforce scope only served to enhance my ability to place the bullets precisely where I wanted. The rifle, scope, mount, and empty magazine weighed in at exactly eight and one-half pounds on my scale. The rifle ships with one ten-round magazine, but four-round and twenty-four-round mags are available from Alexander Arms as well.

For those who are interested in the highly-efficient 6.5 Grendel cartridge, I think that one could do no better than this Alexander Arms Hunter model for a superb all-around rifle, suitable for hunting medium game, predators, and vermin, as well as for long-range precision shooting and social work. The Hunter is well-balanced, accurate, reliable, and easy to carry afield. The Nightforce SHV scope enhances the rifle's capability and precision, without being too large or burdensome.

Check out this and other Alexander Arms rifles, parts, ammo, and accessories online at

For a closer look at quality Nightforce optics, go to

To order quality ammunition online, go to,,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.







Nightforce SHV Riflescope.



Alexander Arms factory ammunition.



Handload with Nosler 100-grain bullet.



These groups are representative of the accuracy achieved with each type of ammo tested.