Courtesy of Tactical Life

A few months back, as we sat in a coffee shop discussing different AR-15 chamberings and their effective ranges, we wondered if there was one caliber that trumps them all for effectiveness out to 1,000 yards. Could we actually build an AR-15 that is capable of ranges usually reserved only for larger-caliber ARs or bolt-action rifles?

Back at the office, we scoured the Internet, researching forums and filtering the plethora of information (and sometimes misinformation) out there. One round kept coming up with the best potential for 1,000-yard effectiveness— the 6.5 Grendel. We asked Paul Scott, an expert on the round and one of the moderators, a few questions on the topic. Could we make it out to 1,000 yards with an AR-15 built for the 6.5 Grendel? Which barrel length offers the most repeatable results for the average user? In short, the answer to the first question was yes, and any barrel from 16 to 24 inches would be able to get the 6.5 Grendel out to 1,000 yards. Of course, longer barrels would give the round added velocity to push beyond 1,000 yards, but a 16-inch barrel would be perfect for our needs.

Designed in 2003 by Bill Alexander and Janne Pohjoispää, the 6.5 Grendel was created to be an effective 200- to 800- yard, standard-AR-15-magazine-length cartridge with the potential and energy to remain lethal for thin-skinned game at over 1,000 yards. The constraints of the 5.56mm-sized magazine indeed proved to be a challenge for long-range capabilities.

In a nutshell, they opted to use a shorter and wider-diameter case, and a long, streamlined bullet with a very high ballistic coefficient, in the  end yielding a cartridge with a velocity of 2,350 fps at the muzzle and 1,508 foot-pounds of energy (fpe). Those figures were measured from Hornady’s 6.5 Grendel 123-grain A-MAX ammunition shot through a 16-inch barrel. In contrast, Hornady’s 55-grain 5.56mm GMX Superformance has a velocity of 3,130 fps but only 1,195 ffpe out of a 20-inch barrel. Indeed, these are impressive results for a round that was literally shoehorned into the AR-15. With this information in hand, we set out to see if we could make this a reality.

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