If you are currently looking for 6.5 Grendel barrels for your AR-15, keep reading.
The 6.5 Grendel is one of the most effective and yet overlooked calibers for the AR-15. It’s a good round to use if you want to make your AR-15 as precise as possible.
The 6.5 Grendel can shoot more precisely at longer ranges than the standard 5.56x45mm NATO. But yet it’s of a similar size so it can be used in the smaller AR-15 platform as well. This way you won’t need to rely on the large and heavier AR-15 that shoots larger .308 Winchester or 6.5 Creedmoor rounds.
While the 6.5 Grendel is a great round, you can make upgrades to your rifle so it performs even better. Arguably the single most important upgrade that you can make is to invest in a higher quality barrel.
While the barrel that comes with your AR-15 out of the factory is solid, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other high quality barrels out on the market as well.
In this guide, we’ll discuss our top four choices for a 6.5 Grendel barrel, and then we’ll dive into the benefits that the 6.5 Grendel provides and the top qualities to look for in one:
The Best 6.5 Grendel Barrels
Here are the top barrels for an AR-15 chambered in the 6.5 Grendel round:
The Faxon Firearms AR-15 6.5 Grendel Heavy Profile 20” Barrel is a very durable barrel built for precision use at long distances. In order to increase the accuracy and precision potential, the Faxon is built using 5R button rifling on the inside of the barrel.
This causes the grooves to become offset, which stands in stark contrast to a more traditional rifling system. The main benefit is that the bullet will be kept as stable as possible as it travels through and exits the barrel.
The outside of the barrel is also fluted, which means that material has been removed from the barrel. This reduces mass and weight from the barrel, and serves to cool down faster than a barrel that has not been fluted. However, this also means that the barrel heats up faster, and is not the best choice for extended shooting sessions.
The Faxon is also equally as durable as it is designed to be accurate. The main material of the barrel is 416r stainless steel, which is already a very durable and rusts resistant material. But in order to make the barrel even more rust and corrosion resistant, the Faxon is coated in a nitride finish. Furthermore, both the inside and the outside of the barrel have been coated in the nitride.
Last but not least, the end of the Faxon barrel has been threaded. This makes it easy to thread compensators or other muzzle devices onto the end of the barrel, which can be used to help reduce muzzle flip or flash.
- 1:8 twist rate is ideal for the 6.5 Grendel round
- Nitride finish is very rust and corrosion resistant
- Threads will allow the addition of compensators or muzzle brakes
- Durable 416R stainless steel
- The fluted barrel design means that it can cool down quickly for extended shooting sessions
- Heats up faster due to the fluted barrel design, so not the best choice for extended shooting sessions
If you’re looking for a 6.5 Grendel barrel that can handle firing a lot of rounds within a short amount of time, you’ll want to take a close look at this option from Criterion barrels. This barrel comes with added material, which helps to handle the extra heat that comes from firing your AR-15 rapidly.
The Criterion is built out of a very durable rust resistant stainless steel, which makes it very rust and corrosion resistant. The barrel is contoured very heavily, which helps to reduce recoil but also will make your AR-15 heavier as a whole.
For these reasons, the Criterion is a barrel that is best used for long range competition shooting while resting your AR-15 down against a bench. The fact that the barrel is heavy will make it a little bit less suitable for tactical training missions, although it can be used for such purposes as well.
- Threads will allow the addition of compensators or muzzle brakes
- 416r stainless steel is very durable
- 1:8 twist rate is ideal for the 6.5 Grendel round
- Quite heavy for a barrel
If you want one of the lightest possible barrels for your AR-15 in 6.5 Grendel, the Odin Works 6.5 Grendel Ultralight Barrel has you covered. The overall weight of this barrel is just one pound and ten ounces, which makes it one of the lightest 6.5 Grendel AR-15 barrels on the market.
The Odin Works comes built out of stainless steel, which makes it very rust resistant as well as durable despite the lighter weight. Take note that the lightweight design means that the barrel will not be able to withstand heat from rapid firing as well as heavier barrels.
The end of the Odin Works comes with ⅝”-24 TPI muzzle threads. This makes it compatible with most aftermarket muzzle devices, such as compensators or muzzle devices. The 1:8 twist rate of the Odin is ideal for the 6.5 Grendel round as well.
But the main standout feature of the Odin Works is the tunable gas lock system, which means that you can manually adjust the flow of gas from the block to the receiver. The advantage here is that you can then manually adjust the gas flow depending on the specific ammunition that you are shooting to enhance performance.
- Very lightweight at just one pound and ten ounces
- Built out of stainless steel
- Comes with a tunable gas block so you can adjust the gas flow
- Since it’s more lightweight, it won’t be the best choice for extended shooting sessions as it can heat up too fast
The BSF Barrels Carbon Fiber 6.5 Grendel 18-inch barrel is a good choice if you are looking for a match grade, mid-length barrel in between the rifle and carbine versions.
The standout feature of the BSF is the carbon fiber wrap, which makes it significantly more durable than standard steel. However, the carbon fiber wrap is not in direct contact with the actual barrel.
This creates air space in between the barrel and the fiber wrap, so the barrel can cool down significantly. This is a desirable feature to have for both tactical training missions and competition shooting.
The BSF also comes with a 1:8 twist rate, which is the ideal twist rate for the 6.5 Grendel round. Meanwhile, the chrome appearance to the BSF is also very aesthetically pleasing. While the BSF may be expensive, you also will get exactly what you pay for.
- Built out of very durable 416r stainless steel
- Cools down faster due to the carbon fiber wrap
- More wieldy in tight conditions due to its overall shorter length
- Carbon fiber wrap improves durability and allows the barrel to cool down faster in extended shooting sessions
Why Go With The 6.5 Grendel?
It could be that you don’t even own a 6.5 Grendel AR-15 yet. In that case, you should take the time to learn more about this caliber and the advantages that it provides over other AR-15 calibers.
The 6.5mm Grendel was designed to improve precision and accuracy out of the AR-15 platform at longer ranges. It’s effective out to eight hundred yards, and it can be used out of the same 5.56x45mm NATO or .223 Remington magazines that you may already have for your AR-15.
A standard 30 round AR-15 magazine in 5.56 should hold 26 rounds of 6.5 Grendel. The fact that 5.56 AR-15 magazines are so affordable and widely available is a major bonus as you won’t need to purchase any proprietary magazines that would be more expensive.
This way, someone who already has an AR-15 could transform their existing 5.56 AR-15 into a 6.5 Grendel version by just changing certain components of the upper receiver, including the barrel. Your existing lower receiver components from your standard 5.56 AR-15 should work with a 6.5 Grendel upper. You won’t have to buy an entirely new rifle from the ground up.
This also means that you can greatly improve the long range performance out of your AR-15 without having to resort to the larger and heavier AR-10. The AR-10 fires larger rounds, such as the .308 Winchester or 6.5 Creedmoor, which are capable of reaching targets at longer ranges than what the AR-15 normally could do.
The whole purpose to the 6.5 Grendel is to help deliver similar performance out of your AR-15 similar to what the AR-10 is capable of. In fact, the ballistic coefficients out of the 6.5 Grendel is actually superior to that of the .308 Winchester or 7.62x51mm NATO.
Furthermore, the 6.5 Grendel is also a solid choice to use for medium sized game in North America. While perhaps a bit too light to ethically use on bear or elk, it’s an excellent round to use for smaller sized game such a wild boar, pronghorn or whitetail deer.
All in all, the 6.5 Grendel is one of the best calibers to go with if you want your AR-15 to deliver performance more comparable to what you would get out of an AR-10. It’s suitable for hunting medium sized game and is an excellent choice for long range competition use. The fact that you can use your existing AR-15 lower receiver and 5.56 magazines are also big pluses.
In this next section, we’ll dive into the top qualities to look for in a barrel for your 6.5 Grendel rifle.
Buyer’s Guide: What To Look For In A 6.5 Grendel Barrel
Here are the top qualities to look for in a barrel for your 6.5 Grendel:
The first and arguably most important quality to look for in any barrel is its durability and overall build quality. You want to get a barrel that is long lasting and can withstand abuse. This doesn’t mean that you should deliberately go out and abuse your barrel, but it does mean if you find yourself shooting in inclement weather or in rough tactical scenarios you’ll want a barrel that can hold up well.
One of the best build materials to go with for a barrel is stainless steel, such as 416R stainless steel. This is because stainless steel is very durable (it offers superior strength to carbon steel, for instance) and it’s also very rust and corrosion resistant on its own. Speaking of which…
Rust and Corrosion Resistant
Equally as important as choosing a barrel that is inherently durable is choosing a barrel that is very rust and corrosion resistant as well. This is especially critical if you are going to be using your AR-15 out in moisture, snow, or rain.
Moisture can be devastating against gun metal when it is not wiped dry after use, because it will cause rust to develop. And while rust can be removed, it still weakens the structural integrity of your metal as well.
While stainless steel is rust and corrosion resistant on its own like we’ve discussed, it’s better to play things safer. In other words, ensure that your barrel comes with an extra coating or finish over the surface that can withstand moisture.
Examples of finishes that are very rust resistant include nitride, nickel boron, or black oxide. Alternatively, you could go with a coating such as duracoat or cerakote, which also come available in a wide variety of different colors for you to choose from.
One of the least rust resistant finishes is traditional bluing. While undeniably beautiful, bluing is very weak against moisture and will need to be wiped down repeatedly with rags and gun oil to keep itself from rusting. One of the aforementioned finishes will be a better choice if you plan on using your rifle out in the rain or snow.
As with other AR-15 calibers, there are a number of barrel lengths available for the 6.5 Grendel. The three most common, however, are the rifle length in 20 inches, mid-length in 18.5 inches, and the carbine length in 16 inches.
When it comes to precision shooting at long distances, which is one of the top reasons to go with the 6.5 Grendel in the first place, take a look at 20 inch barrels. Even though they are the longest and the most unwieldy, they deliver the best performance at longer ranges due to slightly greater bullet velocity.
The 16 inch barrel, being shorter, makes your rifle more maneuverable in tighter conditions. It’s largely for this reason that the 16 inch barreled AR-15 is the most common with American civilians. However, it comes at the expense of slightly reduced muzzle velocity.
The 18 inch barrel version is often viewed as a good compromise between the 16 inch and the 20 inch. All three are good choices and capable of solid performance, and the barrel length you choose will ultimately come down to your personal preference.
Barrel Twist Rate
The twist rate of a barrel refers to the number of inches that a bullet travels down the barrel in order to make a complete rotation. A barrel twist rate of 1:9, for instance, means that the bullet must cover nine inches before it makes a full rotation.
When it comes to the 6.5 Grendel round, the best overall twist rate is the 1:8 twist rate. This is because the 1:8 twist rate is the most versatile for handling many different bullet weights. Take note, however, that if you plan on shooting 6.5 Grendel rounds with more than a 160 grains, you would be wise to instead select a barrel with a 1:9 twist rate for optimum performance (however, the 1:8 twist rate will work as well).
Any one of the 6.5 Grendel barrels that we have covered here today is a good choice for your AR-15. Alternatively, you could also follow the buyer guide that we outlined and discussed above to help guide you in finding another 6.5 Grendel barrel as well.