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6.5 Grendel Gel Test Results

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Grendelizer, May 12, 2006.

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  1. Grendelizer

    Grendelizer Member

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    Ballistic gelatin testing of select 6.5 Grendel loadings was performed this past Monday, and I've finally got my hands on the results. I've waited two years for this! CentCom tested one 6.5 Grendel load in August 2004, but, apparently, didn't feel the need to release the results for civilian or commercial use.

    Alexander Arms contracted this latest round of gel tests from Speer Law Enforcement representatives in order to have these tests serve as an experimental "control" for ballistics gelatin tests performed by other entities.

    Speer performed these tests according to the standard F.B.I. Protocols, as well as their standard in-house procedures. They use 6 x 6 x 16" blocks of ten percent ballistic gelatin, calibrated with a BB. It is interesting to note that Speer uses green dye instead of red to better delineate the temporary and permanent cavities; we conjecture it's for "politically correct" considerations.

    Alexander Arms tested four loads: (1) 120 Norma FMJ, (2) 120 Sierra MatchKing (SMK), (3) prototype 123 SMK, and (4) 90 Speer TNT. All tests were performed using production Alexander Arms Tactical 14.5 and Tactical 16 M4-style carbines at ranges of 50 and 100 yards. Here is a summary of the results:


    120 Norma FMJ

    [​IMG]

    The 120 Norma FMJ, above, penetrated 16.5" before veering out the side of the block and impacting the support frame. No fragmentation was evident, but the slug is believed to have tumbled at about the 7" mark, with the maximum permanent cavity at the 11" mark. Lesions of more than 6" were created on the top and bottom block surfaces. The Alexander Arms Tactical 14.5 was used in the three 120 Norma FMJ photos shown here. Range: 50 yards. Impact velocity: 2405 fps.

    [​IMG]

    Another shot of the 120 Norma FMJ.

    [​IMG]

    Close-up of 120 Norma FMJ.


    120 Sierra MatchKing

    [​IMG]

    The 120 Sierra MatchKing penetrated 3.25" before yawing and fragmenting. The Alexander Arms Tactical 16 carbine was used in the three 120 SMK photos shown here. Range: 100 yards. Impact velocity: 2383 fps. (Velocity from 24" test barrel was 2660 fps @ 49,800 psi.)

    [​IMG]

    Maximum penetration of the 120 SMK was 19.5", maximum permanent cavity diameter was more than 6" with lesions running to block exterior surfaces. Depth to the maximum permanent cavity was 7.5". Bullet fragmented, with seven large pieces visible within the block. Jacket sections came to rest at 11.75" and 16.25", and the bullet core at 19.5".

    [​IMG]

    Close-up of 120 SMK penetration neck before yaw.


    123 Sierra MatchKing Prototype

    [​IMG]

    The prototype 123 SMK penetrated 2" before yawing and fragmenting. (The 123 SMK is not currently a Sierra catalog offering.) The Alexander Arms Tactical 14.5 carbine was used in the three 123 SMK photos shown here. Range: 50 yards. Impact velocity: 2385 fps. (Velocity from 24" test barrel was 2650 fps @ 49,500 psi.)

    [​IMG]

    Maximum penetration of the 123 SMK was 16.2", maximum permanent cavity diameter was more than 6" with lesions running to block exterior surfaces. Depth to the maximum permanent cavity was 7". Bullet fragmented into multiple small fragments with jacket pieces visible at 11” and 13”. Small core fragment was visible at maximum depth of 16.2".

    [​IMG]

    Close-up of 123 SMK penetration neck before yaw.


    90 Speer TNT

    [​IMG]

    The 90 Speer TNT performed as expected for a varmint bullet.


    Auto Glass

    [​IMG]

    Entry hole of the 120 SMK through auto glass.

    [​IMG]

    Impact of 120 SMK into ballistic gelatin after passing through auto glass.


    Summary

    These tests demonstrate the flexibility of the 6.5 Grendel cartridge in tactical scenarios. Each loading is a tool designed to perform a certain job. If you need penetration, use the 120 Norma FMJ. If you need a general-purpose tactical OTM with decent penetration of intermediate barriers yet with very good fragmentation, use the 120 SMK. If you want a long-range bullet that shoots like the 123 Lapua Scenar yet exhibits very early and explosive fragmentation, call for the 123 SMK.

    It's interesting that the 123 SMK, a bullet that rivals the 123 Lapua Scenar with its .547 BC, also proved to be the most violently fragmenting round of those tested (well, not counting the TNT). We had been led to believe that bullets that perform extremely well at long range would perform poorly at CQB in MOUT. However, testing now shows that the 123 SMK provides wicked fragmentation at CQB ranges with twice the lead mass of 5.56 NATO, as well as shooting flatter and drifting less than 7.62 NATO out to 1000 yards. This capability in one loading truly makes the 6.5 Grendel a unique tool in the AR15/M16/M4 tactical toolbox.

    I will update this report as more data comes in. It's unfortunate that the Wolf 6.5 Grendel ammunition did not arrive in time to test, so that will also have to wait until later.

    John
     
  2. NineseveN

    NineseveN member

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    I kinda wish i could afford one of these right now just to check it out, but even if I could, the ammo cost is still rather high compared to 7.62NATO as I understand it. Wasn't there also some kind fo complaint about the magazines (capacity or the followers)?

    Nice gel shots though, I like all of these bigger-bore and badder AR calibers, I just wish one would go the way of Betamax and make the VHS caliber less cost-prohibitive.
     
  3. Freddymac

    Freddymac Member

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    Great info.

    I’ve been looking into this round for some time, but there has been next to no info about it up until very recently. Thanks for the info. This cartridge is looking more and more promising every day.
     
  4. Grendelizer

    Grendelizer Member

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    NineSeven, the MSRP for an AA Tactical 16 (16" mid-length gas-port) upper is $579.00. The MSRP for an AA Tactical 14.5 (M4-style clone in 6.5 Grendel) upper is $595.00.

    Yes, there were criticisms that the Grendel lacked high-capacity magazines. I've attached some photos that speak to that issue. :D

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Magazines from C-Products for the 6.5 Grendel hold 26 rounds.

    John
     
  5. Langenator

    Langenator Member

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    I've read rumor of a Tactical 20 expected sometime in the near future.

    Since, if I were to want any kind of rifle in 6.5 Grendel, it'd probably be an SDM type, is there any truth to those rumors?
     
  6. Grendelizer

    Grendelizer Member

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    I'm not officially affiliated with Alexander Arms, so can't speak for them, but I imagine that sooner or later the full range of barrel lengths will be offered. ;)

    Arne Brennan of www.competitionshootingsports.com makes custom Grendel ARs, and I believe he's currently working on some sweet 20s both with a standard and a billet upper receiver.

    John
     
  7. NineseveN

    NineseveN member

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    So, is there any 6.5 Grendel load that'd be sufficient for Black Bear? That would seal the deal for me personally...someone give me hope.
     
  8. Kalashnikov

    Kalashnikov Member

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    Rumor has it that Wolf will soon be producing 6.5 grendal ammo soon.
     
  9. Langenator

    Langenator Member

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    Well, if you handload, there are all kinds of 6.5mm bullets available (thank you Sweden!). Not sure about factory stuff. I've haven't looked too much, but most of the factory loads I've seen looked good for deer, not something I'd go after a predator with.
     
  10. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

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    Wolf is already producing 2 loads of grendel for their Gold line.

    I predicted a long time ago that the ultra long, ultra high BC bullets of the grendel would fragment very easily. Sort of like the difference betwen snapping a thick magic marker and a long thing pencil. I think that I have been vindicated as to my bold predictions that this really would be the next big thing.

    I am eagerly awaiting a gas block 6.5 grendel AR upper, or an AK in 6.5 grendel.
     
  11. James T Thomas

    James T Thomas Member

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    cogitation

    I percieve in these gellatin; laboratory, scientific, XXI Century data, a similarity to something with which I am familiar, and to which I am also
    in disagreement.

    Please bear with me while I digress somewhat.

    I had been a structural engineer before retirement, and throughout most of my career, steel columns and beams were designed by the "elastic" method.
    Just before the end of my career things changed. A "new" and European system was embraced; the Load Reduction Factor Design. The steel mills had given control of their rolling machines to computers, so the thickness were of much more precision and accurate, resulting in no "excess" of metal. The designations of beams were also given with metric equivant size.

    The essential change was not in the finer dimentions, but in the fact that these design elements were justifyable in a court of law, because there were the "reduction factors" incorporated into the design.
    Statistics; probablilty. Hard, cold, and supposedly irrefutable mathematics.

    So what? Well, the World Trade Tower Columns were designed by LRFD; none of the old and wasteful safety factors for them. At a grand savings in steel cost too. That's what.

    Now, what does that have to do with the Gel Test?
    I suspect, I have a suspicion, that perhaps our military round may be chosen on what will be a laboratory, repeatable, basis that no select committe of congress or anyone else will be able to fault -should the round turn out to be proven by field use reality as not being adequate after all. Oh, I know some field tests will also be done, however, many militaries through the years have been fielded with weapons that were good in the tests and were not so good when the shooting began.

    I can hear it now: "Well, just look at those gel test images, the penetration
    indices," the ...on and on and on.

    Skeptical, I know, but when I see a super duper, do all, the best there is round, or anything else, ( I've seen this before in my years; yea, an old man!), then, I just have some reservation about accepting it without further considerations.

    How about the tried and true 6.5x 55 Swede? Some similarities, and well proven in the field too. The amazing data does not convince me. It looks good, but.

    Or should I just get out the rocking chair and pipe?
     
  12. NineseveN

    NineseveN member

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    My thoughts on the black bear thing is that 6.5mm bullets are reported to have excellent sectional density (i.e. a 120-125gr 6.5mm bullet would have a sectional density that is equal to or better than that of the170gr .30cal bullet)...and with big predators, bullet weight and SD are factors. If a 170gr SP 30/30Win is enough for black bears, why not a 140'ish grain 6.5mm SP or HP round?

    The reason I ask is, aside from two-legged predators, the black bear is the only real threat I'd face in my neck of the woods. I believe in the power of the 6.5 on human targets given the right load, I was hoping to cover both bases with one gun if that makes any sense.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2006
  13. sumpnz

    sumpnz Member

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    125gr 6.5mm SD = 0.2562
    170gr .308" SD = 0.2560

    At any rate, hopefully these tests will lay to rest the criticism that the 6.5 had too long of "neck" vs the 6.8SPC.

    WRT to the bear issue, I would not have a problem hunting with such a caliber, provided I had 130 Barnes TSX or 140gr+ lead core as a minimum. However I would probably prefer something with a bit more oommph than any 6.5mm can give if I was expecting to use it defensively. Heavy loaded .32 Win Special at least, preferably .35Rem or .45/70. Hunting gives you, typically, the advantage of being able to take the shot(s) at a far enough range that you have time to make followups if first round or three don't drop the beast. If it's defensive uses, you're typically in a last minute snap shooting position that may, or may not, afford the opportunity for more than one shot. But, a 6.5 Grendel is a heckofalot better than nothing (or even a big revolver).
     
  14. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

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    And as Fackler repeatedly has proven, gel testing is the test that almost always predicts battlefield performance problems. Note especially the wounding problems of 5.56/5.45 non-fragmenting ammo that was predicted (based on flawed earlier theories) to be an intensely powerful wounder but in reality was very weak. Live animal, cadaver and gel studies all predicted this, but no one listened until the soldiers started complaining.

    Even if 6.5 grendel didnt fragment and only left a bullet sized hole in what it hit, it would still be an acceptable combat round. The round is a lot longer than 7.62x39 and only slightly narrower, so it would have wound channel size parity with 7.62x39 ammo while boasting several hundred extra yards of effective range. And it reuses a good chunk of the existing tooling and equipment. The cartridge is a huge win.
     
  15. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member

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    John,

    We need velocity and penetration numbers of the calibration BB's!

    Valid criticisms at the time, John. Those magazines hit the street what, a week ago? What is the max OAL that those will take? I hear 2.263" for AA's 16 round magazines. Did AA drop the MAP for the Grendel?

    David
     
  16. JesseL

    JesseL Member

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    James T Thomas wrote:
    If the terminal performance of the 6.5x55 is good, why would the 6.5 Grendel be any worse? If they are both launching essentially the same bullet at similar velocities, how would the cartidge that launched it play any factor in what it does downrange?
     
  17. James T Thomas

    James T Thomas Member

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    Response to JesseL: Sorry Jesse, but I was not able to state with clarity, just what my point is!

    Not that the newer, improved version; the Grendel is not somewhat superior to the 6.5 Swede. It is superior.

    I just believe they are "reinventing the wheel" so to speak. All the testing, all the retooling, all the costs, and are the differences worth the cost?
    Or, are we; as it appears to me, to be in the spell of some marketing campaign for those who have something to financially or reputationaly gain? It's similar to the "WSM" cartridges, newly invented for the "Twentyfirst Century Schitzoid Man."
    I'm sure the manufacturers and their payed manketers hope all the young fellas rush out and forget the outdated old stuff and buy the latest; read: better profit margin and engineered obsolesence, gimmik.

    Then again, my apology to Beerslurpy also; for not being able to give my input here on THR clearly enough. Slurpy- sir, the Grendel round is certainly an acceptable combat round, as you state. My contention is all the pretty green gel tests and lab science data that accompany them appear to me, with my years and experience, as a sell. New and improved, the best out there, you know. The tests do have validity as you wrote, however, my scepticism is that they do not become an overwhelming factor that precludes any other consideration. Like this: Boy, look at these gel tests! They are so elaborate, they are so conclusive; that's it! Eureka! The Grendel is they way to go. The wave of the future. You know what I mean. Technology's latest does not necessarily sweep away all that is behind by virtue of being the latest.

    I think the proven veteran 6.5 Swede does not fall that far behind to be ecclipsed, and then trash all that preceeded. Simply. Industry loves to have that, it greases the wheels.

    Langenator: I was not aware of the swapping usefullness you mention.
    Certainly a valid point. Thanks. Makes the discussion worth while.
    Jim
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2006
  18. Langenator

    Langenator Member

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    The 6.5 Grendel has basically one advantage over the 6.5 Swede: the OAL of the Grendel allows it to be used in rifles with 5.56 NATO length actions. This means you can put a 6.5 G upper on any AR lower and it will work. The Swede is too long for this.
     
  19. Grendelizer

    Grendelizer Member

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    Guys, the 6.5 Grendel can be looked at as a short-range version of the traditional 6.5x55 Swedish for ARs and compact rifles. The Swede takes a .30-06 length action and the Grendel fits .223/7.62R "micro-actions".

    When comparing it to the Swede, we've got to consider two versions of the Swede.

    Most major ammo companies are still loading the Swede to traditional, and conservative, velocities at, oh, about 46,000 psi because they don't want to blow up surplus Swedish Mausers. The Grendel can't go faster than the traditional Swede, but it can come pretty damn close such that I'd say whatever you'd shoot with your Swedish Mauser, you can shoot at a shorter range with your Grendel.

    However, the Grendel is not going to touch the velocities of the big Swede handloaded to modern pressures. It is what it is. The beauty of it is, it can load the same 6.5mm hunting bullets as the Swede, as long as you understand the velocity limitations.

    Compare below the 6.5x55 Swedish and the 6.5 Grendel.

    [​IMG]

    John
     
  20. NineseveN

    NineseveN member

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    I think I've been sold on a carbine grendel now. :D
     
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