6.5 Grendel loads in a Howa MINIACTION (6.5 Grendel load development)

While the 6.5 Grendel is well established in the AR-15/M16 M4, it’s compact size and perceived long range effectiveness have also made it a desirable choice for low-recoiling bolt-action rifles.

Effectively a 6.5-7.62×39 with small boxer primer, the case has similar magazine, feeding and ejection considerations- that means getting a Remington 700 or Model Seven to work with the cartridge requires you to jump through a few hoops- ask me how I know (that’s a subtle hint to click the deep link to the left 🙂  Note: The Grendel has an interesting background.  Developed by Bill Alexander, the 6.5 Grendel was effectively a 6PPC necked up to 6.5mm.  Well, the 6PPC is a 220 Russian necked up to 6mm… and that 220 Russian is a 7.62×39 necked down to 22 caliber, you could refer to it as a 6.5-7.62×39 Russian and not be far off.

Fortunately Howa began chambering their MINIACTION in 6.5 Grendel a number of years ago.  As an original beta tester of the pre-production guns, I was happy to give the MINIACTION in 6.5 Grendel another look, especially when I found out Modular Driven Technologies (MDT), made a special chassis system just for the MINIACTION rifle!

Left to right, 6mm Norma BR, 6×47 Lapua, 243 Winchester, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor 120 A-MAX, 6.5 Creedmoor 142 SMK, 260 Remington, and 308 Winchester

As you can see above, the Grendel doesn’t look so big and bad when it is next to more traditional short action cartridges.  This is by design, those larger cartridges won’t fit in a standard size AR-15 M16/M4, these will!

The rifle, as shown above, contains the following parts:

The Zeiss 3-18 Z6 is the perfect choice for a little rifle like this.  It has a compact profile coupled with a wide range of magnification and easy to access adjustments.  To learn more about the Zeiss Z6, click here.

The case capacity of the 6.5 Grendel is far smaller than it’s contemporary 6.5mm cartridges like the 6.5 Creedmoor, 260 Remington or 6.5×47 Lapua.  This means lighter bullets are needed to optimize performance.   Some of my favorite 6.5mm bullets are shown above, this includes the 107 SMK, 107 TMK, 123 SMK, 130 TMK, and 142 SMK.

In this post I’ll be using the 107 SMK and TMK.  If you get a Grendel and tell yourself you’ll be able to hang with a larger cartridge like the Creedmoor, you are setting yourself up for a disappointment.

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while you may remember that I spent quite a bit of time with the Grendel back in 2014/2015, reporting my thoughts in 6.5 Grendel Review: 18″ Special Purpose Rifle.  That post recorded my data for 30 different loads.  After I had written it, I put another 20 combinations downrange.  None of which reached the velocities the Internet had me believe they would.  I hinted at this when I mentioned I wouldn’t buy a barrel shorter than 24″.  Well, I’m back, and with a 20″. I guess I’m hopelessly romantic about the 6.5-7.62×39 in a short barrel.

Before we get to the info, read the following disclaimer carefully:

WARNING: The loads shown are for informational purposes only.  They are only safe in the rifle shown and may not be safe in yours.  Consult appropriate load manuals prior to developing your own handloads.  Rifleshooter.com and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.

On my Forster Co-Ax press, I sized my Lapua cases with a Redding full-length bushing die.  For a primer I used CCI #450s in all of the loads below.

I want to apologize for some of the 107 SMK data loss.  I didn’t have a great zero on the rifle when I started and lost some of the groups off the paper.  For the loads I did record with H335 powder, group sizes ranged from .843″ (.805 MOA) to 2.513″ (2.400 MOA) with an average group size of 1.421″ (1.357 MOA).  Muzzle velocities ranged from 2,398 to 2,661 feet/second.  These are the only loads I recorded with the 107 SMK because I ran out of bullets; that’s right, all gone!  So, once I get some more, I’ll get some more data up.

Group sizes for the 107 TMK loads with the IMR 8208 XBR ranged from 1.026″ (.980 MOA) to 2.609″ (2.492 MOA) with an average group size of 1.421″ (1.357 MOA).  Muzzle velocities ranged from 2,396 to 2,557 feet/second.

The 107 TMK and H322 loads had group sizes measuring from .675″ (.645 MOA) to 1.567″ (1.497 MOA) with an average size of 1.148″ (1.096 MOA).  Muzzle velocities ranged from 2,369 to 2,506 feet/second.

The 107 TMK with X-Terminator did very well.  Group sizes ranged from .590″ (.564 MOA) to 1.240″ (1.184 MOA) with an average group size of .782″ (.747 MOA)!  Velocities ranged from 2,367 to 2,498 feet/second.

The group sizes for the 107 TMK and TAC powder ranged from .904″ (.863 MOA) to 3.047″ (2.910 MOA) with an average group size of 2.300″ (2.197 MOA).  Muzzle velocities ranged from 2,470 to 2,594 feet/second.

If you are a regular reader you’ll note my target looks different.  I used to use 1″ orange dots on cardboard targets.  They worked in most conditions, however, in heavy rain or extreme cold, the adhesive would fail and they would fall off the target (see the orange dots in the target above).  I developed this target with Rite in the Rain.  It is on waterproof stock with true 1.047 MOA green dots.  The color provides excellent contrast and you can still see your impacts on the paper.  To learn more about Rite in the Rain and their line of targets, click here.

Powder choices for the bolt-action Grendel?   After reviewing my data it seems like the best powder choices for the 107 gr class bullet would be X-Terminator.  H322 and H335 also seemed like they held some promise.   This gun didn’t like TAC.

6.5 Grendel v 6.5 Creedmoor- FIGHT!   So how does this little 20″ Grendel compare to a 6.5 Creedmoor.  Let’s race, at least on the ballistic app.  If I model the same 107 TMK in my 26″ 6.5 Creedmoor bolt action rifle at 1,000 yards; the 107 TMK  at 3,151 feet/second requires 7.9 MRAD of elevation and 2.5 MRAD of windage in a full value 10 mile/hour cross wind.  The fastest load I managed to produce with this rifle was 2,661 (and yes, that was the 107 SMK, but we’ll call it the TMK in the software for comparisons sake; you have 11.9 MRAD of elevation and 3.2 MRAD of drift in the same conditions. We can also compare to my 20″ gas gun’s 107 TMK loads at 2,957 feet/second with 9.2 MRAD of elevation and 2.8 MRAD of windage for the same range and conditions.  But guess what, you can’t jam either of those cartridges into a standard size AR-15/M16 M4 like you can the Grendel!

I’ll keep on shooting this little chassis gun.

To learn more about the MDT LSS, click here.  Like the Zeiss Z6 in the post, click here to learn more about it. 

For more data using the 107 TMK, visit Sierra Bullets website here.