Over the past handful years, millions of AR-15 platform rifles have been bought by new and old firearms enthusiasts. The AR-15 is an amazing rifle that allows the owner a plethora of upgrades and add-ons. The internet is packed with manufacturers, distributors, and retailers offering almost anything for your AR-15 rifle. Enter the 6.5 Grendel cartridge.
The modularity of the AR-15 makes it a perfect platform for a caliber swap as long as the magazine can fit in the existing mag well. With a completed polymer lower receiver sitting in the safe, I decided it needed an upper. After a fair amount of research and forum browsing, I decided on the 6.5 Grendel cartridge. With the range of appropriate 6.5mm bullets running from 85 to 140 grains, the 6.5 Grendel fills the roll of both a great varmint round and provides more than enough down range energy to take medium size game such as deer and hogs. Due to the typically high ballistic coefficient (BC) of the 6.5 bullets, they don't shed energy nearly as fast as your average .308 hunting cartridge.
Bill Alexander, of Alexander Arms (AA), officially introduced the 6.5 Grendel (not yet SAMMI adopted) at the 2004 Shot Show and early in 2011, it was reported the SAMMI had adopted the cartridge which meant the specs for it were finally standardized.
I obtained my AA 6.5 Grendel Overwatch upper receiver through MidwayUSA. As I mentioned, I had an unused poly lower receiver which is now dedicated to the Overwatch upper. For the time being, the upper is sporting a Bushnell Elite 4200 temporarily on loan from my FNH FNAR. On my wish list is a Vortex Viper HS 4-16x44 optic with a BDC reticle. It's a younger cousin to the Viper PST I run on my Savage 10 FCP HS-Precision.
The Overwatch upper contains a forward assist and a dust cover. A Picatinny rail provides for mounting an optic. There are no iron sights supplied from AA and I personally wouldn't think of using them if they were as my old eyes prefer some magnification for down range work. A rifle length gas system feeds the 6.5 Grendel bolt via a non-adjustable low profile gas block. An A2 type flash hider threads onto the 1 in 9 twist 24" stainless steel barrel, threaded for 9/16x24 RH.
The Overwatch comes with a rifle length composite hand guard complete with two sling swivel studs. I don't know the manufacturer of the hand guard. I did a little checking on the 65Grendel forum in an attempt to get some more info about it. I did not come up with a brand name but it appears they use some type of adhesive to attach it to the barrel nut. (Penetrating oil and heat were suggested to release it.) I'm not too crazy about the hand guard's mounting method. That being said, it provides a good purchase and is comfortable at the range.
The Overwatch ships with a single 10 round magazine. It bears the AA stamp on the floor plate although I'm not sure where they source them from. I ordered a C-Products 10 round magazine from MidwayUSA when I ordered the upper. During the 1st range visit, I used both mags. They both performed without any issues. They appear to have the same anti-tilt follower except for a manufacturer's stamp molded into one of the followers. It was nice to be able to skip dealing with a finicky magazine.
Before taking the Grendel to the range, I gave it a thorough cleaning. AA had coated things pretty well. I took the better part of an hour and to ensure I had it looking as good as I could. I gave the bolt carrier group a proper cleaning and lube. I didn't have a 6.5mm jag for my cleaning rod so I doubled up the patching on the .22 cal jag which did a pretty good job. When I was finished, the patches were coming out of the bore nice and clean. It was about as ready as it was ever going to be.
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