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Earlier this year, I picked up an AR upper to go on an unused lower I had sitting around for a while. It was an Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel Overwatch. Since then, I've enjoyed the heck out of shooting it, primarily working up a variety of hand loads for it. Plinking with these hand loads can be expensive due to the Lapua brass and the quality 6.5mm bullets I load them with. When I heard that the long (think long as in 5 years since the announcement) anticipated low cost 6.5 Grendel ammo from Wolf was becoming available, I opted to get a case of 500 rounds and give it a try.
There was/is a lot of buzz about it on the 65Grendel.com forum.
Here is one of Bill Alexander's forum comments. He said...."Five years
this has taken. Does anyone realize how complicated it is to just test the case
coating. Then there is the balance of recoil vs velocity vs bullet weight. What
is the intended application. Powder selection must balance the bolt speed for
both long and short weapons. The round has to match up with the rest of the
offerings. A bullet that throws a foot from everything else is worthless. It has
to do this in the hot, cold, wet and dry. Bullet construction is another life
We ran coral sand in the system to check extraction. The gun was recalculated at least three times that I know of. We debated the support available in the chamber for three hours at the IWA show with two translators and the Izhmash designers."
Based on other comments from Bill Alexander in the previously mentioned forum, it is obvious that he work closely during the development and testing phases of the cartridge.
The ammunition is packaged in a 20 round box typically used for rifle cartridges. The cartridge is loaded with a 100 gr FMJ bullet. The bullet is made with a lead core surrounded by a bimetal jacket. A small void exists right at the tip of the bullet, fully covered by the jacket. During development testing in ballistics gel, this void resulted in a bullet yaw occuring at about the 2" mark which was one of the design criteria.
While the the steel case is Berdan primed, it makes little difference that a boxer primer wasn't used since it won't be reloaded. The primers and bullets are not sealed like one sees with military ammunition.
Some additional comments from Bill Alexander regarding this
"The green lacquer coating proved to be superior in the testing of this caliber. This is not to say it is always the case but with the length to diameter ratio of the cartridge and also the operating pressures we saw marked improvements in feed and extraction with the green lacquer over all other coatings. In abrasive contamination tests we used black coral sand as well as platelet desert wind blown sand to evaluate the behavior and would note that the feed and extraction was in some instances better than the control brass cased ammunition.
The projectile design was evolved over a period of time to create a yaw cycle that would be tolerant to intermediate barriers and also body extremities. The driving design requirement was to make sure it was adequate to take game in the class of feral hogs. It should be noted that the yaw cycle can be shortened or extended with simple design manipulations
Projectile weight was balanced against recoil and velocity specifically from shorter barrel weapons while ensuring the pressure point at the port would support reliable operation."
OK, enough comments about the design and development of the
cartridge. Let's see how it performs on paper.
I've included two of my targets shot while evaluating the Wolf ammo, a 5 shot group and the other a 10 shot group. Target #1 was shot near the beginning of the early morning session and Target #2 was the last group fired, some 3 hours later. The early September temps ranged from 75F to 87F during the range session with a density altitude of 4453' to 4732'. There was no wind.
This target was shot early on in the session, after about 10 rounds had been put through a clean bore. The average velocity for this 5 shot group was 2677 FPS from my 24" barrel. SD was 7.8 FPS and ES was 24 FPS.
This string of 10 shots was the last group shot during this session. The velocity ran a bit higher at 2728 FPS with the SD = 25.1 FPS and an ES of 90 FPS. About 50 rounds were shot before this string was recorded.
Both targets were shot using my 6.5 Grendel Overwatch with a Vortex Diamondback HP 4-16x42 optic, a Harris bi-pod, and a rear bag. I shot from one of the cast concrete shooting benches we have at the range. I used my CED M2 chronograph to check the velocity.
Target #3 was shot during the same session as the above two targets. It is from one of my hand loads, using the Hornady 123gr A-Max bullet and Accurate Arms 2230-S Data powder (surplus). Why include it here? Simply to show that neither the rifle nor myself were not having an "off day".
It is not likely that I'll be using this round for hunting feral hogs since we don't have any here in Phoenix and the chances of them being on my property in Northern Minnesota (my new retirement spot in about 18 months) is extremely slim. As for varmint hunting, this Wolf offering doesn't even come close to what I would consider usable. Thank you but I'll stick with my hand loads.
In summary, what I see here is not a lower cost steel ammo with better than average accuracy but rather just a new offering from Wolf with the same 3 to 4 MOA accuracy that most folks experience when shooting Wolf ammo. It is what it is....plinking ammo....and probably fear hog hunting ammo given the limited distance they are shot at (from what I've read).
At the time this was written, Alexander Arms was the initial distributor working with Wolf. The above mentioned forum contained information that indicated other companies would be getting shipments too within the next 3 to 4 months. No idea how accurate that is since it took way, way longer for this loading to ever reach the market. It would seem that Wolf rarely keeps to any previously announced schedule.