How Much Would It Cost for the Army to Adopt the 6.5 Grendel?

Those of you who guessed "more than $2" are correct.

This subject has come up in my comments recently, and I thought I would explore it in a post proper. To adopt the 6.5 Grendel (or, as we’ll see, something like it), the US Army would need to develop and procure new complete upper receivers, magazines, buffers, and possibly other small components, as well as the ammunition itself. How much would that cost? It’s impossible to say for sure unless it happens, but with a little napkin-math, we should be able to get some idea:

1. A new AR-15 upper receiver is about 2/3s the cost of a new rifle. The cheapest 6.5 Grendel upper receivers are about $600 on the civilian market (contrast that with the ~$650 unit cost for an M4), and a military variant still would need a full development and procurement program to ensure correct operation and parts life cycles in military service. If the Army committed to buying half a million new upper receivers at, say, $430/per, that would be a $215 million purchase, not including development costs. The costs to develop the 6.5mm upper receivers would likely run into the tens or even hundreds of millions; the XM8 rifle cost $33 million over its abortive development, and was based on an existing weapon. Many problems would likely have to be solved during this period, examples of likely ones being:

– Bolts for the new upper receivers are too weak for sustained military use, and need to be redesigned.
– The new bolts need to be made incompatible with legacy 5.56mm systems.
– A new buffer needs to be developed for reliable function on fully automatic with 6.5mm ammunition.
– A new barrel thread and flash hider need to be developed that are incompatible with legacy 5.56mm systems.

This development would likely incur costs of at least $50 million, meaning  it would be approximately $300+ million to procure the new upper receivers, alone.

2. All of the old magazines would become obsolete overnight for operational units, and the new magazines would have to look sufficiently different to avoid confusion, while working reliably. Since no such magazines exist on the civilian market, a new development program for magazines would have to be conducted, which would likely cost millions of dollars. Procurement of the new magazines, if the prices were similar for 5.56mm USGIs, would be about $45 million for 5 million units. So, for magazines, that’s about $50 million.

3. No one is producing 6.5 Grendel ammunition in quantity. It uses a completely unique case head diameter among US military ammunition, and has a 30-degree shoulder which makes mass production tricky. In the late 1940s, engineers at Frankford Arsenal discovered that the experimental .30 Light Rifle ammunition with a 30 degree shoulder would be significantly harder to manufacture in quantity than ammunition with a less extreme shoulder. As a result, they changed the design, which eventually became 7.62 NATO, to have a less severe shoulder angle of 20 degrees.

This means that a whole development production for new 6.5mm ammunition, only loosely based on the 6.5 Grendel would need to be conducted. It took $32 million to develop the M855A1, which used a legacy case and primer, and an existing caliber and twist rate as well as a new but pre-existing propellant. This new caliber, which would not end up being identical to 6.5 Grendel, would need to have completely new cases, propellants, projectiles (ball, tracer, , twist rate, etc; every element but the primers developed from scratch. Cost would likely be at least $50 million. Plus, completely new ammunition would need to be procured alongside existing ammunition production, to maintain readiness. That would cost the USG approximately $350 million for a billion rounds (approx. yearly small arms ammunition production; M855A1 unit cost is about $0.31, but the new caliber uses more materials and would thus be more expensive), although some of that could be absorbed by the reduction in 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition procurement. So that would give a total combined development and procurement cost of about $300-$350 million.

In sum, to adopt the 6.5 Grendel, total development costs would be well over $100 million, and procurement costs well past the half a billion dollar mark. Overall, the program would likely cost close to a billion dollars altogether for development and procurement, combined.

Is all that worth it? Yes, if you have an ironclad case that the weight increase of the new round is offset by increased and meaningful effectiveness and a tangible advantage in firepower for the squad.

But that ironclad case doesn’t exist, yet.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • drone

    Infantry rifles do not win wars, artillery and air support does. Saddam’s forces would not have prevailed in Iraq even if they were all armed with 6.5 Grendel chambered weapons. If that billion dollars is available, it is wiser to spend it elsewhere.

    • Volk

      As cool as I think it would be for everyone to have shiny M6.5s, I agree with this sentiment every time.

    • John Yossarian

      Apparently we can just give a billion dollars yearly to whomever we don’t want to go to war – It’s worked for the past 70 years with Egypt and Israel.

      • Bill

        If it sounds stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid.

        • John Yossarian

          Wow – That’s about as insightful as: “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”

          First off, it doesn’t sound stupid. It sounds, and IS, absolutely evil. My grandparents, parents, my children and I have all been enslaved and/or are promised into slavery in order to produce that wealth.

          Secondly, who does it “work for”? Not us slaves, but the American military-industrial complex – which produces the armaments that Egypt and Israel purchase with that money. It also benefits the ruling class of all three countries, who are in collusion to enslave their own people.

          • Bill

            Yeah wow, do even you understand what you wrote?

            “Enslaved,” huh? So you are a forced-sex worker or something?

          • John Yossarian

            And you don’t believe that you are enslaved, so I suppose you must be either a hunter-gatherer, subsistence farmer and/or are employed and trade only in the gray or black markets?

          • You are one of those “participating in the economy = slavery folks”, I see.

            I wonder how an actual man in bondage would react to that idea.

          • John Yossarian

            “Participating in the economy”? I wonder if you’d refer to a woman being raped as “participating in a sex act”.

            Taxation is not participation – It is the theft of my labor by threat of violence. It is the forced extraction of the product of my body and my time. Taxation is slavery, it is rape and it is morally reprehensible.

            I’m a voluntarist who believes in the freedom of association and in free markets – And I’m not the only one. In 1000 years, your way of (not)thinking will be extinct – As those animals who operate in ways not in their self-interest must always be replaced by those who do.

          • Hokay, buddy. I’ll sit here behind my tax-funded organized military, supported by my tax-funded public works, and I’ll just watch while you and the other “voluntarists” go out and form your commune or whatever it is.

            I’ll also be watching when your voluntarist society inevitably gets invaded and “enslaved” (or possibly actually enslaved) by a tax-funded one.

          • Bill

            So you’re a volunteer firefighter? A volunteer air traffic controller? A volunteer food and drug safety inspector? A volunteer public health professional? A volunteer cop? A volunteer highway engineer? How many potholes have you filled today?

            I didn’t think so. You’ll use the benefits, but you won’t write the check physically or fiscally.

          • John Yossarian

            If you want someone to force you to pay for abysmal, monopoly-supplied services – if you’re allowed any at all – then go ahead and move to Cuba, Sweden or anywhere but here.

            Same goes for Nathaniel F, and this reply is for him as well – But you guys aren’t worthy of America if you don’t cherish Freedom, and freedom is all about Choice.

            Let me choose which fire fighting company I wish to have contracted to put out the flames – Or let my homeowner’s insurance policy dictate that.

            Let the airports decide which air traffic control company to contract – As the passengers and airlines all have a stake in safety and will demand it.

            Let the food and drug companies choose which inspection agencies to contract – Since they only make revenue based on reputation.

            Let the health insurance companies hire public health professionals – Since their bottom-line depends on customers not becoming ill.

            Let private security firms contract their services of patrolling to provide security and let the private investigators solve crimes – Because people everywhere demand safety and justice to be served, rather than swept under the rug.

            Let those people serviced by a local road determine who should build and maintain it and let major arteries be built as toll roads by private industry – Since that road is a means to your home or business and because a single pike through undeveloped areas need not be the only way to-and-fro.

            You don’t have to like all those solutions – Particularly, because there ARE certainly better ones available. That’s just the best that this one person can do in 15 minutes of thinking and tapping. Meanwhile, private industry – in competition – will come up with optimal solutions every time.

            As they say – Opinions are like a’holes, because everyone’s got one. Well – Why would you depend on the opinion of just a few a’holes who don’t even do the work or benefit from optimization, when we can instead use the combined force of all the self-interested a’holes on this planet – including yourself – to continually perform a distributed, super-computation of all the best solutions available?

            Markets, baby, Markets! The invisible hand of Adam Smith is in full force when we are free to act in our own self-interest. But when you’re forced to act in the interest of someone else, Hell on Earth is the idiots’ “reward” for having given up his agency and well-being to another.

          • Bill

            What are the first three words to the Constitution of the United States? Even an “unworthy” guy like me knows that they aren’t “It’s All Me.”

          • John Yossarian

            America – from the days of the Pilgrims – has been the world’s foremost beacon and laboratory of Freedom. It was thereafter settled by those who meant Freedom to be the birthright of all men born among them.

            And that goal was established here long before these more-modern, accursed documents and their executors sought to overtake it. In claiming to be the successors of those ideals, the tyrants have manipulated you in obedience.

            But – These Constitutions are nothing more than unchallenged deeds to the land – and papers for the ownership of any supposed slaves born upon it. So let’s hang them all in the hall of shame and – finally – let Freedom reign.

          • Cody Smith

            The problem I have with your argument John is that history has already proven it wrong. Unless you’ve discovered a way to hit the reset button before things reach a critical mass.

            Your whole argument relies on private business and individuals being a more efficient and fair way of managing our infrastructure and day to day needs.

            The thing is that when a company or group or companies become massive enough to corner any particular market it becomes easier to subsume then to compete. Why spend countless man hours and piles of cash on a innovative new product when I can spend fractions less on marketing to convince people my products the best?

            You don’t need to look far in our current society to see the truth of this.

            You suggest to privatize public services such as police and the fire department? How do you expect anyone to lift them selves out of poverty if they can’t afford protection? If a fire happens but I don’t have a contract will they wait till it spreads to other “insured” buildings to put it out? Will I be sued because of a fire that happened on my property? Will criminals be able to have free reign over any group without a security contract? Will laws be dictated by whatever company owns the land? If so does that mean they can persecute any race or religion they please, or even enslave them?

            Lets say I have a business that’s on the rise and doing good, but a larger rival company buys up the surrounding roads/supply routes. Can they freely raise the toll to exorbitant amounts or even block access for my trucks?

            You speak as if capitalism is all unbridled innovation and pure spirited competition, that is frankly naive bullshit. Edison didn’t beat Tesla because he was a better a inventor, history has shown that. He won because he was a better business man(and ruthless at that), Tesla in the end was the the more innovative and it took decades for it to be proven. Edison by contrast was focused purely on marketable ideas, not innovative inventions.

            You talk a good game, but your ideals don’t hold water I feel.

          • John Yossarian

            > The thing is that when a company or group or companies become massive enough to corner any particular market it becomes easier to subsume then to compete. Why spend countless man hours and piles of cash on a innovative new product when I can spend fractions less on marketing to convince people my products the best?

            If people buy the marketing – rather the product – that is their own fault/choice. Marketing is as much a form of competition as innovation.

            So long as regulatory capture isn’t possible – which it wouldn’t be, if we abandoned governments – then innovation and marketing can be free to compete for customers.

            Freedom is not about saving people from themselves. That is enslavement – Both of the fools who won’t take care of themselves and those who are forced to take care of them.

            > You suggest to privatize public services such as police and the fire department?


            >How do you expect anyone to lift them selves out of poverty if they can’t afford protection?

            Voluntary donations – Like with the power utility when they ask you to donate to “families in need” or when a church or other community gets together to help someone. Or – Like MidwayUSA when they ask me to “round-up for the NRA.”

            Wouldn’t it be great if we weren’t forced to pay taxes, and could use our income just for those causes we believed in?

            When someone ask me for a donation, I always ask if their organization takes public money. If the answer is “Yes” then I tell them, “No thanks, I gave at work – At the point of a gun!”, then I quickly end the call. It is not a charitable organization if they rely on threats of violence for any part of the money they collect!

            > If a fire happens but I don’t have a contract will they wait till it spreads to other “insured” buildings to put it out?

            Yes – Just like when you crash your car, you don’t get paid if you didn’t buy collision insurance.

            > Will I be sued because of a fire that happened on my property?

            It depends on whatever arrangements had been made previously – Your arrangements with firefighters, home owners insurance companies and any other organization that might limit or assume your liability. It would also depend on what arrangements I’ve made.

            > Will criminals be able to have free reign over any group without a security contract?

            Criminals have free reign over you right now – Look out for that guy across the way! Seriously, you could have a gun pointed at your head this very minute, as you read my post. Are the police – or your private bodyguards – going to stop that guy, or are you?

            If someone should commit a crime against you, but you do not have a previous contract, then you will probably have to pay much more for ex-post facto assistance. Just like you’d have to pay full price for a new house if you didn’t insure it against fire.

            A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure. People would still live that way today, if the government hadn’t attached them to its evil teat.

            We are in fact the victims of a government-lead dysgenics program, in that they have disincentivized hard work and responsibility with these transfers of wealth and responsibility to those who should have been chlorinated from the gene pool. And guess which group has been out-breeding the other?

            > Will laws be dictated by whatever company owns the land? If so does that mean they can persecute any race or religion they please, or even enslave them?

            Would you patronize a Subway that had replaced its “sandwich artists” with shackled slaves? How about when one asks you, “Sir, would you like my blood, sweat and tears in your sub, or just the shredded lettuce?” I can’t imagine that would result in a very good product, nor would that Subway be very popular with its neighbors.

            Slavery only lasted for as long as it did in the Southern States because the government propped it up. People who didn’t own slaves were actually conscripted into slave hunting units, in forced service of the plantation owners. It was a failing business model long before Abraham Lincoln ever began wiping his ass with the Constitution.

            > Lets say I have a business that’s on the rise and doing good, but a larger rival company buys up the surrounding roads/supply routes. Can they freely raise the toll to exorbitant amounts or even block access for my trucks?

            Maybe so. Perhaps you should have bought those roads yourself? Guess you’ll have to relocate your business now or close-up shop. But that’s just what happens when you fail.

            > You speak as if capitalism is all unbridled innovation and pure spirited competition, that is frankly naive bullshit. Edison didn’t beat Tesla because he was a better a inventor, history has shown that. He won because he was a better business man(and ruthless at that), Tesla in the end was the the more innovative and it took decades for it to be proven. Edison by contrast was focused purely on marketable ideas, not innovative inventions.

            As I said previously – Freedom of choice is freedom. And a person needs to be able to choose between a superior product and superior marketing. Otherwise, they aren’t free!

            In this particular instance, each of Edison and Tesla tried to out-game each other by dealing with monopolistic entities – Governments – to adopt their ideas.

            So long as governments exist, playing dirty is a real concern. Otherwise, if you can’t hack it – You’re free to fail! But before all the social programs of the 20th century, people took care of families in need. Please stop swallowing the lie that government does anything other than take away choice – taking away our Freedom.

          • Cody Smith

            I’m not swallowing any lie, I feel like you’re either ignoring our own history. How is this not just trading one master for another? Instead of government dictating what I can and can’t do I’ll have a corporation doing it instead. The only freedom will be to those who can afford it.

            Look at the late 1800 to early 1900 company towns, they had in affect very much the system you’re advocating for. They decided what their workers ate, if they could consume alcohol, what they could read. They had their own newspaper and thus controlled the information they received. And to top all off they payed in “script” that could only be used in company stores, so good luck packing up and moving away with no money. How about the battle of Blair mountain? The largest armed uprising since the civil war caused by a company mistreating it’s workers and murdering the trouble makers. The government had nothing to do with this, but they’re the ones that had to clean up the mess.

            Your talk of slavery shows that you’re apparently ignorant that it’s still in fact a thing, and that we do in fact reap the benefit from it. The very devices we’re using to communicate with one another contain rare metals that were in all likely hood obtained with slave labor. This goes for all modern electronics. Some companies have already been caught using slaves to assemble their products in foreign countries. And yet you and me still use them, thus indirectly supporting slavery. Hell of a world eh? The fact is people could care less as long as they don’t have to see it our hear about it, quit being naive.

            As for your argument on privatized security, I fully understand that even the best police force is still mostly reactive not preventive. This is why I support the right to bear arms and protect your self, the fact that my killer will be caught is of little concern to me if I’m dead. But that point is the very existence of the police limit what any criminal group can do. For instance the local gangs can’t just cordon off a area and enslave the populace without having the hammer come down on their heads. Under your society they could very much do that to any block not paying for protection.

            You know I got to ask, what the hell is the point of your ideal society? Is it to improve the happiness of mankind? To encourage scientific innovation and advancement? What is the point? Because history has already shown that your ideal society accomplishes none of this. You’re striving for the “good Ol days” and moaning about taxes while enjoying one of the highest standards of living in history. Freedom is a nice word, it’s also bullshit, under any system we’re always constrained by the pressures of society or the needs of body and soul. You want freedom? Go to one the few remaining wild places in the world, or to one of the destabilized countries where anarchy reigns. Chances are you wont, because you’ve become too accustomed to the comforts that a developed society offers. You talk of freedom, you have the choice, and you chose to remain here instead of living “free”.

            I have my own problems with government. But I understand that it’s all based in ignorance. As long as people can be distracted by petty issues the government will remain corrupt. The problem lies solely in the hands of the populace that refuses to research and hold accountable their politicians. Even in its worse form it is still preferable to system you propose.

      • Adam

        Wanna run that buy us again?

    • Don Ward

      Time to pen my Alt History of Tony Williams going back in time to provide the Iraqi Republican Guard with 6.5mm Gerppsherers, just in time to fend off the Coalition Invasion of Kuwait during Desert Storm.

    • Bill

      Yes, but, there’s always a but. Someone has to eventually go in and kick the right doors; everything can’t be an airstrike. But literally why keep inventing new wheels? suppose that money went to additional training on door kicking and hitting what you’re shooting at, with what you’ve already got.

    • Cmex

      Not on their own, but they’re essential, and in insurgency situations that are so common these days, not having the ability to do with an infantry rifle what was once the territory of heavier weapons that are banned by ROE or unavailable due to short engagement times, an improved rifle is the only fix.

  • Don Ward

    I think your cost estimate is LOW Nate, considering the Modular Handgun System program to replace the M9 Beretta is anywhere from $350 million to $1.2 billion depending on what publication you believe.

    • M.M.D.C.

      Yeah, those numbers look more like private sector numbers.

      • Tim Barrera

        +1 – Knowing how state/fed contract bidding works, you can generally estimate that state/fed pricing is going to be at a MINIMUM MSRP. If you have a $500 upper and a $1000 upper, they will get the $500 upper, but at a $1000 price tag… Wish I was making this up….

        • M.M.D.C.

          I’ve done just enough work in the public school system to see how budgets are “maintained.” I believe “spend it or lose it” was how it was put.

          • Cmex

            And to think that 90% of what we needed to do to fix budget problems was to replace
            spend it or lose it” with “spend what we give you”.

          • raz-0

            It’s not even close to 90%. In fact, spend what we give you IS spend it or lose it.

            What would likely help a lot of budgeting is actually permitting budgets to bank a surplus to deal with intermittent capital expenses. The other reason things are screwed up is weird defensive budgeting stuff to deal with the retroactive “we gave you less, so give us some back” behavior that also occurs.

            For example, lets say I have a machine room full of computers. They get cheaper and more efficient. If I spend less you take away budget. In general, that means I may be sacrewed if you do something fun like mandate a 2% pay increase without giving me budget for it. Now I have spent those savings. The problem is that while more efficient, the computing density of the machine room built int he 80s is WAY higher in 2016. Whcih means I need HVAC and more power. You now have to air drop me additional budget ro pay for PDUs and HVAC upgrades as well as additional UPS and generator capacity. THis would be minimized by letting me bank the savings on the commodity hardware, but noooooo…. I have to spend it or lose it, i.e. spend what you gave me this fiscal year within the fiscal year.

            This is not a made up example.

        • zardoz711

          Why in the hell would they replace uppers instead of just barrels (like the m4a1 upgrade), bolts?

      • They are only an estimate, and government programs have a way of shattering estimates.

        Any way you dice it, though, it’s not cheap.

    • klaus.ramelow

      I think, the whole discussion is US-centered and doesn`t take in account the world-wide responsibility re NATO and compatible firearms! The M16 and its numerous derivates could not be the “gral”!
      What about the AK-Model-dervivates etc ?

  • derfelcadarn

    Should have stayed with the 06 or .308 and the 45 ACP. None of the weapons changes has ever been about effectiveness it has always been about egos and graft. ego and graft.

    • Volk

      Of course you’re right that most changes are based on finances rather than engineering, where you’re wrong is assuming that 30-06 and 7.62 weren’t.

    • ChierDuChien

      Those are way too much weapon for the average recruit.
      And that ammo is way too heavy for the amounts needed to be hauled for spray and pray.

    • 40mmCattleDog

      Let me guess, you think those are “real mens calibers” and that the 45acp and 1911 were passed down from god himself to give JMB the best handgun ever invented. Oh and i should probably go lift some weights if im carrying around my sissy 5.56 and 9mm right? Seriously you “bigger is better derp derp” people are a dime a dozen.

      • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

        If bigger is better all the times then I suggest .50cal for all! CrossFit for all, all day long and then pick your Barret and go clear a room 🙂
        The problem is always cost vs capability increase.
        When you go to your MOD and tell them you want X amount of money to change caliber and they ask you “How many people more will you have killed if you had this new caliber” you’d probably answer 1-2 more… And they’d reply “It’s not worth it”
        5,56 prime advantage IMO is weight of ammo. I’ve been carrying a G3 most of my military years and still do as a DMR/SS. When doing regular rifleman work most of the times 7,62 is WORSE than 5,56 because it’s heavier(less ammo) and harder to control(less hits in a dynamic scenario)

    • That’s a great idea, then a 7-man squad of Russians with AK-74s could handily outmatch an 11-man squad of our guys.

      • Cmex

        47’s/M’s at the time, Nat. 74’s came even later and offered an even greater firepower advantag.

        • I was talking about now. If we used .30-06 or 7.62mm rifles today, we’d be at a disadvantage versus AK-74s.

          Yes, the study – Rifle Squad Armed with a Light Weight High Velocity Rifle, for those interested – was conducted in late ’58, early ’59, so the AK-74 didn’t exist at that time.

    • Pistolero

      The U.S. military studied this heavily after WWII and determined that a soldier armed with 15lbs of ammo was likely to get 50% more kills with a .22 caliber weapon than a .30 caliber weapon. Keep in mind that most of infantry tactics is about fire and maneuver (i.e. suppressive fire). Also, it was determined that most riflemen don’t shoot at targets past 300 yards, or usually hit targets past 100 yards.

      • Joshua

        Technically every war since WWI have had a maximum infantry engagement range of 150M. Afghanistan is the first time since WWI that engagement distances have been 300M+.

  • hikerguy

    The Grendel is not a bad round. But, if you are going to make all those changes to the M4/M16 series, why not go with a whole new platform? I would say let’s see how the new telescoped 6.5 round develops first. We should stick with the 5.56 until then.

    • vereceleritas

      I agree with this. 6.5 Grendel was an attempt at squeezing a 6.5mm bullet with enough case capacity to create effective velocities into an AR-15 pattern rifle. The cartridge itself is a a compromise because it had to fit those size limitations. 6.8mm SPC had the same issue.

      If the military is serious about changing calibers, the caliber needs to be designed and selected first and new weapons should be designed around the new cartridge.

      • UnrepentantLib

        Exactly. Efforts to design a round that does what’s needed and still fits in the existing platform is penny wise, pound foolish.

      • Jwedel1231

        As much as I like 6.5 Grendel, you are exactly right. If we are going to spend all the money for the reasons listed above, we might as well develop new “lowers” as well and just get a whole new gun. It would be a percentage increase that could possibly cut down on development time & the associated costs.

    • nova3930

      That’s probably what needs to happen. All the arguments between 6.5, 6.8 etc etc overlook the fact that all were solutions to try and get better performance in some metric within the restrictions of the AR platform. A new platform that’s got a longer magwell creates a whole new ballgame…

    • Joshua

      The issue with the LSAT program is the Carbine.

      If what was discussed is true we would have a 9.7lb Carbine, with a non FF barrel, a monolithic upper without the ability to change the rail should it get damaged, and only a 20 round capacity.

      So we would get a better round(arguable depending on requirements) a 10 round reduction in magazine capacity, and a Carbine that weighs 2.7lbs more than our current one.

      From what has been shown LSAT only makes sense in the LMG role.

      • hikerguy

        We don’t know yet is true. As it stands now the carbine is a clunker. I am happy to keep the 5.56 round, especially with the new rounds they are using now. I think the LSAT developers basically have a prototype in what they have, and are sure they know its failings right now. I say let them go ahead and continue to develop it.

    • Laionidas

      Exactly! As one of the main reasons not to ditch the 5.56 so far, seems to have been costs and logistics; if we ARE going there, why stick to standard M4/16 lowers? If the M4/16 limitations on case dimensions were dropped, a 6.5 round with a slightly greater case length could be developped, thus overcoming some of the gripes people still have with the Grendel. Even with a wider magazine well, you could still very easily retain standard M4/16 ergonomics.

  • somethingclever

    I want you to be wrong, but you’re not.

  • Ron

    Your cost are way low just for the URG, I remember years ago the Marine Corps determined it would be almost a Billion to replace all its URGs in the active and reserve components and we are a lot smaller than the Army’s 3 components.
    Than you throw in ammo, where you have several tens of billions of rounds in the war stocks that would need to be replaced plus your yearly training usage you are probably looking at several dollars there also.

  • Goody

    Great round for minute men, militia, peacekeeper and survivalist types though, even hunters. For the extra weight, I think most military folk would rather just have the extra millimetre that already exists.

  • therealgreenplease

    One factor for ammo procurement: the Army is constantly firing rounds (either in combat or in training) so they constantly have to purchase new ammo to replace their stockpiles anyways. In a sense, the cost of procuring the ammo is a wash vs 5.56 other than the additional marginal cost of production e.g. how much more expensive it is and the cost of development.

    All that said, if we’re going to change rounds let’s just get on with it and move to properly developed cased telescopic ammo.

  • Bear The Grizzly

    At the risk of getting slammed for being a n00b, wouldn’t 300 blackout make more sense economically?

    • OCG

      Nathan’s point (somewhat obliquely) was that these are the kind of costs you’d run into trying to adopt *any* new round.

    • TechnoTriticale

      re: …wouldn’t 300 blackout make more sense economically?

      That almost doesn’t matter. 300BLK is a serious interchange hazard with 5.56×45. 300BLK is also a bit schizophrenic, by trying to be both a sub- and supersonic round. What twist and back-pressure do you optimize for?

      The expenses involved here begin to suggest replacing the entire weapon system. This would also open the chance to eliminate the dimensions of the M16 magwell, and STANAG mag rib geometry as constraints on cartridge OAL, base diams, shoulder geometry – the things that make 6.5GRN, 6.8SPC & 300BLK the bundle of compromises they are today.

      Yeah, there might be some kind of ideal cartridge, but I’m not confident that getting to it is something that can be done by any vintage of Pentagon.

    • Vitor Roma

      The .300BLK doesnt offer much over the M855A1. Maybe one can claim a better short range punch, but the A1 is plenty deadly in the short range.

    • Cmex

      It’s an issue of range; people want the 6.5 because 5.56 doesn’t quite have the reach we need. 300BLK would be sweet for people like base guards, though.

  • Flight Er Doc

    Designing uppers, bolts, and barrels that are incompatible with legacy systems is easy – simply change the number of locking lugs. Same with the thread for flash hiders/supressors, change the threads. Not rocket surgery, or expensive.

    As far as the costs for modifications that become necessary, that happens (has happened with every weapons system fielded). One simple way is to issue them as a limited standard, the US managed to fight two wars with both the M1 Garand and the M1 Carbine….

    Get a 6.5mm design out there, and see what happens. Without hard data it’s all supposition.

    • forrest1985

      My thoughts exactly. There are already a number of varied rifle systems out there across the entire US armed forces spectrum, so get a 6.5 rifle out there! Just like the marines did with the SAW, target an existing non-M4 system for replacement within one branch of the services, say DMR’s in the marines and develop a new weapon system. Offer the platform to the Spec Ops community also for trial and that gets the round out there!

    • Shortening the cartridge, adding a 20 round box mag, shortening the gas system, and adding a fun switch to the M1 Garand is also pretty easy.

      And it took the US Army fourteen years and tens of millions of dollars.

  • Wolfgar

    If one wishes to adopt the 6.5 Grendel in the AR platform they would need to build it like LWRC did with the Six 8 rifle. What unit per rifle cost would be depends on the units purchased. The military would basically be making a completely new rifle. I love the Grendel round and find it far superior to the 5.56. Unfortunately without improved training I grudgingly have to agree with Nathaniel.The 5.56 has a flatter trajectory ,lighter carrying load and lighter recoil which are advantages to female and millennial soldiers who are becoming less experienced with firearms,discipline and hard work. Can we all say safe zones!

    • Wolfgar

      The estimated cost of half a billion dollars is a large chunk of money but Obummer is planning on spending one and a half billion bringing in Syrian refugees. Priorities are up for discussion. 🙂

      • Jim_Macklin

        Justb heard tonight on Micheal Savage that 20% [ i of 5 ] refugees have TB.

        I wonder what other diseases they will bring to kill us?

        • Wolfgar

          In Europe they have been reported to have a higher percentage of sexual diseases and have been deliberately trying to infect health care workers by throwing urine in the faces of nurses and doctors when angered. We use to control immigration to protect the population from such diseases and barbaric animals. Welcome to the new pc way of logic!

    • Cmex

      Half a billion is barely spare change in USGOV terms.

      • Go tell the PEO Soldier office that.

        • Cmex

          You have a comment from me in this very thread showing that yes, the switch is essentially loose change, especially in terms when compared to big weapons systems that don’t really serve any real purpose (Bradley, F35…)

        • Cmex

          Do you have their address? Seriously, I’d actually like to send them a letter about it. And they’ll say “Too expensive, now shut up — we need another billion for the F35”

          • Here you go:

            Mailing Address

            Program Executive Office Soldier


            5901 Putnam Rd Bldg 328

            Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5422

            Project Manager Soldier Protection & Individual Equipment


            10170 Beach Road

            Bldg 325

            Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5862

            Project Manager Soldier Sensors & Lasers


            10125 Gratiot Road

            Bldg 318

            Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5816

            Project Manager Soldier Warrior


            10125 Kingman Rd

            Bldg 317

            Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5820

            Project Manager Soldier Weapons


            Bldg 151

            Picatinny Arsenal, NJ 07806-5000

          • Cmex

            Wow, thanks. I’ll let you know if I ever get anything back.

  • nova3930

    And that price tag is why it will likely never happen. Doesn’t pass the cost per added capability test that most PMs are going to look at when considering options…

    • Cmex

      Worse. It’s not backed by some huge corporate interest in the pockets of at lest 200 lobbyists, generals, representatives, senators, and staffers.

  • I wonder what Gen. Scales response is going to be to this!

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    Until they US .mil decides of WHAT exactly they want from a carbine cartridge, and how much are they willing to compromise, a new general service round is not going to see the light. Couple this with ongoing development of plastic/hybrid lightweight case technology (that no one is really sure if and when is going to be mature to field, but it is so promising you cannot escape it), and a new round is not likely to be adopted anytime soon.

  • vwVwwVwv

    when there is no money in the pocket and no war in sight it can be interesting to
    turn step by step. still the 223 is a great round for 85% of the jobs.

    israel turned sielent away from FAL, than from the Galil, now they use M4 and Tavors…

    the 223 has still a place in most war situations and a turn with one step will be expensive,
    but may be, the bride of the soldier is still the sword of the warior and on the
    terror front, where the tank and the gunship cant use full
    firepower, on have or relie on the rifle.

    • Cmex

      Good post. I actually wrote a bit of a rant about how the US pretty much neglects its infantry weapons to play around with fancy toys that have about as much utility for current military realities as teaching a guard dog to howl along with Berliose pieces. Though 223 has a long history of getting stuff done, it’s not the best and there are better options out there that offer more capabilities at a minimum of drawbacks.

      • vwVwwVwv

        I hope TFW will not kick my A…. cuz its a bit Political.

        in the word infantry is the word infant hidden.
        the president of the US is takeing somebodys infants
        to war when sending them in to battle, 18 jear old kids, some
        of them never have seen a puxi in reality.
        he is obliged to give them at
        least what he would
        equipd his son with, sending him to war, if he had one! 😉

        i had a M16 in the IDF, it served well, it did the job and so did the 223.
        if there is something beter, as you say, fancy stuff is
        not winning wars, wars are won by
        the infantry.

  • politicsbyothermeans

    Maybe the IAR development costs would give some clue but it’s probably an apple to this orange.

    Development cost is a big deal but there are potentially higher costs involved in rejiggering logistics systems. In fact, as I think about DOTMLPF implications it gets stupid expensive quick.

    My crystal ball is deadlined but I predict that we will stick with 5.56 and the AR-15 platform until there is a man portable directed energy weapon.

    • TJbrena

      Railguns or DEWs may be what replaces the AR, but they’ll still be mounted on M4 lowers.

      • politicsbyothermeans

        You know what? I’ll bet you’re right.

    • ozzallos .

      Guided bullets.

  • Audie Bakerson

    The solution is to repeal the NFA so they can sell off all the old 5.56 guns to the civilian market.

    That would make a dent in the costs I think.

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      I would pay $1000 cash for a used M16A2, milsurp, right now. In fact, I could probably shake loose funds to buy 10. Multiply that across the country and they’d at least cover base cost of weapon and magazines.

  • sliversimpson

    It’s easy to look at the shortcomings of 5.56 and debate about what “should have been” or what “should be.” The 5.56 accomplishes a number of roles effectively. If we need to select a cartridge that has a decisive and real practical advantage over 5.56, it will probably not be a man-portable weapon system. Sure, we could jump to a 6.5 Grendel, 7.62×51, .300 Win Mag, etc, but at what expense? Weight, capacity, ammo availability, etc, would all become great concerns.

    Basically, I just don’t think there is an intermediate cartridge available with enough pros to offset the cons. It’s fun to think about, though.

  • RaunchyDawg

    All that is needed is a round capable of penetrating body armor at distances of 300-500 meters. Once you start putting metal forcibly inside of an organic being the laws of physics will take care of the rest.

  • Just say’n

    So, about what we’ll pay for three F-35s.

    • Yes, but if you want to appropriate that money, you’d better be a congressman who’s willing to call in favors and stake his whole career on a new infantry caliber.

      • Jwedel1231

        I’ll run on that platform.

  • Don Ward

    I think I found some footage last night of Nathaniel debating the Grendel round…

    • Cmex

      LOL, but that’s already been done.

  • lowell houser

    The reality is that what we already have represents a collision with the wall of diminishing returns. Small arms design is good enough already, and honestly the 5.56, 7.62, and .50bmg combo in use gets the job done just fine. Once M855A1 and it’s design cousins for the other cartridges get mass produced I think that it will become even more evident.

    • TechnoTriticale

      re: Once M855A1 and it’s design cousins for the other cartridges get mass produced I think that it will become even more evident.

      If we posit that the M855A1 is the 5.56×45 perfected, how long that took is a bit sobering (60 years). Do we really want the Pentagon trying to develop a compact .276 Pedersen for the 21st century? – that’s in the Jedi sense of “try”, by the way.

      They are much more likely to do something stupid that doesn’t end up even meeting the primary and secondary program objectives, not to mention unintended consequences. Caseless might volunteer here for that suicide mission.

      • I don’t think the EPR bullet was a technology waiting for 60 years to be plucked off the shelf; it took a lot of fundamental research conducted in the 2000s for that design to take shape.

  • roguetechie


    I think there’s a critical, but frustratingly non technical consideration that makes a new infantry round and carbine a justifiable buy for the ground components and vehicle/aircraft. That consideration is the likelihood of continued restrictions on the use of heavy weapons. While not an ideal solution, it may be the best we can get.

    • Since we’re all wishing for things that will not happen, I’d like to wish away the stupid ROE and restrictions on the use of mortars.

      And actually, I think I’m closer to my wish, as the M3 MAAWS was just approved for use in the regular Army and fielding is to begin immediately.

      • roguetechie

        The Carl Gustav is a great start, but those ROE will still be there barring massive upheaval. I believe that war materials should be based on worst case scenarios with high probability of being reality during projected service life. This includes leaving space for system upgrades both in weapons and ammunition. Also the everything old is new again effect may come into play. Imagine an HMD that can provide adjusted aim points for volley fire! Suddenly your platoon really can use the 1000 meter direct fire range of a Grendel like system. Try a gun run with your light helos now! Trash fire now becomes a threat by sheer volume divided by cubage you want saturated.

        Plus a little bird told me that limited carrying and maneuver speed capacity bumps are already possible if procurement guys stop shooting for iron man and instead focus on reduction of orthopedic and spinal disabilities caused by the realities of the physical activity ground combatants need to possess.

      • Ron

        It is not ROE that are problem, its tactical directives from either the theater commander or in the case of AFG, the GIROA which are incorrectly referred to as ROE.
        the CJCS SROE allows a commander all means of conventional force required to safe guard his troops.
        Mortars being organic systems of the maneuver commander in most cases are not effected by the tactical directives that prevent the usage of air and arty.

  • Kevin

    Why not 25-45 Sharps?

    • Because that caliber is an abomination before God.

      • Kevin

        Any real reason or are you just biased against it because it’s newer?

        • You know what, I’m just gonna write a post on it, Kevin.

          • Kevin

            I’d rather someone else did it. You seem to have an agenda to smear it. It has good merits, there’s no reason not to give it a fair evaluation.

          • I have an agenda to smear it? Who is paying me to smear it? Where is this agenda coming from? Is Sharps Rifle Company running for political office against a candidate I am backing? Am I involved in business with one of their direct competitors?

            If I don’t like something (for good reasons that you don’t seem interested in finding out), how does that translate to “I have an agenda against it”?

          • Kevin

            Forgive my phrasing. I was simply making an observation based on when you said: “Because that caliber is an abomination before God.” That’s a bit strong in my opinion. You don’t have to go out of your way and do a whole post. I just wanted to know your real reason.

          • No problem, my phrasing was strong, too. In my defense, I wasn’t being entirely serious.

            I should also say that I wasn’t going to write a post because you brought it up, but just because I wanted to. I’ve actually had a draft in my folder since November of last year on this subject.

            The reasons I don’t like it have mostly to do with its marketing (as the best thing since sliced bread, including some patently false and/or misleading claims), but also:

            – It’s expensive ($1.25/rd, with no cheaper options)
            – It’s hard to find (available only on the SRC website, so far as I know).
            – It can only fire bullets with poor ballistic coefficients, meaning it only has a modest advantage in energy and only at short ranges

            There’s, so far as I can tell, only really one good thing about it, which is that it’s 50-state legal for hunting medium game. But then, a lot of AR cartridges are, too, including the much cheaper and more available .300 Blackout.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            Funny how you having a logical and fact based opinion on something makes you “out to smear it.” Apparently the internet has scuttlebutt on your evil motivations.

          • Eh, he backed off. It’s all good.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            It must be tiresome having to do the “I’M A NEUTRAL THIRD PARTY” dance every time you have an opinion on something. I don’t envy that part of your job, but i always enjoy and look forward to the info and topics you push. Keep it up.

          • Sometimes I wish I were less neutral. I’d make more money that way.


      • Kevin

        Any real reason or are you just biased against it because it’s newer?

      • G

        So what do you think about 30×47 Lapua? 😀

        • Isn’t that basically the same thing as .30 T/C?

  • Harrison’s outfit? Then the US Government should definitely embark on their own development program…

    • roguetechie

      I’ve heard good things about the super bolt which sells out frequently. Am I just reading the wrong boards?

      • I wouldn’t want to deal with Harrison, is what I am saying.

        • roguetechie

          Thanks, I am duly informed

  • USMC03Vet

    We’ll just cut off Pakistan’s welfare aid for a couple of years to pay for it.

    Let’s do it!

  • MPWS

    With bigger head on 6.5 Gren (unless replaced with slimmer and longer case) to obtain proper 60deg contact in magazine you need also new Lower with wider receptacle. In that case you can start designing all new gun. Or did I miss something?

    • ostiariusalpha

      Actually, the Grendel already makes a perfect stagger stack in its proprietary magazines, and those works pretty decently with the standard AR-15 upper & lower receivers; in fact, I can personally confirm that it does. Sure, something like a slightly enlarged bolt that has bigger lugs for more contact surface when feeding rounds, a beefier trunnion, and bigger receivers with a wider magwell to get an optimized fit to the cartridge would be fantastic, but none of that is strictly necessary. The main limitation for the 6.5 Grendel/AR-15 combination is that the current trunnion (and to a lesser degree, the bolt) can’t handle the higher pressures that the Grendel cartridge is capable of. With enough chamber support the Grendel can manage 60,000 PSI easily, but that is not a safe pressure with the dimensions of the AR-15.

  • Mike

    I vote Adams Arms (DPMS G2) in 6.5 creedmoor, gas piston. More power than Grendel, close range issue and better down range. only longer than 556 at magwell. Replace M4, M16, and M110. Mags already in system, improved ejector, stronger bolt(designed for 308/7.62 NATO).

    • All the Raindrops

      Infantry units don’t need to standardize on heavy 6.5 creedmoor guns, that’s ridiculous.

    • Lee Attiny

      The 6.5 CM’s ballistics may be better than the 7.62 NATO but not nearly enough to justify the cost of trashing the 7.62 stockpiles and using a completely new cartridge. And even with the lighter DPMS G2 pattern a loaded AR 10 comes in too heavy.

    • Well, it’s a good thing military procurement isn’t democratic, I guess.

  • Isa Akhbar

    I agree with the side of the room that wants to just keep the three “ranges” we have now, 5.56/7.62/.50 and focus on maximizing ammo performance (e.g. M855A1) for each caliber. Also, there is new steel/aluminum case technology just coming out now that weighs 50% less than brass casings, and has higher internal powder capacity compared to the brass counterparts. This new stuff has an exterior plating that causes less friction with the chamber, and the rounds eject cool to the touch. Things like new case tech and new projectile tech developments can be pursued much more cheaply than trying to invent a new “all purpose” round and platform. If you insist on a “do everything at all ranges” new cartridge, then you are forced to select the one which meets the most extreme requirements. I don’t think the average grunt wants to be issued a shiny new Barrett .50 to try to clear a room with, eh? The three we have now can be made to work better, and barring a sudden change to the laws of physics, cannot be realistically replaced by any single new, theoretical wonder-round. Directed Energy weapons are just peeking over the horizon…lets wait for them.

  • Ceiling Cat

    Oh wow, so still nowhere near the amount that was spent for stupid things like the F35. Funny how people are A OK with spending hundreds of billions for things that go kaputt/obsolete after 10 years but cant justify spend 1 or 2 billions for the backbone of any military.

    • That is probably because you can’t win a modern war against another power without an air force, and the current fleet is in desperate need of replacement.

      The argument always comes to this: A whinge of “b-b-b-but F-35 is more expensive!” Yes, it is, but a fighter program is also absolutely necessary for the maintenance of a modern fighting force.

      Is a fancy new rifle and new ammo? Nope. So it doesn’t matter that Military Program X costs more than shiny new rifles, or by how much. That program is necessary and ain’t going anywhere, besides.

      Put simply, this line of argument is just wishing for money disguised as reform advocacy.

      • Isa Akhbar

        Agree. Air power decides who wins the wars now. Ground power decides how fast the win progresses, and how much of the enemy is eliminated. Complete air-battle dominance has to be assured, first.

      • Cmex

        We have hundreds of planes that can stand up and fight extant threats. The F35 is like a Colossus of Rhodes project; it doesn’t do much but prove we can build it. Besides, top tier fighters aren’t needed to avoid getting destroyed from the skies; decent air defenses can do that. Just look at 2008 in South Ossetia; that wasn’t decided by airpower. It was decided primarily by infantry. You don’t need to dominate the air; just simply have some protection where your troops are. And look at every single time we’ve decided that our fancy new toys can just win the war for us at the push of a button. Vietnam? Those missile-only Phantoms were sure proven a silly concept? Desert Storm? Despite all the magnificent bombing, Iraq still had to be taken by infantry and then policed by infantry. Sure, the air helped, but it certainly didn’t win it all by itself. Afghanistan? Infantry war. Somalia? Over-reliance on toys actually got us into our worst mess, and it was skillful infantry that saved the day. Tech all by itself has never won a war — it’s been tough guys with weapons taking ground that’s won wars.

        • Ron

          The missile only phantom is proof of buying spin over reality. The Navy never adopted guns for their F4s during Vietnam and had significantly more success than the AF even after it adopted guns. The problem was the AF spent all its training for its tactical aircraft on how to deliver tactical nuclear free fall bombs during catalytic phase leading up to a general war with Russia. They did not train to ACM and until they did they had issues.

        • We have hundreds of planes that are getting old and desperately in need of replacement.

          F-35 might not be your cup of tea, sure, but we have to procure something to replace these old fighters. They are falling out of the sky.

          You’ll probably reply with something like “we should just buy more F-16s!”, and it won’t matter, because the F-35 program will chug right along and that money still won’t be available for a shiny new infantry caliber.

          P.S., good job bringing up the Phantom as an example of military malprocurement. You know, that fighter that is still the most successful supersonic aircraft in the Western world. That fighter that was so good it became a joint bird despite being developed for fleet defense.

          Yeah, it originally didn’t have a gun, and that was kinda shortsighted, but really, you could have picked a better example.

          • Cmex

            Really, it outdoes the F15 and F16. Screw it, acquire more F16’s and F15’s — they’re not too expensive, and if we do the tech bed model like Russia, we keep the airframes and just add new gadgets — cutting edge fighters at yesteryear prices.

          • Ron

            Today’s cost of F15-F18s are significantly more than when they were initially acquired. What cost in the 10-20 mil, 20-30 years ago now cost 70-90mil apiece.
            The spiral defense costs are an across the board problem to just with aircraft. I remember CMC told to a group of us officers at HQMC a few years ago how pissed he was following the death of the EFV and the effort to replace the AAV. The intial proposal was just to build new AAVs. Those cost around 200K a piece when initially made, however today (2014) to make the same thing would cost a little under 11 mil a piece so it was not really a viable option.
            Take for example the M777A2 you previously talked about it replaced the M198 and the last ones I signed for in 2002 was 250K. The M777A2 initial cost was around 2 mil apiece and as we added features like inductive fuze setting and self computation of data the cost is just going up.

          • Cmex

            HOW are things getting pricier with minimal or no changes? HOW!?

          • Ron

            The dollar is weaker, materials and labor for production costs more, new production model incorporate increased capability over gen 1 production and US procurement laws

      • Ceiling Cat

        The thing is, my “little” 5.56 fanboy, is that the American Government is more than capable of paying for a new small arms system. People like you like to defend them and stifle real progresses.
        Go ahead though, I will see you complaining about govs wasting money but defend them when they try to skim out and put some in their pockets.
        BTW, the f35 program is already obsolete, and trillions are wasted for nothing. So no advanced air force gained, no rifle either :^)

        • Oh? They are? That’s funny, I was under the impression that the government was running a yearly budgetary deficit.

          Here’s the thing, my pretentiously smug little commenter, there is a large but finite amount of money that the government can appropriate. It can borrow a certain amount in addition, although overdoing that is bad. There are really a staggering number of quite expensive things vying for appropriation of this large but finite amount of money. Because all of these interests are in competition, the budget is extremely tight. In fact, as I previously mentioned, it’s running a large deficit every year to fund all of the competing interests.

          One of the less expensive things that is still very expensive is switching infantry calibers. Now, it is very easy for your to step up onto your crate and holler and yell about how the government should defund all of the things you don’t like and pay for all of the things you do like, but what you seem completely and blissfully ignorant of is that every other sunnova in the place is doing the exact same thing for their own pet projects and interests. Regardless of whether you are right, and everyone else is wrong, you are being drowned out.

          There is a tremendous amount of waste in government. The amount of money that goes completely down the tubes every year is staggering. The amount of money that goes down the tubes as the result of completely predictable negligence is smaller, but still very large.

          But that doesn’t mean there’s room in the budget for your pet caliber, because that’s not how government appropriations works. To get that, you’d have to be a politician willing to stake his entire career on the issue and call in favors. Or, you’d have go out there and create a strong case that switching to the new caliber would dramatically increase effectiveness despite its downsides, and convince the Army brass of this, and get them to advocate for it.

          So, I guess you have work to do, then, don’t you?

  • mojopin

    Plus all the NATO allies, crew serve weapons, established supply lines for current 5.56. We would need to convince allies to switch too, that is one of the advantages of have a muti nation standard ammo.

    • Kivaari

      Yes, It is not up to us to do this unilaterally. I doubt NATO would go for it. As interesting as the concept is, the 5.56 is deeply embedded in those armies, and it will take a lot of C4 to blast it out of use. My concern is it wont likely add anything to the 7.62mm use. M60s and M240s can perform well. Would a 6.5mm bullet REALLY improve performance? I don’t think so. I like ’em all. Much of the debate is coming from sportsmen using bolt action rifles. They seem to ignore the real uses in military settings. Like the 9mm-.40-.45 debate it is unending. I have confidence in the 9mm for a lot more reasons than the perceived “stopping power”.

  • Jim_Macklin

    The benefits of a 6.5 mm/ .264 bullet really matter only at long range. The new DD5 7.62×51 is a better, stronger steel and bolt design.

    • Joshua

      And then they throw on an “oversized” trigger guard that won’t work with mittens used in arctic environments….

      • And which is forged in to the reciever so you can’t fold it, pure genius.

  • Kivaari

    Interesting. Valid points about shoulder angles. If it could be done on existing M4 lowers (and all those A2 still in use) I’d support it. BUT, if it doesn’t give a SIGNIFICANT improvement in performance, then why do it?

  • LilWolfy

    The main weapons the 6.5 Grendel makes sense for replacing are all the current 7.62 NATO SASS and other self-loading systems, like the SCAR-H, any residual M14s, and basically the guns that snipers and DMs use, with a replacement of the logistics chain from M118LR to a new 6.5mm LR load, as well as some other projectile options that already exist.

    I think this still remains true after successful LSAT adoption for LMGs, because the conventional metallic cartridge and chamber don’t have the jump associated with the CT weapons, where the projectile is embedded in the case.

    When you see what a 6.5 Grendel does, from such a lightweight AR15 that can be configured like an M4, 16″ DM, or SASS Carbine, you soon realize how wasteful and counter-productive 7.62 NATO is.

    The one issue that needs to be addressed is, what do you issue the Squad Designated Marksman? An interesting thing about LSAT is that the Test Platoon found that the LSAT LMG did very well in that role on semi auto out to about 800m, especially when they attached the Leupold Mk.6 optics on them from the deadlined M110K systems that were also being evaluated at the time.

    • Cmex

      Mmhm. Smart. I don’t think that there is a real need for a DM or a DMR if you’re toting around optics and 6.5mm’s, because the DM is supposed to have a rifle that just reaches farther, which a 6.5mm would already do. The performance numbers make a good case that if two cartridges must be fielded, that 7.62×51 is the one that should go. I think with a bit of beefing up, a 6.5Grendel+ could truly replace the lot. Simplify logistics, make shooting easier, cheapen ammo, lighten loads, and put more rounds in the field and on target. Win-win everywhere.

      • DMs get special training, so you’d certainly still want to have them as a separate class.

        • Cmex

          Perhaps, but it may not be necessary.

  • Matrix3692

    Wait, what about the belt fed automatic weapons…….?

    • Those would magically appear thanks to the Belt-Fed Fairy.

      (You’re right, of course. I only accounted for rifles.)

      • George

        I so need to open a Class 3 mfgr “The Belt-Fed Fairy”…

        • KestrelBike

          First release = “The Tinker Belt”

    • Ron

      A 6.5 may be an optimal material solution for anti-personnel precision fire capability. I believe scout-snipers and designated marksmen could benefit from its ability to reduce the impacts of wind and range estimate errors for unknown distance, target engagements.

  • Cmex

    Cost of switching to 6.5Grendel: $700,000,000 (upper estimate)
    Cost of Apache helicopter: $52,000,000
    > Program cost: $15,800,000,000
    Cost of M1a1 Abrams tank: $5,000,000
    Cost of F22 Raptor: $340,000,000
    >Program cost: $66,700,000,000
    Cost of M777 howitzer: $1,100,000
    Cost of Chinook helicopter: $30,000,000
    Cost of Bradley IFV: $3,000,000
    >Program cost: $5,600,000,000
    Cost of F35: $104,000,000
    >Program cost: $1,500,000,000,000
    Cost of M4a1: $900 (high estimate for rifle upgraded from M4)
    >Program cost: $120,000,000

    Compared from most to least expensive, here are the various prices for the different programs


    Compared to most programs for prominent weapon systems, the switch to 6.5Grendel is extreme cheap in comparison to everything on the list with the exclusion of the upgrade of M4 carbines into the M4a1. It’s dimes on the dollar versus even cheap programs. and pennies on the dollar versus large programs, to practically lose change versus true big money items. Yes, it is absolutely affordable. And it doesn’t have to all be bought in one go; it can be slowly paid for acquired piece by piece, batch by batch over a period of years, making for a nearly painless transition.

    In terms of weight issues, is it worth it? If the rifles weigh about the same, but the ammunition weighs about 50% or so more, but the weapons are no longer dead weight in a very common common combat scenario and can take some of the burden off of more expensive 7.62×51 systems, then that is a major saver in money right there just in ammunition before even thinking about weight.and materials. And if it turns the M4’s from 7 pound dead weights accompanied by 9 pounds of useless mags (calculated with loaded mags coming in at about 1.15lbs each and amounts carried ranging from about 210-300 (USGI official and reported loads) — I took a median number totaling to 8 mags), so 15lbs of dead weight kit each removed for a switch to about 20 pounds each for an effective weapons system, coming out to a net gain of about 5lbs all told. In this schema, it’s definitely worth it because it turns 15lbs systems that do not suffice into 20lbs systems (ammo included in weight totals) which absolutely suffice at all ranges.

    Not only is it very affordable to switch to 6.5 Grendel, but the increase in capabilities make a compelling offer, as does the fact that it can reduce the burden currently shouldered mostly by the handful of 7.62×51 weapons in each basic infantry element by turning each member into a fighter capable of reaching long range, giving approximately a 300% increase in firepower and saving in terms of overall weight and expense over having to supplement with heavier 30 cal systems. We should do it.

    • Ron

      The problem is that switching to 6.5 does not really increase the capability of the riflemen. Although 6.5 has much better ballistics and does much better in target shooting, what shooters fail to do is divorce sport shooting from combat shooting, although they share some similar traits, range performance is an indicator or combat performance. Long distance fire in combat for most part is area fire, does few, ballisticly superior round actually do better than more rounds?

      • Cmex

        Did I say make train every man to shoot like a sniper? No. The mention of things like MG’s imply that my goal is to allow for the return of suppressive fire at extended ranges. The fewer rounds do better if they can actually reach that far with good effect instead of, as has been pointed out, being dead weight. A switch to 6.5 would allow 100% of an infantry team to engage at any range instead of limiting 350M+ engagements to whatever GPMG’s or DMR’s are included in the team. Additionally, the fact that 6.5 flies flatter than 5.56 will make it easier to use ammunition efficiently when soldiers can line up a straight shot.

        • How does the 6.5 Grendel make soldiers shoot better?

          Also, the 6.5 Grendel doesn’t shoot flatter, it shoots less flat than 5.56 out to 750 meters.

        • Ron

          You can engage with a SAW on an area target to 1K, however beyond 800 or so meters you really lose significant accuracy potential with both SAWs and M240s without the tripod. What keeps most rifle/carbine shooters from shooting is not the weapon its themselves and often a lack of understanding ballistics.
          Small arms fire really is not the killing tool most who have never been to war think it is, you want to kill people you put HE on them

          • Cmex

            In this war, with the RoE and situations being what they are, small arms will have to suffice.

          • Ron

            A SAW is small arms and there is nothing in ROE or tactical directives that prevents engaging with any US small arms

          • Cmex

            Hence my point that small arms must be emphasized in our current environment, and that means upgrading their capabilities, and that means 6.5 Grendel. All the 5.56 in the world doesn’t make a difference, suppressive or aimed, if it’s not doing the job when it gets out there to Taliban ranges. But 6.5 can. Given the length of engagements, the weight penalty of 6.5Grendel will not impact ammunition loads enough for there to be a difference.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    As I stated in my previous comment on this topic, the bolt is already a known weak spot with the AR-15 platform. Battlefield Vegas revealed that most AR-15 bolts can’t even make it to 20,000 rounds before breaking. So, if you’re going to cite brittle bolts as a problem when upgrading to the 6.5 Grendel round, then you should be logically consistent and start arguing against the U.S. military still using DI AR-15s in general.

    I also told you that 6.5 Grendel upper receivers can pretty consistently be found for $400 online, but that’s a minor gripe since I concede that a military-grade 6.5 Grendel upper receiver would probably cost several hundred dollars on the civilian market and $400-ish once you factor in military bulk purchasing.

    I also think that you’re overselling the difficulty of mothballing the old upper receivers and magazines. The military knows how to inventory their weapons. You wouldn’t even need armorers to make the transition at the end of the pipeline since swapping upper receivers, buffer springs, and magazines is a piece of cake. There’s no need to make the new 6.5 Grendel magazines radically different in appearance. A simple line of paint on the outside of the magazine and a new follower color would be more than enough to avoid confusion.

    I’m also still not convinced that manufacturing rifle bullet cases with 30-degree shoulders in large quantities is somehow a problem.

    • “As I stated in my previous comment on this topic, the bolt is already a known weak spot on the AR-15 platform. Battlefield Vegas revealed that most AR-15 bolts can’t even make it to 20,000 rounds before breaking. So, if you’re going to cite brittle bolts as a problem when upgrading to the 6.5 Grendel round, then you should be logically consistent and start arguing against the U.S. military still using DI AR-15s in general.”

      I don’t think DI is the problem.

      And how is weakening the bolt somehow not a concern anymore just because you think it’s a bad design?

      “I also think that you’re exaggerating the difficulty of mothballing the old upper receivers and magazines. The military knows how to inventory their weapons. You wouldn’t even need armorers to make the transition at the end of the pipeline since swapping upper receivers, buffer springs, and magazines is a piece of cake. You don’t even need tools.”

      It’s odd that you think that, considering that I didn’t account for those costs at all.

      “And there’s no need to make the new 6.5 Grendel magazines radically different in appearance. A simple line of paint on the outside of the magazine and a new follower color would be more than enough to avoid confusion.”

      And when the paint wears off…?

      “And as other people have stated in the comments and as I argued in the past, I’d also like to see a slightly modified version of the 6.5 Grendel round that was slightly longer in order to provide more room for bullet variety. I agree that the 6.5 Grendel round was neutered since it was forced to fit into a regular AR-15 lower receiver.”

      In other words, you don’t think the program estimate is expensive enough.

      “I’d also like to see the adoption of a new assault rifle that was designed around this new bullet. I’m personally a huge fanboy of the FN SCAR platform. An FN SCAR that was chambered in this new round would be my ideal assault rifle. Yes, both price and weight would increase, but you know what my my positions are on those criticisms: stop being a wimp and redirect funds from government programs like foreign aid.”

      Well, you’re welcome to do all that when you’re elected Emperor-God.

      “With the 6.5 Grendel round, you get about 500-ish more foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle (depending on barrel length and bullet selection) and double the effective range. At around 300 meters, the 6.5 Grendel round has roughly the same foot-pounds of energy that the 5.56x45mm NATO round has at the muzzle. That’s freaking amazing. But it gets even better: The 6.5 Grendel round actually starts to catch up to the 7.62x51mm M80 NATO round at around 500 meters and starts to pull ahead at around 550 meters.”

      Nice numbers, now are you gonna actually talk about effectiveness?

      “So, with the 6.5 Grendel round, you get size and recoil that’s close to the 5.56x45mm NATO round, the room clearing knockdown power of the 6.8 SPC round, while simultaneously achieving superior long-range performance than the 7.62x51mm NATO round… What’s not to like? It’s a dream round. The only real downside is that a typical soldier would be adding a couple of pounds to his loadout.”

      Translation: “I have over-romanticized the effectiveness of certain inert metallic bullet projectors.”

      “And I know that most people are lazy and grimace at the idea of carrying more weight,”

      Like those lazy, lazy people doing physical therapy at Walter Reed!

      “but we have to keep in mind that the primary purpose of our military is to win wars.”

      Oh, and here I thought the purpose of our military was as a whipping boy for the circlejerks on

      “If an army was equipped with 6.5 Grendel-type rounds and an opposing army was equipped with 5.56x45mm NATO rounds, the side that was shooting 6.5 Grendel would have an advantage.”

      Really? How do you know? Was there some great defeat of a 5.56mm force when they went up against Zoroastrians armed with 6.5 Grendel counter snipers from Alexander Arms? Has there even been any exercise or experiment done that suggests this will be the case?

    • Cmex


      • A Fascist Corgi

        What does ura mean?

        • Cmex

          It’s like “Yeah” or “Yay” but 1000x more manly.

  • jon spencer

    If the packaging and or weight of the Grendel rounds is of a different size than 5.56 another thing to consider is every shelf, box, pallet and storage container in every magazine / storage area will have to be changed and checked by Engineers to accommodate the new boxes.
    How much does a pallet of Grendel weigh? Where and how does the pallet fit when transporting. If you order 10,000 rounds is that a full pallet or a pallet and a half?
    It would be billions and billions of dollars to switch not millions and millions.

  • raz-0

    The answer is just NO. The 6.5 grendel makes use of the weakened bolt of a 7.62×39 conversion bolt. You don’t want to run them that hard. It’s also a horrible cartridge shape for high capacity magazines, feeding, etc.

    If you wanted cheap, just go with 6mmx45 cartridge which is just a necked up 5.56/223. Just rebarrel, done. Everything else is ammo side.

    • 6x45mm would reduce long-range performance versus 5.56mm, not increase it.

      • raz-0

        How so.? The trajectory is flatter and it retains more energy. What’s outperforming it? The main argument against it is that the least troublesome loading is 75gr projectiles and 77gr 5.56 performs about the same with less work.

        There are other loadings, and the military could spec a purpose built bullet.

        • The smaller relative ogive space means that you can’t fit projectiles within the OAL that have as good a form factor as you can for 5.56mm.

          So you’re firing heavier, much draggier projectiles. It’s a lose-lose situation.

  • John McPherson

    I doubt that NATO would approve is this move. And they do have the right to stop such an idiot of an idea.

  • Ok guys enough already—-

  • G1 BCs? That’s cute.

    Here’s a clue: Velocity is the biggest component in flatness of trajectory before about 700 meters. 6.5 Grendel has only a little more velocity than 7.62×39.

    Mk. 262 has got another 400 or so ft/s on it.

    • Cmex

      6.5 performs better at range. That’s still a fact.

      • Really? According to whom? In fact, I have seen precisely zero terminal ballistics studies on the 6.5 Grendel at long ranges, and I do quite a bit of looking. So who says? Educate me, go ahead.

        • Cmex

          Your very own numbers, which showed that 6.5 Grendel outdid 5.56×45 at long range.

  • fmike15

    Just go back to 7.62×51, issue an M14 with a 18″ barrel and be done with it. The 5.56 has been one mess after another since day one.

  • Actually it’s a pity this can’t get to President Trump next year. The military would be far, far better off with a 6.5 Grendel than part of an F-35.

  • Chris Floyd

    That money would be better used by I creased firearms/marksmanship training for everyone in uniform. Personally there should be a requirement for weekly range training days. But what ever

  • Bob

    “But that ironclad case doesn’t exist, yet.”

    the ironclad case EXISTS when it is your a$$ on the line or being POINT man!!

    • Cmex

      Damn straight. The performance is demonstrably better, ESPECIALLY in the area where the problems are, and at what is minimal cost and weight. This is chump change in the grand scope of defense projects, and just about everything else in Uncle Sam’s pocketbook.

  • asoro

    I am tired of hearing $$$$ are more important than our soldiers and human life, If it makes them better in combat and less people would die on our side that is, they would find a way to make it work. But I think the 6.8 would be better

  • GNTownsend

    How about this novel idea…ditch the FMJ bullet in the 5.56MM round and go with an expanding bullet to get the full terminal ballistics available in a fast-moving, light bullet??? We never ratified the Hague Accords which prohibit expanding ammunition, so its only the stupid DoD lawyers that are forcing our troops to use non-expanding bullets and putting American lives at a disadvantage on the battlefield. Besides, there’s nothing humane about using a tumbling, fragmenting FMJ bullet…which is ILLEGAL to use when hunting in the USA. Our enemies deserve to be shot with the very best bullet we can produce…and if expanding, softpoint bullets are good enough for an American prairie dog, it’s good enough for a Jihadi.

  • Mike11C

    Sure, let’s waste even MORE money trying to “fix” something that isn’t broken.

  • CavScout

    The military would need well over half a million. They order M4’s in the 500k lots already. Not nearly enough benefit, if any, switching. It might also be slow, but the mil avoids following civ gun enthusiest fads.

  • Ron

    WTF are talking about, what battles in which RCs are talking about. The only time you see engagements outside of the US small arms capability is when a squad without attached guns gets in a fire fight with PK or 12.7s but normally units attach 240s as “heavy SAWs’ but since those are not on tripods you have around the same max range as you get from the SAWs.

  • Ron

    That because I am not reciting internet BS and instead point out the TTP currently used by US forces that I think the concept gives no more capability to the riflemen.
    You just don’t see targets at the ranges that some of you think we can, we shoot at general areas.

  • Wynter

    I keep waiting for the Russians to integrate the 6.5 Grendel into their arsenal, it’s an extremely effective cartridge that definitely has the potential for military greatness. Assuming it ever becomes cost effective or just down right common sense necessary, whichever comes first. In whichever country.