“Can We Keep Him?” – The 6.5×39 Grendelski

    Title Image: Wolf Performance Amunition makes steel cased 6.5 Grendel; most likely the inspiration for the new round.

    A stray has followed them home: Russian small arms designers have apparently created a close clone of the 6.5 Grendel, called 6.5x39mm. At first glance, I thought this CIP specification from 2013 was just that of the 6.5 Grendel, submitted as part of Wolf Ammunition’s work with Alexander Arms to create steel cased ammunition in that caliber. However, if one looks closely, it is clearly different: The case is slightly longer than the 6.5 Grendel (by about .015″), and the cartridge retains the case taper of the 7.62×39  (about 1.3 degrees, whereas the Grendel has case taper about a third of that).

    Given the different dimensions, we can expect this round to be 50-100 ft/s slower than the 6.5 Grendel, but otherwise similar. It’s likely the case taper was chosen to give the round compatibility with existing 7.62×39 magazines.

    It’s possible that this – and not the 6.5 Grendel – is the “other intermediate cartridge” reportedly involved in current Russian small arms development. It’s also possible that this is a test article only, in fact, and that the round the Russian developers are eyeing is in fact the unmodified 6.5 Grendel. Whichever is the case, this is yet another hint that Russian small arms designers may have gotten “a little bit pregnant” with the 6.5mm intermediate round concept. I would be most interested to see the results of a “shoot off” between 5.45 and 6.5mm AK-12s, should that ever happen.

    Thanks to Daniel and Alex for the tips.

    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. He can be reached via email at [email protected]