Hornady Announces a New Contender in the Caliber Wars: 6mm ARC

    Hornady introduces the brand-new 6mm Advanced Rifle Cartridge (ARC).

    Hornady introduces the brand-new 6mm Advanced Rifle Cartridge (ARC).

    Hornady Manufacturing, widely regarded as one of the top ammo companies in the industry, has made quite a splash with their June 3, 2020 announcement. TFB recently hinted at a new SAAMI accepted cartridge, and now it’s here. Meet Hornady’s newest player: the 6mm ARC, or Advanced Rifle Cartridge. Purpose-built to optimize the capabilities of AR-platform firearms, the basic idea behind this new caliber is an attempt to find the sweet spot between the smaller traditional 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem, which is sometimes criticized for being perhaps a bit anemic, and larger calibers like .308 Win, which can raise issues such as increased weight and felt recoil with decreased mag capacity. With the 6ARC, Hornady believes they have landed on that happy medium – claiming that it “does what much larger cartridges can and everything that smaller cartridges can’t”, and “delivers optimum all-range performance and barrel life”. Hornady’s official press release reads as follows.

    A side-by-side look at one of the 6ARC's main competitors, the venerable .308.

    A side-by-side look at one of the 6ARC’s main competitors, the venerable .308.


    Grand Island, NE — Hornady® is proud to introduce the new 6mm ARC (Advanced Rifle Cartridge). Recently tested, selected and fielded by a specialized group within the U.S. Department of Defense for its multipurpose combat rifle program, the 6mm ARC is a truly versatile cartridge that maximizes the potential of the AR-15 platform. The consumer offerings will feature bullets selected to deliver ideal performance for hunting, match shooting and personal protection applications.

    “The 6mm ARC began with a simple question: What can we do with today’s technology to maximize the performance of the AR-15 platform?” Hornady Ballistician Jayden Quinlan said. “We subsequently modeled and tested a variety of designs in different calibers until we were able to produce the most flexible cartridge possible within the limits of the AR-15 system.”

    This new cartridge delivers less felt recoil than larger short-action-based cartridges, yet takes full advantage of modern, heavy for caliber 6mm bullets that provide excellent accuracy and ballistic performance at extended range.

    “The 6mm ARC does much of what larger cartridges can and everything that smaller cartridges can’t,” Quinlan said.

    The 6mm ARC delivers substantially better ballistics than the 5.56 NATO with similar recoil and yet delivers comparable ballistics to the venerable 308 Winchester with 30% less weight on both weapons system and ammunition.

    The 6mm ARC will be available in the following product lines:

    More information can be found at Hornady.com/6mmARC.

    Hornady also offers everything needed to reload the 6mm ARC with a multitude of existing 6mm Hornady bullets, dies and components. Reloading data will be available on the Hornady Reloading App.

    Founded in 1949, Hornady® Manufacturing Company is a family-owned business headquartered in Grand Island, Nebraska. Proudly manufacturing products that are made in the USA, Hornady® Manufacturing is a world leader in bullet, ammunition, reloading tool, accessory and security product design and manufacturing.

    Hornady provided this chart with the announcement, showing some key data points from the 6ARC's testing and development.

    Hornady’s velocity chart shows some key data points from the 6ARC’s testing and development.


    As you might expect from a company with such robust reloading support, Hornady is also providing a full line of relevant products for custom bullet smiths, including dies, cases, and more. Also of note is that the 6mm Advanced Rifle Cartridge will use bolts for 6.5 Grendel, the cartridge upon which it is based. In essence, Hornady took the 6.5 as a baseline, necked it down, retracted the shoulder, and shortened the case to arrive at the final 6ARC destination. Rifle and accessory manufacturers are working on getting firearms and components ready for the market, with companies like Brownells, CMMG, Proof Research, San Tan Tactical, and others already on board.

    Additional 6ARC testing data from Hornady's website, highlighting the new cartridge's "happy medium" intent.

    Additional 6ARC testing data from Hornady’s website, highlighting the new cartridge’s “happy medium” intent.

    Will Hornady’s latest innovation live up to the hype? Could it become the new king of the AR rounds? Although the initial impressions seem positive, only time and experience will tell. As you begin to get your hands on these rounds and the rifles that fire them, please share your thoughts with us in the comments below. See you at the range!

    Photos courtesy of Hornady.

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    Will P

    Lifelong hobby/sport shooter and hunter, former US Army infantryman, perpetual firearms student. Always seeking to become better and learn more. Interested in a wide variety of shooting disciplines, and passionate about all kinds of guns. Contact on Instagram: @WillTFB