The 6.5 Grendel is one option for a long range AR-15 rifle.
The debate about .224 Valkyrie vs 6.5 Gendel is still actively raging out there on the internet. And I don’t want to get involved in that here, since we’re talking about 6.5 Grendel barrels.
But it’s safe to say that one of the big advantages of the 6.5 Grendel is how much energy it carries out to long ranges. Using the best 6.5 Grendel barrel you can get will maximize that energy and give you the best terminal ballistics.
SPOILER—if you’re just here for the juice, here it is: the Rainier Arms Match 6.5 Grendel Barrel is the best overall 6.5 Grendel barrel of the bunch. The price and performance are excellent. And I’ve never gotten a lemon from Rainier Arms.
If you’re here for the journey, keep reading. We’ll run through all of the best 6.5 Grendel barrels, and let you sort out which ones are your favorites.
Top 6.5 Grendel Barrels on the Market Today
The Best 6.5 Grendel Barrels Reviews: Maximum Energy at Maximum Range
The overall best 6.5 Grendel barrel will be reviewed first. The rest of the 6.5 Grendel barrels will get their shot in the sun in order of price.
The 6.5 Grendel barrels with the highest performance but the lowest price are up first.
The 6.5 Grendel barrels with the highest price but even higher performance are near the end.
Read the reviews that are best for your budget.
1. Rainier Arms Match 6.5 Grendel Barrel - Overall Best 6.5 Grendel Barrel
I’m a big fan of the Rainier Arms match barrels. They’re really well constructed. The fit and finish are excellent. And they shoot great. It’s hard to get more precision per dollar than you get from a Rainier Arms Match 6.5 Grendel Barrel.
One of the most common questions about 6.5 Gendel barrels is, “What is the best barrel length for a 6.5 Grendel?” That depends on your shooting context.
However, I think that 18 inches is an excellent all-around length for a 6.5 Gendel barrel. It’s long enough that you’ll get good muzzle velocity and get good ballistics at maximum range.
But 18 inches is short enough that it doesn’t make your AR-15 too unwieldy. You can maneuver an 18-inch AR-15 relatively easily. However, if you’re building a dedicated long range gun that’s going to spend most of its time shooting from a bench or a bag, a longer barrel might be appropriate.
And we’ll get to those. But this barrel is 18 inches, which is a good compromise between maneuverability and muzzle velocity.
The other standout feature of this barrel is the contour. The Rainier Arms contour offers excellent precision without the weight of a bull barrel.
That’s because the contour is more consistent than a government profile barrel. And it’s slightly thicker than a pencil profile barrel. So you get more precision than both of those barrel profiles, with only a tad more weight.
There’s more. But, overall, this barrel is really hard to beat without spending quite a bit more money. And Rainier Arms guarantees the performance. You can literally send it back if it doesn’t outshoot a similar competing barrel.
2. Faxon Firearms 18in Gunner 6.5 Grendel Barrel - Lightweight 6.5 Grendel Barrel
Faxon Firearms is one of my go-to barrel manufacturers. They have some really good designs. And their barrels are well priced. The Faxon Firearms 18in Gunner 6.5 Grendel Barrel is essentially just the 6.5 Grendel variant of their 5.56mm Gunner Profile barrels.
Since it’s in the name, I’ll talk about the profile first.
The Gunner Profile is a variation of the government profile that adds metal to places where it most enhances the performance—closer to the chamber—and removes metal from places where the barrel doesn’t need to be so thick.
The result is a barrel that’s lighter than a government profile barrel, but is more precise and has better heat resistance. So you can run this barrel harder than a government profile barrel, with more precision and less shift in the point of impact from heat buildup.
Additionally, the barrel extension is coated in nickel teflon which produces a tighter receiver fit. This gives you even more precision without adding weight. The nickel teflon coating also enables your bolt to lock and unlock more smoothly, for more reliable operation.
Lastly, the nitride coating is remarkably durable. Faxon has one of the best nitride finishes on the market. It holds up remarkably well and keeps your barrel corrosion free for decades.
It’s not quite as precise as a bull barrel. And it still has the harsh shoulder that you find on a standard government profile barrel.
However, if you want the precision of a bull barrel, you can get the Faxon Firearms AR-15 6.5 Grendel Heavy Profile Barrel
Anyway, the Faxon Firearms Gunner Profile barrel offers excellent performance for the price. And it’s pretty much as lightweight as you can get without sacrificing precision with a pencil profile barrel.
3. Criterion Barrels Inc. AR-15 6.5 Grendel HBAR Barrel - 6.5 Grendel Match Barrel
Criterion Barrels makes some of the best barrels you can get, period. They’re not budget barrels. But the precision is exceptional. That’s why the Criterion Barrels Inc. AR-15 6.5 Grendel HBAR Barrel is the best 6.5 Grendel match barrel.
The first notable feature is that this barrel is 22 inches long. It will make your AR-15 into a precision rifle, which comes with some maneuverability challenges. But the muzzle velocity and precision are as good as it gets.
Additionally, this is a 6.5 Grendel bull barrel. The full profile produces the tightest groups and most consistent point of impact. And it resists heat buildup to ensure that your point of impact stays the same though high volumes of fire.
This is a stainless steel barrel. But the barrel extension is salt bath nitrided to produce a tighter barrel fit and better reliability.
Additionally, the chamber of this Criterion Barrrels model is fitted with a finer thread pitch which leaves space for thicker chamber walls to better withstand higher chamber pressures associated with 6.5 Grendel.
It’s not the least expensive barrel. However, it’s actually rather affordable considering the performance. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a more precise barrel without spending more money.
4. Brownells AR-15 6.5 Grendel Barrels - Value 6.5 Grendel Barrel
The Brownells AR-15 6.5 Grendel Barrels might seem ordinarily priced. But they offer something that no other barrel provides at this price point.
First, the barrel.
These barrels are standard stainless steel barrels with a medium profile. It’s nothing special. But a stainless steel barrel with a medium profile offers respectable precision.
The rifling is 5R rifling, which deforms the bullet less and pushes higher muzzle velocities than standard 6 groove rifling.
Overall, the performance is good. You could use this barrel on a hunting or competition rifle and do just fine.
However, this barrel comes with a matched bolt. You don’t have to worry about headspacing the bolt or anything. You just need a bolt carrier.
Just the barrel is a decent deal for the money. But there are no other barrel and bolt combos at this price. Let alone a barrel and bolt combo that actually performs well.
One thing to know: a few years ago Brownells had some quality control issues with their barrels. And some shooters had to hone their chambers to get reliable operation. However, those issues seem to be corrected. But the previous quality control issues are worth noting.
Obviously, this isn’t a crazy high-end barrel. But, it’s a perfect option for anyone who wants good performance at a killer price.
5. Ballistic Advantage Premium Series 6.5 Grendel AR Rifle Barrel - 6.5 Grendel SBR Barrel
Any Ballistic Advantage barrel offers an excellent price-to-performance ratio. That’s why the Ballistic Advantage Premium Series 6.5 Grendel AR Rifle Barrel is a perfect option if you’re building a compact 6.5 Grendel rifle.
This barrel is 12.5 inches. I think 12.5 inches is one of the best SBR barrel lengths. It’s long enough that you get decent medium and long range ballistics. And the recoil impulse is reasonably soft.
But 12.5 inches is still compact enough that you could easily run around inside a house, if you wanted.
Additionally, this barrel uses a Hanson profile. It’s a hybrid profile that weighs about the same as a medium taper profile. But it’s more consistently contoured to reduce barrel whip and produce better precision in rapid fire shooting.
This Ballistic Advantage model is stainless steel. But it’s coated with a QPQ corrosion resistant finish that retains the stainless steel aesthetic and keeps the rust away.
Obviously, 12.5 inches isn’t ideal for super long range applications. But, if you’re building a 6.5 Grendel SBR, this barrel is the way to go.
6. JP Enterprises JP Supermatch Barrel 6.5 Grendel - 6.5 Grendel Competition Barrel
JP Enterprises has been making competition-grade components for a long time. And they’re really good at it. The JP Enterprises JP Supermatch Barrel 6.5 Grendel is exactly what the name says: it’s a super match barrel.
There’s no magic in this barrel.
JP Enterprises simply manufactures their barrels to incredibly high standards and uses advanced techniques that you simply don’t get in a less expensive barrel.
These barrels are air gauged and cryogenically treated. This produces incredibly precise dimensions and excellent bore consistency.
The treated steel also produces consistent precision as the barrel heats up. So the point of impact when the bore is cold is almost the same as the point of impact when the barrel is hot. This makes your competition rifle more predictable and consistent, which means better scores and higher placement.
Also, this isn’t just a really high-grade barrel. It also comes with a matched JP EnhancedBolt. There’s no need to headspace your barrel. Just plug and play.
The JP EnhancedBolt is no slouch either. It’s a remarkably reliable bolt that produces outstanding precision.
Ultimately, this barrel might be expensive. But it’s a complete package that will produce a competition-ready rifle as soon as it’s installed. And while you're at it, throw in a high-capacity magazine to boot.
7. BSF Barrels 6.5 Grendel Barrel - Carbon Fiber 6.5 Grendel Barrel
It works because the barrel is jacketed in carbon fiber, which actually puts parallel tension on the barrel. Essentially, the carbon fiber puts pressure on the barrel as if the carbon fiber jacket is attempting to stretch the barrel.
This makes the barrel more rigid and keeps the rifling straight. So you get a lot of precision from a very lightweight barrel.
The carbon fiber jacket is vented to allow the barrel to cool and keep heat distortion to a minimum. Enhanced cooling also keeps the carbon fiber from delaminating. This maximizes the lifespan.
Even so, this barrel isn’t quite as heat resistant as a full profile barrel.
However, you’ll still get more precision than you’d get from a pencil profile barrel. But this BSF barrel weighs about the same as a pencil profile barrel.
It’s a bit pricey. And, even though it will last for a long time, carbon fiber barrels just don’t last quite as long as full steel barrels.
But, if you’re building a lightweight rifle, this barrel will give you the most precision from the fewest ounces.
This Might be a Long Shot…
6.5 Grendel is an excellent round for anyone who wants to hunt or do some long range shooting with an AR-15. And, since the primary difference between a standard AR-15 and a 6.5 Grendel AR-15 is the barrel and bolt, getting the right barrel will get you more than halfway to the 6.5 Grendel rifle that you want.
If you’re still on the fence, just get the Rainier Arms Match 6.5 Grendel Barrel
Time to stop waffling and start shooting further. Get yourself a barrel, and get more range and terminal ballistics from your AR-15.