Little Monsters: The Best 6.5 Grendel Upper

Last Updated on September 26, 2020.

6.5 Grendel is just one of the rounds that’s been designed to upgrade the range and power of the AR-15 platform. And it’s a cool design because you can just add your very best 6.5 Grendel upper to your favorite lower receiver. Then, Bob’s yer uncle. You’ve got a 6.5 Grendel rifle.

The selection of 6.5 Grendel uppers isn’t quite as broad as the field of 5.56mm uppers. But there are still quite a few. And we sorted and categorized all of them for you. That way you can get the best 6.5 Grendel upper, based on your needs, without so much time spent searching.

WHY YOU SHOULD BY THIS

It’s an incredibly affordable upper that also performs impressively well.

BENEFITS

  • Comes with a stainless steel barrel.
  • Ported pot muzzle brake helps reduce recoil without massive muzzle blast.
  • Black nitride coated bolt carrier group.
  • Incredibly comfortable and well-designed handguard, with M-LOk slots.
  • SPOILERthe Radical Firearms 20 in. 6.5 Grendel Upper came out on top as the overall best 6.5 Grendel upper. It’s reasonably priced. And it performs very well, even by the standards that you might judge a more expensive upper receiver.

    If you’re looking for a less expensive (or more expensive) 6.5 Grendel upper, keep reading. We’ve reviewed all sorts of 6.5 Grendel uppers.

    Top 6.5 Grendel Upper on the Market Today

    The Best 6.5 Grendel Upper Reviews: Launching a (Slightly) Bigger Bullet

    The overall best 6.5 Grendel upper is up for review first. The best 6.5 Grendel upper from each category will be presented in order of price.

    The most affordable 6.5 Grendel uppers get reviewed first.

    Crazy expensive (but crazy good) 6.5 Grendel uppers are reviewed near the end.

    Read the reviews with price tags that fit inside your budget.

    1. Radical Firearms 20 in. 6.5 Grendel Upper - Overall Best 6.5 Grendel Upper

    • Model: Radical Firearms 20 in. 6.5 Grendel Upper
    • Barrel length: 20 inches
    • Barrel material: 416R stainless steel
    • Rate of twist: 1 in 8 inches
    • Rail attachment system: M-LOK and picatinny

    It’s not often that Radical Firearms gets the best overall spot. But the Radical Firearms 20 in. 6.5 Grendel Upper is a really good upper. It’s not the least expensive option. But the quality and features are solid.

    First, this upper is fitted with a 20 inch, 416R stainless steel barrel. The stainless steel barrel will wear evenly and retain its point of impact throughout its entire life. That gives you the most predictable performance for as long as your barrel lives.

    Also, if you want a longer barrel, you can get this same 6.5 Grendel upper receiver with a 24 inch barrel: Radical Firearms 24 in. 6.5 Grendel Upper Assembly.

    Then, the handguard is very well designed. It has a whole bunch of M-LOK slots for attaching modern forend accessories. But it also has picatinny rail sections that are strategically placed where you’re most likely to add picatinny attachments like sights and bipods.

    However, there are no picatinny sections where most people put their support hand. That way you don’t get the cheese grater on your fingers. And the handguard is comfortably thin and easy to grip.

    One more thing: the bolt carrier group is finished in black nitride, which reduces friction and gives you a smoother, more reliable action with less lubrication.

    Overall, this model gives you a lot of high end touches for a totally reasonable price.


    • Model: Aagil Arms Complete AR-15 Upper Receiver Assembly
    • Barrel length: 16 inches
    • Barrel material: Chromoly vanadium steel
    • Rate of twist: 1 in 8 inches
    • Rail attachment system: M-LOK

    The Aagil Arms Complete AR-15 Upper Receiver Assembly is a fairly straightforward upper receiver. But it's got everything you need to get stuff done with the 6.5 Grendel round.

    For the most important part, this upper is fitted with a 16 inch, chromoly vanadium barrel. And the barrel is cut with a 1 in 8 inch twist. The barrel is long lasting and works well with the most common 6.5 Grendel bullet weights.

    The barrel is capped with an A2 compensator. The muzzle device isn’t the best. But you can easily replace it if you want something more capable.

    Then, this upper is fitted with a free float KeyMod handguard. The handguard is fairly well designed. It’s got a thin section near the middle that gives you a comfortable place for your support hand. And there’s plenty of M-LOK attachment points and a section of picatinny rail up front where you need to put your front sight, if you use one.

    I have one reservation about the handguard, though.

    The handguard uses a clamp-on design. The handguard simply clamps onto the barrel nut and secures with screws.

    On one hand, it’s almost impossible for the handguard to back off. But there are no anti-rotation tabs on the handguard. If the barrel nut turns, your handguard will turn.

    Your barrel nut shouldn’t turn, if it’s properly torqued, though. I’m not a fan of the barrel nut design. I prefer anti-rotation tabs.

    But, even with the suboptimal barrel nut design, this upper receiver still delivers a ton of performance for the moneyIf you need a super affordable upper receiver, this Aagil Arms model is an excellent option.

    Also, if you want a super cool looking upper receiver, you can get the Ted Nugent model. It’s got a cobra on it. Just saying.


    • Model: Sons of Liberty Gun Works AR-15 East India Match Upper Receiver Starter Kit
    • Barrel length: 16 inches
    • Barrel material: 416R stainless steel
    • Rate of twist: 1 in 8 inches, six groove
    • Rail attachment system: None

    Sons of Liberty Gun Works is an outstanding AR-15 manufacturer. So good, in fact, that they have a bit of a cult following.

    That’s why the Sons of Liberty Gun Works AR-15 East India Match Upper Receiver Starter Kit is such a good deal: you get all the important parts from Sons of Liberty Gun Works. Then you can add whatever finishing components you want.

    First thing to know: this upper receiver comes without a handguard, bolt carrier group, or charging handle. Even though you’ll need to purchase those components, that means that you get a super custom upper receiver that’s exactly what you want.

    In terms of the components you do get, the barrel is 416R stainless steel. The twist rate is 1 in 8 inches. And the rifling is six groove, to give you the most bullet stability and precision.

    Additionally, the stainless steel barrel will wear evenly throughout its lifespan. This gives you predictable performance until the day your barrel needs to be replaced.

    Lastly, the barrel is attached to a melonite coated gas tube with a 4140 melonite coated gas block that runs into a 7075-T6 aluminum upper receiver.

    Also, the Sons of Liberty hard coat anodized finish on the upper receiver is outstanding. It’s impressively wear resistant. And it’s super smooth, which looks great.

    Overall, if you’re trying to build a precision rifle, and need an upper receiver that will give you the perfect foundation, this Sons of Liberty model is absolutely the best option.


    4. GLFA AR-15 Complete Upper 6.5 Grendel 20" - Value 6.5 Grendel Upper

    • Model: GLFA AR-15 Complete Upper 6.5 Grendel 20"
    • Barrel length: 20 inches
    • Barrel material: 4150 chromoly vanadium steel
    • Rate of twist: 1 in 8 inches
    • Rail attachment system: M-LOK

    The GLFA AR-15 Complete Upper 6.5 Grendel 20" runs in the middle of the road, in terms of price. But the component quality and performance is much higher than the price tag would suggest.

    First, almost all of the steel coatings are NP3 or black nitride. There are no standard mil-spec phosphate coatings on this upper.

    The barrel is constructed from 4150 chromoly vanadium steel. The barrel is super durable and long lasting. Chromoly vanadium steel barrels are about the longest lasting that you can get, even if they don’t wear as evenly as stainless steel.

    And the barrel is capped with a GLFA big bore muzzle brake that offers pretty strong recoil reduction and makes your rifle quite a bit more comfortable to shoot and easier to control.

    The barrel is also cut with a 1 in 8 inch rate of twist, which works perfectly with the most common 6.5 Grendel bullet weights.

    Then the barrel is covered by an M-LOK handguard. The handguard is slim and comfortable. And it has tons of M-LOK slots.

    Lastly, the bolt carrier group is finished with an NP3 coating to reduce friction and ensure that your rifle has a smooth, reliable action, even without much lubrication.

    Aside from the muzzle brake, this GLFA upper receiver has a fairly standard design. But the component quality and exterior coatings are extremely high. So this upper receiver is an excellent value for the money.


    • Model: CMMG, Inc. RESOLUTE 100 Series Upper Receiver Group
    • Barrel length: 16.1 inches
    • Barrel material: 416 stainless steel
    • Rate of twist: 1 in 8 inches
    • Rail attachment system: M-LOK

    The CMMG, Inc. RESOLUTE 100 Series Upper Receiver Group probably accomplishes the goals of a 6.5 Grendel rifle most efficiently.

    This upper is built around a 16 inch, stainless steel barrel. It’s a standard medium profile barrel with a rifle length gas system. The barrel is also cut with a 1 in 8 rate of twist. That way you get excellent stability and precision with standard 6.5 Grendel bullet weights.

    The 16 inch barrel offers good terminal ballistics, without being hard to handle in tight spaces. And the rifle length gas system gives you a smoother recoil impulse for faster follow-up shots.

    And the handguard is almost as long as the barrel. That way you get the most possible M-LOK attachment points. The handguard will also give you very good stability if you mount a bipod on it, since the bipod will be close to the muzzle.

    Moving back, the upper receiver is a slick side upper receiver. It still has a brass deflector to keep the brass out of your face. However, there’s no forward assistThat way your upper receiver is less likely to be a snagging issue if you’re wearing kit.

    The muzzle device is a standard A2 compensator. And the charging handle is a standard mil-spec charging handle. But you can easily swap both of those out if you want more control and better ergonomics.

    Overall, if you want a maneuverable rifle that still offers good precision at long range, this CMMG upper will enable you to put rounds on target. And it will last for a ridiculously long time.


    Connecting the Upper and Lower Halves

    6.5 Grendel runs great on a standard AR-15 lower receiver. So the best 6.5 Grendel upper receiver that you can afford is an amazing addition to your gun safe. Your 6.5 Grendel upper will essentially give you two rifles for the price of one upper receiver.

    Radical Firearms 20 in.

    If you want a great upper receiver that’s not too expensive, get the Radical Firearms 20 in. 6.5 Grendel Upper. It’s affordable. And it has a lot of high end features that you might not find on similarly priced upper receivers.

    Now that you’ve seen the options, it’s time to broaden your horizons and start shooting something more than 5.56mm.