Best 6.5 Grendel Uppers – Our Top 7 Picks

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

By Dennis Howard •  13 min read

If you are looking for a rifle with more punch, better distance, and moderate recoil, you may want to consider a 6.5 Grendel upper for your AR platform rifle.

The 6.5 Grendel cartridge offers better performance than the .223/5.56 cartridge. In tests, the 6.5 Grendel remains supersonic at 1,200 yards. In contrast, a .308 (7.62 NATO) round delivers twice the recoil and is less accurate at these ranges.

The 6.5 Grendel cartridge was debuted in 2003 and delivered for SAAMI standardization in 2010 with a Hornady partnership.

The goals of the developers were to produce a STANAG-compliant cartridge effective to 800 yards giving better performance than the standard NATO 5.56 cartridge. They also wanted to tame recoil associated with cartridges that can extend to these ranges. The 6.5 Grendel certainly meets these specifications.

When adapted to the AR platform, there are some noticeable changes that must be made.

The upper receiver must be barreled with a proper 6.5 Grendel barrel. In addition, a different bolt carrier group must be installed since the case head is slightly larger than a standard 5.56mm cartridge. Lastly, the larger diameter cartridge only allows 26 rounds to be loaded in a standard STANAG magazine.

Making the Change to 6.5 Grendel

It isn’t difficult to adapt your current AR platform rifle to shoot the 6.5 Grendel cartridge. Adding a whole new upper and bolt carrier group is the simplest method.

Many companies are offering complete 6.5 Grendel uppers for this purpose. We looked at many of these complete upper kits to create our list of the best 6.5 Grendel Uppers available today.

What I Look for in a Complete Upper

When I start shopping for a complete upper for a conversion or a new rifle build, there are several things I consider.

Most of these are just common sense items, but it is important for you to realize what factors go into my decisions about choosing parts or a complete 6.5 Grendel uppers for your consideration.

Quality Control

Quality control is at the top of my list. Anyone with a CNC machine and the proper ATF license can start producing upper receivers almost overnight. However, the quality of the billets and the precision of the machining can vary widely.

I have seen many 6.5 Grendel upper receivers with shoddy finishes, poor machining, and less than acceptable tolerances. My suggestion is to only buy from reliable sources with a solid reputation.

Barrel Selection

Find out who made the barrel that is installed on your complete upper assembly. I prefer chrome-lined barrels for a 6.5 Grendel. There are a few more reputable barrel manufacturers now than when I began assembling AR rifles.

Some of the better manufacturers that I like to use are Faxon, Brownells, and Criterion Barrels. However, Artheris is making some exceptional barrels for 6.5 Grendel that deserve a look.

Bolt Carrier Groups

The bolt carrier group is the heart of the operating system on any AR platform rifle and especially a 6.5 Grendal.

Again, I fall back on dealing with reputable companies with a known reputation. My preference is to use a full mass bolt carrier group. Several companies make this type of bolt carrier. Most notably, JP enterprises, Brownells, and Faxon firearms top my list for this product.

Note: The bolt carrier group can affect how accurate your gun shoots and the overall performance of your gun. Some BCGs perform differently with different ammo brands, so choose wisely.


I typically try not to let accessories be a major part of my decision on rifle parts. However, in the case of upper receivers, this may be a little different.

You will find a wide variety of accessories offered by the various manufacturers of these 6.5 Grendel Uppers. Of particular interest to me is always the options for the muzzle device and the handguard.

My Choices for the Best Complete 6.5 Grendel Uppers

If you aren’t interested in putting together your own 6.5 Grendel upper, the obvious choice is to purchase a complete upper assembly ready to attach to your AR lower.

There are hundreds of options from different manufacturers. I looked at many of these, but the ones on my list are what I consider to be the best of the best when comparing features and a great price for a 6.5 Grendel upper.

1. Best Rifle Length 6.5 Grendel Upper – Palmetto State Armory 6.5 Grendel 20″ Upper Receiver

Palmetto State Armory has become one of my go-to sources for AR parts and complete rifles in the past few years.

I have found their quality control to be excellent, their customer service without complaint, and their prices among the lowest in the market. All of this holds true for the PSA 20″ Complete 6.5 Grendel Upper.

If you take the time to investigate PSA and its reputation, you will find this company highly regarded among avid AR shooters. For the price of this 6.5 Grendel complete upper, you may be surprised at the level of quality and the features included by PSA.


In my opinion, the PSA 20-inch complete 6.5 Grendel upper is the best value on the market today.

In fact, the only downside to this upper receiver is getting one. The PSA 20-inch upper group is so popular that it is often out of stock at Palmetto State Armory.

I suggest you get on their notification list and be ready to make your order when the email notification arrives.

2. Best 6.5 Grendel Upper for Hunters – Grendel Hunter 20″ Upper Receiver

Grendel Hunter is a relative newcomer to the AR rifle market, but they have made quite an impression on many shooters.

This company caters primarily to the hunting market. Grendel hunter doesn’t manufacture or sell complete rifles. They only deal in uppers and upper components.

From a budget standpoint, Grendel Hunter is conscious of your wallet and offers a feature-rich package in their 6.5 Grendal Uppers.

My choice is the Grendel Hunter 20″ upper receiver with a titanium cerakoted barrel. Working through the features and specifications should convince you that these are 6.5 Grendel upper receivers that may fit well into your budget and needs.


You can specify a bolt carrier group and a charging handle when you order your Grendel Hunter upper receiver.

There are several options from which to choose depending on your preferences and your budget. The other order options allow you to build a truly customized 65 Grendel upper to suit your needs.

3. The Ultimate 20″ 6.5 Grendel Upper – Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel 18 Inch Hunter

Bill Alexander, owner and operator of Alexander Arms, collaborated on the creation of the 6.5 Grendel cartridge, so it stands to reason he knows a bit about this round.

These are highly customizable complete 6.5 Grendel upper receivers that are assembled using the highest quality parts to be found.

These Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel uppers have been designed from the ground up for the 6.5 Grendel rounds so that you can expect the highest level of performance and accuracy from these upper receivers.

Features and specifications are what you would expect from a Tier 1 manufacturer.


Alexander arms fully function tests each 6.5 Grendel upper before it leaves their facility, so you will receive a fully functioning upper receiver ready to mount on your AR platform lower.

If you want the absolute best 18″ Hunter style 6.5 Grendel upper, the Alexander Arms option is the right choice.

4. Best Value Carbine Length 6.5 Grendel Upper – Palmetto State Armory 12 Inch Carbine Length

If you are looking for a shorter, more compact upper receiver, the best bet we have is the Palmetto State Armory carbine length 6.5 Grendel complete upper receiver.

Again, PSA gets the nod for the price-to-features ratio and for delivering the best value to shooters.

If you are looking for a carbine length 6.5 Grendel upper, this is the best choice for the money that we have found. You get all the great features of the 6.5 Grendel cartridge without incurring a huge cost. These uppers from PSA get great reviews, and I am a fan of almost all of PSA products.


In my opinion, this is one of the best gun deals available for a 6.5 Grendel upper.

When paired with a great cartridge like the 6.5 Grendel, this upper receiver can be an absolute tack driver even with short barrels. For a carbine-length pistol, this is an excellent choice for an upper receiver to mate with your favorite lower.

5. Budget 16 Inch G.5 Grendel Upper Receiver – Moriarti Armaments 15: 6.5 Grendel Type II Tactical Upper Assembly

Moriarti Armaments is not a company that is on everyone’s lips when you talk about AR platform parts and kits.

However, those that are familiar with the company and its products have very good things to say. Most people who are familiar with the upper receiver kits from Moriarti Armaments rave about the performance and the quality of these guns.

Comments from shooters who use these uppers on their AR platform lowers report that accuracy is great and precision of the machining is above par.

They often point to the clean lines and the ability to customize your build as your order your upper receiver. The optional accessories provided by Moriarti Armaments compliment the receiver well and make shooting these guns pleasant.


You can order everything you need from Moriarti Armaments, including a bolt carrier group. The complete upper will be delivered to you with everything installed, functioning, and tested.
If you already have a BCG, this is one of the best values on the market for a 6.5 Grendel upper receiver.

6. Best Barrel on 6.5 Grendel Uppers – Atheris ARC15-T2 20 Inch

Atheris is a small company quietly building a huge reputation for high-quality upper receivers. The company focuses on delivering superior quality at a reasonable price. Each of the upper receivers from Atheris shows precision machining and attention to quality control.

What catches my eye about the Atheris 6.5 Grendel uppers is the barrel. These 6.5 Grendel uppers come with a very high-quality stainless steel barrel using 5R rifling to ensure the best accuracy and performance when you shoot.


I really like this 6.5 Grendel upper receiver from Atheris. The decision to use the latest technology in rifling is a great choice, in my opinion, and adds to the value of this 6.5 Grendel option.

7. Best Match Grade 6.5 Grendel Upper – Sanders Armory 20 Inch Match Grade

If you are a competitive shooter or just want to get an edge on your hunting buddies with a more accurate rifle, the Sanders Armory 20 Inch Match Grade 6.5 Grendel Upper is the way to go. You won’t find a more accurate barrel or upper assembly on the market, and you can expect trouble free operation.

You can almost count on Sub-MOA performance with this 6.5 Grendel upper mounted on your AR platform lower. You won’t go wrong choosing this 6.5 Grendel upper from Sanders Armory.

This line of match grade 6.5 Grendel uppers can give you the kind of performance most people dream about.


Sanders is a company to watch. Given some time, this company may prove to be stiff competition for some of the other big makers of 6.5 Grendel uppers and guns. These make great firearms when coupled with your AR style lower.

My Overall Winner Is…

I have to go with the Palmetto State Armory offerings as my overall winner.

For most shooters who want to add a 6.5 Grendel upper to their gun safe, these are, in my eyes, the best value for the money. You can spend more, and you can spend less. In the end, finding what meets your needs and satisfies your expectations is the real key.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.