Calibers

Question: I have been wanting to do a 6.5 Grendel build, and in my online searches, I found a page on your website with some good info on it. Do you guys have and 20-24″ barrels/bolts for the 6.5 Grendel available?

I did some research but I am not real clear on whether or not you can shoot 6.5 grendel ammo out of a .264 LBC barrel? Can you educate me on what barrel it is and what ammo I can run? Continue reading

A lot of information can be found online regarding the .223 Wylde chamber…but so can a lot of myths and misinformation! So today, we’ll examine the .223 Wyle chamber and answer a few questions along the way! Continue reading

65grendelcartridge

6.5 Grendel bullets in various sizes

The 6.5 Grendel cartridge is very closely related to the .220 Russian case (which was developed in the late 1950’s, based upon the 7.62×39 design). In early 2002, the 6.5PPC cartridge attracted the attention of Bill Alexander (Alexander Arms), due to the fact that it would fit the 7.62 bolt used for the AR-15 platform.

With some slight modifications and a few well-timed introductions to individuals at Lothar Walther, Lapua, and a few others, the 6.5 Grendel cartridge is born!

As a result, this 200-800 yard cartridge that works on the AR-15 platform is now being modified to work in bolt action rifles and even the Kalashnikov system.

PLEASE keep in mind: Some online retailers are selling 6.5 Grendel barrel/bolt combos. However, the bolts are actually 7.62 bolts! You’ll need to do some modifications (i.e. recess the bolt face by an additional .010″) or you’ll have both headspacing and feed issues. The easiest way to figure out which one you’re getting is to see if the site classifies the bolt as being a “Type 1” or “Type 2”. The “Type 1” is a 7.62 bolt and will need the modification to shoot 123gr loads. The “Type 2” is (usually) a true Grendel bolt.

IF you have a “Type 1” bolt, you’ll want to keep your loads around 107gr. The 123gr will (typically) not feed or shoot properly.

It’s also best to get the barrel and bolt from the same place, when you can. That way, if you have any questions/concerns, you have one location to go to in order to troubleshoot, get answers, etc. (We are stocking dealers for multiple 6.5 Grendel manufacturers – including Alexander Arms, Satern Machining, etc).

Always check with the manufacturer before shooting another caliber through your barrel/bolt. Some calibers can be interchangeable…but others are definitely NOT. (For example, some 6.5 Grendel barrels/bolts can accommodate the .264 LBC-AR caliber from Les Baer…but not ALL 6.5 Grendel barrels/bolts can!)

Pluses:

7.62 mm NATO, 6.5mm Grendel, 5.56 mm NATO

7.62 mm NATO, 6.5mm Grendel, 5.56 mm NATO

– Great middle ground between a 5.56 and 7.62.
– Better armor penetration at 1,000 meters
– Due to it’s longer bullet inside the case, it has a higher velocity and carries greater energy than a 6.8SPC at over 500 meters.
– Made to fit the dimensions of an AR-15 rifle, so little modification is needed.

Minuses:
– Larger cartridge than 5.56, thus reducing magazine capacity
– Requires longer barrel (typical barrels are 18″-20″ or more)
– Cannot hold “heavy” bullets (123gr compared to the 6.8SPC’s 140gr)

Uses:
While originally marketed to police and military, the 6.5 Grendel round was actually created for white tail deer hunting. THIS is the caliber you use when you want all the stopping power of a .308 (and more) without the .308 price tag.

To swap from a 5.56 to 6.5 Grendel? It’s just a barrel, bolt, and magazine swap. Done and done!

Ever looked at a standard AR charging handle? I mean REEEEALLY looked at them. Here’s what most of your typical AR charging handles look like:

standardcharginghandle

Pretty normal, right? Notice how flat and straight the handle-end is. Goes right across the end of the upper receiver. Nothing different or special about it.

Now look at what several companies (Mossberg, Black Rain, and VLTOR come to mind) are doing with theirs:

notchedcharginghandle

See the notched section at the top? That’s a big deal. Why?

Imagine you have a popped primer (it happens, even with the best of ammo). In competitions where you’re shooting 600 meters ACCURATELY, you’ve got so much pressure and are shooting with such higher loads that a popped primer happens more often than you think.

And where does that hot gas go? On a standard charging handle, it goes right back towards your face…often straight at your eye! On the notched charging handle, it disperses the gas upwards, away from your face!

Kind of a big deal for such a little difference.

Keep this in mind the next time you’re looking at charging handles. Even the slightest differences aren’t just cosmetic…they can be downright safer!

With a forged lower receiver, the metal is heated to a rocket hot temperature, and then molded into the proper form This method compresses the metal and makes it very strong. Often times the trigger guard isn’t included, which allows you to further customize your AR (will you be wearing gloves to shoot during the winter? Is there a separate trigger guard you’ve had your eye on, maybe in a different metal composition or color?)

Billet lower receivers are machined from a single block of metal (usually aluminum or steel). Billeted lowers tend to have the trigger guard built in, meaning it is not removable. They also tend to cost considerably more than a forged lower.

There are obviously pros and cons to each type of lower. Check them out for yourself and determine which is right for you.

Here’s an example of a billet lower:

billet lower

Here’s an example of a forged AeroPrecision lower, sold in our shop and online:

forged lowerGot questions about ARs, AKs, SKS’, or 1911s? Submit them via the Contact Us form and let us know what’s on your mind! We may feature you in an upcoming FAQ!

ARs are one of the funnest guns to build, primarily because you can create them to YOUR specifications. Keep in mind that there are a variety of different types of AR-15 builds, so this list will not work for all builds.

However, if you come into our shop, here’s the “shopping list” you’d receive in order to make sure you have everything you need to create a typical M-4 style AR-15 with a stripped lower receiver, and stripped upper receiver:

  1. AR-15 lower receiver
  2. AR-15 upper receiver
  3. Lower receiver parts kit
  4. Upper receiver parts kit
  5. Lower receiver extension (aka: the buffer tube)
  6. Buffer
  7. Buffer spring
  8. Barrel (a carbine length gas system would be typical for this build)
  9. Hand-guard/forend (length will depend on what length gas system you chose on your barrel: carbine, mid-length, or rifle)
  10. Bolt carrier group (carrier, bolt, firing pin, cam, extractor, ejector and spring)
  11. Buttstock (can be fixed or collapsible)
  12. At least one magazine

The best part? You can buy all the parts at once, or simply a piece at a time, depending on your budget.

Stop by the shop today and let’s get started building your dream AR!

When someone says, “50 caliber ammo” – what comes to mind?

  • Knockdown power of a small tank?
  • Able to penetrate vehicle engines in a single bound?
  • Body armor, double-thick cinderblocks, and concealment rendered powerless and pointless?

    .50 Beowulf next to a 5.56 round

    .50 Beowulf next to a 5.56 round

Yeah, me too.

NOW what if I told you that the same, insanely powerful round could be (and has successfully been) chambered into an AR-15? In fact, the 80% carbon fiber lowers from FMK that we carry in our shop on a regular basis are tested up to a .50 Beowulf!

How can this be? How can such a beefy round possibly fit into the same lower as a smaller 5.56?

For starters, the 5.56’s chamber pressure is 50,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). Wanna guess what the .50 Beowulf’s chamber pressure is? 33,000 PSI!!! That means the bolt velocity is the same as the 5.56, so the stress on the lower is almost non-existent.

But the .50 Beowulf is soooo much more than just power!

The overall case length is 1.655″, meaning that the .50 caliber round will feed through a standard AR-15 magazine…providing you cut the lip back a bit to accommodate the larger round. While the 5.56 can double stack, the .50 Beowulf will feed through the mag in a single stack.

So – all the look and feel of a 5.56 with the knockdown power of a .50? Nice.

Used by the Marine Corps in Afghanistan at checkpoints for vehicles that refuse to stop (suicide-attacks), this game-changer allows for dead-eye accuracy while utilizing the engine-penetrating power of the .50 cal.

The one major drawback? Currently, the only manufacturer of the .50 Beowulf round is Alexander Arms. Without competition to drive down the price, they can pretty much ask whatever they want for it (providing the buying public will pay it).

For the money, this is pound-for-pound THE best weapon to have in your arsenal if you plan on protecting your home against long-distance assailants.

And come on – it’s just plain cool, too.

FSD is an Alexander Arms dealer and can build you a .50 Beowulf! Check out more details here!

I’ll be the first to admit, I started exploring the 300 Blackout round because, well, we’ve had a LOT of people come into the shop asking about it.

Sure, my gunsmith/Marine husband knew EVERYTHING about it…but I sounded like a kindergartener when I attempted to answer any questions.

Not one to enjoy feeling like a fool, I decided to figure out why this caliber was becoming more and more popular…and boy, was I shocked at the results! Continue reading

Custom built AR-15 chambered in 6.8SPC from Fighting Sheep Dog

Custom built AR-15 chambered in 6.8SPC from Fighting Sheep Dog

In today’s Caliber Check, we’ll look at the 6.8SPC cartridge (SPC = Special Purpose Cartridge).

Originally designed by Special Ops and the US Army Marksmanship Unit, the 6.8 was supposed to be that “happy medium” between the 5.56x45mm of an AR and the 7.62x51mm (aka .308) of an M14.

Of course, the parent cartridge is the .30 Remington (as mentioned below), which is why you can often use a 5.56 magazine to shoot 6.8 rounds in a pinch (you just have to figure out how many rounds the magazine will hold and still fire consistently).

Per Wikipedia:

The 6.8 mm Remington Special Purpose Cartridge (aka 6.8 SPC, 6.8 SPC II & 6.8×43mm) is a rifle cartridge that was developed by Remington Arms in collaboration with members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, United States Special Operations Command to possibly replace the 5.56 NATO cartridge in a Short Barreled Rifle(SBR)/Carbine.

Based upon the .30 Remington cartridge, it is midway between the 5.56×45mm NATO and 7.62×51mm NATO in bore diameter and muzzle energy. It uses a .277″ (7.0358 mm) diameter bullet, the same as that used in the venerable .270 Winchester hunting cartridge. It is particularly adaptable to current 5.56 mm NATO firearms, sharing the same cartridge overall length (2.260″).

6.8 Ammo in a 5.56 Magazine

6.8 Ammo in a 5.56 Magazine

PROS and CONS of a 6.8SPC-based firearm:

  • While the 6.8SPC round is comparable in price to a .308 round, it cannot beat the steadily-lowering prices of the 5.56/.223.
  • The 6.8SPC has 80% of the power of a .308 cartridge with half the recoil (and even less recoil than a .243 round reviewed elsewhere on this site), making it easier to control when firing.
  • Converting your AR from a 5.56 to a 6.8 is EASY! You only need to replace the barrel, bolt and magazine of the 5.56mm-chambered rifle. (Many companies make it even easier, selling fully assembled uppers chambered in 6.8SPC.) PLUS, it takes literally a minute or less to convert from 5.56 to 6.8 (and you don’t even need a special tool – just 2 pins!)

“The minimum chamber size is smaller than the maximum ammo size. The maximum ammo size is 1.350″ and the min chamber size is 1.346”. They either need to make the “go” gauges 1.350 and call that minimum chamber size or make the ammo and go gauges 1.346 or less. The no-go gauges are not as large as max chamber size. There should be .006 difference from “go” to “no-go” and the ammo should be equal to or less than the “go”. If you rifle checks out with a “go” gauge but your factory ammo will not chamber call the ammo manufacturer.” – Per ARPerformance.com

But the BIGGEST pro comes in the area of hunting. The smallest caliber that most states allow for hunting “medium sized game” (think coyote, hog, elk, black bear, deer, etc) are cartridges that fall below .243 of an inch (6mm). The 6.8SPC cartridge allows hunters the use of the AR platform with stellar performance out to 300-400+ yards!

(And let’s be honest, if a gunsmith decided to build HIS rifle in a 6.8SPC…don’t you think there’s probably something to it???)

John Young siting in the custom 6.8 build

John Young siting in the custom 6.8 build

Here’s the technical specs (again, from Wikipedia):

The 6.8 SPC delivers 44% more energy than the 5.56 mm NATO (M4 configuration) at 100–300 metres (330–980 ft). The 6.8mm SPC is not the ballistic equal of the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, however; it has less recoil, is more controllable in rapid fire, and lighter, allowing operators to carry more ammunition than would otherwise be possible with the larger caliber round. The 6.8 mm generates around 1,759 ft·lbf (2,385 J) of muzzle energy with a 115-grain (7.5 g) bullet. In comparison, the 5.56x45mm round (which the 6.8 is designed to replace) generates around 1,325 ft·lbf (1,796 J) with a 62-grain (4.0 g) bullet, giving the 6.8mm a terminal ballistic advantage over the 5.56mm of 434 ft·lbf (588 J). sne of the enigmatic features of this cartridge is (it being designed for a short barrel carbine length rifle) that the standard rifle length is 16 inches (41 cm). The round only gains about 25–35 feet per second (7.6–11 m/s) per inch of barrel length past the standard 16 inch barrel (all else being equal) to around 22–24 inches (56–61 cm) with no gain/loss in accuracy. It also does very well in rifles/pistol with less than 16″ barrels.

To sum it up – for the money, you can’t go wrong with a 6.8SPC chambered AR – especially if you’re a hunter. With half the recoil of the 5.56 at about the same price as the .308, it’s like having your cake and shooting it, too!

Suggested reloading components:

  • Hornady small primer brass for the best accuracy, it is more consistant in weight and neck thickness.
  • CCI -#41 and 450 small primers, Wolf small magnum primers for a less expensive option(apx $18/1000 from Wideners)
  • H322 powder for the best accuracy, 29.5 is max case capacity without compressing the load.
  • RE 10X for 100-115gr bullets where more velocity is wanted- 29-29.5 gr but work up to it.
  • RE 7 for 85-95gr bullets- 29.2 gr is standard but work up to it.
  • H335 is a good all-around ball powder for good velocities over a wide weight range of bullets.
  • AA2200 and 1200R are new powders on the market , many shooters having good luck with them.
  • 8208 and N530 work with heavier bullets 120-130gr
  • Sierra 110gr Prohunter bullet for great accuracy and terminal performance on deer
  • Barnes 85, 95 and 110 TSX for the best terminal performance on hogs
  • Speer 90gr TNT for great accuracy and peformance on varmints and yotes.

– From ARPerformance.com

Deer, coyote, varmints, hogs, elk, moose, bear…there are a dozen different animals you can hunt in the United States and a dozen different calibers you can use to hunt each one.

In today’s Caliber Check, we’ll examine the pluses and minuses of both the .243 and the .308 for those of you who hunt/shoot coyote and other varmints.

NOTE: If you’re hunting anything larger than a whitetail, tune in next week as we cover the 6.8 caliber!

.243

Per Wikipedia:

The .243 Winchester is a popular sporting rifle cartridge. Initially designed as a varmint round, it may be used for wildlife and game such as coyote, blacktail deer, whitetail deer, mule deer, pronghorn, and wild hogs. It can also be used against larger game such as black bear but is sometimes said as being “too light” for some large game. Rounds heavier than 90 grains are better suited for hunting while rounds less than 90 grains are suitable for varmints. The .243 is based on a necked down .308 cartridge case.

Pros:

  • Gets downrange in a HURRY
  • Extremely flat trajectory
  • Half the recoil of the .308
  • Can shoot varmints and coyotes (90 grain) up to elk (105+ grain) if need be
  • Excellent penetration
  • Readily available in most ammo/gun stores
  • If you’re new to shooting, the lightened recoil can help keep you from developing poor shooting habits

Cons:

  • Excessive barrel wear due to higher velocity
  • If shooting in brush (or woods), likely to deflect off a branch and not hit your target
  • Over 200 yards, the wind may take your bullet where it may…
  • After 500 yards, drop off is extremely noticeable

We have .243 ammo IN STOCK! Check out the shop for more info: http://FightingSheepDog.com/shop

.308

Per Wikipedia:

The .308 Winchester is a rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge and is the commercial cartridge from which the 7.62×51mm NATO round was derived. The .308 Winchester was introduced in 1952, two years prior to the NATO adoption of the 7.62×51mm NATO T65. Winchester (a subsidiary of Olin Corporation) branded the cartridge and introduced it to the commercial hunting market as the .308 Winchester. Winchester’s Model 70 and Model 88 rifles were subsequently chambered for the new cartridge. Since then, the .308 Winchester has become the most popular short-action, big-game hunting cartridge worldwide. It is also commonly used for civilian target shooting, military sniping, and police sharpshooting. The relatively short case makes the .308 Winchester especially well adapted for short action rifles. When loaded with a bullet that expands, tumbles, or fragments in tissue, this cartridge is capable of high terminal performance.

Although very similar to the military 7.62×51mm NATO specifications, the .308 cartridge is not identical and there are special considerations that may apply when mixing these cartridges with 7.62×51mm NATO, and .308 Winchester chambered arms. Their interchange is, however, considered safe by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI).

Pros:

  • Semi recoil-friendly
  • Cheaper than .243 ammo
  • Reloading material availability is good
  • More versatile than .243

Cons:

  • Excessive drop past 200 yards
  • Inside of 200 yards, not as accurate
  • Overkill if shooting at 100 yards

Torn between the 2 calibers? You may also look into a .260 Winchester.

.260 shoots flatter than a .308, with more penetration, and is faster. But is a bigger bullet than a .243 and has more knockdown power. The only real problem with .260 ammo is the lack of availability. Sure, Federal, Remington, and Nosler custom make ammunition. But if your for reloading then you’re set (6.5mm bullets aren’t hard to find and you will be able to get .308 brass if 260 actually does drop off the market, and neck the .308 brass down).

Keep in mind that air density, humidity, wind drift, bullet grain selection, and other factors will play into your accuracy and grouping.

Of course, if you’re looking at over 400 yards, you may just wanna stalk in the bushes!

Regardless of which caliber you choose, remember that there’s a time and place for it all. This isn’t one caliber VERSUS another. Merely a comparison to give you the knowledge you need to make a well-educated decision the next time you’re looking for a new hunting rifle!

And now you know! 🙂

You can read more on .243 here: http://www.6mmbr.com/243Win.html