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Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel Ammo Review: Tack Driver Ammo

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel Ammo Review

If you’re looking to increase the stopping power of your AR-15, then the 6.5 Grendel from Alexander Arms is an excellent choice. Not only do you get increased muzzle energy, but the Grendel offers you improved long-range capabilities without a massive step-up in felt recoil.

But if you’re planning on building a 6.5 Grendel AR-15 carbine or have one already, the big question lots of shooters ask us here at Ammo.com is what to feed it.

Although the Grendel has not achieved widespread acceptance like the 300 Blackout, there are still multiple factory ammo options from Federal, Remington, Nosler, and Barnes to consider.

If you’re looking for a solid factory load that will deliver sub-MOA accuracy without breaking the bank, then the Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel 123-grain ELD-M should be on your shortlist.

This round offers shooters excellent value in terms of accuracy, reliability, and consistency without the need to take out a second mortgage to buy a few boxes!

In this Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel ammo review, we will take an objective look at this rifle ammo and help you decide if it’s the right choice for your 6.5 Grendel AR-15 carbine or bolt action rifle.

If you’re ready to buy, make sure to grab a few boxes of Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel, or if you want to learn more about this exceptional ammo, then keep reading.

Hornady Black Ammo Overview

Back in 1949, when Joyce Hornady founded his company, the needs of the American shooter were relatively simple. Most of them were returning from WWII and had experience using a 30-caliber bolt-action or semi-auto rifle.

It makes sense that Hornady’s first major success was a 30-cal 150-grain Spire Point hunting bullet. With so many surplus M1 Garands and 1903 Springfields hitting the market, this bullet mated perfectly with the 30-06 Springfield round, which was already popular for hunting.

However, as time forged on, the needs of the American shooter evolved with the advent of new cartridges and firearms.

Sure, most 2A enthusiasts have a semi-automatic rifle like an AR-15 carbine or Ruger Mini-14 chambered in 5.56 NATO, but that same rifle can also be chambered in calibers like 300 Blackout, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.8 SPC, 450 Bushmaster, and 6.5 Grendel.

The Hornady Black Ammunition line was released in 2016 to offer exceptional performance across all of America’s favorite guns.

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel Ammo

Initially offered in over a dozen rifle ammunition calibers and 12 gauge, Hornady Black was formulated to work flawlessly in bolt-action, direct impingement, or gas piston recoil systems.

Furthermore, these versatile loads were designed to work when fired, suppressed, or unsuppressed and across a wide variety of platforms and barrel lengths.

These rounds are loaded with some of Hornady’s best bullet designs, including (but not limited to) the A-MAX, V-MAX, SST, and ELD-M.

Noticeably absent from the initial Hornady Black release was handgun ammunition, and it wasn’t until 2020 that Hornady added 380 ACP, 9mm Luger, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP to the line.

All these rounds are loaded with the company’s eXtreme Terminal Performance (XTP) hollow point projectiles, which were primarily loaded in the Hornady Custom line prior to Hornady Black.

Hornady Black ammo is loaded in the company’s high-quality brass cases, with advanced propellants and Boxer primers, making them ideal for reloading.

Loaded with a wide variety of bullet options to meet all your shooting needs, “Hornady BLACK ammunition delivers superior performance for a variety of applications” and is a great choice for all of your favorite modern firearms.

Our Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel Ammo Review

When I learned I was going to write a review on Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel ammo, I have to admit I was a little excited. I just finished building a 6.5 Grendel precision AR-15, and I was anxious to see how accurate my build was; Hornady Black ammo is an excellent choice as a baseline ammo test.

The 6.5 Grendel was designed by Alexander Arms, the same company that brought us the 50 Beowulf. Bill Alexander wanted to create a cartridge that would fit in the AR-15 carbine but offer shooter-improved ballistics over the 5.56 NATO.

To develop the Grendel, Alexander Arms utilized the services of competitive shooter Arne Brennan and senior ballistician Janne Pohjoispää of Lapua to perfect their new rifle cartridge.

The 6.5 Grendel debuted in May 2003 at the Blackwater training facility in North Carolina and offered shooters nearly 50% higher kinetic energy compared to the 5.56 NATO.

The 6.5 Grendel utilizes incredibly sleek and aerodynamic 6.5mm bullets, like those fired by the 6.5 Creedmoor, to offer shooters high levels of accuracy at long range and a high ballistic coefficient to help fight against wind drift.

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel Ammo

For me, the 6.5 Grendel has always been an interesting concept for the AR-15 as it combines long-range accuracy in a low-recoil semi-auto platform.

The 6.5 Grendel also offers shooters a lot of versatility as it can easily harvest a whitetail deer out to around 400 yards or so, depending on your preferred hunting load.

Converting your AR-15 carbine to shoot 6.5 Grendel is incredibly simple. All you need is a new bolt, barrel, and magazine. Or, if you want to make your life incredibly simple, you could have a dedicated 6.5 Grendel upper receiver and simply swap between uppers if you aren’t into home gunsmithing.

In terms of the Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel offering, this load is strictly made for long-range target shooting. The ELD-M bullet is a match-grade boat tail hollow point (BTHP) bullet with a polymer tip to protect the hollow point during loading and to help preserve accuracy.

Although the Hornady Black Grendel ammo is not made for hunting, Hornady Custom 6.5 Grendel ammo is loaded with a 123-grain SST bullet that’s perfect for deer.

One thing I like a lot about Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel ammo is that it’s affordable. However, “affordable” is a relative term when we’re talking about Grendel ammo, as most factory ammo starts around $1.50/round and goes up from there.

At the time of writing, Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel costs around $1.60/round, which is on the low end of things, especially when you consider that it’s loaded with a match-grade bullet.

However, when you compare that to about $2.75/round for Nosler Accubond Long Range ammo, you can see the cost savings Hornady offers.

Hornady Black ammo is also a great choice if you are into reloading like I am, as Hornady always uses high quality Boxer primed brass cases that are perfect to use for your own handloads.

In summary, I love what Hornady is doing with their Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel ammo. They’re offering you match-grade accuracy without the typical match-grade price.

This ammo is clean shooting, great for handloading later, and shoots tight enough for match work.

All in all, this is a great rifle ammo for your 6.5 Grendel AR, and I’m excited to show you my groups later in the article!

What’s It Best For?

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel Ammo

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel rifle ammunition is designed for long-range target shooting with its extremely aerodynamic 6.5mm ELD-M bullet.

Sporting an incredibly high ballistic coefficient, these loads are extremely resistant to wind drift, just like its bigger brother, the 6.5 Creedmoor.

I found the Hornady Black ammo to be completely reliable, and the brass cases are perfect for reloading if you want to make your own 6.5 Grendel handloads in the future.

However, the real selling point of this ammo is its accuracy. Easily capable of holding sub-MOA size groups, Hornady Black Grendel ammo is a perfect choice for shooting matches or carving out satisfying cloverleaf patterns in paper targets at your local shooting range.


To be honest, there aren’t a whole lot of downsides to Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel ammo, as it’s reliable and affordable (in Grendel ammo terms).

However, one thing to note is the ELD-M bullet is not suitable for hunting. Although it may look extremely like its hunting brother, the ELD-X, the ELD-M is designed for accuracy and precision but not for expansion.

In general, 6.5 Grendel ammo can be hard to find at times.

It may not disappear from store shelves as fast as 223 Remington or 5.56 NATO ammo during a shortage; the 6.5 Grendel has not caught on as quickly as rounds like the 300 Blackout.

This means that Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel can be tough to find sometimes, but thankfully you can find it here at Ammo.com!

Pros and Cons

As much as we love ammo, we understand that no manufacturer is perfect. Here are some of the pros and cons of Hornady Black ammunition you should be aware of.


  • Accurate and reliable
  • Brass cases are perfect for reloading
  • Reputable USA-made brand of ammo
  • Perfect for long-range target shooting


  • ELD-M bullet is not suitable for hunting
  • Sometimes hard to find


Below you’ll find a cartridge specification chart for the Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel.

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel Cartridge Specifications

Variation Review

Hornady Black 6.55 Grendel comes loaded in one configuration. Below you’ll find our review of the 6.5 Grendel 123-grain ELD-M Hornady Black load.

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel 123 grain ELD-M Ammo Review

If you’re looking to turn your AR-15 into a sub-MOA tack driver, then Hornady Black 123 grain ELD-M is what you should be loading into your mags.

Loaded with a 123-grain ELD-Match (ELD-M) bullet, these rounds will be sure to punch out the bullseye in any target so long as you do your part.

With a muzzle velocity of 2,580 fps and muzzle energy of 1,818 ft-lbs, these bullets are perfect for target shooting.

They can be used for varmint hunting, but I would typically prefer a V-MAX for that intended purpose. These rounds should not be used for deer hunting as the ELD-M bullet does not offer any bullet expansion.

With an impressive 0.506 G1 ballistic coefficient, these rounds are aerodynamic, streamlined, and ready to help you win your next long-range shooting competition or impress the heck out of your friends!

Our Testing Procedure

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel Ammo

When it comes to testing ammo, my procedure is rather simple. I want to make sure that the ammo functions flawlessly in my rifle and it needs to produce acceptable groups.

For Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel, I want to see repeatable sub-MOA groups at 100 yards since it’s loaded with match-grade Hornady bullets.

Shooting conditions were rather miserable here in Indiana at the end of November, as it was raining with gusting winds and an ambient temperature around 40 F.

After zeroing the rifle at 100 yards I settled in to see how good this ammo could perform. On average, I had groups around 1-1.3 inches center to center on the extreme spread.

My best of the day was a lovely 0.78” group that I produced near the end of my shooting session.

Although I did not have multiple sub-MOA groups (0.78 MOA was my best), I think this is more a reflection of my shooting ability than the ammo itself.

The 123-grain bullet weight was incredibly comfortable to shoot, and the felt recoil was mild, only feeling a little heavier than a 223 Rem and definitely less than a 7.62x39, 6.5 Creedmoor, or 308 Winchester.

Admittedly, it was not the best day for shooting in terms of the weather, but overall, I was extremely impressed with this ammo, and I had no failures to fire or extract with the 60 rounds I fired off.

Yes, that is a small sample size, but I feel this performance is extremely representative of Hornady Black ammo in general. It’s reliable, accurate, and affordable…can’t ask for much more than that!

Ballistics for Hornady Black Ammo

Below we’ve compiled ballistics tables for the Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel ammunition we reviewed in the previous section. Please note that muzzle velocities listed might vary depending on your barrel length, and Hornady uses a 24” test barrel for all their ballistic calculations.

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel Ballistics table

Parting Shots

Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel ammo is everything I could want it to be. It’s accurate, reliable, and won’t break the bank to shoot through a few boxes at the range. I found this ammo to be very clean and had zero malfunctions in my 6.5 Grendel precision AR-15 build.

Although not great for hunting, Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel 123-grain ELD-M rounds are perfect for long-range target shooting and can easily produce sub-MOA groups in the right hands.

Make sure to check out all of our Hornady ammo for sale here at Ammo.com, and we’ll see you out on the range!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions we get asked a lot here at Ammo.com about Hornady Black ammunition.

Is Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel worth buying?

Yes, this ammo is accurate, reliable, and affordable for a match-grade bullet.

What is the range of Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel?

The effective range of Hornady Black 6.5 Grendel ammo depends mostly on the length of your barrel. However, shooters with long-range target shooting experience should have no problem hitting targets out to 800 yards with this ammo.

What’s the difference between 6.5 Grendel and a 6.5 Creedmoor?

The 6.5 Grendel was designed to be fired in the AR-15 platform, while the 6.5 Creedmoor was designed for long-range bolt-action rifle competitive target shooting.

The 6.5 Creedmoor has a significantly larger case and can therefore hole more gunpowder, giving it higher muzzle velocity and muzzle energy. However, the 6.5 Grendel is designed to fit in the AR platform and for semi-automatic fire.

Chris Dwulet
Written by
Chris Dwulet

Ammunition Reviews