Good things come in small packages” perfectly describes the 6.5 Grendel cartridge.  Compared to a 30-06 case, the brass seems minuscule, and a deer hunter may wonder if it has the moxie to bring down a big whitetail. Those were my exact feeling as I relied upon the advice of hunting buddies and tested the small cartridge from a CZ 557 bolt action.

This CZ 557 chambered in 6.5 Grendel dropped this buck in its tracks at 175 yards.

The second evening of the hunt eliminated any doubt about the Grendel’s prowess as I squeezed off a shot at a big 8-point that suddenly appeared 175 yards out. The rifle was zeroed at 200 yards and the rifle modestly recoiled as the buck dropped in its tracks.

From AR to Bolt Action

The Grendel was developed to upgrade the 5.56 NATO round in AR platforms to produce greater velocity from a larger bullet.  It’s popularity among tactical users quickly spawned the concept of an effective hunting round in bolt-action rifles.

Joe Beyers

Awesome spot and stalk on this beautiful ten point buck!

Posted by Hunting on Sunday, 16 December 2018

CZ chambers the 6.5 Grendel in several easy-to-handle hunting rifles for deer, predators, and other medium-size game.  My rifle was topped with a Styrka 3-9 variable scope that brightly showed my target in the shadows as the day ended.

Double on Mule Deer

Styrka scopes helped make the CZ 557’s light and nimble while providing pinpoint aiming.

The day after my buck met the skinning pole, two buddies in camp used the same rifles and caliber for mule deer.  Several trophy bucks had been seen in previous days but getting within range had been impossible.  Our rifles were zeroed at 200 yards, and a shot within 300 would be lethal with a solid rest.

One-thousand foot-pounds of energy are the benchmark of a deer hunting cartridge, and the 6.5 Grendel delivers that performance at 400 yards on the Hornady Ballistic Chart.  Ironically, both hunters were able to take their big mule deer bucks with shots at or just below that threshold.  Needless to say, they were ecstatic to walk up to such trophies.

Hornady Hunting Ammo

Hornady loads its 6.5 Grendel hunting loads with 123-gr SST bullets.

Hornady was quick to recognize the potential of the 6.5 Grendel and offers 123-grain SST bullets in its medium-game hunting line.  Ballistics show a muzzle velocity of 2580 fps that gradually slows to just under 2,000 fps at 400 yards while delivering more than 1,000 foot-pounds of energy at nearly a quarter-mile. Additionally, when zeroed at 200 yards, the round drops just 8.7 inches at 300 yards.

Such performance from a small bullet begs the question, how “dead” does a deer have to be? Certainly, we could have bagged our game with a 30-06 or .300 Win Mag, yet larger calibers come with considerable recoil and expense.

Grendel Shines for Three Reasons

Carrying this logic further, most whitetail deer are killed under 100 yards, many under 50, so, “How large of a caliber does a hunter need to ethically dispatch a deer?”

The small size of the 6.5 Grendel makes it ideal for short action rifles like the CZ 557 American. With a walnut stock, cold hammer-forged barrel, and two-position safety, the rifle weighs just 7 pounds. Its hinged floor plate and 5-round magazine make it easy to load and operate.

This big mule deer fell to a 6.5 Grendel round at 300 yards. The versatility of the Swagger bi-pod kept the CZ 557 on zero.

Secondly, the 6.5 Grendel minimizes recoil and is about 50 percent less than the average .308 felt discharge. Less recoil means less flinching and greater concentration on shooting accuracy. It’s also a perfect introductory cartridge for new shooters who may be overly concerned about recoil.

Finally, accuracy probably exceeds our abilities. Shooting skill, like any athletic endeavor, requires practice. While the Grendel is easy on the shoulder, it’s doubly kind to the pocketbook. Less recoil and less expense yield more practice and increased shooting skill.

In summary, the 6.5 Grendel makes an excellent deer hunting and all-around shooting round. In the world of Goliath cartridges, meet David.