For a number of years, this author has had extensive “hands on” experience with Lapua's 6.5 Grendel brass, using the brass as it exists with either the “Lapua” head stamp or the “Alex-A” (Alexander Arms) head stamp. Without question, the Lapua 6.5 Grendel brass has been an excellent product under either head stamp, however, there have been periods of short supply for it and the pricing of it does not always suit some shooters' budget. Recently, Hornady Manufacturing Company has released its own “Hornady” head stamped version of 6.5 Grendel brass, and this author has been able to test and evaluate this new offering. The testing of this new brass was done predominantly with the 6mm AR-15 Grendel based cartridges that this author typically shoots. These 6mm cartridges are the 6mmAR cartridge (which is the 6.5 Grendel case necked down to 6mm) and the 6mmAR Turbo 40 Imp. cartridge, which is a 40 degree shoulder Ackley Improved “hot rod” type 6mm cartridge made from 6.5 Grendel brass (for more info, visit www.6mmAR.com).
After working with the Hornady 6.5 Grendel brass, this author was pleasantly surprised with the quality and consistency of the Hornady brass. The Hornady 6.5 Grendel brass is not quite as hard in the web area as the Lapua 6.5 Grendel brass, but it is still very usable and serviceable, and with moderate loadings yields good case life. Some of the specifics of the Hornady brass relative to the Lapua brass are as follows:
Flash hole diameter = .078"
OAL of the new brass = right about 1.515"
Weight of cases = around 111.7 gr. - 113 gr.
Web diameter of unfired brass = .4375"
Shoulder diameter of unfired brass = .428"
6.5 Grendel loaded neck = .2895"
6mmAR loaded neck = .270"
Water capacity of new unfired Hornady brass = 35.1 gr. water weight
Flash hole diameter = .061"
OAL of new brass = right about 1.515"
Weight of cases = 111 gr. - 112.5 gr.
Web diameter of unfired brass = .4385"
Shoulder diameter of unfired brass = .424" (on the small side considering shoulder of chamber around .432")
6.5 Grendel loaded neck = .290"
6mmAR loaded neck = .271"
Water capacity of new unfired Lapua brass = 35.0 gr. water weight
It is noteworthy that the water capacity of the cases goes up to about 36 gr if you fire and re-size the cases with a re-sizing die, so the new brass is a bit undersized from what is really necessary for feeding into a chamber.
One of the key features of this new brass is the dimensional similarity it has to the pre-existing Lapua brass, especially the “loaded neck” diameter, that was used as the basis to set up the design, tooling, die sets, etc. for the 6.5 Grendel and its progeny. This dimensional similarity is important because it assures that the Hornady brass will work and interchange well with pre-existing die sets, chambers, magazines, etc.
One dimensional difference between the two different makes of brass is the flash hole size for the brass (i.e. the Lapua brass has a drilled flash hole around .061" diameter and the Hornady brass appears to have a punched flash hole around .078" diameter), but this author has not noticed a discernable difference in the functionality or accuracy of loaded rounds using this larger flash hole. It should be borne in mind that the testing of this brass was done in AR-15 rifles (the rifles the 6.5 Grendel brass was designed to be used in) where .5 MOA accuracy is deemed to be excellent. The flash hole size may make some difference for bolt gun true bench rest type shooting, but not necessarily out of a semi automatic AR-15.
All in all, Hornady's offering here is an excellent addition to products offered to support the 6.5 Grendel.