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For folks who aren’t yet reloading their own ammo, dipping a toe into the world of niche AR-15 platform calibers can be tough. While there are dozens of caliber options providing ballistic benefits over .223/5.56, ammo selection can be slim. Thankfully, the guys and gals at Federal continue to create loads for some of the less common MSR calibers, such as the 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel featured here. Under their American Eagle brand, they’re offering yet another load option in these calibers that’s affordable, available, and effective.

While I have yet to nab a varmint with it, last weekend I hit the range with a Precision Firearms 6.5 Grendel and put 5 quick-paced shots on steel at 100 yards using, as it happens, this American Eagle 90 grain Varmint & Preditor load. Impressive results can be seen in the video above, while Federal’s press release follows . . .

American Eagle Introduces 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel Varmint & Predator Loads

ANOKA, Minnesota – April 17, 2017 – Federal Premium Ammunition is pleased to announce it has expanded its American Eagle Varmint & Predator lineup with new 90-grain 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel loads. The loads combine accuracy, consistency, reliable performance on target and an affordable price tag to create the perfect round for the avid varmint hunter. Shipments of these new products are being delivered to dealers.

New American Eagle Varmint & Predator loads feature reloadable brass and Federal primers with a jacketed hollow point or Tipped Varmint bullet, depending on caliber. Both designs expand explosively on impact for maximum lethality. American Eagle Varmint & Predator loads are offered in 40- or 50-count bulk packs perfect for high-volume shooting.

Features & Benefits
• New 90-grain 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel loads
• Consistent, accurate performance
• Explosive expansion on impact
• Consistent primers
• Reliable feeding and function
• Highly reloadable brass cases
• Bulk packs reduce in-the-field waste

Part No. / Description / MSRP
AE65GDL90VP / 6.5 Grendel 90-grain JHP – 50-count / $63.95
AE6890VP / 6.8 SPC 90-grain JHP – 50-count / $53.95

Federal Premium is a brand of Vista Outdoor Inc., an outdoor sports and recreation company. For more information on Federal Premium, go to

About Vista Outdoor Inc.
Vista Outdoor is a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer of consumer products in the growing outdoor sports and recreation markets. The company operates in two segments, Shooting Sports and Outdoor Products, and has a portfolio of well-recognized brands that provides consumers with a wide range of performance-driven, high-quality and innovative products for individual outdoor recreational pursuits. Vista Outdoor products are sold at leading retailers and distributors across North America and worldwide. Vista Outdoor is headquartered in Utah and has manufacturing operations and facilities in 13 U.S. States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico along with international customer service, sales and sourcing operations in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe and New Zealand. For news and information visit or follow us on Twitter @VistaOutdoorInc and Facebook at

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  1. I never understood the tendency for people to build semi-auto rifles in boutique calibers. This “affordable” ammo costs about as much a 77gr SMK in 5.56×45. (Which is a top tier load that will do more or less exactly what these rounds will.)

    For run and gun practical rifle practice 5-200 yards, I can always use m193 ball which comes in at less than 1/3 the cost per round.

    • I built a budget barrel Grendel AR, zero’d at 100 yards, spit out dope chart for A-MAX, and took to long range steel competition and got first shot hit at 800 yards… I couldn’t do that with my 223…

    • Not to long ago you could ATK 90 grain gold dot for 10-12$ a box for the 6.8. S&B 6.8 is all over for 12-15 for their FMJ and their JHP. This federal at midway is $39 a box. But yep it’s more like .50-.60 cents as opposed to .30 cents. For plinking ammo.

      Wolf makes 6.5 cheap for plinking.

      These two aren’t boutique calibers anymore and both have about 1600 of energy out the muzzle of a 16″ barrel. Try that with 77 smk.

    • For the store bought rounds, I don’t get it either. But for the reloader there is a world of difference. I can make a round for either of these calibers that is as cheap as surplus M193 but will outperform any 5.56/.223 round out there.
      Then again, I’m the guy that reloads brass for his AKs.

      • I reload 7.62×39 also. I also cast bullets for it since I have the ability to shoot at home and recover all of my lead. It makes for super cheap fun on the RPK…

        • Do you just scrub the crap out of your barrel? I quit shooting home-cast through my center fire rifles because of too much leading. How do you deal with it?

      • I also don’t get hand loading for semi-autos. The time involved in making any serious amount of ammo is ludicrous.

        Hand loaded bolt gun food or revolver food I get. Not only is it cost effective, but the platform can squeeze the past erg of performance out of the cartridge. In my experience, most semi-autos don’t have to repeatable lockup necessary to hit the performance levels where hand loading makes an appreciable difference.

        • Reloading for my gas guns cuts group size in half at 100 yards. Seriously, in half. With the right recipe, using a hunting round, I can get any of my semi-auto guns under 1MOA, and some half that. That’s as good as most of my bolt guns. I don’t need thousands of plinking rounds, 100 rounds on hand is more than I will need, and I rarely make more than 20 at a time, which is all I usually bring with me on a hunt.

        • Therein lies the difference between our intended use. It’s a rare day I fire less than 200 rounds out of any of my semi-autos in an outing. I generally run a mix of m193 for short range stages and mk262 for long range. (My glass is zeroed for the mk262 as the m193 will never be in my gun when bullet drop or group sizes become an issue.)

    • This is “affordable” for good hunting ammunition. 6.5G can be shot for just a little more than .223, with a better ballistic coefficient. Think of it as somewhere between .243 and .308, but sized for the AR-15 action.

      • The 6.5Grendel is not between the .243Win and .308Win in terms of ballistics. It is below the .243 by a small amount and below the .308 by a significant margin.

        • Correction, 6.5 Grendel surpasses .243 win between 300-400 in energy and then again with velocity between 700-800. My hand loads are a bit warmer than these numbers and supersonic to 1200yds. But for the sake of argument.

      • Yeah, but I can get Hornady .308 ammo for almost the same price. Somehow I don’t think anybody is going to argue that this stuff is better than a 168gr A-MAX. (For an extra $0.10 per round.)

      • You’re confusing 6.5 Grendel with 6.5 Creedmoor.
        6.5 Grendel bridges the gap between 5.56×45 NATO and 308WIN – giving superior trajectory to 308 WIN in a caliber that fits in a standard AR-15 – with more energy than 5.56.

    • You can get Wolf 6.5 Grendel steel cased 100gr loads for 22-23 cents per rounds. It’s as cheap as 7.62×39 or 5.45×39. It isn’t as accurate as the PPU or Hornady, but you can make a Grendel carbine and feed it cheap ammo without as much hassle as a 7.62×39 AR.

    • The 6.5 grendel and the 6.8 SPC can deliver 1000 foot pounds of energy at 300 yards. You can’t do that with a 77 grain 5.56 no matter how hot you load it. Also, some people hunt with AR platform rifles, in states that don’t allow hunting game animals with 5.56.
      Lastly, these are not boutique rounds anymore.

  2. I like experimenting with hand loads but I do it in.223, 30-06 etc so if I need more ammunition on a trip I can buy it anywhere.

    Nice to see some more variety on the market though.

  3. .243 has much better ballistics than these cartridges and you can buy a decent bolt action rifle for less than the components to convert your standard AR-15 to 6.5 or 6.8. Besides, the standard AR is chambered in a variant of a caliber specifically designed for varmint hunting.

    • Using the exact same weight and composition bullet, the 6.8SPC can deliver 87% of the energy of the .243 Winchester, out of a 4″ shorter barrel. Past 400 yards, the Grendel is even better. If I am out pig hunting, and occasionally want to stretch it out to the coyote or deer I see in a field 400 yards away, that 6.8SPC or 6.5Grendel will still do the job, when the .5.56NATO would not. Would the .243Win? It would certainly handle that long shot better, but the bolt gun wouldn’t handle the short range fast moving shots and follow ups like the ARs. They are compromise calibers. “Good enough for the job” calibers. I really like these calibers, and I’ve taken literally hundreds of animals with the 6.8SPC, but I also content that they are niche calibers for hunters who reload.

      • You can use 5.56 for those close in varmint targets. That what it was designed to do
        These rounds are great for deer and large hogs. Rechambering the Army’s M-4 in either caliber would fix a lot of the deficiencies of 5.56.

        • … and introduce a slew of new ones. 5.56×45 is the king of intermediate cartridges for a reason. It’s effective enough for the 5-300 yard engagement envelope when the averages soldier can be expected to actually hit anything and is lightn enough to make ammunition weight very manageable. (A big deal when you have to hump your own ammo for days on end.)

          600+ yard cartridges are awesome if your mission is to punch paper or hit brightly painted steel from a comfortable shooting position. When you have to run and gun, the extra weight and recoil doesn’t help.

        • Serge, I like the heavy 5.56 rounds in duty rotation that exist now, but they still fall short for many missions. My team’s average initial engagement distance in Afghanistan was 400 meters. For that, none of the AR15 variants perform particularly well. I would have much rather had an AR10 in .308 when going up against the PKMs, RPKs and the infinite number of RPGs our opponents had. Our bolt guns were .300WM.

        • I know where you’re coming from Taylor, but don’t forget that engaging a human size target at 400+ meters that’s making effective use of cover is an exercise in futility. Even a 1 MOA gun at that range will have a hit probability circle half a foot across. (More when you take pucker factor into consideration.) Your enemies were (almost certainly) not taking precisely aimed shots at your team with those weapons at that range. In your case, that’s what your SAW and possibly GPMGs are for. Then you engage the enemy using fire and maneuver tactics to get them into the effective range of your individual weapons.

          I seriously question anybody who claims that the average soldier or Marine would be able to lay down effective aimed fire against an enemy combatant at that range regardless of what boom stick and glass we would reasonably give them.

  4. With all the ammo the folks in California are ordering in 2017, the state may get so heavy with lead that it finally breaks off from the rest of the country and floats away. Thank God I have a boat…

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