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Old April 16, 2018, 06:54 AM   #1
kymasabe
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AR Upper .223 alternatives ?

I'm thinking i'd like to get another upper for my AR rifle, but not another .223/5.56.
.300 Blackout is the first alternative to come to mind, .224 Valkyre sounds interesting, but isn't there a 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 SPC too? I'm looking for something that will fit in my multi- cal lower. Suggestions?
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Old April 16, 2018, 09:04 AM   #2
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Depends on what your plan to do with it. Hunting, hole puncher, suppressed?
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Old April 16, 2018, 09:12 AM   #3
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All you mentioned are interesting options. 300 BLK, on paper, only makes sense if you want to run suppressed from a short barrel or possibly if you want to hunt deer sized game at short distances, want a very light recoiling rifle, and can't use 22 caliber bullets. Even then, there are probably other options that make better sense. Having said that, I own one (I shoot supers) and love it. Its a ton of fun to shoot, I'd much rather have it over a 5.56. S&B sells 300 BLK ammo that is reasonably cheap to shoot, but at times is hard to find.

One very important safety consideration if you have 5.56 and 300 BLK uppers: https://www.quora.com/Can-you-fire-5...n-300-Blackout

6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC - both provide the ability to hunt deer sized game at 300 yards. They step up the power levels over 5.56 for sure. People very emotionally debate which is better and I don't recommend you ask that question.. just search for it and read what's already been written. It really boils down to which you value more - long range accuracy or ammunition being commercially available. 6.5 Grendel is better at long range (past 300 yards), and 6.8 SPC has more ammo manufactured and on the shelf. 6.8 SPC has a slight advantage in velocity up to about 300 yards, but inside 300 yards they are extremely similar in all aspects. The farther you get past 300 yards, the more the 6.5 shines.

The other end of the spectrum has the 450 Bushmaster. Basically you are pushing a really heavy bullet at slower speeds (think 45/70 Sharps, or similar but I don't the 450 Bushmaster has as much velocity). This isn't something I am interested in or really know much about, but some people like it and so I wanted to mention it to you.

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Old April 16, 2018, 11:10 AM   #4
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If your plan is a full sized rifle with a 16-20 inch barrel, you should look hard at the 6.5 or 6.8 offerings.

If you want to do a short barrel build, the 300blk shines in barrels ~9-10inches. All the other calibers suffer extream velocity loss as barrels get shorter.
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Old April 16, 2018, 11:44 AM   #5
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I do love my AR in 7.62x39
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Old April 16, 2018, 01:04 PM   #6
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What about 458 SOCOM?
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Old April 16, 2018, 01:20 PM   #7
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I thought about this a bunch and i dont know a whole lot so take it for what its worth (maybe nothing )...

Outside of maybe 50 beo i cant see a clear reason to go to those other rounds in a an AR15 rifle (notice i said 15, AR 10 has other clear options with advantages).. but i wont be investing in 50 beo until i own at least another half dozen rifles - just doesnt make the short list.

AR15 pistol or SBR sure maybe 300 or some pistol round would be great, surpressed other considerations too.

But 223/556 is so perfectly matched to the rifle platform everything else is just splitting hairs and wasting $$. Id rather pickup another whole rifle if im gonna go to another caliber, ie AR10, mini 14 in 7.62, AK sort, list goes on and on but all those get you a real caliber change with clear advantages in areas versus spending lots for a little tweak.
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Old April 16, 2018, 01:44 PM   #8
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Outside of maybe 50 beo i cant see a clear reason to go to those other rounds in a an AR15 rifle (notice i said 15, AR 10 has other clear options with advantages)..


6.8, 6.5 and 300 BLK have less expensive ammo and are likely less expensive to build. And when considering effective hunting distance, the 50 Beo isn't even in the same class the 6.8 or 6.5 Grendel, unless you like lobbing shots at game. But up close and personal, the 50 Beo really shines.
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Old April 16, 2018, 02:14 PM   #9
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everything else is just splitting hairs and wasting $$
6.5 and 6.8 are in an entirely different league than 5.56. They aren't right for every shooter of course, but if they really make the AR platform so much more versatile given their good ballistics. If you take away the constraints of the COAL set in place by the AR-15 magazine, they are easily outclassed by other cartridges. But in the AR-15 platform, they are as good as you can get ballistically, IMO.
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Old April 16, 2018, 02:16 PM   #10
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What about 458 SOCOM?
I built one--it's an awesome thumper--basically a 45-70 within a 100/200 yards Go tromix for reliability--I like the slight bottleneck too.
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Old April 16, 2018, 04:44 PM   #11
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I went the 6.5 Grendel route....It can do anything that most of the other alternatives can do. I never understood the whole 300 blackout craze.....and the 6.8 caliber offerings have limited bullets choices. I suspect that there will be a whole family of factory cartridges developed based off of the Grendel case.....and if you reload there's a whole world out there just waiting to be explored.
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Old April 16, 2018, 07:55 PM   #12
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So it begins. Limited bullet choices for 6.8? Seriously? As many as 6.5 Grendel if not more. And when if comes to cartridges families, the 6.8 has the Grendel beat in that category already. The .224 Valkyrie getting a lot of press lately, maybe you've heard about it? Maybe that 6mm Grendel will become more that just a wildcat one day.

The Grendel and 6.8 are close in performance. I actually prefer the 6.8 over the Grendel based on hunting bullet choices. I use to give the edge to the Grendel for punching paper for distance. But the .224 Valkyrie is probably a better choice than the Grendel.
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Old April 16, 2018, 10:10 PM   #13
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I have the 6.5G, 6.8, and 300AAC.
In my opinion, the 300 has a very narrow niche of usability but is well suited for very close range hunting when coupled with proper bullets.
The 6.5G doesn't produce the velocity I'd like to see from a 16"and is better suited for an 18-20" barrel. There are a couple of good hunting bullets for the Grendel but it's barely more than a medium range hunting round.
The 6.8 is quite happy with 16-18" barrel and there are numerous bullet choices for hunting. My 18" 6.8 is a very useful medium range deer gun.
The 224 Valkyrie is more of a special use round that I haven't tried yet. Realistically, if I need more range than the .223 provides, I'll carry a bolt action 22/250.
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Old April 16, 2018, 11:23 PM   #14
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Good responses so for, thank you everyone.
To answer a couple questions...I'm not a long range shooter, my eyes aren't up to it anymore so longest distance I'll be shooting is probably 200 yards, maybe 300 on a good day and that's about it.
So, if I build/buy another AR upper, it'll be range gun, and 200 yard and under hog gun. I have some 75gr BTHP that I like in .223 but, I want to build something that shoots a round with at least 123gr, preferably more, I'm not interested in SBR or pistol or suppressors. I'm thinking 18-20 inch barrel, flat top, and a decent scope. And when I pull the trigger, I want to KNOW I just launched something sizable downrange. As much as I like .50 Beo and .458 Socom, I'd prefer something I can easily find ammo for.
I'm a big fan of 7.62x39 but I don't want to have to have a dedicated receiver (like a 7.62x39 receiver, example the PSAK) for it, prefer to use an existing multi-cal AR receiver.
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Old April 17, 2018, 12:24 AM   #15
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Sounds like the 25-45 Sharps would be right up your alley. 87gr bullets approaching 3k fps. .250 Savage ballistics. All it takes is a 25-45 barrel (as little as $80 very recently)and neck up .223/5/56 brass to .257. Same everything else, magazine, BCG. I'm building two, because I think you should have matching caliber rifle/pistol combos whenever possible. A 10.5" barrel pushes a 62 gr .223 at about the same speed as a 87gr 25-45. Check it out on Youtube before it's too late to use that venue. You might like it.
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Old April 17, 2018, 02:00 AM   #16
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If you reload you can make just about anything that you'd like.....I'm also a longer barrel kinda guy. That's where the 6mm and 6.5mm variants shine.....the best part about the Grendel is that you've got a short stubby case with lots of room for powder and a longer, heavier bullet.....the longer cases don't afford you that advantage without cutting into your powder capacity.....and like I said.....the bullet selection is huge compared to some of the other calibers....and as far as factory ammo availability goes the 7.62x39 is a good one so you really shouldn't discount the dedicated upper.....that might be exactly what you're looking for......not that I'm a real fan but ammo is everywhere.

But you should really look into rolling your own......it's much more satisfying than just settling for whatever happens to be on the shelf.

P.S. The 25x45 Sharps looks pretty interesting
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Old April 17, 2018, 07:02 AM   #17
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"I'm a big fan of 7.62x39 but I don't want to have to have a dedicated receiver (like a 7.62x39 receiver, example the PSAK) for it, prefer to use an existing multi-cal AR receiver."

So, get a 7.62x39 upper and pin it on. What's the problem?
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Old April 17, 2018, 07:30 AM   #18
kymasabe
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Originally Posted by Mobuck View Post
"I'm a big fan of 7.62x39 but I don't want to have to have a dedicated receiver (like a 7.62x39 receiver, example the PSAK) for it, prefer to use an existing multi-cal AR receiver."

So, get a 7.62x39 upper and pin it on. What's the problem?
My understanding is that the 7.62x39 won' fit on a standard AR lower and requires a dedicated lower, something to do with different mag well because of curved mags for the 7.62x39 round. Am I wrong ??
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Old April 17, 2018, 07:52 AM   #19
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kymasabe, 7.62x39 does not require a dedicated lower. Any AR-15 lower will work. It does require a specific bolt and magazine, however.

Traditionally 7.62x39 has known to not be completely reliable in the AR platform. Maybe they've worked all that out, but I'd definitely research that to make sure you are comfortable with the whatever upper you go with.

Also, there isn't a lot of quality, accurate hunting ammo in 7.62x39. And what is available is just as expensive as as any other quality, accurate hunting ammo in more standard hunting cartridges. On the other hand, cheap but inaccurate plinking ammo is everywhere.

Given your requirements, I highly recommend you consider the 6.8SPC. It'll be exactly what you want. Accurate, hard hitting, reliable and good ammo selection. 6.8 SPC bullet weights seem to top out around 120 grains, but there are plenty in the 110 and above range.
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Old April 17, 2018, 08:30 AM   #20
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To answer a couple questions...I'm not a long range shooter, my eyes aren't up to it anymore so longest distance I'll be shooting is probably 200 yards, maybe 300 on a good day and that's about it.
So, if I build/buy another AR upper, it'll be range gun, and 200 yard and under hog gun. I have some 75gr BTHP that I like in .223 but, I want to build something that shoots a round with at least 123gr, preferably more, I'm not interested in SBR or pistol or suppressors. I'm thinking 18-20 inch barrel, flat top, and a decent scope. And when I pull the trigger, I want to KNOW I just launched something sizable downrange. As much as I like .50 Beo and .458 Socom, I'd prefer something I can easily find ammo for.
I'm a big fan of 7.62x39 but I don't want to have to have a dedicated receiver (like a 7.62x39 receiver, example the PSAK) for it, prefer to use an existing multi-cal AR receiver.
I'd say 6.5 Grendel then. Sounds like the caliber that'll fit those needs. I like 7.62x39 as well...but in an AK platform. Not in an AR. Some have good luck with it, some don't. I have a 300 Blackout and 224 Valk in addition to my standard 5.56 ARs. I love them both, but have specific purposes (300 Blackout: suppressed home defense/truck gun & 224 Valk: 1000+ yd metal gong ringer). I don't use either for hunting, though I suppose I could. But the 6.5 Grendel will be good for both hunting and for target shooting at the ranges you mentioned (easily). And their bullets range from 100 - 130 grains. However, 5.56/223 is much cheaper for just paper punching.
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Old April 17, 2018, 10:32 AM   #21
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TrueBlue, problem with 6.5 Grendel is OP wants a caliber he can easily find ammo for. As a 6.5 Grendel owner, I don't think 6.5 is the right choice because it's hard to find. 6.8 is definitely easier to find, at least in the multiple parts of the south I have traveled to and looked for it.

Even if you go on Midway, right now only 2 of 9 6.5 Grendel options are in stock. 17 out of 22 options in 6.8 SPC are in stock. Precision Firearms is a solid source for 6.5 Grendel ammo, but it's $2 a round or more.
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Old April 17, 2018, 11:30 AM   #22
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longest distance I'll be shooting is probably 200 yards, maybe 300 on a good day and that's about it.
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I'd prefer something I can easily find ammo for.
I'm a big fan of 7.62x39
You have just described the 300blackout.

Walk into Walmart and buy ammo (125gn supers or 220gn subs). With the 125 SMK, i ring steel at (8” plate) at 400 anytime i care to.

It gives darn near exactly the same ballistics as a 7.62x39 round WITHOUT all the problems of trying to run x39 ammo in an AR.
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Old April 17, 2018, 12:17 PM   #23
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Since the OP really wants an alternative upper to swap around in a different caliber but without changing platform, i understand getting off the ar 15 is out. 6.5 gren may be his best choice..

My point was 50 beo (or similar) does things just out of the ballpark compared to 300, 6.5 gren, 6.8.. with a whole different set of compromises sure but it is completely different..

6.5 grendel may enhance range but nothing like getting off the platform and to 6.5 creedmoor was my point, thatd be a whole different ballpark change versus an ehancement. Id love to have one of each , but before i go dropping $$ on a 6.5 gren upper id have an ar 10 in 6.5 creedmoor, sure aint gonna be cheap to shoot but that sort of rifle isnt for mag dumps anyway.

Just my uninformed opinion, if im only gonna have a few id rather have a few vastly different options or otherwise stick to the same caliber.
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Old April 17, 2018, 03:16 PM   #24
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No argument there. I've got a 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.8. So a Grendel doesn't do anything those two caliber do already. No reason to waste money on one.
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Old April 17, 2018, 04:28 PM   #25
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"My understanding is that the 7.62x39 won' fit on a standard AR lower and requires a dedicated lower, something to do with different mag well because of curved mags for the 7.62x39 round. Am I wrong ??"

Yes, you are mis-informed. C-Products and a couple(?) other companies make reliable magazines for the 7.62x39 AR platform. I've been shooting a 7.62x39 AR for years.
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