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Tactical Rugged: Alexander Arms GSR Review

by Joel Hutchcroft   |  July 2nd, 2012 30

Alexander-Arms-GSRI am not now—and never have been—a sniper. I don’t have the training. Heck, I don’t have the basic ability those guys need to make the precise, long-range shots that lives depend on. But I do know a good gun when I see one. And the 6.5 Grendel GSR from Alexander Arms that I have in my hands right now is a good one—a really good one.

Starting at the back, the basic GSR comes with a Magpul PRS stock that’s adjustable for length of pull (13.5 to 14.6 inches by my rough measurements) and cheek height (can be raised 0.75 inch). The adjustment knobs are machined, hard anodized aluminum and feature positive-locking click detents. The black steel adjustment shafts are finished with ferritic nitrocarbonizing. There are two aluminum sling-attachment loops on the left-hand side of the buttstock, and the aluminum buttplate features a rubber buttpad. There’s also a bottom Picatinny-type rail with a removable cover for use with a monopod.

The lower receiver is a standard style, and the two-position safety, bolt release, and magazine release button are all located in conventional AR positions. The standard trigger is AA’s blade-style, single-stage tactical trigger. Our sample GSR’s trigger was fantastic and consistently broke cleanly and smoothly at 3.5 pounds according to my trigger pull gauge. It has to be one of the best, if not the best, AR triggers I have ever squeezed. The grip is by Ergo, and it’s the textured Deluxe model with smooth finger grooves. Our gun came with a four-round magazine, but a 10-round mag comes standard, and higher-capacity mags are available as additional-cost options.

Speaking of options, you can get the GSR with a Geissele SSA trigger for an extra $180. I know some AR shooters who won’t use anything but a Geissele trigger, but I have to say I am completely fine with AA’s single-stage tactical trigger.

The upper receiver is AA’s beefy, billet, squared upper with chromed carrier. It’s AA’s rigid, side-charging unit, which allows bolt manipulation with a minimum of movement. It features a stainless-steel, cut-rifled barrel with 5R rifling and 1:8.75 twist. It’s fully fluted and free-floated. Available GSR barrel lengths include 20 and 24 inches. Our gun has the 24-inch tube, and it’s threaded for a flash hider. Actually, the GSR 20- and 24-inch models come standard with a machined barstock A2 flash hider installed, but our sample came with the optional BWA X-Comp compensator ($98).

AA’s Grendel bolts are made using advanced metallurgy and heat-treatment processes, are ground rather than simply turned, and are manufactured to best in industry standards. They have reinforced extractor claws and recessed boltfaces. And AA matches them for headspace to the barrels.

Also featured on the GSR upper is AA’s MK10 handguard, which is made of advanced G10 composite. It provides heat, cold, and chemical resistance; featherweight rigidity; and tactile surfaces. The MK10 is vented to aid in barrel cooling, with the top vents offset to minimize mirage. There are threaded attachment points that allow the addition of 3-inch Picatinny rails. Our sample had two, one on each side of the handguard, as well as two sling-swivel studs for sling or bipod attachment. Four lengths of MK10 handguards are available (extra long, rifle length, mid length, and carbine length), and our gun wore the extra long version.

Standard finish for the GSR is black, but our sample gun wore the optional Duracoat Tactical Dark Earth finish. It costs an extra $150.

Superior parts translate into superior performance, and AA surely has superior parts. For example, AA uses a special steel in the gas tube that resists corrosion better. AA buffer weights are tungsten nickel, and the stock tube is one piece. The 4140 pins are surface finished, and the gas key is chrome lined. Higher grade screws are used, and the extractor is made of upgraded steel. Alexander’s motto for the GSR series rifles is “Competition Accuracy, Tactical Ruggedness.” I think that says it all.

  • Potus2000

    That is one fine looking rig. I'd be interested in knowing an approximate price though. Any word on that?

  • Jeremy Armour

    I'd be interested in seeing what kind of accuracy it is capable of. One would think that would be included in the review of a precision rifle!!!

    • Dolf Goad

      No kidding! Review a precision rifle and give no accuracy information! What a waste of time and space!

  • Mr. Bill

    Hence the old saying, " If you have to ask how much is it, you probably can't afford it!

    • Jeremy Armour

      I ask how much a candy bar is if there is no price tag on it, and I assure you that I can afford a candy bar even in this economy! Occasionally I can even afford two, or maybe even a Coke to go with it!!! ;-)

  • Chuck

    I agree with both of the previous posters that the price and an accuracy test at the range should have been standard fodder for a report on a rifle touted as "Tactical" & having "Competition Accuracy".
    On the chance of being too critical, this article appears to be copied directly from an Alexander Arms press release. How else would a writer know all of the machining and mfg'ing nuances and nomenclature? All of that technical jargon is great to know but field testing should have been included. Maybe in the next artical?

    • Dolf Goad

      True Chuck, especially considering the information that came to light a couple years ago about AA artificially inflating the ballistic, range, and accuracy capabilities of the 6.5 Grendel

  • pete

    I must agree. This is one poorly written article.

    The guy who is sarcastic about price is just another wise guy!

    Price does matter. The idea is to get the best weapon you can for the best price. As in a hand gun,a 1911,a revolver,all of them is it really worth thousands of dollars extra for say a "custom" over say a Glock,a Sig,a Kimber,a Springfield?

    People spend a lot of money they don't need to spend as unless you are in competition,a collector,all sizzle,no steak then there are always more than good weapons that can do the job very well! My Savage 300 win mag does just fine for me!

    • wsp

      correct….use the tool you have and learn to shoot…the rest is all hype….and bull….the avg rifle built today will serve 99% of the populace just fine…pick a decent cartridge that is eas to find, buy and reload..and that is proven…I ahve hunted the world woth 30-06, 300 H&H…also like a .270 and the 7×57…..there is no need for anythinh proprietary or fancy…jsut learn how to shoot…practice, practice, practice

  • Alan_T

    I have to echo the other coments over the lack of accuracy and MSRP information .
    I know it's been around for over a decade but I don't have any experience with the 6.5 Grendel cartridge , I'd like to know what if any , advantages it has over the 6.8 SPC or the 6.5 Creedmore ( And yes , I'm aware the 6.8 isn't considered a sniper round ) ?

    • Jeremy Armour

      The 6.5mm Grendel has several advantages over the 6.8SPC. In rifles of equal quality there really isn't an accuracy advantage, but there is a real ballistic advantage, especially at ranges beyond 500 meters. The Grendel was designed from the outset to be a long-range cartridge, and as such it uses bullets with a high ballistic coefficient, long & sleek. Once the range increases it can actually compete with the .308 Winchester. Although at close range the .308 has a significant energy advantage, out beyond 600 meters the ballistic coefficient of the 6.5mm bullets used in the Grendel cartridge allow it to catch up to the larger round. The 6.8SPC never does. Those long sleek bullets used in the 6.5 Grendel also have another advantage: increased penetration. Rounds like 6.5x55mm Swede & the 6.5x54mm Mannlicher have built fantastic reputations as hunting rounds in Europe–on game as large as moose & even African elephant (NOT recommended!)–because of the superior penetration of those long, heavy-for-caliber bullets. That's another advantage the 6.8SPC doesn't have.

      Compared to the 6.5mm Creedmore the Grendel has but one advantage: it fits into a standard AR15. The 6.5mm Creedmore was designed for the larger & heavier AR10 platform rifles, but it does outperform the 6.5 Grendel in every way ballistically. Both are superb cartridges!

      • Alan_T

        Thanks for the info Jeremy .

    • Wolvie

      I just checked the website…

      They want $3,100 for this rig in standard form.

      3 times the price of a regular AR, chambered in an expensive cartridge that is difficult to get (and also lacks diverse factory loadings), with down range performance I don't need and overall performance that I already have.

      Nope, it might fill a niche for some shooters out there…but not me.

      • Alan_T

        Yeah …… that is close to three times what I paid for my Rock River . I really don't have a need for anything other than 5.56 in an AR 15 , it was mostly just curiosity on my part , although I have been thinking about getting a 6.8 upper ….. as a possible insurance policy . Thanks for answering , happy 4th Wolvie !

      • jeepers creepers

        If that price is MSRP. Then a person should be able to get one for around $1,900 if you look around. Still a good buy at that price. It is not a .223 caliber that i would never need or want. I have had .223 in the past and sold or traded them. They are really hard to reload since the projectile is so small. They did not shoot good at only 400 yards (that is really close in shooting).
        I hope that you had a good 4th of July and that the BATMAN outfit still fit.
        The correct spelling is "PHYCOPATH" not the sexual one that you use. They mean two different things. My first testing was in my teen years. Then 4 times after that.
        I tease you becuase your ego is so large and I do not believe that you have done all the things you have told me that you did. I have never lied about anything. What for it would not benefit me any.

        • jeepers creepers

          this reply is meant for Wolvie.

          • Wolvie

            Dear Mental Patient,

            The price is MSRP…which can actually be lower than the street price if there is only one company making a specialized item…unlike a mass produced item. So, you fail.

            If you can't "shoot good" at 400 yards with a .223/5.56, then you aren't a good shooter…but we all know that with your 600 yard handgun shooting and 200 yard derringer shooting you've boasted about, you must be the God of All Things Firearms. But, you're not. You're an idiot and a liar. So, you fail.

            What Batman outfit are you talking about? What does that have to do with this story, my comment or for that matter, ANY of my comments? Oh, right…it has nothing to do with any of them. So again, you fail.

            If you are going to correct someone's spelling…its generally a good idea to 1) Make sure they spelled something wrong, 2) Make sure you actually understood the definition of the word they used and, 3) Actually be able to spell it yourself!! Oh, so many failures on that point alone!

            If you actually took the time to stop listening to the voices in your head, you will see that there is only one thing that I mentioned to you that I did. That would be a Firearms Instructor. Of course, that was before you showed me what an utter waste of a life you are…because after that and since then, I haven't shared anything with you (excluding my contempt of course). So, as far as not believing "All the things" I told you…I only told you one…and I don't care what a lying, useless mental patient believes. So…you guessed it…you fail.

            Finally, lying about never lying is very funny and quite ironic. You get points for comedy. But, you still fail. Again.

            Now get back to work trying to get that knothole pregnant you filthy, bloated, valor-stealing, lying, mentally-damaged, parasitic waste of life.

            Oh and Happy Fourth of July to you, too. Here's hoping you don't make the next one.

  • John Williams

    I built one strikingly similar to this about three years ago. The major exception is the upper, which is a DPMS ambi side-charger. It has become my go-to deer rifle and is a pleasure to shoot. It is capable of better accuracy than I am capable of. RE: the Grendel? It's roughly equivalent to the 6.8; it perhaps is capable of producing a little more energy and stability waaay downrange due to its longer case neck and thus its ability to use a higher-BC bullet. Comparing the 6.5 Creedmoor is an apples-oranges argument because that round requires an AR10 (.308 sized) platform. Yes, I have rifles which are more accurate and rifles that hit harder, but it's kinda fun to go to the deer woods with a firearm I built from itty-bitty pieces in a contrarian's caliber. I gotta add that my all-time favorite cartridge is the .284 Win. Different isn't necessarily better, but it surely is fun!

  • Mr. Bill

    Well go ahead AND SPEND YOUR 3500.00 AND THEN SEE WHAT YOU COULD'VE HAD/BUILT FOR THE SAME PRICE. Just another high end component rifle…

  • Jeremy Armour

    Thank you, and I agree, However, it is possible that the passage above is merely a poorly edited excerpt from a longer, more detailed article that we will soon see in "Shooting Times" magazine or on IF that is the case, the lack of accuracy data & pricing information may in fact be included in the full length article and then omitted by whoever summarized it for this post. That may or may not have been the original author. This possibility didn't really occur to me until after my original post. Still, even if that is the case, I think the accuracy data should have been included in this summary! Otherwise, with no objective data included, it is effectively little more than a rehash of the sales brochure, although I doubt that was the author's intent.

  • wsp

    More wannabees thinking they are Rambo types….these rifles and 99% of rifles made today have more than enough accuracy to get the job done, and will shoot better than most shooters are capable of performing..and that means you…I have hunted around the world on three continents..and used two rifles ..both pre 64 model 70's…one in .300 h&h and one in 30-06….they were bone stock except for custom Lyman scopes…yup..lyman..we are talking early 60's…the scopes had 4 dots in them from 200 to 600 yds…and many shots ere made at that range and more …because we knew how to shoot…all you gear freaks would do better with a std rifle, and practice….it is amazing what you can do when you know what you are doing….

    • Wolvie


      You're right…but I give most of the people and the companies out there a little slack.

      Most of the firearms out there are already at the peak of performance and technology…its the little things (or even the somewhat odd things) that companies have to market to get them to stand out from a crowd. In turn, people have to get excited about these little things so the companies will sell them.

      But it all isn't bad.

      All these little things are what we need to keep the interest, research and focus on development. It usually ends up being the little/strange/niche things that end up leading to the next major development and revolutionizes the industry. This rifle might not be the stepping stone to something greater…but the next one, funded by the proceeds of this might just be.

      I'm not saying, "buy it now!"…as I wouldn't either. No, I just am not turning up my nose at it just yet.

    • gotham1883

      Wanting a semi-auto rifle that can perform as well or better than an old bolt action rifle at great distances with similar or better knock down power is not being a “Rambo type”. Wanting to be able to make one or more follow up shots as quick, accurate, and deadly as possible is not being a “Rambo type”. Wanting to have such a rifle in as light, dependable, and useful form as possible for both, hunting, target, self defense, and whatever other use one might have is a commendable goal in my book and also the American way. If people listened to guys like you we would still be shooting the old Kentucky long rifles and speaking German or Japanese.

  • BulSprig

    Although I've not had the privilege of meeting Bill Alexander, his reputation of building new, innovative cartridges, as well as rifles to shoot them is widely known in the firearms world. Obviously the GSR is not your standard, run of the mill AR platform. As with any custom firearm the price moves out of the low end, discounted price world. Last time I checked any "Custom" long range rifle runs in the neighborhood of 3 to 5K.. I'm sure that you could probably build an AR 15 in the 6.5 Grendel caliber for less than 2K, but for myself that would be a fallacy. Bottom line on the GSR, for those who who can buy one, you'd be getting one helluva weapon, it likely shoots sub 1/2 minutes all day long, built with the best materials available, by an individual who
    knows how to put together one helluva an AR15 rifle together. It's a rifle I'd love to have, and shoot.

  • Charles Sanderson

    Nice, well made rifle in a great performing NEW and hard to get caliber. It would be great for specific rolls,but as a general purpose rifle I would rather have a .223 or .308.. I know about the ballistic advantage the 6.5 Grendel has over the .308 but the ammo is just not easy to find. Then there is the .300 Win mag if you want to go out to 1000 yds

  • David

    I have no problem finding ammo for my Grendel. It is avaliable at many places online and I also reload.
    I've never understood all the hate for the 6.5 Grendel. BTW, Bill Alexander surrendered licensing rights to the 6.5 Grendel, so anyone can market products and ammo in 6.5 Grendel. The Grendel is a SAAMI round now.
    Sounds like people have become spoiled with all the avaliable cartridge choices in the AR these days. I remember when you could get the AR 15 in only two calibers, 5.56 and .223. :)

    I have a M70 in .30-06 and a 742 in the same caliber. These two rifles can harvest any game animal in the lower 48 but so what. Do y'all want to live in a world where you can only have one or two calibers in only one or two rifles?
    Myself I think it's fantastic that we have people out there developing all these rifles and pistols that shoot all these different calibers. I say THANK YOU to them and hope we never run out of people who want to experiment with wildcats and those wildcats that stand out and become comerically avaliable.

    • Jeremy Armour

      I agree completely! 6.5mm Grendel ammo is available from Wolf, Hornady, Les Baer Customs & Alexander Arms, and it not a difficult cartridge to reload either. Furthermore it's a relatively cheap cartridge to reload because it's small case doesn't hold much powder. I have nothing against the 6.8SPC. It's a fine cartridge, but the Grendel outperforms it in every way. It's also worth mentioning that there is now a new Grendel cartridge available from Les Baer Customs called the .264 Les Baer. It's outer dimensions are identical to the standard 6.5 Grendel, but the chamber dimensions are different and alloy the .264LB to be safely loaded to higher pressures in order to get more velocity. It's much the same as the .223/5.56 and 6.8SPC/6.8SPC Spec 2.

      The only weapon systems that I would choose the 6.8SPC in are the Ruger Mini-14 & the Robinson Armament XCR, and only because they're not available in 6.5Grendel. Still, I've been told that the Grendel will feed reliably from Mini-30 magazines; so getting a custom Mini-30 chambered for the .264LB is awfully tempting!

  • cal

    I almost bought a shooting times magazine for this article as I am considering this gun. What a crushing disappointment it would have been with no accuracy data!

  • Jeremy Armour

    It is EXTREMELY unlikely that this is the entire article! It is almost certainly a summary done specifically for the website. I don't think I have ever read a rifle review in "Shooting Time" that failed to include the accuracy data, and I've read a hell of a lot of them! Go ahead & buy the magazine; odd are it's in there.

  • Jack

    I talked to my gun shop about the price. $$$$$$$$$$ any one want to buy some kids?

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