July 02, 2012
I 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.