The 6.8 SPC is a panther and a hunter – Guns Magazine, 04/01/08 by Jacob Gotteredson
Posted for noncommercial and informational use only. – sd
Given the opportunity to hunt with the 6.8mm Remington SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge)in a DPMS (Panther Arms) AR, the rifle not only met my expectations and performed perfectly, but my grandson also took a nice whitetail buck with the diminutive cartridge.
So what has happened to the 6.8mm Remington SPC? I suppose I should begin by asking how, where and why did the 6.8mm SPC come into being? I am not a fan of the .223 in combat. It is essentially a varmint round, one illegal to hunt deer with in many states. Why anyone thinks it would be effective on human targets is beyond me. I have argued extensively with knowledgeable people who believe otherwise, but I am not convinced.
Apparently, neither are some Special Forces fellas. They wanted a more effective cartridge built on the M4/M16 chassis with the fewest modifications. The desire was more frontal area and more weight, thus more effective killing potential and somewhat longer, effective range. They asked Remington to help them, and the race was on. Together they came up with a set of specifications: 2,650 feet per second from a 16.5″ barrel, delivering 1,715 foot-pounds of energy and 600 meter effective range. They wanted something a bit smaller than the 7.62x51mm NATO (.308) and a bit larger than the 5.56mm (.223). They came up with the 6.8x43mm (6.8mm Remington SPC).
So what case would do the job in the M4/M16 genre of squad weapons without significant modification to the present weapon? They decided on the obsolete .30 Remington case. A bit of shortening and some blowing out gave them the result they were after. Now they had to select a caliber. Several were tried, but the .277″ won out. They decided on the 115-grain bullet with a BC of .350. Using high-energy powder, the resultant round emulates the flight path of the .308 to 600 meters, has less chamber pressure than the .223, and fits into the M16 magazine with minimal changes. A slight enlargement of the bolt face is required as well.
I tested identical rifles in 20″- and 16″-barreled configurations. Coincidentally, the shorter barrel proved to be more accurate with all three factory loads, which included a 110-grain BTHP and 110-grain V-Max bullets in factory-loaded Hornady cases and the 115-grain factory load from Remington. The 20″ barrel did show a 100 fps velocity advantage over the 16″ barrel. The 16″ barrel didn’t exactly achieve the 2,650 fps advertised, but I wonder what elevation the designers might have had in mind? Also, not every barrel will produce the same velocity.
The rifles tested included some options apart from the regular specifications listed below. DPMS installed a trigger adjustable for take-up and overtravel, 4-rail free-float tube, G7 tactical grip, ambi safety selector switch, oversized checkered magazine release button, and an ambi charging handle.
I mounted a 3.5-10x40mm Leupold Tactical scope in a LaRue quick release mount with 20 MOA slope. I shot the rifle at both 100 and 400 yards. The recoil was a bit more than the same weight .223, enough so I could tell the difference, but was still slight. I did not make a comeup chart for the longer range. I just used the same comeups as I do for the short-barreled .308. The included photos show the results. The rifle was a pleasure to shoot, and I thought of my grandson and the upcoming deer hunt. I called Steve Johnson of Hornady and asked which bullet of the two types he had sent me would be best for whitetail. He suggested the 110-grain V-Max.
My grandson Jory and I set up in a blind facing a long sendero (from which Remington takes the name for one of their rifles) before dawn. Shortly after dawn a nice buck emerged. Jory took the shot with the 6.8mm SPC at 115 yards. The buck dropped in its tracks. An autopsy showed the 110-grain Hornady V-Max bullet hit just behind the near side shoulder and a bit high of center chest. The bullet took out part of the lungs, did not hit, but did traumatized the spine, and did considerable damage to the off side shoulder. I was amazed at the damage and penetration of the little bullet.
Jory has taken several whitetail deer with the .223. As a young hunter, Jory could not handle my standard sized rifle’s length of pull. My collapsible stocked .223 ARs proved to work well for him. Although we never lost a deer, the tissue damage was not as violent or destructive as the 6.8mm SPC round. From my experience, the 6.8mm SPC is hands down a better killer than the .223 in the M4/M16 rifle genre.
Yet, the 6.8mm SPC does have its drawbacks for law enforcement as well as its advantages. For now, 5.56mm amino is difficult to come by with a war raging in the Middle East and elsewhere. By the same token, the availability of rifles chambering the 6.8mm SPC are not yet plentiful, either. Remington, Hornady, and Silver State do offer preloaded 6.8m SPC ammunition. DPMS and Barrett offer 6.8mm SPC rifles.
The quest of every fighting force, as well as anyone either forced or wanting to carry a weapon day in and day out is, of course, lighter weight and maximum performance. This is particularly true for machine guns and sniper rifles.
6.8 or 6.5?
There have been comparisons for this task between the 6.8mm SPC and the 6.5mm Grendel cartridges. In both cases the ammo load is a bit heavier than the .5.56mm round meaning fewer rounds in standard ammo pouches. But one must weigh lethality against convenience. I wonder if conventional outfits are trained to spray ammo, while SOF units are trained to shoot with more effectiveness? During the Second World War, 100,000 rounds were fired per kill. In Korea, that number jumped to 250,000. Today the average kill requires 450,000 rounds. Trained snipers take far fewer. I understand the differences are important, but does that mean a 2-caliber weapon system must be perpetuated?
Both configurations slated for military and LE use in the 6.8 and 6.5 Grendel will carry a round of about 115 grains. Considering the weight is the same but the diameter less, the 6.5 bullet will have a better ballistic coefficient and better long-range capability with less wind drift. But that’s not all there is to the story. The 6.8mm has more frontal area and better momentum. To give an extreme example of this, consider an arrow hitting a sandbag placed on a 2×4 with considerable penetration vs. a 230-grain .45 bullet. More penetration does not necessarily equate to knockdown power or shock value to the nervous system. Momentum is often more important than kinetic energy. I would very much like to shoot equal bullets from both at deer. The outcome would be interesting.
The effort it would require to move the 6.8mm Remington SPC into the conventional military to replace the 5.56mm round is nearly impossible. In my opinion, however, Law Enforcement and Special Ops units would be well advised to order 6.8mm SPC uppers and magazines tomorrow and never look back. I will hold my opinion of the 6.5mm Grendel until I can test one (I will soon). DPMS offers almost every accessory to complement the AR you might want, with some military only items not included.
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