SHOOTING ILLUSTRATED: Reviews CORE Rifle Systems X2 6.5 Grendel
Core15 offers what may be the final word in precision with its Hardcore X2 6.5 Grendel AR-platform rifle.
The 6.5 Grendel cartridge is quite popular in the AR platform, and many claim that it is better than the 6.8 Rem. SPC chambering for long-range precision. Core15 of Ocala, FL, has introduced the Maybach of precision 6.5 Grendel precision rifles right out of its custom shop: the Hardcore System X2. The rifle arrived in a very nice Boyt H44 rifle case along with a Otis MSR/AR cleaning kit and a tube of Froglube. The upper, lower and handguard are Cerakote-finished in Coyote tan.
A Magpul UBR stock, which has five positions on a standard mil-spec receiver extension, fits the rifle to the shooter’s shoulder. Inside the receiver extension is an H2 buffer with a Wolff buffer spring. The lower receiver is manufactured from a billet of 7075-T6 aluminum alloy. The trigger guard is integral to the receiver and the magazine well has been shortened. The takedown pin and the front pivot pin are Battle Arms Development EPS
(Enhanced Pin System), while the rifle contains a mil-spec magazine-release button and bolt-catch lever. The safety is the Battle Arms Development lightweight Ambidextrous Safety System. A Hogue black overmolded grip with finger grooves provides ample, comfortable purchase. The Hardcore is actuated via a CMC two-stage trigger with a claimed 2-pound break and reset, which was confirmed in testing. The trigger mechanism is held in place with screws to prevent hammer/trigger pins from backing out.
The upper receiver is also manufactured from a billet of 7075-T6 aluminum and has a nice, sculpted look to it. It has the traditional forward assist and fired-cartridge-case deflector. The ejection port cover is laser engraved “Grendel.” The upper also is serialized to match the lower, and the two components are hand-fitted together to avoid any play in the receivers. In fact, these receivers fit so tight the takedown and pivot pins had to be encouraged with an impact-persuasion device.
Attached to the upper receiver is the Core15 KeyMod rail system. A continuous Mil-Std 1913 rail runs from the rear of the upper receiver to the end of the top of the handguard, and is manufactured from 6005 aluminum. It comes with one 2-inch rail segment to which the bipod is mounted. The bipod provided with this kit is an Atlas BT10 model capable of five range-of-height adjustments from 4.7 to 9 inches; a high-quality bipod.
Manufactured from 8620 steel, the bolt carrier is chrome-plated on the inside and nickel-boron coated on the outside. The carrier key is properly staked and is also nickel-boron coated on the outside and chrome plated on the inside. The bolt is manufactured from mil-spec 158 steel, shot-peened and likewise coated, while the extractor is manufactured from a tool steel as an upgrade from the current mil-spec material. The breechface is opened up to accept the 6.5 Grendel cartridge base. The charging handle is also manufactured from billet of aluminum and anodized black and contains scallops on the rear and latch for ample purchase.
The heavy barrel utilizes a rifle-length gas system that is button-cut from 416R stainless steel, fluted and finished off with a black-nitride process. The barrel is topped off with a LanTac Dragon muzzle brake, which does not mitigate noise, but does a great job on controlling recoil.
The rifle comes standard with Magpul MBUS Pro front and rear backup iron sights. They are low profile, fitting under most optics. The front sight has an elevation dial with a standard square front sight post. The rear is adjustable for windage and has a small and large aperture. The large aperture is exposed by flipping the aperture down.
Those with experience know that the 6.5 Grendel has been a rather finicky cartridge in the area of feeding, with multiple magazine generations attesting to this difficulty. The magazines provided with this rifle are a straight five-round magazine manufactured by ASC and the new, curved 25-round variant from C Products Defense. Both functioned without incident.
Included in the kit is a Leupold Mark 6 3-18x44 mm scope with a TMR (Tactical Milling Reticle) mounted using a Leupold 34 mm scope base. The Mark 6 measures a total of 12 inches in length and only adds 23.6 ounces to the overall weight, while providing a crystal-clear image well-suited for the range capabilities of the 6.5 Grendel.
If you are a long-range target shooter, competitor or hunter, this rifle is right up your alley. You would not have to invest a cent into it beyond the purchase price, as it is ready for prime time right out of the case. The X2 has an excellent barrel, trigger, scope and bipod; everything you would need to make solid hits at long range. While the price tag is steep, you have to appreciate the quality of all the included gear. Core15 has made a solid addition to its precision rifle line with the Hardcore System X2.
—Christopher R. Bartocci