Review: Howa Oryx Mini Action In 6.5 Grendel

The Howa Oryx Mini Action In 6.5 Grendel is a chassis-type rifle that with intermediate cartridges offers a combination of light recoil and long distance potential.

Review: Howa Oryx Mini Action In 6.5 Grendel

The Howa 1500 action is tapped for Remington 700-style scope bases and features a three-position safety. (Photo: Guy Sagi)

There’s no denying the fan base the .223 Rem., 5.56 NATO and now .224 Valkyrie have built among predator hunters. But there’s a soft-shooting cartridge that stretches the distance more reliably than the first pair, and carries more energy at 1,000 yards than the latter — the 6.5 Grendel. Alexander Arms introduced it in 2004 and much of the modest press it has garnered in the years since have been more of a footnote or passing mention. 

That’s not to take anything away from the groundbreaking performance of the .224 Valkyrie. It’s undeniably impressive. But if you’re looking for a little more knockdown power, consider the 6.5 Grendel’s impressive numbers. 

Federal Premium’s Gold Medal load in 6.5 Grendel, which has a 130-grain open-tip match Berger bullet, is traveling at 1,711 fps at 500 yards. That converts to just short of 855 foot-pounds of energy. The company’s .224 Valkyrie version with a 60-grain bullet crosses the line at a scalding 1,687 fps at the same distance, but energy drops to 379. The performance of .223 Rem. and 5.56 NATO loads pale by comparison to both cartridges.

In Practice

Theory doesn’t always pan out in real life, so when a Howa Oryx Mini Action chambered in 6.5 Grendel became available, we scooped it for evaluation. Its heavy-profile, free-floated 20-inch barrel made it ideal for the task, and the Howa 1500 action is almost legendary, for good reason. If any off-the-shelf rifle was going to showcase the Grendel’s performance, this one could. 

The results were nothing short of impressive. Subtract flyers and the accuracy figures would be even more staggering. Protocol doesn’t allow that fudging, even though I could call those mistakes at each errant trigger squeeze. 

At 100 yards from a sandbagged prone position, Hornady’s 123-grain ELD Match load averaged 0.69 inch. It also printed the tightest of the five, five-shot groups with one at 0.57 inch. The Federal Premium load with Berger bullets averaged 0.82 inch and Hornady’s 123-grain SST came in at 0.77.

Oryx Mini Action

The Howa Oryx Mini Action did the heavy lifting when it came to accurate shooting and is well worth a look for anyone considering a rifle in this chambering. It’s tailored for long-distance connections and the gun’s unusual profile seems ideally suited to the mythical Grendel moniker.

Without an optic it weighs 8.8 pounds and overall length is 38.75 inches. It’s not a flyweight most would consider mountaineering with, but the fact it anchors so solidly to any field-expedient rest is one of the reasons for the accuracy in human hands. That’s due partly, though, to the Oryx by MDT stock system.

Oryx Chassis

The furniture on this rifle doesn’t really qualify as much as a stock as much as it does a complete system. It starts with the kind of monolithic aluminum chassis made popular by military precision shooting platforms. Comb height is adjustable, and length of pull tunable to anywhere between 13.25 and 15 inches. 

OD Green was the sample rifle’s color, although it seems to soak up colors around it like a sponge. The rifle’s also available in FDE or gray. Allen head bolts anchor the “skins,” which leads one to suspect they can swap easily—although I didn’t find that aftermarket product on the Legacy Sports website (hint, hint). The ability would seem ideal for predator hunters interested in matching Mother Nature’s palette in different seasons. 

The pistol grip is comfortable and familiar to AR fans. It’s grippy, even through the relatively sweaty shooting session we put it through. It’s not unduly sticky, though, unlike some aftermarket versions that grab onto clothing at the worst possible moment or collect field detritus like a magnet. 

A recoil pad at the rear soaks up most of the modest recoil generated by the 6.5 Grendel, which made range sessions a pleasure. Six slots under the flat forend are ideal for attaching a bipod and its unrounded profile makes it ideal for punching paper from the bench or using field-expedient rests.

Grooves in the skins, or panels if you will, ensure a positive grip in inclement weather. A similar treatment is on the forward side of the mag well. 

Howa Mini Action in 6.5 Grendel
Howa Mini Action in 6.5 Grendel

Magazine

A detachable polymer magazine ships with the gun and fed flawlessly with no hiccups or stoppages. Capacity is 10 rounds and, unlike some new magazines I’ve wrestled with, topping it up was a breeze. 

The release is just forward of the magazine, recessed and nicely hidden to prevent unwanted drops. It was stingy, my only complaint, although that’s a common “new gun” malady that disappears with use. 

Trigger

Part of the rifle’s success anchors on the gun’s creep-free and crisp, two-stage HACT trigger. The slight amount of take-up in the first stage was clean and let-off weight averaged 2.43 pounds. 

In measuring with a Lyman electronic pull gauge, results never approached the 3-pound mark and the closest it came to single digits was one reading at 2 pounds, 2.3 ounces. It’s a rifleman’s trigger and one befitting an accurate forearm. 

Barrel

The barrel has 5/8x24 threading to accept muzzle devices and it ships with a thread protector attached. Rifling twist rate in the 6.5 Grendel version is 1:8 inches. 

The bolt worked flawlessly, picking up the cartridges and locking solidly. The action features a three-position safety and is tapped to accept Remington 700 scope bases. For accuracy shooting I mounted a Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50 mm. 

Free floating doesn’t apply describe the configuration of this barrel and chassis system. There’s a 1/4-inch gap between the pair for nearly the entire length of the barrel and almost a half inch at the front of the fore-end. 

That’s a good thing, though. The 6.5 Grendel isn’t a .223 Rem., so the added ventilation is a bonus. In range sessions, the barrel heated noticeably. It obviously didn’t have a significant impact on group size, but every 25 rounds I paused to let it cool between loads. 

Overall

The company stands behind its products, too. The rifle carries a sub-MOA guarantee and lifetime warranty.  

After shooting a couple of the company’s guns, though, I’m confident each one is a keeper. Howa’s barreled actions have rightly earned an enviable reputation among long-distance shooters. 

This rifle and chassis system’s modern look may not appeal to every hunter. It’s advantages, however, are obvious.

First, and foremost: It shoots amazingly well in the hands of someone who admits he’s not an expert marksman with years of formal training in the military. That speaks volumes.

Second: It’s affordable, even with its 6.5 Grendel chambering. At $1,059 it’s a bargain for an investment that will last a lifetime—if not much longer. And with an all-metal chassis, one that isn’t as susceptible to the elements as wood, it will last when taken care of properly 

Third: If that’s not the case, the company stands behind its products. 

Final Concerns

The 6.5 Grendel is based on a necked down 7.62x39 mm case and recoil was light—positively pleasant, in fact. Follow-up shots were fast, easy and effortless. That’s a big advantage when predator hunting, especially when you call in multiple predators. 

It’s not as soft shooting as a gas-operated .223 Rem., but that realm is pretty much a rimfire exclusive, anyway. If you’re worrying about comfort and bruised shoulders are keeping you away from the 6.5 Grendel, think again. 

Ammunition availability is an often-cited concern, but rest assured 6.5 Grendel is carried by most sporting goods stores. I purchased two loads in one store with a sideline in firearms and found a third on the shelves of a big box store. I often have more trouble finding three loads of what many consider “common” cartridges. 

And the Howa Oryx Mini Action makes it obvious manufacturers have dialed into the cartridge’s potential. When it’s time to finally add a rifle in the chambering to your collection, take a close look at this one. It’s got all the features needed to connect with authority, accuracy and repeatability, even out the distances where 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem. start to fall off.

Specs

Manufacturer: Legacy Sports International

Model: Howa Oryx Mini Action

Caliber: 6.5 Grendel (also available in .300 Blackout, .223 Rem. or 7.62x39 mm) 

Action: Howa 1500

Magazine Capacity: 10 Rounds, Polymer

Barrel: 20 inches, heavy profile

Trigger: Two-Stage HACT

Sights: None, tapped for Rem. 700 bases

Stock: Aluminum Howa Oryx Chassis by MDT

Overall Length: 38 3/4 inches

Weight: 8.8 pounds

MSRP: $1,059

For More Information: www.LegacySports.com

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.