6.8 SPC [The Complete Guide]

Let’s say you wanted to take an alternative to the 5.56 for a AR 15 or similar rifle.

You have some choices, actually lots of options, but you are a discerning customer.

We’ll break down some of the pros and cons and give you a hard look at one of our favorite AR-15 based cartridges, the 6.8 SPC.

5.56, .300 BLK, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC

If you asked me to sell you an alternative cartridge without telling me what exactly you planned to do with it, I’d probably choose the 6.8 SPC.

My selling points would be based on its development.

The 6.8 SPC came to be when the 5th Special Forces group was looking for something that outperformed the 5.56 in combat roles.

This need led to a partnership between Remington and the Army’s Marksmanship unit. That was Remington’s heyday, well before recalls and bankruptcy was making the headlines.

In case you don’t know, the U.S. Army’s Marksmanship Unit is a competitive unit that never seems to stop winning.

Courtesy USAMU
Courtesy USAMU

It’s made of the best shooters the Army has to offer. Outside of beating the Commies in the 1964 Summer Olympics, they also have a long history of helping develop and test weaponry that may be pushed to the Army.

When a significant firearms manufacturer teams up with the USAMU, you know good things are bound to come. The 6.8 SPC was the result of this partnership.

Table of Contents


What is the 6.8 SPC?

The 6.8 SPC, also known as the 6.8mm Remington SPC, is an intermediate rifle round designed to outperform the 5.56.

This is especially true when it came to close quarters use, the 5.56 was underperforming in the close range firefights that were common in the urban combat in Iraq.

It was also designed to function in the AR-15 family of rifles with the end goal being a minor loss of magazine capacity and minimal increase in recoil.

There are some reports that the bullet was used overseas, but details on who used it, and how exactly it was successful are scant. I chased internet rumors and could find vague mentions of special forces use.

Always Sunny Meme

While ultimately successful in its goal, the 6.8 SPC was never adopted on a wide scale.

Some advantages for AR owners is the fact the 6.8 SPC will work with a lot of common AR parts. This includes lowers, triggers, buffers, stocks, handguards, etc.

The biggest swap will be the upper, bolt, and magazines. 6.8 SPC mags are quite standard, and most large manufacturers make 6.8 SPC uppers.

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It can be as simple as swapping mags and a complete upper to take your 5.56 AR to a 6.8 SPC AR.

Ballistic Performance

That being said the round is ballistically superior to the 5.56 regarding energy relative to bullet weight. The 6.8 SPC delivers 44% more power than the 5.56 on average. It’s also a better performer from short barrels.

The 223, which the 5.56 is based off, is designed for 20-inch barrels. 20-inch barrels aren’t exactly popular options for close quarter fighting. Once you start chopping barrel length down, you start killing ballistic performance.

Not Optimal
Not Optimal

The 6.8 SPC does quite well from shorter barrels and retains more energy than the 5.56 when fired from a shorter barrel.

You won’t get the same SBR performance like the 300 Blackout, but the 300 Blackout won’t give you the long range performance the 6.8 offers.

What you’re looking at is a bit of a jack of all trades in term of performance.

It doesn’t excel in long-range shooting, or CQB, but does well in both. It’s like a student who gets Cs in every subject versus students who only get an A in one subject.


The most common platform that uses the 6.8 SPC is the AR 15. That is what the round was designed for, and where you’ll find the most options for rifles, pistols, and SBRs.

That being said the round has seen itself on several different platforms.

at Rainier Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Ruger produced some Mini 14s in 6.8 SPC. Although they have been discontinued by Ruger, they are still familiar enough to pop up on the used market here and there.

Remington produces a Model 700 in 6.8 SPC. The 700 is their flagship bolt action rifle that’s popular among hunters and in law enforcement and military use.

Lastly, the Remington ACR has a 6.8 SPC model, but they are rare and can cost upwards of two grand depending on options.

Remington ACR
Remington ACR

Best 6.8 SPC Ammo

The 6.8 SPC is a robust little round that can be used for a variety of different tasks. We are going to break down the 6.8 SPC by use and give you a few ammo options for each role. Since the 6.8 SPC is such a versatile round, we’ll pair purpose built cartridges with their actual use.

The 6.8 SPC is a surprisingly popular hunting cartridge. Its been a popular alternative for AR hunters in states that prohibit the 5.56/223 as a hunting round. It also offers a little more oomph and power for more massive game as well.

wild hog hunting
Wild hogs are invasive, destructive, and delicious.

As with any respectable cartridge, you have options…

1. Federal Fusion 115gr

Amazing for mid-sized, thin hide game such as deer – the Federal Fusion round. This round was designed for modern sporting rifles like the AR 15. As AR 15s become more popular as hunting weapons, we are seeing more manufacturers produce ammunition for it.

Best All-Around 6.8 SPC Hunting Ammo
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Federal Fusion 6.8 SPC round is a 115 grain round optimized for medium game like whitetail deer. This uses the Fusion projectile which is an expanding round that uses an electrochemical process to join the core to the copper jacket. This reportedly eliminates the issue with the core separating from the jacket.

The most significant benefit of the Fusion projectile is weight retention. The more weight the round retains, the better it will penetrate as it expands. The Fusion round features a skived tip that allows it to expand regardless of the range its used it.

If you’re new to deer hunting, you’ll be interested to read our Introduction to Deer Hunting.

2. Hornady Full Boar 100gr

The second round is the Hornady Full Boar load. If you can’t tell by the name this load is designed for those pesky pigs. These are one piece, monolithic copper alloy projectiles that are topped with a polymer tip. Beneath the polymer tip is a cavity that encourages the round to expand upon contact.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The monolithic design means weight retention and penetration is fantastic. These are called GMX projectiles, and they have a long history of proven performance. Hogs are tough critters, and they need a round that can dig through their tough hide, firm skin, and reach those vital internal organs.

Courtesy POF-USA
Courtesy POF-USA

The GMX and the Hornady Full Boar is that round. If you do your part with the marksmanship fundamentals, you’ll have no issues putting down a wild pig humanely and quickly.

3. Hornady BLACK 100gr

Lastly, we have the Hornady Black V-Max ammunition. The AR 15 is used for a variety of game hunting, and it does well for varmint hunting. As someone who lives in the middle of nowhere, I despise coyotes.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Filthy creatures who sometimes need a dose of lead. If I were hunting coyotes, I’d use the Hornady Black. As much as I despise them, I don’t want them to suffer. So I’ll hit them with a practical, light recoiling round.

The Black line of ammo is designed for semi-auto rifles, but of course, has no issues with bolt guns. The ammo is tipped with the V-Max projectile which includes a polymer tip covering a cavity. The polymer tip beats drag but get out of the way once the round hits a target.

The round expands and destroys tissue along the way. This allows me to put coyotes in their place without causing any unnecessary suffering. The round expands and tumbles, cutting through vital organs and shutting the body down immediately.

The round is 110 grains, which is more substantial than it needs to be. However, it will stabilize in your most common 6.8 SPC barrel twists.

4. Hornady Custom 120gr SST

The AR platform is an outstanding home defense weapon, and the 6.8 SPC is perfect for close quarters fighting. In a pistol or SBR, you are going to get some solid ballistic performance. That being said you need to pair it with the right round for quick threat elimination.

The Hornady Custom 6.8 SPC is an excellent go-to home defense round. It’s a 120-grain projectile that uses Hornady’s famed Super Shock tip to ensure quick and effective expansion. A home defense round needs to expand.

Best 6.8 SPC Home Defense Ammo
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The last thing you want is your round to zip right through an attacker. This means less internal damage is done, and the round could carry the energy to harm someone else. An expanding bullet is much less likely to over penetrate an opponent.

The round also needs to be reliable. I never skimp on self-defense rounds and you shouldn’t either. The Hornady Custom sports match grade components that not only aid in accuracy but reliable function.

Hearing a click when you should hear a bang is less than optimal.

The Hornady Custom is a reliable, robust, and effective round for all your home defense needs.

You can see all of our Ammo Review and Recommendations to find that Hornady is one of the best we’ve found across a wide range of applications and calibers.

5. Remington UMC 115gr

Who doesn’t love to shoot a gun? Shoot it fast, or shoot it straight, or train to be better at your chosen goal? As much as we like to talk tactics, ballistic performance and all that jive the majority of people shoot to shoot.

Turning money into noise is my favorite hobby. Hell, I write to do just that. Training and plinking is a high volume activity, so you’ll need affordable ammo.

For that, we are going to go to the simple, but always reliable Remington UMC. These full metal jacket rounds are brass cased and boxer primed. They are affordable, but reliable and of course safe to use.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

These are 115-grain rounds that deliver mild recoil and are perfect if you are a reloader. Reusing the brass cases can help you save a little money if you have the reloading set up to do so. Remington UMC is a staple of range ammunition and it;’s perfect for those who don’t don’t to be thing ka-ching when they hear booms.

It’s Just Special

The 6.8 SPC may never have the success of the 5.56/223, but it’s a round that’s held its own. It could’ve taken the route to obscurity, but it keeps kicking. As ammo technology improves, I’m betting we’ll see the 6.8 SPC continue to grow.

Is it for everyone? No, but nothing is. For an AR owner, it’s a cheap way to get into a new caliber that gives a little more oomph and little more bang than 5.56.  I give it 4.5 stars.

Do you have a 6.8 SPC AR-15? What do you use it for? How does it shoot? Tell us all about it in the comments! Want more of a choice…check out our Best Alternative AR-15 Cartridges.

21 Leave a Reply

  • driftderek

    I’m building a .277 Wolverine. If you haven’t heard of the round, try to imagine if the 6.8 SPC and 300 BLK had a baby together. The parent case is the .223 that’s been trimmed and necked down to the same 6.8 bullets with nearly the same performance as the SPC without the need for a different bolt or magazine.

    2 days ago
    • Rane

      The wolverine is a good compromise between performance and compatibility. I’ve never hand loaded this caliber but from what I’ve researched the difference is about 200-300 fps difference in velocity from my 6.8 spc hand loads using the same bullets. Over the counter 6.8 spc is watered down for use in the old(original) spec 1 chamber which was prone to pressure spikes. The spec 2 or better chambers that are used by today’s barrel manufacturers are capable of higher pressures. In fact the most limiting factor in reloading 6.8 spc spec 2 is case volume. You can’t fit enough of the RIGHT powder in the case to go past the “danger zone.” My bolt action 6.8 spc loads are hotter than my AR15 loads because I can load the cartridge longer allowing more room for more powder. My 95 grain Barnes load from my bolt gun run just over 3,000 fps, while out of my AR’s they run around 2925. Not a huge difference but notable. The extra few tenths of a grain of powder help. That’s fired from 16” barrels btw. So the advantages of the 6.8 spc over the wolverine are simply a slight edge in performance across the board. The wolverine offers a lot of cost savings when it comes to converting from any 5.56 based cartridge chambered weapon. With only a barrel change being necessary and a plethora of cross compatible parts. It’s an appealing concept. Within 200 yards I doubt you’ll see any real difference when it comes to terminal ballistics on four legged critters between the two cartridges, but I like having the odds stacked in my favor whenever possible. I often take shots past 200 yards and feel comfortable knowing my bullet will carry enough energy to reliable expand for a humane kill. That extra 200-300 fps gives me that confidence. The difference between .308 win and 300 win mag is about 300 fps.

      1 second ago
  • Rane

    I’ve been building 6.8 AR’s and bolt guns for a while. I’ve kept most of what I’ve built, but some were for paying customers. I also reload for this caliber. If you really want to see what this caliber can do you have to start reloading. The 95 gr TTSX is my all time favorite bullet. I load it with 30.2 grains of 2200 with a COL of 2.295. Velocity from my 16” Bison Armory barrel is 2925. It shoots sub MOA. I’ve used Bison Armory and ARP barrels for my AR builds with excellent results and I use X-Caliber barrels for my savage bolt action builds. No need to go over 16” with the barrel. I’ve seen very little increase in velocity past 16”. My 18 and 20 inch barrels only shot 40 fps faster than my 16! Not worth it. I’ve taken countless deer with this caliber using the load I’ve listed above. I make this load for family and friends too. They all agree that it’s all the gun you need to get the job done. Most of the whitetails we shoot drop instantly if you do your part. I’ve also had great results against pigs with this caliber. I’ve only killed a few, but they all dropped in their tracks from shoulder hits. The biggest was nearly 300 lbs and the smallest was 185. Killed all three within a few seconds of one another. I just talked a friend into converting his AR to 6.8 for hunting. I’m currently deployed, but once we’re back he’s going to play with a few of my 6.8’s and decide what he wants to do. Hopefully we’re back before deer season. If anyone has questions regarding my builds or load data let me know. I’m not shy about sharing my research. This caliber is in my opinion the best all around cartridge for the AR15 platform. I own and reload for 5.55/223, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 spc, 300 BLK, and 458 SOCOM. Of all of them the 6.8 takes home the gold. The author nailed it when he said it’s a jack of all trades. And a master of none I would add, but I would change its grade to a “B” instead of a “C”. It scores higher than a “C” if you consider its class, which is AR 15 compatible calibers.

    2 months ago
    • kourtney

      could I possibly get more information? Im looking to build my first AR and I want the most information and you seem like the type to help. I have hunted with 300 blackout, and 308. I really liked the size and weight of the 300 blackout but not the power. 308 was to heavy to be carrying around all night for hunting.

      1 month ago
      • Rane

        I’ll share with you the key points on what I’ve learned about hunting with AR’s. I prefer to hunt with AR 15 vs AR 10. This is due to the shorter and lighter size of the 15. I hunt public land and have to hike to my hunting location then climb a tree. The lighter gun is favorable. As far as calibers go for the 15 that depends of your intended use. For most the 6.8 will do just about everything well. The 300 BLK is great for close range, or for subsonic suppressed hunting. I’ve done both. But for an all around great mid range hunting rifle I highly recommend a 6.8. Here’s my recommendation: -Get a quality barrel with 1:10-1:11 twist I use Bison Armory or ARP. No need to go past 16” in length. If you go with a mid length gas system you may need to open the gas port up to .09 for reliable cycling of lighter faster bullets like 85-95gr. I use an SLR adjustable block to fine tune the system and for using a suppressor -Get a good bolt. You can use a standard carrier, but don’t go cheap on the bolt. I use LWRC, ARP, and JP. They use harder alloys and great coatings along with improved extractor designs. -Use a good trigger. This goes for any hunting rifle in my opinion. The AR’s lock time is inherently slow. JP makes a great set that includes a “speed hammer” to reduce lock time and the kit will reduce trigger weight and reset. This will aid in accuracy. -Use PRI mags, they allow for longer cartridge lengths -other than that it’s not really crucial on what other parts you use. I do recommend above mil-spec quality on the receivers, but the choices are endless. Pick your favorite optic and use a quality one piece mount like Burris PEPR, Vortex, leupold, Warn, etc... If you need any reloading info I’ll post it as well.

        1 week ago
  • Guts

    A grade of "C"?? Now there's a backhanded compliment. You sure must hate on the 6.5, 5.56, 300 BO, etc if the 6.8 spc is the " best" with only a grade C. The only thing less is a failing grade.

    3 months ago
  • Wyopokesfan33

    Anyone using the 110 accubonds? I've had graat performance out of them on whitetail along with the 120 sst. Love my 6.8

    3 months ago
  • Guy J. Ellis

    Kill first deer with 6.8 about 7-8 years ago. Litlle Michigan 4point. Hit frontal neck. Stopped under skin outside left hip. Full front to back penitration with the prettiest 110 barnes copper flower u der the skin. Deer spun hit a tree and dropped. Have seen 4 more deer shot by teen relatives. They call the lttle ar "No Track" and argue over who gets to take it to the blind. Have of late become a little confused after shooting up all the first batch of bullets. Now it all 6.8 spc ll. Working up a new load, but getting conterdicting data. I'll work it out too good a round not to.

    7 months ago
  • Wayne morris

    O have ruger 556 and looking to buy a 6.8 spc for deer and hogs.I am looking at a complete upper from Sanders armory in the Hunter series.I am new at this,is this a good choice ?

    7 months ago
  • Frank Haahr

    I have two AR 15 rifles chambered for the 6.8 SPC cartridge. I also have two 5.56 AR 15 rifles. I find that the 6.8 is a more affective round then the 5.56 although I like both rounds and shoot a lot. I use my 6.8 rifles for deer hunting and for home defense and use loads that have great expansion. I never want to come in second in a gun fight. The 6.8 is a great round and fun to shoot. A little more recoil then the 5.56, but this is easy to over come with practice and getting to know your weapons.

    9 months ago
  • hairloos

    Giving this round a 'C' grade is an insult, especially, since I would never attribute a C to doing a good job. As a jack of all trades this round is a B+ across the board and THAT means a good job performer

    9 months ago
  • Drew

    I have to ask how it compares to its child the .224 Valkyrie. It’s clearly better at close range but where does the trade off overlap? 600yards?

    11 months ago
    • Rane

      There’s a lot of variables here. Bullet velocities, design and weight(ballistic coefficient). But to give you the basic answer I would say the Valkyrie is a flatter faster round overall, but the 6.8 is a better “terminal” performer inside its respective range. The Valkyrie is a great target round, but I would hesitate to take medium to large game at long ranges. I won’t even shoot deer with my 6.8 past 400 yards. My longest shot was 325. Anything past that and the energy levels and reliable expansion become questionable.

      2 months ago
    • Charles Parker

      probably 400 yards

      5 months ago
  • Reid Joy

    Several years back I took down a pig with a 6.8 SPC AR using some 130gr handloads. It was the largest boar we had seen on the property and I suddenly wished I had my trusty .270 bolt-action. I didn't trust myself enough for the head shot and was leery of trying the shoulder, so I waited and got lucky with a chest as it stepped forward, giving me a clear target. Honestly it never mage a sound, but it ran about 30yds before it keeled over. My friend and I could not move the beast ourselves. We had to resort to using the truck to drag it back to camp. No idea what it really weighed but we guesstimate it was somewhere around 400lbs based on body measurements we took at the time. Not a hogzilla by any means, but still big for the coastal plains of South Texas. Shoot me an email and I'll dig up some pictures.

    11 months ago
  • Paul

    Apparently 6.8 SPC is very seriously considered as a replacement for 5.56. Too bad it only addresses one of 4 major factors-terminal performance. Ballistics,penetration and range are still not much better than 5.56. It looks like we will be paying for this 60 year old disaster for years to come. We are also tied to AR platform which in itself is a limiting factor by dimensions.

    1 year ago
    • Rane

      No commercial load for 6.8 is going to impress anyone trying to decide on a hunting caliber for their AR. The handloads are where it’s at. I’ve built several 6.8 rifles over the years and have been hand loading for the caliber for 8 years now. I can tell you from personal experience that a 16” barrel is all you need to make a 95 grain bullet hit 2900 fps. I’ve loaded bullets from 85 to 130 grains, but nothing works like a 95 grain x bullet. Every whitetail and pig I’ve shot have been one shot kills and most of them never take a step after impact. I had one 9 point run about 40 yards due to a bad shot, but that’s nothing to sneeze at. If your really wanting to see the true potential of this caliber make sure you have the updated spec 2 chamber or better and start hand loading. Accurate 2200 is the best powder for accuracy and velocity with RL 7 and RL 10 being good as well. Best all around caliber for AR 15 hands down. I own several other AR’s chambered in 300 BLK, 6.5 G, .458 SOCOM, and 5.56. I hand load for all of them and still consider the 6.8 to be the best all around. It’s more like a B student in all categories not a C. All of my 6.8’s shoot sub MOA with hand loads. I have 2 AR’s and one Savage bolt action in 6.8. Get a good barrel, bolt, trigger, and optics and this round won’t disappoint.

      10 months ago
  • TimH

    I first turned to the 6.8 SPC when I wanted to combine my love of feral hog hunting with my equal love for ARs.. With the right bullet and placement, the 6.8 will handle any hog at any reasonable distance. Most of the time, you see way more hogs under 100 pounds than over. The 5.56 can handle the little guys just fine, but, in my opinion, it isn't enough cartridge for adult sized pigs. I know, I know... lots of guys kill lots of pigs with their ,223/5.56 AR15s. Good for them. You don't always get the shot or angle you want, Heck, sometimes they're already running when you first see them. Also, wild pigs are tough animals with thick skin and hair, thick, sturdy bones and they can be heavily muscled with plenty of fat.. Have I lost hogs I've shot with the 6.8? You bet. Have I lost pigs that I hit with the .308? You bet. That's pig hunting. Have I lost pigs that I shot with a .223/5.56 rifle? Nope, because I've never shot at a pig with a rifle in that caliber...I like to stack some factors in my favor. I started with a 16 inch Rock River Arms carbine topped by a Millet 1 x 4 with an illuminated reticle. I had very good success in day hunting and using feeder lights at night with that set-up. I soon added a 20 inch Stag Arms upper for longer shots using a Nikon 2 x 7. 90% of the time, the 6.8 SPC was my go-to rig for pigs, day or night. I shot them with many different rifles in many different calibers, but when I was using an AR, the 6.8 was it for me. I generally shot a pig just once to kill it and was sufficiently satisfied with the on game performance of the 6.8 SPC to recommend it to other hunters. My ammo choices were the excellent 120 grain Hornady SST, the 115 grain Federal Fusion and the 90 grain Gold Dot as loaded by Federal for military use. For reloads, I liked the Sierra 110 grain Pro Hunter. Any of these will drop even large hogs in their tracks if I do my part. The SST is the winner if I have to pick the most effective pig load. Believe me, they're all good, but the heavier weight combined with the very effective SST bullet puts the Hornady load in first place. Recoil is negligible, similar to the 5.56 and accuracy is very good. Trajectory is flatter as the bullet weights go down but even the heavier 120 grain bullets with a 200 yard zero will put you about 2.5 inches high at 100 yards and about 10 inches low at 300 yards. Compare that to the performance of the .300 Blackout supersonic loads. I always seem to meet those 6.5 Grendel guys who delight in telling me that the 6.8 may be more effective from the muzzle out to 350 yards, but the Grendel round will leave the 6.8 in the dust from 350 yards to 1000 yards and farther out. All I can say to that is I'm not one to shoot at pigs that far away with an AR15. AR10...now that;s another story. In fact, my current favorite pig gun is a DPMS .308.GII Recon under a Pulsar thermal optic. The 6.8 SPC has been a fine pig round for me and I would imagine it would be a pretty good deer round. I also like it for a truck gun and for farm defense. If you have an AR15 in ,223/5.56 then you are halfway there. Just get yourself an upper and some magazines, add ammo and you are in the game!

    1 year ago
  • BobA

    Love my 6.8! For what it was designed to do, I will take it all day long. The long-distance shooting fantasies of too many shooters hurt the 6.8 from becoming even more popular. That initial spec submission really hurt. To this day, no commercial rounds are made that are loaded to higher pressures due to this act of sabotage (LOL).

    1 year ago
  • Matt

    Just finished building my first AR, and I decided to chamber it in 6.8 SPC for deer hunting. And since it's a deer gun, I didn't want it to look like an "assault weapon", so I went with wood A2 furniture from Boyd's, a geissele low profile gas block, and a sporter low profile upper. No iron sights, just a Redfield Revolution 3-9x50 scope. First shoot will be this weekend. Thanks for the ammo suggestions.

    1 year ago
    • David

      Love that wood furniture look, I'm planning on building an AR-10 using it sometime!

      1 year ago
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