LWRC: 6.8 SPC is the New 300 Blackout
Jon Stokes 01.20.14
A while back, LWRC scored a large contract with a (friendly) foreign military for about 40,000 guns. The military in question is moving from 5.56x45mm NATO to the 6.8 SPC round, but they want to stick with the AR platform. So LWRC will be making a ton of 6.8 ARs for them, and the civilian market will also get semi-auto version in the form of LWRC’s new Six8 line.
LWRC’s Six8 line is basically a premium, piston-driven AR in 6.8 SPC, but there’s one wrinkle that I know many of you will be disappointed to hear: it takes a proprietary magazine.
The military buyer had some concerns about reliable feeding with the 6.8 SPC round, so LWRC produced a version for them with an enlarged mag well that supposedly helps with feeding. Magpul will be making the proprietary mags, so there should be plenty of them available. I don’t know how much they’re going to cost, though.
Now that LWRC has a ton of inventory in 6.8 that they’re looking to sell this year, it makes sense that they’re touting the round as the wave of the future and insisting that .300 blackout (a round that many have said will drive 6.8 SPC into obsolescence) will remain a popular but niche caliber.
The LWRC rep claimed that the US military is currently taking another look at 6.8 SPC and that they’ve stepped back from .300 blackout because soldiers are accidentally getting the larger ammo mixed in with their 5.56 and blowing up guns.
Between this foreign government’s move to 6.8 and the US military’s alleged revisiting of the round as a possible 5.56 replacement, it’s clear that LWRC, at least, thinks that 6.8 SPC is going to be huge. Ballistically it’s part way between 5.56 and .308, but it has a negligible weight increase over 5.56.
As for me, I think it’s a great hunting cartridge, but it’s still way to expensive right now at $1.00 per round. It’s also not clear to me whether increased adoption by the world’s militaries will make the round cheaper or more expensive. Reloaders may have a different perspective on the round’s price, though. I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you do.
As far as the civilian market goes, 6.8′s major competitor isn’t .300 blackout, but good old .308 Winchester. So-called AR-10 format guns are increasingly popular right now, and for good reason. You can take pretty much any game in North America with them, and while they’re significantly more expensive than an AR in 5.56/.223, the ammo is almost half the price of either 6.8 or .300blk. It costs more to get started with .308, but if you do any amount of shooting, then it pays for itself pretty quickly.
On the flip side, though, many hunters really don’t shoot very much at all. They may take a gun to the range once before hunting season just to check its zero, and then once in the field they’ll take maybe ten shots during the season. So a cheaper 6.8 SPC gun would save such a person money, especially if that person will have a hard time convincing their significant other to let them drop up-front $2,800 on a nice AR-10.
Either way, LWRC has placed their bet on 6.8 in a big way for 2014, so you’ll be reading a lot more about the Six8 line and the caliber that inspired it over the course of this year.