My Anti-300 Blackout Soapbox Downsized a Little
Major Pandemic 03.19.15
So it seems I am in the midst of more than a few very high end AR-15 pistol builds, and the one I started with was one centered around a receiver format I love with a caliber I frankly didn’t get: the 300 Blackout. I wrote hotly commented soapbox article about my skepticism of the 300 Blackout round in AR-15s, and people were pissed. It was as though I was insulting a religion. Enough people sat me down and had a serious man-to-man discussion in the same weighty alcohol drenched way your best friends in college would tell over and over that the girl hanging on you for years who you don’t think is hot, is actually the hottest and nicest girl in the world and is dying to date you. Geez, okay already. I will give the round a go in a really nice build.
I figured that if I put enough lipstick on the pig that I would somehow like it. The result was a gloriously custom AR-15 pistol build in 300 Blackout based on and Aero Precision platform and many custom components which totaled in at $2566. Surely this build would make me a lover of the 300 Blackout.
The Downsized Soap Box
So did all these premium, high-end, ultimate level components change my mind about the 300 Whisper/Blackout? Well sort of and sort of not. On the one hand, many of the negative points such as high cost per round, the myth of of increased Ft/lbs of energy overing existing 5.56 Nato rounds, and problematic design considerations to assure reliability all are still relevant. The 300 Blackout is not the “OMG it’s like the best round ever” for me, but remains for me a round reserved almost exclusively for hunting like the 30-30 Winchester. What I now like about the round in the AR-15 is that it delivers 30-30 Winchester power in an AR-15 format but with two power options.
Probably the best thing about the 300 Blackout is that it can run perfectly (if tuned right) in an AR-15 pistol with both sub-sonic and supersonic loads. Even without increased pressure from a suppressor or an oversized gas port in the barrel, you don’t get the significant cycling and reliability problems with AR-15 rifles with longer rifle length 300 Blackout barrels and sub-sonic rounds. This pistol configuration just worked right out of the gate with the Ballistic Advantage pistol barrel, and I like the 300 Blackout in the pistol format because it works with any Blackout round you stuff in it.
Other positives about the Blackout rounds include sharing the same magazines, same bolt carrier group, and charging handle as your current 5.56 upper, which only really requires shooters to swap out barrels on their AR platform, but ya know I got a little carried away.
I can see some really great potential in the 300 Blackout pistol format for the heavy sub-sonic rounds from a very long range accuracy perspective. In reality, my best 300 yard 2 MOA groups were with the sub-sonic Hornady rounds, not the hyper velocity Hornady rounds. The hyper velocity rounds seem to still be gross over penetration rounds according to my ballistic gel and less formal testing shooting phone books. I did not have a piece of gel long enough to fully measure the penetration of the rounds, which exceeded 18″, and I saw 14” freaking inches of penetration and 1″ of expansion into stacked and compressed phone books with the supersonic rounds, which is nuts. If you need more penetration, this is a great round. Or if you just need a bigger hole like the military does when they can’t shoot hollow points. I actually saw reasonable 12” ballistics gel penetration with the sub-sonic rounds, which is more reasonable penetration for defensive work. The Hornady 208 grain round delivers right at 1,000 ft/lbs of energy all the way out to 200 yards, which is not too shabby for a pistol platform with a 30-round capacity.
Every ammo manufacturer I have spoken with warns against confusing penetration with energy. The blackout is a deeper penetrating round compared to the 5.56 Nato or .223 Remington, but that does not make the Blackout more powerful. It’s a fact, Jack. It is just used for different things.
The Blackout in high velocity and deeper penetration is a more appropriate deer and hog round than the .223 ever was even with heavier 70gr .223 bullets. The Blackout’s penetration matches nearly perfectly to the widely proven 30-30 Winchester round, but in a format that can be shot in your favorite AR-15, which is cool and even cooler in an AR-15 pistol. I have heard the 300 Blackout is an awesome round on hogs and deer. Many people have said the 150-155gr rounds are the sweet spot for the 300 Blackout and really delivers amazing results, but I didn’t have any of those rounds to test yet. Hard skinned hogs and thick chested deer/elk will likely fall more quickly, humanely, and reliably with the 300 Blackout than .223/5.56. Maybe I am warming up to the round a bit. I still ask myself though, why not just use a .308?
Life is a trade off and this build may just have convinced me that the 300 Blackout has a place after all in my safe and possibly in the field, but a .223 Remington/5.56 Nato ender it is not at least from my perspective.
HORNADY LISTED BALLISTICS – Compare Yourself – The 300 Blackout is everything you expect from a good 30-30 Winchester Round.