.300 AAC Blackout: Will Upcoming New Loads Solve its Problems?
Kevin Crank 03.18.16
I’ve been looking into investing in 300 AAC Blackout, but I keep going back and forth lately on the practical application of it. From what I know of its ballistics and from my research it isn’t perfect, but it definitely fills a void that the shooting community craved. True, some loads don’t cycle the action of some AR configurations without a suppressor. To that I say, if I truly loved a particular load but hate its reliability problems unsuppressed, I’d have the gas port taped shut on the barrel and get a side charging upper for that ‘straight pull’ action. It also helps to get around the non-semi-auto laws in which some of those areas would most likely also be anti-suppressor as well.
Perhaps I could go with the classic bolt action. There is a 300 Blackout Remington 700.
Or the Masterpiece Arms Bolt Action Sporting Rifle. Bolt action is in the name but it’s actually more comparable to a straight pull.
But let’s face it, the real thing stopping me with 300 AAC Blackout is: it isn’t as cheap, or as prevalent as 5.56/223. But it’s only a few years old, I can give it time.
There are people working on the price thing, like the good folks at Alexander Arms. They are currently working out the kinks in a cheaper bullet to fix that problem and make it more available (light language warning for the video). I called them recently and inquired about it. It’s not out yet but they say the ballistic information may be available in a few weeks. As a man more interested in the ammunition than the firearm that uses it, I await this information quite eagerly.
Allow me to let the innovative Bill Alexander take the floor on the function of 300 AAC Blackout.
“It doesn’t have a bunch of recoil. It doesn’t have a bunch of muzzle flash; it’s not gonna blast. I can build a really lightweight AR, that‘s deer legal! … For me this is a deer cartridge, ya know 99% of deer hunters out there. They don’t need a 600 yard or a 1000 yard deer cartridge. Ya know, light, cheap, simple, light! Ya know, light twice…”
I can see he understands where this cartridge stands in the industry. Later he says.
“Long term, I’m more interested in this as a hunting round, I think its got a lot for the industry because everybody can shoot it. It’s not a big boomer, you’re not burning powder you don’t need to burn, you don’t got range you don’t need.”
So far I’d been nodding my head. I think he was on the ball with his evaluation. Then he said this.
“I can eek out almost a 7.62×39 out of it, but… it’s never gonna be… it’s not a 308. There’s no way! You ain’t got the boiler room.”
All of these points opened my eyes. The argument of ‘why not just use a 308’ was brought up several times by our own Major Pandemic in his articles on the problems with the cartridge and platform.
The argument against using 308 over 300 Blackout was answered in the first quote and the second respectively. Most of the time I wouldn’t need all that power, speed, and energy at the practical hunting ranges of inside 300 yards. So why lug a heavier rifle that’s going to kick me around?
Like I said before, I don’t actually know the numbers on the round they are making. So take this with a pile of salt. From the interview it sounds like the bullet will be 176 grains going around 1050 feet per-second. Now I can hear the typing from here that the energy is lacking for a rifle cartridge at 431 foot pounds. Yes, you’re right. But put it in context. That’s 9mm energy, but a 147 grain subsonic gets 360 Ft/Lbs and it can drop a man or a deer with the right bullet. This load of 300 Blackout, however, is 176 grains, in a longer, thinner bullet that will carry it’s energy farther at a flatter trajectory, and then expand like mad. (This data will be updated upon their release.)
So what do we have if/when Alexander Arms comes out with their new loading? A light, easy to shoot, cheap package. And to top that off, at one point he said it’ll even operate with carbine length gas tubes, mitigating the reliability problem.
There is another company releasing cheaper loads: Sellier & Bellot. Our friends over at The Firearm Blog broke the news to me and it brought a smile to my face. From what I could find, the price can get as low as 22¢ a round! The fact that manufacturers are trying to lower the price gives me hope. That said, I’d like to see how their 200 grain load functions in a carbine length gas system unsuppressed.
We also have options for cheap subsonic reloading in the form of 245 grain coated cast lead bullets from Missouri Bullet Company, featured here by Fire Mountain Outdoors. This is a plinking load, designed to save powder by taking up more case room. Don’t take this information as loading data, and always remember: when loading something you’ve never tested before, err on the side of caution.