By Tom Mchale
The most interesting thing about the 300 AAC Blackout cartridge is the diversity of projectiles and velocities. Left to right: .223 Remington Hornady A-Max, 300 Blackout 125 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, 300 Blackout Cooper Cartridge 245 grain subsonic, 300 Blackout 220 grain Sierra MatchKing subsonic
Tom McHale, Author of Insanely Practical Guide Books
USA –-(Ammoland.com)- People get all worked up about whether the 300 AAC Blackout is better than the .223 Remington, 5.56mm or perhaps the AK-47’s 7.62x39mm.
I don’t care, mainly because I’m all about celebrating diversity.
To me, the 300 AAC Blackout is a fascinating caliber on it’s own merit. It doesn’t have to be better than any other round. Deciding whether it’s good or not by comparing it to the .223 Remington is like comparing the .357 Magnum to the .44 Special. What’s better?
Neither – they’re just different. And I would include a lot of “quotes” around the “better” part. What’s the purpose? How are you going to use it? What do you like? What gun are you going to shoot?
There’s no universal “better” or “worse” when it comes to caliber comparisons, there are only apples and oranges. As far as I’m concerned, it’s good enough that it’s radically different.
What puffs up my bloomers about the Blackout is the huge ballistic range from the same carbine, short barrel rifle, or AR platform pistol.
- You can launch a 110 grain bullet at 2,400 feet per second.
- You can also launch a 240 grain bullet at 1,000 feet per second.
- You can do all sorts of things in between, like move a 125 grain projectile at 2,200 feet per second. Or a 150 grain bullet at 2,000 feet per second. Or a 168 grain at 1,700 feet per second. You get the idea.
Figure 1 Note how the ribs in the magazine index on the case mouth for the .223 rounds on in the bottom magazine. The projectiles on 300 Blackout cartridges will most likely touch the ribs, so you may need to experiment a bit.
It’s an interesting caliber that allows one to do a lot of customization for the job at hand.
Where things get really interesting is at the heavier end of the projectile scale, when velocities are in the subsonic range. At speeds of 1,100 feet per second or less, give or take, you can have a really, really quiet rifle using a suppressor. Of course, assuming your silencer is rated for supersonic loads, you can leave that same suppressor on when you switch magazines to a hot supersonic round.
To go from subsonic to supersonic, just swap ammo – no other changes required!
A Family Affair.
While you can get a bolt rifle chambered in 300 AAC Blackout, using it with the AR platform is where things get really fun and exciting. In fact, it shares “most” of the cartridge case design with the .223 Remington / 5.56mm NATO. The base is identical, as is the rim. The only differences are that the .300 AAC Blackout is chopped down from the .223 Remington case length of 1.760 inches to 1.368 inches and the shoulder is reshaped. If you’re feeling industrious, you can cut down .223 / 5.56mm brass and shape it yourself. Time won’t waste itself after all.
Since the cartridge is so similar, a Blackout rifle can share a whole lot of components with one designed for .223 / 5.56mm. The bolt carrier and bolt are the same. Of course, a different barrel is required because the caliber is .308 instead of .224 for the .223 Remington and 5.56mm. You can use the same magazines as you do for a .223 Remington AR rifle. Just be aware, things can get a little wonky depending on what specific 300 Blackout cartridge you’re planning to use. Because of the side ribs in AR type magazines, you have to worry about the bullet profile of the 300 Blackout round. Some get a little mushed between magazine ribs and don’t feed reliably. If you run into this, no worries, try a different brand of magazine. Another important feature of “shared” magazines is that you can load up a mag to standard (yes standard, not high) capacity 30 rounds.
Energy, Momentum and Recoil
I could write lots of useless subjective stuff about recoil of this round, but trying to put the physical impressions of my shoulder into the written word probably wouldn’t mean much. Instead, let’s take a scientific look using the ever-so-useful Cartridge Comparison Guide ( http://tiny.cc/gg7zdx ) by Chamberlain Development. If you’re a gun geek, and don’t have this book, get it. You can spend (I mean invest) hours flipping through all sorts of cross-mojinated data about cartridges, energy, recoil, velocity, momentum and such. Again, we’re not doing a “better” or “worse” comparison, but to see the differences between 300 Blackout, .223 Remington and 7.62x39mm, let’s review the raw energy (ability to exert destructive force), momentum (ability to displace mass) and recoil energy (how much each thumps your shoulder) of these three rounds. Just as a side note, the recoil figures are generated assuming an eight pound rifle.
|Cartridge||Energy (ft-Lbs)||Momentum (lbs-feet/sec)||Recoil Energy (ft-lbs)|
|.223 Remington, 55 grain, 3,240 feet per second||1,281.8||25.5||3.16|
|7.62x39mm, 123 grain, 2,365 feet per second||1,527.3||41.6||6.44|
|300 AAC Blackout, 125 grain, 2,215 feet per second||1,361.5||39.6||5.05|
|300 AAC Blackout, 208 grain, 1,020 feet per second||503.2||31.9||3.65|
** Data Source Cartridge Comparison Guide
While accurate, as these figures are drawn from the Cartridge Comparison Guide, you most likely aren’t going to “feel” twice the recoil with an AK than an AR. Lots of other factors like blast and noise will factor into one’s perception of “felt recoil.” For example, while the recoil energy of a subsonic 300 Blackout round is roughly equivalent to that of a standard 5.56mm round, it sure feels like a pussycat load to me. It’s exceptionally mellow to shoot.
Good luck finding the right optic! The 300 blackout cartridge presents an epic challenge to scope manufacturers. The huge range of bullet weight and velocity make bullet drop variance substantial.
Assuming you “zero” at the muzzle and shoot exactly level, a 110 grain round like the Barnes TAC-TX drops about 3.26 inches at 100 yards, 14.3 inches at 200 yards and 35.52 inches at 300 yards. The subsonic loads drop faster than Piers Morgan’s ratings with a 240 grain Sierra MatchKing falling 16.86 inches at 100 yards, 68.88 at 200 and a full 13 feet at 300! But even at 300 yards, it’s still traveling faster than a projectile fired from John Moses Browning’s masterpiece when measured at the muzzle. That’s about 941 feet per second at 300 yards for fat and heavy Blackout bullet. Not that you would shoot a subsonic 300 Blackout round at 300 yards anyway. It’s just fun to compare.
A few manufacturers including Leupold, EOTech and Trijicon have developed red dot sights and/or scopes for the round with different drop compensating reticles for subsonic and supersonic rounds. But if you want to spend the next few months blissfully tinkering at the range, get yourself a mil dot variable scope and map out aim points for different projectile weights, velocities and zoom levels using a program like Ballistic ( http://ballistic.zdziarski.com/ ) .
Your family will hate the time you spend away. But you’ll have an endless supply of “serious work” at the range to keep you inspired.
Some people are of the opinion that the 300 AAC Blackout is the perfect solution for short barrel suppressed rifles and only shoot those rounds. That’s fine. It’s a great solution for that. It’s also a really great solution for AR platform pistols, especially if you use one of those new arm braces as a mini-shoulder stock. Yes, that’s legal – there are no restrictions on usage, just the intent of the manufactured product. It’s also a great solution for a supersonic round for home defense, hunting or just plain plinking.
- 300 AAC Blackout Ammunition : http://tinyurl.com/oscd2pk
- 300 AAC Blackout Bullets: http://tiny.cc/317zdx
- 300 AAC Blackout Reloading Gear & Tools: http://tinyurl.com/on87us4
- 300 AAC Blackout Website: http://300aacblackout.com/
- 300 AAC Blackout Black Rifle Manual: http://tiny.cc/le8zdx
For me, I embrace the diversity. I can’t seem to go a full week without changing optics and working up some new, completely random load to test.
If you like to play, the ballistic range of this caliber is the gift that keeps on giving.
About Tom Mchale
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.