When it comes to new calibers I am always one of those guys that stays away until I know the caliber has staying power. I couldn’t imagine buying some new, awesome, off the wall caliber, a nice rifle or pistol in it, only for it to fail and for the price to skyrocket for an individual round. My general rule of thumb is to wait until multiple ammo manufacturers make the round, and a big box store carries it.
So when it came to the 300 Blackout I waited, and I regret waiting so long. I recently purchased an excellent Ruger American in 300 Blackout. Great, lightweight rifle, with a nice short barrel. You see the 300 Blackout is designed to be used in a short barrel. So my Ruger American’s 16 inch barrel is more than enough for excellent performance.
Let’s go with the bad first. The 300 Blackout is not a long range precision round and it wasn’t designed to be. You see the round was designed for short barreled carbines. So it’s not necessarily designed for a bolt gun, but it works well. The range you’ll get with the weapon depends on the loading you use. A lighter loading will get you longer range and a high velocity. Rounds in the 110 grain category are more than capable of reaching out to 400 yards efficiently. Heavier subsonic rounds, like a 220 grain is limited to 100 yards for an efficient kill.
First the variety of different projectiles. you can use and what that means for you. As I mentioned a 220 grain is a relatively short range projectile. However it is subsonic, and easily suppressed, for one of the quietest center fire rifle rounds out there. With the rising popularity and availability of suppressors and states allowing them for hunting, it’s a very desirable feature.
The round is quite short and allows a bolt gun to have a nice short action for rapid manipulations. The recoil is near nil, it’s a very soft shooting caliber, perfect for people of near any size. The caliber is still potent enough to hunt deer, hogs, and predators like coyotes.
Now the caliber was originally meant to be used in an AR platform, and this is where it shines the most. As a defensive caliber it is more potent than the 5.56 at close range, and much more potent than the 9mm. When loaded with 220 grain subsonic round the round outperforms the 9mm for a comparable carbine in every way. The round uses the 5.56 brass as it’s parent case and this allows it to use the same bolt carrier group, magazines, and compact carbine as the 5.56. In fact all one would need to change is the barrel of a standard 5.56 AR and they’d be ready to roll with 300 Blackout.
These days over a hundred ammo manufacturers produce 300 Blackout in a wide variety of different loading. Including bullets with a weight of 110, 115, 125, 150, and 220. You can swap these calibers out without any adjustment to your gun.
Now when compared to 5.56 the 300 Blackout has numerous advantages. The main downside is the 5.56 is a bit better at longer ranges. However the 300 Blackout offers better barrier penetration, better close range performance, can be more efficiently suppressed, a wide variety of projectiles, the use of barrel as short as 9 inches does not affect performance, and of course a bigger bullet.
So what are some of the little issues and annoyances of the caliber? Well price is one. An average box of 20 FMJs is typically 16 dollars. A little pricey, especially if you are looking to use an AR platform and want to buy bulk. However as a lightweight, low volume bolt gun it works well for me.
The 300 Blackout is pretty common, available at every respectable gun store, but you may have trouble finding it without a gun store, Gander mountain, or Outdoor World. I do predict however that the round will find it’s way into Wal-Mart soon enough.
Will this caliber ever reach 5.56 levels of production and popularity? Maybe, but without a military contract it’s future is a bit dicey. The round excels for police use, so maybe that will be it’s saving grace. The 300 Blackout is still an excellent cartridge, performs wonderfully with suppressed, and short barrels, and makes a great lightweight carbine round. Here’s hoping the round kicks off, and we starting seeing 50 to 35 cent per round prices.