Ask Foghorn: The Dog that Didn’t Bark

Eric writes in with a rather depressing truth:

It’s now been over a month since the Las Vegas Shot Show and the one bit of news I did expect to come out of there, or shortly thereafter, has not done so.

With all of the excitement, build up, and hype surrounding the 300 Blackout round, I was expecting one of the Russian “cheap ammo” groups to announce they were manufacturing that specification. With the common parts the 300 Blackout is composed of, I thought this would have been a simple tool-up for them if they believed it was a going concern.

Since Bear, Wolf, and Tulammo haven’t offered 300 Blackout ammunition, does this indicate that said round is currently headed towards being yet-another boutique round rather than growing in wider commercial acceptance?

Yeah, I know, this question doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the typically technical articles, but someone asked and it was a legitimate question. So answer I will.

The single biggest drawback for the .300 AAC Blackout round has been the lack of readily available (and cheap) commercial ammunition. Manufacturer after manufacturer rolled out brand new .300 BLK rifles at SHOT this year, but it seems like none of the regular players have started making ammo besides Remington. Sure there are a ton of smaller manufacturers making .300 BLK, but they don’t seem to have the same capacity as Wolf. And the reason is that everyone is waiting.

For the major ammunition manufacturers (Winchester, PMC, Wolf, Tula…) getting into .300 BLK right now would mean setting up brand new machines. Sure they could re-tool existing machines, but with the current state of the ammunition market (where every last round is being bought, even if it’s 8mm Lebel) it doesn’t make financial sense to take a profitable machine offline to make it just as profitable making something else.

So what they need to do is invest in new equipment, but .300 BLK isn’t quite established enough in their minds to create the kind of demand that would keep a machine buzzing 24/7 cranking out ammunition. It seems like they expect .300 BLK to go the way of every other boutique round and fizzle out. But the difference between .300 BLK and some of the other strange rounds that have come out is that it has the force of Remington and Freedom Group behind it.

The one thing missing from the previous calibers was a champion, a company (or set of companies in this case) that would keep pressing forward with a cartridge even if the rest of the industry is too risk adverse to jump on board. That’s exactly what’s happening with Freedom Group, and I think it’s all part of their master plan.

They’ve created the demand for .300 BLK guns through evangelists like myself telling people how well it works for hunting or self defense or competition shooting, and they feed that demand using their Remington, AAC and Bushmaster properties to prime the pump and counting on other companies to pitch in as well (Noveske and Daniel Defense spring to mind).

Now that there’s demand for ammunition thanks to all the new .300 BLK owners, Remington has already tooled up to produce just enough ammunition to keep a few rounds on the shelves, assisted by some of the smaller ammunition companies in coming close to meeting the demand. So not only has Remington currently cornered the market on .300 BLK ammunition (and can basically charge whatever they want) but they’re able to keep the .300 BLK owners shooting while their numbers grow and demand gets bigger.

This is where others failed, and Remington’s ability to keep the ammunition flowing even when the other major players aren’t in the sandbox with them may prove to be the deciding factor in its sustainability.

Once the market has been established, Freedom Group then has the ability to up-sell their existing customers with things like silencers; expensive pieces of equipment that become addictive. Which explains Freedom Group’s recent surge towards mass legalization of silencers for hunting as well as recreational shooting. They see an opportunity to squeeze a couple grand more out of a market that has proven that they’re willing to drop a couple grand on a rifle and then even more money to keep it fed with expensive ammunition.

To me, .300 BLK is Freedom Group’s attempt to be the Apple of the firearms world. They want their own little ecosystem of devices (guns and silencers in this case) that they can keep selling to their customers at a higher price than the standard fare. And while in theory anyone can jump into the .300 BLK arena (as it’s an open standard freely available to use) the reality is that the barrier to entry in terms of the cash required is still to high compared to the potential market.

I believe that one day I’ll be able to walk into Walmart and buy some Wolf .300 BLK rounds, but the reality of the moment is that the market is too small for the mass production behemoths to make a profit.

So, in short, while at the moment it really doesn’t make sense for Wolf or PMC to get in on the .300 BLK craze the good news is that Remington and Freedom Group seem to be willing to carry the torch until the market is big enough to sustain itself.

Or, in other words, I’m not worried. And, worst case scenario, I can always make my own ammo.

[Email your firearms-related questions to “Ask Foghorn” via guntruth@me.com. Click here to browse previous posts]

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

38 Responses to Ask Foghorn: The Dog that Didn’t Bark

  1. avatarcaffeinated says:

    The fact that this is SAAMI and you can roll your own from 5.56 brass gives it better survival than say the ill fated 300 whisper.

    I too would love it if I could get steel cased blasting ammo ala 20 cents a round.

  2. avatarI_Like_Pie says:

    It will fade just like the hundreds of oddball cartridge that has come along over the past 100 years.

    Much as any of the G.I. Jokers claim that it is the new sliced bread…it is going nowhere. Couple of rabid, enthusiastic fans is all.

    Good news is that you should be able to find it in the discount bin in a couple of years near the WSM, WSSM, and HM2 ammo. Also the guns should start popping up on CDNN at 40% off.

    • avatarL1A1Rocker says:

      Well, it’s been a couple of years now and I don’t see the ammo in the discount bin. In fact demand is higher now than two years ago. I guess I’m supposed to wait another two years???

  3. avatarST says:

    Predicting the success or failure of ammunition at its first introduction has about the same track record as predicting the weather. For an example the .40 S&W has eclipsed its parent cartridge in availability and manufacturer popularity.

    The problem I see with the .300 BLK is that it is engineered for a specific problem to a specific client. Stuffing a bigger round with more power into the AR15 platform serves the police and government clients well, but the farmer or shooter on a budget will naturally wonder why they should spend cash for the .300 BLK when a .308 Winchester rifle next to it on the store rack is priced less with greater ammunition availability.

    • avatarI_Like_Pie says:

      Everyone knew in the 90′s that the 40s&w was going to do well. Well – Except the small group of rabid, enthusiastic people who root for the 10mm being the end all solution to everything.

      They are all good cartridges, but that isn’t what determines the standard for military, police, or the average user.

      Yes. The majority of new chambering introductions actually CAN be prospected even before they are introduced to the market. History has proven that as reliable of clockwork. Look at all of the popular ones (big 10 or so) every one of them has had major backing to develop a solution for a clearly defined problem. 30/30, 30-06, 38 special, 223, 308, .22lr, 7.63×39, etc, etc. All of them were a sure fire recipe for staying power.

    • avatarStuart says:

      “but the farmer or shooter on a budget will naturally wonder why they should spend cash for the .300 BLK when a .308 Winchester rifle next to it on the store rack is priced less with greater ammunition availability.”

      This is correct. Cheaperthandirt has 9 different makes of .300BLK. They have 314 different makes of .308/7.62NATO.

      The .300 runs from 81.25c/round: the .308/7.62 runs from 36.95c/round and can go even cheaper in bulk milsurp. I will stick with .308 :)

  4. Unless the military adopts it, it will be an uphill battle. By adopt, I mean replace .223.

    • avatarSid says:

      Probably right. It is a niche but will only proper if the biggest part of that niche (US military) adopts that round.

  5. avatarMike in NC says:

    I’ve been watching 300 BLK for nearly a year. I liked what I was seeing and hearing and I made plans for my second AR to be in 300 BLK even before acquiring even a single roll pin for my first AR. I am still waiting for one thing before pulling the trigger on assembling a 300 BLK AR: Brass cased ammo priced near 60 cents a round (in the same ball-park as brass cased 7.62×39 or 7.62×51). 300 BLK ammo is occasionally available at this price in the form of Remington UMC’s 115 grain supersonic, but so far Remington can’t or won’t produce enough for even a few online retailers to stay stocked. If this doesn’t change soon, I’m afraid 300 BLK could fade into a fad.

    One final note: remember to drop the “.” from in front of the “300″.

  6. avatarMartin Albright says:

    Seeing as how Wolf, Tula, et al don’t even make .38 Spl, and there are probably tens of millions of guns out there that shoot that caliber (not only every .38, but every .357 Magnum as well) , I don’t see any reason why they would make an oddball round like .300 BLK.

    We need to realize that in terms of ammo purchase, we civilian consumers are small potatoes compared to the national military and police forces out there, who buy their ammo by the shipload.

  7. avatarRalph says:

    When someone shoots the 300 BLK, they’re not actually sending lead downrange, they’re sending their credit card.

    The beauty of the .223 is that it’s cheap. Not as cheap as 7.62X54R, but cheap anyway. The 300 BLK is as spendy as the .30-06 but without the power. Plus, to enjoy the full benefit of the BLK, you need a supressor. That’s an additional expense,to say nothing of the annoying wait time for the tax certificate. Finally, supressors are still illegal in some states, such as the Kommonwealth of Massachusetts.

    All things considered, the 300 BLK has too many things going against it. Which is too bad, because the world of guns could use some innovation.

  8. avatarMadDawg J says:

    The thing that 300 Blackout brings to the table is it’s performance suppressed. I do not expect this round to become mainstream until suppressors become more common in hunting, suppressors become cheaper and the ATF doesn’t take forever to give you your stamp.

    • avatarJim Barrett says:

      That and the fact that I can drop a 300 BLK upper on my AR-15 lower and use the same mags. If I want to use another kind of .30 rounds, then I need to change out both upper and lower as well as procure additional magazines (yes I know that there are some oddball one-off systems out there that purport to work the same as 300 BLK in terms of using existing equipment, but those are even harder to find ammo for).

    • avatarI_Like_Pie says:

      Yes they may sail though the air with decent trajectory and a minimal amount of noise, but bullet performance of a .30 caliber offering at 1000 fps is abysmal.

      A good .38 special bullet out of a 6″ barrel would expand (and in most cases perform) better than a subsonic .300blk at 100 yards. This is because the bullet was designed to perform at that velocity. What is there in factory offerings that actually shows sub-1000fps expansion in a .30 caliber rifle bullet!?

      The ONLY thing this caliber has going for it is the ability to fit in an AR with minimal fuss. That is it.

      • avatarJim Barrett says:

        Only the subsonic version is 1000 fps. The heavier supersonic stuff run about 2000 fps.

        • avatarI_Like_Pie says:

          Right. I am perfectly aware of the dual loadings. Just pointing out how useless the subsonic one is in the current bullet offerings.

          The supersonic ones aren’t that much more impressive.

      • avatarcaffeinated says:

        With supersonic loads you can approach 7.62x39mm performance with lighter projectiles out of an 8″ barrel. I would say this fits the bill pretty well for PDW work. Muzzle blast out of a short barrel is also magnitudes lower than the equivalent 5.56mm or even 7.62x39mm since it uses a pistol powder.

        Since the round uses the same 5.56 magazines and bolts, almost any platform can be had in this caliber with a barrel swap. No proprietary mags (6.8) and no special bolt (6.8).

        As a reloader’s round, it its significantly cheaper on powder as it uses pistol and not rifle powder. The cost is in the projectile. Cases are as cheap as 223 if you want to spend the time forming them.

  9. avatarJim Barrett says:

    PNW Arms has 300 BLK in 200 round cases for 62.5 cents for the cheap stuff and about 79 cents for the match grade. I have a box inbound that will be here next week. What is rather irritating is that I just received my new AAC 300 BLK upper today, but the place I purchased it from forgot to include the 2 boxes of ammo I bought, which means that I probably won’t be getting to try out my new upper this weekend. I’ve called all over the place and no one has any in stock locally. Bummer.

  10. avatarLevi B says:

    Prices for .300 BLK have already come down significantly. Remington is all in on this one, and for anyone who wants a super short AR-15 SBR that doesn’t lose all its potency or an AR-15 rifle to suppress, .300 BLK is already the clear winner. The simple fact that it uses all standard 5.56 parts including magazines besides the barrel and ammo easily made from readily available components is enough for that.

    If you want cheap ammo you do what people have done for a long time–you load it yourself.

  11. avatarDave J says:

    “But the difference between .300 BLK and some of the other strange rounds that have come out is that it has the force of Remington and Freedom Group behind it.”
    Was that “force” behind the 30 Remington AR as well?

  12. avatarDrewN says:

    If I switch to .300 BLK,what will I do with my 4 (a 14.5 upper,a 24″ upper, a Mini conversion and a CZ 527 conversion) 6.5 Grendels? Which Wolf actually makes a decent brass cased cartridge for, btw. Not to mention my multiple 30-30′s, .308′s and 7.62-39′s. The only other oddball AR caliber I’d even consider is the 5.7 x 28, which since I’m in Ca won’t fly due to the mags, and ammo is too expensive anyway.

  13. avatarCbang says:

    Wolf does not make Tula! Do your research. Tula is a Russian company that, Wolf use to, repackage and sale under the wolf brand.

  14. avatarrsilvers says:

    “The .300 runs from 81.25c/round”

    Um no, it is 56 cents a round:

    http://www.richiespng.com/product.php?item=136515

    Tula took 10 years to come out with 6.8 ammo.

  15. avatarAccur81 says:

    As a 6.8 SPC fan (especially the Wilson Combat) ammo, I’m a bit concerned about the 300 BLK. The 300 is definitely an interesting caliber, and has some excellent features. Remington betrayed the 6.8, so I’m not sure I’d trust them for the 300 BLK. I’m sure the 300 BLK will survive, but the military remains a huge market, and they are steadfast in the 5.56 and 7.62 NATO. As much as I’d like to see military and police adopt an intermediate caliber, it hasn’t happened.

  16. avatarHowa says:

    For hunting, the subsonic round is illegal and unethical. Useless as t*ts on a boar.

    So except for the 2 boxes of subsonic that you buy just for the novelty factor, you will use your BLK in supersonic mode 95% of the time.

    The supersonic loadings are sub-30-30 in terms of capability, but expensive like 30-06.

    Those who cannot do this logic in their heads now will buy it and find out the hard way.

    The only thing driving sales right now is innumeracy.

    • avatarI_Like_Pie says:

      Thank you! That is exactly what I have been saying all along. This caliber is useless to all but AR fanboys with more money than sense.

      • avatarEric says:

        Actually Howa’s comment is self-serving rather than objectively critical.

        300 Blackout is neither blanketly illegal nor unethical. In VA for example, regulated minimums for hunting deer with a firearm, including handguns, are a caliber 0.24 or larger and 350 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Furthermore, 30-30 is not some magical minimum for hunting deer: it is both ethical and efficacious to hunt deer with a pistol round, or believe it not even with a pointy stick, at “archery range”.

        Supersonic 300 BLK is legal for hunting deer in VA, but cheaper 5.56×45 rounds, and thus the majority of AR15s, are *not* legal at all. Moreover, hunting with a suppressor is legal in VA. So sub-sonic 300 BLK is useable as well.

        A 220 grain 0.30 slug traveling at roughly 1,000 fps is equivalent to a +P .45 ACP or a light-load .357 Magnum; both of which are used routinely to harvest deer at handgun range in their appropriate season. However, 300 BLK has a dramatically higher sectional density than either of those rounds and will thus penetrate deeper. That’s to say nothing of the superior ergonomics, stability, and sighting systems of a suppressed carbine over a suppressed pistol. Both of them let you keep “open ears” in the woods, but the carbine and intermediate round are more likely to take the target.

        Finally, if you were hunting suppressed with 300 BLK and ran into the Old Saw that “when you are hunting with a rifle, no deer will stand further than 50 yds and when you are hunting with a pistol no deer will approach within 100″, all you need do is drop the magazine and switch to supersonic ammunition to bring the target back into effective range.

        Beyond hunting, 300 BLK gives all the advantages of the 5.56 AR15 platform, including commonality of parts and magazines. That’s something you’re never going to find in a supposed “magic minimum” 30-30 that’s only for hunting.

        In fact, rather than “the only thing driving [300 Blackout] sales right now is innumeracy”, the only thing *holding them back* is lack of cheap, 5.56-type plinking ammo for practice and fooling around with.

        And that’s what the whole article is about.

        • avatarHowa says:

          So it’s unethical to use a 223 on a deer due to lack of energy, and the unnecessary suffering that will therefore be inflicted.

          And unethical to use a non-expanding round on deer due to the unnecessary suffering that therefore be inflicted. (A 223 traveling at 2000 fps will make a larger hole than your BLK.)

          Yet you have decided that a non-expanding round (any 30 cal @ 800fps) hitting a deer with a few hundred foot pounds of energy is perfectly fine because it is not specifically excluded by Virginia law.

          Do you understand why these laws were created? To try to reduce the number of innumerate hillbillies hunting deer with slingshots, .22′s, FMJ rounds, and (as per your post) “pointed sticks”. Just because a deer will eventually die from the wound you inflict on it, and you won’t be arrested for your action, this does not make you an ethical hunter.

          Back to the subject: you will sight in the rifle for the round that you hunt with if you’re not inclined to be cruel to the game that you hunt. Thus, after the first two boxes of “gee that’s quiet” novelty subsonics are gone, you sight in with supersonics and leave it that way.

          You now own an A/R that has the ballistics of a 30/30 and uses boutique ammunition. You can’t use it for plinking or practicing your commando ninja swat operator skills because you can’t afford it. It’s a $1000+ hunting-only rifle that is outdone in every category by a Mosin Nagant and in most categories by a $199 SKS.

          Not the brightest purchase — unless you accidentally broke your hand (at the mall?) such that you can no longer hold anything but a vertical pistol grip?

          That’s why the BLK will not work out.

        • avatarEric says:

          ***So it’s unethical to use a 223 on a deer due to lack of energy, and the unnecessary suffering that will therefore be inflicted.***

          I stated it was illegal, which it is; you put “unethical” in my mouth in an attempt to strawman.

          ***And unethical to use a non-expanding round on deer due to the unnecessary suffering that therefore be inflicted. (A 223 traveling at 2000 fps will make a larger hole than your BLK.)

          Yet you have decided that a non-expanding round (any 30 cal @ 800fps) hitting a deer with a few hundred foot pounds of energy is perfectly fine because it is not specifically excluded by Virginia law.

          Do you understand why these laws were created? To try to reduce the number of innumerate hillbillies hunting deer with slingshots, .22′s, FMJ rounds, and (as per your post) “pointed sticks”. Just because a deer will eventually die from the wound you inflict on it, and you won’t be arrested for your action, this does not make you an ethical hunter.***

          The population of archers (I am one; pointed sticks ftw) and handgun hunters who routinely and humanely hunt deer empirically disproves your attempt at armchair terminal ballistics.

          Word of advice: staking out a sneering, self-serving, “they’ll never get it off the ground” position rarely leads to actually making yourself look intelligent on the internet. And loading yourself up with irrelevant ad hominem like "innumerate" and "hillbilly", or non sequiturs like "mall ninja" never does.

        • avatarHowa says:

          Legality and ethics are both 100% important when it comes to hunting.

          The laws against hunting with a 223 are designed to channel you towards ethical behaviour.

          Using an underpowered, non-expanding bullet to open a tiny wound channel and cause a slow and suffering-filled death via blood loss is unethical.  

          The fact that you can cause a similar death with an arrow legally and ethically does not make doing it with a rifle right.  In any way at all.

          If you pack a rifle to the bush and use it on an animal, you are responsible for taking all reasonable measures to cause that animal to die quickly and painlessly.  These include, but are not limited to selecting your firearm, cartridge, bullet, range, hunting conditions, and target such that there is a very good chance that the animal will die within a few seconds of being shot.

          We do this because these factors are reasonably within our control as rifle hunters.  

          Archers cannot achieve such a probable outcome, no matter what their equipment and training.  They are therefore absolved of this responsibility.  The same is true of handgun hunters to some extent.

          But if you can and do buy a $1000 rifle in the calibre of your choice, and pack it to the woods voluntarily to hunt for sport, you can damn well pick one that will probably offer your prey a quick death.  

          The subsonic 300BLK is NOT that firearm.  If you shoot a deer with it just to satisfy your I-hunt-with-my-tacticool-swat-gear fanboyism, that deer’s misery and unnecessarily slow death are on your conscience.

        • avatarEric says:

          You just keep embarrassing yourself. You state that 300 BLK is illegal to hunt with when it’s not. Then when called out on that you switch to a hand-waving attempt at physics with low-balled numbers. When copious empirical data is pointed out that refutes you, you positively tie yourself in a pretzel trying to make some sort of inside-out moral argument.

          Either it is cruel and wrong to hunt with a particular implement or it is not. Instead you claim that it’s cruel and wrong to hunt with a handgun or bow and arrow *at any range*, but since it’s impossible to use them humanely you’ll give that a pass! (Thank you for that gracious papal indulgence.)

          Here, I can turn the same ridiculous argument around on you so you can see just how transparent and pompous it is: Did you know that venison taken with bow and arrow tastes different than that taken with a gun of any kind? It’s because adrenalin saturates the meat in the seconds between the roar and shock of a gunshot and the animal’s death. In contrast, unless an arrow strikes a bone and stops many deer don’t even notice they’ve been hit with one before passing out from drop in blood pressure. Thus, using a firearm to hunt deer is unnecessarily cruel – inflicting terror and pain upon the animal in its last seconds – regardless of the cartridge or skill of a user. Indeed, one would only choose to use a 30-30 or 30-06 to hunt deer if they were pathetic Karamojo Bell wannabes, pretending they’re on some dangerous-game safari in the American midwest.

          See how silly that is?

          It is perfectly humane to hunt with handgun or bow and arrow, tens of thousands of people across America do it every year, and your “it’s irresponsible but since it’s impossible to be anything but cruel I’ll pretend otherwise while being the very paragon of rectitude myself” doesn’t change that reality.

          But I’m sure neither I nor any of those thousands of others will stop you from justifying to yourself that the weapon *you* chose/are-stuck-with is the be-all and end-all of legal, physical, and indeed moral ramifications for employing a particular hunting method. Anyone who purchased or acted different is a thoughtless, innumerate, irresponsible, “mall ninja” stinky-head. Any alternatives to that belief would make you feel uncertain and queasy; that can’t be *allowed* to be true…

  17. I would be more interest if they sold 9×39 ammo… if I could pick up 500 round tin of that I would giggle like a schoolgirl… like when I heard they were going to make 6.5 AKs.

  18. avatarMichael says:

    Never seen the ammo, or guns for it in any local stores, and I shop often

  19. avatarMichael says:

    Now if a company would make a 300 blackout in one of their cheaper guns, Ruger American, Savage Axis we may see more interest.
    I had high hopes for the 338 Federal, but I never saw any guns or ammo in that caliber.

  20. avatarEd says:

    Not that I agree or even disagree with anyone I do have this question ? How do you humanly kill another living animal? Dead is dead. When a pack of wolves kill a deer one of the pack holds on to the throat while the others start eating. It’s this stupid PC mentality that allows PETA to exsist. Most people who shop for their meat don’t even know how or where it comes from. Anyway my point is .22 or .58 cal black powder. Arrow or hatchet, deer are a prey species and thus are food for something else as are plants. Stop kidding yourself killing and eating another creature by definition is not human. So just get over it. The crime should be to waste it when people go to sleep hungry.

    Ed

  21. avatarEd says:

    Oh yeah this is about that cartridge 300ACC Blackout. Well, I for one would like to see the military move back to something more substantial. No matter how you cut it we ain’t shooting the .30-06 anymore but we really need that kind of hitting power with the .223/5.56×45 carry ability. While in service my basic load out was 336 – 5.56 rounds. And man I have to say it was heavy as hell I can’t even imagine what the guys in the 40′s and 50′s had to endure. I know the 5.56 was fine on small and light southeast Asians. But the region of the world where we find ourselves today do not have that same limitation, as well the fighters for the most part are chemically prepping themselves to take inbound rounds so something with better knock down power is needed since we are stuck using FMJ rounds.

    Is the ACC Blackout the round? I don’t know but Remington sure thinks so and they have the clout to make it happen. Everyone seems to think the ammo costs a lot but I have news for you the price of ammo has gone way up. I can remember buying 5.56 for $2 to $4 per 20 rounds. It was so cheap it cost more to reload it the to just by it. With the 15% government ammo excise tax and low production and high demand you have to decide eat steak twice a week or stay in practice with your shooting skills.

    What has this country come to? We have to change something soon before it’s to late. The plan seems to be we can’t stop or overturn the second amendment so let’s just price the ammo out of their reach the just get rid of it all together. After all owning ammunition is not a constitutionally guaranteed right. Well played liberal agenda.

    Stay informed roll your own.

    Ed

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