The 300 AAC Blackout round may not be perfect for every application. But the one application that it is absolutely perfect for, specifically as a subsonic/supersonic combo for special forces soldiers, is the role it was born to fill. So when WIRED published an article via CNN about special forces soldiers looking for a subsonic round for the future, I was somewhat shocked that 300 BLK wasn’t mentioned. I mean, check this out…

Most bullets make small sonic booms when flying through the air, which to our ears sound like a loud, distinct “crack!” For the Pentagon’s special forces, that makes it hard to be sneaky about what they’re shooting. Now the commandos want to be sneakier with slower, quieter bullets.

In its latest round of small-business solicitations, the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, is seeking out subsonic ammunition. The reason, according to the solicitation, is to “provide superior covert and stealth capabilities” for not only the military, but police forces and the Department of Homeland Security.

Which is exactly the use case for 300 BLK rounds. Stealthy when you need them, not when you don’t.

At present, the Defense Department does not have subsonic bullets “classified for use in the calibers provided by any DoD service.” That doesn’t mean special operations forces never use them. Commandos have used subsonic bullets since World War II, though these are mainly effective in smaller guns like the .22 and 9 mm caliber pistols. Subsonic bullets and fairly large-caliber war rifles, on the other hand, don’t mix very well.

Interesting side note: DOD approved ammunition is issued a Department Of Defense Identification Code, or DODIC, which is a unique identifier for the specific caliber and load to be ordered. It helps keep the procurement process easier for the quartermasters, and helps range officers identify the type of ammunition being used on their range. DODIC A059 is 5.56mm ball ammunition, for example. 300 Blackout doesn’t have any assigned DODICs. Yet. That I know of.

But now that Federal is making 300 BLK, and since Federal runs the ammo plant for the U.S. Government, that might be changing soon.

So, if the pentagon is concerned about subsonic ammo and wants some, how does it plan to achieve that? Is there not some existing technology available for the government to use? Perhaps something made by an existing government contractor?

Instead, the Pentagon has one idea about how to build a better subsonic bullet. One solution could be using “polymer cased ammunition” as opposed to brass or steel. The Pentagon is somewhat vague about how this will work, but the idea is that polymer-cased bullets “produce a reliable and consistent powder burn.” More specifically, polymer obturates at lower pressures, which means it may be possible to shoot a heavy bullet with less propellant while theoretically not trading for accuracy and range. Maybe.

Wait, what? How, exactly, does making the cartridge case out of a different material alter the muzzle velocity of the round? And how does that fix the inaccuracy issue they were talking about earlier? What does polymer cases have to do with anything?

To do it, the Defense Department might want to go back to the future. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Army spent $300 million on a canceled project called Advanced Combat Rifle to replace the standard M16 rifle.

One proposed replacement, the Steyr ACR, used polymer cartridges, but supposedly suffered from inaccuracy due to the strength of the cartridges being inconsistent, though this could be conceivably solved by testing cartridges until they fire consistently. Perhaps SOCOM could do it better.

Yes, SOCOM can do it better. Since I’m pretty sure they already have some of Robert Silver’s children in stock. Which are already proven weapons that function and won’t cost hundreds of millions to develop or deploy.

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34 Responses to WIRED: Special Forces Looking for Subsonic Ammo, No Mention of 300 BLK

  1. Thinking, the “Black Talon” Rounds were great additiion to an infantry man’s Arsenal, before the Drs. pushed for it to be made illegal; hearing “Federal”, came up with an Alternative!… Could you tell me, what thisd is?… Possible, produced by another Company?…

    • Winchester Black Talons are not illegal, Winchester just stopped adding the black Lubalox coating and rebranded them “Ranger SXT” to get the media off them

        • Lubalox was designed to act as a lubrication and protection for barrel rifling, nothing more. It was not Teflon, it was not designed to penetrate bulletproof vests, and it did not make the bullets armor piercing to any degree more than any other jacketed hollow-point.

          They were not designed to roll or tumble or splinter any more than any other jacketed hollow-point. The only real difference between the Black Talon and any other JHP was that in a regular JHP of the day, the tips of the petals would roll all the way back as the bullet expanded, whereas on the Black Talons, the jacket got progressively thicker as you proceeded toward the base, causing the tips of the petals to not curl all the way back, but instead stay splayed out. The overall expanded diameter was not much greater, but it had jagged edges around the perimeter which made the bullet “scary.”

          A couple of pictures to illustrate. Here’s a modern day Federal Hydra-Shok. Notice how the jacket is peeled all the way back, and the expanded bullet is a generally smooth edged circle. Contrast that with this photo of a pair of expanded Black Talons. Notice how the jacket has remained in a splayed-out, jagged star shape.

  2. One thing I read about repeatedly about subsonic .300 BLK, is that it often dos not cycle the AR action reliably. Care to comment?

    Maybe, in addition to the barrel change, a mod to the gas system is also needed if you’re going to shoot subsonic loads. Personally, as a recreational shooter, I’d almost never need to shoot a subsonic load, although it would be nice for home defense.

    • .300BLK rifles have MUCH shorter gas systems for this very reason. There’s plenty of gas/pressure to work with. IIRC carbine length for 16″ barrels and pistol length for anything shorter.

      Any cycling issues are a problem with the gun, not the cartridge.

    • It cycles the action reliably as long as you have a carbine length gas system. It was designed for it.

      No gas system mods needed for subsonic loads. At all.

      It’s funny how so many intertards obsess about how subsonic loads are somehow inferior for HD, and then go boast about their tactical HD setup for their 45acp or 380 pistol.

  3. Given the fact that 99.9% of “journalists” don’t have any idea which end of the tube the round exits, the CNN reporter for this story probably WAS told about 300BLK,blinked uncomprehendingly, and wrote the article as he’d planned before doing his”research”. Don’t despair Foghorn. Sooner than later an original source will turn up to give you the full scoop that this news”professional” ignored.

    Golly, looking this over, I think I might be just be a tad skeptical of CNN and their cohorts.
    Love YOUR stuff,Nick, Keep up the good work!

    • The article was lifted en bloc from WIRED magazine to be published by CNN, but please, don’t let the facts get in the way of your knee-jerk disdain for the “lame stream media.”

      The author probably actually did do his research, such as it was, but investigative reporting this is not. He likely took a Pentagon procurement order, stirred in a couple facts for flavor, and banged his article out in under an hour.

      • I, too, have a knee jerk disdain for the lame stream media, except in my case it’s more like a gag reflex, but here’s the real juicy piece that I lifted from this article:

        The reason, according to the solicitation, is to “provide superior covert and stealth capabilities” for not only the military, but police forces and the Department of Homeland Security.

        Apparently CNN has no problem with Obama’s DHS thugs running around with silenced weapons assassinating American citizens. Do you?

      • Mea Culpa Matt! I skimmed the article too fast and missed the Wired source,thereby being guilty of the very thing I accused CNN of! Thanks for pointing it out. I will try to read more carefully before getting on my high-horse again.

  4. The government will ignore the .300 because that will be the cheap and rational fix for the problem. Gotta spend those wasted trillions somehow.

    • I spent alot of time at APG, MD
      I remember the SPIW program, I am that OLD!
      I would like to say that this is a $3000 toilet seat, the funds spent on Black Ops, but with the current admin this scares me to death (civilian army, fed police, DHS, US Military combined into a single unit ).
      Hopefully this never gets past the Paper Pushing stage and the funds are spent on coke and hookers (stays in Wash DC)

  5. Since this is the military we’re talking about, it’s pretty obvious that they’re going to adopt a subsonic .458 SOCOM. When it comes to minimal recoil, good magazine capacity, ballistic efficiency, ammo procurement costs and parts commonality with legacy platforms, it’s pretty hard to beat the .458 SOCOM.

    /sarcasm off/

  6. Oh there are a few special quiet professionals using 300 BLK. Hell who and why do you think the 300 BLK round and specifically AAC’s Honey Badger were developed for?

  7. I think SOCOM wants a better subsonic 5.56mm round. .300 Black out is not 5.56mm. Overall there so many articles on some Generals drams many will not see the light of day. So dont buy into Hype. I do see some improvement for a sub sonic 5.56mm round though.

    • A subsonic 5.56 will never perform adequately. Even the super heavy 100 grain stuff at best will punch a .22 caliber hole.

    • A “better” subsonic 5.56 round?

      *Head asplode*

      Subsonic 5.56 is mind bogglingly stupid. There is simply no reasoning with someone whos thought process is so broken that they are determined to go down the route of subsonic 5.56.

      • Its the military they do stupid research all the time mind you they buy $500 hammers. If they want a new Sub Sonic 5.56mm round they’ll waste millions on it to know nothings better.

    • hahaha

      no. its not a search for a “better subsonic 5.56 round”. that is asinine.

      The 300 blackout has enormous potential as a close quarter weapon system. it provides superior energy than the 5.56 with similar accuracy, is highly useful suppressed, and doesnt require expensive modifications to convert.

  8. I read WIRED.com alot…that said, when it comes to guns they don’t know anything about anything. They had your typical ‘ban guns’ articles after the Batman shooting, and when that printed polymer lower was going around you should have seen the sheer panic on that site. “OH NOES! OH NOES! NOTHING HAS ACTUALLY CHANGED!”

    I’d go to WIRED for a decent camera review, but you can discard anything they say about guns as entirely ignorant.

    • Yeah, their articles on 4th Amendment, privacy, and Homeland Defense overreach issues are excellent, but they do seem to be rather gun-dumb.

  9. What SOCOM should look for is something 9mm. They could put it in a popular and relatively short case, maybe 39mm long. It could have super heavy 250+ grain bullets that are capable of subsonically defeating armor. It could be put in both bullpup and conventional rifles and have an effective range of about 400 meters.

    If only someone smart would make something like that.

    • At that bullet weight, and given the need for low velocity in order to achieve sound suppression, you are already down to a (well-developed) .45

      • .45s won’t penetrate armor or tumble like hell upon hitting a target. They also have poor BCs. Russia’s 9×39 is the perfect general purpose subsonic round.

  10. I know many of us have AR lowers, so swapping the upper and throwing a can on it, assuming you can solves the issue, for us…
    Now the question is what are the special ops guys using on a regular basis? Sure they could use an appropriately setup AR style of HK and be quite effective, but does it match what they use now? I can’t speak for the US military, but in Israel most carry an AR based system so going to a 300 BLK platform wouldn’t be that hard. I would hate to think they couldn’t use both in their current setup or at minimum have a quick change which can be done when ever.

    • Israel has CAR-15s and some M-16s in service BUT some also have the dorky named Tavor rifle in elite units (nothing against the rifle but Tavor sounds like a woman’s shopping store.)

      I doubt like some .300 BlkOut will end SMG like MP-5 and M-3 since in Naval and Maritime ops using rifle calibers in metal rooms is not too smart. Its nice for some missions but like I see regular M-4s in 5.56mm will still be there right arms for most ops.

      And I doubt they will replace new M-855A1 ball anytime soon anyway.

  11. just what we need, homeland security and local PD’s with their paws on accurate, quiet, easily obtained rounds for when SHTF and they go to confiscate all our guns. yeehaw.

  12. Haha anybody else laughing at their description of what i assume to be m-4s as “fairly large-caliber war rifles”?

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