One of the reasons that the AR-15 platform is America’s most popular rifle is its versatility and ease of customization. For most people, changing calibers is usually as simple as buying another upper and swapping it out. And that’s what makes adding 300 Blackout blackout capability to your AR-15 so attractive.
The cartridge has become very popular, and is useful far beyond plinking and range fun. But should you get one?
That depends on a few things.
If you’re someone who uses your AR-15 mostly as a range toy, the best upper for you might be one chambered in .22 LR. The reason? And .22 LR is fun, easy-shooting and dirt cheap. A box of 50 rounds of Remington Thunderbolt is about $4 with tax. A box of 20 rounds of .223 is $10. Do the math. If you’re going to keep a gun for fun, it might as well be cheap fun.
But .300 BLK has become popular because it does so many things so well. And since adding a .300 Blackout upper is much cheaper than buying a whole new rifle and uses the same lower as the standard AR, why not?
Really, it comes down to this: You can shoot .300 Blackout because you have a use for it, or you can shoot .300 Blackout just because you want to. The point here is that if you don’t have a real reason to shoot .300 Blackout and you just WANT to, then yeah! Get a .300 Blackout upper and enjoy.
There’s no law that says everything HAS to be practical. But .300 Blackout is VERY practical…though with some caveats.
The caliber lets you shoot a .30 caliber round from your AR-15 using the same magazines and bolt carrier group, so conversion is simple. It’s fantastic for use with a suppressor. If you go through the process of getting the tax stamp and so on, it actually makes a great home-defense carbine as the round was intended for use as an intermediate range carbine round with a silencer.
With the right ammunition choices, it’s a great home defense gun in rifle-, carbine- and SBR-length barrels.
The caliber has also caught on for use in competition. It’s known for tolerable recoil, which has made it popular for use in suppressed-AR events.
Today, a number of companies make .300 AAC Blackout ammunition that can reach out and touch varmints and targets at 500 to 600 yards without issue. The lighter-grain loadings such as Lehigh Defense’s 78-grain High Velocity Close Quarters comes screaming out of the barrel at 2800 fps; Nosler’s 110-grain Lead Free E-Tip load for this caliber is booking it at 2300 fps from the tube.
So yeah, you can even do long(er)-range shooting and varminting with it.
However, it does have some limitations as a hunting round. Supersonic loads quickly fall below the 1,000 ft-lb energy threshold that some states mandate for big game hunting, usually well inside of 200 yards. By contrast, .308 Winchester maintains energy in excess of 1,000 ft-lbs to 550 to 800 yards, depending on the projectile.
Granted, I have a different take on this than other people. For one, I live in the West (out here, shots on game are more often 200 to 400 yards rather than 50 to 100 yards) and for two, my philosophy is to err on the side on Hitting The Sucker Hard. Not that placement doesn’t matter, more that you should hunt with a bullet that arrives with enough energy to do a lot of damage…and, obviously, place it correctly.
No, that doesn’t mean I think “it’s .30-06 or go home!” It’s fun to say that to rile people up, but it’s more that the old-school bolt gun cartridges work very well for these purposes. For me and people who hunt in similar locations, 6.5mm Creedmoor is the better choice among the trendy modern cartridges, though it (obviously) can’t fit on an AR-15 lower. (It does on an AR-10 though!)
Since .300 Blackout lacks the case capacity necessary to propel a big-enough bullet to sufficient velocity, it’s not the best choice as a hunting round for Western big game hunters.
At short ranges, though, it’s a whole other story. A properly constructed 220-grain pill is a hammer at shorter ranges. And in the thick brush of the east and southeast, .300 Blackout can, will and has put a lot of whitetail and hogs in the freezer.
So, should you get a .300 Blackout upper for your AR? .300 Blackout has become an excellent almost-all-purpose cartridge, so it does have a lot going for it. It depends on what you want it for.
If you just want to shoot .300 Blackout because you just want to shoot .300 Blackout, absolutely. If you want to shoot .300 Blackout for practical purposes, it’s great so long as your purpose aligns with what the round is capable of.
Guns, ultimately, are tools as are calibers. Pick the right one for the task at hand.
Don’t agree? Love .300 Blackout and want to tell us about it? Vegan and haven’t told anyone in the last few minutes? Sound off in the comments.