For those of you who follow TTAG on Facebook and Instagram, you probably saw that I nabbed myself a pretty tasty little buddy this past weekend during the opening day of deer season in Texas. The gun I used for that shot was the same as last year, but there was one difference: the ammunition. I was using Lehigh Defense’s 110gr Controlled Chaos round instead of my traditional Barnes 110gr, and after putting it to the test I think I’m ready to review it. Quick warning: this article contains a somewhat graphic picture of what happens when this round impacts a deer . . .
For hunting ammunition, Tyler and I have both moved from traditional lead bullets to solid copper. Lead is great for target shooting, but when you’re trying to shoot yourself some food it makes sense to keep the possibility of heavy metal poisoning out of the picture. Lehigh Defense apparently agrees, and so their 110gr offering is similarly a solid copper projectile. While other projectiles of this same class use serrations in the copper to aid in expansion, the Controlled Chaos round simply has a large hollow point and a deep hole in the center.
The composition is cool, but accuracy is king. For that, I now turn to the boxplots. Those just joining us should refer to this article for a rationale behind the way I do consistency testing. Just remember that lower is better. I compared the Lehigh Defense 110gr Controlled Chaos rounds to PWS’s loading of the Barnes 110gr projectile, a similarly hunting-focused product loaded by a company I like.
The result: Lehigh Defense is faster and appears to be more consistent. The velocities are normally distributed (instead of the clustering around the bottom that PWS exhibits) and the box appears smaller as well. For the same weight of projectile, Lehigh Defense pushes their projectile almost 300 fps faster.
While it may be a hotter load than PWS’s, it’s about on par compared to the factory Barnes load. Barnes 110gr 300 BLK loads run right around 2350 fps, and Lehigh Defense is only about 50 fps faster. That makes the ballistic profiles of the two bullets about the same over distances where you would be using the cartridge, so the two can be used almost interchangeably. In fact, I double checked it on the range and at 50 and even 100 yards the two rounds were impacting within an inch or two of each other vertically. So if you run out of Lehigh Defense ammo, you can swap in some Barnes from your local Academy store without a problem.
In terms of overall consistency, Lehigh Defense’s 110gr offering is on par with the best of them. 50% of the rounds chronograph within 22 fps of each other, which is better than either the PNW “Match” ammo or CMMG’s offering.
So Lehigh Defense is consistent and stacks up well against the competition. But the real question is how well it performs in the field. For that, I loaded up their ammo in my 300 BLK rifle and headed out to a deer blind that Tyler had set up in a field on his ranch. About an hour and a half (and a light nap or two) later, this little buck walked straight past the blind at about 25 yards. I raised the rifle, and hit him with a single shot. He immediately dropped, and never moved a single inch ever again. After field dressing him, we found out why.
It looks like Lehigh Defense round did some serious damage to the deer’s vital organs. When we opened his ribcage, we found the heart and lungs completely destroyed. The cavity was filled with blood, which is exactly what you want to see. The deer was killed quickly and humanely, suffering only momentarily. What really struck me was that while the entry would was huge (the right side of the rib cage), there was no corresponding exit would. The bullet expended all of its energy within about eight to ten inches of ribs and flesh and then stopped. Perfect for just about anything here in Texas.
Lehigh Defense makes three different loadings for the 300 BLK cartridge, this 110gr bullet as well as some nasty looking 174 and 194 grain loads. Both of the other products are subsonic though, so while they look like mean and nasty rounds they’re limited by their initial velocity. I tested the 110gr first to see if Lehigh Defense’s ammo worked as advertised, and after seeing the rather impressive results I’m going to have to go back out and try to test the other two loads as well. For science. And bacon, preferably.
Specifications: Lehigh Defense 110gr Controlled Chaos
Caliber: 300 AAC Blackout
Average Velocity: 2406 fps
Velocity IQR: 22 fps
Projectile: Custom Solid Copper 110gr Hollow Point
MSRP (Box of 20): $24.95 (Lehigh Defense Website)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * *
Within 10% of the most consistent 300 BLK ammo I have ever tested.
Terminal Effects: * * * * *
For things like deer and hogs, this will be absolutely perfect. Larger game might require a larger application of velocity.
Availability: * *
Available through their website and maybe one or two other places. But if you run out, Barnes’ 110gr is interchangeable in terms of ballistics.
Reliability: * * * * *
Zero complaints. Works every time, always cycled the gun.
Overall Rating: * * * * 1/2
If I could get my hands on more, this would be my new go-to hunting round. The problem is availability, and hopefully that will be fixed shortly.
Was that a managed buck and you were given the go ahead to harvest it?
I dont know about that but wow could he have shot a smaller deer? Most responsible hunters would have let that one go so he could grow into something worth harvesting.
Southern Deer are small
But haven’t you been paying attention to all the anti’s? An AR-15 is useless for hunting!
Seriously, nice job. And good shot!
OK, next time try it on a large wild pig – boar, preferable. Would be good to see how it works on the tough shoulder plate and muscles.
There are special 300 blk rounds for just that reason. These 110 gr rounds are good for deer and humans, I’m sure that a head shot if placed appropriately would put a hog down but the shoulder bone on most hogs is very dense and most ammo would use its energy when striking it.
The Barnes 110 grain is supposed to penetrate past 20″ through gel, and is supposed achieve 150% expansion to 300 yards even from a 9″ barrel. That may be a better penetrator than the Lehigh load for pigs. Twang n Bang on YouTube has done some tests with it. There are also numerous 125 grain and 150 grain 300 BLK hunting rounds which should give decent penetration on pigs.
I just sighted in the Barnes 110 grain black tip at a rated 2350 FPS. My deer primary deer hunting rig this year will be that load out of a 16″ CBA 416R stainless 1:10 upper, Ares armor nickel boron BCG, and a built Magpul MOE lower, Magpul Pro BUIS, and a Bushnell ERS 3.5-21 FDE Zero stop scope on a La Rue LT-111 34 mm QD mount. I’m expecting shots within 200 yards, but could theoretically take a poke at 300+. If I wanted more power and penetration I’d use my 6.8 SPC AR (or a .308 bolt, .30-06, etc.).
I’m not a 300 BLK expert by any stretch, but was “forced” to buy one because of Nick’s many excellent articles on it.
“110 grain black tip at a rated 2350 FPS.”
What’s funny to me about all this is how what’s old is new (in a manner of speaking) and how people talk about “fads” and it all ultimately boils down to personal preference.
To wit: Those ballistics pale a bit compared to the venerable ole 30-30 Winchester. I’m pushing a 130 grainer (18% heavier) at about 2400 fps (so, a touch faster), and not even pushing “hard” at that.
So, marginally “better” ballistics that we could, for the sake of argument, call “equivalent” out of a well balanced carbine…and I just dig lever guns anyway.
Point is…this stuff is not bringing a whole lot of “new” to the table on the performance end of the spectrum. You want that performance in a AR style rifle – I get that, and it’s cool. But a lot of shooting was done before AR’s and in a sense, in ONE sense, all this hoopla is solving a problem that did not exist.
Curmudgeon mode off, congrats on the deer, enjoy the rifles and loads, etc, etc. No skin off my nose, really…just making conversation, as I LOVE hunting with my 30-30 lever gun.
(PS: The boy and I enjoyed a couple of episodes of Chuck Connors in “The Rifleman” this weekend, too, so there’s that … 😉 ).
No problem. I have a .30-30 as well, and took my first deer with a Marlin .30-30 336C and a 170 grain Nosler Partition. It was a nice 8 point buck. The year was 1992, I believe.
I’m really not a caliber snob. I like olde school guns and the new stuff as long as it’s built well.
I am in no way a caliber snob when it comes to hunting deer. But the 300 blk offers me a caliber that is sutibal for my wooded area that is semi auto, and adjustable. I can let my little girl shoot a deer, slide the stock out and shoot its sibling in the same hunt without issue. My little girl is small statured and has a hard time with standard length of pull. With an AR she can have the stock collapsed and have minimal recoil, far less than most bolt action .243’s.
I thought everything was bigger in Texas? 🙂
Just the hype.
that deer is a quarter the size of what we have in Pennsylvania!
But you get to shoot 5 in most areas in Texas. We have 4.5 million running around.
That is some great performance from the round.
Perfect terminal ballistics.
Great article Nick- congrats.
Your TX deer look about the size of our coastal muleys here in San Diego, about the size of a well fed GSD…
Seriously- I am finally starting to grok the .300 AAC thing- read somewhere- stopping power of an AK in AR15
it might have been TTAG, thank you Jim:
As a hunter and all around KISS guy, I have kept my hand on wallet, admiring the operators, and SBRs, but never gonna actually “need” one…bolt gun in .270 shoots better than me.
But for shorter ranges with just a barrell change in your AR15, you dont need that extra platform.
And at lower hearing loss if you live in a common-sense state.
And after years of this round being out there, its no longer a fad, or just for operators- sooo…
more ammo supply means availability and prices getting close to the relatively economical prices as .243,.270, 30-06 – a little over a buck a bullet for decent store bought.
Heck, my local Walmart has .300 but STILL no .22LR…not even a sticker and space on the shelf anymore…
Couple good comments at an earlier review on use of sub rounds for hunting:
one of the commenters notes .300 has been used for game management for years,
and safety wise- thinking about something Chuck Hawk wrote here-safer than a shotgun,
when you are worried about the brushy backdrop
If you hand load the .270, you’ll find some bullet compatibility between your .270 and the 6.8 SPC, just like the .308 /.30-06 can share bullets with the 300 BLK. Altough the. 300 BLK definitely rules with compatibility, given you can use standard AR mags and BCGs.
Thanks for that tip, A81. I am definitely listening to Dyspeptic on hand-loading, too.
Need to get to the range more to improve my basic skills but at some point I hope that loading will help too.
I do occasionally hunt with other rifles, but my dad’s old 1970s BSA CF2 .270 has to be one of the most accurate rifles I own, and there’s something to be said about hunting with a rifle that I already know has taken down over 30 years’ worth of bucks and elk in my dad’s hands. Just wish it wasn’t so heavy.
Heavy metal poisoning from hunting with a lead bullet? Have you been reading too much anti-gun/hunting propaganda? Do you not cut out damaged meat? Do you chew your meals?
Ignoring the fact that lead bullets have taken game for centuries, lead poisoning from game taken with lead bullets has been proven false and publishing such statements is irresponsible at best.
“However, there is currently no known evidence linking human consumption of venison to lead poisoning.”
Yah, so much for truth about guns.
“you probably saw that I nabbed myself a pretty tasty little buddy this past weekend during the opening day of deer season in Texas.”
The deer or the girl? The rifle was nearly as big as she!
You could have taken down that dog….oh I mean deer(hard to tell from the size), with a .22lr
Having hunted both, southern deer are a whole lot smaller than their northern counterparts.
I’m not sure I would be completely comfortable hunting the big-boned, corn-fed Iowan deer with that cartridge. It would probably be ok, but why take the chance when a 243/270/308/3006/etc will do the job?
Nick, I’ve been thinking about what rifle to jump into for hunting now that I’ve gotten my .556 AR fix out of the way. The 300BLK has seemed like a good option, but I’ve also read about some distance limitations. What kind of range is this round good for compared to a 308, or 270? Thanks, and congrats on the deer.
300 BLK is a short range round, 150 is about the max I would be comfortable using it on anything living. 308 Win, on the other hand, would be good out to 300 yards in my Rem 700. it all depends on what kind of terrain you’re hunting in, and finding the best ammunition for that area.
.308 only good out to 300 yards? You’re kidding right?
My favorite 150gr load for .308 has the same energy at 360 yards that your 110gr 300 Blk has at the muzzle. If you wouldn’t take the shot with a 30-30 then don’t take it with a 300 Blk.
@Foghorn Barnes has proved multiple times that their 110 Gr. VOR-TX Tac-Tx round will achieve double expansion out to 300 meters with 20″ of penetration and yes, that is out of a 9″ barrel. The same round will expand though not completely down to 1300 fps. That isn’t reached until over 400 yards. So how is it that 300 Blackout is a short 150 yard cartridge? Are you thinking sub sonic hunting at 150 meters? Are you thinking everyone is using a 1-4x scope to hunt? I can buy that and agree without asking the sub sonic hunting guys what ranges they have had success. I’m trying to throw ya a bone here I thought you knew your 300 blackout really well 😉 http://www.300blktalk.com That is the site hosted by Robert Silvers.
Lehigh makes a 145 gn Controlled Chaos 308 bullet also which would be more appropriate I’m sure for larger deer though it’s not meant for big game. I was wondering how the 145 bullet might do against deer in a 308 winchester rifle. I was thinking pretty good if you hit the ribcage but what if it hits the shoulder of a large deer? The Barnes bullet would certainly have no problem In either a 110 or 150 gn with the shoulder and would probably penetrate the off shoulder as well. This model Lehigh bullet is meant to blow apart and penetrate an animal. If you go to the Lehigh defense website you would see that the intention of the Lehigh controlled chaos bullet is actually for varmint hunting and animal control.
One quick correction to my last comment. I meant to say this model Lehigh bullet was meant to blow apart and to NOT penetrate and animal.