There is nothing I like more than writing about ammunition and guns, with the possible exception of sitting in my 3,000 square foot (and growing) covered chicken enclosure watching them happily do their thing. Today we will be looking at life, liberty, poultry, and what all that has to do with you buying a rifle chambered in 300 AAC Blackout.
I retreated to the world of chickens as a change of pace from my routine revolving around firearms. In addition to writing, I work professionally as an industry consultant, with many products reviewed here being the direct result of my behind-the-scenes efforts.
I also shoot recreationally and competitively, and whether at the range for work or play, I’m always seem to hear people arguing over which caliber is the best, which brand could beat everyone else’s, and which guns are for those of dubious wrist strength/lack of chest hair.
Just when I had imagined I escaped to a hidden place where nothing could assail my interest in chickens, I was bombarded with the most tedious, visceral criticisms, but instead of the usual “Josh is a gun snob” banter I happily receive here, this abuse was from insane chicken people voicing wild dissatisfaction at my endeavors and practices. You’d have thought I was asking if 9mm was better than .40 S&W when I posted a question about vaccinating my flock. Lord, have mercy.
Since you’re (still) reading this article, I assume that you are interested in 300 Blackout and whether or not you should buy one. Others are here to talk about how much you hate the caliber and what a fool I am, and that is fine, too.
The 300 BLK used to be an odd duck, but not anymore. That much is absolutely true. I have published a large number of articles detailing my work on the 300 BLK and it is, in my mind, the single best cartridge to be introduced to the AR platform in its history. You’d do well to own one.
I find that I ruffle more than a few feathers when I talk about AR cartridges. Cartridge choice is deeply personal to most people and any perceived slight about their favorite is taken as a personal insult, much the same as choosing poultry breeds.
The choice of cartridge says a great deal about what a person sees as priorities. Someone who chooses 6.5 Grendel over 6.8 SPC usually has their reasons for it, and it works the other way around as well. I think both are hot garbage looking for a trash can, but that’s just me.
The 300 BLK is today’s best AR cartridge for a number of reasons, but there’s a thick fog of misinformation about the caliber to get past. When you look at buying a 300 Blackout gun (or upper), you have a dizzying number of options to consider. The myths surrounding the cartridge have persisted for over a decade and I will do my best to address them with straight-up fact based on my personal experience.
One “fact” I hear a lot is that the 300 Blackout is strictly a suppressed short-range, short-barrel load. The idea behind this was that is was meant to replace the 9mm MP5 submachine gun in some roles, and this is mostly correct.
When the round was first introduced, the only good heavy bullets were along the lines of the 220gr SMK. That was fine, as everything needed for 300 BLK was available off the shelf, requiring only a barrel change over a standard AR-15 5.56mm rifle. Brass could be made from 5.56 NATO cases by cutting them down and re-necking them. All in all, the foundational idea of the 300 BLK was indeed a short-range, short-barreled weapon for combat use.
But that was then, and this is now. Today, the 300 BLK is a full-spectrum cartridge that can launch bullets as fast as 2,800 fps and maintain excellent accuracy at a 500 yard effective range. Crazy, right?
Lehigh Defense makes a 78gr load that hits that high velocity from a standard 16” barrel and I had no issues keeping up with .308 rifles at 500m. I’m not saying that it is a dedicated long-range round, but the capability is certainly there. You can go from 220gr subsonic ammunition to lightning-fast supersonics with just a mag change. The versatility is unequalled by any rifle round in common use.
As far as being a suppressor-only round, that’s also false. There are plenty of reasons to own a 300 BLK, even if you don’t own a suppressor. The idea that the round was designed around subsonic suppressed use is generally true, as dedicated supersonic ammunition had yet to be fully developed at the time the load came on the scene.
Bullets specific to supersonic use in the 300 BLK are readily and commonly available today and feature elongated profiles to aid in feeding from AR mags. The supersonic, un-suppressed 300 BLK is a wonderful, easy-shooting .30 caliber round that is kind on the shoulder and hard on game.
The technological gains made as a result of the 300 BLK can’t be ignored. Bullet technology in general improved as a result of the 300 BLK due to the fact that it has a muzzle velocity range of anywhere from 800 fps up to 2,800 fps. Subsonic ammo loads have different requirements than supersonics, but even those supersonic rounds have limitations compared to other common competitors.
The 300 BLK is essentially a pistol round adapted for rifle use in all respects, including they types of powder used. These limitations resulted in extraordinary innovation. I have seen more incredible and unique bullets for the 300 BLK than almost any other cartridge.
What you really get with this round is supreme utility. I have chicken-keeping friends who have only specialty breeds, and while a Whiting True Blue is a nice bird, it’s nowhere near as hardy as the Americana, and both lay beautiful blue eggs. The Americana can survive in virtually any climate and lays year-round.
The same goes for the 300 BLK round. The cartridge is a year-round, all day, everyday champ that can handle varmints up to medium game (thanks to great terminal ballistics), shoot and win matches, and is easy to maintain. It isn’t finicky with bullet weight or powder charge, barrel length, or magazines. The 300 BLK is a breed adapted to this century’s needs.
When it comes to buying a 300 BLK, you have a lot of options. The SIG MCX is an extraordinary weapon that is essentially built around the 300 Blackout. AR-15 options are always available and are easy to build and shoot well on a budget. The AR in the article photos is my personal pistol build and it’s running strong after about 10,000 rounds.
A great thing is that the 300 BLK has extraordinary system life due to lower operating pressures and, as a result, requires lower lifetime maintenance. Faxon Firearms makes some of the best AR barrels in general and their 300 BLK barrels are my favorite for the cartridge. Short barreled rifles and pistol-length barrels are widely available.
The 300 Blackout is a fully mature, commonly available cartridge that allows the shooter to have a vast range of options as far as end use. It’s a great round, delivering Soviet 7.62×39-level power in a compact, light AR platform with only a barrel swap.
Detractors say it has poor bullet drop trajectory and spotty accuracy, but they are profoundly wrong in their idea of what makes a round desirable and successful. For real-life, everyday hunting (not long-range cruelty), plinking, and home defense, the 300 AAC Blackout is unbeatable in the AR-15, suppressed or otherwise.