300 Blackout (.300BLK) Versatility
My first exposure to the 300 Blackout was not necessarily positive. A friend of mine built an AR in the caliber and was simply enamored with it. In fact, it was all he talked about for months. I did my best to go the opposite direction, just to give him a hard time, but I am sure you have guessed by now that I could not stay away. So, here are some thoughts about my experiences with this cool little cartridge. Please notice that I am leaving out lots of technical detail and data in my comments below. This is purposeful because: 1) These are my experiences and I don’t want to argue with anyone about them; and 2) I don’t want to provide any data that may prove to be dangerous for anyone who reads the thoughts of this humble rifleman and reloader.
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I reload all of my ammunition for the caliber and I have had lots of fun with this versatile cartridge. As I studied the caliber I soon noticed that if you are reloading for .223 and .308, reloading the .300BLK is very efficient when considering needed equipment. Additionally, the variety of .30 caliber bullets available allows the .300BLK to be multiple rifles in one. I built my .300BLK knowing that I would reload both supersonic ammunition and subsonic ammunition, so I installed an adjustable gas block to ensure reliability.
Additionally, I lightened the recoil spring slightly to widen the range of adjustment in my gas block. Currently, I reload the 110gr Hornady V-Max as a general purpose round, the 125gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip/125gr. Hornady SST as hunting rounds and cast a 230gr alloy bullet for subsonic plinking rounds.
I even tried some “hot glue” bullets that are run with a primer only, which was a hoot! Finally, I have made quite a bit of my own brass using a plumber’s tubing cutter mounted in a vice with a piece of .223 brass chucked in a cordless/keyless drill.
I have to say that shooting the rifle is lots of fun. It has turned into my “go to” deer and feral hog rifle (pictured).
The recoil in the AR platform is very soft and this coupled with a retractable butt stock makes it an ideal youth gun. As with many of you, my first deer rifle was a 30-30, which packs quite a punch for 9 or 10 year-olds. My daughter shot her first deer at the age of 9 with this rifle and she is yet to complain about the rifle “kicking” her. We have downed deer and pig with no problems, even though many online forum guru’s swear that you should not shoot a deer with this caliber. The long and short of it is that you can almost duplicate the ballistics of the 30-30 or the 7.62x39mm in a more accurate platform that recoils less.
Shooting the rifle suppressed is fun too. One of my favorite things to do is hand a magazine full of subsonic ammunition to a “first timer” and watch the expression on their face as they run the rifle – there is always a smile that accompanies. I will say that shooting cast alloy through a suppressor takes additional consideration. I have studied how to clean the suppressor effectively and have spoken with Surefire engineers about the process I am using. It works and I am happy with it, but it is my formula/process and I would recommend you doing your due diligence before pushing cast bullets through your high dollar suppressor and rifle.
I run night vision and a standard 1-4x “3-gun type optic” on the rifle and find that any mildot or ballistic compensating reticle works well. I have studied the “two speed” reticles for sub and supersonic loads designed for the .300BLK, but just can’t justify the cost. I know my holds for the 125gr. supers and the 230gr. sub on the same reticle and it works well for me. The 4x scope is great for shooting out to 600yds yards with my competition .223, so it works well with the .300BLK, which I have only stretched out to 400yds.
I guess that is the downside to this cartridge for my applications – It runs out of gas. I know why it was designed and who designed the cartridge, and I am well aware that my current application is not CQB and I may be asking too much of the cartridge, but I also understand that everything has limitations. I would like to be able to stretch the cartridge out a bit farther, but I know I will not reach the 1,000ftlb of kinetic energy (rule of thumb) to ethically harvest mid-sized game past 250-300yds. However, taking game and banging steel are two different things. I have done the math and tested lots of loads, but I just can’t safely push the round fast enough to get lots of consistency and accuracy past 400yds. I know I am waffling back and forth here, so I guess I will say that the cartridge has its limitations, but boy has it been fun to tinker with. I’m not done with it yet, so there may be a part 2 or 3 to this post.
Several have asked if I am going to wrap this round into a 3-Gun rifle. My short answer is “No.” If you know me personally, you know that I love a sport that I am not necessarily great at and that if I were as good as my equipment I still could not keep up with the guys at my club, much less 3-Gun Nation. Suffice to say, I know my place and I am not a Daniel Horner. Daniel won the 2011 Multigun Nationals with a .300BLK and did it in grand style as the cartridge was not as popularized as it is now. I understand why he ran the caliber (USPSA recognizes major/minor power factors in scoring, little to no recoil impulse, magazine capacity, he’s a super-human shooter, etc…), but I would not be able to justify doing the same. I shoot “Outlaw 3-Gun” and don’t do it enough to justify running multiple calibers, other than pistol (.40 vs. 9mm). That is the logical side of my argument. The other side is technical and gets me to thinking about the speed of the recoil impulse as compared to the .223 (it just feels different), the lack of confidence on long range targets, cost of .30cal bullets and the multiple other excuses I can’t think of at the moment. Anyway, the answer is still “No.”
I have really enjoyed the 7.62x35mm and look forward to finding new ways to Frankenstein the cartridge. I hope you enjoyed reading. Cheers!