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Ultimate .300 Blackout Ammo Test

by Dusty Gibson   |  April 30th, 2015 21

300-Blackout_F1

The .300 AAC Blackout is likely the most versatile cartridge for the AR-15 platform. In fact, almost every ammo manufacturer loading this relatively newborn wildcat is offering specialized loads for specific purposes.

Want to shoot 110-grain .30-caliber bullets at 2,250 feet-per-second (fps) through a 10-inch barrel? There’s a Blackout round for that. Want to shoot 1-MOA groups with subsonic 220-grain bullets through a suppressor? There’s a Blackout round for that, too.

It is no wonder why suppressed .300 Blackout SBRs and AR-15 pistols have become so popular: There’s not much within 300 yards that a longer-barreled .300 Blackout rifle can do better, especially when paired with the right ammo for the application.

The Test
Considering the growing number of factory-loaded Blackout ammo choices available, I set out to document how several of the most popular loads perform through short-barreled AR-15s. In total, 17 different types of .300 AAC Blackout ammo were tested; 10 supersonics and 7 subsonics.

300_blackout_ammo_comparison_5

Comparison of the .300 Blackout ammo used in this test. Click to enlarge.

Due to NFA laws in my home state, two different guns were used for this test. First, supersonic ammunition was tested unsuppressed through a custom AR-15 pistol with a Brownells 10.5-inch .300 Blackout barrel with a 1-in-8-inch twist rate. The setup was equipped with a Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20X50 scope, dialed to 20X.

On a different day, I traveled to a suppressor-friendly state and met up with SilencerCo, where I tested the subsonic loads through a Noveske 10.5″ Gen III SBR with a SilencerCo Omega suppressor. The same Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20X50 scope was also mounted atop the SBR to test the subsonics.

To analyze the various offerings, each type of ammo was fired at the bench from a Caldwell Lead Sled and accuracy was measured in five 5-shot groups at 100 yards. Velocities were also recorded and averaged. Specific performance issues or highlights were carefully considered and noted.

Find out how 17 different types of .300 AAC Blackout performed below.

Please Note: In most cases, the intent of this data is not to make apples-to-apples comparisons of one cartridge to another, but rather to evaluate the performance of each individual cartridge in terms of how well it satisfies its own intended purpose(s). Cartridges are listed in order of their bullet weights and also correspond to the comparison photo (above) with no ranking of ‘best’ or ‘worst’.


SUPERSONICS

As their name implies, supersonic bullets break the sound barrier, which is approximately 1,127 fps depending on environmental factors. In the purpose of the .300 AAC Blackout cartridge, supersonic bullets are most widely used for target shooting, defensive purposes or for hunting medium- to large-sized game.

1. Barnes VOR-TX 110-grain TAC-TXbarnes-tac-tx-1

Loaded with their all-copper TAC-TX bullet, Barnes has designed what is, in my opinion, the best all-around commercially available .300 Blackout load on the market. The 110-grain polymer-tipped copper bullet is precisely seated into factory-new Remington brass at an overall length of 2.25 inches for reliable feeding with standard AR mags. Four razor-​sharp petals are purposely designed to peel back at a lower-​velocity expansion threshold near 1,400 feet-​per-​second (fps). This results in full expansion out to 300 yards when fired through even short barrels. Read the full review here.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 2,181
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 1,162
Standard Deviation: 14
Avg. Group (in.): 1.67
Best Group (in.): 1.14
MSRP: $33 (box of 20)


2. Gemtech 110-grain TAC-TX
gemtech-supersonic

Gemtech, widely known for their lineup of quality sound suppressors, is now producing supersonic and subsonic .300 Blackout ammo as well. Their supersonic variety is loaded with Barnes’ TAC-TX bullet on factory-new Blackout brass, not re-sized 5.56 cases. Gemtech advertises this load to be effective for helicopter hog hunting, which is certainly possible with its average velocity of 2,212 fps through a 10.5-inch barrel.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 2,212
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 1,195
Standard Deviation: 17.8
Avg. Group (in.): 1.95
Best Group (in.): 1.32
MSRP: $30.99 (box of 20)


3. HPR HyperClean 110-grain TAC-TX
HPR-TTX

HPR Ammunition designed this ammunition for hunters to achieve consistent sub-MOA accuracy. Based on our testing, HPR completed their objective. Loaded with the Barnes TAC-TX bullet, this load was the most accurate out of all 17 other types of ammo in this test. What makes HPR’s load more accurate than the others with the TAC-TX bullet? The most likely answer is that this ammo simply performed better through our test barrel. A different barrel could have showed completely different results. Among the TAC-TX loads tested, HPR recorded the lowest standard deviation of velocities, which accounts for consistent powder burns, case pressures and bullet seating.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 2,169
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 1,149
Standard Deviation: 11
Avg. Group (in.): 0.466
Best Group (in.): .352
MSRP: $33.99 (box of 20)


4. Wilson Combat 110-grain TAC-TX
Wilson-Combat-Supersonic

Like the other TAC-TX loads on this list, Wilson Combat is also loading with Barnes’ all-copper, polymer-tipped bullet. Seated into re-sized Lake City 5.56 NATO brass, Wilson’s load achieved the highest velocities of the TAC-TX rounds tested. It also achieved sub-MOA accuracy and had zero malfunctions during testing.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 2,244
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 1,230
Standard Deviation: 14
Avg. Group (in.): 0.95
Best Group (in.): 0.74
MSRP: $36.95 (box of 20)


5. Hornady 110-grain V-MAX
Hornady-vmax

No stranger to the world of hunting with wildcat cartridges, Hornady has adopted the .300 Whisper/Blackout cartridge into its lineup of factory-loaded ammunition. Hornady’s supersonic offering uses factory-new brass with a 110-grain V-MAX bullet that uses a polymer tip to initiate dramatic impact trauma on soft targets. If you’re looking for a more traditional lead-core hunting bullet than the all-copper TAC-TX, look no further than Hornady’s 110-grain VMAX offering.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 2,253
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 1,240
Standard Deviation: 7
Avg. Group (in.): 1.23
Best Group (in.): 1.12
MSRP: $30.44 (box of 20)


6. HPR HyperClean 110-grain FMJ
HPR-FMJ

On the current market of factory-loaded .300 Blackout ammo, FMJ offerings are sparsely available amongst all the other cartridges specifically designed for hunting or tactical scenarios. One reason why is because most people who reload the cartridge will have no problem finding .30-caliber FMJ bullets for a bargain, and make their own loads. HPR Ammunition satisfies the need for an everyday practice and plinking variety with their 110-grain FMJ. To get a brand new scope zeroed in for supersonic .300 Blackout, start with this ammo to get on paper and then fine-tune your zero with the specialty ammo of your choice.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 1,707
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 712
Standard Deviation: 11
Avg. Group (in.): 1.39
Best Group (in.): 0.89
MSRP: $19.99 (box of 20)


7. Noveske 110-grain FB Tipped
noveske-super

By far the most aesthetically-pleasing ammo on this list, Noveske has teamed up with Nosler to design blacked-out Blackout rounds. Loaded with a 110-grain polymer-tipped Varmageddon bullet, this stealthy looking load uses black nickel plated components. It’s also optimized to cycle in semiauto platforms with 1-in-8-inch barrel twists, like the barrel used in our test. As tested, it functioned flawlessly and is worth buying a box or two, if for nothing more than pure cool factor.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 2,018
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 995
Standard Deviation: 18
Avg. Group (in.): 1.87
Best Group (in.): 1.45
MSRP: $37.95 (box of 20)


8. SIG Sauer Elite Performance 125-grain Sierra MatchKing
Sig-supersonic

Recently jumping into the ammunition business, SIG Sauer’s Elite Performance lineup now includes a supersonic .300 Blackout variety, loaded with a 125-grain hollow-point Sierra MatchKing bullet. The bullet features a unique hybrid hollow-point design for maximum expansion upon impact. It also achieved very consistent velocities and sub-MOA accuracy with zero malfunctions. It will be exciting to see what types of ammo SIG Sauer unveils next.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 1,983
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 1,092
Standard Deviation: 9
Avg. Group (in.): 0.91
Best Group (in.): 0.63
MSRP: $22.99 (box of 20)


9. Oath 140-grain Copper FMJ
oath-supersonic

Ammunition from Oath is manufactured with an entirely different process than traditional ammo. In fact, Oath’s bullets and cartridge cases are entirely CNC-machined from solid billets of copper, brass or aluminum. The result is extremely precise tolerances with nearly zero margin for manufacturing error. Oath’s 140-grain FMJ load is intended for semiauto rifles, however they also have purpose-built Blackout loads for bolt-action rifles as well.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 1,686
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 884
Standard Deviation: 15
Avg. Group (in.): 2.92
Best Group (in.): 2.46
MSRP: $24.95 (box of 20)


10. Freedom Munitions 150-grain Hornady FMJ
freedom-supersonic

If you’re bargain shopping for factory-loaded .300 Blackout ammo to bang away with at the range, look no further than Freedom Munitions 150-grain FMJ. Loaded with remanufactured .223 Rem/5.56 NATO brass, this ammo is sold entirely online and in boxes of 50. No malfunctions were experienced during testing, however you shouldn’t expect to see exceptional accuracy. This ammo is best served for a leisurely weekend at the range when you have an itchy trigger finger.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 1,625
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 880
Standard Deviation: 30
Avg. Group (in.): 2.81
Best Group (in.): 2.13
MSRP: $26.30 (box of 50)


 SUBSONICS

Subsonic projectiles don’t produce a supersonic “crack,” because they don’t break the sound barrier. This makes subsonic loads a primary option for use with suppressed firearms. Subsonic ammo also generally produces less felt recoil than supersonic loads. Manufacturers commonly use low-flash powders in subsonic ammo to further compliment use with suppressors, while also protecting the shooter’s night vision in low-light situations.

The projectiles used in subsonic .300 AAC Blackout loads usually weigh between 180- and 220-grains. This added weight makes them naturally slower than a 110-grain bullet fired through the same barrel, even if the heavier bullets are charged with the same type and amount of gunpowder as a corresponding supersonic load.

In the purpose of the .300 AAC Blackout cartridge, subsonic loads are great for target shooting and home defense or tactical applications where stealth is mission critical. In close quarters situations with friendly personnel, a subsonic round combined with a suppressor will greatly reduce muzzle blast, making it safer for innocent bystanders and easier to communicate with team members.

Subsonic .300 Blackout may be used for hunting at close to medium distances, but humane/ethical game kills become more difficult to make as distances stretch due to lower velocity and kinesthetic shock, as compared to supersonic ammunition.

11. Gemtech 187-grain GPP
gemtech-subsonic

Optimized for suppressed applications, Gemtech’s 187-grain subsonic load features a polymer-tipped projectile for optimal expansion. Interestingly, Gemtech offers two variations of this ammo, with one being a cosmetic blemished version of its more aesthetic counterpart. The cosmetic blemish variety was tested here and achieved “pretty” good performance, even though it’s Gemtech’s ugly duckling.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 952
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 376
Standard Deviation:  14
Avg. Group (in.): 1.42
Best Group (in.): .844
MSRP: $18.95 (box of 20)


12. Hornady 208-grain A-MAX
hornady-A-Max

The subsonic load offered by Hornady features a 208-grain AMAX bullet that’s slower than the speed of sound but its still designed with a polymer tip to expand upon impact. Intended for use with a suppressor, the AMAX bullet is best suited for tactical applications when silence and accuracy are equally necessary.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 915
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 387
Standard Deviation: 11
Avg. Group (in.): 1.09
Best Group (in.): .785
MSRP: $34.53 (box of 20)


13. Wilson Combat 220-grain Sierra HPBT
wilson-subsonic

Loaded on once-fired, re-sized brass, Wilson Combat still manages to offer this subsonic load to function reliably and accurately. As tested, a standard deviation of 12 indicated very consistent pressures. Using a 220-grain Sierra HPBT bullet, average velocities measured 929 fps. Wilson Combat also offers this load with factory new Remington cases for a few dollars more per load, but after testing the once-fired variety, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again if I made sure to separate them from factory-new brass before reloading.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 929
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 422
Standard Deviation: 12
Avg. Group (in.): 2.11
Best Group (in.): 1.38
MSRP: $26.95 (box of 20)


14. Remington 220-grain OTM
remington-subsonic

Designed specifically for use in suppressed AR-15 applications, Remington’s 220-grain open tip offering performed very well in this test. Loaded on factory new Remington brass with sealed primers, the brass is crimped to prevent bullet setback and loads effortlessly into standard AR magazines. The powder was also designed for optimal cycling through AR-15s, and it proved true with zero malfunctions during this test.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 1,006
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 494
Standard Deviation: 7
Avg. Group (in.): 1.08
Best Group (in.): 0.64
MSRP: $23.99 (box of 20)


15. SIG Sauer Elite Performance 220-grain HP
Sig-subsonic

In early 2015, SIG Sauer introduced the new .300 Blackout MCX rifle. But who wants a new rifle without the right ammo and a suppressor? Simultaneously, SIG answered with this 220-grain subsonic ammo to match their rifle and their new SRD-762 suppressor. During testing, SIG’s new load left almost nothing to be desired with very consistent velocities and accuracy.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 988
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 477
Standard Deviation: 7
Avg. Group (in.): 1.155
Best Group (in.): 0.96
MSRP: $22.99 (box of 20)


16. Noveske 220-grain Ballistic Glow Tip RN
noveske-subsonic

Glow in the dark ammunition? Who would have thought we’d see the day..er…night when bullets are built with glow tips? It might sound gimmicky but the concept does make sense. For those of us who have ever been hog hunting at night and dropped a bullet on the ground or searched for a loaded mag in a dimly-lit pack, this ammo is the answer. Loaded by Nosler, the Noveske 220-grain Ballistic Glow Tip RN features a polymer tip to aid with expansion, but also in helping you see the ammo in the dark. It’s still not known (and not likely) if these could actually work like tracers in low light, but they are certainly an innovative, effective and equally exotic breed of Blackout.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 998
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 487
Standard Deviation: 10
Avg. Group (in.): 1.79
Best Group (in.): 1.53
MSRP: $40.99 (box of 20)


17. SilencerCo 220-grain Sierra MatchKing
silencerco-harvester

Renowned for manufacturing some of the most popular suppressors on the market, SilencerCo has started making their own ammunition, optimized for use through their bread and butter muzzle devices. As tested through a SilencerCo Omega suppressor, this 220-grain subsonic ammo is slow but it’s no putz. Sub-MOA accuracy with the Sierra MatchKing bullet was observed with extremely consistent velocities. SilencerCo pairs the quality of their ammunition with high-quality packaging. Each round snaps into individual molded plastic channels, and the pack un-folds for easy access without letting the ammo roll away when you’re loading up.

Performance
Avg. Velocity (ft/sec): 930
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 423
Standard Deviation: 5
Avg. Group (in.): 1.18
Best Group (in.): 0.94
MSRP: $29.99 (box of 20)

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