After Advanced Armament Corp (AAC) and Remington introduced it few years back, the 300 Blackout caliber has became the 2nd most popular AR-15 caliber after the .223 Rem/5.56mm. The AAC 300 Blackout has the advantage of using the same magazine and bolt group as the standard 5.56mm caliber on the AR-15 platform. Unlike the smaller .223 Rem caliber, the 300 Blackout could be easily suppressed with its wide selection of subsonic loads. Although it was developed specifically for a shorter engagement range of 100-300 meters, I always wondered how the 300 Blackout rounds would perform at longer distances.
When Travis Haley showed the video of him hitting steel targets at 800 yards with subsonic 300 Blackout rounds fired from a suppressed 8-in barrel AR-15, many were surprised and some were skeptical. Now I can confirm that not only is possible, but I have gone a step further and scored hits at 1000 yards with a 300 Blackout supersonic round.
I wasn’t trying to duplicate what Haley did in his video. I was out in the desert doing some long distance testing with two Bravo Company Mk12 SPRs and a 6.5 Grendel DMR with 18-in barrel that I just built. I also brought along my Noveske 300 Blackout upper and some left over rounds from my 300 Blackout ammunition roundup article in the Guns & Ammo: Book of the AR-15, 300 Blackout special issue.
I called John Noveske shortly after I got my assignment for doing the 300 Blackout ammunition review last fall. I told John my objective was to obtain a high-end 300 Blackout AR-15 upper for my field-testing. I also talked to him about his company being one of the first supporters of the 300 Blackout caliber. The Noveske upper that I received from John has the following features:
- Noveske 16-in stainless 300 Blackout barrel with polygonal rifling and 1:7 twist rate.
- 13.5-in Noveske NSR modular free-float lightweight handguard with Keymod
- AAC Blackout 51T Flash Hinder
- Pinned Noveske low profile gas block with carbine length gas tube
- Customized Vltor MUR upper reinforced forged receiver with Noveske logo
- Noveske bolt carrier group
- Bravo Company Gunfighter extended charging handle
This Noveske upper is a production unit and not a one-off custom build, which I try to avoid for my testing. It was no surprise that the Noveske is the most accurate of the four AR-15 test uppers I used for my 300 Blackout ammo article.
The lower that I used is a run-of-the-mill forged aluminum AR-15 lower receiver with Magpul ACS stock and Magpul MIAD modular pistol grip. A Troy Industries combination endplate and M4 BattleSling mount is used with the Mil-Spec carbine buffer tube. The only precision component in this lower is the Iron Ridge Arms Series G2 non-adjustable single-stage DMR style trigger. For support, I used the Bobro Engineering Type 3 bipod.
The optic that I used was the Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR-AK762 1-4x24mm tactical scope with an updated double-horseshoe reticle in MILs and dedicated BDC for the supersonic 300 Blackout and 7.62x39mm calibers. The Hi-Lux Leatherwood optic is mounted on a Weaver Tactical 1-piece SPR style 30mm mount. The CMR-AK762 was zeroed the day before according to the instructions with the small “v” on the inter horseshoe at 100 yards and the center 1 MOA dot at 200 yards.
The test location is on the BLM land out in the California High Desert. We setup our targets on an inclined hillside at the distance of 600, 800 and 1000 yards. The target ranges were checked by using a portable GPS. Steel targets were also setup on two closer spots. There was a framed full size zombie paper target setup at the 1000 yard location already present. The weather was 72 degree on clear day with 5 miles-per-hour diagonally crosswind. The altitude is 2800 feet above sea level.
I had four types of 300 Blackout/Whisper supersonic ammunition on hand for the testing. Here is the accuracy (average of 2 groups of 3-shot at 100 yard) and muzzle velocity (8 feet from the muzzle) data for each load from the Noveske upper:
100 yard Accuracy
|Hornady 110gr V-Max||2337.5 fps||1.2"|
|Barnes 110gr VOR-TX||2329.9 fps||2.1"|
|Blackhills 125gr||2326.4 fps||0.3"|
|PNW Arms 155gr||1945.7 fps||1.8"|
Hitting the 600 yard steel target was easy with all four 300 Blackout loads by using the 600 yard BDC in the reticle of Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR-AK762. The 800 yard steel target took a bit more work to hit as the bullet was more effected by the crosswind. 800 yards seemed to be the performance drop off distance for the flat-base short projectiles used in the Hornady, Barnes and Blackhills loads. Actually hitting the target at all at the 800 yard range was beyond my expectation. My best friend from my Marine Corps days, Chris Wilson, was spotting for me with a Leupold Mark 4 12-40x60mm spotting scope with a first focal-plane Mil-Dot reticle. Chris turned to me and said: “lets try to hit the zombie target at 1000 yards”. By then, the only 300 Blackout rounds that I had left were the PNW Match loads with the Nosler Custom Competition 155 grain BTHP projectile.
The CMR-AK762′s reticle BDC maxes out at 900 meters, at 21 Mils, and the zombie target sat at 944 meters/1032 yards away. I first tried with the 30 Mils holdover but the round flew over the hill. Next I used the 25 Mils holdover and the bullet impacted few feet short and about 10 feet to the left. A few clicks of adjustment on the windage turret and I fired again using the 26 Mils holdover. The impact landed slightly to the left of the target and just missed it. Two more clicks on the windage adjustment and I pulled the trigger again. About two and half seconds later, the time it took the round to travel the 1000 yards, I hear Chris calling out “Hit!”
I repeated that few more times and I was satisfied with scoring hits with the 300 Blackout caliber at 3 times its max intended effective range. That being said, the 300 Blackout is really not designed as a long range round, both the Blackhills Mk 262 77 gr 5.56mm and the WOLF Performance Ammunition Gold 120 gr MPT 6.5 Grendel out perform it with ease. Also, note that my combination of the very accurate Noveske barrel and the PNW Arms match ammo with its heavier weight open-tip boat-tail Nosler bullet probably helped significantly in getting longer range performance out of the 300 Blackout caliber.