I have always considered .300 AAC Blackout to be a niche cartridge. I never had much use for it, because for everything I needed, calibers did just as well or usually better.
I understand the advantages for suppression, and I know it is a good little cartridge for hunting deer from tree stands in the eastern forests and farmland, but for use in Alaska, I prefer something like the 6.5 Grendel, which gives a magical balance of range, accuracy, and terminal performance from an AR rifle.
When my oldest daughter was three, she got it into her head that she really wanted to shoot a wild hog. For four years she has squirreled away every magazine she could find with an article about hog hunting. Most people would just take their daughter hog hunting, but if there is one type of game we don’t have in Alaska, it is hogs. So for years, a little girl growing up with moose and bears in her yard, Dall sheep on the sides of the roads, caribou, and musk oxen, arctic hare, and ptarmigan has had one dream; to shoot a pig.
I finally talked to our friends at SWHAT about a visit to Texas. Now Texas might only be a third the size of Alaska when our tide goes out, but they have something we don’t – plenty of destructive wild hogs.
My daughter has an AR-15, but shoots it best off of a bench or prone. She is very small and the forward weight of even a light 16″ AR-15 is a struggle for her. While she will struggle to aim a 6 lb AR-15 off-hand, she can balance a friend’s 8 1/2 lb Steyr Aug just fine. So the dilemma was choosing the appropriate AR-15 configuration for her body size and strength.
It became apparent that a short AR-15 would be best. A 10.3″ or 10.5″ barrel would bring the balance back and reduce weight. Reliable function is easy to achieve, and decent terminal ballistics are easy to attain at shorter ranges with the right 5.56 mm ammunition.
A 7.5″ or 8″ barrel is better in the weight and balance department, but reliability is tougher, and 5.56mm terminal ballistics are dismal. Shooting a 5.56 AR-15 with a short barrel is like a flashbang going off in front of your face, and it is tough on a suppressor. Going up to 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 SPC helps with terminal ballistics, but doubles the recoil.
But an 8″ barreled AR-15 for hunting hogs lands squarely in realm of the .300 AAC Blackout. This is the area where the cartridge really outpaces the competition. With subsonic loads recoil is similar to 5.56, and between 5.56 and 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC with supersonic, muzzle flash and report are low, terminal ballistics are good at short ranges with the right ammo, even from a short barrel; there really is no other choice.
So suddenly a cartridge I had little personal interest in has arrested my attention. Extremely short ARs, 300 BLK, and wild hogs; all areas where I have little experience, but I expect that to change quickly, and I’m borrowing from the expertise of the guys at SHWAT and at CMMG as I go. I’ll keep you updated.
Please comment and let me know about your experiences with .300 BLK, short-barreled ARs, and hog hunting. If you use .300 BLK, what led you to the caliber, and what purpose does it fulfill for you?