The shooting World is full of new ideas especially when it comes to calibres, barely a week goes by where a manufacturer launches another new round which is always better performing than the last one but the story of the 300 Blackout is worth following. To go into full detail would take up pages and pages but the summary of it is that Special Forces around the World have been asking for a bullet that has better 'knock down' ability than a 5.56mm (.223) bullet which is typically used. The 5.56mm is seen as a too small in certain instances and the larger 7.62mm (.308) would be better. The downside is that a soldier cant carry as many of the larger rounds and they are heavier. So (we are shortening this story a lot to keep it readable) the 300 Blackout was created - a 7.62 bullet in a 5.56 casing.
Now thats all well and good of course but in target shooting we shoot paper, the 'knock down' ability of a round is moot what we want is accuracy and range so for the civilian World the 300 Blackout has gone largely unnoticed but it hasnt been by the the World and especially the UK's armed police units who have also been lamenting the 5.56mm round not as much for its knock down attributes but more for its penetration (ie going through things like walls) and its noise - it is bloody noisy. Now it sounds daft to look at noise and penetration in a negative way but for our countries armed police they are crucial issues, they have to ensure they only shoot at the bad guys and if the round is going to go through them, then a wall, then a window and into the street its an issue. Going to a smaller bullet - the 9mm for example, does bring back to the issue of 'knock down' the police will only fire as a last resort which means if they do shoot then they need the person to go down and not shrug it off, the very reason the 9mm was dropped in favour of the 5.56mm in the first place. Again, this is all a bit of a non issue to the target shooter, however the second aspect - noise is.
At Silverstone Shooting Centre we are conscious that we need to keep noise to a minimum, its why our full bore rifles are all moderated (suppressed) so any way we can enjoy our sport and not cause noise is something we pay careful attention to so when we learn that the UK police is concerned about hearing damage for their officers and they are looking to try the 300 Blackout round to achieve that then it gets our interest. The police want it quiet, retain the 'knock down' they need and limit the penetration (through walls) issue they have, so a sub sonic 300 Blackout round will retain the 'punch' they need, run sub sonic (quiet) to save hearing damage and not punch through so many walls.
So, we decided to make our own 300 Blackout rifle, the idea was to create the quietest full bore rifle shooting a larger calibre bullet.
Working with our partners Guncraft, we married one of their AR15 straight pull rifles to a custom made Wildcat Evolution moderator fitted to a 12" barrel. Add Hogue grips and stock, a Vortex PST2 1-4 scope the aim was to create a sporting rifle suitable for a variety of shooting disciplines, CSR, Urban Contact, Practical Rifle that shot a decent sizes bullet but didnt make any noise.
Well as the video shows, pretty much mission accomplished, measured at the barrel itself we are recording a sound level of 104-109db LaF Max. 1m away from the barrel (the more usual distance used) this drops to 92-95db LaF Max. At 50m the level drops to 72-75db LaF Max, in other words its about the same noise and an un-moderated .22 rifle and yet its shooting a .308 calibre bullet. All the tests were shot using a Hornady sub sonic 300 Blackout round.
Next testing we plan is to use a supersonic round and see how we get on, it will be louder of course but if we can keep that under control we think the 300 Blackout will gain some popularity for target shooters (it does need to come down in price of course for those who dont home load).
The rifle will be on display at our Stand at the British Shooting Show on February 14th to 16th, drop by and take a peek.