July 28, 2020
Big news for anyone who has, or is thinking of buying a rifle or pistol chambered for 300 AAC Blackout. Economical steel case ammunition has finally been introduced in this popular caliber. The Russian Barnaul Cartridge Plant is now manufacturing 300 AAC Blackout ammunition, and shipments have arrived in the US. This is great news for anyone who enjoys shooting this .30-caliber intermediate cartridge, but is bummed out by the high cost of ammunition. Finally, there is a truly economical option available for training and recreation.
Firearms News visited the Barnaul Cartridge Plant a few years ago while members of our editorial team were adventuring in the Altai Region of Siberia. Having shot my fair share of Russian steel case ammunition, I was interested to see how this new offering would perform. Barnaul’s 300 AAC BLK load is built on a Berdan primed steel cartridge case. This features a protective high-temperature polymer coating. A silver gray in color, this finish is designed to prevent rust and corrosion, while also aiding feeding and extraction. At the base you will find a non-corrosive Berdan primer. Seated into the cartridge case is a 145-grain full metal jacket bullet. Barnaul claims this has a G1 Ballistic Coefficient of 0.366, but I would expect this to be based on mathematical calculations rather than on actual Doppler radar testing. Advertised muzzle velocity is 1,985 fps, although a barrel length is not listed. I would expect this to be from a 16-inch barrel.
While I am very excited about this new offering by Barnaul, the 145-grain bullet weight is a bit heavier than I would prefer. A 110 to 120-grain load would have been ideal, but perhaps we will see something like that down the road. With ammo on my doorstep I grabbed a pair of 300 BLKs and headed to the range. I was interested in seeing what type of velocity could be realized from barrel lengths most Blackout fans would actually gravitate to. Rob Silvers originally optimized his cartridge for use in a 9-inch barrel, so that seemed to be a natural. With the rising interest in PDWs I thought it might be prudent to also test something quite a bit shorter than 9 inches. So, I chose a SIG Sauer Rattler with a 5.5-inch barrel and an old 9-inch AAC AR-15.
Examining cartridges pulled at random from different boxes revealed no visual flaws. The cases all looked good, the primers were seated properly, the case finish was evenly applied and the projectiles had no discernable flaws. Cartridges fed, chambered, extracted and ejected without issue. Satisfied, I checked velocity and accuracy at 100 yards. I guessed there would be about a 35 fps loss per inch of barrel from the factory advertised velocity of 1,985 fps. I figured the 9-inch barrel would average about 1,740 fps, and so had an ear to ear grin when I checked the LabRadar Doppler chronograph and saw the 9-inch AAC AR-15 had averaged 1,737 fps. This load had a high of 1,748 fps and a low of 1,723 fps. Extreme spread was 24 fps and the Standard Deviation was 7.8. Accuracy from a rest using iron sights averaged 2.5 inches. This was for four 5-shot groups at 100 yards.
While my guess for the velocity of the 9-inch barrel was spot on, I was a bit off when it came to the 5.5-inch SIG Sauer Rattler. This averaged a rather sedate 1,503 fps, with a high of 1,536 and a low of 1,478 fps. Extreme Spread was 58 fps and the Standard Deviation came in at 24.4. While the velocity was on the low side, accuracy was quite good averaging 2.7 inches for four 5-shot groups. I shot these using a SIG Sauer red dot sight.
Function-wise, there were zero problems with both guns running with no problems. Bolts locked back properly and ejection was sure. I used 20 and 30-round Magpul PMAGs and experienced no problems with them. This load proved fun shooting steel plates and paper targets with, which is what I would expect most shooters will use it for. As long as it is reliable and functions well people will like it. While my test quantity was less than 500 rounds, functioning was 100% in both guns. I expect this load will prove popular once the panic buying dies down and pricing/availability returns to normal.
Barnaul .300 AAC Blackout Specifications
- Bullet: 145 grains, full metal jacket
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): 0.366
- Muzzle Velocity: 1,985 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 1,268 ft/lb
- Max Powder Pressure Bar (lb/inch2): 50,763
- Cartridge Max Length: 2.15 inches
- Cartridge Average Weight: 239 grains
- Rounds per Box: 20
- Rounds per Case: 500
For more information, visit barnaulammo.com.