Despite the similarities they share, these two calibers aren’t often compared, for the simple reason that they are compatible with completely different platforms. They’re also intended for two completely different functions. Both have their own set of strengths and weaknesses, and understanding these differences is crucial in making an informed decision on which caliber is the best fit for your needs.
In this article, we will delve into a detailed comparison of the .300 Blackout and the .308 Winchester, covering their history and background, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they stack up against each other in various scenarios.
.300 Blackout – A Quick Review
The .300 Blackout, also known as the .300 AAC Blackout or 7.62x35mm, is a rifle cartridge developed in the United States by Advanced Armament Corporation (now Remington) to provide the U.S. military with a cartridge that was more effective at engaging targets in close quarters combat (CQB) than the 5.56 NATO.
Taken on its own, the .300 Blackout’s main claim to fame is its versatility – it can come in both supersonic and subsonic loads, uses the same projectiles as a .308 Winchester and has better ballistics than the 7.62 Soviet. Taken in context of the AR-15, M16, and M4, it offers a lot more stopping power than the 5.56 and may require as little effort as a barrel swap to convert over.
History & Background of the .300 Blackout
The .300 Blackout was developed in response to the U.S. military’s need for a cartridge that was more effective at engaging targets in CQB situations, such as those encountered in urban warfare.
The .300 Blackout was designed to be used with the AR-15 platform, maintain a 30-round capacity with standard STANAG magazines, and come in both subsonic ammunition and supersonic ammunition flavors. The development of the .300 blackout was a success and has seen some military adoption since 2011.
Versatility, Low Recoil, and Other Advantages of .300 Blackout
One of the major advantages of the .300 Blackout is its versatility. It can be used for a wide range of applications, including for hunting rifles, target shooting, and self-defense. One of the main reasons for its versatility is that the cartridge can be loaded in both subsonic ammunition and supersonic flavors.
In other words, if you’re worried about home defense, you can fill a mag with subsonic rounds for that, and if you’re hunting medium game out past 100 yards, you can fill a separate mag with supersonic hunting rounds, and use both interchangeably with the same rifle.
In fact, I read an article about a hunter who fills his magazine with supersonic but has two subsonic rounds at the top. This is because his first two rounds are usually at closer range and quiet shots are more critical than long range ballistic performance. If he needs more than two cartridges it’s because the animal is trying to run away and he wants something faster and flatter to get it.
The .300 Blackout is also known for its low recoil energy, making it a great choice for shooters who are sensitive to recoil or for those who want to shoot for extended periods of time without experiencing fatigue. This obviously varies between the subsonic ammo and supersonic ammo loads, but even with the heavier stuff, it won’t be much tougher than .223.
This is a big factor, in my opinion, because the .300 Blackout isn’t designed for long range performance (unlike .308 Winchester), and the closer the range you’re shooting, the more likely you are to need quick follow-ups, or the ability to shoot a lot of rounds quickly.
Blackout works incredibly well with suppressors (especially the subsonic loads), and also works well with short-barreled rifles. With the right projectile, Blackout can be used in shooting matches and get all the way out to around 500 yards before it stops being effective, depending on what you’re shooting at.
If you’re just aiming for paper, you can stretch it out a lot further, but if you’re hunting, 500 yards is most likely the top of the range for a humane kill.
Ballistics, Effective Range, and Other Weaknesses of .300 Blackout
.300 Blackout is not designed for long range, and the ballistics reflect that. For subsonic flavors, you could see as much as a 14-inch less bullet drop in the first 100 yards if you zeroed with a supersonic load. Generally speaking, subsonic blackouts are going to behave like a punchier 9x19mm. Effective within 100 yards, about the same loudness, etc.
If you go supersonic, you’re going to see something more competitive with a 5.56 in terms of ballistics, but it won’t let you reach out as far as good ol’ 5.56 NATO, and it doesn’t even come close to what the .308 Winchester can do for you.
The main reason for these weaknesses is that the round wasn’t designed with snipers or other long-range shooters in mind: it was designed for CQB and other battlefield applications. The strengths and weaknesses of the hunting round reflect that. It’s also worth noting that just because it’s not accurate or consistent beyond a certain distance does not mean that it’s not lethal.
.308 Winchester – A Quick Review
The .308 Winchester, also known as the 7.62x51mm, is a rifle cartridge developed in 1952 by Winchester Repeating Arms Company. It is a popular caliber among hunters and long-range shooters due to its high power and long effective range. The .308 Winchester and its close NATO cousin (the 7.62x51mm) have long been used in military applications as well.
The heart and soul of the .308 is about long range. Very few rounds can challenge the .308 between 400 and 800 yards, and even beyond 800 it’s still a competitive round. As you can imagine, a lot has happened since 1952, and there have been rounds that have come out since then that offer a flatter trajectory past 800 yards, but the .308 keeps on keeping on.
Where the .308 Winchester Excels
The .308 Winchester is known for its high stopping power and long effective range. It is a popular caliber among hunters and military snipers. There’s no such thing as a subsonic .308 Winchester, and depending on the rifle you’re shooting, the .308 might kick like a mule. This is the price you pay for the performance at long distances.
If you’re hunting big game or doing long range competitive shooting, you’d almost certainly choose the .308 Winchester over the .300 Blackout.
Stopping Power and Other Advantages of the .308 Winchester
“Stopping power” is a bit of a mushy term, since it doesn’t have a measurable, technical meaning. Usually, the idea of power is derived from the energy of the projectile, measured in foot-pounds, but that’s only part of the equation. The design of the projectile itself can also contribute to stopping power and long range power, even if it flies slower.
Because the .308 has been around for so long, you can find a pretty wide variety of cartridges available with different projectile options depending on what you’re doing with it. If you want something match-grade or you want something to bring down a grizzly or a moose, you can find it.
The .308 Winchester can cycle in a semi-automatic just fine, though it’s too big with more bullet weights to fit in an AR-15 unlike the Blackout. If you want an AR-esque platform for .308, you’ll have to look at an AR-10 variant.
Ballistics and Effective Range of the .308 Winchester
“Effective range” is another somewhat flimsy term, because it also does not have a single definition that everyone accepts. In terms of bullet energy, you start to run out of enough to humanely drop a white-tail at between 600 and 700 yards, though you’ll still inflict a lethal wound.
In terms of velocity, though, you’ll have reasonably accurate shot placement out to 1000 yards depending on the projectile you’re launching. At 1000 yards you’ll have a considerable bullet drop (somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 feet), and the projectile will still be traveling with lethal force out to 2 miles and beyond.
In other words, unless you are planning on being an ultra long-range shooter, the .308 is a perfectly acceptable hunting round to use.
.300 Blackout vs .308 – Comparing the 2 Calibers
Now that we have a good understanding of the 300 blackout vs 308 Winchester, let’s take a look at how they compare to each other in various scenarios.
How They Are Similar
They use the same diameter of projectiles, and they both utilize smokeless gunpower.
How They Are Different
They were built in completely different eras for completely different purposes. As such, there are several key differences between the .300 Blackout and the .308 Winchester.
- The most notable difference is the effective range of each caliber. The .300 Blackout has a shorter effective range of approximately 300 meters, while the .308 Winchester has a longer effective range of approximately 800 meters.
- Another difference between the two calibers is the stopping power. The .308 Winchester has a higher stopping power and is better at penetrating barriers and hard targets. The Blackout, on the other hand, has less recoil and makes less noise, making it a much better solution for CQB scenarios.
If you want a battle rifle out to ~200 yards or so, .300 Blackout would be my choice for you. If you want a long range rifle beyond 200 yards, go .308 Winchester (Note: there are lots of other calibers that could be as good or better in these two situations, but this comparison is between Blackout and .308).
Which Is Better Past 500 Yards?
100% the .308 Winchester. When it comes to shooting at longer ranges, the .308 Winchester is the clear winner. With a maximum effective range of approximately 800 meters, the .308 Winchester is better suited for long-range shooting and hunting. The .300 Blackout, on the other hand, begins to lose velocity and energy at longer ranges, making it less effective past 200 yards.
Which Is Better for Hunting Big Game?
Once again, absolutely the .308 Winchester is better for big game. Even if you’re shooting under 100 yards, the .308 is going to drop the animal much faster and more reliably than even the most powerful Blackout round.
Which Is Better for Home Defense?
Now it’s the .300 Blackout’s time to shine. Please do not try and use a .308 Winchester for home defense and self defense. You might need two layers of ear protection just to avoid rupturing an ear drum.
A subsonic .300 blk Blackout load with a suppressor is tailor-made for home defense and self defense. The only exception to this is if you’re worried that whoever is breaking into your house is wearing body armor. Even then, just have a mag ready with supersonic rounds and you should be good to go.
Which Is Better for Hunting Small Game?
This is a tougher match-up, actually. For hunting small game, the .300 Blackout may be a better choice due to its low recoil and versatility. The .308 Winchester, while capable of taking down small game, may be overkill due to its high stopping power and long effective range. That said, if you’re shooting coyotes out past 200 yards, the Blackout might start to struggle.
It will still be plenty lethal, of course, but if you’ve got a lighter, supersonic projectile, you’ll have consistency issues, and if you’ve got a heavier subsonic velocity projectile, you’re not getting anywhere close to 200 yards anyway. If you know you’ll be within 100 or 200 yards, I’d go with the Blackout.
Yes, the .300 Blackout is used by some military units, particularly those that are involved in CQB operations. It is also used by some law enforcement agencies.
No, .300 AAC is another name for the Blackout. AAC is the initials of the company that developed the .300 Blackout cartridge, while .308 is a caliber designation for the .308 Winchester cartridge.
The .300 Blackout has an effective range of approximately 300 meters. It begins to lose velocity and energy at longer ranges, making it less effective past this point. Remember not to confuse the word “effective” with the word “lethal”. A .300 Blackout’s lethal range is better measured in miles than yards.
The .300 Blackout and the .308 Winchester are two popular calibers that each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. We have covered all the points in the comparison of 300 blackout vs 308. The .300 Blackout is known for its versatility, low recoil, and great suppressability, while the .308 Winchester has a high stopping power and long effective range.
Ultimately, the choice on which to invest in is going to depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. Home defense = .300 Blackout. Long range shooting = .308 Winchester.