In this cartridge comparison of .300 Blackout and the iconic .308. The respective cartridges have their strengths and weaknesses. Both cartridges are .308 calibers, comparing the two is a bit of a challenge because we need to view it from various performance specs.
These performances takes place in several categories and we’ll be able to see which application is best with the respective caliber.
So there is more to it than choosing one cartridge and saying this is better than the other. Instead we’ll let situations dictates which cartridge is best for.
.300 Blackout Quick History
The .300 Blackout made its entrance in 2011 by Advanced Armament Corporation. The idea behind the Blackout was to produce a round that could match the performance of our enemy firearm 7.62×39 round. With the capability to be used on an AR platform with a short barrel, based on tactical scenario needs.
At the time the 5.56×45 NATO round was predominantly used for close quarter combat, with a mix of 9mm. (MP5) The results at times were dissatisfied with the performance of these rounds. Which is why the .300 Blackout was the solutions to these needs.
It’s quite remarkable how the .300 BLK has assimilated into so many corners of the shooting community from special ops, competition shooters, home defense, and even hunting.
When looking at 300 BLK ammunition, there is a wide range in performance. The 300 BLK is available in both subsonic and transonic velocities, as you would imagine, it means that the 300 BLK can serve several purposes. The bullet weights for these rounds can also vary pretty dramatically depending on their intended use.
.308 Winchester Quick History
Since its beginning in 1952 the iconic .308 Winchester has been grounded in hunting and tactical traditions.
The military was impressed with its performance specs and quickly adopted it, which was used extensively in Vietnam for a short period of time. Before being replaced by the 5.56 NATO round military wide.
With the short coming of its military debut, the .308 prevailed in the hunting world which has given hunters a reliable round to count on.
The .308 definitely found its home among hunters and long range shooters. Law enforcement and military sharp shooting teams obviously noticed the .308 long range and accuracy prowess which they gladly adopted into their contingency program.
The .308 ruled the long range, penetration and stopping power performance.
The only similarities between the two cartridges is that they are both .308 calibers. Differences is that the casing for the .308 Win is larger than the .300 BLK, which holds a higher amount of powder and can withstand greater pressure. You may have guessed by now the performance characteristics of these two rounds are going to be different.
Which is a good thing, because that helps us see what the respective round is good for.
Below listed are cartridges performance information from respective manufacturers. Something to note these are factory loads which means the information is from the manufacturers data and they serve as a gauge benchmark but not in definite. If these rounds were shot from various firearms the general trends between cartridges and rounds should remain the same.
300 BLK Hornady A-MAX Black 208gr
300 BLK Hornady FTX 135gr
300 BLK Barnes Vor-TX 120gr
300 BLK Winchester Deer Season XP 150gr
300 BLK Remington Premier OTM 220gr
308 Nosler Ballistic Tip 165gr
308 Federal Vital-Shok Ballistic Tip 150gr
308 Winchester Super-X 180gr
308 Hornady BTHP Match 168gr
308 Federal Gold Medal 175gr
What follows are the main characteristics that most gun ballistics experts and gun nuts looks at when comparing or viewing performances. We won’t be going too deep into each category because we’re only looking at comparisons and purposes from respective cartridge.
When we hear recoil we associate it with the .308, it comes with the territory. The .300 BLK has less recoil than the .308. But this doesn’t mean the .300 BLK is not a good round and that it lacks power. We’ll get to that later.
The data that you see below indicates recoil energy (ft.lb) and not the felt recoil. So logically if there is an increased recoil energy than there should be felt recoil as well.
The info diagram obviously shows that the .300 BLK has less recoil. (no brainer)
Again, the .308 has a bigger recoil which means it would take a shooter longer time to get off multiple rounds.
Where the .300 BLK has less of the recoil can get off multiple rounds faster than a .308 rifle. For a big game hunting rifle, recoil comes with the territory, but a home defense weapon, you don’t want the gun rising wildly after every shot. I know it sounds like we’re repeating ourselves, but we’re trying to drive a point here.
I think we can all agree that the mighty .308 was design for taking down medium to large size game from a far. Where the .300 BLK cartridge was design for close quarter with the ability to shoot rapidly, ideal for home defense.
We’re going to lighly touch this because ballistics involves other categories such as the velocity, ballistic coefficient and the trajectory.
This is about how the bullet behaves when it leaves the barrel.
We’ll try to target only the applications from these two cartridges. What its used for and their limitations.. Velocity
This is not about having more of because if you’re into handloading. This can get you into out of control in this department.
The design for these different velocities served different usage. More velocity, in this case, is not going to be what you are looking for depending on the shooting application.
A key thing to note about the .300 BLK information is that these rounds can be broken down into two groups.
First is the supersonic and second subsonic rounds.
We’ll get int this later in the purpose department and you’ll see why the .300 BLK is a versatile round.
Though the BC is good to know, its still not a good comparison to see which is the better round.
Ballistic coefficient gives you an idea of how well the bullet is streamlined. A bullet with a higher BC means that it is more efficient at cutting through the wind and being less resistant to wind drift and drag. As you can imagine, this impacts both the trajectory and subsequent accuracy of the round.
There isn’t much thought into the BC for .300 BLK close quarter home defense application. BC is important for the .308 when you’re trying to reach out to over 800 yards.
As we mentioned above the .308 will have a higher BC than the .300 BLK. There a couple of .300 in this chart has a decent BC. These rounds are subsonic but shouldn’t be used for long range. Trajectory
While the .308 Win is a long distance cartridge, the .300 BLK falls pretty short in that category. For that reason, we are not going into it, .308 rules!
We notice right off the bat that the two subsonic .300 BLK rounds drop nearly 25″ more than the remaining 300 BLK and .308 Win rounds at the 200 yard and nearly a 100″ more at the 300 yard. As we said, this doesn’t mean they are inferior rounds; it simply means they are not design for long range shooting.
If we look at the supersonic .300 BLK rounds, they behave much more similarly to the .308 Win rounds at 200 yards though they do show around 4-5 more inches of bullet drop at this range. This gap does widen as the bullets move out to the 300-yard range with the bullet drop of the .300 BLK rounds dropping 15-20″ more than the .308 Win rounds.
This category definitely shows us how differently these two cartridges behave and will be a major factor in the applications these two cartridges should be used.
This category is important for the home defender and tactical user. In this section, we are going to look at two components of stopping power:
The bullet energy and the penetration potential and see if we can connect the dots between the .308 vs 300 Blackout.
The energy needed to cleanly take down a target is questionable and relies on the target. A home intruder at 10 yards is not going to need as much force to drop an elk.
A general guideline in the hunting world is 1,000ft.lb for deer, 1,500ft.lb for elk, and slightly more for moose. Ballistic data says bullet energy plays a large role in stopping power, but we can’t stress that the velocity you have when you reach the animal, shot placement, and penetration/expansion are equally important.
For home defense, you don’t need as much energy as you do in the hunting world. Over penetration is not a good thing. Shooting a high velocity, high energy bullet at close range is going to pass through the target and possibly even thru the walls, making it dangerous for innocent bystander.
As you can see the .308 rounds energy are leaps and bounds above the .300 BLK rounds even against the highest .300 BLK round.
Another interesting to note is for medium to longer range shots, supersonic rounds are better use than the subsonic rounds.
There are several components that go into a bullet’s potential penetration characteristics including velocity, the caliber of the bullet, the weight of the bullet, and the bullet design. Unfortunately, we don’t have any ballistic gel results, which would have given us a good visual representation and patterns.
If we’re talking precision long range, anything greater than 200 yards, then the .308 takes the cake in the accuracy department.
The BC’s are higher than the supersonic .300 BLK rounds and the .308 rounds have similar flatter trajectory at the 200 and 300-yard ranges.
With this information you can effectively work the supersonic .300 BLK rounds at those ranges. Of course working with a .308 is going to be easier.
If you’re working at closer range for home defense then the recoil on the .308 is greater, but you wouldn’t be able to get off 5-6 shots off quickly with any accuracy.
The .300 BLK, on the other hand, is designed to be used in a short barrel AR platform and has less recoil this helps for quick multiple shots.
Price & Availability
Currently, there are probably more .308 rounds available than the .300 BLK round. Plus the average price for it is more than the expensive .300 BLK per case. This may be true but you’ll have to take into the account of how quickly a .300 BLK user goes through.
The .300 BLK was design for tactical/personal defense more rounds would be expended than a hunter shooting his .308 round.
If you’re the finance geek then you might view it this way. you’re going to be spending quite a bit more on ammo than a deer hunter using the .308 ammunition. For example, costs of 300 Blackout rounds range from $.60 per round to $2.00 per round. That gives it an average of $1.30 per round. In comparison, the .308 ammo costs range from $.35 per round to $1.50 per round with an average of $.90 per round. That makes the 300 Blackout about 45% more per round on average.
There has been many touch points that we have mentioned earlier. Whether you’re looking at the data or not its easy for everyone to say the .308 reigns in all long range category.
From a common sense or data point of view for medium to big game hunting. There really isn’t a reason to choose the .300 BLK over the .308 Win.
Yes, there are some supersonic hunting rounds for the .300 BLK for the medium size game that you can pursue, but thats still limited.
For those into 3-gun competition or self-defense, then you might want to consider looking at the .300 BLK. With its short barrel, low recoil for multiple shots follow up and not have to worry about over penetration is ideal.
To finish up on this .300 BLk and .308 comparison. We’ll point out the most favorable rounds for hunting and home defense. Also, whats here is not written in stone, its just our opinion. As you know there are other cartridges similar to the ones that was illustrated here.
Best Hunting Round
The best hunting rounds to use from this lot is the .308 Nosler Ballistic Tip 165gr. .308 definitely reigns hands down, game over when it comes to medium to long range for big game take down. Enough said!
If you’re a die-hard .300 BLK user and have to have something for hunting, then go with the .300 BLK Barnes Vor-TX 120 gr. This one is good for up to 150 yards and it would be an easy game take down.
Best Personal Defense Round
The .300 BLK round that stands out in this group is the 300 BLK Hornady A-MAX Black 208gr. As you know by now characteristics such as low recoil and low muzzle flash makes it a great solution for home defense. This round has enough force to penetrate and deter the bad guy, and subsonic velocity will less likely to pass through the wall behind the BG (bad guy), even multiple shots.
Last shot – as you can tell each cartridge has a different purpose for its respective unique situation. There really isn’t a direct .300 BLK vs .308 Win shootout. You can’t choose one or the other and say this one caliber rules them all.