Survival Debate: .223 Rem VS .300 AAC-Blackout

Gun enthusiasts love a good campfire argument over different firearms and cartridges.  Many, many preppers and survival planners areBest Survival Round very much into the debate over this gun or that for this purpose or that and correspondingly the cartridges that go along with them.  Such debates can be instructional, knowledge worthy, and stimulating.  I have been writing about guns, cartridges, ammo and uses for all for about 35 years.  I read all the basic gun magazines and have for years.  I know all the debates, have read them all, heard them all, and participated in many of them in my circle of gun aficionados.  Not to mention, I love adding my two cents worth.

Cartridge Wars

Every gun, rifle, handgun or hunting publication nearly every year runs the same litany of articles comparing the .270 Winchester to the 30-06 Springfield, the 9mm vs the .40 Smith and Wesson or the .45 ACP, the .223 against the 7.62×39, as well as a whole series of pieces doubting or affirming the usefulness of the .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Special, the .41 or .44 Magnums or even the .22 or .22 Magnum rimfires.   I am sure you have read some or many of those annual tomes and came away scratching your collective heads.  Well, me, too.  Truth is they are all good for something.  The more the merrier is my motto.

But then, every time a new cartridge development comes on the scene then the debates start up all over again.  Personally I think this is healthy for the gun and ammo industry and it also gives shooters, hunters, paper punchers, and even survivalists something new to chew on.  Certainly such developments continue to generate new fodder for old crusty outdoor writers like myself.  I eat this stuff up quicker than a pepperoni pizza pie, double cheese please.

New Kid on the Block

Well, this kid is not really so new, but for most shooters out there today, it is still in the diaper stage.  Most of you preppers even the heavybest survival round duty gun folks have probably not spent much time studying this new cartridge and its effectiveness and/or comparison to some of the better known cartridges like the .223/5.56 NATO or others in this power range.

Also Read: Survival Debate – .308 vs .223

Now, I’ll not waste your time retelling the history or development of this one.  You can do a simple Google search or better yet refer to Wikipedia for a thorough expose’ on the .300 AAC-Blackout and its shadow twin brother the .300 Whisper (not identical twins).  Certainly I will not hop down the bunny trail on the .223 cartridge either.  Most of you know this one by heart anyway and either used it in a war somewhere, on the ranch, in the pursuit of game, or paper targets.   I am not here to sell you on either, but just to point out the doings of each and present some alternatives for your prepping considerations, the good, bad, and ugly.

The Ubiquitous .223 Remington

First, know that as a survival prepper I am a huge fan of the .223-5.56 NATO for all the known reasons it is good and I ignore most its Best Survival Roundshortcomings.  There I finally got that off my chest.  The .223 is what it is.  For preppers in my way of thinking, it is a must have cartridge in your survival gun battery.  It is easy to shoot well, ammo is readily available, and is relatively cheap as compared to other cartridges in today’s marketplace.

Without wearing out all the rubber on the tires, the .223 comes in umpteen rifle platforms, the most notable of course, is the AR-15 and clones.  That is more than a hundred clones to date.  Take or leave it, the fact is the AR-15 is the No. 1 selling and used rifle platform in America.  The .223 also comes in a wide variety of bolt action varmint type rifles that can double as a very effective “sniper” rifle for two or four-legged targets.   This includes the excellent Ruger Scout rifle which is now available in .223.

Also Read: The Katrina Rifle

Commenting only the on most basic .223/5.56 load and ballistics, this cartridge uses a 55-grain bullet either a FMJ (full metal jacket) or other type of bullet configuration.  Its standard muzzle velocity is around 3240 fps (feet per second) with about 1282 foot pounds of muzzle energy.  Of course, different loads from different makers may vary from these “paper” graph numbers.  Is it the best “killer” in the network of potential survival self-defense cartridges?  No.  For that you have to step up to the .308 for maximum range and take down capabilities.  Will it take down a coyote, wild dog or wild pig harassing your Bug Out camp?  Yes, it will.  If you are rushed by a cocaine doped zombie charging the front door, is it effective?  Creating a third eye-hole in the forehead will certainly go the distance in changing any zombies attack plan.  If it should take a whole 30-round magazine, then you have that option, too.

Sweet Baby James, the .300 Blackout

For starters, I simply like the terminology of this new cartridge.  I mean what says it all better than using the moniker Blackout?  Of Best Survival Roundcourse the 300 Blackout started out as the 300 AAC (for Advanced Armament Corporation) but evolved into the nomenclature of the 300 Blackout.  There is also the story of the 300 Whisper, which you can read on line, too.  In practicality none of this historical development matters now, it just makes for an interesting read.

The 300 Blackout is the 7.62×35.  In the initial stages of release to the general shooting public there were few factory loads for this cartridge, but that is changing.  I can find at least a half dozen new loads that have come out in the past year alone.  All this one can assume is driven by an expanding popularity that is resulting in more sales.  That is the bottom line when it comes to a cartridge and the guns for it succeeding in the marketplace.

Also Read: The Best Survival Carbine Part 1

Two very popular factory loads for the 300 BO include the Hornady 110 grain V-Max bullet that pops out a muzzle velocity of 2375 fps and a muzzle energy of 1378 foot pounds.  The other is the Remington Hog Hammer using a 130 grain Barnes TSX boat tail bullet that generates a MV of 2400 fps and a ME of 1407 foot pounds.  Both of these are highly effective rounds for light hunting up to an including white-tailed deer.  I have personally harvested deer with the 110 grain Hornady load, one shot kills.  I have complete faith in it at reasonable ranges with good bullet placement.  One other tidbit of information by way of comparison, the 300 BO generates 16.7 per cent more energy at 300 meters than the 7.62×39 or the AK round.  The 300 BO also can utilize subsonic rounds with an installed suppressor if you are inclined to file the ownership paperwork and the NFA $200 application fee with up to a year delay in getting the permit.

Other good news about the 300 BO is that the cartridges fit into standard AR-15 223 magazines.  If you already own an AR-15 now, you Best Survival Roundcan purchase a 300 BO upper without any additional licenses or permits.  You just install the new upper on your existing legal lower unit, and start shooting.  So, there is a simple comparison without a sales pitch.  I like both the .223/5.56 and the 300 Blackout.  The Blackout delivers more power.  The upper units are not cheap and neither is the ammo when it can be found.  All of that will improve in time.

Preppers make gear decisions every time they purchase something for stock.  If you are planning on the acquisition of any survival weapons as part of your over all SHTF strategy, then now you have an another alternative to consider.  Both the .223 and the 300 BO have their attractors and their shortcomings, but either would serve you well.  Now, if I threw the 6.8 SPC into this argument mix, you guys would really freak out and the debate would start all over again.  Bring it on.

Photos by: Dr. John J. Woods, Adams Arms

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John J. Woods
Written by John J. Woods

John J. Woods, PhD, has been outdoor writing for over 35 years with over 3000 articles, and columns published on firearms, gun history, collecting, appraising, product reviews and hunting. Dr. Woods is currently the Vice President of Economic Development at a College in the Southern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of John J.'s articles.

29 thoughts on “Survival Debate: .223 Rem VS .300 AAC-Blackout”

  1. Seems silly to me, unless you just are that guy who wants the newest latest greatest thing. 5.56/223 is everywhere, as is 7.62×39. The money is better served elsewhere. My 2 cents.

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  2. NO argument highdesertlivin said it all 5.56/223 is a nato standard a lot of the world uses it more important we use it
    millions of rounds of it.

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  3. If you have a supressed gun, the .300 BLK really starts coming into its own. With a nice heavy bullet (190+ grains) and a subsonic load, the .300 BLK is VERY quiet and still has enough oomph for deer out to a couple hundred yards…just gotta know that the trajectory and point of impact are VERY different from the 130-150 grain loadings. A buddy uses 247grn (IIRC) cast lead bullets in his supressed .300BLK SBR, and it is very quiet and very accurate. Getting the gun to cycle with subsonic loads was a bear, i understand, but once it was dialed in, it works well. Cool cartridge. Dunno if I'd get into it, but it has a niche.

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  4. The way I see this is that it is about like the debate over ARs and AKs. It all depends on the owner and the user. You get what you need to meet your shooting needs. Now I don't know for sure about the availability of .300BLK, but I am sure that 5.56/.223 cartridges or rounds are more available and will be especially so in a grid down situation.

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  5. I have always considered the best cartridge to use is one used by the most groups. The 5.56 and 7.62 are used by the US military and law enforcement and should be fairly prevalent in a survival situation. One could conceivably scrounge some of those cartridges on a future battlefield between militia groups and their military/law enforcement adversaries. That can't be said with as much certainty about the .300 Blackout, .458 SOCOM, or 6.8.

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    • Exactly the second best one to consider since it has become more popular would be 7.62×39 as it is available via imported ammunition and domestically made sources in most any sporting goods or gun shop anymore. Then there is the good old .30-06 Springfield. So many sporting rifles are still chambered in this cartridge and there are millions of M-1s out there still serving on in the hands of private individuals and you can still find sources of M2 Ball for them as well as newer commercial loads.

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  6. If you reload, you can also resize brass for other calibers. I've seen .30-06 run thru a .308 die and trimmed to length. It worked just fine.

    Any cartridge based on the .30-06 can be shortened, run thru a .45ACP die, trimmed and it will work just fine.

    Same thing for a 5.56 case. It makes a good substitute for a .380ACP. It's a little small for a 9mm, but it can work.

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  7. I know that I should stick with the 5.56, especially since I'm already set up in that direction. It's just that I really WANT a short little 300BLK. With a reloading setup, the ammo availability and price isn't such a problem. That's what I'm telling myself, though I'm buying the barrel last for this build so I might have time to come to my senses,

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  8. I can see a great advantage of the .300 BLK for two specific reasons, primarily when suppressed.

    1. Hunting. When harvesting game for the table, a suppressed .300 reduces the sound signature of the killshot so as not to advertise the location of the shooter. The easy part is killing the animal. Trying to get away, especially if others are in the area who heard an unsuppressed shot and are now searching for the shooter or the kill. A suppressed hunting rifle with the capabilities of the AR might mean you can harvest that game without notifying others of your presence.

    2. That same mechanic, if used in a pro-active defensive action means you may have a few precious seconds to continue to engage or melt back into cover.

    Rather than toss all my .223 ammo away and wrapping my .223 upper around a tree just for spite's sake, I'd look at the .300 BLK as an augmentation to existing armory. Better sound and flash suppression gives an edge that, with the right operator, may be exploited to increase survivability.

    I wouldn't, however, lose the other uppers. Keep them, use them as appropriate.

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  9. I just don't see the reasoning behind choosing a wildcat cartridge to use in a survival rifle. Regardless of its advantages, you probably can't carry enough in a bug-out situation to make it useful in the long-term and unless you're incredibly lucky you won't be able to restock on the move. Also, unless you've done extensive planning with your buddies and manage to have them all together when SHTF you won't be able to share ammo, magazines, etc.

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  10. I agree also. 16% improvement over 7.62×39 isn't anything to sneeze about, but it's expensive as hell for what amounts to slightly better numbers, exponentially more expensive ammo + an upper that breaks the bank. It ain't worth it … Total complete toy for the wealthy. Obviously in very small circles it's justifiable for the military, however.

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  11. Two twenty three is everywhere—bought several cases when I could get it cheap—held as reserve—300 Blackout is nowhere and only going to be impossible to find if civilization breaks down…

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  12. I do not see it as an argument like the AK vs AR they are two complete different weapon systems. We are talking about one weapon system being able to shoot two different rounds obviously using different uppers. In a survival situation I obviously want as much ammo as possible but I also want versatility by using a small caliber along with a larger caliber. I would be much more comfortable shooting a buck with a 30 cal vs a 22 cal. Yes I know bullet placement is important but I do like the heavier bullet. As for the 7.62 x 39 vs the 300 BO I do like the 16% increase. Additionally in close I would much rather have the larger caliber over the smaller faster one. As to the ability to locate ammo I am a reloader and I would not consider the 300 BO if I did not reload. Just my 2 cents.

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  13. I've got one and I'll tell you it is great fun to shoot. When the shtf all ammo except what you have on hand will be impossible to get. The blackout is nice because I can get brass any where (cut down 223/556) it uses the most common bullet and I can make just about any pistol powder work. A few hand tools and im set. Should it be the primary weapon … no but that H&R handi rifle in the hands of my 10 year old could keep a pot filled. I've been piling up range brass/cast loads and have a 50 cal can full.

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  14. Jacob Davis is Nouglygun and now I'm a member. I stick to what I said before and further I'm planning on making it one of my standard rounds i.e. buying more but what one? I am reordering my gun collection around a concept of the Big Four (pistol, shotgun, scoped rifle and semi-auto battle rifle/carbine) for each person in my household. Any suggestions for another 300 aac?

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  15. Hardened arms has a complete upper tuned and ready to go for $400. It comes with a mil-spec bolt! Add a Geisel trigger @ $260 (optional but incredibly worth it)!! and your favorite scope and it shoots so sweet. 220 gr hpbt Speer at 8.5 Grain H110 powder and you can take anything down subsonicly (for us in NH 100 yards is pretty much the distance due to woodland) suppressed and not be heard. Add a few mote grains of powder to that brass you've trimmed and cut down and you go the distance when needed. I sold my 223 for $600, paid $50 for an Anderson lower ( same casting mark as Colts and designed for automatic firing if you have the parts, and built a very health 300BO with minimal cost. I'm not a prep per but if I was, my rifle is one area I wouldn't be cheap on….

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  16. Oh and a wick cartridge you should have a box or two on had would be Gorrila brand Silver Back. Pricey but will take down a bear I bet!

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  17. Just have two uppers on your gear bag and swap when you judge the situation needs it. It's a little weight, sure. But why not have both?

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  18. No one mentions recoil and only talk of the ar platform. Try a ruger American ranch rifle (not mini14 type,but bolt action). Excellent scout rifle, accurate, intro to shooting for youngsters, accurate, humane hunting, short, light, and a delight to shoot (did I mention accurate)..

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  19. The .300 BLK uses the same bolt and mags as the 5.56/.223. It also uses the same bullet as the .308 so its actually a very versatile round. If you have the components for the other two then you can make .300 blk rounds.

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