[Aaron caught up with Olympic Arms at the 2012 SHOT Show and took a look at their new K16 300 SST chambered for the 300 BLK cartridge.]
By now most readers will realize that there has been an explosion in rifle offerings in .300 Blackout (BLK). The .300 Blackout cartridge came about to fulfill the desires of shooters who wanted to shoot .30 caliber bullets, but didn’t want to lose the capacity and weight advantages of shooting traditional 5.56mm AR-15’s.
The .300 BLK is a very unique .30 caliber cartridge. Instead of bulking up the casing and powder weights to accommodate the .30 caliber bullet, the .300 BLK starts with the same 5.56mm casing that is the standard for AR-15 platforms. From there the casing is necked up, or expanded out at the neck, to accept the .30 caliber bullet. The rest of the casing is the same as the 5.56mm casing along with powder weights. The end result is a .30 caliber bullet fired from basically the same casing as the traditional 5.56mm cartridge.
The .300 BLK can be loaded with heavier 115-125 grain bullets which will match ballistics of the 7.62x39mm AK round which are far better than the 5.56mm round. In addition, the .300 BLK can be loaded with sub-sonic rounds, such as the 220 grain Sierra OTM (open-tip match), that have far greater results in penetration and long range accuracy over other sub-sonic rounds in 9mm.
The sub-sonic rounds are particularly important in considering .300 BLK rifles, because the ability to include silencers was a major factor in the development of this cartridge. Having factory made sub-sonic rounds readily available makes this cartridge much more viable to the market it was intended to attract.
Interestingly the .300 BLK outperforms traditional 7.62x39mm AK ammunition in retained energy at distances of up to 300-400 meters. The round is also more efficient than the 5.56mm and therefore uses less powder. Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC) was the company to first develop this cartridge, which is basically (from what I’ve read) a SAAMI approved version of the .300 Whisper. According to the AAC website, there are over 60 companies that have announced or sell products for this cartridge, including reloading materials.
OLYMPIC ARMS K16 300 SST
While walking the floor at the 2012 SHOT SHOW I came across Olympic Arms and their K16 300 SST which is chambered for .300 BLK. Olympic Arms has been in the game for awhile, and they have a good reputation for quality rifles.
Founded in Colorado Springs, CO by Robert Schuetz back in 1956, the company was first known for making rifle barrels and blanks under the name of Schuetzen Gun Works (SGW). The company moved to Olympia, WA in 1975, and began making AR15/ M16 complete rifles in 1982 under the name Olympic Arms.
Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, Olympic Arms was the first company to produce flat top upper receivers, free-floating hand guards, pistol caliber conversions, and AR-15 based pistols for the AR platform – many innovations that are now standard for AR-15 rifles.
I was able to talk with Brian Schuetz, Vice President of Olympic Arms, at their SHOT SHOW booth and learned the following about the Olympic Arms K16 300 SST features:
- Chambered – .300 AAC Blackout
- Barrel – 16” bull, button rifled, made from 416 stainless steel
- Bore – Life-long non-chromed
- Twist Rate – 1:8
- Upper receiver – Forged flat top with picatinny rails
- Front sight – Gas block assembly with picatinny rails
- Handguard – FIRSH, free floating with picatinny rails
- Muzzle – Threaded muzzle end with thread protector cap. Silencer ready.
- Stock – M4, 6-point collapsible, fiberite
- Pistol grip – Standard ERGO grip
- Length – 34.375” (extended)
- Weight – 7.47 lbs. (unloaded)
- MSRP – $1,075
Brian told me that another difference between the .300 BLK and .300 Whisper is that the .300 Whisper round had to be moved back in the casing to function properly. The .300 BLK cartridge takes the necessary steps to feed and fire properly.
The .300 BLK has been compared to a .30-30 cartridge fired from an AR-15 platform. However, according to AAC, the effective military M4 hit probability range of the .300 BLK is 440 meters for the 9” barrels, and 460 meters for the 16” barrels. What I found to be very interesting is that the 9” barrels have the same energy at the muzzle as the 16” barrels, and have about 5% more energy at 440 yards than the 16” barrels.
I have shot .30-30 with Hornady LeverRevolution ammunition, and I would guesstimate the effective hit range at only about 200-250 yards. That’s with getting around golf ball sized groups at 100 yards. That’s much better than traditional round nose .30-30 ammunition, which I would say is only good to about 150-200 yards, but not quite as good as the new .300 BLK standards. As such, hunters and long distance shooters have another great cartridge to consider when going into the field.
I have a friend that has been putting together a .300 BLK rifle. Now that I know more about them, I have to admit that I’d love to have a .300 BLK AR-15 for hunting and personal defense uses alike. I like the AR-15 platform. To have the capacity, and similar weight of traditional 5.56mm cartridges, while improving overall ballistics out to almost all hunting and personal defense ranges, is a great benefit.
With more and more of the big manufacturers including these rifles and ammunition in their inventory, I’d say that this cartridge is here to stay, and thankfully so. And the Olympic Arms K16 .300 SST appears to be a real competitor in this market.