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Thread: AR-15 in .300 AAC Blackout

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  1. #1

    AR-15 in .300 AAC Blackout

    Ammunition Review: .300 AAC Blackout

    By Nick Leghorn on July 29, 2011

    There are problems with the 5.56x45mm NATO round, especially out of short barreled guns — mainly that its loud and underpowered compared to what the enemy is using. Many have tried over the years to fix this problem, coming up with wacky calibers like .300 Whisper, 6.8 Rem Special, 6.5mm Grendel, and more recently Wilson Combat’s 6.8mm offering. They all work, but they all have fatal flaws. AAC has come out with a new round that they claim works with existing AR magazines, bolts, bolt carriers, and fixes all the short distance and short barreled problems of the 5.56mm NATO round while still being as quiet as an MP5-SD. Naturally we asked them to put up or shut up, and they invited me out to their Atlanta, Georgia factory to do just that. The put up part, that is.
    I had a chance to sit down with Kevin Brittingham, the founder of AAC, and discuss .300 Blackout for a while. And by “a while” I mean it was a 45 minute conversation. The man was a fountain of knowledge, and it just kept pouring. He started with some history.
    300 Blackout, which has turned out to be one of the biggest things going for this company, which we’re totally excited about, that was sort of an accident. Just like I value the relationships here, I have a personal relationship with everyone who works here, and with our customers on the military and government side it’s the same way. And those relationships lead to new products. They came to us about a new caliber and that’s where it started. The 300 whisper concept, we need to commercialize it and there are some things we need to fix with it…
    [J.D. Jones] maintains a great relationship with a guy who runs one of the military groups that we deal with. Them working together came up with .300 Blackout. They had tried .300 Whisper, and J.D. Jones delivered this group a few samples that worked great. They delivered them 30, 7 of them worked. [Getting .300 BLK to work better] was one of [those] things – getting it SAAMI approved and standards, figuring out how to get the most velocity out of supersonic, making it accurate, making it feed reliably from 30 round mags…
    We were working with Bill Wilson somewhat too, and he thought it was a great idea. Then [he] decided ‘oh, it’s not accurate, I’m going to do my own cartridge.’ And he’s doing… Ours is 7.62×35, he went with a longer case – 40. He only cares about supersonic, where our original requirement was it had to be subsonic as well. I was reading yesterday, like you buy these modified – it sort of gets away from the whole beauty of doing this for an AR-15 in my opinion. His you have to modify the magazines, and will only feed like 15 rounds in a 20 round mag or 20 in a 30 round mag…
    These were our original requirements for this caliber: Muzzle energy has to equal or exceed the AK-47. .30 Caliber projectile. Use unmodified 30 round magazines to full capacity. Use unmodified AR-15/M-16/M-4 bolt. Gas impingement system. Shoot super and subsonic. And one thing that was nice, but was not a ‘deal killer’, was non-adjustable gas system. Cycle all four ways – subsonic suppressed and unsuppressed, and supersonic suppressed and unsuppressed.
    In addition to the original requirements, AAC makes a couple other claims, Specifically, they claim that their .300 BLK gun is as quiet as an MP5-SD, and more accurate to boot.
    So let’s take these claims one by one.
    First, does it actually work using standard AR-15 magazines, bolts, and the gas impingement system? Well, we saw it in action at NDIA doing just that.

    Following that video, Kevin gave me the magazine we were using to keep. I have it right here in my hand as I write this, actually. Let me snap a quick picture…

    In the foreground is the magazine being used in the .300 BLK gun in the video, and in the background is a magazine that Magpul sent me recently for the AR-15 magazine testing. The magazines are identical, something that can’t be said for most of the funky “5.56 replacement” rounds. But it gets better.
    The reason all the standard AR-15 parts work when using a .300 BLK round is that AAC used 5.56 NATO as the “parent cartridge.” What that means is that you can manufacture brand new .300 BLK brass using spent 5.56 NATO brass simply by trimming off about a third of the case.

    In the video above I walk through the steps to do exactly that — turn 5.56 brass into .300 BLK brass — and it takes less than 10 minutes to go over everything. The only additional tools you need are a set of .300 BLK dies. Right now ammunition is a tad expensive ($0.90/round to $1.09/round), and by reloading spent 5.56 into .300 BLK you save about 2/3 of that cost (it runs about $0.20 to $0.30 per round).

    Here’s a nice picture showing the whole progression from spent 5.56 case to loaded .300 BLK (the last step is polishing, BTW). It’s actually not a hard process, but if you’re adverse to trimming your own brass then ready made .300 BLK brass can be purchased at a relatively reasonable price from a number of online vendors.
    Speaking of ways to get ammo if actual .300 BLK ammo isn’t available, ammunition compatibility is another reason the .300 AAC Blackout round outperforms the competition. The .300 Whisper cartridge has been on the market for a while now and can be found in most gun stores around me, but .300 BLK is still relatively new and ammunition is scarce. Thanks to the higher chamber pressures and larger cartridge of the .300 BLK round the firearms are able to accept and safely fire most .300 Whisper ammunition. I did an Ask Foghorn article about that very question and it goes into some more detail, but .300 Whisper in a .300 BLK gun is generally cool while the opposite is dangerous and will result in malfunctions.
    For the rest, we traveled down to AAC’s factory in Georgia for a live fire demonstration and to see how these puppies are put together. Check this out.

    I watched John Hollister pull a random AR-15 bolt out of a 5.56 upper and use it in a .300 BLK upper when I shot with him, the bolts are identical. The gas impingement system is in fact present and functioning. From where I’m (very comfortably) sitting it looks like they met their basic design specs.
    But what about everything else?
    Two major claims remain, specifically that the gun is as quiet as an MP5-SD and that it’s more accurate. Let’s start with the sound suppression, as that was the more fun one to do.
    This clip is in the full .300 BLK video, but I pulled it out as it completely answers this question. It’s only about a minute long. Take a peek.

    Is it really as quiet as an MP5-SD? No. Myth busted. Nuh-huh.
    But it’s damned close.
    Standing in front of the guns the difference is pretty easy to spot. The .300 BLK gun “pops” just a touch more than the MP5-SD. Considering that the gun is basically firing an AK round I’d say that’s a damned fine accomplishment. So while it may not be “as quiet” as an MP5-SD, it’s close enough.
    Here’s an interesting fact you can impress your friends with: the barrel of an MP5-SD is actually designed to vent off gas from the 9mm round and turn supersonic ammunition into subsonic ammunition. We were shooting standard, straight out of the box supersonic stuff all day with the 9mm ammo, which means the MP5-SD was actually getting far less muzzle energy than a Glock 19. So when you’re comparing the noise the two guns above are making, remember that the MP5-SD is pushing a 115gr projectile 935 feet per second, and the .300 BLK round is a 220gr behemoth zipping along at 1,010 feet per second. In USPSA speak, that’s a power factor of 109.25 for the MP5-SD and a whopping 222.2 for the .300 BLK. And yet they sound almost equally as quiet.
    John also talked about something else. John, for those who don’t know, was in law enforcement for ages. He knows a thing or two about going into dangerous situations and needing to be stealthy. One of the things he kept bringing up was that an MP5-SD might be great for being quiet and maybe taking out a guard dog, a meth dealer who’s been up for three days and is so paranoid that he’s wearing full body armor probably isn’t going to go down to a 9mm round. Thanks to the gas impingement system, instead of suddenly being in need of that M4 that’s conveniently locked in your trunk all you need to do is swap magazines from subsonic to supersonic ammo and you’re able to dispatch Mr. Meth Head with ease. Try doing THAT with an MP5-SD.
    In terms of accuracy, the reports are absolutely astounding.
    With the 16 inch Model 7 light barrel, we did 10 groups of 5 rounds each with the 155 ammo and it was 0.8 MOA average. That is not a BS 3 shot group picked out of several. No discarded rounds. No flyers. No BS.
    -Random guy on a gun forum
    For reference, the accuracy of an MP5-SD is approximately 7-8 MoA. That’s “shooting a dog from 5 feet” accurate, not “oh shit that guy on the roof has an AK” accurate. I’ve done some unscientific testing for myself and even at distances most people would consider “long range” it’s a very accurate round.

    I may or may not have been sitting in an office when Kevin read off an email confirming that accuracy with an AR and a 9 inch barrel. Not that I’d take his word without seeing the results, but considering the glowing praise this round is getting all over the internet I’m not discounting it either. Rest assured, a request has been placed for a .300 BLK upper to confirm some of this stuff. Along with a silencer. And a T-Shirt. And a trailer hitch. Moving on…
    So what about the last part, about being as good if not better than an AK round, and fixing the issues with 5.56x45mm NATO? Luckily I’ve got a chart right here, its name is Paul Revere, and the chart says that if the weather’s clear…

    Can do. Can do. The chart says the round can do. And if the chart says the round can do…
    Speaking of penetration, there’s a video floating around claiming to show a SLAP .300 BLK round making Swiss Cheese out of a steel plate.

    Again, I’m not saying I completely believe it until I see some better proof, but the sparks are pretty.

    So what’s the final word? What’s my opinion on all this fancy .300 Blackout stuff? My personal opinion is that it’s frankly amazing. By simply changing out your barrel (and JUST the barrel) you get a completely different gun, one with more muzzle energy, able to just about sound like an MP5-SD, and 100% compatible with all of your existing gear. If you own an AR-15 (or even just a short action bolt gun) and you’ve been looking for something that’s easily suppressed, has great terminal ballistics, and is accurate as anything, this is what you want.
    .300 AAC Blackout

    • More muzzle energy than 5.56 NATO
    • Able to be suppressed more effectively than 5.56
    • Uses a larger bullet for more damage to target
    • Able to penetrate barriers more effectively
    • Armor piercing and incendiary bullets available (if not completely legally)
    • Supersonic and subsonic ammunition available
    • Swapping between supersonic and subsonic requires no changes to the gun
    • Can be made from 5.56 brass, easy to reload


    • Ammunition is not widely available
    • Ammunition is currently slightly expensive

    Overall Rating: * * * * *
    I really can’t praise this stuff enough. This is like the chosen cartridge for those wanting to get just a little bit more muzzle energy and a little less noise out of their existing guns. If you’re just running an AR-15 for target shooting and 3-gun 5.56x45mm NATO is probably good enough, but if you’re hunting something, looking for a self defense / SHTF caliber, or needing something that’s quieter than 5.56x45mm NATO ever will be, this is what you need.

  2. #2

    Re: AR-15 in .300 AAC Blackout

    Ask Foghorn: Is 300 Blackout a Good Caliber for a First AR-15?
    By Nick Leghorn on June 14, 2013


    Name:  HuntingRifle2-300x200.jpg
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    Matt writes:

    I am looking to buy my first AR. The biggest dilemma that is facing me is the choice of caliber. Obviously, the main stream choice is the 5.56/.223 but I am really interested in the .300 Blackout because of the larger size of the round and the perceived greater stopping power. The AR I am drawn to the most is the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport because of the price and I am a S&W fan. That rifle compared to an AR in .300 is a difference of around $1,000 from what I have been able to find. My question is, do you think that it is worth the extra money for the larger round or should I go with the cheaper option? I plan on using the rifle for home defense and of course range time. Do you think that I should buy a rifle in 5.56 and then possibly at a later time purchase a .300 upper? I am not sure if this will impact your suggestion but I also plan on putting a suppressor on my rifle at some point. Thank you for your help.

    Short answer: No. Let me explain . . .

    We’ve talked at great length about 300 AAC Blackout here at TTAG and as some of you can tell, I’m a bit of a fanboy. But while the round fills many roles (subsonic functioning, short barrel performance, interchangability of parts and cases) it’s not the best choice for a new AR-15 owner.

    The true power in the 300 AAC Blackout round is that the only difference between a 300 BLK rifle and a 5.56 NATO rifle is the barrel. Everything else, including the bolt, remains the same. This is especially important for existing AR-15 owners, as they already have spare magazines and parts for their existing rifle, so making the switch to 300 BLK is effortless.

    For new shooters, however, you run into the ammunition supply issue immediately. While there are a lot more manufacturers of 300 BLK ammunition than there were this time last year, they’re all out of stock. And the few stores that have the ammo on their shelves are asking around $1.50/round. I’d think twice about paying that much for .308 Winchester, let alone 300 BLK.

    The best option is to buy a 5.56 caliber AR-15 and get a replacement upper receiver down the road. Especially if you don’t have a silencer ready to go for the rifle, there’s no point in spending money on the more expensive ammunition right away. Get the rifle, and six months after you send away for the paperwork, drop some more cash on an upper. In the meantime, you can take advantage of the slump in AR-15 sales to pick up a new gun for a song and a dance. Relatively to the last few months, that is.

    9" barrel 300 AAC BLACKOUT SHOOTING 600 YARDS
    Last edited by airdog07; June 12th, 2014 at 08:01 PM.

  3. #3

    Story of .338 Lapua Magnum

    From an American dream to a Finnish success story.

    Original Finnish text: Janne Pohjoispää

    The purpose of this article is to enlighten the .338 Lapua Magnum history from a Finnish point of view. The purpose is not to chronologically list events or present the current .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge.

    The birth of the .338 Lapua Magnum dates back to 1982, when an American company Research Armament Industries, RAI (Rogers, Arkansas) was asked by the United States Marine forces to develop a long-range rifle for sniper applications. RAI was a relatively small company, owned by late Jerry Haskins, operating mainly in the field of defense technology projects. Officially the project was to develop a target rifle for 1000 yards, but in reality the purpose was more likely to develop a 1500 m sniper rifle.

    Haskins developed a prototype for an extremely simplified target rifle, which still today is known in some connections as the Haskins rifle. Frame shaped stock, barrel and short cylindrical front stock were connected into steel action frame. The bolt was fitted into the sleeve with three lugs located at the rear of the bolt and action frame, to which the caliber was easy to switch. Haskins patented the constructional solutions (US pat. 3 494 216).

    The rifle had a special construction, and in a way it was very significant: it was the first target rifle designed for military target shooting. The previous military and police force rifles were either modified hunting rifles or regular military rifles equipped with optics. The .50 caliber version of the Haskins rifle is still being manufactured in the United States (Aurora Tactical). Haskins designed two versions of the rifle: the model 500 for the .50 BMG cartridge and the model 300 for the .300 Winchester Magnum cartridge. In the .300 Win. Mag. version the caliber could be changed for the .308 win cartridge by just switching the barrel and the bolt head.

    However, the .300 Win.Mag. cartridge did not fulfill the army penetration requirements, so the search for a new RAI 300 caliber with better ballistic properties and heavier bullet started. The first option was to test a wildcat made from the .378 Weatherby Magnum case, necked down for the .338. It was soon found out to be an unsuitable solution because the low body tapering and belted case construction. Case got stuck into the chamber and the construction caused inappropriate feeding. The next parent case was a rimless .416 Rigby, which was used mainly as a big game hunting caliber. Cases were manufactured by an American Brass Extrusion Laboratories Ltd. (Bensenville, IL), better known as BELL, after the owner Jim Bell´s last name. The new cartridge was based on a BELL .416 Basic, which was used mainly as a parent case for wildcat cartridges. The .416 case was necked down to a .338 bullet. A new caliber was born, known as .338/416 and 8,58x71. Haskins would have liked Sierra, known by their accurate bullets, to manufacture these cartridges, but at the time Sierra was not interested in the project. Hornady came into the picture, and designed and manufactured a 250 grs HPBT target bullet for the cartridge. The bullet was not a standard bullet, and has not been on their product list.
    The Finnish Choice

    Neither the Hornady bullet, nor the BELL .416 Basic case fulfilled all the requirements set to them. According to hear-talk one problem was that the army was willing to accept only Sierra or Lapua bullets. When the deadline to deliver weapons and ammunition to the United States army tests was getting closer and closer, RAI started to seek for other manufacturers. A Finnish Lapua Cartridge Factory was found through their US representative, Kendall International, and in the summer of 1984 Lapua was linked to the fate of the .338/416 cartridge.

    A development for both .338/416 case and .338 caliber full metal jacket bullet was started. An all new caliber was a challenge for both the product development department and to production, but things moved on forward rapidly, and the first bullets and cases were ready for shipment to the United States army testing in the beginning of 1985.

    Lapua´s first .338 caliber bullet was the B408, which in 1985 looked more like a steroid-fed D46 than the current type. The base for the construction at the time was no doubt the constructions of the full metal jacket bullets of that time and age. The current Lock Base construction came into the picture later.

    In 1986 the .338/416 cartridge, with a Lapua bullet and case, won the 1000 yard Navy Rifle competition in Quantanico, Virginia. In spite of that, the US army selection criteria went their own ways, and during 1986 the general situation started to be clear: The US army would choose only Haskins .50 BMG caliber rifles, and not the .338/416. The RAI 500 rifles had been tested in real action in Beirut and Grenada. Even though the .50 BMG caliber rifle offered in addition to its weight also exterior and target ballistic performance, the criteria for the decision more likely lies in the fact that the .50 BMG had been in production for decades, and matching supplies were manufactured by several manufacturers in the United States and elsewhere, and it was already part of the United States army supply selection. The .338/416 for its part was an unknown newcomer.

    After the result of the United States army selection, RAI, with financial difficulties, became part of the Iver Johnson´s weapon company´s military sales company American Military Arms Corporation (AMAC). However, Iver Johnson got into financial problems and rearrangements in the 1980´s. The Haskins rifle floated elsewhere.

    In addition to RAI, weapons for the .338/416 were manufactured (or subconstructed) by Lapua s distributor Kendall. Kendall´s rifles, called Keberst, were usually built around the MkV actions. Matching actions were sparse, and for example in the new continent very common Remington 700 action was too small for this cartridge. In Finland the first test rifles were built around Sako L61 actions, and at least one Weatherby MkV action based rifle found its way to Lapua, in the Finnish Ostrobothnia.
    More product development

    After the American manufacturers got off the picture Lapua was left basically alone with the new caliber cartridge, with basically no weapon manufacturers. The management decided still to continue the development of the product. This resulted in specifying the measurements, and the cartridge was named the .338 Lapua Magnum. The biggest difference to the 8,58x71mm cartridge was that the new .338 Lapua Magnum was now almost 2mm shorter than RAI´s draft case, and also the powder space volume in the .338 Lapua Magnum was 1mm shorter. The 8,58x71 did not fit to the 8,6x70 (= .338 Lapua Magnum) chamber anymore without a steady snap of a hammer.

    Also the interior structure of the case was redesigned to withstand higher chamber pressures than the original, designed for rarely low pressures, modification of the .416 Rigby could have withstood. So, the .338 Lapua Magnum was in fact a new Finnish cartridge, even though the idea was born at the new continent.

    The reason for .416 Rigby case being a good prototype and parent case, but not the actual choice for the new caliber case was quite clear. For the .338/416 cartridge the velocity of a 16,2 g bullet was 915m/s. A completely different case designed for a higher pressure level was clearly needed. The original Rigby .416 case had a rough 3000 Bar pressure case. The new cartridge was designed for over 4000 Bar pressures. The original pressure definition based on the deformation of the copper pellet method - the crusher method - was specified in the beginning into 56000 CUPs (about 3900 bar). When CIP moved to the piezo transducer period, a mistake was made somewhere resulting in the pressure medium for .338 Lapua Magnum to stay in the 4700 Bar level, even thought the correct level is in the 4200 Bars.

    The .338 Lapua Magnum was clearly not a hunting caliber, even though it fit the purpose in long ranges. It was a cartridge developed for long range competition and military target shooting with trajectory and bullet penetration qualities superior compared to the usual .30 caliber cartridges. The .338 Lapua Magnum profiled as a target cartridge, even though some manufacturers made also hunting rifles for it.

    The loading techniques were also developed at Lapua. A powder load of almost 6 grams of slow burning powder needs a powerful and unfailing ignition by large rifle magnum primer. The first lot of the .338 Lapua Magnum for testing was produced in 1988. A motion had however been made for CIP in 1987, and in 1989 the .338 Lapua Magnum was CIP approved with its measurements.

    In addition to the loading techniques also new bullets were developed for the new cartridge and its requirements. In the 1980´s Lapua also developed a full metal jacket bullet which was different from the traditional constructions. The lead in the tail of the bullet was protected with the jacket with the exception of a small center. This construction, later known as the Lock Base, was patented in 1990. The starting point for the development was tests, that clearly demonstrated that covering the lead in the bullet tail clearly makes the bullet more accurate. The original tail design B408 from 1984, was modified to Lock Base type, and the B408 got its current shape. The weight of the bullet remained in 16,2 grams. The first soft point bullet was Mira, streamlined from the Mega bullet. The 16,2 gram EB431 bullet was introduced commercially with the new cartridge in 1990.

    The HPBT type Scenar bullet was introduced later, in 1996. The 16,2 g GB488 was not the first member of the Lapua Scenar family, it was introduced already in 1987. Hollow Point target bullets had been designed at Lapua already earlier, the first one, a 6,5 mm HPBT bullet, had been designed already in the 1960´s.

    Different kinds of special purpose equipment were also tested: armour piercing, armour piercing indendiary, solids and a sub-caliber projectile were examples of the tested solutions.
    Cooperation partners

    The new cartridge started raising interest also at the old continent. The chambering of the .338 Lapua Magnum into any action was not without problems since the case was thicker than the usual Magnum cartridge cases and needed a wider action frame and a thicker bolt. Matching actions were not common in the 1980´s. One of the first manufacturers to take action was the German Mauser, which manufactured a .338 Magnum caliber version of their SR93 rifle. During 1988 Lapua started cooperation also with Sako. The TRG rifle did not yet exist, but the largest Sako action at the time, the L61, was used for the tests. Sako manufactured test barrels, and after the tests internal ballistic facts were available. Based on those tests the .338 Lapua Magnum caliber barrels are designed even today. It is not necessary to use a short barrel with the .338 Lapua Magnum or other calibers using a relatively large loading of slow burning powder. The barrel needs to be long enough to reach optimized performance: optimal velocity and best possible accuracy.

    The primary rifle manufacturer ended up to be Accuracy International, owned by Malcolm Cooper in Great Britain. Malcolm Cooper was a successful rifle shooter, who had several championships and medals in high quality competitions, two Olympic gold medals to mention a some. A unique feature with Cooper´s success was that for part of his career he shot with rifles he had designed and manufactured himself. In the 1980´s Accuracy International started to develop a military use target rifle for the needs of the British army. In addition to the British army, also the Swedish defence forces were looking for a new sniper rifle, and chose the Accuracy International rifle before the British did. The Swedish touch stayed in the construction of the rifle, since it was designed with winter conditions in mind. For both armies the caliber was not .338 Lapua Magnum, but 7,62 mm NATO. The 7,62 mm NATO was given also a commercial name, "Arctic Warfare".

    The "Arctic Warfare" cooperation with Accuracy International and Lapua did not start with the .338 Lapua Magnum, but Malcolm Cooper had been Lapua s representative in Britain already earlier and even won some of his competitions with the Lapua cartridges. Accuracy International designed an all new version for the new cartridge (and also 7 mm Rem. Mag. and .300 Win. Mag.) called Super Magnum. This was an enlarged version of the AW.

    The Accuracy International rifle became the first mass production .338 Lapua Magnum rifle. Some time passed and the Sako TRG-41 followed. Also two other Finnish manufacturers, Pirkan Ase and Gunsmith Jyri Jalonen also introduced their .338 Lapua Magnum caliber target rifles, both of which are manufactured around their own actions.

    In the 1990´s the selection started to complete with Heym, Erma, McMillan, H-S Precision, AMP and Dakota rifles. In fact, every long range target shooting weapon manufacture tried to offer also a .338 Lapua Magnum caliber rifle.

    During the years the .338 Lapua Magnum has received a steady footstep in many western hemisphere armies and similar organizations.

    .338 Lapua Magnum History - Part 2 handles some special versions and .338 Lapua Magnum based new calibers in more detail.

    Nammo Lapua Oy archives

    Interviews: Juha Eväsoja, Horst Zimmerbauer, Ilkka Heikkilä

    Lapua Cartridge Factory brochures: Sniping and .338 Lapua Magnum, 1996

    Techinal Data Package Caliber .338 Lapua Magnum

    Jim Shults: Big Brass Busters, Gung-Ho Special No. 3 1985

    Larry Sterett: A New Sniper Round, Gun Digest 1986

    Ilkka Heikkilä: A powerful Sniper cartridge from Lapua. Ase -magazine 4/88

    Heikki Syrjälä: Powerful Finnish innovation: .338 Lapua Magnum, Ase & Erä -magazine 6/1988

    Vesa Toivonen: Finnish .338 Lapua Magnums, Ase & Erä -magazine5/1991

    John D. Taylor: The .338 Lapua Magnum Cartridge Part 1: Orgin, Development and Future Tactical Shooter January 1999

    John D. Taylor: The .338 Lapua Magnum Cartridge Part 2: The Men Behind the Cartridge, Tactical Shooter February 1999


    By Janne Pohjoispää

    Since its introduction, the 338 Lapua Magnum has been used as the parent case for a series of cartridges, in a number of different bore sizes. Some of these are similar to other existing wildcats, which are described as well.
    The .300 Lapua Magnum

    The 300 Lapua Magnum was developed concurrently with the 338 Lapua Magnum, but didn’t receive the public notoriety of its more famous stable mate. In fact, few shooters were aware of this cartridge until it appeared in the Lapua and Vihtavuori Reloading Manuals in the 1990s. Both the 300 and 338 Lapua Magnums were formally approved by CIP in 1989. During its development, the round was originally called the 30 Lapua Magnum. It wasn’t until it was finalized that it became known as the 300 Lapua Magnum. The 300 Lapua Magnum is a purely Finnish design, the brainchild of Juha Evasoja. Juha was Lapua’s head engineer from the 1970s into the early 2000’s.

    The 300 Lapua can be considered a spin-off of the original development process of the 338 Lapua Magnum. It remains a true wildcat, as no factory rifles have been chambered for it, nor has ammunition ever been commercially loaded. Lapua produced a single test lot of 300 Lapua Magnum cases bearing that headstamp, but it has not been produced since. Cases used in the existing rifles chambered for the 300 Lapua Magnum are normally formed from 338 Lapua Magnum brass, necked down to accept a 30 caliber bullet.

    The basic idea behind the 300 Lapua Magnum was to create a high velocity, flat-shooting 30 caliber cartridge, based on the existing 338 Lapua Magnum case. The 300 Lapua Magnum shares the same basic case dimensions as the 338 Lapua Magnum, differing mainly in the neck and shoulder areas. Case volume remains the same as the parent 338 Lapua Magnum.

    The 300 Lapua Magnum is one of the first 30 caliber Magnums to reach the magical 1000/mps (3300 fps) threshold with heavy weight bullets. Actually, the new Lapua development was the first of the 30 caliber “super magnums”, when the 300 Weatherby Magnum was generally considered to be the upper limit where 30 caliber rounds were concerned. The 30-378 Weatherby (based on the necked down 378 Wby Mag case), was still an experimental wildcat cartridge and not yet fully standardized by SAAMI or CIP. It was originally proposed that the hypothetical 300 Lapua Magnum military sniper round be loaded with a 12.6 g (194 grain) B406 FMJBT. Early research indicated that this combination would deliver a muzzle velocity of 1000/mps (3300 fps) from a 27 inch barrel.

    The 300 Lapua Magnum has not become a production item, yet it still exists as a long-range target cartridge. It has a loyal following for this demanding game, which is not at all surprising. Delivering ballistic performance similar to the 30-378, it does not display the sensitivity to load variations common to the Weatherby. Being a standardized CIP cartridge, several gunsmiths have built long-range rifles around this impressive round.

    The 300 Lapua Magnum is at its best with very slow burning powders like Vihtavuori N170 or 24N41. Like other very large magnum cases, the 300 Lapua needs a Magnum primer for reliable ignition.

    No factory made rifles for the .300 Lapua Magnum have ever existed, but several gunsmiths have built rifles for this caliber. The main application of the .300 Lapua Magnum is long range target shooting.
    Sniper round that never was

    The 9.12x77 mm Lapua caliber appears in some sources such as the Brömel QuickLoad software cartridge list. No Wikipedia or other popular sources recognize it, but it has existed hypothetically – strictly on the drawing board.

    The 9.12x77 or 9 mm Lapua Magnum is not related to the .338 Lapua Magnum concept but rather is a stand alone development. The cartridge basic concept including the bullet diameter, bullet weight and muzzle velocity, was created by the German company Heckler & Koch, but the case design was developed by Lapua. The 9.12x77 was the first one of the proposed cartridge designs intended for the H&K designed Weitreichendes Scharfschützengewehr (WSG) long range sniper rifle concept. The driving force behind the WSG concept was the Bundeswehr’s interest in developing the long range sniper rifle. The Bundeswehr, however, eventually selected more conventional G22 sniper rifle in 1998. This new rifle (Accuracy International AWM) was chambered in the milder .300 Win Mag caliber.

    Lapua was involved in this project from the very beginning, in early 1987. By this time, the .338 Lapua Magnum already existed and some manufacturers had even sketched their sniper rifles for this caliber. Lapua contacted Heckler & Koch to find out if they are interested in producing a rifle chambered for the .338 Lapua Magnum. The Germans had considered a similar thing on their end, and made a counter proposal. They wanted a larger 9 mm sniper cartridge design and production. The concept was still preliminary. Even the case design and dimensions were not yet finished, and the rifle existed only as mock up model. However, the WSG concept round was something that was still considered highly exotic, even in 2010. The rifle was a semi-automatic, short recoil operated firearm that would fire electric primer ignited cartridge. It would feature a sighting device that operates both day and night sights, and includes both a range finder and weather computer. Ballistics would have also been impressive: A 22 gram (340 grs) FMJ bullet that has muzzle velocity of 1050 m/s (3445 fps).

    In Lapua, engineers started to outline physical appearance for the new cartridge and also plan production capability for new cartridge. Different types cases were designed. The first case type was 72 mm long but this was soon lengthened to 77 mm. The case had a 19 mm base diameter so it resembled a shortened and necked down .50 BMG case. Bullet diameter was set to 9.12 mm (.359 dia,) which was not a common diameter in military ammunition. The standard bullet was to be a 22 grams FMJBT type, based on the proven D46 concept. Armor Piercing and Armor Piercing Incendiary bullets existed in drawing board.

    Collaboration between Lapua and H&K did not last until finalization of the 9.12x77 cartridge. Lapua continued with the .338 Lapua Magnum and H&K continued WSG project with other partners. The WSG 2000 concept was finalized in the mid 1990s. The cartridge measurements had evolved to a 9x90 mm, retaining the performance figures of this cartridge were just as they were for the 9.12x77. Practically speaking, the 9x90mm physical dimensions and weight were similar to the .50 BMG. WSG 2000 was not a concept that would fill the gap between the .308 Win. and .50 BMG. It was closer to later in terms of rifle system and ammunition weight.
    High velocity 6.5 mm

    Among the wildcat versions of the .338 Lapua Magnum, the 6.5-338 Lapua remains possible the as the fastest. Originally designed in Finland, it has to be one of the highest velocity cartridges in this bore size.

    The 6.5-338 is necked down from the .338 Lapua Magnum case to the 6.5 mm (.264 caliber) bullet. The shoulders are pushed back somewhat, and the body taper is reduced by fireforming. In its finished form, the case body is almost cylindrical. The final case capacity is slightly greater than that of the parent 338 Lapua Magnum.

    Ballistic performance is impressive, to say the least! With top loads, a 9 g (139 grs) Scenar HPBT bullet will leave muzzle at an incredible 1150 mps (3780 fps). By comparison, the 6.5-284 will shoot that same bullet with about 930 mps (3050 fps) muzzle velocity.


    Interview: Juha Eväsoja

    Nammo Lapua Oy archives

    Jim Schantz: The Long Range Rifle System That Never Was: The Heckler & Koch

    WSG2000 Sniper Weapon System Tactical Shooter February 2000

  4. #4

    reloading steel

    Mike's Spot: reloading steel

    reloading steel

    On par with 9mm vs 45acp, AK vs AR, Lead and poly rifled bores, and glock vs 1911, is the venerable debate on the reloading of steel cases. Many reloaders and shooters won't fire steel cased ammo at all, let alone reload it. However more and more manufacturers are entering the steel cased

    (ven Hornady), and the metals market in general has been quite volatile. Being able to separate facts from Internet fiction could become paramount in maintaining an adequate brass supply for shooting.

    It seems pistol shooters are slightly less reluctant to take the plunge into toying with steel cases, partially (I suspect) due to the US military issuing steel cased 45acp during WWII. However, many rifle users remain reluctant.

    I've experimented with 223 and 45acp wolf steel casings to see how they fair in the reloading world. I've learned a little, and shot a lot - and hope this might help other people do the same. In discussing the 223 casings first, know up front that not all wolf 223 is boxer primed. Much of it has been (and I suspect always will be) berdan primed. I can say that as of 2006-07 when I first started trying to reload steel, that both were available, and I never did figure out if there was a way to distinguish which was which from factory packaging.

    I have noticed three major points in reloading steel for rifle rounds (specifically 223) as opposed to brass. First- their is a slight increase in the amount of effort necessary to process the case. Both the resizing and chamferring of the case mouth requires slightly more effort with steel.

    Second, they do not last as long as brass. I have never had case head separation while reloading wolf 223 steel, but I have had cracked necks. The maximum number of reloads I have ever gotten from a wolf steel rifle case in 223 was 5. I lost the nerve to load them after that, or the case mouth just was no longer suitable for shooting.

    Finally, the third thing I have learned about steel is quite obvious, you have to dry them fairly quickly after shooting or they will rust on you. After a tumble, you will notice the steel feels extremely smooth, and is actually quite nice to work with.

    As far as the longevity of the pistol cases is concerned, I have never bothered to keep count. I lose them or just don't bother with the record keeping on the lower pressure stuff like 45acp. I can say I have yet to notice a crack in any of my 45 steel- but that could be as much a function of turnover as it is vitality on the casings' part.

    As far as the feel of the steel for reloading pistols, I never have had to chamfer or debur a steel case in 45acp. I just treat them like brass and run them through dies (carbide lee dies). They hold bullets firmly, require no crimp modification, and don't seem to have any issues with primer pockets working loose quicker than any other casing.

    As far as loading data is concerned, All of my loads with steel (and brass for that matter) are published load data in 45acp and 223. The cases have had no issues with unique and reddot in 45acp, nor have the rifle cases in 223 had problems with 846T, IMR4473, or Win748.

    I enjoy having a fair amount of steel around because I really don't care if I lose it / don't recover it. In that regard it is great for ranges or shooting situations where high grass, snow, or terrain makes losing empties the norm.

    I also have found that people object far less to you picking up their empty steel casings as opposed to their brass ones. This goes for both ranges and individuals, who even if they don't reload, might scrap their brass to recover some of the cost of shooting.

    Also, it was just nice to investigate something myself instead of blindly taking the word of others who are just repeating things they have heard. I've cycled through hundreds of steel 223 at this point, and probably just as many 45acp. I know that is not nearly an exhaustive number, but it is enough for me to know that this is a viable resource I can use to keep myself shooting.

    We in the gun community participate in a sport that is fiscally tied very closely to the price of gas, metals, and politics. Variation in any of those markets can have large and negative impacts on the ability of the shooter to do what he or she enjoys best- shooting. laying into a supply of cheap steel cased ammo, and knowing that it may be able to at least in part provide you some return beyond its initial firing can be very handy information indeed the next time wolf 223 goes to 7 dollars a box.

    Take this information for what it is worth- I am not advocating you go out and hotrod some shitty steel casings you find, but I am saying that I have played with them for a few years now, and have no issues to report when proper care and loading techniques are used.

    carry on and shoot well.

    UPDATE: follow up article on reloading more steel here
    Posted by mike's spot

    Last edited by airdog07; July 29th, 2015 at 04:53 AM.

  5. #5

    Re: AR-15 in .300 AAC Blackout

    Last edited by airdog07; July 18th, 2014 at 05:25 AM.

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