Interested in adding the popular .30-caliber to your AR collection? These 300 Blackout uppers perform and won't break the bank.
What Are The Top 300 Blackout Upper Options:
- Palmentto State Armory 16-inch Lightweight
- Diamondback Firearms 16-inch CCML Rail
- Aero Precision 10-inch M4E1
If we’re honest with ourselves, this piece is dated at time of writing. Settle your horses. The insinuation isn’t the 300 Blackout is a thing of the past or some flash in the pan. At this point, arguably the second-most popular AR-15 chambering is common as Kentucky bluegrass. Thus, much of the rigmarole over who makes the “best” 300 Blackout upper, or rifle for that matter, is as moot a point as continental drift.
That said, for the unanointed tinkering with dipping their toes into the .30-caliber cartridge guidance is warranted. Especially given 300 Blackout uppers—the top-shelf variety—can flirt with bank-busting price tags.
Granted, these premium options are well worth the money for those squared away on their wants and needs. For those just delving into the caliber, it might prove a costly exercise in trial and error.
Count yourself among these ranks, perusing affordable 300 Blackout uppers that don’t shook on quality is a worthy endeavor. One that not only saves you money, but gives you a solid base to evaluate if the .30-caliber has a place in your arsenal.
What Is The 300 Blackout?
We won’t spill much digital ink on boring to the quick of the cartridge. We’ve previously written about the 300 Blackout’s genesis and how the cartridge compares with the ubiquitous 5.56 (300 Blackout vs 5.56). However, a brief capsule of the cartridge and its capabilities merits mention.
Without going too deep, the cartridge came into its own as an answer to a special operations issues. In particular, how to level-up their suppressed short barrel rifles (SBR) and carbines’ performance, given most were chambered 9mm. The pistol cartridge was quiet, but left a heap of performance on the table for the platform.
Advanced Armaments Corporation’s answer was the 300 Blackout, an intermediate cartridge mimicking the legendary 7.62×39mm’s ballistics. Given this was the entry point of the cartridge going mainstream, the effort lead to two of the cartridge's most notable traits—suppressibility (obviously) and flexibility in varied gun configurations. Also, it packed more punch than running pistol cartridges through a long gun—definitely a plus.
Bone Up On AR-15 Cartridges:
- AR-15 Calibers And Cartridges: What Should You Chamber Your Carbine?
- AR-15 Basics: .223 vs. 5.56×45 NATO
- Why Buy A 6.5 Grendel?
- .350 Legend Vs .450 Bushmaster: Does One Win Out For Hunting?
The latter factor makes the 300 Blackout upper and rifle options pretty widespread. Given it only needs 9-inches of barrel for a complete powder burn, it’s found in nearly every shape and size of rifle, pistol and SBR. This isn't to imply the cartridge performs the same through all barrel lengths. More bore improves velocity. Though even with this improvement, the Blackout remains a close mid- and short-range option, thus 16-inch barrel lengths are generally the ceiling.
Concerning suppressibility, the 300 Blackout is among the best rifle cartridges and has made its bones in this facet alone. Ammo companies have helped the cause. Heavy subsonic loads are nearly as abundant as lighter supersonic ones and are generally comparable in price. If you run a can or are thinking about doing do so, investing in a 300 Blackout upper means you're fully supported.
Thoughts On Usage
Honestly, sometimes shooters get too hung up on practicality. Yes, firearms are tools, but perhaps the most enjoyable ones you’ll own. If you want a 300 Blackout for no other reason than the pleasure of perforating paper, don’t talk yourself out of one. But if you need reasons for your rhyme, there are two very good cases for investing in a 300 Blackout.
Given its excellent close-range performance, aptitude in nimble (read small) firearms and its suppressibility, the cartridge is a viable home-defense option. Don’t forget about magazine capacity out of an AR, which in a word is “superb”. But what about overpenetration? Spoiler alert, when you’re talking drywall and lithe interior building material in close quarters, that’s any cartridge, even the pistol variety.
Deer season is also a top-notch reason to invest in a 300 Blackout upper. Similar to a .30-30 Winchester, the cartridge is lights out to around150 yards on deer and theoretically qualifies as an elk and moose option by many state division of wildlife standards. Invest in a tough bullet and get close with the latter game. However, it’s hamstrung by milder velocities, thus trajectory is anything but flat. Try to go long with the 300 Blackout, expect bullet drop akin to a lead zeppelin.
Best Affordable 300 Blackout Upper Options
Palmetto State Armory
Nearly cornering the market on affordable AR parts and rifles that don’t suck, PSA makes an excellent entry point for 300 Blackout uppers. None more than its 16-inch lightweight package. It’s kind of a do-all build for the caliber, as long as you’re shooting lighter bullets. With 1:8 or 1:10 twist rates across the board at PSA, this is par for course. This could leave suppressor owners cold. Sub-sonic runs heavy, thus stabilized better out of a barrel with a 1:7 twist.
Nevertheless, this is a quality build, from its carpenter steel bolt to chrome-moly barrel. The lightweight aluminum handguard (M-Lok compatible) is a nice touch, lightening the load if you’re thinking about stalking deer. And its pistol-length gas system ensures reliable cycling with whatever it's fed.
Again, this is a jack-of-all-trades carbine option, with exceptional build quality. The one drawback to Diamondback’s 300 Blackout upper, no bolt-carrier group (BCG) or charging handle. No big shakes.
Do your shopping and, with Diamondback’s prices, likely you’ll come out ahead of what you’d spend on a complete upper. A 1:8 twist rate, this is another option tailored to lighter bullets and not so much for suppressors.
On the plus side, it comes with a pretty nice handguard, with ample M-Lok real estate at the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock positions, as well as plenty of rail space for an optic and front sight. A pistol-length gas system makes certain the upper chews through what it’s fed and a forged receiver is up to rough duty.
Shooting for a nimble close-quarters configuration, it’s difficult to do better than Aero’s 10-inch M4E1 with ATLAS S-One Handguard. Certainly, it won’t make for the smallest AR pistol—or SBR if you have your paperwork in order. However, the length ensures you get the full ballistic potential of the cartridge—which is worth an inch or two. As a side note, you can go larger or smaller with this 300 Blackout upper with 16- and 8-inch options available.
No matter the barrel length, they all boast a 1:7 twist rate, which as we established, is more conducive to stabilizing a vast majority of heavy sub-sonic ammunition. Also, there’s ATLAS S-One Handguard. Functionally, it is slimmer and lighter than most you’ll find on the market today. Furthermore, the free-floating handguard also is a snap to install or upgrade given the ATLAS attachment system.