.300 Blackout for deer
I’ll be honest, when my client Doug told me he was considering using an AR-15 for his son Will’s Youth Day deer hunt last October I was somewhat skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge AR fan. I learned to shoot in the military with one and have owned a few ever since. My 20 inch Stag Arms Mil-Spec model is one of my favorite guns.
The reason for my skepticism lies somewhere between what I always considered a “true” deer rifle to be, a .30 caliber bolt-action and a black rifle like the AR not sufficient for big game. Call me a purist if you will, but I like my 1911’s in .45 ACP, my Beretta 92’s in 9mm and my AR’s in 5.56mm. Or so I thought.
Doug’s decision to use a borrowed AR-15 for Will’s first deer hunt was born out of necessity, not glamour. Leading up to the hunt, we discussed various youth models and stock combinations in traditional rifles to find a suitable fit for Will. Nothing Doug tried had the length of pull necessary for this young man’s arm length. Doug reached out to some friends and one offered his hunting AR chambered in .300 AAC Blackout.
The multi-position collapsible stock, light weight and ease of use made this AR a solid choice for Will. It fit him well and with the comfort factor taken care of, I felt the young rookie hunter could focus on what is most important – shot placement. I did some research on the .300 AAC Blackout round and found some surprising hunting ammunition choices. I gave Doug the green light.
Winchester, Hornady, Federal and Remington all offer deer hunting loads in .300 AAC Blackout. Bullet weight ranges from 130 grains – 150 grains with average muzzle velocities between 1,900 – 2,085 feet per second. Muzzle energies range from 1,202 foot pounds – 1,303 foot pounds. For most deer hunting situations here in Maine where a fifty yard shot is average – that is plenty of round to get the job done.
What really sealed the deal for me was watching my young hunter throughout the day. Will sat his tree stand with the AR at the ready all morning with very little fatigue evident. In the afternoon we opted to scout some nearby ridgelines and Will toted that rifle without complaint up one hill top and on to the next. We even bumped what I’m sure was a buck ahead of us late in the afternoon and I’m even more sure that if the shot was there, Will would have been able to connect. For those of you experienced in hauling around a vintage pump or semi-auto .30-06 all day, I’m sure you can appreciate this.
As I noted earlier, I’m not one to jump on the new trend bandwagon easily, especially when it comes to new cartridges. However, the more I got away from my preconceived ideas about flash in the pan trends and really dug into what this round is and can be, the more excited I became about the AR platform as a deer rifle. After all, the .30-06 Springfield was initially introduced as a military service rifle cartridge and became one of the most prolific deer hunting rounds in history.
Due to the modular design of the AR rifle platform, converting a standard .223 cal/5.56mm rifle into a .300 AAC Blackout rifle is simply a matter of pushing out two take down pins and swapping upper receivers. Needless to say, there is a new item on the very top of my want list.
John is a Registered Maine Guide, an NRA Certified Instructor and an NRA Certified Range Safety Officer. He is a former Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army and is the owner of Tucker Ridge Outdoors in Webster Plantation, Maine. He also works as a freelance outdoors writer and is the author of “Life on the Ridge” for the bangordailynews.com Outdoors section. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook @tuckerridgeoutdoors