So You Want A New AR, huh?

Admin Note: I wrote this prior to the contemporary…um…’incident’. But that being said, it’s timely for those just now waking up, those looking to streamline kit, or those simply wanting to read another take on the bewilderment that is the contemporary AR platform. This is NOT a caliber war. Intermediate caliber debates are stupid and get argued by people who don’t know their rear from a hole in the ground about fighting. So if you want to argue why your pet caliber is better than Joe’s pet caliber, there’s whole forums where folks with no experience do that- Go there. Understand?

A Reader’s Question:

Looking to purchase a new ar-15 soon, but am at odds on the caliber. So (many) conflicting opinions on the internet. Could you do an article in the future about the feasibility of each caliber? .223, .308, 6.5 Grendel, 300 ACC Blackout. Considering long term ammo availability as well, that being the primary issue. Thanks.

Parameters Matter

Our first question needs to be what is the purpose of this weapon? Is it going to be a jack of all trades, general purpose home defense rifle? That’s 99.9% of you reading this. Is it going to be an *actual* sporting rifle that you intend to hunt with or is it simply a range toy? If it’s a range toy then what I have to say is going to be irrelevant either way; I’m not wealthy, I can’t afford range toys. Are you buying with the intention that you’re going to need resupply (you should be) at some point or are you planning on going it alone? How do you intend to keep it running? Logistics matter a lot more than what you like best. For sanity’s sake lets look at our options listed above and say that our first rifle is going to be our general purpose, home defense, fight if we have to, carbine. We have .223 (5.56×45), .308 (7.62×51), 6.5 Grendel, and 300 BO. (But, why not 7.62×39??? Because it runs far better in an AK. That’s why.)

300 Blackout

This is, like 6.8 SPC, doomed to be an “also ran” for a lot of reasons. Having shot a good amount of it, the round always seemed like to me an answer in search of a question. “The better mousetrap” I guess. It may have a ballistic advantage in a certain niche, and while I’m NOT a fan out of an AR, it’s interesting out of a bolt gun- but nothing that can’t be done cheaper with more common rounds. Wanting a caliber with the close range ballistics of the 7.62×39, better performance than 5.56 suppressed, and fitting in a standard AR 15 magazine all seems like a worthy notion, but in practice I think it falls flat especially for a Survivalist.

First, it’s not in widespread use. Yeah, sure, such and such or so and so secret squirrel ninjas are rumored to use it (because wikipedia said so), and it’s the hottest thing on the planet this week to the cooler-than-thou range bunny types, but the real story is that it’s a lot of hype for not much gain in any direction, especially if you’re running a standard length barrel unsuppressed (and that’s most all of you). It’s smaller cousin, 5.56, from which it borrows its case is in far more widespread use, every bit as effective at longer ranges (300-600m) in my experience, and unless you’re explicitly building a rifle to be suppressed-only, you’re not gaining much except for a more expensive ammo budget. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s going to be adopted by anyone in large quantity either. The usuals said that about 6.8 too…which went nowhere. In fact, if it did get picked for large scale .gov use the on-the-shelf supply would dry up faster than .22 LR at a prepper convention.

But, but, I can reload for it! Yeah, right, ok. And when you run out of that supply, eventually, where are you going to find new brass? You don’t have time or ability to worry about digging up brass if you’re laying down the pain on a target. Oh, you’ll ream .223 brass that’s everywhere, that’s right. But you’re doing all that while you’re also runnin’ n’ gunnin’ and survivin’ n’ preppin’ like a doomsday master right? Have you reamed 2,000 of them to resupply your team? Can you? No? That’s what I thought. Shaping brass is a major PITA, and there’s no guarantee that it will even work across varied rifle manufacturers or chamber tolerances. The logistics simply don’t support it, and until they do, and I don’t think they ever will, you should avoid it no matter how much the tacticool gunrag crowd tells you not to. Yeah, it kills stuff. So does 5.56. So does 7.62×39. The dead ain’t gonna compliment you on your boutique round.

6.5 Grendel

Now the Grendel is a neat concept and in many ways perfects the concept of the intermediate round. Interestingly enough, Bill Alexander ( I have a close friend who met him bumbling in a gunshop of all places local to Alexander’s facility, and speaks very highly of the encounter) took a similar path that the British did earlier in the .280 British, which was scrapped as the NATO standard in lieu of the 7.62×51, as the US possessed far larger means to produce .30 cal ammo. (And it kept the MIC in business) But the .280 class round excelled at flat trajectory and carried energy at distance, also reflected in the strengths of its newest incarnation. The Grendel is excellent for shooting at longer distances and being lightweight with low recoil, making it a very attractive round for families of smaller statured shooters or recoil sensitive people to be more effective at longer ranges. Overall, I think it’s a great round and a great idea. It’s an excellent intermediate range cartridge and works very well. But I won’t recommend it as a first or only AR-type weapon.

Notice the serious lack of meat on the edges of the bolt face? That’s an issue. Whether it’s 7.62×39 or 6.5 Grendel, which share parent cases, this design is NOT optimum for long-term durability.

First, you need special magazines. Like the 6.8, it suffers from needing it’s own due to a unique cartridge taper. This gets expensive and can be complicated, especially for newer shooters. Second, it needs it’s own bolt, which is the same as the 7.62×39 AR bolt face, having much less metal on the lugs. This WILL lead to premature failure compared to the standard AR bolt dimensions, as any 7.62×39 AR shooter will begrudgingly tell you. Ammo itself used to be expensive, but interestingly enough a number of nations are looking at the round as a possible next generation cartridge, including Russia and Serbia. In fact, a 6.5 Grendel AK Vepr was available in the US for a very short time before Molot imports ended up being banned earlier this year. wyEWOWf-660x495Zastava also builds one, and we might see an imported version on our shores along with their Yugo M70 type AKM. As of this writing 6.5 ammo is indeed made by Wolf and is available at many outlets, so stocking up on training ammo is not a problem currently. But that being said, since it’s not (yet) in widespread use, not used by any domestic entity in any measurable quantity, requires specialty magazines, and I don’t foresee a foreign invasion by an army using it, I don’t recommend it as a first or only AR-type weapon.


7.62 NATO (308 Winchester)

Unlike the bulk of the gun culture out there, I have combat experience with the SR-25, aka M110 aka SASR. I greatly preferred the M24 when given the option. The M14 EBR was also issued, and I still rather carried the M24. I privately owned a higher-end 7.62×51 AR-10 type weapon for a while, and still prefer a bolt gun. That should tell you what you need to know, but in case it doesn’t, I’ll elaborate.

I don’t think anyone in their right mind questions the power of the 7.62, be it a fighting round or medium game caliber, and in my opinion, it’s the best all around utility cartridge for a Survivalist along with the 12ga, primarily due to it’s commonality and widespread use among…pretty much everyone. I know first hand the destruction both M80 ball and the M118 can deliver on the business end, as well as the freezers I’ve filled growing up with Remington Core-lokt. But I don’t really like it in an AR.

The first problem is defining an industry standard; for the 308 pattern AR, there’s a few out there. The Armalite pattern took a proprietary magazine, the DPMS/Bushmaster yet another, the Rock River took an FAL magazine, etc, etc, with a de-facto industry standard arising with the adoption of the SR-25/M110 type rifle. This led to Magpul making the good quality and inexpensive magazines for it, somewhat resolving one issue, but still, there’s others. Like it’s little brother, the AR10 suffers from varying degrees of quality associated with expense- and if you’re buying “budget”, expect problems. I’ve shot

Discipline 101. This guy would have severe problems with his rifle should he have needed it. He’s set up a DMR with no flash hider- I hope he knows the amount of dust that kicks up from an effective firing position. Notice the lack of ejection port cover and forward assist? Those were added to the AR design for a reason. In case someone shows up with something like this, at least cover it with duck tape. Don’t go to war with a range toy, Francis.

enough of them to know and I’m not interested in hearing how your $500 homebuilt runs like a swiss watch. If you’re new to the AR in general, this is a HUGE deal. Malfunctions when it matters not only saps confidence but costs lives. Second, all ARs break stuff in time; if there’s varying degrees of standards, ill fitting parts deadline that weapon and without experience in your fold you’re going to have a heck of a time diagnosing the issue. Big Bore ARs are far less common and not nearly as interchangeable as their 5.56 counterpart. Bolts are a big part of the problem- there’s no one monolithic standard. The new DPMS Gen II makes this even more complicated, blurring the lines between the AR15 and 10 in an attempt to shave weight, using a completely different bolt than anything else on the market. Last, they’re all, to a rifle (again, I’ve got enough experience with them from the bottom end range trash to the Stoner SR-25) finicky about cleanliness. Much more so than the AR-15. In fact, the M110 is widely known among end users for being unreliable- the semi-integral suppressor and extreme close tolerances are the culprits- and keeping a weapon meticulously clean is a challenge on long movements. Trust me, I know. I think LMT has it right with their version that the Brits are using from what I’ve observed, but that’s the only one I can vouch for.

So while I love the 308 round, I don’t love the AR rifles that fire it, and approach with caution if you do. If you’re wanting a semi-auto combat rifle, the FAL, M1A/M14, and G3/PTR-91 types are better options in my experience, in that order. If you just have to have an SR-25 type rifle, don’t cut corners and buy the best quality possible. If standardizing on them as part of a group, buy ones form the same maker to have a known standard between rifles. But you’re walking into SCAR territory in terms of cost when buying quality, and that’s a better weapon all around. Even better still, put the money into a good bolt action rifle with great glass and buy a quality AR15 for everything else. Does this mean they’re all bad? No, it’s just not what you should buy as a first or only AR.

5.56 NATO (.223 Remington)

img_0233Probably the most controversial round ever created among people who talk more than do, the 5.56 since it’s adoption long, long ago either meets scorn or high praise depending on varied levels of experience of the story teller (BS artist). I’ll tell you first hand it always worked fine for me. Fine as in, did it’s job. Nothing more, nothing less.  It did what I expected it to do, every time. The round was designed with certain parameters filling the same void the Kalashnikov did; bigger than a burp gun but playing the same role for the “marching fire” concept that was all the rage post-WWII. A soldier can carry a lot of ammo with not a lot of weight, and the heavier loadings that I favor (69gr Nosler, 77gr OTM, for different purposes) are very effective against a wide variety of targets. Since I’m not bound by any convention anymore (and that works two ways, for all you would-be partisans), I’m not limited to the 62gr green tip- not that it doesn’t work, but a Barnes Varmint grenade or a Nosler BT work dramatically better.

But this ain’t a caliber debate; its a logistics debate. Overwhelmingly the 5.56 is in broad supply, along with the standard magazines and standard dimension parts. Everything about the rifle is a known quantity.  Spare parts, even for top shelf quality, has never been cheaper. The 5.56 AR15 is experiencing a renaissance in the US like few weapons have, and in 20 years it went from being an “army gun carried by the fringe types” in the eyes of the public to being a status symbol along with Ford Trucks and Yeti coolers. It doesn’t make sense not to have one.

And for that reason, you should own one in 5.56 for your first AR. It is not the best of any world (no intermediate cartridge is), but it works and it’s what you’ll find in many people’s hands when need be. It’s not my own favorite round by any means but I know it works from experience. For that matter all of them discussed here work, it’s just a matter of how the logistics figure into the equation long-term. And that answer for the AR-15 is 5.56, period. The design is not going away anytime in the foreseeable future and adding one to your arsenal in its basic form is a logical move. Keep it simple and you’ll keep it effective. Avoid gimmicks, buy quality and train often.



Cool Patch, Huh? Get One.

80 thoughts on “So You Want A New AR, huh?

  1. Pingback: Brushbeater: So You Want A New AR, Huh? | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. Mark me down as another Afghanistan vet who would start with the 5.56. I have witnessed this round do damage to enemy fighters (and one unfortunate friendly soldier) on numerous occasions and it does not disappoint. The velocity is the key with this one. I also now work on a trauma floor at a hospital in a mid-sized city. Currently have a patient who was recently shot four times with 7.62×39. I firmly believe (and the trauma surgeon agreed) that the patient may not be alive (or in nearly as good a shape) if they had been hit with 5.56 instead. They took two projectiles out of this patient. That was it. But 5.56? They’d have had to call in the vascular surgeon to assist in picking fragments of multiple projectiles out of this patient, many of which would be found nowhere near the entrance or exit wounds. We’d have been caring for horrendous temporary cavitation injuries even aside from the actual wound channels themselves.

    All of the trauma surgeons and vascular surgeons I work with have said the same thing to me, because I asked the question. They hate dealing with 5.56 wounds more than the others, because the damage is bad and it’s hard to repair and clean up.

    1. Absolutely Bro. Factor in solid handloads using stuff like Ballistic Tips or SSTs, and you’ve got a pretty nasty package.

      That’s the part that’s lost on many; most people, especially military (and wanna-be military that hang around gunshops and ranges) only think that mil-spec stuff defines the capability of the round. There’s no outside the box thinking. Then again, if all they’ve done is poke holes in paper, then other people’s opinions is all they’re gonna know.

      1. I occasionally get people asking me what firearm I recommend for defense, and I ask them about their particular situation and needs and what they want to achieve… And then I stop short of making a recommendation to tell them that if I make one for them, all I ask is that they also have a conversation with me about ammo. I don’t want to tell someone ” this weapon is what I think is best for your situation” only to find out later that they loaded it with something totally counterproductive.

      2. And that’s a big point a lot of people forget. Most of the time when dummies get into caliber squabbles they revert to .mil loadings, which is stupid.

        I’m not bound by any ‘convention’. 62gr did what I wanted it to when I needed it to, but believe me, a Hornady SST would have been devastating in each situation. Nobody is limiting anyone to the old 55gr XM193 or SS109- run what you want.

        The bottom line is that logistically speaking, the 5.56 makes sense as one’s first or only AR, not only for the simplest and most economical training weapon but also for the easiest known quantity. Because effective training- no matter what weapon one decides on- is the whole point.

  3. Well done. Concur on every point. Good kit, good optics are where it’s at.

    Also it’s important to have a few extra bolts, and if possible ” crane” rings. Been building and shooting at least one new ar a year, for the better part of 20 years. Try and use the best of the best parts. Also keep Colt trigger groups, yon the shelf.

    comprehensive ” armors” kits are available from multiple sources. Please don’t buy a DPMS kit, you will regret the purchase. These kits come with spring kits, bolt pins, everything to patch up a broken m4.

    I’ve decided it’s cheaper and easier to just purchase the Colts, or LMTs. Although I am having a hard look at the newer FN’s. Got a H&K 416 civilian rifle. I simply don’t like it. My son likes it, and carries it in his rig.

    Good article.


    1. A huge second on the extra bolts- they’re a must, and if you buy one they should at a minimum be from Stag (continental machine & tool- supplies Colt).

    2. A Texan

      So, which particular armorer’s kit would you recommend for building an AR from scratch?

      Also, what is a good kit for spare pins and springs?

      Thanks much.

  4. CB

    There is wisdom in your article….as usual.
    I grew up with the Garand, shifted to NM M1A, but thought I would like an AR platform in 308. Bought one of good quality and good reputation. It beat the piss out of me. Not fun to shoot. Went back to the M1A. Pleasure to shoot.
    Still wanted an AR platform but bumped to the lower caliber 556. Pleasure to shoot.
    Still like my one holer .308 bolt guns the best.

    1. Centurion_Cornelius

      Yessir–much wisdom in this read. Much thanks, ncscout!

      Me too, cb. Grew up on the Garand, graduated to the M14/M1A, and after much “AR-ing around.” in both 5.56mm and 7.62mm, I decided to use all my stores of M1ball ammo and my custom reloads in a splendid scoped bolt gun in .30/06d! The versatility is tremendous as well as ammo availability–ain’t a continent on earth that doesn’t stock .30/06 ammo! (well, mebbe Antarctica….heh-heh!)

  5. DAN III

    As much as I dislike the author’s reality check, particularly regarding 300 BLK, I have to agree with him.

    I don’t hunt. Rather I use my AR and AK platforms for SHTF practice, 2-Gun shoots and general firearms practice. In fact, just the last 6 months I aquired an Arsenal SLR-104 in 5.45mm. Love the cartridge. However, the dose of reality for me is recognizing with 5.45mm in this country that it is pretty non-existent for “emergencies”. Moreso than my beloved 300 BLK.

    I’ve never been a fan of AKs in .30 Soviet. But, for me, I found 300 BLK to do for me exactly what it was designed to do. Personally, I believe it is the cartridge that should replace 5.56mm for a myriad of reasons. Nevertheless, as much as it pains me, I concur with the author that 5.56mm, in this country, is the round one’s AR platform should be chambered for. What I would suggest with 5.56mm is the use of 77 grain ammo and possibly moving up to the newer Barnes 85 grain bullet designed specifically for 5.56 AR platforms.

    Thanks for the good essay. As the saying goes, “The truth hurts”. So does reality.

    1. Yeah, I had a friend who bit the 5.45 hard. He’s got plenty of ammo still…but when that 7n6 dries up at some point, best of luck.

  6. Michael Dean Miller


    I’d go with 5.56 for a couple of reasons:
    Trained well on it in The Corps.
    It works at good enough ranges.
    Ya can carry lots of it.
    It’s a common, proven round.

    That said, I never was in combat, never killed anyone with it.
    Hope not to sound like I know more than I do but personally I’m happy with my kit.

    Mike Miller


    1. “Can carry lots of it.”

      People underestimate this advantage too often. Try telling some young dickhead. That he will be able to carry more 5.56 and you’ll hear all about how strong he is and weight doesn’t matter.

      1. LOL yes- weight doesn’t matter except that 16lbs of ammo feels different at rest than after a 12 mile movement.

        Not only that, but, if I’m stepping off for a Raid or Ambush (the two combat patrol types) I want the most ammo possible. If I’ve loaded ten magazines of Nosler BTs, that’s a lot of devastation to lay down with a properly set up rifle (good optics, accurized/free float HG). A few talented Riflemen could sap the strength of superior numbers more often than not. MSG Bob Horrigan’s story is just one such example.

  7. June J

    I have my first AR-15 that’s a S&W M&P15 Sport 2. When I get my unemployment issue resolved I will be looking at higher end AR and parts. Been eyeing a Colt OEM to finish out.

    1. There’s nothing wrong, per-se, with some of the entry-level guns. Some of them are actually quite good, S&W being one.

      Something I’d do were I in your shoes is keep it lightly lubed and place painter’s tape over the ejection port in place of the ejection port cover. That way you keep grit out, but the glue from the tape is minimal.

  8. Scotty Bennett

    Re the 556:
    I arrived in Alaska 40 some years ago with a liberty barreled Ruger Mini 14.
    For the next thirty years that little rifle provided food, from birds to bears and moose, did pest control on wolves from the back seat of a Super Cub, and in general lived a hard and usefull life.
    I have never been unable to find ammo.
    The AR has been a nice upgrade in accuracy and providing a platform i can repair on my kitchen table. Being able to customize for my needs is frosting on the cake.
    Once the kids grew up and I had a few spare bucks, I did get a proper big game rifle but I know that I know the that all I NEED is a serviceable rifle in 556.
    Thank you.

  9. Ohio John

    This is just my two cents on the whole 5.56 debate.

    I’ve hunted a lot of things with the AR-15 5.56 using both soft points and Nosler Ballistic tips. 55gr NBT to the chest is a show stopper. I’ve knocked down both deer and big hogs with this round. Always looks like a bomb went off in their chest. Almost never any exit wound. They stagger around and fall over pretty quickly. Head shots are like turning off a switch. Gutting them out you really get to see how the bullet performed. A broadside double lung shot will absolutely shred the lungs with fragments hitting the liver and heart. I imagine it would do the same on a person. No coming back from that one.

    The down side is they don’t have the bone breaking potential of a tougher, heavier bullet or very deep penetration. This point aside, even when they hit heavy bone, shoulders for example, the wound is usually spectacular with the bone pretty well chewed up and fragments still penetrating to the vitals. I’m usually pretty careful not to hit near any meat I want to keep.

    My rifles are well used and maintained. I have a spare set of just about everything for them and enough ammo and mags squirreled away to last a good long while. I even have a few cans of “green tip” just in case I need them.

    This is my firsthand experience in the real world with the 5.56 round from an AR platform. It has always worked well for me while hunting. There is no reason it won’t do the same for family and homestead protection if needed.

  10. 2Knives

    Bolt guns are a must for AR-15 users. If/when they fail you have a back up to use with already stocked ammo.Bolts save ammo and are easily supressed. A “scout rifle” in .308 is a good investment. Ruger makes an inexpensive All American rifle in .223. As previously stated, do not forget the appropriate optic for your weapons mission.

    1. The Ruger is a nice one, as is the Mossberg MVP series, which I’m currently doing a long-term evaluation on.

      The Thunder Ranch 308 is very nice for its cost.

      1. Mike

        I look forward to your Mossberg MVP eval. I’ve wondered how the little flap doohickey on the bolt would stand up to long-term use.
        Kind regards

  11. Darrell Cloud

    I have never commented on this forum before, but your assessment of the 300 Blackout brought me off the side lines. An AR 15 with a Nikon scope is my preferred homeland security weapon. I absolutely agree that the 5.56 will be with us for a while in that most police departments use it along with all National Guard Units. The regular military has train loads of the stuff. As chaos rears its ugly head, there may be a good bit of 5.56 lying around.
    Many of us who like to shoot have turned to reloading to reduce the cost of range time. A good many of us reload 5.56. The brass is common. Powder, primers and bullets have to be ordered. Any interruptions of supply chains put all of those components in jeopardy. I personally will run out of jacketed 5.56 bullets before I run out of anything else. Trying to machine brass projectiles while feasible would be tedious at best.
    Cast lead bullets would be the solution to the projectile limitation. This is where the 300 Blackout comes into its own. Lee sells a 230 grain bullet mold for the Blackout. Everything about the Blackout is 5.56 AR except the bullet and the barrel. Blackout barrels can be had for around $100. I would defiantly throw one in my parts kit. In as much as AR-15’s are modular a barrel change out is doable. A dedicated upper would allow an even more rapid change out.
    At first blush, 300 Blackout ammunition is expensive unless you make your own. Using scrap lead, the round can be reloaded for under ten cents a round. The case is a shortened 5.56 case that has been resized. At the end of the day, there will be a lot of 5.56 cases lying around. When trimming the case, the first crude cut can be made with a hacksaw or a tubing cutter. Run the trimmed case through a 300 Blackout sizing die. Get a hand powered case trimmer to finish it up. Then take a Wilson gage to check your work. Cast and lube your own bullets and you are back in business. The round can be loaded to subsonic specs. Throw on a suppressor and your home security weapon is back in business.
    Five thousand primers will easily fit in a thirty caliber ammo can. The round runs on 9.5 grains of Winchester 296. There are 7000 grains in a pound of powder. A single pound of powder will produce over 700 rounds.
    Some reloaders will still be running when factory ammo becomes scarce. When the components dry up, the last thing shooting would be flint locks.

    1. THIS IS NOT A DAMNED FORUM. I know *just a tad* about reloading. After reading your points, you’re off in fantasy land.

      “At the end of the day, there will be a lot of 5.56 cases lying around.” Where is this fantasy land you live in? Ever shot at anyone? Ever been shot at? I’ve worn both those shoes. The last thing on your mind will be looking for brass, period. Not only that, but somewhere there’s been a lot of fighting going on…like say, Afghanistan- a place one of the two of us have been- there’s not a lot of expended rounds to be found, really anywhere…and they’ve been consistently at war since 1979.

      Relying on reshaping brass, in a scenario where you’re having to shoot at others, for whatever reason, is stupid.

      Lead rounds will destroy your barrel and gas system in an AR, by the way. Why did you think I mentioned the bolt gun for the 300?

      But please, don’t take my word for it. I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about. Since you apparently missed it, I’ll tell you again- LOGISTICS ARE NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU LIKE BEST.

  12. Pingback: Daily Reading #1D0 | thinkpatriot

  13. Darrell Cloud

    I have only run 5 or 6 hundred rounds through my set up using an adjustable gas block and a nine and a half inch barrel. The barrels have gone up in price since I bought mine. You are correct the lead fouling is filthy. I am shooting subsonic loads in mine and it seems to work fine. The round is fairly accurate out to about a hundred yards. The short barrel makes it a Class III so you would be wise to get your tax stamp in order before you put it on a gun.
    I have been shooting black powder for decades so I have had some experience removing lead fouling

    1. Oh Brother where to start- well, I’d say one of the neatest rifles on the market today is the Mossberg MVP. It the 5.56 takes standard AR mags, the 308 takes BOTH SR-25 pattern and M1A magazines.

      The only drawback to the 5.56 gun is the twist on the barrel- 1/9 versus the milspec 1/7, which they use to stabilize the lightweight predator and prairie dog hunting rounds (~40gr). Lots of people run 1/9 just fine, so it’s not that big of a deal.

      The Mossberg is a nice rifle, especially for what they cost. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another one.

      1. June J

        NC Scout – just looking at Mossberg MVP and noticed several 5.56/.223 models have 1:7 twist barrels now.

  14. Bigjohnson77

    I enjoy the repartee here, normally don’t comment, only lurk courtesy of WSRA, but thought I’d throw my two cents worth in tonight (a good supper and a couple shots of Jack will make a man do strange things) on this subject. Of the aforementioned calibres, I have experience in only two. A .308 bolt gun, awesome round, with my aging eyes and a good scope anything within 400 yards is dead meat. Supressed and with cover, it’s good night Lucy for vermin. More range is easily obtained, but I’m talking dead on, good night. Plentiful ammo, reloadable if you’ve got the tools and the time. Definitely a good tool to have in the chest. The other is .223. I bought my first (of several) mini probably 30 years ago, I love the heft and feel of it, and the slow kind of push of the recoil, probably my favorite, but not very accurate, functional to a fault, drop it on the sand wash it out with a water hose, it goes bang, and that little round is more than adequate to put down all sorts of predators. But at 30 bucks for a good functioning factory mag, and in shtf, where you going to find extras? Nah. AR platform is now my favorite. I bought a cheapo a couple of years ago and decided I would do my own little torture test on it. It’s my truck gun with a red dot. I drive lots of miles on country roads every week in ranch country, dusty and dirty. I chose to only shoot cheap ammo, the steel case lacquered stuff, and not clean the thing until it quit functioning. If I see a bunch of hogs I might rip off a full 30 round p-mag, or if I pull up on a hill and want to blast a stump at 200 yards, I might let go with two or three mags. You know what’s amazing? Only a couple of drops of oil on the bolt every so often, and after 2k+ rounds, never a FTF or stovepipe. And accurate.? Yes! Plenty ammo, shoots everything, reliable, replacement parts if necessary, give me an AR. I’ll take the .308, give Mama the .223, and with my G17 we’re set to repel all boarders, within reason….sorry for the diatribe….just thinking,,,,,God bless us all….

    1. You’re definitely not wrong.

      My complaints with the .308 AR lay with the lack of an industry standard. Stuff tends to break more frequently on the big bore guns, and since there’s a handful of different specs out there, it’s nowhere near as simple as dropping in new stuff on the AR-15.

      This is from the perspective of the new buyer, just now getting into the ‘sport’ of defensive preparedness.

  15. A Freeman

    300 BO works great…as a 30-30 w less logistics. As a suppressed round, it’s little better than a 9mm w less penetration. I’ve chosen to put up with 7.62 R for the time being, may e I’ll get around to trying to get them quieter as well. Honestly, the Soviet cartridge is great for training, and perfect for SBR since you don’t lose any of the potency unlike the 5.56 which is magic when above 3200fps MV. Good post. Thanks. Only a thou deep into my 10.5 762*39 ar, 2 jams, no problem w the bolt yet.

  16. Praxis

    No doubt about it, if logistics is your hammer then in NA or the EU the 5.56 AR15 is your nail. Spare parts and appropriate caliber matched optics are dirt cheap right now, as are good accurate barrels and uppers, and functional slings, lights, triggers, and load gear. Non TDP barrels aren’t needed for milspec fodder but if you take the blog’s advice on heavier bullets there are some really good choices to get the most out of premium ammo.

    If you don’t mount an optic and your eyes are getting on in years then rifle length sight radius is a good feature. Primary iron sights are best mounted pinned on the barrel. For most people a lightweight barrel ( A1 anybody?) and a good trigger are the best attributes for carry and shooting.

    And for your ears sake, unless you’re getting paid to beat the clock in matches lose the muzzle brake. If you live in a state that bans flash hiders a thread protector is better than a concussive brake. An A2 FH and a jam nut can be expediently fitted to the muzzle if the need is anticipated.

    As much as everyone should have a known quantity, quality built M4 or A1 with lots of trigger time in the field, one benefit of a home built AR that runs like a Renault is you will learn how to diagnose all the failure modes and maybe learn what tools and spares are key. Somebody needs to build a hand guard with an integrated one piece cleaning rod. Sectioned rods suck. Mark your magazines and segregate the funky ones for failure drills.

    The other calibers have their place, but are answers to other questions. One more reason not to stray from 556 is the chance to mix the wrong ammo into the right rifle. Some 300BO will chamber in a 556 and fire with a resultant kaboom.

    Instead of another AR consider putting the money into night vision, thermal, or a muffler. Or more ammo. The other universal answer is training, under stress, at unknown ranges, in windy, cold, rainy, hungry conditions. Or maybe some good EMT training.

    It saddens me that you were the one who found the Magic FAL we’ve all read about. I can stop looking now.

  17. Thanks for the insights. My first ar was a del-ton kit and never gave me an ounce of trouble. Got talked into parting with my m1a socom because it was finicky when it came to some hot loads. Bought the latest (newest) Ruger piston .308 and had nothing but fte and ftf all over the place. Ruger refunded my purchase. Dumped my money into a PWS mk216 piston driven .308. Although expensive as hell to purchase and shoot. Bought for wrong reason (shoots my handloads…sigh). Live and learn the hard way i guess. I could’ve bought 3-4 ar15s for that price.
    A friend loves the .300, but after reading this I’ll be in market for another 5.56. I was so green and thought bigger was better. I understand kiss so much more after your article. Thanks.

    1. It’s not that I don’t *like* the 300 BO, I think it’s cool. In fact, I like it better than 5.56, and I like 7.62×39 better than both in the woods.

      The problem is logistics. 😉

    1. As I understand it, the Wylde is allegedly able to handle all of the chamber pressures of either 5.56 NATO or .223…and there’s a difference.

      5.56 NATO is a standard- one powder, one case and spec length, one bullet, one primer, with an exact set of specs. .223 on the other hand is just the caliber of the projectile and a parameter of possibilities.

      So as I understand it, one used to be cautious of shooting one in the other- meaning 5.56 was 5.56 ONLY, and .223 a bit more variable. Nowadays it’s a little less confusing, and the Wylde chamber was supposed to accept anything.

      1. Mike Hohmann

        My understanding has been a 5.56 rifle can handle 5.56 and .223 ammo. A .223 rifle should use .223 only, this based on small case size differences. 5.56 brass can usually handle higher pressures than .223 cases. That may have changed in recent years. If someone knowledgeable has better data please update. If you want to avoid the topic in this post, that’s cool too!

  18. Praxis

    300BO was designed to replace the MP5SD with better range, penetration, and host ergonomics and slightly poorer port pop with better muzzle suppression. The fact that the lighter bullets give AK like ballistics out of very short barrels is a bonus, as is the fact that very accurate and barrier blind 30 cal bullets are available for not much more than heavy match 556 rounds. It’s no replacement for 556 not just for logistics impacts; the 300BO impacts load weight and 200-400 mid range trajectory. A 16” 300BO helps and is a great rig for hogs and mule deer, but if your stuck with Title I barrel lengths the 556 is better for social work.

    No question the AR10 suffers from lack of standardization and parts durability from design scaling but it does benefit from great triggers, barrels, and optics mounting that the conventional 308 choices suffer from. Imagine if someone made a low pressure round with a high ballistic coefficient bullet that would fit in the AR15 envelope. It would be a shame if early wildcatters tried to hot rod that round and gave it a bad reputation for breaking bolts.

    Outside the scope of your original article but in my experience when loaded properly the bolt on a 6.5 Grendel will outlast disposable barrel life and a lightweight 16” rig absolutely spanks 179 gr 308 from an 18” gas gun in the wind in the 500-800 yd zone and doesn’t go transonic until past 1000. You need to run 208-220 in a 308 to even start to get close to 6.5 BC. For civilian ammo logistics 6.5 doesn’t give up much to the 308, and the platform logistics, low recoil, and ability to stay on target and self spot the trace makes new shooters successful faster. And contrary to its early reputation for needing long barrels the 6.5Gr does very well in barrels as short as 12” and is easy on silencers and flash hiders at that barrel length. The round will likely never make it for large organizational logistics but that has more to do with institutional inertia and legacy requirements development than optimizing the individual rifleman’s effectiveness.

    1. “300BO was designed to replace the MP5SD with better range, penetration, and host ergonomics and slightly poorer port pop with better muzzle suppression. ”

      Yes, I’m aware of this. I *might* have had hands-on this round when it was the 300 Whisper and being tested, so I’m well aware of what it was designed to do.

      It fails to do it by the way, because it is not in the NATO inventory.

      As per the Grendel- have you shot it to failure? Yes or No? (Hint: I’m aware of it’s trajectorial superiority to 7.62 NATO. As I’m equally aware of 260 REM and 6.5 Creedmore- Ballistic superiority is not the point of the article.)

    2. With specific regard to caliber variants for the AR-15, the Grendel is only one of a number of different options. IIRC, three of the TC-U cartridges have been tried in the AR, the 6 TC-U, the 6.5 TC-U and the 7 TC-U. Overall length is the issue, and probably the best compromise is the 6 TC-U, but there are firms that make 6.5 TC-U barrels as well.

      I *like* the various 6.5 calibers, and have shot many of them, starting with the great grand-daddy of them all, the 6.5 Swede, and ranging through the 260, 6.5 TC-U, and a number of others, but again, if TSHTF, where is the logistics support? I don’t mean down the road, I mean right now. For the Grendel, (and I agree that the performance of the round is very good,) there is no logistics support to compare with the 5.56. I cannot speak to the bolt failure issues, as I have not shot the Grendel extensively, but I will say that the history of engineering is the history of failures, most of which occur when the envelope has been pushed too far. I’ll let somebody else be the guinea pig for something my life, and the lives of friends and family, may depend upon.

      If the Grendel ever gets mainstream, then I’ll revisit the subject. Until then, I’ll continue to recommend the 5.56 AR-15 as the primary carbine.

      With regard to all who serve the Light,

      1. The Grendel’s parent case is the 7.62×39- so the same issues with the AR in that caliber will happen with the Grendel. The lack of metal on the bolt face between the lugs is the culprit. As a man who’s sheared lugs in a 5.56 AR during a high round count class, any less meat is a problem. It was originally designed the way it was for a reason.

        Out of an AK however…the round is in its natural home. Unfortunately a tiny number of Veprs came in chambered in Grendel and they are now unobtanium. That and the magazine issue- that is to say, nonexistent. Zastava is building a rifle in it however, and the Serbs have no issue importing weapons to the US, so we’ll see what the future holds.

  19. “reasonable people, equally informed, seldom disagree.”

    Put another way, it is interesting to see how, when approaching the question “What should my FIRST *personal defence* carbine be?”, how most folks wind up at the same answer, that being an AR-15 chambered in 5.56. I would very STRONGLY echo NC Scout’s maxim about logistics not being about what you LIKE; logistics is about what will be there when you need it.

    I’ve shot every .30 caliber gas gun there is, and all of the US military issued .30 caliber rifles extensively, and I like the M1 and the M14 the best for a variety of reasons, reliability, good iron sights and and good trigger pull among them. The .30 caliber military cartridges penetrate much better than the 5.56 and carry better to medium and long range with less windage than all but the most extreme .223 bullets. But that was then.

    I disliked the M16/AR-15 for a variety of reasons, BUT these days when I’m asked by newcomers what weapon to pick for a first defensive/SHTF long gun, I almost always recommend the AR15, and today I own and shoot one regularly. A few points I’d add to the discussion here:

    -5.56 effectiveness is largely a function of velocity. My suggestion is that absent a compelling reason to do otherwise, longer barrels are preferred. I shoot a 20″ heavy barrel most of the time, but I do have a 16 1/4″ upper too.

    -Give some thoughts to sights and sighting, especially optics. Young guys can use irons very well, but as you get older, optics become a necessity for precision. I’ve found the Burris MTAC scopes, either the 1-4x or the 1.5-6x to be very good choices.

    -I’ve found the Hornady 68 grain and the Sierra 69 grain projectiles to work well when loaded to feed through GI magazines. <1 MOA groups out to 300 yards are common. Those planning to hunt with the 5.56 may want to look at the Nosler Partition bullets; their expense makes much less difference when you are firing only a few shots a year, and their performance is superior.

    I also agree with NC Scout that a good .308 bolt gun is an excellent choice for longer ranged shooting out to perhaps 700-800 yards. It is unlikely that the vast majority of folks will ever need anything that carries past those distances. I've studied the history of warfare in some depth, and everything I have read and every combat vet I have talked to from WW2 to the Sandbox all tell me that engagements over 500 yards are unusual. Given NC Scout's CORRECT emphasis on logistics and parts availability, while I *like* the Ruger 77 mk2 best, Savage's bolt guns are more common, with parts readily available, and they are less expensive than the Remington 700, my other choice. This holds for a .223 bolt gun, too.

    Plan to spend more money on your long range scope than you did for the rifle. It is not absurd to spend a thousand dollars on a good mil-dot scope, plus mounts and rings. Sure, you can make do with less, but why would you want to? The 30mm tubes carry a LOT more light than the inch scopes, FWIW; if you can anticipate low light shooting, having that capability is worth considering.

    With the AR carbine and the .308 bolt gun you should be well-equipped to handle most any situation from 50 to 500+ yards away.

  20. Praxis

    The Magic FAL is an accurate FAL. Even DSA’s short lived heavy barrels struggle to hold 2 Moa with match ammo and most arsenal built barrels (with the StG 58 being consistently the best) tend to like lighter bullets in the 147-155 range. Those low BC rounds don’t do well in the wind past 600 yards where even a heavy 556 match bullet does a little better. The 308 really hits a sweet spot in the 400-600 yard window but the weight penalty and limited load count are only worth it if accuracy allows the penetration and energy benefit to hit. In that application as you noted a bolt action doesn’t give up much to the semi.

    The FAL got a lot right but the trigger, bolt lock up, piston resonance, crappy rear sight, and optics mounting frustrate making a FAL into a precision 308 semi. The realities of a 2 way range negate much of the need for precision and the robustness of the FAL trumps all other considerations there. For civilians where belt fed is infeasible a semi 308 is probably the best choice against moving vehicles, but if it comes to that your best tool is likely either a pair of Nikes or a shovel.

    Getting back to logistics the AR10 even non standardized has better parts support unless you stocked up on FAL kits back in 1999-2000. Right now is a buyers market for AR15 support and the glut has the side benefit of even keeping down prices on top tier rifles and kit. Unfortunately there aren’t enough good ranges to keep up with the surge in new shooters. Offsetting that annoyance the political weight of all the new black rifle shooters will be critical in the next 4-8 years.

    1. “The purpose of shooting is hitting.”

      The purpose of shooting a defensive carbine or battle rifle is reliably hitting man-sized targets at whatever distance they present. To do this, you need a loaded, functional rifle, and *someone who can shoot it.* One of my friends, a Marine Corp veteran with three tours in the sandbox and about 5 years as a PMC, when I asked him about his preferred weapon, shrugged and told me, “I use whatever is being issued, and train my self and my men for that platform. IT ISN’T THE GUNS, it’s the guys.”

      The FAL, like most .308 battle rifles, (the HK91 conspicuously excepted, which is much more precise, shooting 1/2″ to 3/4″ groups but with bad sights and nasty trigger) will group in ~ 2″ at a hundred with NATO standard ammo. 2 MOA, which is about what a 2″ group signifies, means that the rifle/ammo combination will deliver a 10″ group at 500 yards, or 12″ at 600, other factors aside. But when you get out to those distances, you cannot ignore wind or range estimation as you can do at 100 or 200 yards. Out at 500, wind and range estimation become the dominant factors in hitting capability, not the rifle’s inherent accuracy. It isn’t the rifle, it’s the rifleman and his skill or lack thereof that matters.

      500 yards is “the *rifleman’s* quarter mile.” If you can reliably hit an 18″ gong at 500 yards with your first shot, and keep it up at 10 to 15 rounds per minute from prone, slung up, you are doing well, and any of the .30 caliber self-loaders can do that. Even the Ruger Mini-14 can do that, with it’s lackluster 2-3 MOA capability. If you can locate and range your unknown distance target, accurately read the wind and get a first round hit on targets from 400 to 600 yards out within 30 seconds of the whistle, you are VERY good.

      It isn’t the rifle. It is the person behind it, and their skill and experience, that makes ALL the difference.

      But how do you get those skills? There are lots of ways, but if you are a new shooter, I’d also recommend getting a decent .22 rifle, preferably one with detachable magazines. I’d probably suggest that you buy that, and a few hundred rounds of GOOD .22 match ammo, before you spend any money on a long range rifle. Without the basic skills, the gun does you no good.

      If you can keep all your .22 shots inside an inch at 25 yards, then you are ready for the next step, reading the wind. It is increasingly difficult to find space for a range over 25 yards, but if you have access to 100 yard range, and a decent .22 rifle, shooting .22 rimfire at a hundred yards will teach you a great deal about reading the wind, and about wind effects. Once you have done that at a hundred, take the next step and shoot at short ranges (50-200 yards) with your battle carbine, then at longer ranges.

      High power matches are a good way to get some skills and learn from better shooters, once you have the very basics down. When it comes to shooting for the very most past, *it’s not the rifle, it is the shooter!* Can YOU do that?

      But, as fun as it is to discuss various rifles, and the path to acquire the needed skills, that is not NC Scout’s point. His point, and it is an essential one, is that for long term sustainability, LOGISTICS RULES. Remember, you need not only the skills, but you need something that WORKS WHEN YOU NEED IT.

      “Loaded and functional” means magazines, spare parts, ammo.

      Regards to all who serve the Light,

  21. Mike Hohmann

    Great article, ncscout. I’m in agreement. I’d suggest after each long gun (ie an AR in 5.56 and a .308 bolt -M1A) is purchased get back-up/replacement parts in hand for common failures (that’s worth discussion itself) like springs, firing pins, bolts… parts list, yada, yada) so you can keep it running. Stockpile some store-bought ammo and learn to reload (and own the gear if possible -Dillon) -and test the reloads at the range, and stockpile after you’ve got the loads down! Make list of loads that work (details). Can’t have too much brass, bullets or powder. Inventories are important, laws change, avoid surprises. Buy good glass for both. Repeat! Thx., keep up the good work!

  22. Mike

    Everyone should have the knowledge and ability to reload. But reloading is nearly pointless for ars if your time is valuable. Ammo is too cheap and too good to waste time reloading it. Just buy ammo.

    Note: hlvr powder is great for 223/556 and 30-30 loads. For the 30-30, the velocity gains on 130 and 150 grain pills is impressive over factory ammo, much flatter shooting. Interested in testing this on ak loads. How about an 130 grain ak load going 2600 fps or better? That would be cool.

    First setup: Colt stripped oem-2 can be had for 700. Or just get the magpul le-6920 for a few bucks more ready out the door. About zero reason to look beyond that for a first ar. If looking beyond that, for a second ar build your own for your own knowledge and experience and use a quality ar 80% receiver and quality parts.

    Build your own glock as well from poly 80 receiver. This is the ‘real gen 5’ glock. Out of your garage for 600.

    Love some ak, but ar pistols are way more handy, esp with the law tactical folding stock.

    Note: the phantom flash hider reduces muzzle flash significantly better than the standard a2. From a 11.5 barrel, flash went from a flash to sparks only. There’s also quite a bit of difference muzzle flash from a a2 hider from a 11.5 battle to a 12.5 barrel, again from a flash to sparks.

    Can’t wait for 80% bolt rifle receivers and the hearing protection act to kick in. Its bs that police forces are equipped with suppressors on tax payer dollars, and responsible citizens have to go through bs and pay.

    Check out the news on Leo agencies gearing up with suppressors with tax dollars. Disturbing .

  23. Doc

    Christ! Wrote a reply and it disappeared.

    To say again….

    Listening to Van Halen II. Lots of harmonics here. Hmmmm….. When attempting to communicate… can one use the harmonic of a frequency to communicate to the target in order to avoid detection by the bad guys????

    Again… too many? beers tonight, but somehow thought this might be significant. 🙂

    Many thanks to Scout!

  24. DAN III


    Thanks for posting this essay. It sums up (logistics) what I hated to admit. Also, one of the best part of this essay are the numerous comments. Most, if not all comments and your replies, added to the essay.

  25. Pingback: Brushbeater Discusses AR’s, The Alternatives, And How To Select One – Mason Dixon Tactical

  26. Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Surveying The Comments

  27. stevieboy

    thank you. I am no rifleman, but the need has become clear to me the last few years. now i know what makes sense. though i was close to this decision, i appreciate your approach. If there’s anything
    i cant stand, Its bullshit from some guy at the gun shop or range. experience trumps bullshit every time. pulling the trigger before the end of the month.

  28. Brad Suhr

    I agree with the 5.56 being the only AR cartridge that makes sense for fighting purposes. I see the 6.5 Grendel as .308 level ballistics in an AR size package, primarily useful as a hunting cartridge.

    I have a Delton 16″, mid-length gas, 1/7 upper kit I put on a Doublestar lower I had laying around. Basic rifle. Nothing fancy. Just intended to be a no-frills fighting rifle. I put an SWFA 1-4 optic on it and feed it a diet of Mk 262 equivalent handloads, using Hornady 75 BTHP’s. Have shot it out to 200 yards. Seems to be a 2 MOA-ish setup. Very interested in info regarding the need for spare bolts and any feedback regarding reliability expectations.

    Have had an MVP Varmint in 5.56 for several years now. Excellent rifle. I don’t see the 9 twist as an issue. I have shot it in several F-Class format 500 yard club matches, using 75 AMAX, with results that mirror my skill level at wind reading. The AMAX has to be single fed, though the Hornady 75 BTHP can be loaded to mag length and it shoots nearly as well. The MVP is a very underrated rifle, IMO. I will be interested to read the results of the torture test that has been mentioned here.

    Since the Long Range MVP is now available with a 20″ 1/7 twist, that would seem to me to be the package that makes the most sense for someone considering the purchase of a bolt rifle.

    1. With the Del-Ton, try just a tad bit lighter bullet or a different powder. You’ll see an accuracy change. As for the spare bolts, Continental Machine and Tool/Stag Arms or BCM. The former is the primary supplier for mil-spec bolts, the latter makes top-tier equipment. Make sure to check headspace.

      I agree completely that the MVP series is very underrated- the only improvement I have planned for mine is a Timney trigger, only because the blade in the center is a major distraction. But your results are proof that 1/9 can work- it’s just not optimum.

  29. LodeRunner

    Late to the game here, but put another log on the fire – one more combat vet agrees that an AR in 5.56 should definitely be in every prepper/patriots arsenal. Every Last One.
    So, definitely buy the 5.56/.223 first, and spend a lot of time shooting it, that way you have a baseline to understand your other needs by. Or, more than likely, the AR in 5.56 will have you covered.
    Remember, 75% of what you hear in a gun store is sales pitch, the other 25% is Bull sh*t. On the range, the figures are the other way around.

    OK, that’s the ‘good advice’, now I’ll share my personal opinions –
    7.62X39 – don’t even bother running this through an AR, I haven’t seen an AR- 7.62X39 “solution” that wasn’t a cluge – just buy a darned AK if you want to do 7.62X39. The round and rifle were made for each other.

    6.5mm and 6.8mm – these are very impressive rounds, but the logistics aren’t behind them, and I don’t ever anticipate the logistics going that way. Since the bolt-face isn’t standard (unlike the .300AAC Blackout) you’re buying – at a bare minimum – a bolt and an upper. I would strongly recommend that you *not* swap bolts in and out of a bolt-carrier. Wear characteristics between the bolts may not match up over time, and reliability will suffer.
    Ideally, a Bolt, bolt-carrier, and upper receiver will be mated for life, and will therefore share a single wear-profile. For reliability, this is a rule to live by.

    300AAC-Blackout – I was shooting this when it was still a wildcat round called, “.300 Whisper” in the 2006~08 timeframe. Back then it was strictly ‘load yer own’. Here’s what I found:

    1. case forming is a real pain in the a$s, and there’s a lot of inconsistency in doing it at home. Your accuracy with home-formed cases will not be as good as with factory-formed brass.

    2. Never, ever shoot unjacketed lead bullets out of any gun with a gas system, especially an AR or M1-Garrand. You can do serious damage to the gun with less than 50 rounds of unjacketed lead ammo in those guns. Thankfully I didn’t make this mistake – but a guy brought a really nice Daniels Defense 300AAC to a gunsmith I know, saying it had become “very unreliable” in cycling. Come to find out, he was griping to a range buddy about the cost of ammo, and his buddy had a bunch of lead .30-30 bullets laying about, so he reloaded a bunch of his friends spent .300 brass with these ancient lead 30-30 pills. Apparently it didn’t even take fifty rounds of that bare lead before the rifle started MALFing, but the idiot just kept trying to shoot it. After somewhere close to 100 rounds, the gun just quit working all together. There was lead all the way through the gas system – a new Gas-block, gas tube, and bolt were required to get the gun running again.

    3. Short barrels, heavy bullets, and small cases are not a good combination for a rifle – pick any two and you can get away with it, but shooting 220gr. pills out of a 14.5 inch barrel, launched from a case with slightly less powder capacity than a .44 magnum, and you’re essentially shooting an SBR with ballistics comparable to a .44magnum carbine. I.E. they suck beyond point blank range.

    So your fantasy of having a suppressed ‘Seal Team 6 Special’ and sniping silently from 500 yards is dead in the water. Either you load a lighter, faster bullet – say a 130gr. SilverTip or Scirocco breaking muzzle at 1900fps – and get decent ballistics from the short barrel (oh, wait, this is sounding a lot like a short AK in 7.62X39) and/or you get a full-length 20″ barrel for it (which makes the 220gr./1150fps “quiet” round usable to a whopping 250 yards) but when you add a suppressor to that its so long it looks like you’re running around with Grampa’s old goose gun (26″ from the bolt-face to the end of the suppressor, 43″ OAL). You sure as heck don’t want to attempt any “CQB” with such an iron.

    In the end, I concluded that no matter how you try to game the configuration with the AR/300-Blackout, it remains sub-optimal for, if not wholly incompatible with, at least one of the very likely mission requirements for a prepper and/or citizen-soldier’s intended uses.

    In 2013 I sold everything I had in 300 Blackout.

    Thankfully, I found someone who was hot to get the newest, tacti-coolest, Ronco-matic AR configuration — and the timing was good, just a few months after the Sandy Hoax incident, so it was a seller’s market for *any* gun stuff — he bought both uppers (14.5″ and 20″) with bolts and bolt-carriers, all my ammo and brass, reloading dies, and all the bullets I had for it. I sold it all and got almost what I’d originally paid for it.

    How often does a mistake like that cost you next to nothing to get out of? yeah, I was given a do-over by my Lord and Savior. He’s given me a few of those, and I am forever grateful for each of them.

    1. Exactly. It’s an answer to a question not really asked.

      And I’m glad someone else with some sense echoed the issues with cast lead rounds, especially out of a DI weapon.

      1. LodeRunner

        The primary purpose of a battle rifle is to protect you and yours from whatever threat(s) may arise in your community – your choice of caliber and configuration should reflect that need, not your personal preference. THIS is the de-facto definition of a militia weapon. Period.

        Also, there’s a lot of fancy crap out there whose primer purpose is to make money for the people marketing/selling it. Any “accessory” you attach to a battle rifle should be the most effective answer available to a pressing need which cannot be addressed by good training and practice.

        Those who have spent weeks at a time without being unslung from their rifle for longer than is required to take a dump, unanimously argue against the proposition of adding even an ounce or two to the weight of that rifle; but civilians, lacking such experience, are always looking for a gadget to make them “better”. To them I say this –
        Discipline makes you better. Practice makes you better. Experience makes you better. Gadgets only make someone else money.
        When spending your preparedness budget, always prefer training over gadgets.

  30. LodeRunner

    Now, I will say this – if you already have an AR in 5.56/.223, and are looking for something with more “punch”, then you might do what I did, and go for an AR platform in “.45 caliber”. At the time, .450 Professional, now known as .450 Bushmaster, was the thing to have. Now, it is the .458 SOCOM that folks are preening over.
    Take your pick, there’s very little difference in the ballistics between the two, but the bolts, barrels, and mags are proprietary to each system, so choose wisely.

    I bought a .450Bushmaster with a 20″ barrel, and it is one heck of a gun –

    Out to 250 yards it shoots just under 1 MOA, and it remains usable to 300 yards (about 4″ groups). That’s 250 grains of bullet leaving the muzzle at 2200fps, and delivering highly effective groups to short- and mid-range targets. Even at 300 yards it hits like the fabled “ton of bricks” – 1250fps and 880 Ft/Lbs of energy – twice the energy of a 45 Long Colt at the muzzle! Beyond 300 yards, bullet drop becomes too steep to work with [for me, anyway], but it’s not a long-range round – it’s a modern “Express” cartridge, and it does whit it’s made to do very well.

    For barrier penetration – at 150 yards it will punch straight through a Chevy Big Block (and the the whole front end of the car) and come out with plenty of nastiness left over. Other, more practical tests were just as impressive. We filled an old wheelbarrow with dirt and shot through it at about 50 yards, the wheelbarrow was roughly 26 inches across, and we filled it to a height of about two and a half feet with well packed dirt – at least 120 pounds of soil. The round went clean through, and threw up quite a bit of scree at the backstop, another 50 yards away. By “clean through” I mean that the exit hole was not measurably bigger than the entrance hole; and the bullet definitely retained at least half of it’s velocity (remained trans-sonic) after passing through 26 inches of well-packed soil. Aside from a .50BMG, I know of no other small-arms round that will penetrate more than 2 feet of packed earth and remain super-sonic or even trans-sonic at exit. A .308 (168gr/2650fps muzzle) will typically be languishing at about 500fps and only about 360Ft/Lbs of energy remaining after penetrating such a barrier, if it exits at all.

    There’s not a protective plate or helmet that will stop .450 Bushmaster. Not even close. I tested this at 200 yards – it went right through a Class 3 ceramic plate and the 4X4 post it was leaned up against, and kept going. Half of the fence post was gone for a height of about two inches, mostly shredded by the shards from the ceramic plate, which had a ~1.5 inch hole in it and was cracked along its full length, top-to-bottom.

    As for the helmet (an early 90s PASGT) which I had placed on top of the fence post – I found the surviving portion of it some 30 yards away from the post. The entrance hole was what you’d expect, but the exit side was just gone. The entire ‘ear hump’ was gone, all the way up to the cranial contour, from the temple all the way back to the ‘knowledge nut’, where there was substantial de-lamination and fraying of the remaining ballistic material – nearly a third of the helmet was gone on the exit side. The broad exit-side damage may have been enhanced by the bullet’s continued expansion as it passed through the 4X4 post, which was missing a portion nearly the size of a softball.

    Unfortunately, neither the helmet shot nor the plate shot bullets were recovered for post-terminal examination, but other .450 rounds recovered from the berm have retained the majority, if not all of their mass, and were expanded to roughly the size and shape of a 50 cent coin. One in particular formed into a near-perfect donut wrapped around the bullet base, with the remnant of the red polymer still splayed in the center.

    Recoil is…impressive. But manageable, thanks to the AR platform’s integrated buffer system. After 20 or 30 rounds you’ll have a warm feeling in your shoulder that definitely stays with you for the rest of the day ;P

    Remember – ammo for such a beast is expensive, and no one but you is going to be stocking it. So if you decide to go this route plan to make a large investment up front in mags, ammo, and reloading gear. Even accepting the above caveats, I consider this rifle worth keeping around for certain prepper/citizen-soldier uses, and have a lot of fun with it, too. If you ever have the chance to ‘hunt’ bowling pins at 200 yards, this is the gun to do it with!

  31. DAN III


    If one has several AR 5.56mm platforms why would a 5.56mm MVP be acquired ? In your opinion does the MVP have any value beyond a range toy for those with one or more AR-malites ?

    Your thoughts please.

    1. Eh, that’s a tricky question, with the most pragmatic answer being, you probably don’t need it. The most fun answer is because it’s a fun rifle to play with, and the most logical answer is that one with a 24in Barrel can squeeze every little bit of range out of that 5.56. But then again, so could a 24in upper. So that’s really on you. The MVP has less parts to break though, and the whole rifle may end up being cheaper than a quality AR upper with matching specs.

      1. DAN III


        Your “pragmatic” answer is probably the best, for me. Thanks for your valued reply.

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