At ARBuildJunkie, we’re patiently saving up funds for the eventual launch of a 12″ 8.6 Blackout AR. Billed as “300 Blackout’s Big Brother,” just prior to SHOT Show 2020, we reached out to Q’s Kevin Brittingham for a brief update on the status of the cartridge.
Q: Kevin, with SHOT 2020 on the immediate horizion, can you give us a brief update on where 8.6 Creedmoor or 8.6 Blackout is?
Kevin Brittingham – At SHOT, we’re having some meetings with different ammo manufacturers and firearms manufacturers and government and military, and we’ll be doing some private demos with it. We’re still working on it with Hornady, Discreet Ballistics and some others.
We’re still trying to settle barrel twist for 8.6 Blackout and some of that depends on the bullet size that we end up with or we think is right for production and what we think the general use will be.
Some of the problem with the twist is there are not very many companies that can do faster than 1:7…there’s not many barrel makers that can do faster if they pull buttons, so that complicates it a little bit, and we need to make sure we have all that lined up as well.
As far as barrel twist, like I said, it depends. If we think most of the ammo is going to be supersonic, the optimum twist isn’t quite as fast as if we think it’s going to be mostly subsonic.
If we go really fast, which would be like a 1:3 twist, which is great for accuracy for subsonic, then a lot of the .338 projectiles that are out there now, if you push them fast, they are going to come apart out of the muzzle. So, we’re still evaluating…We are actually testing some new subsonic, expanding bullets today.
Q: What twist are you leaning towards as of today for 8.6 Blackout?
Kevin Brittingham – Right now, we’re kind of settling on 1:4, and it will be a 12 and half inch barrel…that will be where most of the production will be for our pistols which we’re developing our cartridge around. We’re still looking at about a 150-grain through about a 330-grain bullet probably for super to subsonic.
One of the good 8.6 Blackout hunting rounds is loading a Barnes bullet that’s about a 200-grain solid copper expanding as a supersonic. It’s a great round…and you know, the cartridge is a 300-meter cartridge overall, and that includes accuracy and expansion with subsonic.
Q: So, would that 200-grain bullet you mention be comparable to the Barnes 110-grain projectile that’s proven so popular in 300 Blackout?
Kevin Brittingham – Well, It’s a pre-existing bullet that we’re testing with the Barnes. We’re working with Discreet Ballistics and some other companies on some others. We don’t really have a working relationship with Barnes, being that they are a Freedom Group company…but with Hornady for instance, we’re working on that with them, and there’s probably going to be two avenues with this, which is a little different than 300 Blackout.
We still have case capacity with 8.6 Blackout, so it’s not too difficult to get some good velocity, unlike 300 Blackout. A 150-grain, being a super light bullet, would probably be very comparable to the 110-grain for the 300 Blackout.
Then we’d have a 200-grain where we could still get some very good velocity out of it, and still get very good penetration. For instance, I’ll be taking this to Australia in September, and I’ll shoot a buffalo with it…and I’ll probably be using the 200-grain.
So, I think it’s a little different than 300 Blackout because I think you have a little more potential with this or a wider window of things you can do with it. Just like when you think of in terms of 300 Blackout and the AK round 7.62 x 39. When you compare those to something like the versatility of .308…that’s sort of what we have with this cartridge. I think you are going to see more versatility with it.
Q: Can you talk at all about what platforms this cartridge will be run in?
Kevin Brittingham – Obviously, we’re doing it for the Fix. It’s also an easy cartridge for any AR-10 or SR-25 manufacturer. They can use pre-existing magazines…just like 300 Blackout. All they have to do is swap out the barrel.
An exciting opportunity for us might be with POF, with their Revolution rifle, and us potentially working with them to do something like a Honey Badger. That would be a five or five-and-a-half-pound gun that would shoot this cartridge. It would basically be like an AR-15…
Q: How important is the idea of light weight to this 8.6 Blackout project?
Kevin Brittingham – In terms of lightweight…There are guys who see the Fix rifle, and they determine that the gun is not for them. They shoot PRS and they may want a 20-pound gun because they want to shoot 1,000 yards and they want absolutely no recoil. Well, the Fix is not for them.
Some people are not going to like 8.6 Blackout with supersonic in a light gun…that’s because you’re going to know you shot something. But with the subsonic, you’re going to have a 300, 320, maybe a 350 or 360-grain bullet that’s 1,000 feet a second, that’s 124db. It’s as quiet as any 300 Blackout you’ve heard.
It’s as quiet as some of the .22s that are out there, but you’re launching a 300+ grain bullet…and with that being a .338 vs. a .30 caliber, the expansion is easier. We’re also going to get more penetration with it. It’s going to be a legitimate hunting cartridge, and in that regard, I want all of my guns to be compact and lightweight.
The Fix is a 6-pound gun in .308, and it does have recoil…so we made a butt pad for it called the BIG BUTT PAD. When I go shooting, if I am at the range all day, I use that big butt pad but I don’t when I hunt and I’ve never noticed the recoil. I think it’s kind of the same thing with this gun. That said, there’s going to be legitimate big game rounds that we are trying to get the absolute maximum out of and there will be subsonic where it is designed to be incredibly low signature.
Q: From a personal standpoint, with the kind of hunting we do, a 12.5″ AR chambered in 8.6 Blackout sounds quite attractive.
Kevin Brittingham – For sure. I’ve got Daniel Defense 16” .308, and it’s a nice gun, but the thing weighs like 10 pounds. I find myself never using it.
I think it’s like the trend with handguns. Someone comes out with a new service pistol, whether its CZ or Glock, it’s like who cares? A full-sized, big gun? It’s cool, but it doesn’t take much for those guns to be reliable, to be accurate, or for them to have nice triggers.
The trend for a decade now has been the compact, pocket gun, essentially…and when I say that, I mean like the Sig 365. That is innovation…That is a great gun. They made a compact, lightweight gun that holds a bunch of rounds, the grip is not too big, that you can really conceal, and the gun shoots great.
Is it the gun that if I am going to the range, I am going to shoot a thousand rounds through? Is that what I want to shoot? No. But it’s the gun I am generally going to use.
It shoots good enough, it’s small enough, and it holds enough rounds. It’s the most practical…it’s a real “utility” gun. I don’t use a pistol a lot, but when I do, that’s the kind of gun that I want to carry.
Q: I’d like to go back to barrel length for a second….you’re thinking just 12.5” or will there be other options?
Kevin Brittingham – I’m sure there will be a variety of options available, just like 300 Blackout. We’ll (Q LLC) probably stick to one…with 12.5” or 12 ¾” or wherever we end up there…and honestly that just depends on the length of our handguard now, but in that length range is where we want to be, in order to get the range and velocity that we want.That said, 8.6 Blackout will be practical for a shorter barrel. It will also be practical for a longer barrel.
You see companies with 300 Blackout have all kinds of opinions. I know I just started YouTube on my television a few months ago…and I watch a lot of 300 Blackout stuff. What I’m amazed with is the amount of ignorance that is out there from people who do videos…but what’s also interesting to see is the variety of uses, and what people think, and what works for them.
You know a big part of the short barrel is going to be with the subsonic cartridges and the fast twist, and a lot of people don’t understand it, and they’re not “getting on that train,” and so then it’s not as useful with the short barrel, because they’re not getting accuracy with subsonics.
Q: Can you explain the benefit of fast twist for someone who might be new to firearms?
Kevin Brittingham – If you have a big, long bullet going slow, you need to spin it faster, or you need to have a big, long barrel. You also get energy from spinning the bullet faster. With our supersonics, we’re getting good velocities, but when we spin it two or three times faster than a .308, or the standard .338, we’re greatly increasing the energy on target. You get linear velocity, and then you get rotational velocity, which also translates to more energy.
It’s going to be exciting. With 300 Blackout with solid copper, you can get great penetration…but when we add another 100 grains of weight to the bullet, the penetration is just phenomenal. We’re already doing gelatin tests…it doesn’t make a lot of sense for maybe some people here, because everybody here is all “tactical,” and you think about the FBI protocol and 18” of penetration and not wanting to go over that…well, I hunt big game, and I don’t necessarily feel like carrying a 20-pound rifle around. So, there are times where I want 30” of penetration. So, doing a solid copper that just slightly expands is great for some uses…
The Eventual Impact of 8.6 Blackout
I think one thing 8.6 Blackout is going to do is it is going to cement bolt action pistols…short barrels for hunting, and give shooters a wide variety of subsonic and supersonic options for hunting everything from whitetail, to feral pigs, to buffalo in Australia…and you can do it with a compact gun that fits in a backpack, and is not too burdensome to carry.
Q: Is there a rough time frame for the release of 8.6 Blackout, or is this one of those things where it’s “out when it’s ready?”
Kevin Brittingham – It’s ready when it’s ready. I think there’s some things you’ll see soon, like the 8.6 Blackout chamber drawings offered, and you’ll see us offer the Fix, and then you’ll see some gas guns offered from us and different companies, and very soon you will see components offered to that people can start loading ammo. As far as commercial ammo from larger manufacturers, it could creep into next year, but we’re going to get it going even if it is just with components. We’re getting some loaded ammo obviously, and we’re also loading it, as we’re doing a lot of testing ourselves.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add about 8.6 Blackout?
Kevin Brittingham – The final thing would be if you have a Remington, this will just be a barrel change…if you have a .308 short action gun or a clone of a Remington…same thing with the SR. That’s it. You’ll need a new silencer, and we’ll have new silencer that is launching at the end of this quarter. It’s a stainless-steel silencer called the Pork Chop, and it’s for the 8.6 Blackout and .338 cartridge.
It’s the size of our Thunder Chicken…and it uses a Cherry Bomb muzzle device that is just larger. Because people are going to need to get paperwork going, we want to have these available in the next few months.
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