8.6 Blackout – A 2021 Update with Q’s Kevin Brittingham

We recently sat down with Q’s Kevin Brittingham to get an update on the highly anticipated launch of 300 Blackout’s “bigger brother” – the 8.6 Blackout. Our last update on the round was in February 2020, just before the pandemic. While we recently released the full audio of the conversation, we wanted to pull the highlights of that recording as it pertains specifically to 8.6 Blackout, and where it stands as we enter the summer of 2021.

Kevin Brittingham, Q – It would be in production if it were not for the whole ammo crisis. We have production brass now. We are making millions of shells and now it’s a matter of loading time at Hornady, and some others. Primers and powders are also becoming a problem. But we have the cartridge squared away. It’s going to cost about what a 6.5 Creedmoor costs…before COVID, that was $1.10 to $1.20 a round.

8.6 is still a 6.5 Creedmoor shortened case, blown out for a .338 bullet…For supersonic, the lightest bullet is going to be between 150 and 160-grain. Out of a 12″ barrel, we’ll be able to get somewhere close to 2,400 feet a second with that. We’ll have subsonic up to about 360 grain.

One of the first two offerings of this for supersonic is going to be a Barnes 210-grain bullet. It’s about 2,000 feet per second out of a 12″ barrel. It’s a 1-3 twist, so we’ve settled on the twist. We’re using some of the energy that is wasted, converting that to kinetic energy now by spinning the bullet faster. So in supersonic, it is more kinetic energy on target by spinning the bullet fast.

Discreet Ballistics did a great video that did a split screen where the only difference is that one is a 1:7 twist and the other is a 1:3 shooting gelatin. You can see that the 1:3 is two to three times the initial wound cavity…same muzzle velocity, same barrel length. Everything was exactly the same.

Fast twist also gives you the big, long, slow subsonic bullet. It gives you several things. The first being better accuracy because when the bullet is long and slow, you need to spin it faster. For expanding subsonic bullets…it is more reliable expansion at lower velocities, which is great for hunting with subsonic. This is going to be the first subsonic, sub-MOA cartridge, and that’s due to the fast twist. You’ll be able to shoot groups at 300 meters that are sub-3″ with the subsonic…the first offering in subsonic will be a 300-grain Sierra Match King 338 bullet, loaded to 1,050 feet per second out of a 12.5″ barrel.

After that will be the target supersonic and the expanding subsonic. It will go from there, and you’ll see other manufacturers as capacity opens up…Basically, the way to describe (8.6 Blackout) is that it is double what 300 Blackout is. It’s double the range. So, if you are comfortable with shooting a deer at 150 yards with a Honey Badger, you can shoot at 300 yards with a 12.5″ 8.6. It’s super quiet in subsonic as well. We’ll offer two silencer lengths, a short one for hunting and a full-sized one as well.

Another advantage of the lower velocity supersonic is it’s incredibly quiet as a supersonic when the bullet is going 2,000 to 2,400 feet per second, compared to something shooting 3,500 feet per second or something like that.

Q: My brother built a .338 Federal AR for hog hunting and he raves about it. Can you address to readers who might ask why not simply choose .338 Federal?

Kevin Brittingham, Q – Let me use .260 Remington vs. 6.5 Creedmoor as an example. .260 Remington is a great cartridge, and it really spawned 6.5 Creedmoor, which everyone knows is incredibly popular. The reason .260 didn’t become popular and 6.5 did is because the .260 case is too long. .260 was originally a 110 or 120-grain bullet. If you load a 140 or 150-grain bullet, it doesn’t fit into a magazine or into a short action if you seat the bullet correctly.

.338 Federal AR built by author’s brother for hogs. VERY effective…

So, they shortened up the case, used different powders, a different shoulder, made it more efficient, and you can get almost everything out of a 6.5 Creedmoor that you can get out of a .260, and with a big, long bullet, you can seat it correctly in the throat, and you can get full performance. You can’t do that with a .260. The case is too long.

After we did 300 Blackout, Ethan and I did a few guns in .338 Federal, Model 7s…The problem with that is if I want to load a 300-grain subsonic bullet and seat it correctly…you don’t get all the efficiency. So, you’re limited on your subsonic and your big, supersonic bullets.

With that being said, .338 Federal, inside 300 meters is superior to .308. It’s an incredible cartridge. But if you want subsonic capability, and you want to load big, long bullets supersonic and subsonic, and you want to fit them into a magazine, you have got to shorten the case. So, we didn’t do it to be different. We wanted to start with .338 Federal, but you can’t get everything out of it – have full mag capacity, long bullets, have it cycle in a gas gun, and fit into a short action.

People ask about 375 Raptor…it does not work full mag capacity in a gas gun super and subsonic. You can’t feed it in an AR reliably. It may be enough for people who tinker or are not serious about it, but it could never be a military cartridge. We’re trying to cover as much as we can with this.

Q: Where do we stand on an 8.6 gas gun currently? I recall a mention of using a POF-USA Revolution as a start, or something similar?

Kevin Brittingham, Q – Since we spoke, the owner of POF was killed. So, that’s kind of dead in the water. I do need to reach out to them. We’re going to get some of those guns and do it ourselves…8.6 in a 9″ is way more effective than 300 Blackout. We can build a 9″ gas on their Revolution or Rogue or whatever they call their gun, that weighs almost what our Sugar Weasel weighs…and you’d have twice the capability.

So, we’re not currently working on it, but we have prototype guns. The very first one that we did was a Noveske. It cycled at full mag capacity super and subsonic, and locked open on the last round.

This isn’t just a bolt gun cartridge, or a subsonic cartridge, and it’s not just a super. It’s all of it, just like 300 Blackout, barrel change only.

But, yeah, there will be gas guns. That was a huge consideration in the development of this. The first things you’ll see are probably barrels offered, or we’ll build The Fix in a 12.5″ as a pistol or SBR. Eventually, we’ll have 16″ barrels available as well for our rifle. Whether it’s SAAMI-approved or not, we’ll share the chamber drawings and everything where people can build barrels for Remington 700s and also Stoner-based guns (AR-10s and SR-25s)

We may also have a gas gun that is available in it as well. Initially, we’ll partner and support companies like Noveske, LWRC…Todd Huey of Lone Star Boars has a 12.5″ LWRC. He’s a good testimony to the Barnes 210-grain. He called me and said he shot a pig with it and he had never seen what he saw. He described it as basically he hit this pig, and it did a flip.

The very first animal I shot was a white-tailed doe in south Texas. I shot it at about 50 yards with The Fix with a 12.5″ barrel and the Barnes 210, she was broadside, and it also did a flip. I could send you a picture of the wound. It’s horrific.

Q: Let’s wrap up with timing…

Kevin Brittingham, Q – I have no idea. I’ll say we’ll be getting the first million shells in here pretty soon. We got the first production run of shells here last month. Powder and primers are the problem.

So, the first 100,000 rounds and maybe the first million will be utilized for marketing, and this year, you’ll see ammo available. There are loading dies available through Hornady now. You’ll see shells, brass available. We stopped at a 1:3 twist so you can use current Barnes .338 bullets. All the bonded bullets that we’ve tested so far…a non-bonded bullet will come apart out of the muzzle with a 1:3 twist, but bonded and solid coppers that we’ve tested stay together out of the muzzle. We’re going to put out load data, chamber drawings, all of that stuff.

As production capacity becomes available with Hornady, Discreet Ballistics, Gorilla, and some of the other companies, you’ll start to see ammo available. This year, we’ll also have barrels for the Fix available, and we’ll also have gas gun barrels available, or you’ll see drawings and us partnering with those gas gun companies, and they’ll be able to do it. But, considering the state of ammo in the industry right now, what you’ll probably see is people that who are into it will probably have to load most of their own ammo.

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