We recently spoke with Q’s Kevin Brittingham to get an early 2022 update on 300 Blackout’s bigger brother – 8.6 Blackout. We discuss real-world results from his recent series of African hunts, how the round has surpassed his initial expectations, its superiority to .308, the pending 8.6 Blackout Honey Badger, and more.
Q: Kevin, thanks for your time. You were headed to Africa with the 8.6 Blackout the last time we spoke. Can you talk about how that trip went and how the ammo performed?
Kevin Brittingham, Q – I’ve been two or three times to Africa with the 8.6 Blackout now. My P.H. (professional hunter/guide), Rad Robertson from Crusader Safaris, is actually in the car with me for this call, so great timing (laughs). I’ve gone to South Africa and Mozambique, and I’ve taken a 16″ barrel, a 12″ barrel, and an 11″ barreled 8.6 Blackout Fix rifle. I don’t know precisely how many animals I’ve shot with each rifle, but I’d say it’s in the dozens.
Highlights would be I shot a Lion in Mozambique at 200 yards with the 11″ barrel with a Barnes 210 TTSX-tipped bullet. I shot three Cape Buffalo with that same set up at ranges anywhere from 20 to 100 yards. The 16″ with the 210 TSX bullet, the non-tipped, is probably the best bullet for larger game. My P.H. and I shot a buffalo at 9 yards with it. With the 1-3 twist barrel, it is totally devastating. The first round went in right behind one shoulder and we found it under the hide on the opposite hip.
We also shot several Kudu with it, which we have plenty of good video of. We used the Barnes TTSX, which is a great round for medium-sized game. I have video of one facing me at about 120 yards and it basically does a backflip when I shoot it.
Keep in mind a Kudu is about the size of an elk. What else did I shoot? I shot Warthogs, Blue Wildebeests at over 400 yards…I’ve also shot some smaller game with it, as well, including Bushbuck and two Duiker. I also shot a few Zebra with it. 8.6 Blackout did great on the Zebra, which is a big, tough animal that’s difficult to kill. I shot those Zebra with all of the barrel lengths, including the 11″, at distances over 200 yards. We were shooting those, actually, for lion bait.
So, in summary, it’s been very successful, and 8.6 Blackout has performed exceptionally at all barrel lengths. While an 11″ barrel seems short, maybe you would use that with a silencer and have a super light, compact do-it-all firearm. The gun weighs five pounds. 8.6 Blackout is great because it’s a slower cartridge as well, and even more so with a short barrel. So, it’s quiet, even with supersonic loads. It just makes the gun so handy, and you can have it on you all the time.
Faxon Firearms 12″ Big Gunner 1:3 8.6 BLK Pistol Nitride Barrel
Like I’ve always said with the Fix, it’s a utility rifle, and the best part of that gun is having something that’s compact, lightweight, has AR ergonomics, is easy-to-use, and easy to carry.
Inevitably when I go to Africa, I shoot more stuff than everyone else because I have the gun on my lap or slung on me at all times. So, I like the cartridge even more than I thought I would.
Q: That was my next question, actually. So, is 8.6 Blackout meeting the expectations you had when the concept first arose? Perhaps describe how it compares to 300 Blackout?
Kevin Brittingham, Q – Yeah, I have not even really started using the gas gun that much. We have a little gas gun also that weighs five pounds, with a little 8″ barrel. That said, I guess I anticipated 8.6 Blackout being about 50 percent better than 300 Blackout in a practical sense. That’s changed. I think it’s closer to 2 to 3 times better from what I know now.
300 Blackout is a great cartridge. I love it. It’s quiet, it’s adequate for pigs and white-tailed deer, but with 8.6 Blackout, you have a gun that’s not much bigger or much heavier, and you can kill Cape Buffalo with it. It’s pretty exciting to me.
As far as subsonic, it’s quieter than I thought it would be with a silencer. It’s also more effective on target than I thought it would be. The acceptance already within the industry, being at the 2022 SHOT Show is exciting, even though we have not been doing anything really, other than working with the government and the military on some aspects of it, and we’ve shown some test videos.
Moving on, doing the gas gun has been easy, but then again, we’re coming at this having it being better thought out than how we approached the 300 Blackout. We also have those experiences with 300 Blackout under our belt to draw from. But, as far as 8.6 Blackout in use, I had high hopes, and I always do because of our engineers. However, the reality is better than I anticipated – by a lot. Accuracy is phenomenal, and we have a wide bullet selection.
Reliability with the gas gun has also been better than anticipated. The round fits into the magazine correctly and we’re not pushing the round to the center of the magazine to where it is not hitting the feed ramp correctly. It just being a barrel swap only is a great feature, as is the fast twist (1-3).
It’s pretty funny. I see some of the haters online saying that it is just a marketing thing. I’m sure you’ve seen the videos of high-speed gel tests. Well, now I’ve seen it on animals. It’s different, and animals react differently when you shoot them with 8.6 Blackout as opposed to .308 or something of comparable size.
Q: I’ve seen comments online that perhaps this is a niche cartridge, but the fact is that you’ve designed it to be quite versatile, is that correct, or am I reading your intentions with 8.6 Blackout incorrectly?
Kevin Brittingham, Q – I think 8.6 Blackout is for everyone. If you don’t want it because you don’t like me, then that kind of speaks for itself. I don’t particularly care. If you don’t want to believe it because of that, that’s fine. However, anyone who can go in with an open mind, it’s easy to explain and it is easy to show people. This is for everyone. It’s better than .308 in every regard. People might complain about the price, but the ammo is going to be comparable to what 6.5 Creedmoor costs.
You know, .338 Federal is better inside of 300 meters than .308. It’s far superior. So, once we start upping the twist of this and get more powder in the case, this is better and delivers more energy at every distance than .308 does. Practically, I don’t think many people hunt with .308 at a distance. I think I’m one of a few people that will do it. I believe that if you’re going to shoot 600 yards, you’d generally use a .300 Win Mag or something.
But, if you like .308, what this gives you is more energy, it’s developed for short barrels, it can be used in long barrels, and you’re going to get probably the first subsonic, sub-MOA cartridge as well, with an expanding 350-grain bullet, accurate to 300 meters. It hits hard, and the subsonic is incredible.
So, if you want a lightweight gun that performs on large animals at a distance and can be extremely quiet, 8.6 Blackout is the future of this kind of stuff. A lot of the critical things I see online are the same things that people said about 300 Blackout 12 years ago, so I don’t particularly care.
Seeing the government and military’s reaction to it, my peers’ reaction in the industry, as far as other gun company owners, ammo companies, and their willingness to get on board, says a lot more to me than a bunch of anonymous internet memers.
Q: It sounds like this might be the ultimate hog hunting round? What feedback have you heard from folks like Todd Huey at Lone Star Boars, etc.?
Kevin Brittingham, Q – I think it will be good. Now, If you’re going to design a whole new gun, new magazine, and all, I’m not sure that 8.6 Blackout is exactly the round, but it’s a whole lot closer to perfect than 300 Blackout was. 300 Blackout, even with the Barnes 110, is marginal on larger hogs. 8.6 Blackout is not. I am shooting 2,000-pound animals with this thing with short barrels. It’s even better with longer barrels, but I’m spoiled now with the shorter barrels. I don’t want a 16″ barrel and a silencer.
So, yeah, I think this will be the ultimate hog round, because if you have a gas gun like the P.O.F. Revolution or whatever they call their gun, or something from LWRC like Todd Huey would use, it’s just a barrel swap. You still get full magazine capacity, you get a lot more energy, and you get to use a short, little barrel.
Q: How was SHOT Show this year for 8.6 Blackout?
Kevin Brittingham, Q – We’ve got reloading dies and brass. We’ve developed bullets and loads. Gorilla Ammunition has committed to loading the ammo, and they’re also making bolt action and gas guns in 8.6 Blackout.
Faxon Firearms 8″ Big Gunner 1:3 8.6 BLK Pistol Nitride Barrel
Faxon is doing the fast twist barrels. They are one of our vendors, and they have been great to work with. They’re doing 1-3 twist barrels, Remington 700 barrels, AR-10 barrels, and they are also doing the barrels for our (Q LLC) various guns. I think it’s the biggest response they’ve had for any project they’ve ever done. It’s pretty cool.
So we’ll see. I don’t think it is going to take long for it to be accepted, and if COVID hadn’t happened, you’d already have guns and ammo out there. I also think you’re going to see certain groups in the military and government with the cartridge soon.
Q: Any information you can give us on the 8″ gas gun you mentioned?
Kevin Brittingham, Q – Yes, it’s a “small frame” gun like the P.O.F. gun. It’s our design, as there’s been some stuff changed that we think is a little better as far as the carrier and length of the receiver, as opposed to the receiver extension, however, it’s the same concept. It’s an 8″ barrel in a five-pound gun. It takes SR-25 magazines. It has a typical receiver extension.
There is also a second gas gun that will essentially be a Honey Badger in 8.6 Blackout. I also think there will be future development on a side-folding gun moving forward. That’s probably not too far out. But, the first thing we are launching is the five pound, 8″ gun as an SBR and as a pistol, if when it comes to market, braces are still allowed.
Q: Anything else you want to mention that I have not asked or we have not talked about?
Kevin Brittingham, Q – We are toying with the idea of bolt-action only ammo that won’t cycle in a gas gun but for subsonic to get it as quiet as possible. Discreet Ballistics is finishing up their subsonic, expanding bullet. We’re doing one. Hornady has a Sub-X that’s incredible. I’m anxious to see what all Gorilla is going to do. I guess that’s it.
Now we get to see the silencer industry respond to a .338 cartridge. We’re doing ours, called the Pork Chop, that goes on a larger Cherry Bomb. It’s a steel silencer that weighs less than most of the titanium silencers on the market. That’s some pretty exciting technology that we’ve been working on. It’s not really a new technology but an older technology with some new materials that Ethan and the engineers went after. We had to do a steel silencer for the military, because with titanium, you get flash from the sparking, so we had to do away with that.
I don’t know, what else? Man, I guess that’s everything.
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