Chris Costa on 300 Blackout & Why Distance Matters

Chris Costa with a Knight’s Armament SR-30 in 300 Blackout…Photo by RattleHeadd

In the final part of our recent conversation with Chris Costa of Costa Ludus, we asked him his opinion of 300 Blackout. We get his opinion on preferred ammo and a somewhat surprising answer (to me, at least) on his preferred barrel length for the caliber. Chris also talks about 300 Blackout vs. 5.56…and why distance in a gunfight matters…

In case you missed part 1 and part 2 of this article series, be sure to check them out. We reminisced on the influence of his Magpul Dynamics The Art of the Tactical Carbine DVD series, and we discussed the ideal AR setup, and the importance of the gunfighter mindset…something that he feels many are overlooking.

chris costa 300 blackout
Chris Costa of Costa Ludus

Q: Chris, I’ve always wanted to get your opinion on 300 Blackout. What’s your impression of the caliber?

Chris Costa: I do like 300 Blackout.  However, until I started using Noveske…I was having a lot of issues with numerous brands of ammunition, all of which was good “match grade” ammunition.

chris costa 300 blackout
Noveske ammo and a 300 Blackout upper…Via the Chris’ Facebook

So, while I liked the round, it kind of put a bad taste in my mouth. Because I can run my 5.56 guns, then do a barrel change…and NOT have malfunctions.  With 300 Blackout, I was having issues with that.

One of the other issues was magazines. Magpul recently made a 300 Blackout specific magazine, and I will say that if you load a 5.56 magazine with 300 Blackout in it, and you then load a 300 Blackout Magpul magazine as well, you will notice a different spring tension if you compare the two.

300 Blackout rounds are heavier.  You have a lot of grain pushing down on springs.  Even if you’re running 110-grain, you’ve literally doubled what 55-grain is in a magazine of weight.  That spring just wasn’t designed for that much weight.

Chris Costa shooting 300 Blackout

So, Magpul has done a great job in regards to that 300 Blackout magazine. They also designed it in a way so that it doesn’t get as hung up on “sharp” 300 Blackout ammo. 

If you ever look at a magazine, like 308 mags, look at the magazine and you’ll see indentations from the bullets…This is because every time you fire the gun, the bullets go forward in the magazine.  In 300 Blackout, some of the bullet types are very sharp…the way their coefficient is…they’re like race car bullets.  You’ll see the nose create drag on the magazine.  Well, that can create a feeding issue which is usually the round nose-diving into the chamber.

chris costa 300 blackout
 PMAG® 30 AR 300 B GEN M3 is a purpose-designed magazine for rifles chambered in 300 Blackout®.

So, I think the work that Magpul has done on creating a 300 Blackout-specific magazine is awesome.  It’s created better reliability for me. 

Q: As far as 300 blackout ammo, I’ve shot a lot of 125 gr. and 110 grain…and so far, it’s hard not to love the 110-grain for hunting and defensive use. Would you agree with that?

Chris Costa: As far as which ammo…after shooting Noveske, yes, I prefer the 110s.  They have a Nosler 110 that they do, so I zero on a Nosler 110 at 50 yards, and then if I need to I can run some subsonics, and my dope is close. Now, it’s a little low at 50, but if I do anything internal or 25 and in, I’m fine switching to subsonic.  

I know some people have complete subsonic dedicated guns, but for me, that 110-grain, it just has more “ass” on it….and when you start to look at the ballistics, I think that anything that is a couple hundred yards and in, with 110-grain 300 Blackout…you’re better off. 

Now, I think when you start pushing beyond that distance, I think the 5.56 shines a little bit more, especially if you are running a 77 or a 75-grain 5.56.  

chris costa 300 blackout
Author’s Frankestein 300BLK SBR build…and a non Magpul loaded with 110-grain Barnes. No issues…yet.

Chris Costa on 5.56 vs. 300 Blackout

So I believe the comparison is a little bit of a distance issue.  What is the distance of the engagement you are going to find yourself most often in?  Because if you are going to be out walking in Afghanistan, then I want a 14.5” in 5.56 running 77 or 75-grain…because I need distance and I still need an impact on the other side. 

Whereas with 300 Blackout, my hold would be tremendous at those distances.  The round isn’t getting there as fast as what I need it to be. There’s just pros and cons to everything.  

Q: Can you talk a bit about barrel length and what you prefer? I’ve been a big fan of the Noveske…I’ve had their old 8.2″ and their 8.5″

Chris Costa: The gun I’m running, I can’t tell you who makes it, but they just won a government contract for a particular group of individuals…and they’re running 10.5” 300 Blackout and 10.5” 5.56.

I like that 10.5” barrel for most applications where you don’t know if you are going to be getting into an engagement close and/or far.  Because of that, I think that 10.5” shines, and I think that particular group obviously knows what they’re doing, which is why they went with that barrel length. I know they could have gone with any barrel length they wanted.  

“What if that target was shooting back at me?”

I do know other manufacturers that make the barrels smaller, and I think at that point, you’re starting to get into a 50 or a 100-yard gun, and I just want a little bit more distance if I can. 

If you go to the gun range and look at a target at 200 yards and think, “what if that target was shooting back at me?”  You’re going to immediately wish that target was further away from you.  

chris costa 300 blackout

Q: Earlier in our conversation you touched on the idea of distance being your goal when it comes to rifles. Can you talk more about that in relation to 300 Blackout?

Chris Costa: If eight bad guys are 400 yards away from me, if I can drop three of them really quickly at 400 yards, it’s hard for the other remaining group of guys to yell ‘lets go get this motherfucker.’  You know what I’m saying? 

Not only did I just eliminate three targets, but psychologically what I just did said, “I’m not fucking around…I’m capable of making these hits, and you’ve got three dead buddies.”

Distance Changes Things

Distance really just changes things.  So my biggest thing is keep people away from me as much as I can…as much as I can control. 

When I think about weaponry, well…I MIGHT need a 6” barrel gun for concealment because I can’t normally get a 10.5” gun in and out of a building undetected. But, I have the understanding that this is a very limited application.

On those limited applications, I’ll carry a smaller “personal defense gun”…some sort of PDW that will bridge that gap and give me something “better” than my handgun. But any time I can, I want to get back out at distance again.

So, whenever I have a choice and I don’t have to worry about something that’s more limited in application, I’d rather have a little bit longer barrel.


chris costa 300 blackout

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