Factory ammunition runs from 90 to 130 grains and is loaded by Hornady, Alexander Arms, Wolf, and Black Hills, though the latter is headstamped .264 LBC-AR. Alexander Arms recently relinquished the trademark claim, which recently lead to the Grendel’s SAMMI standardization, which should open the doors for more companies to produce ammunition.
Americans have an affinity for anything .30-caliber, so it was a foregone conclusion a .30-caliber cartridge for ARs would eventually make an appearance. Actually, several .30-caliber AR cartridges have burst onto the scene recently, including the .300 Blackout, 7.62X40mm Wilson Tactical, and .30 Remington AR.
The .300 Blackout and 7.62X40mm WT both are based on 5.56 NATO brass and are loaded with a variety of bullets suited to a variety of tasks. The concept is an old one and was standardized to a degree by J.D. Jones, of SSK Industries, who used .221 Fireball brass and trademarked the .300 Whisper.
The Blackout and Whisper are interchangeable to a degree, with Blackout rounds firing safely in Whisper chambers. In short-barreled PDWs (personal defense weapons) the .30-caliber bullet is much more effective than either 5.56 or 9 mm bullets. When fired through 16-inch barrels, the cartridges make fine hunting rounds, with minimal recoil and reasonable trajectories out to 200 yards.
A cartridge originally built for SOCOM/JSOC units, the Blackout is also loaded with 208- and 220-grain bullets that never break the sound barrier. The two vastly different bullet weights allow operators to initiate ambushes or handle sentry duty quietly, before swapping magazines to go head-to-head with AK-47s at ranges beyond 300 yards—with a rifle that has a nine-inch barrel.
In the world of AR cartridges, the .30 Remington AR is one of the few not conceived with martial aspirations. It was designed from the start by Remington engineers as a hunting cartridge, a way to fit .308 Winchester performance into an AR-15 and avoid the less svelte AR-10. This round essentially picks up where the 6.8mm SPC left off, able to achieve around 2,750 fps with 123- and 125-grain bullets from 22-inch barrels. The cartridge is a handloader’s dream and a favorite of this edition’s editor. In fact, Richard Mann puts the .30 RAR in a class by itself, deeming it one of the best AR hunting cartridges extant.