300 Blackout vs 30 06 Ballistics & Uses – 2022 In-Depth Guide

The .30-06 Springfield was introduced in 1906 and served as the main rifle and machine gun round for the U.S Military for fifty years. It is basically what introduced the .308-inch bullet in the mainstream as you see today. The round has been a favorite for the military and hunters all around the world. 

Today we will be comparing this legendary and popular round with its quite recent modification – the .300 Blackout. A round that was developed in 2010 to suit close-quarter tactical applications and uses the same .308 inch bullet. 

It will be interesting to see the comparison of two rounds that were invented almost a century apart and use the same bullets, but differ in size and applications. 

TL;DR: 300 Blackout vs .30-06

Need a quick overview of this comparison? Check out this pros and cons table for a brief idea of the topic.

300 Blackout

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30 06

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Pros

300 Blackout

Works great with SBRs and suppressors

Easily converts a .22 cal AR-15 into a .30 cal AR-15

Maintains the mag capacity of a standard .223 mag

Interchangeable with all .223 Rem parts except the barrel

Achieves full performance in just nine inches of barrel length

Only semi-auto cartridge to shoot both supersonic and subsonic loads

30 06

Ammo is cheap and plentiful

Easily available and a wide range of load options

Capable of killing any game animal on this planet

Battle-tested and proven military cartridge for five decades

Amazing long range performance with flat trajectory and power

Cons

300 Blackout

Trajectory isn’t very flat

Lesser number of available loadings

Doesn’t retain a good amount of power beyond 100 yards

30 06

Long-action cartridge does not cycle fast

Heavy recoil, long barrel, and heavy rifles

Many better alternative rounds are available

Best For

300 Blackout

The .300 blk is great if you want to switch from .22 cal to .30 cal in your AR-15 without pain. Great for varminting, tactical uses, and use with suppressors.

30 06

The .30-06 is a great overall hunting round, which is also capable of long range accuracy in the right hands. Especially if you don’t mind some extra recoil.

.300 Blackout Overview

The 300 Blackout, also known as the .300 blk and .300 AAC Blackout, is an intermediate rifle cartridge designed by the Advanced Armament Corporation of the United States. The concept was to design a round that could deliver more power in a standard M4 rifle without making much changes to the platform. 

This cartridge was designed for use by the special forces who could use a heavier-punching round than the 5.56 NATO in close-quarter battles. Another idea was to imitate the ballistic performance of the 7.62x39mm round. 

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The .300 blk cartridge can be fired from a 5.56 NATO AR-15/M4 rifle with the simple swap of the barrel. Even the magazine can stay the same without any changes in capacity. Although this cartridge was designed for use for military special forces, it was never adopted. However, it left its mark on the civilian AR-15 community and is insanely popular among the civilian shooting community.

The cartridge has two outstanding characteristics which make it a truly unique and admirable ammo option. First, the round is capable of achieving its full ballistic performance in just nine inches of barrel length, making it suitable for use with SBRs. Second, this is the only semi-automatic ammunition that can fire both supersonic and subsonic. 

.30-06 Overview

The .30-06 Springfield, called a ‘thirty-ought-six’ (7.62x63mm) is a rimless bottlenecked centerfire rifle cartridge, developed by Springfield Armory and adopted by the military in 1906. It is the grandad and great-grandad of many rifle cartridges you see today. It all began during the onset of the twentieth century when the major military powers around the world were switching from heavy big-bore cartridges to more sleek, lightweight, and pointed ones. 

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This cartridge was derived from the .30-03 Springfield which only lived for three years in the military. The pointed bullet design and lightweight bullets characterized this round, and it replaced the .30-03, 6mm Lee Navy, and .30-40 Krag cartridges. It remained the primary rifle and machine gun cartridge for the U.S Military for almost five decades, until getting replaced by its son, the 7.62x51mm or 7.62 NATO. 

The .30-06 is a battle-tested cartridge that has been through all the major conflicts of the first half of the twentieth century, and it is still a very popular medium and big game hunting cartridge all around the globe. This round was designed at a time when 1,000 yards accuracy was the acceptable norm. It still is a good long range round, but the competition has become insanely tough with the advancements in technology and a lot of modern ammo options. 

.300 Blackout vs .30-06: Cartridge Specs

A side-by-side comparison of the dimensions of these cartridges for starters.

300 Blackout30 06
Bullet Diameter0.308 in (7.8 mm).308 in (7.8 mm)
Neck Diameter0.334 in (8.5 mm).340 in (8.6 mm)
Base Diameter0.376 in (9.6 mm).471 in (12.0 mm)
Case Length1.368 in (34.7 mm)2.494 in (63.3 mm)
Overall Length2.26 in (57 mm)3.34 in (85 mm)
Case Capacity21 grains68 grains
Max Pressure (SAAMI)55,000 psi60,190 psi
Typical Casing MaterialBrassBrass
Typical Bullet Weight (gr)110-150 grains150 – 220 grains

Comparing these two cartridges feels like comparing modern-day humans to medieval humans. While the essence of their existence is the same, the methods of living have changed. The .30-06 Springfield was developed in 1906, and the .300 blk in 2010. That’s a difference of more than a century. 

Let us first look at the similarities between these cartridges. The first and the most superficial similarity is the bullet diameter. Both these cartridges use a .308-inch diameter bullet. The next similarity is the bullet weight, because both these cartridges fire bullets ranging from 110 to 220 grains in weight. 

The .30-06 uses the .30-03 Springfield as the parent case, whereas, the .300 blk uses .223 Remington as the parent case (for interoperability with the AR-15/M4 platform). The .30-06 is a long-action cartridge with 3.34 inches of OAL, whereas, the .300 blk is a short-action cartridge with an OAL of just 2.26 inches. 

The .30-06 has almost 3.5 times the case capacity of the .300 blk and is also loaded at a slightly higher pressure to effectively hurl those bullets effectively at long range. Although the available range of bullet weights is between 110 to 220 grains, the .300 blk sticks to 110-150 grain bullets, and the .30-06 usually uses 150 to 180-grain bullets. 

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.300 Blackout vs .30-06: Ballistics

The ballistics section will deal with the trajectory, velocity, and kinetic energy of these bullets. These factors help us determine the accuracy, effective range, and suitability of these rounds against different types of targets. 

300 Blackout vs 30 06: Trajectory

I’ve sourced some data regarding the trajectory using the most common (and most preferred) bullets for these cartridges, fired using optimal barrel lengths. 

.300 blk

16” barrel/BC 0.290/110 grains
Hornady V-Max
9” barrel/BC 0.251/120 grains
Copper HP
16” barrel/BC 0.406/150 grains
FMJ Boat-Tail
200 yds: 6.5 “ Drop200 yds: 9.4 “ Drop200 yds: 10.3 “ Drop
300 yds: 23.4 “ Drop300 yds: 33.7 “ Drop300 yds: 34.7 “ Drop
400 yds: 54 “ Drop400 yds: 78.6 “ Drop400 yds: 76.9 “ Drop
500 yds: 102.7 “ Drop500 yds: 150.6 “ Drop500 yds: 140.2 “ Drop
1,000 yds: 806.3 “ Drop1,000 yds: 1075.6 “ Drop1,000 yds: 902.9 “ Drop

.30-06

24” barrel/BC 0.410/ 150 grains
FMJ
24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 165 grains
Nosler Partition
24” barrel/BC 0.474/ 180 grains
Nosler Partition
200 yds: 4 “ Drop200 yds: 3.6 “ Drop200 yds: 4“ Drop
300 yds: 14.5 “ Drop300 yds: 13.3 “ Drop300 yds: 14.5 “ Drop
400 yds: 32.6 “ Drop400 yds: 30.2 “ Drop400 yds: 32.4 “ Drop
500 yds: 60.4 “ Drop500 yds: 55.8 “ Drop500 yds: 58.7 “ Drop
1,000 yds: 432.1 “ Drop1,000 yds: 401.2 “ Drop1,000 yds: 393.8 “ Drop

As far as comparable bullet weight classes are concerned, the data instantly outlines that the .30-06 is a far better cartridge in terms of trajectory. The data also tells us that the .300 blk delivers a respectable trajectory only out to 250 yards at max. A three feet drop at 300 yards isn’t what a person shooting at 300 yards would prefer. 

On the other hand, the .30-06 shoots relatively flat, and it is no surprise that it shoots flatter than a 7.62 NATO at 1,000 yards. Additionally, an average drop of 55 inches at 500 yards makes it a very versatile round for medium to long range engagements. 

So why does the .300 blk fall short in trajectory? The main reason is that the .300 blk was never designed for medium or long range engagements. It was designed for CQB and short range with a high punching power (more than 9mm and similar to 7.62x39mm). 

As far as the trajectory is concerned, comparing the .300 blk with the .30-06 definitely seems to be an apples-to-oranges comparison. 

.300 Blackout vs .30-06: Velocity & Kinetic Energy

The next step in understanding the ballistics is to compare the velocity and kinetic energy values of these rounds.

.300 blk

16” barrel/BC 0.290/110 grains
Hornady V-Max
9” barrel/BC 0.251/120 grains
Copper HP
16” barrel/BC 0.406/150 grains
FMJ Boat-Tail
100 yds: 2,094 ft/s, 1,071 ft.lbs100 yds: 1,799 ft/s, 863 ft.lbs100 yds: 1,724 ft/s, 990 ft.lbs
200 yds: 1,834 ft/s, 821 ft.lbs200 yds: 1,533 ft/s, 626 ft.lbs200 yds: 1,561 ft/s, 811 ft.lbs
300 yds: 1,597 ft/s, 623 ft.lbs300 yds: 1,307 ft/s, 455 ft.lbs300 yds: 1,411 ft/s, 663 ft.lbs
400 yds: 1,389 ft/s, 471 ft.lbs400 yds: 1,136 ft/s, 344 ft.lbs400 yds: 1,282 ft/s, 547 ft.lbs
500 yds: 1,218 ft/s, 362 ft.lbs500 yds: 1,024 ft/s, 279 ft.lbs500 yds: 1,174 ft/s, 459 ft.lbs
1000 yds: 846 ft/s, 175 ft.lbs1000 yds: 754 ft/s, 151 ft.lbs1000 yds: 896 ft/s, 268 ft.lbs

.30-06

24” barrel/BC 0.410/ 150 grains
FMJ
24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 165 grains
FMJ
24” barrel/BC 0.474/ 180 grains
Nosler Partition
100 yds: 2,522 ft/s, 2,118 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 1,105 ft/s, 407 ft.lbs100 yds: 2,512 ft/s, 2,523 ft.lbs
200 yds: 2,314 ft/s, 1,783 ft.lbs200 yds: 2,395 ft/s, 2,101 ft.lbs200 yds: 2,332 ft/s, 2,174 ft.lbs
300 yds: 2,116 ft/s, 1,492 ft.lbs300 yds: 2,193 ft/s, 1,761 ft.lbs300 yds: 2,160 ft/s, 1,865 ft.lbs
400 yds: 1,928 ft/s, 1,238 ft.lbs400 yds: 2,000 ft/s, 1,465 ft.lbs400 yds: 1,995 ft/s, 1,591 ft.lbs
500 yds: 1,751 ft/s, 1,021 ft.lbs500 yds: 1,818 ft/s, 1,210 ft.lbs500 yds: 1,837 ft/s, 1,348 ft.lbs
1,000 yds: 1,105 ft/s, 407 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 1,136 ft/s, 472 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 1,211 ft/s, 586 ft.lbs

While both these rounds fire the .308 inch diameter bullet, the .30-06 has an advantage in terms of velocity and power. All thanks to its large case capacity and higher chamber pressure. At any distance and with any bullet weight, the .30-06 excels in velocity and kinetic energy. 

The .300 blk shoots supersonic with its common loads, and is also able to maintain that velocity out to 700 yards or so. The heavy 220 grain loads for the .30-06 fire at supersonic speeds with about 2,500 fps of muzzle velocity. Whereas the heavy 220 grain loads for the .300 blk are inherently subsonic even at the muzzle. 

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The .30-06 has a far better supersonic range and can maintain those speeds out to 1,300 yards with the right loads. Staying supersonic means better predictability and hence, better accuracy. So the .30-06 is easily a 1,000 yards cartridge, whereas, the .300 blk is only suitable out to 250-300 yards for accuracy. 

Moving on to the kinetic energy characteristics, the .300 blk sometimes carries 1,000 fpe within 100 yards. In comparison, the .30-06 carries about 1,500 fpe out to 400 yards, and about 500 fpe at 1,000 yards. To give you an idea, the minimum energy required for killing a deer is 1,000 fpe, and that for an elk or moose is 1,500 fpe. 

.300 Blackout vs .30-06: Stopping Power

The stopping power will help us understand the effectiveness of these rounds against humans, critters, or armor. The two best factors to understand the stopping power of a bullet are its momentum and sectional  density. While the sectional density elaborates on the level of penetration, the momentum explains the level of energy transfer, and hence the size of the wound channel. 

Always remember that a smaller bullet can have a higher stopping power compared to a big-caliber bullet. Size doesn’t always matter in bullets when stopping power is concerned. 

.300 Blackout vs .30-06: Momentum & Sectional Density

Take a look at the values for sectional density and momentum of these rounds for a better idea of their stopping power. 

.300 blk

16” barrel/BC 0.290/110 grains
Hornady V-Max
Sectional Density: 0.166
9” barrel/BC 0.251/120 grains
Copper HP
Sectional Density: 0.181
16” barrel/BC 0.406/150 grains
FMJ Boat-Tail
Sectional Density: 0.226
100 yds: 32 lb.ft-s100 yds: 30 lb.ft-s100 yds: 36 lb.ft-s
200 yds: 28 lb.ft-s200 yds: 26 lb.ft-s200 yds: 33 lb.ft-s
300 yds: 25 lb.ft-s300 yds: 22 lb.ft-s300 yds: 30 lb.ft-s
400 yds: 21 lb.ft-s400 yds: 19 lb.ft-s400 yds: 27 lb.ft-s
500 yds: 19 lb.ft-s500 yds: 17 lb.ft-s500 yds:  25 lb.ft-s
1000 yds: 13 lb.ft-s1000 yds: 11 lb.ft-s1000 yds: 14 lb.ft-s

.30-06

24” barrel/BC 0.410/ 150 grains
FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.226
24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 165 grains
FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.248
24” barrel/BC 0.474/ 180 grains
FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.271
100 yds: 54 lb-ft/s100 yds: 61 lb-ft/s100 yds: 64 lb-ft/s
200 yds: 49 lb-ft/s200 yds: 56 lb-ft/s200 yds: 59 lb-ft/s
300 yds: 45 lb-ft/s300 yds: 51 lb-ft/s300 yds: 55 lb-ft/s
400 yds: 41 lb-ft/s400 yds: 47 lb-ft/s400 yds: 51 lb-ft/s
500 yds: 37 lb-ft/s500 yds: 42 lb-ft/s500 yds: 47 lb-ft/s
1,000 yds: 23 lb-ft/s1,000 yds: 26 lb-ft/s1,000 yds: 31 lb-ft/s

The sectional density (SD) of a bullet is the ratio of its mass and cross-sectional area. Most varmint and small game hunting bullets have an SD of less than .220. Whereas medium game hunting bullets have an SD between 0.220 to 0.260, an SD higher than 0.260 is considered suitable for big game animals. 

Since both these cartridges use the same .308-inch diameter bullets, the sectional density can be adjusted to suit your requirements. However, as far as the general loadings are concerned, only the heavy .300 blk rounds are considered suitable for medium game. Additionally, the .30-06 loading is always suitable for medium game, and the heavy loads can effectively cull big game animals. 

The .30-06 always has higher momentum compared to the .300 blk. Since momentum is a product of mass and velocity, the .30-06 always has a higher velocity because of the higher case capacity and chamber pressure. For the overview, the .30-06 will cause the same damage at 1,000 yards that a .300 blk will cause at 200. 

However, the high velocity and momentum of the .30-06 rounds can cause it to overpenetrate if not shot from an appropriate distance. So make sure to choose the right loads for your intended application. 

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.300 Blackout vs .30-06: Use Cases & Effective Range

The ballistics and stopping power data told us a lot about the effectiveness and accuracy of these cartridges over short and long range. Taking that, and also the real-life experience into perspective, let us understand the best applications for these rounds. 

Small and Medium Game Hunting

The .300 blk seems to be a suitable small game round because of its low sectional density and kinetic energy values. However, the large .308 inch diameter bullets present it as overkill for small fluffy varmints. In my opinion, you should choose a .22 caliber round for small game rather than the .300 blk. Additionally, thinking about the .30-06 for small game is like using a howitzer on an indoor range. 

When medium game animals like deer or feral hogs are concerned, the .300 blk only has an effective range of 100-120 yards. Like we saw earlier in the kinetic energy values, the .300 blk does not have enough oomph to humanely down deer, so choose your ammo wisely. On the other hand, the .30-06 is always a great deer-hunting cartridge, even out a distance of 800 yards. But please never try that !

Big Game Hunting

The .300 blk quickly goes out of the equation when big game hunting is concerned. While you may get lucky with the right hit inside a range of 50 yards, it is not worth the risk. Neither in real-life, nor on paper. 

The .30-06 is an effective big game hunting round and has long been used to hunt elk, moose, caribou, bears, and almost every game animal roaming on the face of this planet. The right selection of .30-06 bullets can have an SD higher than .300. 

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Competitions

The .30-06 was everything people could find for long range competitions back in the day. This round has won numerous short, medium, and long range events, and it still has the potential to compete even in an F-class competition. However, there are many better alternatives available today, and the .30-06 is just RED (Retired & Extremely Dangerous).

The .300 blk is a great choice for multi-gun competitions and some people prefer it for controllability and compatibility with the AR-15 platform. 

Tactical and Defense 

The .300 blk was designed for close and short range tactical applications, and it is an amazing choice for that. The .30-06 is a battle-proven round that has served the military for five decades. However, it is not a relevant round in today’s scenario because of its long-action design and heavy weight. 

Home Defense

I won’t recommend the .300 blk for home defense because of the large .308 inch diameter bullet and over penetration issues. However, yes, you can use a .30-06 Springfield with 220 gr bullets, only if a T-rex was attacking your home. 

.300 Blackout vs .30-06: Costs, Availability, & Compatibility

The .30-06 and .300 blk are popular cartridges, but first check out their costs and options before you choose either. 

Fairly-priced and Available

There’s no gun store, offline or online, that does not carry .30-06 ammo. The round has been around for a century and is still insanely loved by traditionalists. Finding .30-06 ammo will not be a problem whether it is hunting season or not. The .300 blk is also a fairly popular round, but you can face difficulties finding it in some remote regions. Additionally, both these rounds are very easy to handload and you must invest some energy into that. 

The .30-06 and .300 blk fall in the similar price range of about $1.7 to $4 per round. Since both of them use .30 caliber bullets, there is a wide range of bullet selections. However, the .30-06 still has a lot more ammo variety, and the .300 blk is prominently found in five .308 bullet loads. 

Modern vs Traditional Rifle Options

The .30-06 is a long-action round and is mostly available in bolt-action rifle options. The desirable semi-auto options are mostly older rifles like the M1 Garand and Browning BAR, and they are insanely expensive. 

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The .300 blk is an AR-15 compatible cartridge that uses the same parts as the .223 Rem cartridge. So it has a ton of options for rifles, upgrades, and aftermarket accessories. 

Bottom Line

The .30-06 and .300 blk were designed at very different times and with different intentions. While the .30-06 was designed to be a long range, primary rifle cartridge for use in battles of the early twentieth century, the .300 blk was made for the modern urban combat scenario with short barrels and suppressors in mind. 

The .300 blk can instantly shoot in an AR-15 chambered for the .223 Rem with the swap of the barrel. It fires supersonic and subsonic ammo without any changes and burns its full potential in just nine inches of barrel length. What’s better for converting your .22 caliber AR-15 into a .30 caliber AR-15 with the loss of barrel length, and without the loss of mag capacity and parts. Not to mention an increase in power.

The .30-06 has been, and still is, an amazing long range and hunting round, capable of delivering devastating power with a wide variety of available loadings. 


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