:us: Memorial Day Blowout Sale :us: Major Price Cuts and Free Shipping on top calibers. Shop now – sale ends May 28th!

.300 Blackout vs 5.56 NATO

.300 Blackout vs 5.56 NATO

.300 Blackout vs 5.56 NATO 

When it comes to rifle cartridges, one could get lost in all of the options there are to

choose from. For this article though, we will be focusing on two very popular, yet very different

calibers used for Armalite 15 patterned rifles, .300 Blackout and 5.56 NATO.


The 5.56x45mm NATO round has been the gold standard AR-15 cartridge for well over 60 years. Not

only it has been the main FMJ ammo round issued to our military, but it has also seen combat on 5

continents in the hands of the U.S. Military. However, there is another adversary round that other

shooters wanted more out of their AR platform. They wanted the ability to shoot a 30-caliber bullet

without switching over to the AR-10. Introducing the one and only, the .300 AAC Blackout. This is the

perfect combination and marriage of the 7.62x39mm terminal ballistics with the modularity of the AR

platform. This is an affective and attractive combination that many shooters have declared superior to

the 5.56 NATO round. So, Which round is better then?


While both are used in similar applications, such as hunting, training, and self-

defense, there are some key differences between the two that really sets these rounds apart. Join us

as we compare the new hip kid in town, the .300 AAC Blackout, to the tried and true 5.56mm NATO in

this legendary shootout.


Why Buy .300 Blackout?

The development of the .300 Blackout (designated 300 BLK by SAAMI) and known as

the .300 AAC (Advanced Armament Corporation) round began in 2010 when Robert Silvers of the

Advanced Armament Corporation was approached by a member of the US military “dark ops”

community with a problem. This was a problem that Silvers was very eager and ready to solve for himself.


With the adoption of the 5.56 NATO round for the M4 carbine, US troops were having to use the

round for both long-range and close-range combat. Overall, some military units were having issues

and not satisfied with the stopping power that the 5.56 round was producing. They wanted

something we a little more “oomph” with the round. Some special forces units needed a couple more

specs that they desired.

– a round to fit into a standard STANAG AR-pattern magazine and maintain a 30-round ammo


-The round had to shoot 30 caliber bullets and mimic the ballistic performance of the 7.62×39 Soviet


-The cartridge case head must be the same as the 5.56 NATO round so a bolt change was not



With these demands and issues being demonstrated, Silvers was not dismayed and returned to AAC

to begin work on a new cartridge that would meet all of these needs. Silvers conducted his hunt to

find a proper host cartridge for his new round by looking at different wildcat cartridges. The 300

Whisper was the best wildcat cartridge around that Silvers encountered. This eventually become host

for the 300 Blackout. The problem was that the 300 whisper could not be adopted to be fired from

an AR platform because it did not have standardize loadings with SAAMI.


As AAC was a SAAMI company, they couldn’t load the 300 whisper ammo. Therefore, Silvers took the

concepts from the 300 Whisper and modified it to meet the specs. Boom! A baby was born! The new

round was called 300 AAC Blackout which was approved by SAAMI in 2011.


The .300 Blackout typically uses heavier projectiles than the 5.56 NATO as well, with bullet weights r

anging from 110 to 220 grains. It is also designed to work with both subsonic and supersonic loads, m

aking it a versatile option for a range of applications. The muzzle velocity and energy of a typical supe

rsonic .300 Blackout round (Barnaul 145 grain .300 Blackout in this example) is 1985 fps and 1268 ft

lbs., respectively, with a ballistic coefficient of .366. Furthermore, the .300 Blackout round was designed

specifically to experience a full powder burn when being fired in a 9″ short barrel rifle (SBR).


Need bulk .300 Blackout ammo? Here at True Shot, we have a great variety of .300 AAC

Blackout ammunition options from different manufacturers.


5.56 NATO

On the other hand, the 5.56x45mm NATO round was originally developed for military

use in the M16 rifle. After the Korean War, the U.S. Military started designing a new rifle cartridge for

its frontline rifles. And in 1954, the 308 Winchester (7.62x51mm NATO) was adopted to fill those

shoes. However, after early engagement in Vietnam, the U.S. Army wanted a new rifle that fired a

lighter intermediate cartridge similar to the AK-47. That was the beginning of the .223 Remington.

The .223 Remington M193 cartridge served the U.S. Army all the way through Vietnam, but in 1980,

FN Herstal changed the game. In 1980, the Belgian firearms and ammo manufacturer Fabrique

Nationale (FN) submitted their designs for the SS109 5.56X45MM cartridge to NATO for approval. The

U.S. Military designation for the 5.56mm NATO SS109 is the M855.


5.56 AR-15 Build
5.56 AR-15 Build


It has a smaller projectile diameter of .223 inches and is designed for use

with supersonic loads. The cartridge is known for its high velocity and flat trajectory, making it

effective at longer ranges than most other larger intermediary rounds in its class. The 5.56 NATO

round uses projectiles that are around half the weight of a .300 Blackout round, with bullet

weights ranging from 55 to 77 grains. The muzzle velocity and energy of your typical 55 grain

loading (PPU 5.56 55 grain M193 in this example) is 3240 fps and 1282 ft-lbs. respectively, with a

ballistic coefficient of .248.

Need bulk 5.56 ammo? Here at True Shot, we have a great variety of 5.56x45mm ammunition

options from different manufacturers.


What Is the Difference Between .300 Blackout and 5.56?

One of the main advantages of the .300 Blackout is its compatibility with a wide range of

firearms and its ability to be quickly interchanged. It can be used in firearms chambered for the

5.56 NATO simply by changing the barrel, making it a cost-effective option for those who already

own a rifle in that caliber. The .300 Blackout round is also a popular choice for hunting,

particularly for those who want a caliber that is effective at short to medium ranges and has a

relatively low recoil because of its larger diameter. It is usually optimal for hunting deer, varmint,

predators, and hogs, although you should always check your local laws before using either 5.56

or .300 Blackout for hunting. Many people also use .300 Blackout as a home-defense round

while utilizing subsonic loads and a suppressor, resulting in a greatly reduced likelihood of

overpenetration and a much more pleasant round to shoot indoors without ear protection if the

need ever arises (we however do not recommend testing this theory out at home).


.300 Blackout & 5.56 NATO
.300 AAC Blackout & 5.56x45mm NATO


The 5.56 NATO round on the other hand, shines where the .300 Blackout fizzles out.

Because of its high velocity and ballistics, the 5.56 NATO round is known for its accuracy,

reliability, and availability. The high velocity of the cartridge makes it effective at longer ranges,

and the very light recoil it has makes it easier to shoot accurately as well as train with. It has

been used by the United States military for decades and is still one of the most popular calibers

used by law enforcement and military personnel around the world, lending it to be widely

available and usually much cheaper than .300 Blackout. In regard to its hunting capabilities, the

5.56 round is best suited for varmint, predators, hogs, and smaller game. In terms of ballistics,

the .300 Blackout has a lower velocity and a higher bullet weight than the 5.56 NATO, which can

make it more effective at shorter ranges but not very effective at ranges past 100 yards. The

5.56 NATO round’s flatter trajectory and high muzzle velocity makes it more effective at longer

ranges and is where its stopping power is derived from, but it also leads to overpenetration that

is usually not ideal for home-defense since it can penetrate through multiple walls.


.300 Blackout vs 5.56 NATO
.300 AAC Blackout & 5.56x45mm NATO


.300 Blackout & 5.56 Price

The .300 Blackout round as was mentioned earlier, is typically more expensive than 5.56

NATO because of its lack of availability and popularity. For example, a 20-round box of Barnaul

145 grain .300 Blackout from us at the time of writing is $13.49, or 67 cents per round. A 5.56

NATO equivalent 20-round box from PPU (55 grain M193), is $9.99, or 50 cents per round.


.300 Blackout vs 5.56: What’s Best for You?

The .300 AAC Blackout Round is a hard-hitting 30-caliber upgrade to the AR platform that mimics the

terminal ballistics of the 7.62×39 and adds new levels of performance and versatility. The ability to

change between supersonic rounds for longer shots and subsonic ammo with only a magazine

change adds a level of flexibility which is not seen with the 5.56 NATO round.


The 5.56x45mm NATO round is a proven round that has served the U.S. Military for over 60 years. Its

reliability, ability to shoot longer ranges, and low cost of acquisition makes it an amazing choice for

self-defense and normal practice drills. The 5.56 NATO round is more cost effective and widely more

available as well. It can be effective up to around 700 yards depending on projectile weights and

shoots flat with minimal recoil, making it great for training and general use.

out of these notorious rounds, I promise you won’t be disappointed choosing either one!


Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have 5.56 ammo and .300 Blackout ammo available

to purchase. Please visit our website at trueshotammo.com, call us at (888) 736-6587 or, you

can email us at [email protected] for more rifle ammo options.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *