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Pro’s and Con’s of 8.6 Blackout

In the world of firearms, innovation continues to push the boundaries of performance. Enter 8.6 Blackout ammunition, a formidable cartridge that delivers exceptional power, accuracy, and versatility. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of 8.6 Blackout ammunition, unveiling its key features, applications, and advantages. Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or new to the world of firearms, understanding the potential of 8.6 Blackout ammunition will equip you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions and enhance your shooting experience.

Who Developed 8.6 Blackout?

The 8.6 Blackout cartridge or 8.6 BLK, was developed by Q LLC, an American firearms company founded by Kevin Brittingham. Q LLC specializes in the design and manufacturing of innovative firearms, suppressors, and ammunition. The 8.6 Blackout was introduced as a versatile and high-powered cartridge that offers exceptional performance across various shooting applications. Q LLC’s commitment to innovation and pushing the boundaries of firearm technology led to the development of the 8.6 Blackout, providing shooters with a potent and effective cartridge option.

8.6 Blackout Ammo
8.6 Blackout Ammo

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What is 8.6 Blackout?

Think of 8.6 Blackout as the 300 Blackout’s big brother. Stated another way, 8.6 Blackout is to 300 Blackout what 308 Win is to 5.56 NATO.

The 8.6 Blackout is a rifle cartridge designed for precision shooting and hunting applications. It was developed to offer shooters a high-powered option with excellent ballistic performance and versatility. Initially, one could cut down 6.5mm Creedmoor brass and re-neck to fit the 8.6 projectile (which is a 338 lapua projectile) resulting in a powerful round with impressive energy and accuracy. But now that adoption is increasing for this caliber, 8.6 Blk is its own cartridge and the brass is becoming more readily available.

The 8.6 Blackout is known for its exceptional long-range capabilities, offering flat trajectories and retained energy at extended distances. It delivers substantial power and penetration, making it effective for hunting medium to large game. The cartridge has gained popularity among hunters seeking a versatile and reliable round for various hunting scenarios.

One of the notable features of the 8.6 Blackout is its ability to accommodate a wide range of bullet weights and designs. Shooters can choose from various bullet types, including expanding hunting projectiles or match-grade options for precision shooting applications.

Overall, the 8.6 Blackout offers shooters a potent and versatile cartridge for hunting, precision shooting, and long-range applications. Its combination of power, accuracy, and versatility makes it a compelling choice for those seeking a robust and effective rifle cartridge. Caliber comparisons below:

8.6 Blackout v. 338 Win Mag v. 308 Win

What’s so great about 8.6 Blackout?

Simply put, 8.6 Blackout is a 338 Lapua projectile shoved into what amounts to a modified 308 case (okay, its not a 308 case, it runs its own case). This cartridge produces devastating take down power and you can shoot up to 1,000 yards with supersonic ammunition with an 8″ barrel length. Subsonic 8.6 Blackout can shoot out to around 400 yards. The other benefits to 8.6 Blackout versus a 308 Win or larger caliber is that similar to its little brother, the 300 Blackout cartridge, there is very little felt recoil with 8.6 blackout.

You can build or buy an 8.6 Blk rifle in bolt action or semi-automatic. The shorter barrels allow for a substantially lighter rifle that can reach distances of heavier rifles which makes it ideal for hunting and the reduced recoil versus other equivalent calibers which require longer barrels to achieve the same ballistics.

If you currently have an AR-10 semi-auto rifle, all you need to do is swap out the upper or change the barrel and you can shoot 8.6 blackout ammo. Furthermore, 8.6 Blackout uses 308 magazines so you don’t have to go out and purchase new mags!

Similar to 300 BLK, 8.6 BLK is a round that wants to be suppressed

If 8.6 Blackout is so great, why isn’t it more popular?

There is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario currently that is hindering the progress of 8.6 blackout. Which comes first? 8.6 Blackout ammo supply, or 8.6 Blackout Rifles? The larger rifle manufacturers don’t want to build rifles for which ammo is not readily available and the large ammo suppliers don’t want to pay for the tooling, R&D, and inventory for yet another caliber in an already over crowded ammunition landscape without having more rifles available for sale.

The second issue is there is only one barrel manufacture at this time being Faxon Firearms. While they make a great barrel there is still limited supply with only one supplier.

Third, 8.6 Blackout ammo, isn’t that flat shooting as compared to 308, 338 Lapua or 300 Win Mag.

Fourth, you won’t be able to use your 7.62mm suppressor, you will need something larger like the SilencerCo Hybrid 46M, the Dead Air Primal, or the HX-QD ELR suppressor.

The fifth, and possibly largest issue is that 8.6 Blackout ammo is not SAAMI Spec yet. While the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, or SAAMI does not approve or certify ammo, they do create voluntary standards of cartridge design, chamber design and operating parameters to promote safety and reliability. Without the SAAMI approval, many ammunition and firearm manufacturer’s will not make ammunition or rifles for wildcat calibers, i.e. – those calibers that are not SAAMI spec products.

Some have said that 8.6 Blackout is simply a repackaged 338 Federal with better marketing behind it and that round never gained popularity. With so many new calibers coming to market the last 10 years, I believe there is substantial caliber fatigue as it seems like every week we are being told that “no, this is the best long range caliber!”.

Key Features and Ballistics

The 8.6 Blackout cartridge offers impressive ballistics that contribute to its versatility and effectiveness in various shooting scenarios. Here are some key ballistics characteristics of the 8.6 Blackout:

What makes this round so amazing is barrel being a 1:3 twist allows for the bullet to spin substantially quicker than a 1:10 twist rate which allows the projectile to remain stable at longer distances.

  • Bullet Weight: The typical bullet weight for 8.6 Blackout ammunition ranges from around 160 to 225 grains for super sonic rounds and 285 – 350 Grains for subsonic projectiles. Heavier bullets generally provide higher retained energy and better penetration, while lighter bullets may offer flatter trajectories and higher velocities. Note – 8.6 Blackout projectiles are either bonded or solid copper due to the higher RPM’s produced by a 1:3 twist that will rip traditional projectiles apart.
  • Muzzle Velocity: The muzzle velocity of the 8.6 Blackout varies depending on the specific load and bullet weight. Generally, it falls within the range of 2,500 to 3,000 feet per second (fps). Higher velocities contribute to flatter trajectories and increased downrange energy.
  • Muzzle Energy: The 8.6 Blackout generates substantial muzzle energy. The specific muzzle energy can vary depending on the load and bullet weight, but it typically ranges from around 2,000 to 2,500 foot-pounds (ft-lbs). Higher muzzle energy translates to better terminal performance and greater stopping power.
  • Ballistic Coefficient: The ballistic coefficient (BC) of the 8.6 Blackout cartridge depends on the specific bullet design. Bullets with higher BC values have better aerodynamic efficiency, resulting in flatter trajectories and improved long-range performance.
  • Terminal Performance: The 8.6 Blackout delivers significant terminal performance, with bullets designed to expand upon impact. This expansion creates larger wound channels, increasing the cartridge’s stopping power and effectiveness.
  • Accuracy: The 8.6 Blackout is known for its accuracy, allowing shooters to achieve precise shot placement.
    It’s important to note that specific ballistics characteristics may vary depending on the manufacturer, bullet design, and load variation within the 8.6 Blackout cartridge. It’s recommended to consult ammunition manufacturers or ballistic data sources for precise and detailed information on the specific load you intend to use.

Applications and Use of 8.6 Blackout

The creator of this round, Kevin Brittgham, has made waves by taking down some of the largest game in the world with this round. The ability to do this with such a compact platform makes it instantly appealing for hunting as does the devastating impact of a 338 lapua projectile spinning so quickly. Now, the downside is that the slow velocity doesn’t make it idea for hunting at longer distances.

The next question would be how does 8.6 ammo stack up against other calibers for long-range precision shooting? The issue here is that there are flatter shooting rounds on the market and cartridges that can reach out to longer distances.

Who Makes 8.6 Blackout Barrels?

At the time of this writing, Faxon Firearms is the only manufacturer of 8.6 BLK barrels. These barrels are a 1:3 twist whereas your typical AR-15 barrel is a 1:8 twist and typical AR-10 barrels chambered in 308 Win are 1:10 twist rates.

8.6 Barrel Lengths

  • 16″
  • 12″
  • 8″

All three barrel lengths are available for bolt action and semi-auto AR-10 pattern rifles.

Who Makes 8.6 Blackout Ammo?

This relatively new round has limited ammunition manufactures at this time. The most notable being Gorilla Ammunition and smaller niche ammo suppliers so finding 8.6 Blackout ammo can be a challenge, plus the lack of supply makes it an expensive round to shoot, costing in the range of $2.50 – $4.50 per round. While the larger ammunition companies like Winchester, Federal, PMC, Magtech and Sellier & Bellot do not have 8.6 Blackout on their radar to start manufacturing anytime soon, there are several manufacturers who are showing interest like Fort Scott Munitions, Vairog and others.

What’s the Verdict? Should I buy an 8.6 Blackout Rifle?

In full disclosure, I did and I absolutely love it. That said, the cost of ammunition and lack of availability make this a tough round to dive head first into. If you’ve already got several long range rifles and are looking for something new and different than 8.6 may be the caliber for you. The 1:3 twist with a short barrel make this a compelling package from a technical perspective. As an industry, I have been told that we have exhausted the mixing and matching of cases and projectiles, the next thing to do is play with twist rates to jack up the RPM’s of projectiles to produce stable rounds at long distances with short barrels. Rumors of a 1:1 twist rate coming soon would be wild from a manufacturing perspective. As to when we see the popularity grow the way 6.5 Creedmoor did remains to be seen but if you want to shoot 1,000 yards with a sub 16″ barrel, what other round are you going to use? (Yes, I know there are rounds capable of achieving it but they are harder to find than 8.6 BLK)

I do see this round gaining in popularity, if for no other reason than it’s so easy to understand. It’s 300 Blackout’s big brother! There are so many 6mm and 7mm rounds that its hard to keep them straight, between 6mm, 6mm ARC, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 6.5mm PRC, I can go on, but I think you get my point. 8.6 BLK is easy to understand and easy to market.

After shooting my 8.6 Rifle, the caliber is definitely worth the hype!

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9 Responses

  1. Can you clarify about the recoil?

    Initially you state “Due to its high-powered nature, the 8.6 Blackout generates significant recoil.” Then 2 paragraphs later you state “The other benefits to 8.6 Blackout versus a 308 Win or larger caliber is that similar to its little brother, the 300 Blackout cartridge, there is very little felt recoil with 8.6 blackout.”

    Unless I’m missing something, it can’t be both ways.

    1. Stoney! Thank you so much for catching that! I have deleted the line about significant recoil, not sure how that slipped through our proof reading process. I personally own and have shot my 8.6 Blackout. It’s absolutely amazing to shoot at that distance with short barrel with such little recoil as compared to larger calibers. We have some 8.6 Blackout ammo coming hopefully within 30 days!

  2. Second paragraph after “What is 8.6 blackout”. Am I reading that wrong when it states 8.6 blk is a 338 necked down to 6.8mm?

  3. Just finished building my 8.6 and I’m in love! Something finally surpassed my 6.5 grendel for it’s fun factor! This round really deserves to take off in the market, and I think it will as more people have some trigger time with it. Cheers and happy shooting!

  4. I Have Been Reloading This Round For One Of My Friends. When Loaded Subsonic, I Think There Maybe Issues In Future With The Powder Burn, But He Was Able To Get Things For This Caliber That Other Calibers Don’t Have Available That Makes This Round Very Interesting. If You look At 338 Razorback, I Think It Addresses Powder Burn Better. Butt You Have To Produce Your Own Brass From 10mm pistol Brass And We Have Not Found A Case Gauge To Help Prefect The Ammo, I Think Both Rounds Are Very Interesting But 8.6blk Has 338razorback Beat Do To The Inability To Find Brass Our A Case Gauge To Help With Ammo Production.

  5. Shot a 12” for the first time with 285 subs and 160 supers and I am impressed. Can’t wait to deep dive into this caliber. I just hope eventually it catches on! Each load is an average of $2.40!!

  6. I built an ar10 8.6 blkout 16in faxon barrel, faxon bcg, areo upper and lower, After lots of testing. un/Suppresssed, with all copper bullets to bonded bullets, mainly sub sonic rounds was my focus. 1050 fps, the replacement barrel from faxon did the same as the first 16in barrel. The 1:3 twist tears up the bullets. im getting lots of copper/flaking frags in my bcg which gums it up. I can only get 12 subs rounds shot before bcg jams. If you clean/oil bcg every 10 rounds it will run. I’m using an adj gas block. It’s dialed to lock bolt back. I believe it needs a 1:5 or better. With many different bullets tested accuracy performance was poor. Bullets were All over the place. Eldx 270gr, was my best performer.

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