In the animal kingdom, the honey badger is a solitary, intelligent creature known for its ferocity and bad-tempered, savage attacks. And in the world of firearms, it’s much the same: the AAC Honey Badger PDW is a seriously tough rifle, and in 2015, it’s finally coming your way.
The Honey Badger was designed with military special forces in mind: it functions as a stellar CQB weapon and delivers superior performance to the older 5.56 NATO round. In fact, the cartridge it’s chambered in – .300 AAC Blackout – was created with outdoing the 5.56 NATO in mind. The parent cases of the .300 BLK, as it’s referred to by SAAMI, are the .221 Fireball and the .223 Remington, and it has the following specs:
- Bullet diameter: 0.308 in
- Neck diameter: 0.334 in
- Case length: 1.368 in
- Overall length: 2.26 in
- Rifling twist: 1:7
- Maximum pressure: 55,000 psi (380 MPa)
- Also known as: .300 BLK, 7.62x35mm
AAC had quite a list of goals in mind when they took on the creation of the .300 BLK from the desire for a supersonic round with ballistics comparable to the 7.62x39mm to fantastic barrier penetration capabilities, and all in a smaller, lighter package – with less felt recoil. They certainly seem to have met their goals, and then some; the .300 BLK’s ballistic coefficient and energy are superior to that of the 7.62x39mm when fired from similar-length barrels and it produces the same energy at 700 meters that the 5.56 NATO manages at 500 meters. In addition the cartridge has fantastic barrier blind performance and delivers greater penetration and faster yaw than the 5.56 NATO. And if you think that’s great, well, there’s more, because the .300 BLK chambering eats both heavier subsonic rounds and lighter, faster supersonic rounds with no problem whatsoever. Oh, and it’s effective in barrels as short as 4.5 inches.
The Honey Badger was built around the .300 BLK, and as a CQB weapon it does outdo the 5.56 NATO. For the military there is, of course, full-auto, and for civilian use it’s limited to semi-auto. It has the following specs:
- Weight: 6.5 lbs (empty)
- Length: 24 in (fully retracted with suppressor)
29 in (fully extended with suppressor)
- Barrel length: 6 in
- Cartridge: .300 AAC Blackout
- Stock: collapsible
- Action: Semi-auto (civilian) full-auto (military)
Phil and I were fortunate enough to spend some time at Gunsite in the first part of December taking a look at various firearms offerings, and the Honey Badger was among our options for one drill in particular, known as the Scrambler. The Scrambler was designed by Clint Smith and is meant to present the shooter with a number of tactically significant shooting positions that might be found in the field. Among the various stations are a sandy berm requiring the shooter to kneel but not go prone, a metal cage the shooter crawls into to fire through a hole at the end, and a wooden wall best for balancing against. Metal man-sized targets are set up at a variety of distances ranging from 80 yards to over 100 yards away and at various angles. We were given a few options as to which rifle we’d run through the Scrambler with, and for me there was no question whatsoever. It had to be the Honey Badger.
With the stock open the Honey Badger fit snugly to my shoulder and the length of pull was good; I have fairly long arms and am not short by any means, and the fact that this gun fit so well immediately was a pleasant surprise. It was also light enough, even with a full mag, that I could have easily toted it for some time with no trouble at all. I slipped a spare loaded mag into my pocket, and we set off.
The Honey Badger has Magpul MBUS sights; if you’re not familiar with those, they’re aperture sights, also known as peep sights. There are some in the gun world who dislike these sights, but there are quite a few pros to them. They work by taking advantage of your eyes’ natural tendency to seek out the center of a circle; your focus sharpens as you sight down the narrow gap, and the center post sharpens your focus even more. With these sights you get precision without the need for optics, and I’m speaking as a pretty diehard optics fan. Running the Scrambler with this gun was a good test of my feelings towards aperture sights.
Right off the Honey Badger was an absolute pleasure to shoot. Aiming came naturally and smoothly; hitting the targets from the wide variety of shooting positions offered on the Scrambler was simple. Standing, kneeling, leaning against the wall, whatever the obstacle presented, the rifle handled. Its small size made it highly maneuverable, a fact I appreciated more than once. The trigger was light and crisp; only the slightest touch was needed to sling one of the 220-grain Sierra Matchking rounds down-range. Hearing the ping of bullet meeting steel was a sweet sound, especially with an audience.
Firing the rifle semi-auto was unlike what you’d expect if you were anticipating the kick of your average 5.56-NATO-chambered AR-15. Although the AAC Honey Badger was made with the AR-15 platform in mind, it was made not to match it but to improve upon it, and that’s a goal they not only met but surpassed. Staying on-target felt natural and I can safely say I preferred the performance of this .300 BLK-chambered gun to every 5.56-NATO I’ve ever fired.
Of course, being me, I insisted on using the rifle on full-auto. There was no way I’d let the chance to open up a Honey Badger pass me by, and as we neared the end of the course, my opportunity came. On full-auto it was a simple matter of a gentle touch versus an only slightly more forceful squeeze to fire off a short burst versus emptying the mag with lighting speed. Even on full auto felt recoil was surprisingly minimal, control was easily kept, and the gun was quiet. With the suppressor on the Honey Badger ear protection wasn’t necessary; the rounds popped so quietly, in fact, you almost wouldn’t believe you were firing what is a truly powerful rifle.
The AAC Honey Badger PDW can be easily summed up: it’s an awesome rifle, and it’s immediately soared to the top of my personal wish list. After the Scramber I was able to run a significant number of rounds through it on my own, firing at a target across an open valley, and I hated to put it down when it was my turn to run the next drill with a different rifle. This is one badass rifle, and it’s coming to the commercial market. MSRP isn’t yet known and will undoubtedly be more than a couple thousand, but for the impressive combination of enormous power and smooth handling the Honey Badger offers, it’s well worth every penny. My suggestion? When the Honey Badger hits the market in 2015, put on your running shoes and, to use a Southern phrase, go get you one – and do it fast.