AAC Honey Badger Review

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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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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katie.ainsworth

Katie is an avid shooter, hunter, military journalist, and Southern girl. Firearms are her passion whether at the range or on a spot-and-stalk after a big buck. She’s a staff writer at The Firearm Blog and writes about guns, hunting, and the military for various publications both online and in print such as Outdoor Life, Handguns, and Shooting Illustrated. Shoot her a message at ainsworth.kat@usa.com


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  • I hope they make one with a folding MBX Brace for the civilian market.

    • Michael R. Zupcak

      Don’t hold your breath. That’d be more complicated and make it look really stupid. For those reasons I don’t think they’ll do it. But the stock they’re using still requires a buffer tube, just shorter. By the time you put a robust hinge assembly on that it’ll be long enough that you might as well just build a .300 BLK pistol and put a regular sig brace on it.

  • Roger V. Tranfaglia

    NEXT Christmas!

    • Katie A

      For me? Why, thank you!

      • Roger V. Tranfaglia

        Ahh…no, as intelligent and good looking that you are Katie. I was thinking more of myself…….I know ..typical guy……

        • Katie A

          Oh hey I think only of myself with guns, too. Mine all mine.

  • Grindstone50k

    Excuse me while I clean up this drool puddle and perform CPR on my wallet.

    • Katie A

      Oh yeah, I love this gun. I was ecstatic when I got extra time with it.

  • It is in no way an infomercial. Information yes commercial no. It’s a fine weapon and one I really want.

  • Katie A

    Phil took some nice pictures of me with the Honey Badger and that one is definitely great with the brass flying and and the smoke cloud. I like it too!

  • It’s sure not an XM177. I’m extremely familiar with that carbine and they aren’t even close.

  • Giolli Joker

    And while reading the second paragraph Nathaniel started tearing off his beard…

    • Katie A

      Ah I definitely prefer it to the 5.56…

      • Giolli Joker

        I never had a chance to compare them, but I’d probably prefer the 300 as well. 😉

        • Katie A

          No need for beard-tearing, just saying…

  • hod0r

    “AAC had quite a list of goals in mind when they” blatantly copied the early 1990’s .300 Whisper and presented it as something new.

    • Ethan

      Yeah… this is just like when that Ford guy copied the caveman’s stone wheel and tried to represent it as something new…. what a pretentious hack!

      #DoYouEvenSAAIMIbro?

      • Katie A

        Speaking of which, I’m a diehard Ford fan, too. As for the .300 Whisper versus .300 Blackout, the simplest way to look at it is by thinking of the .223 versus 5.56. The .300 Blackout has a slightly longer neck and it’s a SAAMI standardized cartridge, so there are actual specifications regarding pressure, etc, unlike the .300 Whisper, which is more a wildcat round and as such may be handloaded to pressures too hot for a .300 Blackout firearm. Remember, some of our most awesome cartridges – in my opinion – have come from these types of scenarios; fine-tuning or improving upon an older idea is not only common but a great idea, and often has fantastic results – god bless handloaders like Elmer Keith. (I have to say it, Ethan, you’re a trip)

        • Ethan

          Aww shucks.. *shuffles feet*
          You’re not so bad yourself. It’s always impressive to see someone who knows their stuff but can separate their knowledge from their ego. It’s a pleasure to read your work.

          • Katie A

            You’ve dropped some nice information in the comment thread on here yourself, so thanks for that! Made me smile a few times as well, so all good.

      • hod0r

        .300 Whisper was already CIP-standardized and that must be the worst analogy I’ve read this year.

        • Ethan

          CIP-standard is not the same thing as SAAMI certified. This is why none of the major manufacturers would touch it until AAC developed it to that point. Now its mainstream.

          Everything in human history is based on prior work – but that doesn’t mean it was “stolen”. JD Jones made an amazing round, and laid the groundwork for further development. AAC took that idea and did what was needed to make it truly successful.

  • Rogier Velting

    6.8SPC doesn’t work with regular bolts and magazines, and isn’t meant for subsonic use. .300 Whisper was meant for subsonic use primarily, but doomed by its designer from the start by asking licensing fees for the name. The Honey Badger is not a MK18, though its role would indeed be similar. It’s meant to be closer to the MP5, but with more power and range.

  • mig1nc

    For those of us already with an SBR lower, will this upper just drop in?

  • Where are the pictures?

    • Katie A

      I thought they were there until I saw your comment. I’m not sure what happened to them (they clearly vanished) but I went back and put them back in, so they’re there now. Sorry about that.

    • We had that happen on another post. I’m not sure why yet.

  • echelon

    Cool gun. I’d rather buy a clone than a Remington-led AAC version any day though.

    Also the fact that I have to ask my overlords for permission to own this gun severely detracts from it’s appeal.

    Still have to pass.

    • Guest

      Good is good, no matter who makes it.

      • echelon

        That’s assuming it’s going to be good. And even if ROC’s spotty at best QC problems don’t plague it then you always have to watch out for their sometimes poor customer service and potential lack of aftermarket support.

        The ACR is a good gun. I love it. And I’m still waiting for the ROC-owned Bushmaster to sell me the caliber conversion kits that they promised years ago…

        Buyer beware is all I’m saying with anything made under the Cerberus/ROC umbrella these days.

        • Ethan

          Just wait for Huntsville… >=D oh the times.. they are a-changin’

          • Katie A

            I think Huntsville is a good move. Many of the recent changes at Remington are positive and I’m looking forward to watching the events of the next year or two.

          • echelon

            We shall see, we shall see! 😉

    • AAC is pretty much independent in day to day operation. The new guy running the company has an extensive background in special operations so he knows what a company like AAC needs and how to accomplish it.

      • Havok

        They are independent at the moment. Once they are in-house at the Alabama plant, count on QC to rival the R51.

        • Ethan

          You are aware the R51 didn’t come from the Alabama plant, right?

          I see Remington’s move to Alabama as the answer to the problems that plagued the R51 development – A new state of the art LEAN/PPAP manufacturing facility that consolidates their best resources under one roof, while giving them a perfect excuse to clean house and eliminate the practices/culture(/maybe people) that were dragging their product down.

          All speculation, mind you. But I think it makes sense. They had a major failure, so now they’re cleaning house and circling the wagons to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

      • echelon

        I sincerely hope you are correct. Time will tell. But you know the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…”

        Then there’s the whole NFA matter which is entirely separate but equally disparaging…

  • Ethan

    I’m really not sure where to start…. there is so much bad information in this post.

    Tell you what, why don’t you look up the specs of the Honey Badger, so that way we can all be talking about the same platform.

    1. 300BLK ≠ 5.56 NATO (especially in an SBR)

    2. Honey Badger ≠ XM177 (Unless you count the fact that they both fire bullets)

    3. A popular wildcat cartridge ≠ A SAAMI approved cartridge. Not even close. One is made in reloaders garages and in online forums, and the other is a commercially manufacturable round that had to have tens of thousands of dollars invested into it to make it that way. AAC did, in fact, invent the 300 Blackout.

    4. Everything in human history is based on prior work. Get over it.

    5. 300BLK ≠ 6.8PSC ≠ 6.5Grendel ≠ 5.56NATO ≠ .17HMR. I know this is a shocker to you, but some gun companies actually invest in more than one caliber. The fact that Freedom Group makes guns in 6.8SPC and 300BLK is about as surprising as the fact that Glock makes guns in both 9mm and 45ACP.

    I concur with Tim V – You sir, have gone full potato.

    • Katie A

      Nicely put, and absolutely agreed. It’s always nice when the reply is done for me, saves me the time and all, and so neatly listed, too. Thanks!

  • Ethan

    and costs less than $1.20 a bullet

  • Ethan

    This piece of awesome is brought to you by:
    A Freedom Group Company
    (haters gonna hate 😛 )

    • Katie A

      Troublemaker.

      • Ethan

        Guilty as charged. 🙂

        • Katie A

          We have that in common.

  • You’re kidding right?

  • Thanks Greg—-

  • The one I shot last Dec. which is the one Katie shot has the ability to grasp the front of the suppressor and unscrew it. The new models are a bit different. We didn’t get a chance to take them apart.

    • Ethan

      Unscrew the front of the suppressor (user serviceable can) or unscrew the suppressor from the barrel?

      In other words, does this require an SBR stamp too?

  • Ethan

    Frankly, Yes it does. See bullet selection and barrel length figures. The x39 is marginally faster with its 123gr bullet, but that’s really all its got. 300 BLK has 110GR AMAX (for splatter), 148GR FMJ (for penetration), and 230GR OTM for precision subsonic work.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the AK and the 7.62×39, but some people want a 30cal option with more versatility, accuracy, and standard controls. Its not for everyone, but for many (myself included) this cartridge fills a long-standing void.

  • Ethan

    Honestly, you may want to think about reloading. Its not for everyone, but I cast my own 230GR subsonic bullets and load them for about $2.30 per 20 rnds. Its a very easy round to reload for IMO.

  • Carlos designed and was in charge of the Remington 1911 designs and had the final say in that project.
    He now works for AAC under the new boss.
    It doesn’t matter if the paycheck says Remington or AAC they still operate independently as far as day to day operations.

  • Katie A

    Ethan is correct here, and I stand by my original statements regarding the performance of the .300 Blackout. As I said, it was designed with CQB in mind, and it absolutely does take the field in that respect. There are many reasons to have a firearm with these capabilities. Not every gun I own is for hunting game just as not every gun is for self defense; each has its purpose, and I believe the .300 Blackout fills a very real void. I enjoy the Honey Badger a great deal, and its performance is, quite frankly, impressive.

  • Peter Marcus

    He works at Sig now. If you moved from Chevy to Dodge, you are going to say the Ram 1500 is best.

    • Ethan

      DING DING DING! Somebody give the man a prize!
      Something I love about the firearms industry is the way good engineers get passed from company to company.

      As one of said engineers once said to me “it’s all very incestuous”. Someone at Smith & Wesson today will be at Sig next year and at Remington 6 years after that.

      They all fight, but they fight like siblings.

  • We’ll just have to agree to disagree.