.300 AAC gel test: Sig 120 gr HT solid copper bullet

.300 AAC Blackout Sig Sauer 120 gr HT

.300 AAC Blackout Sig Sauer 120 gr HT

 

The .300 AAC Blackout has enjoyed wild popularity over the last few years. Its subsonic performance is a big part of the marketing appeal, but there is little practical need for subsonic ammunition for most users. Subsonic ammo, no matter how cool, is still subsonic. At least so far as terminal effect is concered, 220 gr subsonic .300 AAC is no better than .45 Auto. In some ways, .45 Auto is better since there are projectiles for it that will actually expand when fired through heavy clothing. Now, before someone accuses me of saying that subsonic .300 AAC is useless or pulls out the worn out rejoinder of “I dare you to let me shoot ya with it,” I need to point out that no, it isn’t totally useless. Some folks have found it particularly well suited to discrete pest control and hunting. And no, I don’t want to be shot with it. I don’t want to be shot with a slingshot, either, but that doesn’t make it suitable for defense. Hey, subsonic .300 AAC is still fun. It’s okay to like it. Just because it isn’t practical doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.

Supersonic, full power .300 AAC, on the other hand, does have a lot of potential for defensive use. The problem is that there isn’t nearly the array of choices as there is for many other calibers. Most of the projectiles were designed for use in .308 Win and many don’t expand or fragment reliably at .300 AAC velocity. That’s why it is encouraging to see a new offering in this category. The Sig 120 grain HT is intended for hunting, but looks to have real potential for defense.

The numbers are outstanding.

 

Expanded .300 AAC Sig 120 gr HT bullet

Textbook expansion

Five shot velocity average:

2,093 fps
2,153 fps
2,126 fps
2,130 fps
2,122 fps
Avg: 2,125 fps

Penetration: 20.3″
Neck: 1″
TSC: 10″ X 3″
Retained weight: 119.8 gr
Max expansion: 0.645″
Min expansion: 0.321″

 

The velocity is very respectable for an 8″ barrel. The neck, that’s the distance traveled in gel before we see significant tissue upset, is very short. The temporary stretch cavity is a monster. The retained weight is essentially 100%. The recovered weight is within 0.2 grains of nominal, which is within the variation often seen in unfired projectiles. And, of course, the expansion was also incredible. This looks very much like the Barnes 110 gr TAC-TX in almost every way.

 .300 AAC Sig 120 gr HT temporary stretch cavity

Monster temporary stretch cavity

The one area that is less than ideal is the penetration. Like the TAC-TX, this bullet exceeds the 18″ max set by the FBI. It’s worth noting that this “over penetration” does not automatically disqualify it by FBI standards. It is simply deeper than needed. The fears about “over penetration” promoted by gun rag writers and pawn shop pontificators is largely overestimated in my humble opinion. Now, my opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it, but I have yet to hear of a single incident where a private citizen shot through a bad guy in a justified home defense shooting and harmed an innocent person. Yes, it happens from time to time with law enforcement officers. Yes, people have been harmed by missed shots. But to my knowledge, there has never been a case where the bullet passed through the bad guy and hit an innocent person. Of course, if you live in an apartment building you may be more concerned about the issue than if you live by yourself in a cabin on 40 acres. You have to decide for yourself what the risk level is.

I’d like to see some more testing, especially barrier performance, and a larger sample size across a wide range of velocities, but at first glance, this load seems like a solid choice for defensive use.





Andrew

Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel, The Chopping Block (https://www.youtube.com/user/chopinbloc). He is an avid firearm collector and competitor and lives with his family in Arizona. If you have any questions, you may email him at choppingblocktests@gmail.com


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  • noob

    yikes it looks like an angry mollusk decided to claw its way through that gel block and is still shaking its tentacles in rage

    • Chop Block

      One of the old ones.

      • noob

        Iä! Iä! .300 fhtagn!

    • Bill

      If I ever get a bar I’m naming it The Angry Mollusk.

      • BaconLovingInfidel

        Where everyone goes after last call at The Blue Oyster.

  • Vitor Roma

    Can’t wait for a test of the Lehigh 9mm Xtreme Defender. =)

    • No one

      There’s already plenty of tests for it up on youtube if you’re really that curious.

    • AC97

      What kind of test? Armor? Those Defenders fail miserably in penetrating that, as shown by Buffman. Gel? Those have been done to death.

      • Vitor Roma

        Gel. They have been done to death and proved to work by many different channels, yet the guy wrote an article ultra critical of them with a lot of suppositions and little evidence.

  • Jared Vynn

    Doesn’t Lehigh defense have an expanding subsonic 300 blackout?

    • Chop Block

      They do. There are several on the market. I haven’t seen one yet that can expand when fired through heavy clothing.

      • Jared Vynn

        I haven’t seen any tests for heavy clothing for Lehigh yet.

        • Chop Block

          I guess I’ll have to do one.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    “But to my knowledge, there has never been a case where the bullet passed through the bad guy and hit an innocent person.”

    It happened to my friends father who, at the time, was a Houston METRO cop who shot and killed a guy who had been robbing people at knife point on the light rail.

    http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/heights-news/article/Houston-Metro-has-first-fatal-police-shooting-1749471.php#photo-1298450

    • Moonman45

      *friend’s, also, It is almost inconceivably more probable that it was one of the ‘undetermined number of shots’ as stated in the article that hit the bystander and not some ‘mystery over-penetrating bullet’. do you always have to try to one-up whatever the topic of the day is? annoying as hell..

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        No dummy, but you got some attention. Happy?

        QUOTE:

        HOUSTON — A Metro police officer shot and killed a suspect and wounded an innocent bystander on the jogging trail of Rice University Tuesday morning, according to a Metro spokesperson.

        11 News

        KHOU.com breaking news

        It happened near the intersection of Main and University.

        The bullet apparently went through the suspect and hit an unidentified woman, according to the preliminary report Houston Police Department.

        She was taken to an area hospital. Her condition isn’t known.

        The suspect was pronounced dead on the scene.

        A Rice University spokesman said the Metro officer witnessed an altercation between the suspect and another woman at the bus stop near Dryden and Main.

        • Moonman45

          no one can prove that:)

    • Chop Block

      I specified private citizen because cops are more likely to shoot in congested areas. And yes, the misses are more likely the cause of any injuries to bystanders.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Well, my comment was not meant to be argumentative just an observation.
        And the bystander was 100% hit with a bullet that went through the criminal.
        Its been established, plus I knew the man who pulled the trigger.

        • BaconLovingInfidel

          He must have pulled the trigger very hard.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    How would this compare to 125gr Hornady SST loads?

    • Chop Block

      Not sure. More testing is needed. I’d expect higher weight retention for the solid copper bullet and possibly longer range expansion.

  • OverSimplifyMuch?

    “At least so far as terminal effect is concerned, 220 gr subsonic .300 AAC is no better than .45 Auto.” <– wat?

    Maybe at point blank range that statement is feasibly true. Try again at 50m, 100m, 200m, etc. Granted the subsonic 220gr 300BLK isn't the greatest at those ranges, but with its BC ridiculously higher than the .45 Auto, one cannot argue about the 200gr 300BLK that "it has no better [terminal effectiveness] than .45 Auto" without some proper declarative modifier(s).

    • Chop Block

      The qualifier you are looking for is right there in the first paragraph. This is all in the context of defensive use. 50 meters is at the outside edge of typical defensive distance.

      • Kent

        50 meters might well be outside the typical range for a .45ACP handgun, but the same is NOT true of a .300 BLK rifle round. 300BLK subsonic is fine out to 100 meters. Naturally, at such distance a supersonic load is even better. That’s the appeal of the BLK, the ability to switch back and forth with nothing more than a change in magazines.

        • Chop Block

          You missed what I said. Any external ballistic advantage that subsonic .300 has is moot for defensive purposes because those advantages don’t appear until well outside the any realistic defensive distance and at those ranges, supersonic .300 (or 5.56mm or any other rifle cartridge) is far superior. There is no terminal ballistic advantage to subsonic .300 in relation to pistol calibers, either.

        • BaconLovingInfidel

          So, great for murder/hunting, but not so much for civilian defense.

          • Chop Block

            Pretty much, relatively speaking. That’s not to say that full power .300 AAC isn’t useful for defense, just that it has no real advantage over other intermediate cartridges that are also useful. The one place it does well is that it can be more effective from a really short barrel than 5.56mm. Maybe. Kinda. At home defense ranges, it isn’t a huge difference, really.

    • int19h

      I read “at least so far as terminal effect is concerned” as “if we ignore external ballistics”. Which then makes perfect sense.

      • Chop Block

        Mostly, because external ballistics are generally not relevant to defense.

    • Kent

      “Maybe at point blank range that statement is feasibly true”
      Not even then. Even a muzzle contact range the 30 cal 220gr, although at almost exactly the same energy level, will penetrate much deeper due the vastly greater sectional density of the smaller diameter bullet.

  • Sianmink

    Gorilla Silverback .300 Subsonic expands just fine.. It doesn’t hit as hard as supersonic, sure, but I’d say it has some home defense utility.

    • Chop Block

      In heavy clothing?

      • Sianmink

        I haven’t seen any heavy clothing tests for this. Perhaps I need to arrange one.
        Not really a concern for me here in Florida.

        • BaconLovingInfidel

          Years ago, my friend got mugged by a crackhead in Port St Lucie. Crackhead had a .22 revolver, was butt nekkid below the waist except flip flops but was wearing a NY Rangers jersey/sweatshirt under a cheap poofy ski jacket.

  • Spencerhut

    All things considered, I wonder why even bother with .300BO subsonic when .45ACP does damn near the same thing, in subsonic that is. I guess what you get is the ability to use .300BO supersonic rounds and an AR type platform. Meh . . . I have a few of both so whatever. Gives me more stuff to reload for.

    • Jared Vynn

      It retains energy/velocity longer than 45 ACP with less drop.

      • Spencerhut

        In supersonic sure, that is a benefit. In subsonic? I’m pretty sure the 300BO sub guns are not meant for distance. What 50y max under normal use?

        • Chop Block

          He’s right that they still have a better BC than .45 Auto and they also have higher sectional density. Those features make it useful for discrete hunting and pest control at longer distances than is practical with .45 Auto. But subsonic is still pretty impotent for defense.

          • BaconLovingInfidel

            “But subsonic is still pretty impotent for defense.”

            What if one takes a little blue pill at night?

        • iksnilol

          You should go to at least 100 meters even with subsonics.

        • Jared Vynn

          Hornady 208gr a-max retains drops to about 980fps with about 430 ft/lbs of energy while hornady 230gr 45 ACP doesn’t even have 400 ft/lbs at the muzzle.

    • Don’t forget how much nicer 300 Bo stacks up on a mag than the fatties. Also, there is the option of pushing the 200+ grain bullets to supersonic speeds. Finally, there is the firearm mechanics. 45ACP carbines are almost always blowback. 300 BO is Locked breach. Those run far more smoothly than any blowback which has a giant weight slamming back and forth, so they jostle around quite a bit more while shooting.

      • BaconLovingInfidel

        “45ACP carbines are almost always blowback.”

        A friend has a bizarre thingermajig called a KRISS Vector in .45. It looks kind of sci-fi but also like Black and Decker co-designed it with the aliens as a carbine/nail gun and it should come with various implements for edging, trimming, weed whacking, power drilling, etc.

        Also very expensive.

        But he claims it’s got less recoil than a 9mm Uzi, basically no recoil/muzzle rise. Perhaps best utilized as a sub-sonic suppressed CQB home defense carbine (when not doing the lawn or framing a tree house).

  • Aono

    Thank you for this test. I would be highly interested in a 9″ SBR test of the same.

    • Aono

      I’m an idiot, I see this is already from an 8″, sorry.

      • Chop Block

        Lol. No worries. I do stuff like that all the time.

  • Mrninjatoes

    Did you use Clear Ballistics gel for your tests? Great article!

    • Chop Block

      Thank you. No, I used real 10% ordnance gelatin.

      • Mrninjatoes

        Thoughts on Clear Ballistics?

        • Sianmink

          I can chime in here, Clear Ballistics and Permagel are a bit stretchier, and don’t tear due to stretching quite like gelatin does. They also have a bit more friction to them. Hollowpoints tend to expand a bit less (perhaps because it’s not as ‘wet’? I dunno) but actually closer to performance in real flesh in that aspect. A lot of gelatin shots expand a bit too ‘perfect’ in ways that aren’t seen in the real world. The clear stuff is WAY easier to use though.

          TL;DR they both have positive and negative attributes.

          • Chop Block

            In regard to the relevance of real gelatin, here’s what the experts say:

            “The IWBA published some of Gene Wolberg’s material from his study of San Diego PD officer
            involved
            shootings that compared bullet performance in calibrated 10% ordnance gelatin with the
            autopsy
            results using the same ammunition. When I last spoke with Mr. Wolberg in May of 2000, he had
            collected data on nearly 150 OIS incidents which showed the majority of the 9mm 147 gr bullets
            fired by officers had penetrated 13 to 15 inches and expanded between 0.60 to 0.62 inches in
            both human tissue and 10% ordnance gelatin. Several other agencies with strong, scientifically
            based
            ammunition terminal performance testing programs have conducted similar reviews of their
            shooting
            incidents with much the same results–there is an extremely strong correlation between properly
            conducted and interpreted 10% ordnance gelatin laboratory studies and the physiological
            effects of
            projectiles in actual shooting incidents.” – Dr. Roberts
            “The test of the wound profiles validity is how accurately they portray the projectile-tissue
            interaction observed in shots that penetrate the human body. Since most shots in the human
            body
            traverse various tissues, we would expect the wound profiles to vary somewhat, depending on
            the
            tissues traversed. However, the only radical departure has been found to occur when the
            projectile strikes bone: this predictably deforms the bullet more than soft tissue, reducing its
            overall penetration depth, and sometimes altering the angle of the projectile’s course. Shots
            traversing only soft tissues in humans have shown damage patterns of remarkably close
            approximation to the wound profiles.
            The bullet penetration depth comparison, as well as the similarity in bullet deformation and yaw
            patterns, between human soft tissue and 10% ordnance gelatin have proven to be consistent
            and
            reliable. Every time there appeared to be an inconsistency a good reason was found and when
            the
            exact circumstances were matched, the results matched. The cases reported here comprise but
            a
            small fraction of the documented comparisons which have established 10% ordnance gelatin as
            a
            valid tissue simulant.” – Dr. Fackler

          • BaconLovingInfidel

            thanks!

        • Chop Block

          Clear gel produces exaggerated penetration results at higher velocities. It seems to be reasonably close at pistol speeds. The FBI and all professional labs use real gelatin.

          • Mrninjatoes

            Thanks!

          • BaconLovingInfidel

            good questions, Leprechaun!

          • BaconLovingInfidel

            Good info, thanks!

  • M&M’s

    A certain agency did some subsonic 300 blk testing and I believe the top performer was Lehigh 194gr

    • Chop Block

      “A certain agency”? My cousin’s friend says he can do a burnout in his Yugo.

  • Kiran Buenafe

    $1.20 a round. No spank you. It’s the same with all these super special self defense rounds. Most people can’t afford it. Since all bullets fly differently, if you don’t train and sight in for the round you intend to use for the real thing, it makes no sense.

    • Chop Block

      Point of impact is no different at realistic defensive distances. Are you saying your family’s lives are not worth $30 or $40?

      • Kiran Buenafe

        Even for a short training course that’s only 300 rounds, that’s more than $350 in just ammunition. That costs more than the course. Get a decent one that’s closer to 500 or 1,000 rounds and ammunition costs become insane. $30 to $40 is a gross underestimate.

        • CommonSense23

          How many rounds do you need?

          • Kiran Buenafe

            Enough to get through one or two decent training courses, plus more for actual home defense. So many. Many, many, many rounds.

          • CommonSense23

            Why?

          • Kiran Buenafe

            Because training is like, good and stuff?

          • CommonSense23

            Why are you training with defense ammo?

          • Kiran Buenafe

            Why are you buying ammo you can’t train with?

          • CommonSense23

            Cause there is a difference between training ammo and duty or carry ammo. Not going to waste MK262 OR 70GR 5.56 for training, and neither am I going to waste hollowpoints even when could get that free. You actually plain to show up to a carbine training course with your carry ammo?

          • BaconLovingInfidel

            Other than LE/Mil, I don’t know anyone who trains exclusively with their carry ammo except for Federal HST which can be purchased in bulk at decent prices, but even that is an expensive route.

          • CommonSense23

            I can tell you for a fact, that the units that run better rounds in the military don’t train with their deployment rounds. Nobody is going to waste 70gr or 262 or 318 or 9mm hollowpoint on the range shooting paper or steel. Sight your gun in with them and use 855 and 9mm ball for training.

          • Chop Block

            No. You need a couple boxes of the good stuff to confirm zero, verify proper function, and keep loaded for home defense. You need a few hundred of the cheap stuff to get through a class or two, but you could do that with a 5.56mm upper if you want. You may want to have several hundred more of good quality, less expensive stuff for zombie space aliens.

          • Kiran Buenafe

            So what’s the procedure here, then? Show up to class early, zero for cheap load, do class, take out 5 rounds of the “good stuff”, re-zero for HD, go home, show up the next day for class and rinse and repeat?

            And why in the hell would you use a 5.56 upper for class, and then a different upper for home defense? Half the purpose of going to those classes is to ensure your rifle is proven. That means putting lots and lots of bullets through it under less than optimal conditions. You don’t get that if you change the rifle completely just to go to class. If you’re going to do that, just use 5.56 for home defense anyways. At least you know that gun works.

          • Chop Block

            No, you zero for either your good stuff or your mostly good stuff. For simplicity sake, let’s say your home defense load is 110 gr TAC-TX and your SHTF load is Remington 120 gr OTFB (actually pretty decent terminal effect, but cheap). The POI shift between those two should be fairly small, depending on your rifle, of course. At any rate, it won’t matter at home defense distance so you zero for the Winchester load and record dope for the TAC-TX. Tape it to your stock, if you want. Shoot your class with whatever cheapest ammo you can find our hand loads. If you have stages with targets at 200m or more, you can use some Remington for that. But honestly, the POI shift between two loads of the same bullet weight and similar muzzle velocity is going to be smaller than the groups most people shoot.

          • BaconLovingInfidel

            Maintain the duty/carry ammo zero and train for consistency instead of adjusting for the POI shift.

  • Ryfyle

    I was going to go fore supersonic .300 anyway on the next upper I build. A shame Tula or Wolf dosen’t produce and steel cased ammo for it.

    • Chop Block

      I’m sure they will eventually.

    • BaconLovingInfidel

      “I was going to go fore supersonic .300 anyway ”

      Supers are better for clearing out slow golfers. You get better ballistics and the option of warning shots.

  • Phaedrus

    Yeah, I gotta call bullshit on that one. Look at the 220gr .30 cal bullet and the 230gr .45 bullet, the compare their sectional density. Although they’re the same basic weight and KE there’s no comparison between the two wounds, especially if you’re talking about facing an adversary wearing IIIA body armor. The .300 Blackout won’t “penetrate” the armor but in the tests I’ve seen the backface deformation was almost 12″! That would almost certainly not be survivable. By contrast the .45 bullet would just leave a bruise.

    • CommonSense23

      Considering that people survive gunshot wounds the majority of the time, how are you getting 12inch of backface wouldn’t be survivable.

      • Phaedrus

        Okay, I’m not making a blanket statement that you can’t survive it. But it doesn’t make any difference if the bullet penetrates or not if it presses the vest completely through your torso and out your back. It just makes it easier for the doctor of coroner to recover the bullet.

        • Chop Block

          I don’t believe there was any credible test showing 12″ of back face signature from .300 subsonic vs. soft armor.

          • Phaedrus

            It was a video of a test, can’t remember the channel, maybe Twang’n’bang? I’ll have to find it.

  • Colonel K

    The 300 BLK/AAC, for those occasions when 30 carbine and 7.62×39 just won’t do. Reminds me why I eat Jello pudding when cake and pie aren’t appealing.