.300 Blackout vs 7.62x39mm, Which is Better?

This is a guest post by Andrew Betts REAPR ammo 2

Taken at face value, that question is pretty absurd. It’s like asking whether a hammer or a screw driver is “better”. For the question to have any real meaning, we need to put a finer point on it. Because this is the Home Defense Gun, the question is really “Which cartridge is better suited to home defense?” That is still a fairly complex question, but let’s try to unpack it a little.

To start, we are comparing full power, supersonic .300 Blackout to full power, supersonic 7.62x39mm. Subsonic .300 Blackout may be fun on the range, but unless you’re some kind of secret agent ninja assassin, it does not serve any practical purpose. Most subsonic .300 Blackout will not even expand and the few that can, will not expand when fired through heavy clothing. Even the very best subsonic .300 Blackout loads behave like pistol rounds when they do expand.

By using subsonic ammunition, we are giving up two of the primary advantages that a rifle holds. Rifles are well suited for home defense in part because they are far more powerful than pistols and it doesn’t hurt that they can penetrate soft armor. So we won’t consider subsonic ammo in this article because it is plain stupid to use it for defense.

We also will not consider ammunition that neither expands nor fragments. It is true that a full metal jacket at rifle speeds will put a great deal more hurt on a bad guy than even the best handgun ammo, but few people would argue that FMJ is a good choice for home defense in any caliber (except maybe .380). Instead, we will look at two loads that are more appropriate for defense in their respective calibers. First up is the .300 Blackout 110 gr TAC-TX loaded by HPR.

This load exhibits textbook perfect performance. It expands well, penetrates adequately, and produces a huge temporary cavity. Similarly, the Barnaul 7.62x39mm 125 gr jacketed soft point produces a wound profile that meets and exceeds all the relevant standards.

There is little substantive difference between the two loads in gelatin. Both were outstanding. The 7.62x39mm produced substantially higher velocity, but it was also fired from a longer barrel. When fired from similar length barrels, the two cartridges tend to produce velocities that are closer, but the 7.62x39mm still usually has an edge with its larger case volume. The difference between the two is smallest with very short barrels, but both cartridges can still perform admirably from barrels as short as 8”. In terms of their capacity to wound, there are minor differences, depending on bullet weight and construction but overall, they are very similar.

The real differences between the two cartridges are seen in price, availability, and the rifles that shoot them. The cost of ammunition might not seem like it should be a primary consideration when weighed against the value of your family. So what if it would cost $70 to fill a 30 round magazine? Your family is worth the very best, right? Absolutely, but you have to buy thousands of rounds of training ammo and at least a few magazines worth of the good stuff to test function and maybe to keep a few spares on your fighting gear in case of periods of civil disorder.

Although premium defense ammo isn’t much different between the two, the cost of .300 Blackout training ammo is significantly higher than the cheap stuff for 7.62x39mm. That means that no matter what your budget is, you can get more rounds down range with 7.62x39mm than you can with .300 Blackout and training is far more important than any other factor. That said, the limiting factor for many people is not the number of rounds they can purchase, but the amount of time they have available for training. Depending on your financial situation, ammo cost may be a wash for you.

That leaves the weapon system. Although almost any rifle could theoretically be chambered for either cartridge, the .300 Blackout feeds from unmodified 5.56mm magazines and there are few AKs chambered in the cartridge (if any). While there are 7.62x39mm AR15 pattern rifles available, they either feed from weird, expensive magazines that can induce feed problems or they have a modified lower receiver that can accept AK mags, which eliminates some of the ergonomic advantages of the AR. There are exceptions, but generally speaking, .300 Blackout means an AR or AR-like rifle (SCAR, ACR, etc.) while 7.62×39 means an AK, SKS, or similar commie rifle.  Any of these rifles are perfectly suitable for defense, but the AR has far better ergonomics.

The bottom line is that you have to decide what fits your needs best, but the cartridges are very similar and either choice, fired from either an AR or AK would be very suitable for home defense.


Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan. Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.

Photo credit – Andrew Betts

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