SOCOM Is Seeking A .300 Blackout Personal Defense Weapon

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 1 week ago

FBO.gov:

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is seeking to identify potential sources within the national technology and industrial base with the ability to provide a conversion kit for the M4A1 to create a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) system:
-Complete Kit to include upper receiver and butt stock kit
-Any tools required to complete an operational conversion
-A light and sound reducing suppressor that can be attached to the system when needed.

PDW Kit specifics: The kit must be adaptable to the standard M4A1 lower receiver, any modification to the lower receiver must be reversible and nonpermanent. The kit must be in .300 Blackout (BLK) cartridge, total system weight, including the M4A1 lower in not to exceed 5.5lbs. Length with stock extended not to extend 26″ length with stock collapsed or folded shall be 17″ (T), 15″ (O) and a height not to exceed 7.5″. Weapon shall be fully functional when collapsed or folded. Kit should include a 5.56mm barrel that can be changed from .300 BLK to 5.56mm in less than 3 minutes. Accuracy shall be 3.0 MOA (T), 2.0 MOA (O) @100 yds. and 5.0 MOA (T), 3.0 MOA (O) @ 300 yds. both in .300 BLK supersonic.

The Firearm Blog remarks show how difficult this might be to meet.

To meet these requirements, it is necessary to either dramatically shorten or do away with the AR-15’s receiver extension and buffer, even when using very short barrels. Colt’s 10.3″ barreled Sub Compact Weapon (SCW) for example, is 28.5″/30.25″ (collapsed/extended) with the stock unfolded, and 23.5″ with the stock folded, meaning that this weapon could not meet SOCOM’s requirements except with a 3.8″ barrel! Even SIG’s MCX, which uses no buffer tube and has a fully folding stock, would need a barrel just 6.5″ long to meet this requirement, and it would still struggle to meet the 5.5lbs weight limit.

In other words, these are extremely tough requirements to meet for an M4 conversion kit, especially since submissions must be made before April 10th! Best of luck to any companies who decide to make a submission!

How strange.  Why would SOCOM be asking for a PDW when their barrels are short enough already (my understanding is that teams are deployed using 10″ and shorter barrels).  If you want a .300 Blackout gun, why not order the upper receiver for your already functional lower receivers, without including all of the barrel changeout kit?

Besides, just leave well enough alone.  Deploy with your .300 Blackout gun, with a nominal barrel length, or deploy with your 5.56mm gun, with a nominal barrel length.  Don’t complicate matters.  And as for barrel length, the shorter you make them, the harder it is to pick up that all-important muzzle velocity.  Why not use 16″ or 18″ barrels?  Someone give me a good reason, please?  Someone from SOCOM?

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Comments

  1. On March 17, 2017 at 7:16 am, Nathan Impson said:

    Why would you use a 16 inch barrel if you were going to be clearing buildings?

  2. On March 17, 2017 at 10:26 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Okay. So 16″ is too long for you. That’s the civi version under the NFA (stupid as it is) below which it’s an SBR. So choose 14.5″, or 10″. Why choose a 3″ barrel? What does that do for you?

  3. On March 17, 2017 at 11:20 am, Archer said:

    Why would you need a rifle that shoots <3 MOA @300 yards if you were going to be clearing buildings?

    The point is, SOCOM appears to be seeking a unicorn rifle; that is, one that does everything PLUS meets other completely arbitrary requirements (the size/weight specs, and the requirement that it be a M4A1 mod kit). The problem is, rifles, like anything else, are an exercise in compromise. You want to get something more, you have to sacrifice something else.

    In this case, the only rifle design I can think of that could potentially meet the size/weight specifications, is a bull-pup design. But that won't be a M4A1 mod kit. If they are hard-set on a M4A1 mod kit, then it's going to be bigger and probably a bit heavier. Unless they're OK with the 3" suppressed barrel, in which case they're going to lose muzzle velocity and some accuracy and won't get those nice, tight groups at 300 yds (if the bullet even makes it that far).

    Something's going to have to give or they won't get any offers, because the rifle they're asking for doesn't exist. If it could be designed, it certainly won’t happen within the next … *checks calendar* … three-and-a-half weeks; just one more thing that has to give.

  4. On March 17, 2017 at 10:26 am, Garry said:

    Get ready for everything and anything to be requested. They all see the almighty dollar sign.

  5. On March 17, 2017 at 10:55 am, Jack said:

    Use a 9.3″ barrel with a suppressor and a mix of magazines with either subsonic and supersonic ammo. Dealers choice. The round is not viable out past 200 yards for combat but good for close in work. Think Thompson machine gun but with better ballistics. Sure, it can hit stuff at 300 or 400 yards but the accuracy just isn’t there like with a standard AR platform. Great for house clearing and the sub-sonic rounds at 208 up to about 220 grains can really deliver a wallop and are really quiet.
    As usual, the gubment wants a do all end all weapon.
    And BTW, personal protection should be handled by the 1911, as it has been for the past 100 years.

  6. On March 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm, DAN III said:

    Jack,

    You don’t even own a 300 AAC BLK, do you ?

  7. On March 19, 2017 at 3:53 pm, Jack said:

    I own 2. One shorty and one 16″.
    Plus (5) AR15’s and numerous other rifles in 308 and up cal.
    My point is the weapon should be chosen by the requirements of the operation. If you are engaging at 400 yards, I would rather have an AR 15 or AR 10 rather than a 300AAC. If all you have is a 300AAC then fire away. But if the other guys are engaging you at 400 yards with AR10’s or AR15’s and you only have 300AAC, you are out gunned and need to break contact.
    My personal protection is a Glock 17, but used to be a SIG 1911 before I owned the Glock.

  8. On March 19, 2017 at 8:13 pm, DAN III said:

    Jack,

    In your original posting you remarked that the 300 BLK cartridge is “not viable out past 200 yards for combat but good for close in work.”

    Well, let me ask you, what qualifies YOU to determine the viability or more specifically the maximum effective range of any cartridge, to perform to US Army standards at any given range ?

    If there is anything that annoys me it is what I normally term “bullshit” being disseminated as fact when it is not. But, in an effort to be a bit more gentlemanly, I’ll term your 300 BLK remarks as, at best, disinformation.

    The following was provided several years ago by Mr. Robert S. Silvers and Advanced Armament Corporation who developed the .300 AAC BLK:

    * The US military rates Max Eff Range of of the M4 carbine as 500 meters for a point target.

    * A 14.5″ M4 with 62 grain Green Tip at 2,900 fps is Max Eff Range of 500 meters:
    1. 100 inches of drop @ 500 meters.
    2. 41 inches of drift @ 500 meters.
    3. 291 ft-lbs of energy @ 500 meters.

    * A 16″ 300 AAC BLACKOUT 125 grain round at 2,200 fps has:
    1. 100 inches of drop @ 440 meters.
    2. 41 inches of drift @ 484 meters.
    3. 291 ft-lbs of energy @ 700 meters

    * While the 300 AAC Blackout has significantly FAR more energy, the US military uses hit probability. If one considers that the drift and drop range correlates with hit probability, and you dismiss the energy advantage of 300 AAC BLK, one gets 462 meters for equal hit probability.

    * Thus, using US military standards, the Maximum Effective Range of a 125 grain, 300 AAC BLACKOUT round, from a 16″ barrel is 460 meters.

    * From a 9″ barrel, 300 AAC BLK, 125 grain round at 2,050 fps has:
    1. 100 inches of drop @ 410 meters.
    2. 41 inches of drift @ 470 meters.
    3. 291 ft-lbs of energy @625 meters.

    * Thus, using US military standards from a 9″ barrel the Maximum Effective Range of the 125 grain, 300 AAC BLK round is 440 meters.

    * 300 AAC BLK , from a 9″ barrel has the same energy at the muzzle as a 14.5″ barreled M4 firing 62 grain Green Tip. At 440 meters the 300 AAC BLK has 5% more energy than the 62 grain, 5.56mm.

    Thank you Mr. Silvers.
    ***************************

    Jack, seems to me your “not viable out past 200 yards for combat” remark is without substance and that’s putting it lightly. As i wrote above, nothing annoys me more than the passing of misinformation by an individual or organization, to further an agenda, personal or otherwise. Your “fake” (to use a current, politically correct term) information is a disservice to readers here. Although you claim you own two 300 BLKs, it seems to me you don’t shoot them. Hell, if you find them so disgusting, why do you have, not one but two ? In fact, why do you hang on to them if Hajii or fedgov agents are supposedly going to outrange you at, ahem….400 meters with .308 AR-10s (That’s a stretch Jack, a real stretch) ?

    BTW….you remark that personal protection should be “handled” by a 1911 (.45 ACP) but, then you state your personal protection is a Glock 17 (9mm) ? WTF !!!

    Simply put Jack….you’re full of it….disinformation that is.

  9. On March 19, 2017 at 9:40 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Dan,

    I have no doubt at all about the effectiveness of the 300 BO at 450 meters, nor do I about the 5.56/.223 at even farther (Travid Haley was killing fighters in al Najaf at 600 meters).

    I think the way to look at what’s being said is this (the RFQ, TFB article and the comments here). This is an impossible weapon. The conversation (at least as I presented it) has nothing whatsoever to do with the caliber. It has to do with the RFQ.

    The 3″ comes from the total length considering the typical length of the lower receiver. It doesn’t much leave room for anything else. At 3″, no round has picked up nearly the muzzle velocity it’s capable of.

    If you look at typical AR pistols, say at the Rock River Arms web site, you’ll see 7″ and 10″, none of which you or I can have unless we register an SBR if we put a stock on it). I’m aware that SOCOM is using shorter barrels, a bad decision in my opinion, but 3″ is extremely short.

    Furthermore, no weapon can promise killing power at 450 meters with a 3″ barrel. It’s allegedly intended to be a CQB weapon, but they cite the need to shoot out to 450 meters. Again, this is a Frankenstein gun that doesn’t exist, and if it did, it wouldn’t do what they want it to do.

    And I wouldn’t want it. It has all the appearances of someone at SOCOM having written this who has no idea what he’s talking about.

  10. On March 19, 2017 at 10:45 pm, DAN III said:

    Mr. Smith,

    The 3″ barrel thing is so unbelievable that I can only believe it is some sort of mistake. I can’t fathom it as a legitimate bid proposal.

  11. On March 20, 2017 at 10:29 am, Herschel Smith said:

    I don’t know about that Dan. Another requirement. The weapon shall be fully functional collapsed or folded.

    Um … no. Any 300 BO gun I know of will need the buffer tube and spring. They (somebody) would have to design a weapon that operated on blowback or some other method, not either DI with buffer or piston (which also needs buffer).

    In other words, this machine specification was written by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

  12. On March 20, 2017 at 10:54 am, Josh said:

    It’s an impossible weapon. There can never be an M4 conversion kit to fulfill these requirements. What they want is a magical kit to convert an M4 into something like a Tavor except smaller and lighter inside of three minutes.

    This is preposterous on its face. I am astounded the request wasn’t halted by a sanity check.

  13. On March 20, 2017 at 11:46 am, Jack said:

    Dan,
    These are my opinions only but maybe I’m not allowed to have an opinion. You’re facts are duly noted.
    IMHO, personal protection in combat situation should be 1911.
    I’m not in a combat environment, so I carry the Glock. It’s just more comfortable to carry Mexican style IWB. I have read the Marines are going back to the 1911 from the Baretta M9. That is my reason and I do find the 1911 more accurate to shoot at the range but carries less ammo in each mag, and is much heavier so my trade off is to carry more ammo and be comfortable. From the combat vets I have spoken to about this subject, they prefer the 45 cal over the 9mm.
    As far as the 300AAC goes, my question is why is it needed if you are engaging targets at 440 yards. If I was planning on engaging at 440 yards I would bring something in 308 caliber. IMHO, the 300AAC is a great round for urban work. I load 168 gr., 197 gr. and 208gr. for my 300AAC. I have never considered going lighter because I have plenty of AR15’s with 77 grain ammo that I shoot with just red dot optics. Hitting targets accurately at 400 meters is about are far as I prefer to push the system. If I need to go further, my M1A goes into service. I have no doubt from a bench you can hit targets at 500 yards, probably even 800 yards. The bullet has to land somewhere.
    I’m certain I can hit man sized targets at 400 yards from a bench at a range, but in combat why, if you have a better platform to use for that range. Sure, in a combat environment you don’t get always get to choose where the fight will be, but US forces in Baghdad Iraq used their snipers very effectively keeping the bad guys out of effective range of their AK47 weapons because they used more powerful weapons with much longer effective range. They planned well and controlled to location of the fight so all that was left for the bad guys was car bombs. They could not get their forces armed with small arms into the green zone. The bad guys could have just lobbed rounds from their AK’s onto the rooftop where the snipers were located, and they may even have gotten a lucky hit but it was futile.
    My posts are my opinion only and I still stand by it. The 300AAC is a great weapon for close in work like an urban environment. I have shot my 300AAC with 208 grain Hornaday bullets loaded to 1050fps through a 6″ thick piece of doug fir. They penetrate great, and they are accurate for as far as I can see accurately, in an urban environment. Mine sport red dot optics. 440 yards in an urban environment is not realistic, IMHO, to be engaging bad guys that are behind walls, cars or other urban cover with a 300AAC.
    I have never been to Iraq and engaged bad guys, but I would suspect that US forces on the ground, not the snipers, would cease fire way before the bad guys retreated to 400 yards. I may be wrong and you’re welcome to comb over volumes of AAR’s to prove me so.
    I like my 300AAC AR’s but I would never bring either out for hunting game. That is when the 308 comes out.
    My 300AAC are for quiet suppressed subsonic work at night with NVG’s and PEQ15 targeting systems. That is when the 300AAC is superior to everything else in my arsenal and that is the mission specific purpose for my 300AAC’s, and that is what I base my OPINION of the 300AAC weapon system on.
    Thanks for your opinion and knowledge on the system. I have noted all the facts that I didn’t know before and added it to my data on the 300AAC.

  14. On March 20, 2017 at 11:53 am, Jack said:

    Dan,
    These are my opinions only but maybe I’m not allowed to have an opinion. You’re facts are duly noted.
    IMHO, personal protection in combat situation should be 1911.
    I’m not in a combat environment, so I carry the Glock. It’s just more comfortable to carry Mexican style IWB. I have read the Marines are going back to the 1911 from the Baretta M9. That is my reason and I do find the 1911 more accurate to shoot at the range but carries less ammo in each mag, and is much heavier so my trade off is to carry more ammo and be comfortable. From the combat vets I have spoken to about this subject, they prefer the 45 cal over the 9mm.
    As far as the 300AAC goes, my question is why is it needed if you are engaging targets at 440 yards. If I was planning on engaging at 440 yards I would bring something in 308 caliber. IMHO, the 300AAC is a great round for urban work. I load 168 gr., 197 gr. and 208gr. for my 300AAC. I have never considered going lighter because I have plenty of AR15’s with 77 grain ammo that I shoot with just red dot optics. Hitting targets accurately at 400 meters is about are far as I prefer to push the system. If I need to go further, my M1A goes into service. I have no doubt from a bench you can hit targets at 500 yards, probably even 800 yards. The bullet has to land somewhere.
    I’m certain I can hit man sized targets at 400 yards from a bench at a range with my 300AAC, but in combat why, if you have a better platform to use for that range. Sure, in a combat environment you don’t get always get to choose where the fight will be, but US forces in Baghdad Iraq used their snipers very effectively keeping the bad guys out of effective range of their AK47 weapons because they used more powerful weapons with much longer effective range from a vantage point of their own choosing to overwatch their safe zone. They planned well and controlled to location of the fight so all that was left for the bad guys was car bombs. They could not get their forces armed with small arms into the green zone. The bad guys could have just lobbed rounds from their AK’s onto the rooftop where the snipers were located, and they may even have gotten a lucky hit but it was futile.
    My posts are my opinion only and I still stand by it. The 300AAC is a great weapon for close in work like an urban environment. I have shot my 300AAC with 208 grain Hornaday bullets loaded to 1050fps through a 6″ thick piece of doug fir. They penetrate great, and they are accurate for as far as I can see accurately, in an urban environment. Mine sport red dot optics. IMHO, 440 yards in an urban environment is not realistic to be engaging bad guys that are behind walls, cars or other urban cover with a 300AAC.
    I have never been to Iraq and engaged bad guys, but I would suspect that US forces on the ground, not the snipers, would cease fire way before the bad guys retreated to 400 yards. I may be wrong and you’re welcome to comb over volumes of AAR’s to prove me so.
    I like my 300AAC AR’s but I would never bring either out for hunting game. That is when the 308 comes out.
    IMHO the 300AAC is for quiet suppressed subsonic work at night with NVG’s and PEQ15 targeting systems. That is when the 300AAC is superior to everything else and that is the mission specific purpose for my 300AAC’s, and that is what I base my OPINION of the 300AAC weapon system on.
    Thanks for your opinion and knowledge on the system. I have noted all the facts that I didn’t know before and added it to my data on the 300AAC.

  15. On March 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm, Jack said:

    I own 2. One shorty and one 16″.
    Plus (5) AR15’s and numerous other rifles in 308 and up cal.
    My point is the weapon should be chosen by the requirements of the operation. If you are engaging at 400 yards, I would rather have an AR 15 or AR 10 rather than a 300AAC. I reload for all my weapons. I run 168 gr and 208 gr for the 300AAC and 77 gr for my AR. Sure, from a bench I’m sure you can get groups at 400 yards. I’ve seen people hit steel out past 500 yards with a 9mm pistol. The bullet has to land somewhere.
    As you said, the 300AAC mimics the 7.62 x39 round. I agree. But I’ll bet if you ask any operator out there if the AK47 shooting 7.62×39 is superior to the AR15 shooting 5.56×45 they will disagree. Apples and oranges for certain but they have gone head to head many times and the results are well documented.
    If my choice was a 300AAC with what you or I hand load, or an AK47, I would take the 300AAC for certain.

  16. On March 19, 2017 at 10:30 am, Matthew Wilbanks said:

    Those requirements are totally impossible. You simply can’t have a folding stock on a standard AR lower that is able to fire in the folded position. Not without permanent modification to the lower that is, and they won’t allow that.

    Second, the author on TFB is correct that to meet their weight requirement you would have to chop the barrel wayyyy down. 3.8 inches might be possible with a modified upper that did away with the gas impingement system, but it would horribly hamstring the round’s performance. The round was designed from the ground up with a 9 inch barrel length and a pistol gas system. You can cut this down to 6 inches or so, or increase it to 16 and use a carbine length gas system, but what they are asking is ridiculous and would make the weapon pointless.

  17. On March 19, 2017 at 2:05 pm, DAN III said:

    ALCON,

    I own 2 300 AAC BLK uppers, a 8.2″ Noveske and a 12.5″ CMMG Kino. I reload it and I shoot the cartridge suppressed and unsuppressed. Using 110-125 grain .308 bullets the round is no less accurate than a 5.56mm out to about 450 mtrs. It suppresses extremely well and hits with more kinectic energy than the 62 grain Greentip. The AAC BLK will penetrate barriers immune to .224 bullets.

    The hubbub I’m reading here about a 3″ barrel is ludicrous. As I haven’t read the bid proposal I don’t know what the actual details are. But somewhere along the way that barrel length has been misconstrued. Perhaps it should read 13″, not 3″ ?

    The round was designed to mimick the 7.62×39 in kinectic performance, using the AR-malite platform. Which the round does so quite well. The only change needed is the barrel. What this alleged bid calls for is asinine for numerous reasons. Is it even a legitimate document ?

    In the meantime, I challenge ANY fool who claims the round is not accurate to stand at 400 meters, upper torso exposed, wearing body armor and Kevlar helmet, and stand there flipping me the bird challenging me to put 110 grain Nosler Varmageddons on his ass.

    Any takers ?

    Yeah….I thought so.

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You are currently reading "SOCOM Is Seeking A .300 Blackout Personal Defense Weapon", entry #16827 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published March 16th, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

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