Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks
We get a good number of calls and emails concerning the 300 AAC Blackout cartridge. The questions run from target shooting to self defense to varmint shooting to deer and hog hunting to ………..? One of the more common themes tends to be for a good choice of hunting bullets. We had recently developed a bullet that we had hoped would be a good performer out of the Blackout. This bullet was introduced late in the year for 2015. The 135 gr. HP Varminter #2124 was intended to be a bullet that would produce good accuracy and dependable expansion at lower velocity levels. We feel that the bullet has met the criteria with performance to spare. The accuracy has been very good from the reports and our testing. The bullet has not been out long enough to harvest much feedback on game performance. So, we wanted to provide the shooting public a visual reference to the bullets ability and quality. In the following photos, you can see what the Varminter bullet did in blocks of ballistic gelatin.
In the photo above, we have the results of the bullet leaving the muzzle of the rifle at 2070 fps, impacting the gelatin block at a distance of 50 yards. The load we used was a max load of 17.9 grains of Winchester 296 with the bullet seated at 2.000″ even. The penetration was 12.5″, producing a wound channel that started within 1 inch and extended into the block about 9.5″ deep. The widest point of the channel was just shy of 6″ wide. This would certainly be excellent on deer sized game. The retained weight came in at 66% with a remaining weight of 89.2 grains. When one considers that gelatin is similar to shooting into solid muscle, this is very good performance.
In the photo above, we see the bullet running at the velocity of 2092 fps with the gelatin block placed at 100 yards. Here the wound channel began showing expansion at 1.5″ and extending to approximately 8″ with the widest point being around 5.5″ wide. Slightly smaller than the wound channel seen in the gel block shot at 50 yards, but still very sufficient for deer and hogs. The complete penetration was just slightly over 14″ deep. We had put 2 fourteen inch blocks end-to-end to be sure that we caught the bullets in the gelatin. The bullet was resting right between the two gel blocks. The retained weight was 113.9 grains or 84%. The load we used was a max load of 17.9 grains of Winchester 296 with the bullet seated at 2.000″ even.
As mentioned in the announcement on the #2124 .308″ 135 HP Varminter, we do not recommend velocities above 3200 fps for this bullet. At the upper velocity levels the 135 Varminter will live up to its Varminter name and give very rapid expansion. But at velocity levels around 2500- 2600 and less, this would work well as a reduced-recoil loads bullet for other 30 caliber cartridges including the 308 Win., 300 Savage, 30 BR, and would be a very good choice for use in single-shot or bolt action .30-30’s. In the Blackouts on an AR platform, the bullet has had no feeding issues.
I expect to hear quite a bit about this bullet come fall hunting season. This will be its first year to hunt, but the bullet has been very impressive already.
I am certain that we have A WINNER!