8.6 Blackout: The Next Big Thing In Big Game Hunting?

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DROPPING BIG GAME WITH A BIG CARTRIDGE

From the designers that invented the Honey Badger, The Fix (to what we’re still not sure), and the .300 Blackout cartridge comes the new big bore badass, 8.6 Blackout.

With a new twist on an old idea, 8.6 Blackout is a .338 caliber round designed for short barrels and suppressors. Able to deliver a ton of energy on target, but with the ballistics of a rainbow, does the hype match the promise?

Let’s dig into it and find out.

THE IDEA

Much like how the 300 BLK is designed for the AR-15 platform to give it a 30 caliber, soft shooting, wonderful to suppress round that performs well out of a short barrel – the 8.6 Blackout is the same idea (kind of) but in the AR-10.

Using .338 caliber monolithic bullets, the 8.6 Blackout is optimized for 9-12” barrels and really shines when it’s suppressed. While supersonic loads are available, the point of this cartridge is for it to work at subsonic speeds.

To pull this off, Q uses a 1:3 twist rate to raise the rotational energy of the bullet hugely. In theory, allowing it to have more energy than a standard .338 caliber round moving at the same speed.

8.6 Blackout at Silencer Co CANCON 2022 3 8.6 Blackout: The Next Big Thing In Big Game Hunting?
8.6 Blackout at CANCON 2022

At the rotational speed 8.6 Blackout operates at, monolithic bullets are required to prevent them from breaking apart mid-flight.

Basically – take a big piece of copper alloy, yeet it out of an AR-10 at about 1,050 FPS, and spin it really, really fast. The results? A ton of damage on soft tissue with an effective range of about 200 yards.

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BALLISTICS

Gorilla Ammo 285gr 8.6 BLK Subsonic

Range (Yards)Elevation (Inches)Elevation (MOA)Elevation (MIL)Windage (MOA)Windage (MIL)Energy (Ft.lbf)FPS 0-1.500006981050 503.35-6.37-1.850.550.166761033 1000.03-0.03-0.010.840.256561018 150-11.687.432.161.190.346381004 200-32.0215.274.441.530.45620990 250-61.2223.376.81.880.55604977 300-99.5231.669.212.220.64589965 350-147.1540.1311.672.550.74575953 400-204.3548.7714.192.890.84562942 450-271.3257.5616.743.210.93549932 500-348.2966.5119.353.541.03537921

Gorilla Ammo 210gr 8.6 BLK Supersonic

Range (Yards)Elevation (Inches)Elevation (MOA)Elevation (MIL)Windage (MOA)Windage (MIL)Energy (Ft.lbf)FPS 0-1.5000018101970 500.49-0.93-0.270.710.2116441877 1000001.320.3814911788 150-3.212.040.591.990.5813501702 200-9.424.51.312.690.7812221619 250-18.967.242.113.420.9911051540 300-32.1610.232.984.181.2210001464 350-49.4213.483.924.971.459051393 400-71.1716.984.945.791.698201326 450-97.8620.766.046.631.937461265 500-129.9824.827.227.492.186821209

PRACTICAL USES

Hunting. That’s about it, really.

While 8.6 Blackout is a big round, and it can move fast if you want it to, this is not a long range round. Even with a long barrel, a lot of muzzle velocity, and an unlimited wallet – 8.6 Blackout starts to drop like the stock market in ‘08 when it goes past a few hundred yards.

But inside that range, it delivers a lot of damage to anything unlucky enough to get in its way.

A big bullet with loads of energy, this is a deep penetrating round that does some insane damage. Between the size and energy of the bullet and the fancy expanding bullets that are available for it, this is a beast of a round.

The recoil is surprisingly soft, and the rifles that shoot it are nearly silent with the right suppressor. All of that together, and you have one hard-hitting, easy-to-use, and very cool hunting rifle.

As long as your game isn’t further than a couple of hundred yards from you.

MAJOR DOWNSIDE

What might kill the 8.6 Blackout is a simple lack of availability.

AR-10 barrels in 8.6 Blackout aren’t horribly hard to find, and they run about the same price as a normal AR-10 barrel. The bolts are standard AR-10 .308 Win bolts, so those are easy to source as well.

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The big problem? Ammo.

285gr 8.6 Blackout bullets

Loaded ammo for 8.6 Blackout is almost unobtainium. When a retailer gets a restock, it’s sold out almost instantly because of the line of people waiting to get their hands on some.

And it isn’t cheap, not by a long shot. As of writing this at 11 pm on Wednesday, the 8th of February, Ammoseek only has one option for 8.6 Blackout ammo, and it is over $4 per round.

If you reload, you have it a little easier. Dies are standard price, brass can be converted from 6.5 Creedmoor, and 8.6 BLK uses common powders like Accurate 1680 and VihtaVuori N32C.

.338 caliber monolithic bullets aren’t cheap, but they are available.

Ignoring the cost of equipment to reload on, you’re probably looking at about $2 per round in components to handload 8.6 BLK.

LOOSE ROUNDS

Is the 8.6 Blackout right for you? That’s your call, but I think it deserves at least some consideration.

With the rise in popularity of suppressors and the ease of access to short-er barreled rifles, the 8.6 Blackout is in a perfect position to become the next big thing.

Will it? Only time will tell.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>