The 300 Blackout has become an “overnight” success caliber for the AR15 platform.
Although it has the ability to shoot both a supersonic and also subsonic loads, the round “is at it’s pinnacle”, says Bill Alexander of Alexander Arms (who helped designed the Wedge) as a subsonic load in short barrels while using a suppressor.
The 180 grain bullet is designed specifically to work with low chamber pressures and low velocity.
Donny Shride, founder of Rainier Ballistics, the Tacoma, Washington company which developed the new bullet in conjunction with Alexander Arms, said there was a big motivation to develop the bullet because there wasn’t a reliable subsonic bullet for the 300 BLK. His contention was that not all 30 caliber bullets are created equal. More often than not, the average 30 caliber bullet will not function consistently with the 300 BLK platform.
Bottom line: Unless you have exactly the right projectile, this platform can be notoriously undependable.
“The Wedge is important,” Shride told me, because it’s first the first subsonic bullet designed from the ground up for the 300 BLK platform.
Rainier management thinks that the Wedge is a big deal, both for the law enforcement and the civilian market.
- You can run it through a suppressor so it’s also not going to be a earsplitting as a 5.56.
- Because the Wedge is subsonic, it doesn’t have the kind of velocity that will penetrate walls and cause collateral damage.
- It’s a big bullet with plenty of punch but without the kind of recoil you’ll find in a 308 NATO round.
- Unlike most rifle rounds, you can use the 300 BLK in an indoor range.
- It’s perfect for hunting certain kinds of game such as hogs.
- It’s economical to load and also expands down to extremely low velocities.
For these reasons, and more, the 300 BLK has been a runaway success. The downside is that factory ammo can often be tough to come by and expensive to boot.
“That, said Shride, “is where the Wedge comes in”. He reckons that reloaders can roll their own ammo for approximately half the price of a factory load and tailor loads precisely to their rifles.
Designing the Wedge
The Wedge brain trust, which included both Rainier Ballistics and Alexander Arms, decided that a bullet weight of 180 grains would work best. Alexander said that a series of bullet weights were tested during development and it was a surprise to the design team that this lighter than typical weight provided the most flexibility in loading. (While not obvious for a subsonic, this weight is driven by the platform and the need to reliably cycle both short and long barrel weapons with and without silencers).
In addition, the bullet’s plated construction has the proper copper thickness to allow for reliable operation through suppressors. Jackets will not shed or split away when loaded to subsonic velocities and protect the gas system from the lead core. Alexander was very adamant in saying that the bullet is strictly subsonic and should never be used as a supersonic load.
Bill Alexander said that for best results a twist rate of 1 in 8 is recommended for 16” barrels and 1 in 7 for shorter barrels. The bullet feeds well with “correct” M4-type feed ramps but he suggested, “they may require slight smoothing if the edges are sharp.” The manufacturer told us that wedge loads did not typically necessitate the need to modify the spring and buffer group to operate dependably. In trials a standard carbine spring and H2 buffer work extremely well. For the quietest loadings it is possible to either adjust down the gas port with and adjustable block or use heavier buffer/spring combinations.
The HP design will reliably expand at velocities down to 600 fps and will expand up to 0.4” diameter. The plated construction has a copper thickness and ductility that allows for safe operation through suppressors. (Jackets will not shed or split away when loaded to subsonic velocities and protect the gas system from the lead core). These bullets are triple struck during manufacture and subject to close quality assurance. At close ranges the projectile will shed both petals of lead and also copper to create secondary fragments.
The Wedge was thoroughly tested in standard 10% gelatin at 4 degrees centrigrade. Typical shank penetration is between 20 and 30 inches, thus providing plenty of margin in tougher game and also if bone is hit. This is extremely important in a low velocity projectile, the hollow point design is a balance between initiating expansion at low velocities and not creating excessive expansion in tough material leading to lack of penetration to vitals. Typically, the hollow point is not as deep as one would first expect.
Loading for the Wedge
Tips for reloaders:
- The projectile can be deformed and accuracy will suffer if excessive neck tension or a heavy crimp is applied. Ideally the case neck tension should not deform pulled projectiles by more than 0.0005” and the crimp position should be nearly imperceivable on pulled projectiles.
- Bell should be crimped (removed) with less than .003” crimp into the plated bullet. Slight .001” indentation in copper plating is plenty adequate for keeping the ‘Wedge’ in proper case position for function.
- We have had most luck with Redding dies as an off the shelf solution and use the Match seater with micrometer adjustment.
- A loaded length of 2.100” to 2.120” is perfect for most barrels and rifles. There are some differences between different manufacturers but loading the round to these lengths so it chambers and drops free easily will usually yield the best results.
- When loaded correctly with the correct level of crimp the Wedge will function in most rifles and is safe in suppressors. Excessive crimp or shaving of the bullet jacket during loading will cause the separation of the bullet jacket and subsequent problems when running suppressed.
- Best results at 50 yards (see photo above) were with 10.3 gr AA 1680 powder from Western Powders.