The .300BLK started life as the proprietary “.300 Whisper” when Kevin was still in charge of AAC. He was primarily responsible for taking this wildcat cartridge and getting it SAAMI approved. This is no small task, and is the reason why it is now a ridiculously successful cartridge by all standards. His new company, Q, is currently making a bolt action gun called “The Fix”. It’s as interesting and exciting as a bolt gun can get, but it’s still a bolt gun that costs $3,000+. It can’t be moving a lot of units in 2018.
The .338 Federal is a .308 case necked up to .338 diameter, developed by Federal and Sako. This caliber was introduced in 2006 as a big game cartridge that fit in more standard, short-action rifles, and didn’t kick like a mule. The .338 Fed’s main selling point was that it could shoot heavier bullets than a .308 faster than a .308, only requiring a new barrel on a rifle you probably already own. In fact, the .338Fed shoots 210gr pills faster than a .308 shoots a 185gr! That’s frankly incredible. There’s always tradeoffs when choosing calibers, but from .308 to .338 there is none besides recoil. At least, if the .338 had seen any sort of market adoption. The .338Fed floundered over the last decade, being chambered by very few rifle makers, and only in the last year or so by Wilson Combat. 8.6mm Creed isn’t even released yet, and I’d bet that more people know about it than about the .338 Fed. I expect factory chamberings to follow accordingly. But, what is this 8.6mm Creedmoor?
The 8.6 Creedmoor is a joint development between Hornady and Q. They took a 6.5 Creedmoor, necked it up to .338, and designed it to shoot subsonic and supersonic projectiles. It’s just like the .300BLK, but in the .308-family of calibers. If you’ll notice in the top image (taken from Kit Badger over here) it seems to have actually been referred to as “338 Blackout” in some capacity. It is aimed at hunters as much as at shooters who want Hollywood-quiet guns with more performance than .300BLK offers. Q will also be offering .338-caliber silencers, meaning that you can call them up and get a whole weapons system at once, ready to go. All you’d need to add is some sort of optic.
This is pure speculation, but I imagine that it came about from Kevin Brittingham looking for a way to replicate the unrivaled success of the .300BLK. I imagine that he created the 8.6 as a way to increase sales and hopefully recreate the magic of the .300BLK. Like I said, that is pure speculation on my part, but if I was in Kevin’s shoes, that’s exactly what I’d be doing.
Now, enough background. Let’s get into what I think about these cartridges.
When I first saw the 8.6 Creed, I was initially against it. This load already exists, so why would I choose some new version over the available .338 Federal? I’ve since come to realize that this is a good thing. My dream of owning a .338 Fed bolt gun is even more likely to happen in the future now than before. Federal and Sako have done an absolutely terrible job of promoting their creation. Kevin has done an amazing job of drumming up hype and awareness, getting a lot of people excited for what I consider to be a very useful and severely underrepresented bullet diameter
I’ve had an idea rolling around in my head for a few years as to what would be my ideal hunting gun. I may go into this idea in more detail later on, but for the purposes of this discussion, just know that it would be chambered in .338 Federal. Or at least it would have been. If 8.6 Creedmoor gets enough attention and market penetration once it’s released, it’s likely to take over my ideal hunting gun’s chambering.
Since I’ve started this post, the 8.6 Creedmoor hype has tapered off considerably, but I have no doubt that development of the cartridge and the rifles that it will be chambered for continues on behind the scenes. In fact, I’d be very surprised if I didn’t see it all over the place come SHOT 2019. Once again, that’s pure speculation on my part, but a boy can dream.
The main takeaway should be that there are still people in the industry who innovate, who come up with new ideas as well as improving old ones. Kevin Brittingham is one of those people. As The Everyday Marksman put it, “Kevin’s like the Elon Musk of Guns,” and I couldn’t agree more. Here’s to hoping that he keeps on making more cool stuff and improving the industry as a whole.
See you next Friday. -S_S