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300 Blackout vs. 9mm: Which One Is For You? preview image
Jul 31 2023
8 min read

300 Blackout vs. 9mm: Which One Is For You?


Get ready to rumble, firearm lovers! In today’s caliber matchup and showdown, we’re looking at the heavy-hitting 300 blackout against the ultra-versatile 9mm.

Which cartridge will come out on top? The only way to find out is to stick around until the end.

With years of firearm experience and countless recreational rounds fed to my personal collection, I’m ready to guide you through the key differences, pros, cons, and even alternatives to these two monstrously popular calibers. The winner may just surprise you.

Overview of 300 Blackout

300 BLK Ammo For Sale

SIG SAUER Elite Ball .300 AAC Blackout

A Closer Look at .300 AAC Blackout

The .300 AAC Blackout, known as the .300 BLK as well, is a highly popular rifle cartridge designed for use in AR-style firearms.

The round was initially developed to provide a more effective shooting solution for various special operations forces, and it combines the modularity and familiar feel of the AR platform with very impressive ballistics.

The ability to perform optimally as both subsonic loads and supersonic loads makes the .300 Blackout highly versatile and ideal for various shooting applications, from hunting to self-defense, and even tactical use.

Overview of 9mm

9mm Ammo For Sale


Unveiling the 9x19mm Parabellum

The 9mm round, or 9×19 Parabellum, is one of the most popular caliber choices for pistols around the world.

The 9mm is known for its excellent balance between size, power, and capacity, and these are just some of the reasons that the 9mm has become one of the default sidearms for military, law enforcement, and civilian use.

The manageable recoil makes it a perfect choice for shooters of all ability and experience levels, while still putting out plenty of power and staying incredibly accurate. The 9mm round is perfect for target shooting as well as self-defense.

Specification Chart for 300 Blackout and 9mm

Specification300 blackout9mm
Parent Case.223 Remington/5.56 NATO7.65x21mm Parabellum
Bullet Diameter7.82mm9.01mm
Case Length35mm19.15mm
Overall Length57mm29.69mm
Cartridge Weight16-20g10-14g
Muzzle Velocity1,000-2,200 fps950-1,400 fps
Muzzle Energy500-1,300 ft-lbs300-450 ft-lbs

Key Differences Between 300 Blackout and 9mm

Platform Compatibility

.300 AAC Blackout rounds shot from a suppressed M4 carbine. Source: Wikimedia

One of the primary differences between the 300 Blackout and 9mm round is the platform that each was initially designed for. 300 Blackout is intended mainly for shooters on the AR platform, while the 9mm is primarily a pistol cartridge that can be used in some carbines and submachine guns as well.

This will ultimately impact the types of firearms that are widely available for each caliber, as well as the potential aftermarket accessory and attachment support.


The ballistic profile of each round is going to have an impact on how you choose what’s best for you. The 300 Blackout has a more versatile profile, making it adaptable to a wider range of uses, across both subsonic and supersonic rounds.

This makes it easier to find a 300 Blackout round that is exactly what the shooter needs, whether it’s quiet operation or maximizing energy transfer.

The 9mm, on the other hand, is still quite versatile, generally speaking, but it has a narrower range of ballistic performance compared to 300 Blackout.

9mm is also usually exclusively supersonic loads. This means the 9mm has some range but won’t be able to pivot as easily, particularly with a more specialized platform.

Effective Range

When it comes to effective range, there can be clear winners and losers, and here, the 300 Blackout is definitely a winner.

It has a longer effective range compared to the 9mm, making it a much better choice for hunting or distance engagements. The extended range of 300 Blackout can make it a more suitable option for hunting large game from further away or for long-range tactical operations where you need to reach out and touch targets at far greater distances than the average self-defense scenario.

That said, the effective range of the 9mm is often more than enough for the usual self-defense and law enforcement scenarios.


If minimizing felt recoil is important to you, the 9mm will often have a lower recoil than 300 Blackout. This also makes 9mm more accessible to novice shooters that may be intimidated by calibers that kick hard.

Lower recoil can also help boost accuracy since shooters are less likely to flinch or develop other bad habits from heavy recoil. The higher recoil of the 300 Blackout may necessitate more practice and training to help some shooters through the learning curve.

Terminal Performance

Terminal performance is another area where the 300 Blackout has a distinct edge over the 9mm, particularly when using frangible or expanding rounds.

This makes the 300 Blackout even more effective for hunting and self-defense, where energy transfer and soft tissue damage are critical. However, many modern 9mm hollow point rounds have contributed to the caliber having improved terminal performance, helping to narrow the gap between the two slightly.

Ammunition Availability and Cost

9mm ammo is cheap, and it’s everywhere. Last week I got a box of 9mm steel case for free with 5 gallons of gas and a roller grill hotdog.

This makes 9mm the obvious choice if you chew through a lot of ammo. Generally speaking, the popularity of 9mm also means you’ll have access to a massive array of loads and bullets from every major manufacturer.

Suppressor Use

Since 300 Blackout rounds can be used with subsonic loads, it makes them perfect for use with a suppressor. When paired with a suppressor, 300 Blackout rounds can offer a much quieter shooting experience than most 9mm ammunition varieties, making it the perfect option for discrete operations, hunting without alerting other game, or just reducing operational noise in general.

9mm is largely supersonic, and the firearms themselves are less compatible with suppressors as an attachment than the AR platform.

Magazine Capacity

Looking at 300 Blackout vs. 9mm, the 9mm firearms will often have a larger base magazine capacity. This larger capacity can prove to be a significant advantage in self-defense scenarios or tactical operations, where more rounds between reloads can make a crucial difference.

However, in other situations, like hunting or precision shooting, higher magazine capacities are less important. Additionally, in many locations, high-capacity magazines are more tightly regulated, which means if you need more capacity you may not be able to simply go out and buy that additional capacity.

300 Blackout Pros & Cons

  • Greater effective range
  • Versatile ballistics
  • Superior terminal performance
  • Limited platform compatibility
  • Higher recoil
  • More expensive ammunition

9mm Pros & Cons

  • Wide platform compatibility
  • Manageable recoil
  • Affordable and readily available ammunition
  • Shorter effective range compared to 300 Blackout
  • Less versatile ballistics
  • May be less effective for hunting large game

Other Alternatives to Consider

While .300 Blackout and 9mm are both incredibly popular and versatile rounds, you may still want to consider other options. Here are some potential alternatives to these two caliber choices:

  • 5.56 NATO / .223 Remington: This popular rifle cartridge is ideal for the AR platform, and has low recoil with a relatively flat trajectory.
  • .308 Winchester / 7.62 NATO: A versatile and powerful rifle round that is perfect for hunting, tactical, and long-range shooting needs.
  • .45 ACP: This is a hard-hitting, large-caliber pistol round that is known for its stopping power and peak performance in self-defense situations.


Do Special Forces use 300 Blackout?

Yes. 300 Blackout was initially developed for use by special operations teams and is still the chosen caliber of many law enforcement and military units around the country, and the world.

What is the advantage of 300 Blackout?

The biggest advantage of the 300 Blackout round is its versatility, which works with both sub- and supersonic loads, has impressive terminal ballistics, and has a greater effective range than many other rounds.

Is 300 Blackout a good self-defense round?

Yes. 300 Blackout can be a great self-defense round due to its flat trajectory and terminal performance, especially when using expanding or frangible bullets. The only downside is the considerable recoil may not be ideal for some shooters.


When it comes to picking a winner between 300 Blackout and 9mm, it’s going to come down to your unique needs, and what use you had in mind. The 300 Blackout offers a far greater effective range and an even higher degree of versatility than the 9mm, making it a superb choice for hunting and tactical needs.

The 9mm, however, provides the user with a much more manageable shooting experience and more affordable ammunition, which makes it a great option for self-defense and general shooting.

Use the information you learned here, combined with what you know about your wants and needs, and you’ll be making a well-informed decision.

Brady Kirkpatrick photo Brady Kirkpatrick is the founder of, the #1 online gun search engine. Recognizing the challenges of finding the right firearm at the right price, Brady built a platform to simplify the process, comparing prices across hundreds of online dealers and providing valuable content from trustworthy bloggers. His commitment to user-centricity and innovation has shaped into a comprehensive resource for gun enthusiasts. In addition to Gun Made, Brady has also lent his firearm expertise to an array of renowned publications, such as The Truth About Guns, CrossBreed Holsters, Cheaper than Dirt, 19FortyFive, We Are The Mighty, and many others.


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