U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The Honey Badger, a short-barreled AR-15 designed by Kevin Brittingham while at AAC, was famous long before it was even available to the public. Many personal builds utilizing PDW stocks were done under the Honey Badger name between the years the design was released and the time when Q finally released it. Finally the true Honey Badger is out and about, even available in a Q/Noveske collaboration as the Ghetto Blaster. While that controversial name was dropped in favor of the Gen 4 N4 PDW, Noveske has since returned it to the line-up. Having found it difficult to procure Q’s Honey Badger, I did the next best thing: I got the nearly identical Noveske Ghetto Blaster and a Q Honey Badger barrel!
Let’s check out the tech specs, as provided by Q:
- Standard AR/M4 Barrel Extension
- Indexed, Adjustable Gas Block
- Tapered Muzzle – Our 25° Tapered Muzzle provides several advantages over the traditional 90° shoulder.
- Improved concentricity of muzzle accessories and silencers to the axis of the barrel’s bore.
- Better accuracy and repeatability (point-of-impact shift) when removing and reinstalling silencers.
- Increased surface area, preventing accessories and silencers from coming loose without the need for adhesives and unnecessary amounts of torque.
- Length: 7″ and 16″ available
- Twist: 1:5 twist for the 7″ barrel, 1:6 twist for the 16″ barrel
- Assembly Weight: .97 lbs (7″), 1.8 lbs (16″)
- Muzzle Thread: 5/8-24
First, I want to reiterate that the .300 AAC Blackout cartridge was developed during the time Kevin Brittingham still owned AAC. He took the design with him when he sold AAC and (after a stop at Sig) founded Q. He knows the cartridge inside and out. So why is his barrel running a 1:5 twist when nearly all others are using 1:7 or 1:8? That fast twist is advertised as the key to stabilizing the really long subsonic rounds. Let’s see!
There’s a couple interesting items to discuss here, besides the less-common twist rate. First, the muzzle is tapered at a gentle 25° rather than the usual 90° shoulder. While the benefits are covered in Q’s advertising points above, there is one potential drawback. Not all suppressor mounts that are compatible with a 90° shoulder will be compatible with a 25°. I can say this is true for the SAS T.O.M.B mount for the SAS Reaper at the least, though I’ve not found any others yet. This meant I couldn’t use my light titanium suppressor, and had to use my throwback AAC 762-SDN-6. The SAS mount has a sharp back shoulder, which dug in (and would have gouged) the taper on the barrel.
Next to break down is the gas system, which is proprietary to this barrel. While the adjustability of the gas block is nothing unique, the fact that it’s secured with a jam nut (as well as a set screw) is rather singular. The gas block itself adjusts easily, using a .05″ allen head adjustment screw to tune the gas flow, and a 5/64″ allen head set screw to prevent inadvertent creeping of the adjustment screw. This system is reliable, though a little slow to work with. It’s best used when set for a wide variety of loads, or tuned to one specific load. It’s not as “seat-of-the-pants as a lever-adjusted block like a Noveske Switchblock, but it’s secure once set.
Installation is straight up normal for any AR15 barrel, with the exception of tightening down the gas block’s jam nut. That added all of 15 seconds to the assembly time.
This barrel took a long time to get. The first problem was demand outpaced production. When the machines finally caught up, it didn’t take long for me to get this into one of my SBR’s. First into a homebrewed build, with a V7 enlightened handguard and topped with an ACOG. The first few times out, I didn’t spend much time working on groups. I shot a few to see what ammo this barrel liked best, but I follow the advice of a well-respected manufacturer of precision AR parts who said “groups shrink by half after 100 rounds of so”. Given the cost of factory .300 blackout, that was a tough pill to swallow. It did explain why my old favorite (cheap) barrel was outperforming new (expensive) ones by such a margin. For a little while anyways.
After a few busy months in that receiver set, my form 4 SBR’ing the Noveske Ghetto Blaster came back. I swapped the Honey Badger barrel out, into the licensed clone (with Q parts). The only real difference is the presence of ambi-controls in the Noveske variant. Over the months I’ve tested a variety of supersonic and subsonic rounds for accuracy and velocity.
AVERAGE CHRONOGRAPH/GROUP RANGE
(Shot at 50/100 yards, changed from inches to moa for ease of reference)
- Barnes 90 gr RangeAR: 2152 fps/ 1.1 – 2.2 moa
- Federal 120 gr Powr Shock: 1848 fps/ .5 – 2 moa
- Federal 150 gr Fusion: 1587 fps/ 1.8 – 2.1 moa
- Remington 220 gr UMC: 933 fps/ 3.3 moa (out of ammo after 1 group)
- Discreet Ballistics 188 gr Selous Expanders: 1001 fps/ 1.8 – 2 moa
The Discreet Ballistics subsonic round is worth taking a special look at. This specific version of their Selous Machined Expander is tailored for 5-11″ barrels and 1/5 twist. Discreet Ballistics has done a lot to disprove the notion that subsonic rounds aren’t lethal. I shot three rounds into a block of Clear Ballistic’s calibrated 10% ballistic gelatin, and all made massive corkscrew-spiraled wound channels. All penetrated through the 16″ long block, though I was able to catch one in a cardboard box behind the gel block. Measured from the two widest points, this fantastic round measures .93″. A round Discreet Ballistics provided me from their own gel test expanded out to .91″. That’s 301% and 295% expansion, respectively. The extra rotational velocity from a 1/5 twist rate barrel helps these open up to fantastic diameters. Lethal indeed.
The Honey Badger barrel is certainly plenty accurate for the purposes SBR/pistol length barrels are used. It is compact, light, and comes with versatility in the gas block. While the tapered shoulder is forward-thinking, it isn’t completely backwards compatible with all muzzle devices. Ultimately this barrel is best used as designed, within the complete Honey Badger package. If you have a forend that doesn’t obscure the gas block adjustment port, and a suppressor mount/muzzle device that works with the taper upfront, you’ve got yourself a great barrel made by the mind that contributed to both the original AAC Honey Badger and the Sig Rattler. This barrel is also available in a 16″ version, both run $350. Check em out!
About Rex Nanorum
Rex Nanorum is an Alaskan Expatriate living in Oregon with his wife and kids. Growing up on commercial fishing vessels, he found his next adventure with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt. After 5 tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, he adventured about the west coast becoming a commercial fisheries and salvage SCUBA diver, rated helicopter pilot instructor (CFII) and personal trainer, before becoming a gear reviewer and writer.”