November 5th, 2011

Smith & Wesson Rolls Out .300 Whisper AR-Platform Rifle

Smith & Wesson is going to produce an AR15-type rifle chambered for the .300 Whisper cartridge. This will be an addition to S&W’s Military & Police (M&P) Rifle series. As the first production rifle in the AR platform to be chambered in .300 Whisper (and .300 AAC Blackout), the new rifle offers both sub-sonic and supersonic capabilities. Originally developed and pioneered by J.D. Jones of SSK Industries, the 300 Whisper is based on the .221 Rem Fireball case necked up to .308. Notably, S&W says its M&P15 .300 Whisper is compatible with both the .300 Whisper and the .300 AAC Blackout (BLK) cartridges. The latter is a SAAMI-standardized, trademark-free variant of the .300 Whisper.

Smith Wesson M&P15 .300 Whisper .300 AAC blackout

Smith Wesson M&P15 .300 Whisper .300 AAC blackout

Manufactured on the M&P15 (AR-clone) platform, S&W’s new semi-automatic .300 Whisper rifle features an 1 in 7.5” twist, 16″ chrome-moly barrel. Both the forged 7075 aluminum upper and lower receivers have been coated with a Realtree APG camo finish. Standard features include forward assist and a six-position, collapsible CAR stock. MSRP for the complete rifle is $1,119. A separate .300 Whisper AR flat-top upper will also be offered, with an $819.00 MSRP.

“As the popularity of the modern sporting rifle continues to grow, more hunters are seeing the advantages of taking these firearms into the field,” said Mario Pasantes, S&W Senior Vice President of Marketing. “The M&P15 300 Whisper gives consumers the ability to use either lightweight or heavy cartridges during hunting or recreational applications without changing rifles or barrels.”

Is Hunting the Real Market for S&W’s .300 Whisper M&P15?

Editor’s Comment: If this gun is intended for hunting, we’re not sure Smith & Wesson got this one right. While the .300 Whisper is an interesting cartridge, it was originally designed to run sub-sonic, or be used with a suppressor. At sub-sonic velocities, the cartridge doesn’t pack much punch — not much more than a heavy pistol round. So you’re carrying around an 8-lb rifle (with optics) that only hits like a pistol. On the other hand, it can be loaded up to supersonic velocities, yielding ballistics similar to the .30-30.

But if you run it supersonic, why mess with this oddball cartridge at all? There are many other proven, game-killing chamberings for which a huge variety of inexpensive hunting ammo is widely available. (In fairness, .300 Whisper factory ammunition does exist. Hornady now offers both 1200 fps sub-sonic and 2375 fps supersonic .300 Whisper Ammo.)

Now the use of a .300 Whisper with a suppressor is intriguing. But, realistically, how many American hunters are going to get fingerprinted and pay the $200 tax for a suppressor, not to mention the hefty cost of the suppressor itself? As for the rifle configuration, a 16″ barrel is quite short for a hunting gun, and a wobbly first-gen collapsible stock that rattles is the last thing we’d want to take hunting.

Our guess is that most purchasers of this rifle will simply use it for plinking or tactical games, where the low recoil and long barrel life associated with the .300 Whisper will be welcome. One source suggests that the .300 Whisper has become popular with metallic silhouette shooters due to its low recoil and high accuracy. However we doubt you’ll be seeing many M&P15s on the silhouette course, given the funky, collapsible buttstock and short sight radius. (Under NRA Rules, AR15-type rifles are eligible for metallic silhouette competition under rule 3.1.2, but they must use “standard type stock[s]”.)

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.