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Grey Ghost Precision Dagger 300 Blackout

[This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 25]
Grey Ghost Precision Dagger Brings 300 AAC Blackout to the Bolt Gun

Three-hundred AAC in a bolt gun. Do we need the accuracy of a bolt gun when 300 BLK is more of a 300 yards-and-in punch in the solar plexus than a 1,000-yard nasal cavity cleaner?

That was the second thing we considered when we fondled the Grey Ghost Precision Dagger. The first was, “This is frickin’ cool.” Like so many things in the world, practicality doesn’t always square up to performance … or popularity. Nose piercing, we don’t get it. Nipples on men, totally don’t need them, but we’ve all got them. Inhaling the smoke from burning leaves, who thought of that one? Shaving, commercial air travel, ballpoint pens … all these things were once thought absurd, but are now commonplace.

With that in mind, we were willing to give the idea of a backpackable, folding-stock, 300 BLK bolt gun a chance and put it through its paces. We wondered how the svelte Dagger would do on a South Texas hog hunt, patrolling for swine on foot over a few days and nights. We thought you might wonder the same thing. …

300
300 BLK’s rainbow-like trajectory might feel odd, but there’s no arguing its effectiveness, especially when comparing the round to 5.56mm. We reached out to Ethan Lessard, Engineering VP at Q and one of the big brains that helped Advanced Armament Corporation bring 300 AAC Blackout to market in 2010, for some fun facts that explain how the cartridge compares to its .223 Rem and .308 Win siblings.

He says it takes a 21-inch barrel to get the same muzzle energy out of 5.56mm M193 that a 300 BLK 110 Barnes bullet produces using a shorter 14-inch barrel. “If both are fixed at 14 inches, 300 BLK has 23 percent more muzzle energy, plus a far greater expanded diameter in gel.”
That’s supersonic; when we’re talking subs, “300 BLK is more likely to stabilize a 175-grain or heavier bullet in a factory 300 BLK barrel than a .308 Win,” says Lessard. “Meaning that off-the-shelf subsonic 300 BLK is more lethal than subsonic .308.”

Working at shorter ranges, say under 500 yards, Lessard says a 300 BLK setup will give you what you need in a package much smaller and lighter than a .308 Win rifle; there’s more factory-loaded subsonic ammo available in 300 BLK than in .308 Win; and 300 BLK has more consistent velocity because the case fill is close to 100 percent.

So, 300 AAC makes perfect sense in a 14.5-inch barrel. But what does a short-range bolt gun bring to the hunting and tactical arenas?

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Hunter
For starters, the rifle is small. Folded up, it’ll fit in a pack. Nosy, Bambi-loving neighbors won’t spot you rolling out with your hunting gear — a real concern in some neighborhoods. It won’t get in the way when walking or climbing into a stand.

There are lots of localities that restrict hunting with .22 calibers. However, .30 cal and up is the norm for hunting throughout America, so 300 BLK makes plenty of sense for close-range animal harvesting in hilly or wooded areas — that’s many places east of the Mississippi. Combine 300 BLK’s terminal performance with its ability to run in a small, lightweight platform optimized for short barrels, feeding from common .223 magazines, and the appeal increases.

We’ve heard hunting with semi-autos is restricted in some states. Google tells us this is only the case in Pennsylvania and Delaware. There may be more local ordinances in other states that limit the use of semi-auto rifles, so the Dagger will appeal to hunters looking to use the small .30-caliber cartridge to punch deer-sized game tags in AR-unfriendly locales.

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MIL/LE
In the law enforcement realm, 300 BLK checks a few desirable boxes. Aside from all the well-known traits that make it a replacement for an entry team’s pistol caliber subguns, it can also service more distant targets with increased lethality compared to a pistol caliber subgun.

Dan Fay, an emergency response team’s sniper team leader in New Jersey, says, “In suburban New Jersey, the longest shot we’re going to take is the length of a football field.”

The standards for positive identification are incredibly high when saving whorish soccer moms from armed-and-jealous husbands in the ’burbs. This isn’t Fallujah, where the fog of war is a viable courtroom defense for a blown shot or bad read that injures or kills an innocent.

For him and his guys, he’s looking for any rifle that lets them set up quickly and quietly. He says mounting stairs or crawling around the furniture in someone’s family room is a pain in the ass with 22 inches of barrel poking everything. He’d like to see his .308s supplanted by a shorter gun with reduced recoil. Getting new or replacement guns for the sniper team is hard enough without trying to explain to city hall that a new generation of semi-autos is just as accurate, reliable, and easy to maintain as their legacy Rem 700s. Not gonna happen. So, the Dagger might be a viable option for an urban or suburban PD looking to ditch their .308s.

On the military side, a 300 BLK bolty makes sense for all the same reasons it does for an LE sniper. For a unit working in an urban area, the simplicity, accuracy, and reliability of a bolt gun is icing on the cake when it can come in a package that’s smaller and lighter than a 7.62 NATO sniper systems.

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G.W. Ayers from GGP said they set out to make a small, light, and lethal rifle with a reduced signature that wouldn’t be apparent to an enemy combatant in an urban setting until they’re engaged. A gun this small and quiet is a counter-sniper team’s worst nightmare.

“The only way you’ll know where the shot came from with this thing,” says Ayers, “is by the direction of the blood spray coming from your buddy’s exploding face.”

Accuracy
But, what can a bolt gun in 300 BLK do that a semi-auto can’t? Is there a noticeable gain in accuracy when shooting a 300 BLK bolt gun?

Maybe. Bolt guns have a slim, theoretical advantage over rack-grade ARs. In theory, over- and undergassing the gun isn’t an issue in a bolty. Loads can be developed to maximize the efficiency of a given bullet/barrel combination without regard to the gases and pressures needed to reset the action. But, to truly eke out every last bit of accuracy and performance from a manual-feed you’ve gotta load your own ammo, or only use the ammo recommended by your gun’s maker.

Bolt guns also have a single recoil impulse to manage, as opposed to the several felt in an AR platform. While it might not translate directly into more accuracy, it makes calling your shots easier. And that means better follow-up shots.

Despite all the benefits that come with a bolt gun, when it comes to this caliber, there’s one clear reason to build a bolt gun versus a semi-auto — because you just want a 300 BLK bolty.

Getting behind the gun and feeling the soft put … put … as you send 220-grain projectiles through a silencer and on target or flesh is an enlightening experience. Imagine the giggles you had the first time you heard a silenced Ruger 10/22. Now add the ability to do some serious work without much more noise or violence at the operator’s station.

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The Gun
Our test gun is a preproduction sample that GGP is using to prove out the concept. It features a trued and blueprinted Remington 700 short action mated with a skip-fluted, 14.5-inch barrel with a 1:8 twist, 5R rifling, and a medium sporter contour, dropped into an aluminum Orias Chassis from Mega Arms. Ours is tipped with a SureFire WarComp, but the production model will have a SilencerCo Specwar/Omega brake pinned and welded in place.

There’s about two hours put into accurizing and customizing each of the actions under the steady hands of GGP’s gunsmith partners, C&H Precision Weapons in Labelle, Florida. The stock 700 SA gets a square face, recut abutment lugs, recut threads, hand-lapped bolt, custom headspacing, a custom bolt knob, and a Sako extractor. The action is topped with a Seekins Precision 20 MOA rail.

Our gun came with an X-Caliber barrel. C&H’s Buck Holly says the company reams the match chamber for the 300 BLK on the forgiving end of the headspace gauge to accommodate more types of ammo. While the X-Caliber barrel seems to shoot well, the production Dagger will have a Proof Research carbon-fiber composite barrel for their weight reduction and accuracy.

To keep things small, GGP used an XLR folding stock with a multi-position AR receiver extension. The stock isn’t nailed down yet. The test gun was supplied with a Magpul CTR, but we couldn’t get a good sight picture with our optic so we installed a Luth-AR MBA-3 carbine stock. That allowed us to raise the cheek height so we could see the reticle in our EOTech 1-6x VUDU optic, mounted in a Spuhr Mounts SP-3002. GGP is still testing stocks and may ship it with the CTR and a riser, or the Luth-AR … and they’re also considering Magpul’s newly redesigned PRS Gen3 precision stock.

The last piece of the puzzle from the factory is the trigger. This is a tough one to explain. GGP is sticking with the Remington X-Mark Pro trigger. It gets cleaned up and tuned to exactly 2.5 pounds. The trigger feels OK. It breaks cleanly, but it’s a hair on the mushy side. This would be a big concern on a 1,000-yard bench gun, but it’s really adequate for a 300-yard brawler.

Feel aside, the ergos of the trigger are worth mentioning. The Orias is a full (pistol) grip chassis, but the X-Mark is really set up for a semi- or straight grip stock. Used with a more modern grip, the trigger shoe sits high and rearward. Guys with sausage fingers may find they’re breaking shots with the tip of the trigger shoe.

300-blackout

Benched
Benching the gun with a bipod, sandbag, and an assortment of ammo, our best group came from SilencerCo 300 Blackout Subsonic 220-grain Sierra Matchking at 1 MOA averaging 1,036 fps with our SureFire SOCOM 762 silencer installed. Our next best group was 1.2 MOA with Lehigh Defense 195-grain Maximum Expansion averaging 1,086 fps, also with the can.
We found a barely noticeable POI shift with the SureFire can, but it was so slight that it’d be tough to definitively say it was a shift at all. Groups were maybe 0.1 MOA tighter with the can installed, and we figure shooting 300 AAC without a can should be a prosecutable offense.

Remington’s Premier Match 125-grain and its 220-grain OTM had a hard time settling in. After two boxes of the 125-grain rounds printing shapeless constellations all over the target, we decided the gun just didn’t like the ammo.

We had zero feeding malfunctions over the 200-plus-round course of fire using polymer .223 mags from MDT. Never using them before, we have no idea how well they work with .223, but we were thoroughly impressed with the reliability of the 10-round mags feeding the BLK.

The action was smooth and hitch-free. The custom bolt knob added the leverage needed to lift and run the bolt very quickly without binding the action.

In The Field
Three days in South Texas saw us tromping the sandy loam soils in search of hogs and coyotes. We pushed through tall grasses and mesquite, ducked fences, and climbed wadi canyons. Hauling a 24-inch barreled .308 in this terrain would have added considerable frustration to the experience. In these parts, nature liked to grab at everything. After the first night wandering the fields and crossing though the mesquite treelines, even a rifle sling proved an annoyance and was left in camp the next day.

We figured out the sternum strap on a Mystery Ranch ASAP pack was long enough to wrap around the receiver extension on the Dagger, keeping the gun from dropping during some athletic movement and supporting about 80 percent of the gun’s weight. There was enough slack in the strap that the gun could be lifted into firing position without any rejiggering. With the gun semi-slung this way, the stock could be carried comfortably for hours, the weight spread through the pack harness.

In and out of trucks, climbing tree stands, the little gun showed its worth. The rifle fit anywhere in a vehicle with ease, and it folded up and fit in some larger backpacks. We took advantage of The Dagger’s M-LOK slots to hold our Kinetic Development Group Kinect-mount-equipped Atlas bipod. The Kinect made it easy to snap the bipod off after confirming zero. The mounting points were also used to hang a SureFire M600V IR Scout Light that was useful at night with a PVS-14.

The flat bottom worked well for supporting shots on everything from logs to fences. We didn’t get a chance to test the terminal ballistic properties of the Lehigh Defense 300 BLK Maximum Expansion round in anything but a dirt hillside when we were confirming zeros. Pity.

Hog patrols, screaming bunny decoys for the coyotes, gut piles, and five hours freezing in a high hide should have paid off with something. But, the Dagger wouldn’t draw blood on our watch.

Conclusions
With several weeks and roughly 300 rounds behind us with the Dagger, we’ve got to admit the gun has its place. It’s a fine short-range soul extractor and a great truck gun; taking up little space next to the console, but coming up and out fast when a coyote appears at the edge of the property.

While the Dagger might not be the most practical gun on the market, a lot of thought went into the gun’s design. The result is a finely honed edge that excels in tight quarters when reliability and accuracy are paramount.

EOTech’s VUDU 1-6x 24mm Magnified Optic

eotech-prs-vudu-optic

EOTech’s first step into the magnified optic market is intended to be a size-12 boot in the ass of the glass establishment. The first focal plane VUDU 1-6x is coming to market with an MSRP equal to the street price of its main competitor, the second focal plane Vortex Razor HD Gen II.

The 1-6 worked well for us paired with 300 AAC Blackout. The SR1 speed ring reticle was easy to index with a 1 MOA dot centered in a familiar-looking EOTech ring at 1x, and a simple milled reticle at 6x brought accuracy several hundred yards out.

The optic is illuminated with 10 brightness settings, with the last setting remembered. The magnification selector rotates 180 degrees and comes with an optional cattail that screws in for speedy ring operation. Zero stop turrets take the place of locking turrets in a nod toward frugality. Optical quality was good. We didn’t notice any distortion or chromatic aberration at the edges and reflective flaring was well controlled.

We found both the windage and the elevation turrets roughly centered as we zeroed. Adjustments were accurate when measured with 2 MOA dialed shots in cardinal directions. Waterproof to 3 meters, dust proof, and gas filled, the optic should take some abuse. The compact size and light weight were a treat when used on both the 300 BLK Dagger and a 300 BLK carbine. At $1,389 and available with a milled reticle or BDC reticles for 5.56 or 7.62, the VUDU 1-6 is worth a hard look. We’re looking forward to getting eyes on EOTech’s VUDU 2.5-10 and 3.5-18, also priced aggressively at $1,599 and $1,759, respectively.

Grey Ghost Precision Dagger
Caliber: 300 AAC Blackout
Barrel Length: 14.5 inches
Overall Length: 35.75 inches (27 inches folded)
Weight (Unloaded): 8.04 pounds (w/ empty magazine)
Magazine Capacity: 10 rounds

Accessories
EOTech PRS VUDU 1-6 x 24mm Magnified Optic    $1,389
Spuhr Mounts SP-3002 Optic Mount    $410
SureFire WARCOMP 762 Muzzle Device    $149
SureFire SOCOM762 RC Suppressor    $1,799
LUTH-AR MBA-3 Stock    $160
IR Defense IR Hunter Mk II 35mm Thermal Scope    $6,495

MSRP
TBD approx. $3,200 to $3,500

Price as Featured
$7,107 to $11,803

URL
www.greyghostgear.com

mkII-35mm-thermal

 


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