One of the most popular calibers for AR-15 platform is currently the 300 Blackout, and one of the reasons for this popularity is the ability to run subsonic ammunition with a relatively whisper-quiet report. This is a great advantage both at the range and at home for defensive use, and admittedly, it’s just plain cool.
There are plenty of technical articles about the whys and hows of the 300 Blackout, as well as the most effective suppressors on the market. What we’re going to look at here, however, is a side-by-side comparison between two AR-style 300 Blackout pistols currently offered by two very reputable companies: the CMMG Banshee and the Patriot Ordnance Factory, or POF-USA, P415 Edge.
The Banshee series includes CMMG’s shortest and lightest AR-style pistols and rifles, allowing for excellent concealment and maximum portability. This provides the user with a powerful defensive tool in an enclosed environment, such as a home or vehicle. It also allows for easy transport in a small and innocuous bag.
The Banshee pistol I received for testing is from CMMG’s 300 series, which offers specific upgrades over the 100 and 200 series. And though I received one in 300 Blackout, there are 10 different calibers available to suit just about any taste. The most noticeable upgrade for the 300 series is the Cerakote finish, and 10 colors are available. My test pistol came with a titanium Cerakote finish.
The 300 series also incorporates an ambidextrous safety selector along with CMMG’s ambidextrous charging handle. I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate the latter feature. The one thing I dislike the most about the AR platform is the location of the charging handle. A functional and comfortable ambidextrous charging handle makes it much more palatable to me.
However, the Banshee’s real sex appeal resides in its light weight (5.19 pounds) and compact form factor. It is just 23.8 inches long with the brace collapsed. It sports an 8-inch, 4140 chrome-moly barrel with a 1-in-7-inch twist rate and 5/8×24-tpi muzzle threading. CMMG includes one of its DefCan 3 flash suppressors, and the barrel has been salt-bath nitrided. There’s also an SLR Rifleworks adjustable gas block.
The sample I received is a slightly older model that came with a Gear Head Works Tailhook stabilizing brace, but Banshee pistols are currently equipped with CMMG’s five-position Micro/CQB RipBrace as well as an ambidextrous sling plate. Other trim components include a free-floating M-LOK handguard, a Magpul MOE grip and triggerguard, and a single-stage, mil-spec trigger. All in all, the Banshee is nicely appointed with quality components one would expect for a pistol of this level.
On The Edge
If you’re partial to piston-driven ARs, the P415 Edge offers an excellent suite of unique and effective features. Right off the bat, it has an adjustable gas system to ensure reliable operation and mitigate the excessive backpressure that comes with using a suppressor.
Built on POF-USA’s Gen4 lower receiver, the P415 Edge includes an ambidextrous bolt release/catch and ambidextrous safety. The lower also has an integral, enlarged triggerguard with a relief at the rear for better ergonomics, and you’ll find a flared magazine well, ambidextrous finger rests and a rear QD sling mount.
The 10.5-inch barrel sports polygonal rifling and has been nitride treated to a Rockwell hardness rating of 70. There is also a gargantuan 3-inch heat-sink barrel nut that, according to POF-USA, provides 17 times more heat dissipation than a standard barrel nut.
The bolt carrier group uses an integral key to prevent carrier tilt, and all of these parts, including the extractor and firing pin, are coated with a high-
phosphorous nickel finish for reduced friction and corrosion resistance. Included in the assembly is a patented NP3-coated roller cam pin. As opposed to the square pin found on standard ARs, this roller cam pin provides drag-free movement for a smoother action and less wear inside the upper receiver.
Other small, but critical, details that could easily be overlooked include the mil-spec anti-tilt buffer tube, the highly effective triple-port muzzle brake and POF-USA’s E2 extraction system. This system incorporates four small channels cut into the chamber walls that allow a little bit of gas to push against the neck of the empty case to assist the extractor in reliably retrieving and expelling spent shells.
Finally, POF-USA uses a drop-in trigger assembly with a 4.5-pound pull weight. Like the barrel, the trigger, disconnect and hammer are also nitride treated for extended longevity.
The good folks at Hornady and Sig Sauer provided some excellent ammunition to test the Banshee and P415 Edge, including 125-grain American Gunner JHPs and 135-grain FTXs from Hornady and 125-grain OTMs from Sig.
Both pistols were 100-percent reliable with all of the ammo on hand, digesting over 400 rounds each. For accuracy testing at 50 yards, I used an EOTech EXPS2 HWS and 3X magnifier on both of the guns to get a sense of their potential. And I came away very impressed. Even with only a 3X magnifier and shooting from a simple pistol rest or a Magpul bipod, I got sub-1-inch groups consistently with the Banshee and the P415 Edge.
Each one had its preferences, though, as the P415 shot more accurately with Hornady’s 135-grain FTXs, and the Banshee did better with Sig Sauer’s 125-grain OTMs. That said, the accuracy difference between the loads was negligible, and any way you slice it, you can’t go wrong with either of these guns for defensive use.
In terms of handling, I really liked the lighter weight and shorter profile of the Banshee, but its recoil was more pronounced. The P415’s longer barrel, extra weight and muzzle brake made it extremely soft shooting. Then again, we’re talking about the 300 Blackout, which doesn’t produce much recoil in the first place. It all comes down to what you’d prefer — portability or lighter recoil.
When comparing two quality products such as these, it sometimes comes down to the little things that might push a decision one way or the other. The trigger pull was definitely crisper and lighter on the P415 Edge, breaking at an average of 4.13 pounds, while the Banshee’s single-stage trigger broke at an average of 5.06 pounds. Depending on the application, either trigger might be better for you in a given situation.
One thing I didn’t care for on the Banshee was the ambidextrous sling plate, which tended to get in the way of easy selector manipulation, especially when using the stabilizing brace as designed. However, this can be remedied easily if you find it objectionable. On the plus side, the Banshee does have an oversized ambidextrous charging handle that the P415 lacks, and that is definitely a must-have feature for me on any AR-15.
300 Blackout Pistol Verdict
The biggest distinctions between these two pistols are their operating systems and prices. The P415 Edge has a gas-piston operating system and an MSRP of $2,000, while the Banshee incorporates a standard direct-impingement system for $1,500. Both pistols were extremely reliable and accurate, so either will serve well as a range toy or defensive tool.
Overall, I felt the P415 Edge was a little more polished in its presentation and feature set. It offers a lot of value for the money. But, then again, it’s $500 more than the Banshee, so a little more should be expected.
In broad strokes, the choice between these two pistols will factor in considerations like the operating system, a tighter budget versus bells and whistles, and easy portability versus a robust build and recoil mitigation. These are critical parameters dependent on the pistol’s intended use and the operator’s resources. I respect each pistol for what it brings to the table, and in a perfect world, I’d like to see a blend of features from both platforms. But until that quixotic time arrives, I’ll let the reader be the judge!
CMMG Banshee 300
- Caliber: 300 Blackout
- Barrel Length: 8 inches
- Overall Length: 23.8 inches
- Weight: 5.19 pounds (empty)
- Grip: Magpul MOE
- Sights: None
- Action: Direct impingement semi-auto
- Finish: Titanium Cerakote
- Capacity: 30+1
- MSRP: $1,500
For more information CMMG Banshee 300 Blackout pistol, visit cmmginc.com.
POF-USA P415 Edge
- Caliber: 300 Blackout
- Barrel Length: 10.5 inches
- Overall Length: 28 inches
- Weight: 6.5 pounds (empty)
- Grip: Magpul MOE
- Sights: None
- Action: Piston-operated semi-auto
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 30+1
- MSRP: $2,000
For more information POF-USA P415 Edge 300 Blackout pistol, visit pof-usa.com.
This article was originally published in Combat Handguns May/June 2019. To order a copy, please visit outdoorgroupstore.com.