2018 Ammo of the Year: Hornady Black HD SBR

posted on May 18, 2018

Short-barreled rifles (SBR) and AR pistols are all the rage (see our New Gun Guide if you don’t believe us), but their abbreviated pipes mean that traditional 5.56 NATO ballistics don’t apply. Hornady remedied this potential problem with a load specifically designed for use in SBRs. From its heavy-for-caliber bullet to low-flash, low-fouling powder, the HD SBR offering in the company’s new Black line is the ideal choice for any AR-pattern firearm with a short barrel. Accuracy and terminal performance are both stellar, and this ammunition helps ensure reliability.

Ammo Editor Richard Mann highlighted in his review that, actually, Hornady has actually been offering this same ammunition in different packaging to law enforcement for some time. The Hornady TAP SBR load was designed specifically for 10.5- to 11.5-inch SBRs. It combined two bits of engineering brilliance when assembling this load. First, the manufacturer used proprietary propellant technology. This was to make sure proper pressures were met for the operation of short-gas systems that are typically known to be finicky when matched with short barrels. Second, Hornady borrowed from the blueprint of its industry-leading Critical Duty FlexLock bullets to create a 75-grain projectile that could meet the tactical standard.

Mann also personally tested the velocity claims advertised by Hornady and noted that the velocities listed on the box certainly appeared to have been verified on the range as opposed "to being generated in fantasy land, as is the case with some factory ammo." Hornady lists a muzzle velocity of 2,321 fps from an 11.5-inch barrel, and 2,201 fps out of a 10.5-inch barrel. In testing, Mann measured an average velocity of 2,183 fps from his 10.5-inch SBR—only 18 fps short of Hornady’s numbers. Given these speeds with the 75-grain bullet, the round produces kinetic-energy levels of about 800 ft.-lbs. at the muzzle and about 500 ft.-lbs. at 100 yards.

“…Hornady’s Black ammunition is made up of loads ideally adapted—for common practical use—to the guns for which they are intended. The 5.56 NATO HD SBR load is a perfect example.” —Richard Mann, Ammo Editor

Winning Features:
• Designed for flawless performance from short barrels
• Low-flash propellant
• 75-grain, purpose-built projectile
• Meets FBI testing protocol parameters


Real Avid Speed Stand
Real Avid Speed Stand

First Look: Real Avid Speed Stand

Work on your long guns just about anywhere.

First Look: New Accessories from Federal Ammunition and Duluth Pack

Two iconic brands team up to create a new line of gear for gun owners.

Review: Gideon Optics Omega Reflex Sight

A lot of sight for not a lot of money.

Fightin' Iron: New Service

It may not have the celebrity of either its predecessor or its successor, but this revolver served with great merit.

First Look: Nextorch TA31 Tactical Searchlight

10,000 lumens in an easy to carry package.

Top USA Firearm Manufacturers Report

Who are the top firearms manufacturers in America?


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.