Hornady has expanded its offerings to include a full line of subsonic rifle and handgun ammunition.
About this time every year shooters begin salivating over the new guns that have been introduced. I like new guns, but what really gets me excited is new ammunition. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s a lot less expensive than guns, and for another, new loads can alter the personality of some of the guns I already own. Most often this alteration is slight but, in some cases—especially for 2020—this change in attitude is drastic. Here’s a look at what I think are the best new munitions offered for 2020.
Silence is Golden
Suppressed rifle and handgun shooting continues to gain popularity and ammunition manufacturers continue to support this form of hearing-safe shooting with a variety of purpose-built subsonic loads. CCI’s new Clean-22 Suppressor .22 LR load uses an advanced polymer bullet coating to reduce lead fouling inside a suppressor, and the new 200-count carton is ideal for those who like to shoot, quietly and in volume.
Hornady has positioned itself firmly in the subsonic-ammunition market with a full line of rifle and handgun subsonic munitions. Loaded with either Sub-X or XTP bullets, these loads leave the muzzle at subsonic velocities, and they’re even quiet without a suppressor. Offerings include loads for the 9 mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .30-30 Win., .450 Bushmaster and even the .45-70 Gov’t.
And finally, Remington is offering Subsonic 22-Rimfire ammunition, which is the result of a joint development project between Remington and AAC. It utilizes a copper-plated 40-grain HP bullet that’s even optimized for terminal performance.
For those who carry concealed on an everyday basis, the subcompact .380 ACP pistols are quite popular. However, many consider them less-than-ideal as a fight-stopper. This is primarily because for a bullet fired from a .380 ACP to meet the FBI’s 12-inch penetration minimum—with expansion—divine intervention is almost required. Federal Premium seems to have sorted this out with its new .380 ACP Hydra-Shok Deep.
The bullet design that redefined performance for one of the most trusted self-defense loads—the 9 mm Hydra-Shok—has now brought the .380 ACP cartridge to new heights. This new 99-grain bullet at 1,000 fps from Federal Premium is the first expanding .380 ACP load to consistently expand and penetrate beyond the FBI-recommended 12-inch minimum. As a historical note, this .380 ACP offering from Federal will outperform the famed 9 mm Silvertip load that failed during the 1986 FBI Miami shootout, whose supposed failure spawned the modern era of defensive-handgun ammunition.
Norma has also added the .380 ACP to its MHP ammunition line, which is designed for self-defense. It utilizes an all-copper bullet that delivers massive expansion. The bullet’s nose design promotes reliable feeding and though this load will not penetrate as deep as Federal’s Hydra-Shok Deep offering, it does drastically enhance the wounding potential of this little cartridge.
The Big 12
Twelve-gauge shotguns are a popular home-defense firearm and Federal has ingeniously figured out a way to double the effectiveness of this excellent weapon system. Its new Force X2 12-gauge offering is loaded with nine copper-plated 00-FX2 buckshot pellets. What’s so special about these pellets is that they’re engineered to split into two equal pieces on impact. This doubles the number of wound channels from nine to 18. Force X2 buckshot is also loaded for more manageable recoil, and though it’s early to speculate, this could be the ideal home-defense shotgun load.
The Six-Five Obsession
Over the last few years, the 6.5 Creedmoor changed the centerfire rifle landscape. Driven mostly by the desire to hit targets at long distances without experiencing eyeball-rattling recoil, the 6.5 Creedmoor has become one of the most popular centerfire rifle cartridges in America. That’s not really news; most of you knew that already. What is news is that the popularity of this cartridge has increased the interest in other 6.5 mm cartridges, most notably the 6.5 Grendel.
Designed in 2003—some 5 years before the 6.5 Creedmoor—by Janne Pohjoispaa and Bill Alexander of Alexander Arms, the 6.5 Grendel is based on the .220 Russian cartridge case and like the Creedmoor delivers excellent accuracy and flat trajectory with minimal recoil. Originally intended for the AR-15 platform, the Grendel is beginning to find favor with many shooters in bolt-action rifles. However, for the past dozen years or so the Grendel has remained mostly a cult cartridge, adored by a group of shooters who think it near the equivalent of the second coming.
With the 6.5 Creedmoor’s success, shooters are now starting to recognize what the Grendel has to offer, and manufacturers are stepping up and finally giving the Grendel the attention it deserves. For 2020, Grendel lovers have four new factory loads to choose from. Barnes is offering a 115-grain TTSX bullet in its Precision Match line and a Match Burner load topped with a 120-grain OTM-BT bullet. Remington will also be adding the 6.5 Grendel to the Premier Match and High-Performance Rifle line. The High-Performance Rifle load will offer a 120-grain BTHP bullet and in the Premier Match line the 6.5 Grendel will also be loaded with a 120-grain Barnes Match Burner OTM bullet.
The other 6.5 mm cartridge that’s getting some manufacturer support is the 6.5 PRC. The PRC is another Hornady cartridge introduced just a couple years ago. Delivering about
200 to 250 fps more velocity than the Creedmoor, the 6.5 PRC could be characterized as a non-belted, 6.5 Creedmoor magnum. For those addicted to hitting targets at extreme distances the PRC might offer the best balance of trajectory and recoil of any commercial cartridge currently loaded.
For 2020, Barnes has also introduced two loads for the 6.5 PRC. The company’s Precision Match offering utilizes a new, high BC, 145-grain Match burner OTM BT bullet, and the VOR-TX Long Range offering uses a 127-grain LRX Boat Tail bullet. Federal’s new Terminal Ascent line of centerfire rifle ammunition also includes a PRC load and Remington will also be supporting the 6.5 PRC with a 145-grain Barnes Match Burner OTM BT bullet in Remington’s Premier Match line.