For many cartridge types, Hornady Superformance ammunition provides enhanced velocity compared to some other types of factory-loaded ammo. However, Hornady has found that there may be issues when Superformance ammo is shot in gas-operated guns with barrels under 20″, or with barrels fitted with suppressors. This is because the gas returning from the barrel port may cause the bolt to begin unlocking prematurely. Hornady has published the following information concerning the uses of Superformance ammo in direct impingment and gas piston self-loading rifles.
Internal Ballistics of Superformance Ammo in Semi-Auto Guns
Superformance™ ammunition is tested and is safely within SAAMI pressure guidelines. Gas operated (direct impingement or gas piston) firearms are perfectly safe to use with Superformance ammunition. However, Hornady ballisticians have conducted testing with a variety of guns (including guns equipped with suppressors), and our findings conclude that some systems work far better with Superformance ammunition than others.
It is recommended that to get the best functioning with Superformance ammunition in gas operated/gas piston semi-automatic or select fire guns, rifle length gas systems with 20 inch or longer barrel lengths are best for reliable firing and extraction. Any other configuration — particularly shorter barrels/gas systems — are best served with the installation of an adjustable gas system, ESPECIALLY if a suppressor is to be installed.
Due to the longer duration of peak pressure produced by Superformance, the post peak/declining port pressure at common carbine and mid-length gas port locations is still higher than that produced by standard propellant. This has a tendency to flood the system with a larger volume of gas, at a higher velocity, that tries to open the bolt of the gun too fast. It’s a timing issue. The cartridge case is still swollen from the application of pressure during firing while the gun is simultaneously trying to extract the cartridge case before it has had an opportunity to settle back to its original size, or more simply: the gun is still in the process or firing while it’s trying to extract the cartridge case.
If the firearm and the ammunition are not in sync, there can be what is commonly identified as “pressure signs” on the cartridge case. This is exhibited by the movement/marring of the head of the cartridge case, cratered primers, flat primers, ripped or ruptured cartridge cases, “popped primers”, and/or any combination of these effects. If any of these “pressure signs”; are apparent, stop firing immediately. If an adjustable gas system is installed, it is advisable to reduce the amount of gas flowing through the system by closing the gas port until the gun operates correctly.
With the installation of an adjustable gas system, gas pressure can be metered to a point that enough gas is applied to open the bolt, but at a slower rate to allow the cartridge case to return to its original diameter prior to the movement of the bolt, and thus allow for proper extraction.
Pressure VS Gas Port Location
Due to the longer duration of peak pressure produced by Superformance™, the post peak/declining pressure at common carbine and mid-length gas port locations is still higher than that produced by standard propellant. However, there is very little difference in port pressure between Superformance™ and standard propellants at the rifle length port location.
Superformance and Suppressors
The use of suppressors on rifles creates yet another dynamic in firearms design that is not commonly understood or communicated. Consider the suppressor on a firearm the same as a muffler on a car. The suppressor works as a filter for the gas (noise) that is escaping the barrel during firing. As a “filter”, it takes longer for the gas to leave the confines of the firearm, and thus, it creates back pressure. This back pressure, ESPECIALLY in a gas operated firearm forces an extensive amount of gas back through the firearm’s operating system that may create too much thrust too early during the firearm’s cycle of operation.
To counteract this back pressure, the use of an adjustable gas system is advised. By metering the gas system to ensure that it will cycle the firearm correctly and not flood the system with gas/pressure, the gun will work properly and will still benefit dramatically from the increased velocity potential of Superformance ammunition.
Get an inside look at the how ammunition is made with this step-by-step production guide from Hornady. The video begins by showing the stages in production of a lead-core jacketed bullet with exposed tip, such as the Hornady Interlock. Next, at the 1:38″ time-mark, the video shows how cartridge cases are made, starting with small brass cups (photo right). The brass is lengthened in a series of stages involving annealing, drawing, polishing, and the formation of the case head with primer pocket. Finally, at the 2:40″ time mark, the video shows how bullets and powder are seated into cartridge cases on the Hornady assembly line. In the final production stages, the completed ammunition is tested and packaged.
Watch Ammo Production Video
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Hornady plans to start producing .50 BMG ‘Match Grade’ Cartridge Brass. MSRP is $131.99 for twenty (20) cases (Item #8772). Hornady claims the new brass will have very uniform case wall thickness, and very consistent case weight and internal capacity. Hornady has not stated when its .50 BMG brass will start shipping. When the Hornady .50 BMG brass (Item #8772) does hit the market, we expect it will be in high demand. Our friends at the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA) tell us that it is “getting harder and harder to get your hands on good .50 Cal brass these days.”
Here’s a great deal on an electronic powder dispenser/scale unit. Amazon.com now has the Hornady Lock N Load Auto Charge on Sale for just $184.46. That’s a real bargain — these dispensers sell for as much as $250.00 elsewhere.
And here’s another good deal on Hornady’s Auto Charge if you need a range bag as well. Grafs.com is currently offering the Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto Charge powder scale/dispenser for $209.99. To make the deal even sweeter, Grafs.com will include a medium-size range bag for FREE. Hornady says the range bag is worth $34.99, making your effective cost for the Auto Charge around $175.00. CLICK HERE for Dispenser/Range Bag Combo.
While we have a lot of positive experience with the RCBS Chargemaster, we haven’t done any long-term testing of the Hornady AutoCharge. However, user reviews have generally been positive. We suggest you do your own research and then make your own decision. Both the Hornady LnL AutoCharge and RCBS ChargeMaster offer load precision to ±0.1 grains. Both the Hornady Autocharge and the RCBS ChargeMaster are sold with a one-year manufacturers warranty.
Features and Specifications:
Scale capacity of 1000 grains
Large backlit display
Automatic and manual dispense options
Three speed settings
Easy Outflow Powder Drain
One-year manufactuer’s warranty
This Youtube video shows the Hornady Lock-N-Load AutoCharge in action.
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If you load pistol or rifle ammo with a progressive press, we strongly recommend you get a Lock-Out Die from RCBS. This unique reloading die will prevent your progressive press from advancing if the dispensed powder charge is more or less than about 0.3 grains too high or too low. The Lock-Out Die really works. Your Editor uses it on his RCBS 2000 progressive press. I can affirm that a Lock-Out Die has “saved my bacon” a half-dozen times over the years when there was an over-charge (which could cause a Kaboom) or a low charge (which could cause a squib load).
The Lock-Out Die works by using a central die detection rod that sets its vertical position based on the height of the powder column in the case. Through an ingenious design, if the powder column height is too low or too high, the rod locks in place as you start to pull the press handle. This halts the press before the ram can lift and the cartridge plate can advance. Unlike a beeping alarm system (which can be ignored or defeated), the Lock-Out Die physically stops the movement of the press ram and prevents a bullet being seated in the “problem” case.
It takes a bit of tweaking to get the Lock-Out Die detection rod setting just right, but once it is correctly positioned, the Lock-Out Die works smoothly in the background. The Lock-Out Die won’t interfere with the loading process unless it detects a high or low charge — and then it positively stops the progressive loading cycle.
While crafted for use in RCBS progressive presses, the RCBS Lock-Out Die can also be used on a Dillon XL Progressive (see video below) or Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive — though it does take up one station which could otherwise be used for a final crimp die (after the seating die). The RCBS 2000 has one more station than a Dillon 550/650, so it’s an ideal platform for using the Lock-Out Die.
Learn More at UltimateReloader.com
On the UltimateReloader.com website, run by our friend Gavin, you’ll find an excellent two-part series on the function and set-up of the RCBS Lock-Out Die. Part One explains how the Lock-Out Die functions, using cut-away illustrations. Part Two shows how to install and adjust the Lock-Out Die on various progressive presses. The video below shows setup of the RCBS Lock-Out Die on the Dillon XL-650 progressive press.
Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises, LLC builds match-grade uppers for AR-platform rifles. Many of Robert’s favorite chamberings are based on the 6.5 Grendel case necked-down to 6mm. Until 2011, Lapua was the only source for 6.5 Grendel brass. As you’d expect, Lapua’s Grendel brass is truly excellent, but it is also pricey, and sometimes hard to find. Now Hornady is producing USA-made 6.5 Grendel brass. Robert Whitley has worked with the Hornady 6.5 Grendel brass for over a year now and he is able to assess its performance compared to the original Lapua version. Writing in our Shooters’ Forum, Robert reveals: “It’s decent brass but hot loads will loosen the primer pockets fast. With moderate loads you will get good case life and service from the brass and it can deliver excellent accuracy as well. Not Lapua but not bad either.”
Robert reports: “I was able to get my hands on some of Hornady’s 6.5 Grendel brass. My big question was how it would measure up, particularly the loaded necks, and whether it would be compatible with our existing 6mmAR and Turbo 40 die sets. As it turns out, this brass looks like a perfect fit for our existing die sets (and obviously 6.5 Grendel die sets too). Accordingly, folks with existing die sets will be able to use the Hornady brass without any issues.” However, as the loaded neck on the Hornady brass is .001″ (one-thousandth) slimmer than Lapua brass, you may want to try a smaller bushing when sizing Hornady Grendel brass.
The Hornady 6.5 Grendel brass has a LARGE Flash Hole, about .078″ versus .0591″ for Lapua brass. Dimensionally, the biggest difference is the shoulder diameter, with the Hornady brass measuring 0.428″ vs. 0.424″ for the Lapua brass. The Hornady is actually a better fit for 6mmAR chambers which are about 0.432″ at the shoulder. Interestingly, case H20 capacity is virtually identical. Water capacity of new, unfired Hornady 6.5 Grendel brass is 35.1 grains, while new, unfired Lapua Grendel brass holds 35.0 grains of H20. Both brands of Grendel brass increase to about 36.0 grains H20 capacity after firing and full-length sizing.
Here are some of the particulars of the Hornady cases:
Hornady 6.5 Grendel Brass
Lapua 6.5 Grendel Brass
Flash hole diameter: ~ .078″
OAL of brass: Average 1.515″
Weight of cases: 111.7 to 113.0 grains
Web diameter, unfired: 0.4375″
Shoulder diameter, unfired: 0.428″
Loaded neck diameter: 0.2895″
6mmAR loaded neck: 0.270″
Flash hole diameter: 1.5mm (0.0591″)
OAL of brass: Average 1.515″
Weight of cases: 111.0 to 112.5 grains
Web diameter, unfired: 0.4385″
Shoulder diameter, unfired: 0.424″
Loaded neck diameter: 0.290″
6mmAR loaded neck: 0.271″
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Legendary shooter Jerry Miculek holds multiple world records, and has amassed over 80 major championship titles. He is considered “one of the fastest trigger fingers” on the planet. In this video, Jerry puts his skills to the test, using a Barrett m82A1 .50 BMG in a timed speed run.
OK, hold on to your hat. Jerry shoots six (6) .50 BMG rounds in under one second (0.98 to be precise). And Jerry did that standing (offhand) without a rest. What can you say… the man is a beast.
If you look carefully, in this frame you can see a .50-Cal bullet in flight forward of the muzzle brake.
Watch the video, starting at the 1:20 mark, to see this amazing speed run. Jerry was a bit apprehensive at first: “This is by far the most horsepower I’ve had in my hands ever in my life. So the learning curve is going to be kind of really abrupt.” But as he shoulders the big Barrett and gets ready to punch six rounds on the clock, Jerry gets enthusiastic: “This is going to be fun guys … six rounds .50 BMG … Time to rock and roll!”
Watch Miculek Shoot .50 BMG Offhand. Action Starts at 1:20:
After filming this video, Jerry did more drills with the Barrett and he actually brought down his split times. Jerry reports: “I managed to get it down to 0.16 splits and I outran the bolt a few times. You can actually see that in the closing slow-motion footage. You just can’t expect such a massive gun to cycle as quick as a 1911 or your M&P/ Glock type pistols unfortunately. Regardless, be sure and keep an eye out later this week for some target to target transition drills. The full video with that and more should be up [on YouTube] within the next couple of weeks!”
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We reported yesterday that Hornady, in an effort to increase overall production, will suspend production of 150 bullet types and 150 ammunition types for the balance of 2013. Upon reading this story, many readers grew concerned, perhaps because they did not realize that Hornady is actually stepping up production of its most popular bullets and ammo types. By temporarily suspending production of less-popular products, Hornady can reduce assembly line change-overs and thereby increase production. Hornady explains that this strategy allows it to: “focus our efforts on the most popular and highest-demand products and ship more total product.” In the months ahead, Hornady will continue to produce over 270 different projectiles and over 140 types of loaded ammo. As Steve Hornady says: “There is something in there for everyone….”
Upon seeing ten-page-long list of suspended products, readers may have become overly concerned because they did not realize that Hornady will continue to churn out hundreds of bullet types and ammo types — and, in fact, the most popular products will now be manufactured in greater-than-ever quantities. Readers asked “So what products will Hornady continue to produce?” On its website, Hornady now lists all the high-demand bullets and ammo types that remain in production for the balance of 2013.
Steve Hornady Talks to Customers
In this video, Hornady President Steve Hornady explains the decision to suspend production of some items in order to increase production of Hornady’s high-demand bullet types and ammunition types.
Steve Hornady Explains New Production Strategies (July 8, 2013):
On its website, Hornady has posted a Product Availability Update, which explains why Hornady is suspending production of some products:
One area that we have identified that will enable us to increase production, is the minimization of machinery downtime. The largest period of downtime our machines experience is during change over and retooling to convert a machine from manufacturing one bullet or cartridge to another. Under normal market conditions, we can keep the supply chain full by making popular items on a regular basis and keeping specialty or less-used products on a seasonal basis. However, with demand at record levels, it has become difficult to justify shutting down a machine to change it over to produce a product of less demand. Therefore, we are temporarily suspending some items in order to focus our efforts on the most popular and highest demand products and ship more total product.
We realize that many of the suspended items are going to disappoint some of our customers. We have painstakingly reviewed our order status and order history and unfortunately had to make some tough decisions. It wasn’t easy, but we know that we will do a better job of servicing the industry as a whole by focusing on the items of highest demand.
We are not alone; this is effectively already happening throughout our industry, but is accomplished through selective manufacture with no notification to the industry. We are simply making every effort to be up-front about our plans to maximize production.
Again, this is only temporary. This is not a permanent suspension. We will continue to push as hard as we can to meet the demand of our industry and will produce our full catalog of items as soon as we can. Please know that nobody wants to produce more and get our product to into your hands more than we do.
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In order to increase deliveries of its most popular types of ammunition and bullets, Hornady announced that it will temporarily suspend production of 150 bullet types and 150 ammo types. IMPORTANT: These bullet and ammo products are NOT being discontinued. Rather, these less-popular, suspended items will simply not be produced for the remainder of 2013. By doing this, Hornady can reduce tool/machinery changes and thereby increase production of products in highest demand. On July 2nd, Hornady issued this statement:
Dear Hornady Customer:
As you are aware, 2013 has been one of the most challenging years ever in the sporting arms industry. We are proud of the increases in production we have achieved this year, but we are still faced witha demand that exceeds our ability to produce.
In efforts to increase production, we have reviewed everything, refining procedures, adding people, and equipment when possible. One area that will help us produce more: cutting the number of changeovers in our production machinery.
In order to reduce changeovers, we are announceing the temporary suspension of over 150 ammunition items and 150 bullet items, for the balance of 2013.
Attached you will find the list of items that will be suspended. Our plan is to remove the orders for these items from our system, beginning July 10th, and notify you of the cancellations. We will continue to monitor and update this list as the market conditions change.
Our goal is to try to deliver more to every customer, and while this may impact certain categories, our overall delivery should improve.
Hornady has listed the suspended bullet/ammo items in ten pages of attachments sent out to Hornady wholesalers and retailers. One representative page (covering 6mm, 6.5mm, and 7mm bullets) is shown below. This is NOT the complete list — there are TEN (10) pages! Click on each link below to see suspended items listed by caliber, small to large.
Notable Bullets on the Suspended List:
22832 – 22 Cal .224 80gr A-Max
22420 – 6mm .243 75gr V-Max
24562 – 6mm .243 105gr A-Max
26101 – 6.5mm .243 100gr A-Max
29402 – 7mm .284 162gr A-Max
29405 – 7mm .285 162gr BTHP Match
30314 – 30 Cal .308 155gr A-Max Moly
30715 – 30 Cal .308 178gr BTHP Match
30733 – 30 Cal .308 208gr BTHP Match
33102 – 338 Cal .338 200gr SST
Note, the above selection of “notable bullets” is just a “short list” of items that caught our attention. Remember 150 bullet types are being suspended for the balance of the year. With some items on the list, partial orders will be filled, or current orders will be filled, but no new orders taken.
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Hornady has a handy new product will helps eliminate shadows when you’re working in your reloading area. Hornady’s Lock-N-Load LED light strip places light right where you need it. This is especially useful when using a progressive press. With progressives, you need to watch multiple cartridges in various stages of loading. Good lighting helps you ensure cases aren’t split, powder levels are correct, and bullets are seated straight.
Designed to be affixed to your press, the light strip mounts six (6) long-lasting LED lights in a line. The low-profile light strip has an adhesive backer for easy attachment. Just “peel and stick” to attach the LED strip directly to your press. Watch the video below to see how it’s done.
While Hornady’s light strip was made to be attached to loading presses, this useful device can be affixed anywhere you need extra light on your loading bench or work areas. The strip plugs into any 110 volt outlet, so you never have to replace batteries. The LED strip retails for about $15.00. CLICK HERE for more details.
Product Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions
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Hornady has received an inaugural Gold Predator Xtreme Readers’ Choice Award for its Superformance® Varmint™ 17 Hornet Rifle Ammunition. The 17 Hornet is currently available in 15.5gr NTX® and 20gr V-MAX™ offerings.
Hornady’s 17 Hornet employs Hornady Superformance® propellant technology. Hornady claims that, in the 17 Hornet, its Superformance powders can deliver 100 to 200 fps more velocity than other commercially-available propellants. As a result, Hornady’s Superformance® Varmint™ ammunition shoots flatter, drifts less in the wind, and retains more energy out to a practical range of 300 yards. And many varminters have praised Hornady’s low-recoil 17 Hornet, saying this new cartridge is economical, accurate, and fun to shoot. 17 Hornet ballistics are far superior to the 17 HMR, as you can see:
Hornady’s 17 Hornet was derived from the 22 Hornet parent case. Claimed velocity with 20-grainers is 3650 fps — an impressive number considering the 17 Hornet uses about half the powder of the 17 Remington. The 17 Hornet is based on the rimmed .22 Hornet case. However, the case is not just necked-down from .22 caliber. The case designers reduced body taper, moved the shoulder, and changed the shoulder angle to 25°. This effectively modernizes the old .22 Hornet case, improving efficiency while retaining the max OAL, so that the 17 Hornet can work in any action big enough for the .22 Hornet.
Predator Xtreme Readers’ Choice Award
The Predator Xtreme Readers’ Choice Awards, sponsored by Predator Xtreme magazine, honors the best new products for varminters and predator hunters. A Gold award is the highest honor bestowed in a number of shooting categories. Products are chosen for award recognition based on surveys of magazine readers, so this is truly an “people’s award”.
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We often get questions about the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge — folks ask where they can find good resources for this cartridge, which is popular with Across-The-Course, High Power, and tactical shooters. We did some searching and found that the August 2011 digital edition of Shooting Sports USA has a good article for all fans of the 6.5 Creemoor.
Development of the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge
In the August 2011 Edition of Shooting Sports USA you’ll find a lengthy feature on the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. This story covers the origin of the cartridge and its performance both as a match cartridge and as a hunting round. Hornady Chief Ballistician Dave Emary explained: “the original intent of the cartridge was as an across-the-course match cartridge. We envisioned it as an off-the-shelf round that would produced the accuracy and ballistics to compete in all match disciplines right out of the box. At the same time we realized that the same characteristics would make an exceptional hunting cartridge with the right bullets.”
6.5 Creedmoor Brass No Longer Washed After Annealing
Here’s an interesting update on Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor brass and loaded ammo. In a move to improve case quality and neck uniformity, Hornady recently changed the 6.5 Creedmoor production process, eliminating the case-washing step after annealing. So now you will see annealing coloration on 6.5 Creedmoor brass, just like on Lapua brass. Dennis DeMille of Creedmoor Sports wanted to improve the consistency/uniformity of 6.5 Creedmoor case-necks. At Dennis’ suggestion, Hornady conducted tests which showed that the “standard industry practice” of washing brass could potentially alter the necks in undesirable ways. Bottom line, unwashed annealed brass was determined to have an accuracy edge over washed brass. Looking at these results, Hornady decided to forgo the post-anneal washing process. As a result, the latest 6.5 Creedmoor brass now displays the distinctive coloration left by neck/shoulder annealing. Learn something new every day, eh?
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