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December 11th, 2013

Superformance Ammo in Gas Guns — Hornady TECH Advice

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.

Hornady Superformance Ammunition

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.

Back Pressure from Suppressor

Click here to download this as a PDF

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
May 25th, 2013

Hornady 17 Hornet Ammo Wins Readers’ Choice Award

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 17 hornet

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.

hornady 17 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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March 28th, 2011

Hornady’s Superformance Ammo Wins IWA Award

Hornady Manufacturing recently received the coveted “Golden Keiler 2010 Jager (Hunter) Award” for Hornady’s innovative Superformance® ammunition. The award was presented at the 2011 IWA & Outdoor Classics show in Nuremberg, Germany. “It is an honor to have been selected to receive this award,” said Jason Hornady, a Vice President of Hornady.

Superformance ammo, now offered in 20+ calibers, features custom-blended powders tailored for particular cartridge and bullet combinations. Some of these blends consist of regularly available powders, but Hornady actually commissioned some new custom propellents that are not available to the general public. First introduced in 2009, Superformance ammunition was created to deliver extra speed. In some cartridge types, Superformance ammo runs as much as 200 fps faster than conventional factory ammunition loaded with the same bullets. You can usually count on getting at least 100 fps additional speed compared to factory ammo from from Federal, Remington, and Winchester.

How does Hornady deliver such high speeds with its Superformance ammo? That is explained in detail in’s 2009 Interview with Dave Emary, Hornady’s Senior Ballistician. Emery identified five main factors that yield the enhanced performance:

  • Superformance ammo uses advanced new Ball Powders (not yet for sale).
  • The powders are BLENDED, with different “recipes” for different cartridges.
  • The new powders maintain high-energy longer in barrel (like Reloder 17).
  • The new powders burn almost completely, reducing ejecta, for less exit pressure, and less felt recoil.
  • Superformance ball propellants pack very densely, so more grains of powder can fit inside a case, compared to typical extruded stick powders.
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December 15th, 2010

Superformance & LEVERevolution Powders in Stock at

Many folks have been anxiously awaiting the release of Hodgdon’s new Superformance and LeveRevolution powders, high-velocity blended propellants originally developed by Hornady. For select cartridge types, Hornady claims, these new blended spherical powders can deliver 80 to 150 FPS more velocity than other powders on the market.

Hodgdon Superformance Powder

Hodgdon LeverevolutionWell wait no more — Superformance and LeveRevolution powders are both IN STOCK at now. Both 1-lb and 8-lb containers are in stock. If you’ve been wanting to experiment with either of these new powders — get yours before it’s gone. Supplies are limited.

Here are the options:

Superformance 1LB, Item # HDHSP1, Price: $21.99

Superformance 8LBs, Item # HDHSP8, Price:$153.99

LEVERevolution 1LB, Item # HDHLR1, Price: $21.99

LEVERevolution 8LBs, Item # HDHLR8, Price: $153.99

Permalink New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »
October 17th, 2010

Hornady Introduces Superformance Varmint Ammo

In early 2011, Hornady will start shipping its new, “enhanced velocity” Superformance™ Varmint ammunition for four chamberings: 222 Remington, .223 Remington, 22-250, and .243 Winchester. This ammo uses proprietary, blended powder formulations to achieve faster velocities that most other factory-loaded ammo (for these cartridge types). In addition, the propellant burns more completely in the barrel, reducing the amount of ejecta (i.e. powder residue that exits the muzzle). By burning the powder more completely in the barrel, Hornady claims the Superformance ammo delivers higher velocities without increased recoil.

Hornady Superformance Varmint Ammunition

New 53gr V-Max for .223 Rem Ammo
All four types of Superformance Varmint ammo are loaded with polymer-tipped V-Max bullets. The .223 Rem ammo features a new 53-grain V-Max bullet with a decent 0.290 G1 Ballistic Coefficient. Hornady claims that: “This new bullet… enables this load to produce trajectory and wind drift equaling that of a conventional 22-250″. Well, it may come close to factory loaded 22-250 rounds from other manufacturers, but any competent hand-loader can produce 22-250 or 22-6XC loads that easily outrun Hornady’s 53gr V-Max load. As with any advertising claims, run the numbers yourself. The chart below shows Hornady’s claimed velocities for its Superformance Varmint ammo:

Hornady Superformance ammunition

Hot-Rod Ammo?
Hornady released a somewhat “over the top” video touting its Superformance Varmint Ammo. We chuckled at the drag-racing animation, but you will find some useful info in the second half of the video:

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 3 Comments »
August 21st, 2010

Hodgdon Will Introduce Two New Powders in 2011

Hodgdon will introduce two new propellants in 2011, LEVERevolution and Superformance. According to Chris Hodgdon, these powders will allow hand-loaders to replicate Hornady’s factory-loaded LEVERevolution and Superformance ammunition. Hornady used proprietary powder blends to achieve impressive velocities in its Superformance ammo. Now reloaders can take advantage of that blending technology to get more performance from their hand-loaded cartridges.

Hodgdon Hornady Superformance powder

According to the Shooting Times website, the two new powders should be available starting in January 2011: “This is welcome news to handloaders who until now have had to sit by and watch as factories make the best use of new bullets such as Hornady’s FTX and mass-produced loads that handloaders couldn’t safely duplicate. This should also be welcome news to shooters who until now have avoided new high performance cartridges over concerns about future high performance ammunition availability.”

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March 4th, 2010

Hornady Releases New .308 Superformance Match Ammo

Hornady has started shipping its new .308 Winchester Superformance™ match ammo. Loaded with a high-BC 178gr BTHP, the new ammo, which employs a proprietary blend of propellants (some of which are NOT commercially available), has shown outstanding velocities. One shooter reported 2820 fps from a 26″ barrel, while Hornady claims 2775 fps from a SAAMI-spec 24” test barrel. Hornady says this .308 match load is approximately 175 fps faster than any comparable factory .308 load.

CLICK HERE for Technical Info on Superformance ammo.

New Projectile Developed for this Match Ammo
With a 0.530 BC bullet moving around 2800 fps, the new Superformance™ ammo offers impressive ballistic performance — better than many reloaders may be able to achieve with their handloads. Accuracy has been very good also, according to Hornady Engineer, Joe Thielen, due in no small part to bullet design: “The new 178 grain BTHP Match bullet was purpose-built, and optimized specifically for the .308 Winchester chamber. It features an aggressive ogive as well as an extremely efficient boat tail that makes this projectile highly effective aerodynamically, [with] less wind drift and … flatter trajectories. Accuracy results were excellent. We shot a .680″ group at 200 yards with our test equipment, and field tests out to 1250 yards yielded 8″ groups (8 inches at 1250 yards is 0.611 MOA).”

The 178gr Superformance .308 ammunition should stay supersonic to approximately 1,275 yards. That’s a lot farther than any other factory .308 load for 175-180gr bullets. The ability to stay supersonic well past 1000 yards is a boone to long-range .308 shooters.

Here is how Hornady has achieved high velocities with its new Superformance ammunition:

1) Superformance ammo uses advanced new Ball Powders (not yet for sale).

2) The powders are BLENDED, with different “recipes” for different cartridges.

3) The new powders maintain high-energy longer in barrel (like Reloder 17).

4) The new powders burn almost completely, reducing ejecta, for less exit pressure, and less felt recoil.

5) Superformance ball propellants pack very densely, so more grains of powder can fit inside a case, compared to typical extruded stick powders.

Can Reloaders Replicate the Superformance .308 Match Ammo?
Forum members have asked: “How can we duplicate the Superformance ammo with our handloads?” Unfortunately, this will not be an easy task. The Superformance line of loaded ammo uses special blends of propellants customized for each cartridge/bullet combination. Hornady spent a lot of time and effort “tweaking” the blends to achieve maximum velocities. In addition, Hornady “commissioned” some new propellants expressly for the Superformance ammo. Therefore there’s no easy way to replicate Superformance loads with a single, off-the-shelf powder, and we caution strongly against “blending your own”. REPEAT: do NOT attempt to blend commercial powders to try to replicate Superformance velocities with your handloads.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 4 Comments »