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Hornady Superformance Ammunition

Speed and performance doesn't have to be painful.

Velocity is the speed in which a bullet screams downrange, and the rule has typically been thus: The higher the velocity, the greater the recoil, report and cost. For years, ammunition manufacturers have been trading velocity, pressure and accuracy, especially with today’s copper and gilding metal bullets, which are longer than traditional lead bullets. High velocities with lead-free bullets have been primarily achieved by compressing large amounts of slow-burning propellants. This has caused pressure on the high end of Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) standards, as well as heavy recoil and accuracy problems for many manufacturers’ loads.

Hornady believes it has addressed these issues with its new Superformance ammunition through development of custom powder blends. Watch as Hornady Chief Ballistics Scientist Dave Emary explains the mystery behind the new ammo. To confirm his claims, American Rifleman Managing Editor Aaron Carter traveled to the Hornady factory in Nebraska for extensive testing on both the range and in the field.

Pain and Price for Performance
In the past, small arms performance has been limited—particularly with lengthy, lead-free projectiles—by the propellant’s inability to be completely burned by the time the bullet exits the muzzle, explained Dave Emary, Hornady’s chief ballistics scientist. “Until now, center-fire ammunition performance has been based on the IMR-series propellants developed in the 1930s and ’40s,” he said.

The ability to enhance external ballistics or, in some instances, attain SAAMI standards, without exceeding established Maximum Average Pressures (MAP) has proved difficult. The latter is especially true with copper and gilding metal bullets, which not only occupy additional case capacity, thereby displacing propellant but, with longer bearing surfaces, increase pressure.

Higher velocities have been, and still are, achieved by ammunition manufacturers primarily by using large, heavily compressed charges of slowing-burning propellants. Problem is, propellants used in such loads are of insufficient progressiveness, and therefore unlikely to be consumed before the bullet exits the muzzle—especially when using lightweight projectiles. With this, a solid crimp is required to prevent bullet migration. The result: For a modest increase in velocity, the tradeoffs are generally increased recoil and report, oftentimes lackluster accuracy, and higher ammunition prices.

Hornady experienced these tradeoffs in their Light and Heavy Magnum ammunition. “Like other companies’ ‘enhanced’ loads, Light and Heavy Magnum resulted in fierce recoil and concussion …,” said Emary. Assembled via a dual-mechanical compression procedure, not only was consistency difficult to maintain, but the process was also time-consuming and, requiring greater amounts of costlier propellants, forced prices significantly higher than those of the company’s Custom line ammunition.

Superformance: The Need for Speed
Using advancement in propellant chemistry and mechanical processing that migrated out of LeverEvolution and the Ruger Compact Magnums, Hornady developed custom blends** of two propellants that fill, without compressing, cases, and use less propellent than comparable loads. And the best part is that Superformance typically achieves 100 to 150 f.p.s. higher velocities than SAAMI standards in all cartridges, bullet weights and types, without exceeding listed MAPs.

A Few More Details
Tests comparing three of Hornady’s 150-grain SST (Super Shock Tip) .30-’06 Sprg. options showed impressive results with Superformance. Using 58.5 grains of propellant, the Custom load attained 2,927 f.p.s while Superformance, with 61 grains, reached 3,065 f.p.s., which is comparable to the Light Magnum’s 3,067 f.p.s with a 67-grain charge. At the same time, maximum muzzle exit pressure of the Superformance falls in between the Custom and Light Magnum loads resulting in less recoil.

Hornady’s Superformance ammunition achieves faster speeds with less propellant and recoil, and could revolutionize the ammo business. Watch the video of Dave Emary discussing Superformance, and be sure to check back here mid-December for Aaron Carter’s extensive report, including technical data, written for the January 2010 issue of American Rifleman magazine.

** Under no circumstances should a handloader attempt to blend propellants. Always follow reloading data from reputable reloading resources exactly.

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8 Responses to Hornady Superformance Ammunition

Wildcat1984 wrote:
November 24, 2012

I really like the Hornady Superformance Ammo. Shooting 1/2' groups through my Remington M700 .308 using the 168 gr Match A-Max bullet. My range experience has also held up in the field, having made several well placed shots on trophy game this Fall.

Countrt Cousin 41 wrote:
September 03, 2011

At the range yesterday using mod.88 Win.(my only rifle Hrn.ammo.will work in,extract),shooting Hnr. SF.165gr.groupes were bad,4 to 5".Goodbye Hrn. Hello Federal Fusion !!!

country cousin 41 wrote:
May 10, 2011

Follow up.. Neither HRN SF nor their custom ammo will eject in my 7600 .270.... No problems with any other brand of ammo. Other people are having problems with HRN ammo also. Check reviews on ammo websites.

CharlieTango11 wrote:
March 23, 2011

Tried this in my 30-06 - Hodgdon needs to put some data up for this - 61g of powder with 150g Hornady SST BT. I was able to shoot a smiley face at 200yds. Worked fantastic at 3000fps.

TAP wrote:
January 13, 2011

Tried the Superformance in 25-06 today. Not happy. I didn't measure cases yet,but my 700 BDL chambered each round a little different. Bolt closed easy to hard. Accuracy was a problem.Back to Federal Supremes until I work up a great hand load.

thx1138 wrote:
December 22, 2010

Bluemoon: A friend experienced a similar problem with his Model 70 - dented the primer but didn't fire. Round fired OK in another gun. He wasn't using Hornady ammo but it was a reputable brand. There was buildup inside the bolt between the firing pin and the head of the bolt. Disassemble bolt, clean, reassemble, and try again. This solved his problem. He hadn't cleaned the internals of the bolt in many years.

bluemoon wrote:
November 21, 2010

Took both hornady custom and Souperformance to the range got better groups out of my Winchester Model 70 .270 but then opening day the superformance cartridge did not fire when I went to take the shot. Firing pin stuck the cap and the cartridge misfired. What the heck? Does anyone know of problems with this cartridge. I shot fusion loads last year. First time hornady user may be the last. Would you contact the company. Nothing will make up that missed opportunity.

country cousin 41 wrote:
September 29, 2010

Shoots great and accurate Problem is extraction of spent cases in two 7600 Rem.pumps,270+30-06.My g- smith checked 270 chamber twice,found nothing wrong.