The 5 Best Hornady Loads

Hornady Custom International .303 British ammunition

When it comes to ammunition, there are choices that we all agree are marks of a high-quality precision maker.

Accurate, deadly and dependable Hornady ammunition features a great deal of research into power selection, quality brass cartridge cases, and brilliantly designed bullets.

The Hornady ELD, SST, V-MAX, A-MAX, XTP, LEVERevolution and Monoblock bullets are cutting-edge bullets manufactured by Hornady and used by other ammunition makers as well.

Let’s look at just five popular loadings from Hornady.

1. 12-Gauge American Gunner Reduced Recoil

Shotguns are an important part of my battery. While buckshot is very effective for short-range use, a slug is useful well past 50 yards. In some cases, a slug is the preferred load even at close range.

A one-ounce slug at 1200 fps is hard-hitting. The American Gunner slug isn’t a full-power loading, but is designed for low recoil. It picks up as much as 100 fps in a 28-inch barrel compared to velocity from riot (18.5-inch barrel) shotguns.

This is a useful loading for hunting thin-skinned game and defense against large animals. Even in a smooth bore like my personal Remington 1100, the American Gunner slug will put five shells into four inches at 50 yards.

Affordable, reliable and hard-hitting, the American Gunner reduced recoil slug is a great shotgun load.

Hornady 12-Gauge Slugs and Shotgun
Hornady slugs offer impressive knockdown power!

2. .45 Long Colt 255-Grain Cowboy

This is an interesting load, similar to the original .45 Colt load (255 grains over 30 to 40 grains of black powder was the original) and an ideal loading for practice and cowboy-action shooting.

The swaged bullet is more likely to flatten on a target than fragment, making it safer for use against steel targets. The diamond knurled swaged bullet features a well designed powder-type lube.

I don’t want to be uncharitable to small bores and lesser calibers, but this is my idea of a cowboy revolver loading. At 725 fps from a 4¾-inch barrel, the loading is accurate, affordable and true to the original.

Hornady offers a LEVERevolution expanding bullet load for hunting in .45 Colt, and also a Critical Defense loading. I make use of them when the situation warrants. The cowboy load is a solid favorite.

Revolvers and Hornady .45 Colt Ammo
The author is never happier than when firing cowboy guns. The Hornady cowboy load keeps things clean-burning and affordable.

3. .45 ACP 200-Grain XTP

I carry a .45 ACP 1911 on a daily basis. I don’t feel overgunned. I have been undergunned, and being overgunned is conceptual. They say chemistry takes time, and I have developed more than casual intimacy with the 1911 after 40 years of use.

The Hornady 200-grain XTP is among the most accurate loadings you may deploy. The balance of expansion and penetration is ideal.

At about 900 fps in most pistols, this standard-pressure loading is ideal for personal defense. Gelatin results are 16-inches penetration and .68-inches expansion.

When you consider the ease of control and overall performance, this is a sterling choice for personal defense.

Wilson Combat 1911 and Hornady .45 ACP Ammo
A modern 1911 such as the Wilson Combat Close Quarters Battle will exhibit excellent accuracy with the Hornady 200-grain XTP.

4. 6.5 PRC 143-Grain ELD-X Precision Hunter

The 6.5 PRC is a remarkably accurate and useful cartridge. I have enjoyed the 6.5x55mm Mauser for years. The new PRC is a thoroughly modern caliber with every advantage over earlier 6.5 cartridges.

While I also enjoy the 6.5 Creedmoor, the 6.5 PRC is a better choice for long-range use. At 2960 fps, the 143-grain ELD-X is a flat-shooting number.

The “Extremely Low Drag Expanding” bullet is a wind-bucking bullet useful at all ranges. Expansion is excellent. The 6.5 PRC is now the number one 6.5 rifle in my house, chambered in a Mauser M18 rifle.

Hornady 6.5 PRC Hunter Ammo
Hornady’s Precision Hunter line offers good accuracy along with game-taking power and performance.

5. Hornady 168-Grain ELD Match

Most of my .308 Winchester shooting his done in the new Springfield Saint Victor. This rifle is among the most useful and all-around enjoyable rifles I have owned.

I have enjoyed using handloads, but since they demand a small base die to properly resize a cartridge for a self-loading rifle, I haven’t loaded them as often as I do the bolt-action calibers.

The .308 is a favorite rifle cartridge. The 168-grain bullet has always given good results in my .308 rifles. The new “Extra Low Drag” bullet has given excellent results in every caliber.

This loading is a superbly accurate loading in the right rifle, and a good performer in every rifle. For deer and boar-sized game, this is a fine performer.

Hornady .308 Winchester ammo
The author finds the .308 Winchester suitable for most of his hunting needs. This is an accurate and powerful cartridge.

Conclusion: Hornady Loads

Hornady offers not dozens, but hundreds of good loads, including a good number of .17 HRM and .22 Magnum loads. Each offers good quality, and choices of bullet weight and caliber may be chosen for a specific chore with confidence.

What are your favorite Hornady loads? Why? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (4)

  1. I want 380 ACP Hornady Critical Defense Ammo for my
    M&P® BODYGUARD® 380 | Smith & Wesson
    9mm Luger 115 gr FTX® Critical Defense® – Hornady …

  2. How about a factory 45Colt load e.g.250-255 gr lhp?
    I really like the 45Colt,I’d even consider a snubbie[vs 38 Spec]
    the 168gr 308 sounds about right for use in the Savage FPL[left hand]308 and would be my choice of projectile weight for general hunting with a 308W

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