Handloading: Hornady Action Pistol (HAP) Bullet

Hornady HAP 230-grain bullet

I recently ordered and loaded over 1,000 Hornady HAP bullets. I wanted to see how these bullets performed. While I have never said the 9mm is my favorite cartridge, I fire more 9mm Luger cartridges than any other, perhaps 10:1, so maybe I need to reassess my preferences.

Artist drawing of a Hornady HAP bullet with cutaway section
This is a highly-developed bullet from Hornady—a premier ammunition manufacturer.

The 9mm is a high-velocity number with plenty of power for most handgun pursuits. In particular, the 9mm is a great 3-gun caliber and can be an accurate cartridge with proper load technique. The Hornady Action Pistol bullet is based on one of the finest handgun bullets ever designed. The Hornady Extreme Terminal Performance (XTP) offers a good balance of expansion and penetration in every caliber. As a bonus, accuracy potential has proven to be excellent.

The HAP is designed for use in pistol competition. There is no need for expansion in pistol competition. A hollow point bullet is desirable as the balance for accuracy is easier to obtain than with a round nose bullet.

The HAP was designed to mimic the length and profile of the XTP bullet. The XTP was refined for personal defense and service use while the HAP is designed for action pistol use. The HAP design eliminates the serrations employed by the XTP near the bullet nose. These serrations, or scallops, are intended to weaken the jacket and allow good expansion even at modest velocity.

Since expansion isn’t needed in a target bullet the serrations are deleted. The nose is kind of closed over, creating what Hornady calls a protected nose. This results in nearly unparalleled feed reliability. The jackets feature the famous Hornady concentricity that makes for excellent accuracy. The lead core is cold swaged.

Bullet holes in a target
The HAP demonstrated excellent all-around accuracy.

When I examined the bullet nose under magnification, the nose appeared to be closed more so than the XTP. No exposed lead was evident. Modern 9mm handguns often feed well, but this bullet is a sure thing.

The HAP bullet is offered in the following variations.

  • 9mm .355 inch
    • 115-grain
    • 124-grain
  • 9mm .356 inch
    • 125-grain
  • 10mm .400 inch
    • 180-grain
    • 200-grain
  • 10mm .451 inch
    • 185-grain
    • 200-grain
    • 230-grain

And perhaps, a couple I have missed.

My primary experience is with 9mm bullets. I have also used the 230-grain .45 caliber HAP with excellent results. I am going to outline the procedure I used in loading the 9mm HAP. I recently obtained a complete Lyman reloading kit—an excellent investment in a great hobby, handloading.

Bob Campbell shooting a pistol offhand
Firing offhand an 1,100 fps 9mm load is easy to control and allows concentration on marksmanship.

The 9mm is a cartridge that is easy to load. The 9mm isn’t exactly a straight-walled case like the .45 ACP. It is slightly tapered. Be certain that the case mouth is only slightly belled during loading. The case length should be .755 inches. Shorter and longer cartridge cases impede feeding. Slightly flare the neck before seating the bullet, just enough to get the bullet started. Next, use a taper crimp which presses the case mouth into the bullet. A roll crimp will eliminate the case mouth, and since the 9mm headspaces on the case mouth this will destroy accuracy.

The 115-grain HAP is a good, general practice and target bullet. There is no exposed lead and the bullet seats easily. I use Hodgdon’s Titegroup for many of my loads. Accuracy potential is high, and the powder burns clean. From the Glock 17 9mm 4.2 grains of Titegroup generates about 1,050 fps and offers good accuracy. The overall length is 1.13 inches. Be certain not to work up powder charges more than increments of .1 grain for safety.

Another load that has given good results with the 115-grain XTP for many years is a standard charge of 6.0 grains of Unique for 1,100 fps. I worked up to this load with the HAP bullet. Accuracy and feed reliability were excellent. I had on hand a good supply of Universal powder and applied it to the 124-grain 9mm. 3.8 grains generated 900, however, at times, this did not fully function the slide in the SIG P250 I was working with.

Hornady HAP 230-grain bullet
This is the 230-grain .451-inch HAP.

I gradually increased the load to 4.4 grains and broke 1,100 fps with excellent results. The HAP is primarily a competition load designed for economy and feed reliability, and the bullet proved quite accurate in my personal pistols. The Glock 34 delivered several 1.5-inch 25-yard groups with the HAP/Titegroup combination.

Handloaders strive for reliability, accuracy, and economy. The HAP has equal advantages in each. The closed-over nose promotes reliability, the bullet is quite accurate, and without the extra steps in cutting serrations in the jacket nose, the bullet is more economical than the XTP. This is a winning combination.

Do you handload? Have you tried the Hornady HAP? What is your favorite load? Share your answers in the comment section.

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 (8)

  1. My dude, if you’re getting 6″ groups at thirty feet, I don’t think the problem is the gun, the ammo, or the bullet design.

  2. Good Article. I have been experimenting with the 115gr. HAP in my 9mm Colt. Previously I have used the 125 gr HAP in my 38 Super with terrific results.

    I talked to Hornady regarding the115 gr HAP. Was told the recommended COL is 1.075 for the HAP and 1.100 for their 115 gr. FMJ. They would not recommend a preferred muzzle velocity for either bullet but other forums seem to think of a MV of 1150 fps.

    Good health and good shooting.

  3. I use the 230 grain .451 HAP projectiles in my .460 Rowland handloads and they work great. Despite not being a round nose FMJ design they still feed reliably in my converted Norinco 1911 which is a gun that generally doesn’t like to play nice with hollow points of any type.

  4. A .451 is going to need a heavy powder charge to force it down
    a 10mm barrel isn’t it???? Hahahaha

  5. I appreciate the article. Since 9mm is one of the 5 pistol calibers I reload for, and also my CC weapon now, I’m forever building up my on hand components when funds allow it. In the past I’ve purchased and reloaded with the XTP in the attempt to mimic the Flex-Lock bullets that I carry for CC. Shooting too many of either the reloads or the Critical Duty gets cost prohibitive very quickly, so having a more economical projectile that can mimic one or the other is a huge plus in my eyes. Having the ability to build the load and attempt to duplicate the performance has been a hit or miss proposition with any of the plated bullets, which I’ve found to be inconsistant even within the same Lot or Batch. Although I don’t compete, I still like my handloads to be as accurate or better than the factory premium rounds I carry. Using one’s own reloads for CC is just asking for trouble if you ever have to use it. Although it hasn’t happened yet, to the best of my knowledge, it’s only a matter of time before some scum sucking lawyer goes after someone with the claim that their handloads were intentionally and malisciously developed to be more damage inducing than factory premium ammo. Hopefully it’ll never happen, but Murphy’s Law is always at play.
    So anything that saves a few shekels is much appreciated.
    Thank you again for an insiteful article.

  6. Nice write up. I use the load data from hodgdon site(231), starting at a min charge (2.3) and they just failed to feed in my m&p. One other thing of interest is my glock 45(9mm) I had to decrease the oal to 1.084 in order to pass plunk test, while my m&p it’s set to 1.20. I guess this is something todo with the profile of the HAP. 4.0gr of 231runs very good, still need to chrono these. Hogdon load data was showing min of 2.8 and max of 3.3

  7. “The Hornady Extreme Terminal Performance (XTP) offers a good balance of expansion and penetration in every caliber. As a bonus, accuracy potential has proven to be excellent.”

    I would have never guessed how much more accurate the XTP is than a FMJ until 3 years ago when I shot one mag of each back to back in my EDC (Sig P938) At 10 yards it was a difference between a 5 or 6 inch group and a 2″ group.

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