Review: Hornady Handgun Hunter™ Ammo

Hornady Handgun Hunter Ammunition

A few months ago, Hornady introduced their new Handgun Hunter™ line of handgun ammunition.

This loading uses an all-copper bullet that Hornady claims is as ‘rough and rugged’ as the game it is designed to take.

It is offered in traditional calibers from 9mm Luger to .454 Casull, including .44 Magnum and 10mm Auto.

Initial Observations

The MonoFlex handgun projectile features a copper alloy that achieves deep penetration while maintaining 95 percent of its bullet weight.

Bullet expansion across a wide range of velocities is aided by an elastomer material in the bullet’s nose cavity.

On impact, the elastomer is compressed and then pushes out, instigating expansion.

While the bullet is tough and penetrates deeply, expansion is designed to be faster than a conventional hollow point.

This bullet is similar to the proven GMX and MonoFlex rifle bullets.

Hornady’s quality control is legendary, and the top-quality cartridge cases, primers and powder add to a desirable combination.

The new model of all-copper bullets is certainly interesting, and Hornady has developed among the most advanced example yet.

The combination of an all-copper bullet and elastomer is unique.

.357 Magnum Revolver and Hornady Ammo
.357 Magnum performance was excellent.

I was very interested to test these loads. I don’t own a ballistics lab, but I am able to get the most out of ammunition as far as accuracy goes and I test bullet expansion in various media.

The advantage of gelatin and glue blocks, is that the wound channel may be preserved.

(Modeling clay and other material is too stiff and doesn’t give a good picture of the likely expansion in a human target. It makes for good photos though!)

Water penetration is usually about 10 percent overstated compared to the gelatin, and expansion about the same.

I was able to obtain a good supply of the Handgun Hunter in 9mm Luger and .357 Magnum.

These are the most common handgun calibers many of us take into the great outdoors. Let’s see how they performed:

9mm Luger .357 Magnum
Average Velocity 1,141 fps 1,306 fps
Penetration 20 Inches 24 Inches
Expansion .65 Inches .62 Inches
Shredded gallon water jug that was shot
The Magnum load was hard on the water jugs.

How Handgun Hunter Performs

115–Grain 9mm Luger Handgun Hunter

I used a Guncrafter CZ 75 Executive in testing the 9mm Luger. Velocity was 1,141 fps.

While the load is rated +P, all-copper bullets are longer for the weight and are seated more deeply than conventional bullets, so velocity isn’t as high relative to the caliber in 9mm.

I fired for function and accuracy first. Settling into a solid benchrest firing position at a long 25 yards, five shots went into 1.5 inches.

I would imagine with a long slide 9mm, both velocity and accuracy might be superior, but this is the type of 9mm I carry often.

As the table shows, penetration is excellent. With 20 inches penetration and expansion of .64 to .66 inches, this would be a capable load for defense against the big cats or feral dogs.

While the load is designed for hunting, I would prefer it in personal defense to the various 147-grain loads. Penetration is in the same category, but expansion superior.

If you live in a true four-season climate and may confront heavily-clad felons or those behind cover, this load has promise.

Weight retention is 100 percent. It does everything it was designed to do.

Expanded 9mm Luger Hornady Handgun Hunter Bullets
The 9mm loads retained all of their weight and the shank was long with a nice curled open petal.

130-Grain .357 Magnum Handgun Hunter

The Magnum is one of my favorite calibers. I have seen its effect, and the .357 has my respect. The Hornady Handgun Hunter load clocks 1,305 fps in a four-inch barrel.

This is the revolver I carry in the wild when hiking or spelunking. I am certain the six-inch Python would be more accurate and generate greater velocity, but this is my most commonly carried Magnum.

Penetration is an impressive 24 inches. Average expansion is .62 inches. This load doesn’t demonstrate excessive recoil or muzzle blast.

Accuracy is excellent at 1.6 inches for five shots at 25 yards, as good as I can hold and as fine an accuracy as this revolver has ever demonstrated.

This is a good choice for thin-skinned game or for the big cats and general hunting chores.

Expanded .357 Magnum Hornady Handgun Hunter Bullets
We varied the distance of the Magnum loads during testing and performance was always excellent.

Conclusion: Handgun Hunter Ammo

We don’t have big bears in my part of the country, but they are big enough.

If the only gun you own is a 9mm and you are caught defending the desrick against a big thing with claws, the 9mm Luger Hornady Handgun Hunter is arguably a good choice.

These are those in this country that may bow to no one when it comes to meanness, and if they are behind a heavy leather coat or light cover, this load is equally appealing.

Hornady Handgun Hunter is a fine new load worthy to serve beside the XTP and Critical Duty.

Have you taken a look at the Hornady Handgun Hunter line? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
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 (5)

  1. I’m a retired LEO a Swat Lieutenant and wish all copper bullets were available or department loads. We have Ranger Ts a great round. In both 45ACP and 9mm. Recently they want us to shoot 9mm 147grain +p in our service weapons. I find all copper the way of the future. The Hornady Handgun Hunter in 115 grain +p has the best of all worlds in my opinion but in FBI protocol tests would be considered an over penetrator unfortunately. As you own your bullet after it leaves the barrel it will never be an Issue round. That’s why Gold Dot and the very best Ranger Ts will not over penetrate. Ranger Ts open up like a sharp daisy as well as these Hornady handgun Hunter rounds. Tremendous in my opinion

  2. Hi there?, I was just wanting to know if this 9mm Horady Hunter ammo could also be used as self-defense or if it’s only considered as hunting ammo?

  3. Another nice write up on ammo here on this forum, which is my forte, especially when it comes to .357 Mag ammo! Many of you may know that I created a very extensive ballistics file on many handgun calibers (35) and file calibers as well (19). This file shows over and over the very weakness of 9mm ammo, and under the .357 Mag section how powerful it can be. So, in particular, the Hornady 130gr 9mm ammo produces only 332 ft. lbs of ME, which is simply the power a typical 9mm round, and nothing special, one that one would use for hunting, other than small game. My ballistics file lists 24, of which 8 are duplicates (the exact same ammo, only from different retailers). The Hornady ammo discussed in this article is all copper.

    In this list, I see Hornady makes three more powerful 9mm ammo than the 130 mentioned in this article (by bullet weight) that you may want to think about using for hunting, and perhaps self defense: (1) the Hornady American Gunner 124 gr with an MV of 1175 fps, producing 380 ft. lbs. of ME, (2) the Hornady TAP-FPD 124gr with a MV of 1200 fps producing 396 ft. lbs., (3) the Hornady Critical Duty with 135gr bullet traveling at 1110 fps, producing 369 ft. lbs. But keep in mind, all of these ballistics figures are from Hornady, and they use an 8″ barrel, which is utterly ridiculous! Who carries and 8″ handgun??? Perhaps a very few will have a 7.5″ barrel, but by far everyone else has a 4-6.6″ barrel! So, all of these are ‘inflated’ to look better.

    And now onto the Hornady .357 Mag ammo. The article says that this Hornady .357 Mag ammo clock out at 1,305 fps from a 4″ barrel, but Hornady’s website says that its MV is only 1250fps from an 8″ barrel. This is a huge discrepancy, which is hard to explain. If yu go by the Hornady specs, then it produces only 451 ft. lbs. of ME. But if you use the 1,305 MV you get 492 ft. lbs. of ME, which is still pretty weak for a .357 Mag round. Hornady doea make more powerful .357 Mag cartridges: (1) a Hornady Critical Defense 125 gr with a MV of 1,500 fps, delivering 624 ft. lbs. of ME, and (2) a Hornady LEVERevolution 140gr with a MV of 1440, delivering 645 ft. lbs. of ME.

    None of the .357 Mag Hornady rounds are particularly powerful, although certainly a lot more than any 9mm round. The .357 Mag round can go as high as 906 ft. lbs. of ME (PPU/Priv). I have fired these, and they do have a noticeable kick, even out of my 6 1/2″ Ruger Blackhawk.

    Vincent (12/20/2020)

  4. I would have liked to have seen .44 magnum and .454 Casull tested. 9mm is not legal for deer here in Michigan.

  5. I really want to try this ammo in my S&W mod 29 and my Ruger 9mm PC carbine. Should be great in the carbine for hogs.

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