Guest post by Chris Christian, courtesy of SHOT Daily.
The last few years have seen less ammunition product in the pipeline than many consumers would have hoped for. That’s changing, however. The supply situation is improving with increased production, which is giving the ammo makers room to introduce some very useful new loads. Here’s a look at some of the most significant new products for 2015.
Highlights of the Barnes offerings for 2015 include new additions to the Premium Match and Vor-TX lines and a new lead-free training round geared toward law enforcement agencies. The Barnes Premium Match Precision line adds are constructed from hard lead and a gilding metal jacket and designed with a long boattail and a high ballistic coefficient. They’re optimized for long-range accuracy by tight manufacturing tolerances that reduce deviation and variation. New additions for 2015 include a 5.56 NATO with a 69-grain OTM bullet, a .308 Win. with a 175-grain OTM, a .300 Win. Mag. with a 220-grain OTM, and the .338 Lapua, which launches a 300-grain OTM slug.
The Vor-TX line sees the addition of two 5.56mm NATO offerings that are loaded to true 5.56mm NATO pressures. One features a 55-grain TTSX projectile, the other launches a 62-grain TSX bullet. The Vor-TX CFR line sees the addition of a 300 AAC Blackout load (launching a 120-grain TAC-TX Vor-TX bullet) and the .338 Lapua (with a 280-grain LRX Vor-TX projectile).
Barnes’ Alternative Material Zinc Core ammunition is lead-free and provides cost-effective training for law enforcement agencies. It will be available in a 55-grain 5.56mm NATO loading and a 300 AAC Blackout with a 90-grain projectile.
Federal’s HST bullet design was originally offered as an LE-only round. As such, it is in wide service with law enforcement agencies across the country in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, where it has earned an impressive reputation for penetration, expansion, and stopping power. In 2013, Federal made the HST round available to civilians, but only in those three calibers. This year, however, they will extend the HST performance envelope to those opting for the .380 ACP as a backup LE or civilian concealed-carry handgun. Available in the Personal Defense line, the new HST .380 ACP load features a 99-grain bullet in a nickel-plated case; it’s sold in a 20-round box. SRP: $25.95.
Handgun hunters will want to check out Federal’s new Vital-Shok Trophy Bonded 10mm auto. In terms of power, a 10mm loaded to full pressure easily eclipses the .357 Magnum and can actually tread closely on the heels of the .41 Magnum. That makes it a legitimate semi-auto handgun choice for those pursuing deer-size game or wild hogs at ranges inside 100 yards. However, many 10mm loads are downloaded to .40 S&W velocities. The Vital-Shok Trophy Bonded 10mm is loaded to full pressure and launches a 180-grain Trophy Bonded softpoint bullet at 1,275 fps. It offers significant expansion combined with magnum penetration.
On the rifle side, the .30/30 Win. gets an upgrade with the inclusion of a 150-grain Trophy Copper load in the Vital-Shok line. The flat, polymer-tipped Trophy Copper slug is designed for tubular magazines and offers the same copper-alloy construction and 90-percent-plus weight retention of the other Trophy Copper offerings. It features a nickel-plated case for corrosion resistance and smoother cycling.
The .223 Rem. is added to the Vital-Shok line with a Trophy Bonded Tip projectile. The Trophy Bonded Tip is built on the bonded-core Bear Claw platform and features a neon polymer tip, nickel-plated bullet, and a solid copper shank that retains more than 90 percent of its weight. A skived jacket helps ensure maximum controlled expansion. It will be available with a 62-grain slug, which makes it a viable load for deer- and antelope-size game. It also is loaded into nickel-plated cases.
Fans of the .338 Lapua Magnum will find a new moderately priced load in the American Eagle line. The new load features Federal reloadable brass cases, Federal primers, and a 250-grain jacketed softpoint bullet.
High-volume shooters will now find the 5.56mm NATO load available in the American Eagle line in two new bulk-package offerings. The new 120-Round Mini Ammo Cans provide 120 5.56x45mm NATO rounds in either a 55-grain or a 62-grain FMJ in a reusable injection-molded polymer ammo can. Styled like military ammo cans, they are convenient to store and transport. The new 150-Round Bulk pack offers 150 5.56x45mm NATO rounds in the 62-grain FMJ load. The bulk pack is a sturdy corrugated cardboard carton that stores and transports easily.
Rimfire shooters now will find the .17 Win. Super Magnum available in the American Eagle line. Producing 3,000 fps with a 20-grain tipped varmint bullet, it offers flat trajectory and explosive expansion on prairie dogs, ground squirrels, woodchucks, and similar varmints.
Federal’s new inline Trophy Copper Muzzleloader bullet is a radical design that Federal claims increases accuracy, reduces barrel fouling, and offers faster loading than conventional sabot slugs. The B.O.R. Lock MZ System bullet design does not require a sabot; it uses an expanding polymer base cup that seals the bullet in the bore. The rear of the cup features a hard, fiber-reinforced ring that scours fouling from the breech. This reduces the need for cleaning between rounds and speeds reloading. Federal notes that the non-sabot design is approved for use in most areas. The all-copper 270-grain .50-caliber Trophy Copper bullet features a polymer tip, deep hollowpoint cavity, and skiving on the jacket to promote consistent and increased expansion. It will be available in 15-count packs. SRP: $24.95.
Modern shotgun turkey loads have been refined to produce such tight patterns that it almost becomes “shotgunning with a rifle.” In fact, close-range patterns can be tight enough that a small aiming error can result in a miss. Federal’s radical new 3rd Degree 12-gauge turkey load offers a solution. Using the rear opening FliteControl wad, which holds the rear-most pellets within the wad longer, the 3rd Degree offers a multi-shot three-stage payload that delivers both short-range spread and tight, longer-range patterns. The forward 20 percent of the shot charge is composed of No. 6 nickel-plated shot. Leaving the wad first, they create a larger pattern inside 20 yards. The next 40 percent is copper-plated No. 5 shot to create a dense pattern at mid-ranges. The final 40 percent is No. 7 Heavyweight iron-tungsten shot; it remains in the wad the longest to create dense patterns at up to 40 yards. The 3rd Degree will be available in 12-gauge 3-inch with 1¾ ounces of shot and in 3.5-inch shells carrying 2 ounces of shot. Both shells launch at 1,250 fps.
New handgun loads for sport and self-defense, a new rifle line for hunters, and a 12-gauge slug highlight Hornady’s 2015 offerings. The new Full Boar centerfire rifle line uses the monolithic copper-alloy GMX bullet, which is California-compatible and approved for other areas that require non-traditional, lead-free bullets. The GMX is designed to produce uniform expansion and deep penetration while retaining up to 95 percent of its weight. It will be available in .223 Rem. with a 50-grain GMX, 80-grain .243 Win., 100-grain 6.8mm, 130-grain .270 Win., 139-grain 7mm Rem. Mag., 165-grain .308 Win., 165-grain .30/06 Sprg., and 165-grain .300 Win. Mag.
Fans of the rimfire .17 Win. Super Mag. will find a new Hornady load launching a 20-grain polymer-tipped V-Max bullet at 3,000 fps. Hornady’s new line of American Gunner handgun ammunition offers traditional loadings suitable for hunting, self-defense, or target work. The initial offerings will be built around Hornady’s proven XTP bullet and will be available in .380 ACP with a 90-grain XTP, 9mm Luger in a 115-grain XTP and 124-grain +P XTP, a 125-grain .357 Magnum, a 125-grain .38 Spl., 180-grain .40 S&W, and a .45 ACP with a 185-grain XTP.
In the Critical Defense line, a new 100-grain 9mm load using the FTX bullet with a unique pink Flex-Tip is claimed to offer up to a 27 percent reduction in recoil compared to standard-pressure 9mm loads. Hornady’s Critical Duty line is designed for LE use and meets FBI protocol standards for penetration and terminal performance through all common urban barriers. For 2015, that line will expand with the addition of a 135-grain .357 Magnum load, which features the FlexLock bullet that utilizes a polymer tip to prevent clogging on impact. The load also assures expansion via a core-to-jacket InterLock that melds core and jacket together for maximum weight retention. Other features include low-flash propellants and nickel-plated cases.
Lastly, those who opt for 12-gauge slugs (whether by preference or regulation) will want to look at the new American Whitetail Rifled Slug. The 1-ounce lead-alloy Foster-style slug is intended for use in smoothbore barrels and launches at 1,600 fps with a compression-style wad that both protects the slug and seals the bore.
Remington notes that one of its goals in 2015 is to increase production volumes for all ammunition. Among those will also be two new products.
The 300 BLK has proven to be a popular round among modern sporting rifle shooters, and for 2015 Remington will introduce a 120-grain load using a OTFB bullet. It will be available in 20-round boxes. SRP: $18.53.
Remington’s new Ultimate Muzzleloader rifle uses a special priming case to launch a 250-grain .50-caliber Premier AccuTip bullet. Each purchased rifle will ship with 24 ignition cases and bullets. Those products will also be available for separate purchase in packs of 24 each.
This year’s new product offerings run the gamut from the deer woods and upland bird fields to turkey swamps, clay target ranges, and personal defense. The new Deer Season XP is a dedicated deer-hunting rifle bullet. It is designed to produce a massive impact diameter with rapid expansion combined with an elevated ballistic coefficient for a flatter trajectory and greater long-range accuracy potential. Created specifically for thin-skinned deer-size game, it features a radical new Extreme Point polymer tip bullet. Packed in 20-round boxes, it will be available in the following loads: .243 Win. (95 grains/3,100 fps), .270 Win. (130 grains/3,050 fps), .270 WSM (130 grains/3,275 fps), 7mm Rem. Mag. (140 grains/3,100 fps), .308 Win. (150 grains/2,820 fps), .30/06 Sprg. (150 grains/2,920 fps), .300 Win. Mag. (150 grains/3,250 fps), and a 150-grain 300 WSM (3,260 fps).
Winchester’s Train & Defend handgun ammo line pairs a range-ready practice round (Train) with a jacketed hollowpoint personal-defense load (Defend). Loaded to equal velocities, they provide similar recoil levels and shoot to the same point of aim. For 2015, the Train & Defend line will now be available in 50-round boxes of range loads and 20-round boxes of Defend loads in 230-grain .45 ACP (850 fps).
Winchester’s Long Beard XR (Extra Range) Magnum lead turkey load will be available in 12-gauge 3-inch with 1 7/8-ounce of shot at 1,050 fps, and in a 3.5-inch 12-gauge load carrying 2 1/8-ounce of shot at 1,050 fps. Both will be available in No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6 shot.
The Rooster XR 12-gauge load is designed to produce tight patterns at extended ranges, such as those encountered while hunting late-season ringnecks and chukar. It will now be offered in a 12-gauge 3-inch load carrying 1 ¼-ounce of No. 5 or No. 6 shot at a range-stretching velocity of 1,450 fps.
One of the more useful tools for clay target shooters is the Winchester AA TrAAcker shotshell. It uses a unique wad technology that actually makes the path of the shot string visible to the shooter. No longer do you have to wonder, “Was I behind or ahead of that clay?” Now you can see why you missed. It’s a great practice aid for experienced shooters and an invaluable training aid for new ones. It is available with two different colored wads: fluorescent orange, which shows best against overcast skies, and plain black, more visible on bright, clear days. For 2015, the loads will be available in 12-gauge loads of 2 ¾-inch and 1 1/8-ounces: a No. 7½ load that shoots at 1,200 fps, and a No. 9 that shoots at 1,145 fps. Both are available in orange or black wads. The AA Steel Target load is designed for lead-free areas and features a non-reloadable black hull. New for this year are 12-gauge, 2 ¾-inch loads with 1 ounce of No. 7½ or No. 8 steel shot, leaving the muzzle at 1,450 fps.
Did your favorite ammo manufacturer reveal something new this year? Looking forward to buying some new ammo to test out? Tell us about it in the comment section.