The Underrated Hornady XTP

It may seem puzzling to suggest that a bullet as popular, proven, and successful as Hornady's XTP could possibly be considered underrated at this stage of the game-- but, that's exactly what I believe it is. Long considered one of the finest self-defense and hunting pistol bullets ever designed, it is that-- and a whole lot more. I can't begin to guess the tens of thousands of deer that have fallen prey to this superior bullet over the years, but I can tell you that the .452 300 gr. XTP married to the short, black "MMP" MMP sabot has accounted for over 1500 head of deer taken by Savage 10ML series rifles in one small area of Coastal Carolina alone. Henry Ball actually designed his smokeless muzzleloaders around the Hornady 300 XTP, and they remain his favorite muzzleloading bullet to this day on the basis of accuracy, and as the letters stand for: "Xtreme Terminal Performance." They have taken muzzleloading deer from distances of 3 feet to 327 yards in one hunting camp alone-- and have also cleanly harvested bear, elk, and moose with equally devastating results. Even Hornady underrates their .452 300 grain bullet, if you examine their performance graph shown below.


One could reasonably believe that the .452 300 gr. XTP has design parameters inclusive of strike velocities ranging from 750 fps to 1700 fps. Well, I'm here to tell you that in terms on terminal velocity, field results have shown no core separation and 70% plus weight retention at past 2100 fps terminal velocity.

There are several components in the XTP design that allow for this. Yes, it is a "handgun bullet"-- but, not just any handgun bullet. It is relatively long for caliber compared to other pistol bullets, and the crimp (cannelure) that may steal a point or two of ballistic coefficient clearly helps inhibit core separation, even when smashing through heavy bone. The tapering of the jacket allows for a far tougher bullet than just using the same jacket thickness throughout, and it is the generous hollow point that ensures good expansion down to the anemic velocity of 750 fps-- certainly "anemic" in terms of the Savage 10ML-II.

There is another factor that is a clear trend in the Savage 10ML-II that accounts for its superb accuracy: the XTP has a flat base. Jacketed bullets with concave, indented, "ringed," or boat tail bases have generally given me problems in the accuracy department from otherwise promising bullets. No problem with the XTP in this regard. As a bonus, its economy is startling: $14 or so for 100 bullets. You just cannot buy this level of performance for anywhere near fourteen cents per bullet, except in the case of the XTP. I believe I can show that the XTP is a far superior terminal performer as compared to the Hornady SST-- there really is no dispute about that. It just isn't my fault that Hornady's .452 300 grain XTP is so darn good-- Hornady is to blame for that.

For reference's sake, let's take a moment to look at the exterior ballistics of the 300 gr. .452 XTP out of the Savage 10ML-II, as powered by 45 grains of Accurate Arms 5744. You can expect a muzzle velocity in the general area of 2100 fps, and a six inch kill Maximum Point Blank Range of about 190 yards. At that range, the bullet is still traveling about 1400 fps-- right in the middle of its design parameters. Over 1300 fpe are injected into your game animal at 190 yards.

As to how the lethality of this load compares with the .35 Remington factory cartridge shooting a 200 grain bullet, you might be surprised. The .35 Remington is also traveling about 1400 fps at 190 yards, but has only 873 fpe of energy left to harvest with. A far larger permanent wound cavity, and deeper penetration of our 300 grain 10ML-II load vs. the .35 Rem is the very likely result, as in quicker harvesting of deer-sized game, and the ability to cleanly drop where the .35 Remington runs out of gas.

For Triple 7 powered 1:28 rate of twist barreled inlines, the 250 gr. XTP is likely a better choice than the 300 gr. to keep the velocity, energy, and trajectory reasonable at range for deer: with 2100 fps MV, 182 yd MPBR, 908 fpe @ 190 yards.

In the Savage, though, the 300 gr. XTP shines by comparison. For the dollar, it is the most performance in a muzzleloading projectile that can be had-- and a far tougher bullet than even Hornady will readily admit to.



© 2005 by Randy Wakeman



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