Hornady Superformance Ammo: The Real Deal?

Hornady is souping up and changing the standards for all centerfire ammunition, promising higher velocities than ever: but, with less muzzle pressure, muzzle blast, felt recoil, and as this look at hunting ammo shows: surprising accuracy. The hunting ammo line continues to expand, while the "supercharged Superformance" is headed for varmint loads in 2011, promising to pump up the .223 Remington into a near .22-250 exterior ballistics: 3465 fps for the 53 grain Hornady Superformance V-Max.


Hornady has not so quietly become the world leader in ammunition innovation. I'm referring to innovations that actually work, innovations that have tangible, real world benefits. It was Hornady that introduced the HMR .17, a home run in the old ballpark of “when all else fails, invent a cartridge.” It was Hornady that gave lever-actions new life, and new down-range ballistics by replacing the older flying ashtray type of bullets with their LEVERevolution FTX ammunition. The Hornady stuff works, as opposed to some of the "great ideas" that come out, like the Winchester .223 WSSM "Super Short" Magnum that are just too dumb for words.

For muzzleloading hunters, the Hornady FPB bore-sized bullet embarrasses the Powerbelt, one of the worst muzzleloading projectiles currently available, with better accuracy, far better aerodynamics, and better terminal performance within the astonishingly wide parameters of 800 fps to 2000 fps terminal velocities. Introduced as a 350 grain .285 BC 2.0 sectional density bullet, the newest addition is the 300 grain, .245 BC version that flies better not only than Powerbelts and all other conicals, but actually better than some saboted rounds.

That brings us to today, Hornady “Superformance Ammo” tested in the monolithic, GMX bullet offering. The GMX bullets themselves have broken new ground, made of gilding jacket material. What impresses me most about the GMX bullet is that they really shoot, where so many other attempts have fallen flat. In a previous series of .30-06 ammunition testing, the 150 grain GMX had an average 5 shot group size close to 1.1 inches, with sporter profile hunting rifles. Excellent accuracy for a very tough hunting bullet.

The tested Superformance ammo is in one of my favorite cartridges, the 7mm-08. This is Hornady #80576, offering a 139 GMX bullet, .486 BC, .246 sectional density, with a published muzzle velocity of 2910 fps. This Hornady load gives you a pop of an extra 100 fps over most commercially available cartridges. If that doesn't sound like a big deal at the muzzle, it is because it really isn't. What is more impressive is that this Hornady hits with velocities at 400 yards (2189 fps) similar to what most other 7mm-08 loads do at 300 yards with a bit less wind drift at all ranges. It is a 300 yard center of the body hold “set it and forget it” type of combination for most all North American game. Even the shorter range trajectory of 1.5 inches high at 100 yards means you are good to go to 250 yards with no hesitation or holdover.

The rifle I tested this ammo with is a bone stock, Model 14 American Classic walnut and highly polished blue Savage. I've turned this Savage into a real cream puff of a shooter with the addition of a Limbsaver recoil pad. It is topped off with a Bushnell Elite 3200 3-10 x 40mm scope, mounted with Warne Maxima medium rings on Warne steel bases. How did it do? Take a look.

Aside from 1/ 2 inch C-T-C accuracy, fabulous for hunting ammo in a sporter profile barrel, the recoil is virtually non-existent. This is a combination you could shoot all day. Compared with a Browning BAR .270 shooting 130 grain Noslers, size by side, the low recoil was indistinguishable from one rifle to the other. It feels like a .223, yet it is a big game hunting combination suitable for deer, elk, black bear, moose, virtually anything. It is my impression that Hornady is really on to something with their reduced muzzle blast and resultant jet effect as well. With this cartridge, the 7mm-08 is not just equal, but superior to several run of the mill Winchester .270 rounds. A 150 grain soft point round nose .270 Winchester (Power-Shok and similar) is typically the same velocity at the muzzle as this Hornady round, about 2830 fps. At 400 yards, velocity is 1606 fps. Now, for "Superformance": the tested load, right here, hits at 400 yards at about 2189 fps: 36% more terminal velocity. The 10 mpg wind drift is close to 25 inches at 400 yards from the .270 RN load, but the Hornady 7mm-08 has less than HALF: about 10.72 inches at 400 yards. This load obsoletes conventional .270 Winchester loads like this one. It does it comfortably, with more accuracy than you can use in the field. 57% less wind drift at 400 yards is a big deal, a huge benefit.

With remarkable accuracy, very low recoil, yet extra terminal velocity compared to previous loads, as well as reduced win drift, amd laser-beam accuracy . . . it is hard not to characterize Hornady Superformance as anything less than a significant improvement and a valuable step in the right direction. In this case, it is just what the doctor ordered. Congratulations to Hornady for yet another winner, both in the ammunition approach and the GMX bullets themselves. There are enough new Superformance offerings coming in 2011 to get everyone's motor running.


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