Ammunition and Components


The steady introduction of new calibers and high-techloads is fueling the firearms industry. One has to look no further than Hornady to sense the pace of the ammunition market. This year Hornady is introducing four completely new cartridges – the 308 Marlin Express, 30 T/C, 375 Ruger and 460 Bushmaster. It is also bringing into production two great classics – the 450/400 N.E. 3″ and the 9.3 x 74R. Remington, which has controlled the 17-caliber centerfire market with its swift 17 Remington for years, decided it was time to rev up the market and created the appealing 17 Remington Fireball along with five bolt-action rifles to shoot it in. The heavy end of the handgun market keeps boiling with a number of new loads for the 460 S&W and 500 S&W, including Hornady's 500-grain FP-XTP for 500 S&W shooters who like a bit of kick to their loads. Over in scattergun territory, the accent is still on the development of dense shot including Winchester's Extended Range High Density, Remington's Wingmaster HD and Federal's Black Cloud FS Steel. It's been a busy year!

A-Square Company

A-Square has aggressively tamed a number of excellent wildcats by domesticating them through the SAAMI protocols. Two of the successful cartridges, the 6.5-06 A-Square and the 338-06 A-Square, will be joined this year by the 416 Taylor A-Square. Developed by Robert Chatfield Taylor in the 1970s by necking down the 458 Win. Magnum case to .416, the compact and highly efficient 416 Taylor is capable of churning up 2400 fps with a 400-grain bullet. Move over 416 Rigby and 416 Remington, the Taylor A-Square runs on less powder and doesn't require a magnum length action to equal your classic ballistics. It's good to see that the 416 Taylor has now been standardized and is available loaded with A-Square's unique “Triad” of big game bullets.

Ballistic Products

Ballistic Products new “HITS” program is changing the way shotshell reloaders optimize their choice of components around a specific game species or shooting game. Standing for “Hull Integrated Technology System,” the HITS program provides the reloader with a bundle of the best components, except for powder and shot, plus reloading instructions to assemble the finest pheasant, waterfowl, sporting clays and 20-gauge shotshells. There's also a new multi-purpose 16-gauge field wad available this year. Designated the “Multi-Metal 16,” it can handle lead, steel and Hevi-Shot loadings.

Barnes Bullets

Featuring a copper-tin core, Barnes' Varmint Grenade .224? bullet promises explosive performance.
Featuring a copper-tin core, Barnes' Varmint Grenade .224 bullet promises explosive performance.

Celebrating their 75th anniversary, Barnes is introducing no less than 41 new bullet designs this year. Noteworthy as well is that the Barnes bullets are being factory loaded today by Black Hills, Cor-Bon, Federal, Norma and Weatherby.

Brand new to the Barnes family is the “Varmint Grenade” – a 36-grain HP in .224, featuring a highly frangible, copper-tincore. It's a “green” bullet, accurate and designed for explosive expansion of game and a minimum of ricochets. The line of Maximum-Range X-Bullets (MRX) introduced last year, featuring tungsten-alloy cores and polymer tips in the familiar TripleShock platform, has been expanded to cover every popular caliber from 270 through 338. Barnes' line of solids has been completely redesigned with multi-grooved shanks that reduce pressure, minimize fouling and enhance accuracy. The new “Banded Solid” line has been expanded to cover every popular caliber from 224 through 600, and this includes some classic big game calibers such as the 9.3mm, 450/400, 404 Jeffrey, 470 Nitro, 505 Gibbs and 500 Nitro. The 30/30 gets a new high performance bullet this year, a flat-nose, 150grain Triple Shock. Finally, look for a variety of new XPB pistol bullets including new weights and designs for the 357, 357 Sig, 40 S&W, 44 Spl. and 45 GAP.


Barnes' Triple-Shock X Bullet is so effective, it's being factory loaded by Federal, Black Hills and Weatherby.

Berger Bullets

In an interesting turn of events, Berger is pitching its Match Grade Very Low Drag (VLD) line as perfectly suitable for hunting big game. Berger's tests, which are available on a free DVD from the company, show that the sharp nose of a VLD bullet penetrates at least 2 inches of initial tissue and then expands rapidly in the vital area. Added to the lineup this year are a 120-grain/6.5mmMatch BT and a 130-grain/6.5mmMatch VLD.


Working with Berger, Bismuth has developed and is loading a 175grain/30-caliber VLD match grade bullet with a pure Bismuth, non-toxic core in the 308 Win., 30-'06, 300 Win. Mag. and 300 WSM. Test results show exceptionally fine accuracy and rapid fragmentation. Bismuth continues to offer a complete line of shotshells and Bismuth component shot for handloaders. Bismuth is the only non-toxic shot that is suitable for pre-steel shot shotgun barrels, be they breech or muzzleloaders.

Black Hills

With S&W returning the Model 1917 to its line, a lot of shooters will be searching for 45 Auto Rim ammunition. It's hard to find, but not at Black Hills. Their new 45 Auto Rim loading features a hard-cast 255-grain SWC at an honest 750 fps. The hottest new varmint load this year is Black Hills' 223 “Varmint Grenade.” Built around Barnes' new copper particle-cored 36-grain bullet, the Varmint Grenade is running at 3750 fps and is said to be “humanely devastating” on small critters. Long known for their custom match ammunition, Black Hills is loading a 123-grain/6.5mm Sierra MatchKing in the 6.5 Grendel cartridge for Les Baer, who is reporting .5 MOA accuracy from his custom AR-15s. Similarly, they have developed a long-range tactical match load for the 260 Rem. cartridge, featuring a 139-grain Lapua Scenar bullet at 2770 fps. The tactical match 260 Rem. load will be marketed exclusively through G.A. Precision rifles. Finally, their premium line of hunting ammunition, Black Hills Gold, is being expanded with Hornady SST bullets added to the 243 Win., 270 Win. and 7mm Rem. Mag. Great people – great ammo.

45 Auto Rim has been in short supply, but no longer. Black Hills is bringing it back.
45 Auto Rim has been in short supply, but no longer. Black Hills is bringing it back.

Brenneke USA

The 16-gauge continues to creep up in popularity, and why not. A 16-gauge built on a 20-gauge frame is a delight to shoot and carry. Well, Brenneke has upgraded their 1 oz/16-gauge slug with a new wad system that is capable of 2.5 groups at 50 yards. Velocity is right up there at 1600 fps. Over the past year, Brenneke commissioned ballistics expert Tom Burczynski to run a series of comparative tests on all brands of shotguns slugs. Interestingly, the Brenneke 12-gauge Heavy Field Short Magnum out-penetrated the competition by a long margin and ranked second in terms of accuracy and muzzle energy. See the test results at

DKG has emerged as a great resource if you're looking for NobelSport or Centurion shotshells. Manufactured in Italy, both lines feature some interesting variations like NobelSport's 20-gauge steel trap load and 12-gauge sporting clays spreader load.

Under the Centurion banner, one will find a unique 12-gauge buckshot load featuring one 0.650 round ball and six #1 buck and a .410 shell stuffed with five #00 buck. See the whole lines at

Extreme Shock

Extreme Shock ammunition is designed to fragment and dump all its energy within the target. With a technology based on bullets having Tungsten powder cores, the lines now cover personal defense and aircraft safe handgun rounds, short and long range 5.56mm tactical rounds, subsonic, door-breaching and even a 675-grain 50 BMG load. See them all at


Federal's 12 and 20-gauge sabot slug loads feature a spitzer-tipped Barnes Expander.
Federal's 12 and 20-gauge sabot slug loads feature a spitzer-tipped Barnes Expander.

Waterfowl beware! The new Black Cloud FS Steel cartridge is described as “Dropping Ducks Like Rain.” Basically, a combination of Federal's proven Flitecontrol wad and a steel shot pellet that features a cutting edge around its circumference, Black Cloud FS is a new step-up in steel shot lethality. Twelve and twenty gauge slugs also have been given a facelift by the addition of a streamlined polymer spitzer tip to Federal's Barnes Expander sabot slug. The factory standard is 2 inches at 100 yards – no exceptions. Speaking of Barnes, the 7mm/140-grain Triple Shock X-Bullet has been added to the 7mm-08, 280 Rem. and 7mm Rem. Mag. under the Premium Vital-Shok label. Also new under the same label are a 150-grain Nosler AccuBond in the 30-'06 and a 165-grain AccuBond in the 308 Win. The popularity of the 460 S&W keeps growing so Federal has once again teamed up with Barnes to load a 275-grain Expander in that big bore handgun caliber.


Break out those Broomhandles! Fiocchi is reintroducing the 7.63Mauser cartridge in a full-power loading sporting an 88-grain FMJ bullet at 1425 fps.


Famous for their slug gun barrels and sabot slug ammunition, Hastings is introducing a 20-gauge case stuffed with a 350-grain Laser Accurate Slug at 2000 fps. It's the ultimate 20-gauge magnum but suitable only for single-shot shotguns at the moment.


Having taken over the distribution of Winchester canister powders, Hodgdon is releasing two classic Winchester shotshell powders: WAALite – the same powder used by Winchester to create the Feather Light AA12FL shell; and SuperHandicap – useful for duplicating Winchester's clays-crushing SuperHandicap 12-gauge loading that tough competitors call the “silver bullet.”There's a new short cut powder this year, IMR 4007 SSC. “SSC” stands for “Super Short Cut” and the burning rate of the new powder falls between IMR 4064 and IMR 4350. The new IMR 4007 SSC is turning in outstanding velocities and accuracy in the short magnums as well as in the 22-250, 220 Swift, 243 Win. and the classic 30-'06. Be sure to buy the new Hodgdon Reloading Manual that now includes thousands of proven recipes for IMR and Winchester, as well as the traditional Hodgdon powders.


After last year's introduction of the “LeverEvolution” family of cartridges, we expected Hornady to take a breather. Not so, this year Hornady is producing four completely new cartridges, the 375 Ruger, 308 Marlin Express, 30 T/C and 450 Bushmaster as well as bringing into production two great classics, the 450/400 Nitro Express 3? and the 9.3?74R. The 375 Ruger is based on a 30-'06-length case and loaded with a 270-grain SP and 300-grain SP or FMJ, it is capable of duplicating 375 H&H performance in a 20-inch barrel. The 308 Marlin Express features a 160 grain spitzer bullet with a high B.C. rating of .400 that leaves the muzzle of Marlin's new XLR lever action at 2600 fps. If you like Marlin lever actions, you'll like this new cartridge.

Hornady's puts some muscle in the AR-15 with the new 450 Bushmaster.
Hornady's puts some muscle in the AR-15 with the new 450 Bushmaster.

The 30 T/C is a short-action case designed specifically for T/C's forward-looking ICON bolt-action rifle. Producing 3000 fps with a 150-grain bullet and 2850 fps with a 165-grain pill, Hornady claims the new case uses less powder than the 308 or 30-'06, exceeds the factory velocities of those classic 30s in a 20-inch barrel, and produces noticeably less recoil. Designed to take your Bushmaster AR-15 big-game hunting, the 450 Bushmaster will produce over 2000 fps with a .425-caliber/250-grain SST bullet. The overall length of the new cartridge matches the 223 Rem. at 2.250 inches. Just change your uppers and go hunting.


This is the handloader's emporium for bullets, cases and RCBS tooling and parts. Buzz Huntington does an exceptional job of rounding up the hardest-to-get components and will go to any length to find them. Need lead bullets for the 310 Martini, newly drawn cases for the 577 Snider, or samples of the 600 and 700 Nitro Express cases or bullets. Huntington keeps them in stock. I enjoy shooting the oddball and obsolete cartridges, and I haven't been able to stump Buzz yet.

Huntington's catalog is as educational a reference as you will find in the trade.

Kent Cartridge

“Speed Kills,” states their catalog, and Kent has the shotshells to prove it. New this year under their “Faststeel” waterfowl label is a 12-gauge/3?? shell packing 1? oz of BB, 1, 2 and 3s at 1625 fps. That's fast! Then there's a new 12-gauge/2?? upland lead load featuring 1 oz of 4, 5 and 6s at 1460 fps. Look to Kent for speed. It kills.


Famous for their exceptionally accurate and lethal shotgun slugs, Lightfield has capitalized on its experience with plastic sabots and projectile design to develop a new 50-caliber muzzleloading round. Named the “Alpha Gold 300,” it consists of a pure lead 300-grain boattail hollowpoint bullet wrapped in a gold-colored sabot. The hollow point is serrated to generate controlled expansion upon impact and a bullet seater is provided in each blister pack to ensure the soft spitzer point is not deformed when loading. The plastic sabot is formulated to take both blackpowder and smokeless pressures. It's a good looking round and early reports from the field indicate it's exceptionally lethal. Also new this year are several new sabot shotgun slugs and a full range of non-lethal law enforcement and wildlife control loads. Most important may be Lightfield's well-written instructional guides on benchresting and sighting in a slug gun, and analyzing recovered muzzleloading sabots to fine-tune your load. and


Do you have a vintage 12-gauge side-by-side that would be pleasant and safe to shoot with a low-pressure shell? Midway has the shell. Loaded by Federal to Midway's specifications, the 12-gauge/2 1/2 shell shot at 1200 fps. The chamber pressure is a mild 5,000 pounds and recoil is equally as light. The shell would be a great practice round in any 12-gauge gun and is ideal for recoil-sensitiveshooters. Available by the case, see it at


Norma fields its “African PH” series of big game ammunition. Featuring FMJ and SP Woodleigh bullets, the new cartridge family includes the 375 H&H, 404 Jeffery, 416 Rigby and Rem. Mag., 450 Rigby, 458 Lott, 470 NE, 500 NE and 505 Gibbs. The “African PH” catalog, featuring stories on a number of past and present professional hunters, is a great read and well worth ordering. In another interesting development, Norma will be bringing out a new 6mm competition cartridge designed by David Tubb. Called the “6XC,” the case is based on an improved 22-250 design with minimum case taper and a 30-degree shoulder. The 6XC will be factory loaded with a moly-coated 105-grain Berger bullet loaded to approximately 3000 fps. Norma is considering introducing the 6XC as a hunting cartridge as well, noting its superiority over the 243 Win.


Expanding its highly successful AccuBond line, Nosler is introducing four new bullets: a 130-grain/6.5mm, 130-grain/270, 225-grain/35 and a 250-grain/9.3mm. There's a new 32-grain/20 caliber Ballistic Tip varmint pill and a new 140-grain/6.5mm HPBT target bullet in the line. Nosler continues to expand its brand of custom brass and is cataloguing the 260 Rem., 280 Ackley Improved, 300 H&H and 300 SAUM this year.


Always a fertile center for shotshell innovations, Polywad is introducing the “Gram Crak-R Shell,” a buffered shot load, wrapped in a high-sided craft paper shot cup. The results in the 28-gauge and .410 are amazing. With the 28-gauge shell, I was taking doves out to 50 yards this past season while the .410 Crak-R performs more like a 28-gauge. The secret is in the buffer and in the environmentally friendly shotcup that holds the shot together, producing a short shot string and a tight shot pattern with a minimum of aberrant pellets.


Remington's traditional Core-Lokt bullet just got better with the addition of a bonded core.
Remington's traditional Core-Lokt bullet just got better with the addition of a bonded core.

Having opened the 17-caliber door years ago with their sensational 17 Remington, Big Green has done it again. Necking down the cute-looking 221 Fireball, they're introducing the 17 Remington Fireball with a 20-grain AccuTip-V at 4000 fps in no less than four different model rifles. Another ballistic break-through this year is Wingmaster HD waterfowl, turkey and predator loads. Utilizing their proprietary tungsten-bronze-ironalloy with a pellet density of 12 gm/cc, the new shot is perfectly spherical and offers optimum pattern densities in gauges from 10 through 20. The predator loading in the 3″ and 3 1/2/12 gauge is based on “T” shot at 1300-1350 fps – should be deadly on coyotes at extended ranges. Working with the concept of stair-stepping loads, Remington is offering three different power level loads for the 300 Rem. Ultra Mag. Power Level 1 tames the 300 RUM to 30-'06 level performance; Level 2 to 300 Win. performance; and Level 3 brings out the full power level we buy the 300 RUM for in the first place. Remington states that the point-of-impact of all three power levels is within 2 inches at 200 yards, making scope adjustments unnecessary. In the shotshell slug department, there is a new ManagedRecoil addition featuring a 1 oz./12 ga. Copper Solid Sabot Slug at a mild 1200 fps. Look for Remington Core-Lokt Ultra Bonded component bullets this year in calibers 243 through 338.

Schroeder Bullets

For uncommon custom diameter bullets and brass, always check out Schroeder.

This year he is adding formed brass for the 204 Ruger Rimmed, 223 Rimmed, 222 Mag. Rimmed, 17357 Maximum, 5.7x28mm Rimmed, 30 Herrett, and 7×61 S&H. New custom bullets include a 60-grain HP in .234 diameter and 225-grain and 250-grain spire points in .356 diameter. If you own a 5mm Rem. Mag. rifle, Schroeder offers a simple and inexpensive conversion to 5mm centerfire. (619) 423-3523

Sierra Bullets

Meeting the demand for 6.5mm match bullets, Sierra has added a 123-grain HPBT MatchKing to its existing line-up of superb 6.5mm competition projectiles.


SSK is the place to look for high-tech specialty bullets.

SSK is the place to look for high-tech specialty bullets.


JD Jones and David Frickie have teamed up to produce a series of unique bullets turned from brass or copper. There are a variety of styles in 6.5mm, 6.8mm, 338, 375, 416, 458, 500, 510, 13mm, 14.5mm, 62 and 95 caliber. If you have a self-designed bullet in mind, Jones and Frickie will get it into CNC production for a modest cost of $300. Working with Michael McCourry, SSK now offers a completely new line of custom 50, 416 and 458 caliber cartridges based on WSM and Rem. Ultra Mag. brass, including a 50-caliber Alaskan cartridge that is giving outstanding performance in the Win. Model 71 and Marlin 1895. Dies, bullets, brass and custom gunsmithing are available through SSK.


Speer's continued production of “Special Purpose Rifle Bullets” is a blessing shooters should not overlook. In spite of what must be a very limited demand, the “Special Purpose” line includes properly cannelured bullets for the 218 Bee, 25-20, 730 Waters, 30 Carbine and 32-20. Stock up!


If you're a 25-caliber shooter, there's a great new bullet in the Scirocco line. It's a streamlined 100-grain boattail spitzer with a high BC of .429.


Weatherby was the first major company to integrate Nosler Partition bullets into their entire line. They continue to search out and load premium, high-tech component bullets. This year, Barnes Triple-Shock X-Bullet and Nosler's AccuBond bullet are being added across the Weatherby family of high-performance cartridges that already sport the Nosler Partition, Nosler Ballistic Tip and Hornady Interlock bullets.


Weatherby's focus on premium bullets now includes the Barnes' Triple Shock.

Weatherby's focus on premium bullets now includes the Barnes' Triple Shock.


Winchester's top-of-the-line ammunition family, the Supreme Elite line, includes a number of firsts this year. The 243 Win and the 243 WSSM have been tipped off with Winchester's finest controlled expansion, bonded core bullet, the 95-grain/XP3. The popular 270 Win. and 270 WSM are also being upgraded with a 130-grain XP3 bullet. Respective velocities are 3050 fps and 3275 fps. Designed for rifled shotgun bores, there's a striking new XP3/12-gauge shotgun slug featuring a sharp polymer tip, controlled expansion jacket, and a refined sabot. The combination is said to be highly accurate and very flat shooting. As we go to print, the shell's velocity has not been announced. Predator hunters will like the Supreme Elite Xtended Range High Density Coyote 3 1/2 12-gauge load featuring 1 1/2 oz of Hi-Density B size pellets. Lots of knockdown power with minimum pelt damage. The 3?/20-gauge is getting some additional octane this year with the introduction of an Xtended Range turkey load packing 1 oz of #5 shot at 1225 fps. Finally, the premium line features a 3 1/2 12-gauge Xtended Range waterfowl load, loaded with 1 oz of #6 Hi Density shot. The old 30-30 gets a facelift with a new 150-grain, slightly pointed, Ballistic Silvertip ripping out at 2390 fps. If the full-power 500 S&W seems a bit much for extended target sessions, Winchester has a new reduced recoil load consisting of a 350-grain bullet at 1400 fps. Delivering only ? the recoil of the full-power cartridge, big-bore handgunners should love it. Speaking of reduced recoil, there's a new line of WinLite Low Recoil shotgun ammunition covering target, buckshot and slug applications. Finally, honoring the late John Wayne on what would be his 100th birthday, Winchester is issuing a limited edition collector's set of ammunition in 44-40, 45 Colt and 30-30 calibers, featuring special headstamps and commemorative packaging.


Constructed with pure lead, bonded cores, the Woodleigh line of premium big-game bullets is being expanded this year with an ultra heavy, 240-grain protected point, Weldcore bullet for the 30-?06, 200 and 220-grain PP bullets for the 325 Win., a 400-grain FN for the 500 S&W, and a 450-grain RN in .510? diameter for the 500 Nitro. See the whole line.

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Order the Gun Digest Annual Book, 2009
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