January 22, 2019
Driven by trends such as PRS competitions, non-toxic regulations, long-range hunting practices, and personal protection awareness, modern ammunition companies are stepping up to the plate and delivering purpose-designed ammunition that’s better than ever.
This is just a preliminary look, and certainly doesn’t include every new offering from every ammo company out there. However, it should be enough to whet your appetite. So splash a dash of the Irish into your coffee, settle into the recliner in front of the fireplace, and peruse this new-product gallery for a little inspiration.
Here, in alphabetical order, are some of the most intriguing new ammo offerings of 2019.
5mm Remington Rimfire Magnum: Never heard of it? Not to worry—it’s like a rare vintage wine: uncommon but superb. Consisting of a 5mm (0.204 diameter) 30-grain projectile seated in a sleek little bottleneck rimfire case, the 5mm RRM occupies a space between the .17s and the .22s. Originally introduced in 1969, it’s a fantastic classic rimfire that offers cutting-edge performance levels. Aguila is producing a limited run so owners of those nice vintage 5mm RRM rifles have something to shoot. www.aguilaammo.com.
6mm Creedmoor: Prompted by the growing 6mm precision movement, Black Hills has added the outstanding 6mm Creedmoor to its line. Two projectiles are initially available: Hornady’s 108-grain ELD Match at 2,900 fps, and 103-grain ELD-X at 2,950 fps. Both are engineered for superb consistency and accuracy. Price not available at press time.
.300 Blackout 110-gr. TTSX load: Designed for smooth, reliable feeding, big expansion, and deep penetration even on tough animals like big wild hogs, this is one of the more versatile loads available for ’Ole Whisper. According to the good folks at Black Hills, it has also proved to be particularly accurate. Price not available at press time.
.40 S&W HoneyBadger: As a cartridge, the .40 S&W is languishing badly, finally overshadowed by its much more powerful older sibling, the 10mm Auto. However, this load just could rejuvenate it. As a light-recoiling, deep-penetrating number it has no equal in the .40-caliber realm. At 1,325 fps, the 115-grain HoneyBadger’s deeply fluted nose channels and accelerates fluids, jetting them sideways away from the bullet and adding significant trauma to the load’s list of attributes. Price not available at press time. www.black-hills.com.
Bismuth specialty shotshells: Non-toxic and lighter/less dense than lead, bismuth has historically provided above-par performance coupled with wallet-flattening cost. Sigh no more: “Wickedly heavy shotshells taking you back to the days of lead at a price that makes steel inferior,” is this new company’s catchy tagline. Even better, BOSS is happy to make special runs tuned for specialized purposes, such as 2.5-inch shotshells optimized for use in fine vintage side-by-sides. Price varies from about $23 to $33 per box of 20. Also available by the case. www.bossshotshells.com.
Browning Long Range Pro: Moving and shaking with the times, Browning has introduced a superb ammo line loaded with Sierra’s unbeatable Tipped MatchKing bullets. Dubbed “Long Range Pro,” it’s fantastic for precision work on distant steel targets. Plus, the more enterprising early adopters are already proving its worth on big game. I’ve got to say, the boxes provide the best ballistic information ever seen on a factory-cartridge container. It’s initially available in popular extended-range calibers. Price not available at press time.
Browning TSS Turkey: Because it’s 60 percent denser than lead (read, heavy as the dickens), tungsten is a much better pellet material. Yep, it’s expensive, but when you can hit harder, farther, it’s worth it. This stuff delivers double the energy than #5 lead out at 60 yards, enabling you to reach out and dust some feathers. Available in 12, 20 and 410 bore (that’s right, a 410-bore turkey load) in a variety of shell lengths and payloads, TSS Turkey is premium poison on gobblers. Price not available at press time. Also look for 16-gauge steel waterfowl loads, buckshot, rifled slugs, and more in Browning’s coming new-for-’19 shotshell lineup. www.browningammo.com.
Clean 22: Traditional .22 Long Rifle bullets are coated with a lubricious wax. It melts as it passes down the bore, and superheated vapor lifts lead molecules and passes them out the muzzle. That’s why ventilation is critical to indoor ranges, and why rimfire suppressors get terrifically heavy lead deposits built up on the baffles. CCI’s new stuff trades that wax for a lubricious polymer that encapsulates the lead and minimizes toxic transfer. As a result, lead buildup in suppressors is reduced by 60 to 80 percent. That, my friends, is a big deal. $10 per box of 100.
Quiet 22 Semiauto: Light, reduced-nose .22 Long Rifle loads are notorious for failing to cycle semiautomatic firearms. This new load is engineered to be both quiet and reliable. CCI touts it as superbly accurate, and suggests it cuts noise by an eyebrow-raising 75 percent. $6 per box of 50. www.cci-ammunition.com.
.224 Valkyrie: This new long-range smallbore made a big splash last year, and has cottoned on enough that at least two other major ammo companies have begun producing it. To further build momentum, Federal has introduced several new .224 Valkyrie loads, including a Berger 80.5-grain Hybrid, a Hornady 60-grain V-Max, and a Barnes 78-grain TSX. Prices range from $17 to $36 per box of 20.
10mm Auto: If you can handle the spicy recoil, this cartridge is arguably the most effective semiauto handgun round available for personal protection. This load just builds on that effectiveness, providing a bonded 200-grain bullet at full-power velocities. It passes the FBI test protocol with “superior performance,” and sports nickel-plated cases that shrug off corrosion. $35 per box of 20.
Barnes TSX: Until a handful of years ago, Federal loaded Barnes TSX bullets. The line was legendary for accuracy. Custom riflesmiths used it to confirm ½-MOA accuracy guarantees. To our great delight, it’s back and available in a wide spectrum of popular calibers ranging from .223 Rem. up through .300 Win. Mag. In addition to great accuracy, these bullets provide deep, bone-breaking penetration coupled with controlled expansion. $34 to $53 per box of 20.
Hybrid Hunter: Arguably the single most accurate hunting-branded bullet out there, Berger’s Hybrid Hunter features sleek aerodynamics, match-bullet consistency, and a hybrid tangent/secant ogive legendary for forgiving accuracy across a broad range of firearms. However, until this point it was loaded by only boutique ammo companies and handloaders. This superb, unprecedented factory load should provide unbeatable long-range performance. Plus, it’s available in one of my favorite semi-obscure cartridges: the .280 Ackley Improved (and a dozen other popular rounds). $38 to $50 per box of 20.
Black Cloud TSS: Now this is good stuff. I took an early production sample to Alaska’s Kodiak Island and dropped my full year’s non-resident bag limit of Harlequin drakes in one sitting, pass-shooting over an inlet of rushing tidewater. It consists of a blend of FLITESTOPPER steel pellets and tungsten shot, making it almost as effective as pure tungsten at a lower price. $38 per box of 10.
EDGE TLR: In my rather extensive tests, Federal’s Edge TLR long-range hunting bullets provided terminal performance in a class so far above any competitor that it borders on ridiculous. It’s not quite as accurate as a Berger Hybrid or Hornady ELD-X, but it never breaks apart at close range or fails to mushroom at long range—I know; having shot oryx in Africa from 15 to 997 yards. This year a 130-grain version in 6.5 Creedmoor and a 155-grain version in .280 Ackley Improved (hallelujah!) joins the lineup. $58 to $60 per box of 20. www.federalpremium.com.
Outfitter: This ammo line is loaded with heaviest-in-class monolithic bullets designed for controlled expansion and extraordinary penetration. Cases are nickel plated, which provides natural lubricity and aids smooth, fast feeding, plus shrugs off corrosion. Neck/bullet and case/primer joints are sealed against moisture. Designed, really, for guides and backcountry hunters, this ammo is optimized for reliable performance on tough, often dangerous game in the worlds most inhospitable environments, such as the saltwater marshes of the Alaska Peninsula. It’s initially available in popular calibers from 6.5 Creedmoor up through .375 H&H. $45 to $90 per box of 20.
.300 PRC: You’ve probably seen the uproar this new .30-caliber ELR (extra long range) cartridge has created. In short, it’s optimized for heavy, extremely aerodynamic projectiles that perform best at obscene distances. In recent news, the U.S. Department of Defense has adopted the .300 PRC for it’s extended long range sniper program, giving it an official stamp of approval that should vault the cartridge to stardom. Two loads are available: a 225-grain ELD Match bullet at 2,810 fps for long-range work on targets, and a 212-grain ELD-X at 2,860 for reaching out on big game. $56 per box of 20.
.224 Valkyrie: Hornady was an early adopter of the new hot-rod .224 Valkyrie, designing a special 88-grain long-range projectile for it, pushed to 2,675 fps from a 24-inch barrel. For 2019, a 60-grain V-Max varmint/predator load at 3,300 fps and a 75-grain HPBT at 3,000 fps were added to the line. $28 per box of 20. www.hornady.com.
TK7 Turkey: Call it the year of Tungsten. And shout hallelujah! If you’ve never swept a bird into the Happy Hunting Ground on a cloud of Tungsten pellets, you’ve never witnessed scattergun performance at its best. Yes, they’re profoundly expensive. But great opportunities come even rarer than dollars. Make the most of them. This superb ammo by Kent boosts a massive payload of no. 7 tungsten pellets out the muzzle at 1,100 fps, providing 60 percent more pellets than an equal weight of #6 lead. $29 to $32 per box of 5.
Fasteel 2.0: Two decades of experience and refinement are built into Kent’s new Fasteel 2.0 waterfowling line. High-performance wads, zinc-plated shot, and nickel-plated case heads optimize performance and corrosion resistance. Blended low-flash, clean-burning propellants add consistency. Even heavy payloads offer increased velocity, ranging up to 1,500 fps. Popular lengths and payloads available in 12 and 20 bore. $15 to $24 per box of 25.
Bismuth Waterfowl & Upland: Non-toxic, very heavy, and soft, Bismuth carries better than lead, deforms on impact and transfers energy far more effectively than steel, and costs less than tungsten. It’s mild on barrels, meaning it’s safe for use in all vintage guns and in all chokes. Kent has two Bismuth lines, one for waterfowl and one for upland game. Even better, a wide spectrum of gauges is available, ranging from 28-bore up to 12 gauge, with shot sizes from no. 6 down to no. 2. $32 to $45 per box of 20. www.kentgamebore.com.
BONDSTRIKE Extreme long-range: Norma ammunition, made it Sweden, has long been known as some of the best in the world. Europeans typically eschew the modern long-range precision hunting trend, but this brand new load is purpose-built specifically for extending your deadly reach. It’s extremely accurate, aerodynamic Bondstrike projectile features sleek design, terminal performance across a wide window of impact velocities, and a boattail and polymer tip that maximize ballistic coefficient. Initial introductions include most popular .30-caliber cartridges, loaded with 180-grain bullets. $44 to $58 per box of 20.
Norma MHP: Touted as the “most expandable 9mm bullet in the world,” this monolithic hollow point achieves extreme muzzle velocity courtesy of its light 108-grain weight. Velocity causes tremendous expansion, and because the MHP is all homogenous—all one material—it doesn’t loose even a shred of weight. The result is huge diameter, amazing impact energy, and just enough bad-guy-stopping penetration. It’s recommended for use in urban environments where overpenetration can endanger nearby innocents. $22 per box of 20. www.norma-usa.com.
M17 9mm ammo: Springboarding off the significant achievement of winning the U.S. military’s MHS contract, SIG is offering “M17” labeled 9mm ammo. It’s plus-P stuff, packed with your choice of high-performance hollowpoint V-Crown or FMJ bullets. The two are ballistically matched, ensuring that your practice loads and your everyday carry loads impact the same. $19 per box of 50 (FMJ); $21 per box of 20 (HP).
.300 Blackout SBR Elite Copper: Designed expressly for short-barreled rifles, this outstanding all-copper 120-grain bullet is touted to exit the muzzle of a 6.75-inch barrel at 1,897 fps, expand to 1.8-times original diameter, and impact with 959 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Plus, it uses a low-flash propellant to minimize light signature—translation: no blinding muzzle flash—even in short barrels. Price not available at press time. www.sigsauer.com.
.350 Legend: In the most interesting 2019 cartridge announcement we’ve heard yet, Winchester has just brought out a straight-wall .35-caliber centerfire deer cartridge designed specifically for use in restrictive, straight-wall-only states. It pushes 150-grain Deer Season XP bullets at 2,225 fps, and the mature Kansas whitetail in my freezer proved it’s potent deer medicine indeed. There will also be a 180-grain Power Point load superb for even big hogs with heavy gristle plates, and a 145-grain FMJ load retailing for, well, cheap. Specific prices not yet available at press time.
10mm Defender: Clearly, 10mm Auto is the handgun flavor of the year. Maybe the decade. Winchester has two new loads, a less-expensive 180-grain FMJ at 1,100 fps in its USA line, and this one: the very intriguing bonded 180-grain Defender bullet at a full-power 1,240 fps. It’s rated to expand to 1.5 times original diameter on impact, and is propelled by a low-flash powder to prevent light signature and loss of vision in nighttime settings. Price not available at press time.
Xpert Snow Goose: Engineered for high-volume shooting on mass quantities of tundra-tearing white geese, Winchester’s new load boosts moderate quantities of steel shot at eyebrow-raising velocities of up to 1,550 fps. “Diamond-cut” wads improve pattern density at extended distances, and low-visibility hull blends well with natural environments. Price not available at press time. www.winchester.com.