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The Ultimate Hornady Ammo Review: Tested & Approved

The Ultimate Hornady Ammo Review

Interested in learning more about the Hornady Manufacturing Company and its ammo offerings?

Hornady is one of the older ammo brands out there, but have they been keeping up with advances in ammunition technology, or have they been resting on their laurels? With their 75th anniversary coming up, we wanted to take a look at this titan of the industry and give everyone a good sense of where they are in the world of ammunition producers.

We’re going to look at the overall quality of the brand, how they stack up against some competitors, what exactly they produce, and how they produce it in this deep-dive ammo review.

Is Hornady A Good Brand For Ammo?

Is Hornady a good ammo brand? In a word: yes.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that they are one of the best in terms of available ammo choices, new caliber development, and product line innovation. There’s a Hornady round out there for every purpose and nearly every caliber.

Their ammo is consistently high-quality and a great value for the money. Whether you’re looking for handgun, rifle, or shotgun ammo, Hornady has got something for you. This accessibility makes Hornady a great choice if you’re looking to stick to one brand for consistent results.

They especially excel at hollow point self-defense rounds (like their Hornady Critical Defense or Hornady Critical Duty), as well as hunting and long-range ammo. Their American Gunner line of ammunition and other budget lines are also very consistent and a great value for plinking or even competition.

Pros and Cons of Hornady Ammo

Now let's take a look at some of the upsides and downsides of Hornady’s ammo lineup so you can decide if their products make sense for your particular situation.

Pros of Hornady Ammo

  • Industry-leading projectiles for defensive handguns, lever-actions, and long-range precision rifles.
  • Excellent defensive and hunting ammo
  • High-quality brass and nickel-plated brass casings
  • Incredibly consistent velocities across batches of ammo
  • Subsonic, suppressor-friendly options are available
  • Readily available with high output, so you won’t struggle to find your favorite product in stock. 

Cons of Hornady Ammo

  • More expensive than some other brands
  • Limited choice of shotgun ammo other than defensive or medium-large game hunting rounds

In our testing, Hornady had some of the most consistent velocities of any brand, with a very low standard deviation between velocities from the same batch of ammo and even across batches. 

This is generally one of the primary indicators of quality when you’re comparing factory ammo. The box may say 2,700 FPS velocity, but actually getting that will always come down to the gun and surrounding conditions, so we measure for shot-to-shot consistency, which is far more important for tight shot groups. 

Their offerings are normally very readily available as well, so you won’t have to worry about running out of your preferred ammo if you do find something you like. This accessibility is especially important for long-range shooters or hunters who very precisely zero their optic.

They also support a vast variety of calibers from .22 LR up to .50 BMG and basically everything in between, with various bullet weights available for each. And you can save a little money by buying bulk 300 AAC Blackout or nearly every other caliber they manufacture.

We’ll go over a more complete caliber list later, but I personally use their .300 Winchester Magnum, 6.5 PRC, .300 PRC .45 ACP, 5.56 NATO, and 9mm Luger ammo almost exclusively when I’m not shooting something else for work.

Hornady also offers shooters some of the best ballistics in their self and home defense lines, many of which are used by law enforcement because of their proven track record. Their more standard FMJ loads also perform well, but their bread and butter are their rounds with high-quality, purpose-built projectiles.

Quite a lot of Hornady ammunition, especially the stuff for the concealed carry or law enforcement markets, feature a high-quality hollow point like their FTX and XTP lines, which have shown deep penetration and maximum weight retention in my gelatin testing without over-penetrating.

This commitment to excellent projectiles also applies to their long-range rifle ammo, an area in which they are almost leading the industry, at least as far as the projectile and cartridge development. Many of the most successful new cartridges in recent years have started in Hornady’s test facilities, like 6.5 and .300 PRC.

Their Leverevolution line is now the gold standard for lever-action carbines of all calibers as it offers a safe polymer tipped or “flex tip” bullet that won’t ignite the primer of the round in front of it. This gives lever gun shooters the greatest degree of safety possible and the vastly improved ballistics of a pointed projectile.

Hornady also has some very high-quality subsonic ammo which is great for those of us who shoot with suppressors. I personally use their subsonic .45 ACP exclusively in one of my home-defense guns, for example. And if you want to buy it, make sure you buy 45 ACP in bulk - you get excellent quality for a great price. Make sure also to read our full Hornady Subsonic ammo review to learn more about this exceptional self-defense and hunting ammo.

Lastly, their cartridge cases are also excellent, which makes Hornady factory ammo extremely popular with the reloading community. 

Obviously, this is only an issue with centerfire ammo and doesn’t really apply to rimfire shooters, but even those armed with just .22 Revolvers will appreciate the well-formed brass and consistent primers.

Which Calibers Are Available from Hornady?

Hornady Ammo History and Important Information

In 1949, Hornady Manufacturing was founded in a rented garage by Joyce Hornady. The first thing Mr. Hornady produced was a .30-caliber spire point bullet with a weight of 150gr. It was made on a much-repaired surplus bullet press from the Second World War. 

Since then, though the company has remained in the small Nebraska town where it began, Hornady Manufacturing has grown to become the largest independent ammo manufacturer on the planet.

These days, the company is still primarily run by the Hornady family and has become a force within the firearms and shooting sports world. Hornady is consistently pushing the development of ammunition forward and has been doing so from the moment Joyce Hornady sold his first bullet almost 75 years ago.

Where Is Hornady Ammo Made?

Hornady ammo is made in Grand Isle, Nebraska, where the company is headquartered. They produce hundreds of thousands of rounds a day and recently opened a new facility to help meet the growing demand for their ammo.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hornady Ammo

What is the most accurate Hornady ammo?

The most accurate Hornady ammo is their Superformance Match line, which is designed to excel in precision-shooting environments like a Precision Rifle Series or NRA High Power match.

Who makes Hornady ammo?

A team of hundreds of employees makes Hornady ammo led by members of the original Hornady family, including Steve Hornady, son of founder Joyce Hornady.

Hornady Ammunition is an independent ammunition manufacturer.

Does the FBI use Hornady ammo?

Yes, the FBI uses Hornady ammo; Critical Duty 9mm+P 135 gr FTX pistol ammunition is in all issued duty sidearms.

Final Thoughts on Hornady Ammo

All in all, Hornady has earned its position as one of the top ammo manufacturers around. They are clearly committed to cartridge and projectile development and are actively pushing the industry forward instead of sticking to what has worked in the past.

If you’d like to know more, you can check out our full list of Hornady ammo offerings or read a more in-depth look at the history of Hornady.

Matt Collins
Written by
Matt Collins