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Ammo roundup '89.


Each year the ammunition manufacturers have to add to their lines. It may be only another bullet weight or type, but it may be a new cartridge or one they haven't loaded before. Sometimes the manufacturers recognize an unfilled demand and seek to satisfy it, but no matter what, they must constantly come up with new offerings.

When you talk about new cartridges the ammo makers are in an awkward position. Either they must invest the not inconsiderable amounts of money and time needed to develop new ammo or they must wait and see if the demand is going to be there and then try to play catch up. Often it's a chicken or egg question. If they make the cartridge and the gun doesn't come to pass they are going to lose money...maybe lots of it, but if they wait for the gun we may have a case of a gun and no ammo. A couple of examples from the recent past are the 9mm Winchester Magnum, now discontinued, and the 10mm auto which languished for some time until Colt came out with the Delta Elite. The other side of the coin is when the manufacturers correctly anticipate developments and have their product ready when the guns arrive, for then they can make a bundle. There are more examples of both cases, but I'm sure you get the picture. It's a tough business.

Each year, usually at the SHOT Show, the manufacturers unveil the additions to their line and there's no doubt that the major theme this year is "BIG". For some reason many of the ammo makers arrived at the same conclusion at the same time. That was -- that the world really needs .416s. Remington, Federal and Weatherby all came to the same conclusion and each showed their versions of big bores. Remington's offering is the .416 Remington Magnum which is based upon the 8mm Remington Magnum case necked up to the larger size. It drives 400-gr. bullets at 2,400 fps. Federal's offering, the popular .416 Rigby, arrives coincidentally in time for Ruger's offering of their M-77 in that caliber. It too pushes 400-gr. bullets at 2,400 fps. Weatherby, not to be outdone, announced the .416 Weatherby Magnum and in their typical fashion it's the hottest of the lot, pushing 400-gr. bullets at a claimed 2,600 fps.

It seems to me that this raises an interesting question and, perhaps, points out a new trend among the ammo makers. The question is will there be enough demand for the new big bores to make it worthwhile? Only time will tell, but most industry observers do not expect these to be high volume sellers. And this points to the apparently developing trend. Ammo makers have become more willing to produce cartridges for which there is a smaller, but steady demand.

In the ongoing fight for market share ammo makers can never rest on their laurels, so all of them spend quite a bit of money on Research & Development (R&D). They don't talk much about this sort of thing, for fear the competition will learn something, but it's a never ending process. So the stuff we see each January is the result of lots of market study and testing. But the big ammo companies can't provide everything and there's a real, and growing, niche for the smaller specialty ammunition loaders. These folks supply ammo for obsolete, but popular, cartridges or load with special purpose custom bullets.

There have been a lot of ammunition developments this year and we probably won't get them all, but hopefully we'll cover the major developments and try to include some of the smaller companies as well.


The biggest news from Federal is the expansion of their very popular Premium ammunition offerings with the addition of the Safari line. In addition to the .416 Rigby the Safari loads include .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Winchester Magnum (both loaded with Nosler partition bullets), .375 H&H Magnum (250- & 300-gr. BTSP and 300-gr. solid), .458 Winchester Magnum with a choice of 350- or 510- gr. softpoints or a 500-gr. solid, and the .470 Nitro Express with 500-gr. bullets in either solid or softpoint configuration. All are loaded in nickelplated cases.

Even though it was announced in 1988, the premium handgun ammunition featuring the patented Hydra-Shok bullet is still news and really became widely available this year. The bullet is designed to achieve both maximum penetration and expansion and features the first commercially available 147-gr. load for the 9mm Luger. There is growing interest in this bullet weight for defense and law enforcement use and, although Winchester has been producing a "law enforcement only" round for some time, Federal's the first to be available to the public. The Hydra-Shok line also includes 124-gr. 9mm, 129-gr. +P .38 Special, 158-gr. .357 Magnum and 230-gr. .45 ACP loads. All are loaded in nickel- plated cases and packaged in 20-round boxes. Federal's generic American Eagle ammunition line continues to grow as well and is available in most handgun calibers and an interesting assortment including several metric calibers such as the 6.5x50 Jap, 6.5x52 Carcano, 6.5x55 Swedish and 7.62x54R Russian. From Norma comes the news that they will again produce the 7x61 Sharpe and Hart and the popular .358 Norma Magnum.


It seems as if Remington has the most in the way of new ammo offerings this year for both rifle and pistol. And, at least from my view, the pistol ammo is most noteworthy. Leading the list is a ground-breaking +P load for the .45 ACP. It uses their 185-gr. jacketed hollowpoint bullet at an honest 1,140 fps. In the past the .45 ACP has been held to around 1,000 fps, and the increase produces more reliable expansion. Test bullets fired into gelatin have shown up to 100% expansion. There's also a +P load for the 9mm Luger that pushes their 115-gr. JHP at 1,220 fps. and an interesting 140-gr. SJHP designed specifically to be less damaging to steel targets or indoor range backstops. Rounding out the handgun ammo are two loads for the 10mm Auto: a 170-gr. JHP at 1,340 fps and a 200-gr. FMJ at 1,160 fps.

Since Remington's Classic rifle for 1989 is the .300 Weatherby Magnum, Remington will load ammunition in this caliber with their respected Core-Lokt bullets. Two loads are available with a 180-gr. PSPCL at 3,200 fps muzzle velocity and a 220-gr. SPCL at 2,850 fps. They've also expanded the BR line with a loading for the 6mm BR with a 100-gr. SPSCL bullet at 2,550 fps. There's also a 7.62x39 hunting round with a 125-gr. PSP bullet at 2,365 fps. Perhaps the best news is that the case will have a small rifle primer pocket which should open the door for wildcatters. Shotshell offerings recognize the growing requirements for steel shot and there's even a 20-gauge 3" load as well as additional "Duplex" loadings in 10-gauge and 3" and 2-3/4" 12-gauge.


Although there are only a few new loads in Winchester's line this year, they have continued to expand their educational and information efforts. This began a couple of years back with their CXP calculators to help hunters chose proper cartridges and bullet weights for various game and now they've focused on the Turkey hunter with a promotional package to encourage them to pattern their shotguns. Included in the kit are some life size targets with vital areas shown so the hunter can test both various shot sizes and chokes to improve his chances. Also in shotshells, Winchester has breathed new life into the 28-gauge with a 1-ounce load with #6-, 7 1/2- or 8-shot sizes.

The biggest news in the new ammo is the availability of the 10mm Auto loaded with Winchester's justly popular Silvertip bullet. The 10mm has a 175-gr. Silvertip at 1,290 fps. There are also two new loads designed to open deer hunting possibilities for owners of .223 and 7.62x39 rifles. Although the .223 is legal for deer hunting in some states, ammo has been less than ideal for most have either had FMJ or varmint type bullets that are not suitable for medium size game. Winchester has designed a 64-gr. power point bullet with a thicker jacket to provide adequate penetration and expansion. Muzzle velocity is listed at 3,020 fps. Much the same situation has existed with the 7.62x39 so Winchester's 123-gr. softpoint (2,365 fps) should be good news for owners of rifles in that caliber.

PMC/Eldorado Cartridge Corp.

Since PMC came on the American ammo scene a few years ago they have grown by leaps and bounds and with the opening of their new Eldorado Cartridge Corp. plant in Boulder City, Nevada will begin loading some ammo in this country. In December, 1988 PMC purchased Brass Extrusion Labs. This will bring to their line many of the African calibers such as the .600, .500 and .470 Nitro Express and the .416 Rigby and .416 Hoffman. Their new Eldorado Classic rifle ammunition will feature the new Barnes "X" copper bullet. The PMC line has grown from a few generic loads to cover many of the more popular rifle calibers from .22-250 all the way to the .50-caliber Browning. Pistol loads are also widely expanded.


Perhaps the biggest news from Hornady, in the year of their 50th anniversary, is a whole new packaging concept for their ammunition line. The name "Frontier" has been replaced and the new boxes will carry the "Custom" name. The box has attractive artwork, appropriate to the caliber, and there's a ballistics chart for the cartridge printed right on the back of the box so the shooter has the information right where it's most useful. Hornady is earning an excellent reputation for both rifle and handgun ammo and I've tested quite a bit of it with uniformly good results.


The big news from Omark Industries this year is the continuing growth of their Blazer line of aluminum case, non-reloadable ammunition. Blazer is experiencing much better acceptance now and the line has grown to cover almost all the bases of handgun ammunition. The additions this year include the .32 ACP with a 71-gr. TMJ bullet at 905 fps, a 9mm with a 124-gr. PSP at 1,155 fps, a .41 Magnum using the fine Speer 200-gr. semi-jacketed hollowpoint at 1,300 fps and the venerable .45 Colt with a 255- gr. LRN at 860 fps. These additions bring the Blazer loadings available now to 28 that range all the way from .25 ACP through the .44 Magnum, .45 ACP and .45 Colt.

Kaswer Custom Inc.

Kaswer Custom (13 Surrey Dr., Brookfield, CT 06804) has broadened their unusual "Pin Grabber" bullet line into hunting ammunition with the name "Game Grabber." The game loads feature the same serrated lead nose that gave the Pin Grabbers such an unusual appearance. Game Grabbers are available in .30-30, .308, .30-06, .300 Winchester Magnum, .45-70 and .458 Winchester Magnum. Also new are shotgun slug loadings in 12-, 16- and 20-gauge.

Garrett Cartridges

Garrett Cartridges ( P.O. Box 178, Chehalis, WA 98532) offers custom loaded .44 Magnum ammunition for the serious handgun hunter. Their loads use specially hard cast NEI and SSK bullet designs in the heavy weights and have proven to be exceptionally accurate in some limited testing I've done.

Cor-Bon Custom Bullet Company

Cor-Bon Custom Bullet Co. (P.O. Box 10126 Detroit, MI48210) has begun loading some of their excellent custom bullets in hunting handgun calibers from .357 Magnum through .454 Casull. Leading the line are their "Penetrators" which are full jacketed designs with extra thick jackets at the nose to resist deformation and provide maximum penetration in dangerous or large game. For the .44 Magnum there's a 305-gr. Penetrator load at 1,350 fps. and there are two for the .454 Casull: a 320-gr. at 1,650 fps and a 360-gr. at 1,500 fps. They also offer their original bonded core bullets in similar loads. Also new are a couple of law enforcement items with 9mm and .45 ACP +P loads.

ACTIV Industries

Activ Industries continues to expand their shotshell offerings in steel shot with the addition of the popular #3 steel in several loadings. Their rifled slugs continue to be one of their better products due, in large part, to the novel wad system. The wad has a friction fit with the hollow base of the slug so that the two parts stay together. In the bore the wad functions like any other wad, but when the slug leaves the barrel the extra length provides better stability in flight. The results have been some impressive accuracy gains in standard shotgun barrels.

Black Hills Ammunition Inc.

Black Hills Ammunition Co. (3401 S. Hwy. 79, Rapid City, SD 57701) is continuing to expand their line of both new and remanufactured ammunition with five handgun and four rifle loads. Leading the way are two new 9mm Luger loads: the 9mm EXP which has a 115-gr. JHP at 1,250 fps and capitalizing on the growing popularity of heavier bullets in the 9mm there's a 147-gr. FMJ at 950 fps. They've also added a .44 Special with a 240-gr. LSWC and .45 Colt with a 230-gr. LRN. The final handgun addition is a +P .38 Special "FBI" load with a 158-gr. LHP that is so popular with law enforcement. For rifles they've added the .222 Remington with Hornady's 52-gr. Match bullet and the .223 Remington with 55-or 60-gr. softpoints in addition to the 52-gr. Match bullet. Also added to the line is the .22-250 with 52-gr. HP, 55-gr. SP and a 55-gr. FMJ for turkey and pelt hunters. Black Hills Ammunition has really grown of late and their line will continue to expand in the next year.

Zero Bullet Co.

Zero continues to expand their offerings of both new and reloaded ammunition and now offers ammunition in .38, .357 Magnum, 9mm and .45 ACP in most popular bullet weights and styles. The newest product is a 147-gr. JHP bullet for the 9mm. This is available only as a component right now from Zero Bullet Co. (POB 1188, Cullman, AL 35056).

Buffalo Bullet Co.

Buffalo Bullet Co. has begun to market a new design of pre-fragmented projectile ammunition produced by Genco Ammunition Co. The Core-Shot ammunition features a shot charge contained within a bullet jacket; however, the shot is capped by a lead cover which looks like a conventional lead hollowpoint. In fact, the ammunition can not be readily distinguished from conventional loads. The lead cap adds considerable weight so the Core-Shot bullet is similar in weight to conventional bullets and it is also intended to promote penetration before the shot charge is released. The manufacturer reports that testing in ballistic gelatin shows an average 6-8" of penetration before the shot is released. It is available in most handgun calibers including 10mm Auto and .223 Remington rifle loads from Buffalo Bullet Co. (7352 Whittier Ave., Whittier, CA 90602).

Sandia Die & Cartridge

Sandia Die & Cartridge (Rt. 5, Box 5400, Albuquerque, NM 87123) is producing a 9mm Subsonic Match load. The 148-gr. FMJ has a slightly longer bearing surface giving very good accuracy at only 1,050 fps. This load is currently being tested by the government and is getting good reviews. A 148-gr. HP match load is also in the offing. They are currently manufacturing a .308 Match load using the 168-gr. Sierra HPBT and Winchester cases for 2,600 fps.

Lead Free Ammo

With indoor ranges becoming more and more popular, airborne lead in closed environments has become a genuine health concern. There are two sources of lead in small arms ammunition: the bullet and the primer. The use of jacketed bullets provides a substantial reduction but bullet construction is important. FMJ bullets, for example, still have an area of lead in the base exposed and a small amount is melted or vaporized from the heat of firing. Hollowpoints or others made with the jacket covering the base such as Speer's TMJ, provide a greater reduction, but the amount of lead emitted is still significant. All of this comes from the lead styphanate used as the main ingredient in primers. The lead-free primer uses DDNT (diazo dinitro phenol) instead of the lead compound. Both Fiocchi and RWS (Dynamit Nobel) offer these primers for component sales. Since so much of CCI's Blazer ammunition is used in law enforcement training they have developed lead-free 9mm and .38 Special loads. So far, this is only offered in their law enforcement line, but it could well be the wave of the future as more and more shooters are forced to move inside. Barber Power Plus Ammunition (POB 367, Basalt, CO 81612) also offers lead-free reloads and new ammunition in .38 Special and 9mm Luger.

The ammunition business seems to change so rapidly that it's frustrating to do round-up articles because you knwo you're going to miss something and there always seem to be late-breaking items that come in right after deadline. So let us know if there's a new development we missed and we'll try to include them in future issues.

PHOTO : Federal's new Premium Hydra Shock

PHOTO : Hornady has introduced a whole new packaging concept this year. Frontier is gone.

PHOTO : Replacing it is Hornady "Custom", with the caliber and a ballistics chart included on the

PHOTO : new package.

PHOTO : Kaswer Custom's new "Game Grabber" Ultimate Game Slug

PHOTO : Kaswer Custom has expanded their "Pin Grabber" ammo line to include hunting ammo called

PHOTO : "Game Grabber".

PHOTO : Omark/CCI's Blazer line of aluminum-cased, non-reloadable ammunition continues to grow.

PHOTO : It now includes 28 loadings, which range from .25 ACP through to .44 Mag.,.45 ACP and .45

PHOTO : Colt.

PHOTO : Remington's new 10 mm Auto 170-gr. HP and 200-gr. FMJ.

PHOTO : Remington's new 9mm 115-gr. JHP, 9mm 140-gr. SJHP Practice Load and their .45 Auto +P

PHOTO : 185-gr. JHP.

PHOTO : Winchester's new Super-X in 10mm Auto 175-gr. Silvertip hollow point
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Title Annotation:small arms ammunition new product announcements
Author:Petty, Charles E.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:buyers guide
Date:Aug 1, 1989
Previous Article:The year of the great "assault weapons" scare.
Next Article:Factory letters for used guns mean more profits for dealers.

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