Modern ammunition has made a definite impact in the way we shoot and hunt — it is more consistent and efficient than it has ever been.
While our tried-and-true designs have only improved with modern powders and projectiles, some of the new developments have definitely changed the game.
There’s lots of new stuff this year, and some of it should prove very interesting. Check out these new firearm cartridges and ammo for 2018.
The shooting world has become enamored with 6.5mm cartridges, and rightly so. The projectiles are uber-efficient, the recoil of most of the cartridges is mild, and they deliver terminal ballistics that far exceeds their appearance. Hornady introduces the 6.5 PRC cartridge for 2018, a “magnum” performance counterpart to the 6.5 Creedmoor that grabbed the spotlight over a decade ago. Based on the 6.8 SPC necked down to 6.5mm, the PRC will run in the AR-platform rifles, and should prove to be a winner in the bolt guns as well. It doesn’t offer a muzzle velocity that hasn’t been achieved before, but sometimes the availability of ammunition can change the tide in the ammunition world. Loaded with 147-grain ELD Match and 143-grain ELD-X bullets.
With the release of the .22 Nosler – the comparisons are going to be inevitable – the AR platform was definitely changed. The classic .223/5.56 performance has been bettered, and Federal has jumped into the pool with their .224 Valkyrie. Capable of driving a 90-grain Sierra MatchKing at 2,700 fps – giving supersonic performance out to 1,300 yards and highly respectable exterior ballistics – the .224 Valkyrie will further extend the capabilities of the .224 caliber.
Winchester’s Deer Season XP ammunition – built around a bullet with a large hollow point and equally large polymer tip – turned out to be a very effective product line, and for 2018 has been expanded to include a lead-free copper bullet. Using similar dimensional proportions, but with an all-copper bullet, the Deer Season XP Copper Impact has a tell-tale red polymer tip, and is perfect for those areas which prohibit lead ammunition, or for those who appreciate the deep penetration and structural integrity of the monometal designs. Available in .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester. .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum.
Introduced at the 2017 SHOT Show, Federal’s Edge TLR performed as advertised: an accurate long-range polymer-tipped bullet, capable of delivering reliable expansion at incredible hunting distances. The first wave was available only in the popular .30-caliber cartridges, but for 2018 Federal has expanded the line to include the .270 Winchester and .270 WSM (both loaded with 140-grain bullets) and the 7mm Remington Magnum (loaded with 155-grain bullets).
The allure of lever-action rifles will never leave us, no matter how many technological advances are made in the field of firearms. Winchester’s release of the .307 Winchester in 1982 in their Big Bore 94 rifle gave shooters the performance of a .308 Winchester (a rimless cartridge) in a rimmed, lever-friendly cartridge. Hornady has further revolutionized lever-action ammunition with their FTX (Flex Tip Expanding) bullet – offering a spitzer bullet which is safe to use in a tubular magazine. The Hornady .307 Winchester ammunition uses a 160-grain FTX bullet at 2,650 fps, giving the lever-action shooter an unprecedented trajectory from a cartridge designed for a tubular magazine. When zeroed at 200 yards, the Hornady bullet will be only 10 inches low at 300 yards. That’s a game-changer for sure.
Long famous for its accuracy and consistency, Federal’s Gold Medal line will include two new products for 2018. The 6.5 Creedmoor is now available with the famous Sierra MatchKing bullet at 140 grains, and the 6mm Creedmoor will feature the 105-grain Berger Hybrid bullet. All of the Gold Medal features are there: the match primers, premium cases and consistent powder charges that result in the hair-splitting accuracy we’ve come to rely upon.
Hornady is one of a handful of companies that have fully embraced some of the more obscure safari cartridges, and have been a reliable source of ammunition for those of us that pursue truly big game. To enhance their line of Dangerous Game ammunition, Hornady is now loading the DGX (Dangerous Game eXpanding) Bonded bullet. Bonding a bullet’s lead core to its copper jacket will help control expansion and resist bullet breakup; two key point when you’re dealing with animals with very tough hide and thick bones. Available in popular safari calibers from .375 H&H to .500 Nitro Express.
Remember that little .17 HMR that we all loved so much? I still think it makes a fun round; plenty accurate enough to teach a new shooter marksmanship skills, and effective as a squirrel/rabbit/varmint round. CCI introduces a new load for 2018, featuring the 17-grain Speer VNT bullet at 2,650 fps; it’s a polymer-tipper affair with a very thin jacket for near-explosive performance. Available in a 50-count box. Woodchucks beware!
I’ve had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the .300 Norma Magnum, and can attest to both its accuracy and long-range capabilities. It is based upon a shortened .338 Lapua cartridge, and drives a heavy .30-caliber bullet so well that the U.S. Military has chosen it for its sniper round. Hornady has announced the release of its Match ammunition for the .300 Norma Magnum, utilizing their 225-grain ELD Match bullet – with the Heat Shield tip and AMP jacket – cruising along at 2,850 fps. I have a feeling you’ll see this combination at many of the long-range courses in the near future.
Federal’s simple lead-free hollowpoint design is an often-overlooked solution to many hunting problems. It gives consistent expansion, great penetration, and has been seriously accurate in many of my rifles. The lead-free movement is on – there’s no denying that – and the Power-Shok Copper is perfectly applicable in those areas that prohibit the use of lead ammunition. For 2018, Federal has expanded the line to include a 180-grain load for both the .300 Winchester Magnum and the .300 Winchester Short Magnum. Heck, there’s even the lead-free Catalyst primer included in the deal. It doesn’t get much more “green” than this.
Browning’s ammunition line has been excellent; their stuff is consistent and accurate. For 2018, the line is expanded to include the BXS line of rifle cartridges, an all-copper bullet with a polymer tip for reliable expansion. Using nickel-plated cases to avoid corrosion and assist in smooth feeding, the BXS line is a great choice for deer and larger big-game animals. Available in 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 WSM and .300 Winchester Magnum.