Ammunition has gotten so much better in recent years, you might think that engineers have run out of room for improvement. Nope. The new ammo on hand at the 2019 SHOT show proves they’re not done innovating. From the merely useful tweak to the truly new and different, there something updated or improved for plinking, hunting, and competition. Below are the hottest new loads we’ve track down on the show floor so far. But stay tuned; we’ll be adding to this list as the show goes on.
The new 350 Legend is one of the most talked-about ammo introductions in Vegas right now. It’s a high-performance straight-wall cartridge that’s ideal for both hunters and sport shooters. Specifically designed for deer hunting in states with straight-wall centerfire cartridge restrictions, the round delivers more energy (through an 18- or 20-inch barrel) at 200 yards than the 5.56 NATO, .300 Blackout, and .30/30 Winchester. It combines a modified .223 Remington parent case with a .357 caliber bullet, ranging from 145 grains to more than 265 grains. For now, it’s available in a Winchester bolt-action XPR rifle only, but it won’t be long before you see it chambered in AR-15s. Current factory loads for the 350 Legend include a 145-grain FMJ, a 150-grain Deer Season XP, a 160-grain Power Max bonded, a 180-grain Powerpoint, and a 265-grain subsonic. Price not yet available; winchester.com
Do you remember the 5mm rimfire? Aguila Ammunition does. They are running a limited production of a round that’s been absent from the marketplace for too long. The new 5mm load pushes a 30-grain bullet 2,300 fps, making it the fastest rimfire round offered by one of the world’s largest rimfire manufacturers. With 352 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, this is a varmint’s nightmare. You cannot buy a new 5mm rimfire rifle, but you can find them on the used market, or maybe behind the door in Grandpa’s closet. Available in jacketed and semi-jacketed hollow point. $30 per box of 50; aguillaammo.com
For 2019, Doubletap is offering a new load for the .224 Valkyrie, which continues to grow in popularity, especially with AR-15 shooters who want to push bullets into the next county with precision and limited recoil. This load has a 90-grain Sierra MatchKing bullet designed for long-range performance with a muzzle velocity of 2,900 fps from a 24-inch barrel. This year, Doubletap has also redesigned their packaging to include a thin blue line, honoring law enforcement officers. $29.95 per 20; doubletapammo.net
Last year, CCI extended the range and devastation of the .17 HMR with the new VNT bullet. Now varmint shooters can get the same performance in the .17 Mach 2 and .22 Magnum. These new loads feature a Speer bullet with an extremely thin jacket and polymer tip, which combine to offer flat trajectories, long-range accuracy, and explosive terminal performance. Both should help you thin ground squirrel and prairie dog populations in a hurry. $10.95 per box of 50; cci-ammunition.com
To compliment the release of their new P320-M17 commemorative pistol, Sig Sauer is introducing high-performance M17 9mm +P ammunition. This military-grade ammo is available in 124-grain SIG Elite V-Crown Jacketed Hollow Point personal-defense loads and SIG Elite Full Metal Jacket training loads. M17 ammunition is specifically engineered for exceptional performance in any 9mm +P rated pistol, including the SIG P320-M17. The M17 V-Crown and FMJ loads are ballistically matched, ensuring that your training ammo and carry ammo hits in the same place. Plus, if you’re going to buy the M-17 pistol, you’ve pretty much got to get some M-17 ammo to go with it. The FMJs are $18.95 per box of 50; V-Crowns are $20.95 per 20; sigsauer.com
It might surprise you that a company founded on producing ammunition for a single cartridge—the 6.5×55—is now introducing four different lines of handgun ammunition. The one that most caught my eye is Norma’s new MHP (Monolithic Hollow Point), which is offered in .380 Auto, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 Auto. These personal-protection loads feature a widely deforming, four-petal, monolithic bullet that’s not barrel-length specific. In other words, the bullet has a generous velocity-expansion window, and therefore should work just as well in compact pistols as in duty-sized handguns. $21.99; norma-ammunition.com
Hardcore snow goose hunters travel thousands of miles to follow the migration because when everything lines up, it’s a shooting experience like no other. New for this year, Winchester has developed a round that offers premium performance on snow geese at a great value, by combining proprietary Xpert Steel Shot and the same Diamond Cut Wad system used in the popular Blind Side loads to control shot release and improve long-range patterns. Xpert Snow Goose ammunition is available in 3- and 31/2-inch 12 gauge loads and should help you cloud the sky with feathers and put meat in the pot. $14-$19 per box of 20; winchester.com
Hornady has added a long-awaited 200-grain FTX load in the LEVERevolution line for the .348 Winchester. Introduced in 1936 for Winchester’s Model 71 rifle, the .348 Winchester is widely considered the first “magnum” lever-gun cartridge. In the great Northwest, it’s thought of as a moose masher and bear buster. This new load from Hornady features a 200-grain FTX bullet, and brings this antique cartridge into the new millennium of LEVERevolution performance. But the best news is that lovers of this classic round now have a great source for factory ammo. $66.67 per 20; hornady.com
Last year, Federal Syntech changed the range with its polymer jacket that eliminates fouling and is safer with steel targets. Now, the company has applied that revolutionizing technology to personal-protection ammo that provides dynamic terminal performance with a hollow-point bullet that separates into three segments, plus a deep-penetrating core on impact. The core penetrates 12 inches or more and the petals create three secondary wound channels. It will initially be available in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 Auto. $19.95 to $24.95; federalpremium.com
Whether hiking, hunting, camping, or working around the ranch, outdoorsmen are routinely exposed to potential threats, like poisonous snakes, rabid animals, or stock-stealing and farm-wrecking foxes, coyotes, badgers, and groundhogs. The new Trail Force .38 Special load from Browning is engineered to handle any of these problems. It’s a multiple-projectile revolver cartridge that combines No. 9 lead shot and two copper-plated lead discs, for plenty of penetration and lethality. It will work in any .38 Special/357 Magnum revolver, and if you don’t own one already, this load is reason enough to get one. Price not yet available; browningammo.com
Tungsten Super Shot has been a cult favorite among turkey hunting nuts for several years, but it went mainstream in a big way last spring with the introduction of Federal Heavyweight TSS. The stuff is expensive, but after dumping gobblers at 50-plus yards with TSS No. 9 shot, many hunters—myself included—wondered, “How would this stuff do on ducks?” TSS is non-toxic, but cost prohibitive for high-volume shooting. So, to keep costs down, Federal blended it with their proven Flight Stopper steel to create a new Black Cloud TSS shell that is off-the-charts effective. I used it on a DIY duck hunt in North Dakota last fall, and it flat works. I’m not a fan of shooting ducks—or anything else—at long range, but sometimes stuff happens and that third shot in the gun is often at a 50-plus-yard bird. These shells have the pellet count and ballistics to do the job at that range and probably farther. The 3-inch,1¼-ounce loads match either No. 7 or No. 9 TSS (60 percent of the shot) with BB or No. 3 steel (40 percent). At almost $38 for 10, they aren’t cheap, but they aren’t out of touch with other high-performance waterfowl loads, either. $37.95 for box of 10; federalpremium.com —W.B.
Duck bums, those guides and itinerant hunters who go through shells by the case every season while watching every penny, shoot a lot of Kent Fasteel. It’s affordable, it works, and now it’s better. Fasteel 2.0 features a new primer, the CX2000, and Alliant powders that insure ignition and consistent velocities in a wide range of temperatures. In fact, Kent has even been able to achieve slightly higher velocities in their heavier 3- and 3½-inch 12-gauge Fasteel loads. The shot is plated to resist corrosion and better flow through chokes for improved patterning. Available in 2¾-, 3-, and 3½-inch 12, as well as 2¾- and 3-inch 20 gauge. $15 to $24; kentcartridge.com —P.B.
Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) was all the rage last turkey season, so much so that not everyone who wanted to try it could, as inventories sold out fast. This year, help is on the way from Browning, which is loading a new line of TSS turkey loads this spring. Dense TSS pellets carry much greater energy than lead, so much so that a TSS No. 9 pellet penetrates as deeply as a lead 5. Browning’s TSS offerings will be loaded with 7 shot, 9 shot, and blends of 7 and 9, in 3 and 3½ inch 12, 3-inch 20, and in .410, which was the surprise hit of last season. Prices not yet available; browningammo.com —P.B.
Norma, is one of the premier makers of ammunition in Europe, is making a major play in the American market with a variety of new introductions. Most notable is the new BondStrike Extreme, which is specially tailored for the long-range hunter. The new.30-caliber bullet, which will be loaded in .308 Win., .30/06, .300 Win. Mag., .300 WSM, and .300 RUM, has an amazingly high ballistic coefficient of 0.615. This means it will fly flat and defy the wind. But just as important, this bullet is designed to deliver ideal expansion and terminal performance from 100 yards to as far as 800 and beyond. Price not yet available: norma-ammuntion.com —R.M.
If you’re eager to find out what TSS is all about but don’t want to pay $10 per shell, Kent offers a lower-cost, yet still high-performance option with its TK7 Penetrator 12- and 20-gauge loads of No. 7 shot. The tungsten-iron shot is blended to a density of 15 grams per cubic centimeter, which less dense (and therefore less expensive) than 18 g/cc TSS, but still much denser than lead or Hevi13. It approximates the old Federal Heavyweight load, which was a sure turkey killer in both gauges. The 12-gauge load contains 1-5/8 ounces of shot, the 20-gauge has 1-3/8, and both leave the muzzle at 1,100 fps, for tighter patterns and a little less recoil. The very dense shot will retain plenty of energy even at that low velocity. $29 to $32; kentcartridge.com —P.B.
Short 12-gauge loads are a thing now that people have learned how many mini shells they can stuff into the magazine of a Kel-Tec or a Mossberg pump with an OPSol miniclip on board. So, Federal has introduced the Shorty–a 1¾-inch shell that remarkably offers almost the same ballistics of a 2¾ inch shell. Shorties hold nearly an ounce of shot (15/16 ounces) and boast a velocity of 1,145 fps. They come in No. 8 shot, 4 buck, and slug loads. Besides their obvious fun potential, the birdshot loads will be great low-recoil trainers and a blessing for those who own older shotguns with short chambers. Although they will not function in semiautos nor some pumps, they’ll be delight in break-action guns, and manufacturers are already working on shotguns made specifically to shoot them. $5.95 for a 10-pack of 8s; $11.95 for slugs and buck; federalpremium.com —P.B.
Hornady’s new line of Outfitter ammunition replaces their Full Boar line. With corrosion-resistant nickel-plated cases, these loads are ideally suited to hunters who brave the elements; your ammo will not tarnish and will feed with the smoothness of butter on a hot biscuit. The Outfitter line is loaded with Horandy’s lead-free GMX bullet, which is designed to deliver wide expansion and deep penetration. The line will initially be offered for 10 of the most popular big-game chamberings, from.243 Winchester to.375 Ruger, including, of course, the 6.5 Creedmoor. Prices start around $30 per box of 20; hornady.com —R.M.
In this new line of big-game ammo, Federal is loading the flat-shooting, high-BC Berger Hybrid Hunter bullets, which combine the profile of a low-drag match bullet with a traditional hunting projectile design, allowing you to take on just about anything that walks on four legs. Bullet weights for the 10 current loads have been fine-tuned to provide exceptional accuracy through factory rifles, and the BCs exceed those of comparable designs thanks to a hybrid-nose design that combines tangent and secant ogive features. All Berger Hybrid Hunter loads use the finest nickel-plated brass, Gold Medal primers, and specially formulated propellants for the best consistency and reliability. Starts at $37.95; federalpremium.com