The Latest Rifle and Shotgun Ammo From the 2023 SHOT Show
This year at SHOT Show, we're seeing plenty of non-toxic shotgun loads, the comeback of the 28-gauge, and a brand-new straight-wall rifle cartridge
Everyone has a wish list for new shooting products for the new year. Some want new handguns, others new rifles, and a lot of shooters wait for new optics. But if there’s one thing that all shooters can look forward to, it’s new ammunition, because no matter what you shoot you gotta have ammo.
New loads often circumvent the need to handload rare cartridges, and they can breathe new life into older cartridges for classic guns. And then there’s the not-so-frequent introduction of a completely new cartridge. For 2023 we’ve got all of that and there’s bound to be one or more of these new loads that’ll get you excited. Here are the newest cartridges for rifles and shotguns. —Richard Mann
New Rifle Ammo for 2023
The lever gun is still with us. In fact, it seems like lever-action rifles get more popular each year. Barnes has recognized this and for 2023 they’re introducing a full line of lever gun ammunition. It’s called Pioneer, and every load for every cartridge has been specifically designed for optimum performance and flawless feeding and cycling in lever actions. Of course, some lever gun cartridges are also revolver cartridges, and to further make Pioneer ammunition ideal for lever guns of all chamberings, some will be loaded with a soft point bullet. Initial offerings will include .30-30 Win., .45/70, .357 Mag., and .45 Colt, with prices ranging from $29.99 to $62.99 per box of 20. —R.M.
Berger Elite Hunter
Well known for their exquisite high BC match bullets, Berger is adding four loadings to their Elite Hunter line of ammunition. All feature the high BC, hybrid ogive, Elite Hunter bullet, which uses Berger’s J4 Hunting Jacket. These bullets tend to penetrate two to three inches prior to deformation, at which point they deliver massively wicked wound cavities. The new loads include a 108-grain bullet for the 6mm Creedmoor, a 140-grain offering for the 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC, and a 245-grain bullet load for the 300 PRC. —R.M.
Browning Silver Series
Late in 2022, Browning introduced the Silver Series line of hunting ammunition. These loads, which will initially be available for the .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win., 6.8 Western, 7mm Remington Magnum., .308 Win., .30/06, 300 Win. Mag., and 350 Legend, utilize heavy-for-caliber, soft-point bullets, with a precision plated jacket to assist with corrosion resistance and smooth feeding. —R.M.
Buffalo Bore 25 Auto Hardcast
Few if any of us think of the 25 ACP – the correct name for this cartridge is actually 25 Automatic/Auto – as a cartridge suitable for critter defense. There are of course a lot of other handgun cartridges that’ll do a better job. However, a new load from Buffalo Bore radically changes the way you might look at the 25 Auto. Loaded with a 60-grain hard cast flat nose bullet at 850 fps, this load will seal the deal on smaller vermin like a chicken-stealing fox or a rabid coyote. Offered in 20-round boxes this load retails for $34.68. —R.M.
CCI Clean-22 Hyper Velocity
Unquestionably the leader in rimfire ammunition, CCI has introduced a new load for the .22 LR called the Clean-22 Hyper Velocity. This load features a 31-grain lead round-nose bullet with a polymer coating at a blistering 1550 fps. This proprietary coating reduces fouling and cuts lead buildup in suppressors by as much as 60 to 80 percent. CCI has also optimized the geometry of the bullet for improved accuracy, and the ammunition should deliver reliable functioning in semi-automatic firearms. A box of 50 has an MSRP of $10.95. —R.M.
Federal Hornady ELD-X
Federal has several new ammunition offerings for 2023. First is the Hornady ELD-X line, which features the high-BC, long-range capable, Hornady ELD-X bullet. Combined with a specially formulated propellant, you can expect flat trajectories and retained energy at distance. Initial offerings will include the .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag., .308 Win., .30/06, 300 WSM, and the 300 Win. Mag. Prices for a 20-round box will range from $52.99 to $74.99. —R.M.
Federal Gold Medal CenterStrike
For those who desire extreme precision on target and high BCs for flat trajectories and wind resistance, Federal has introduced the Gold Medal CentetStrike line of ammo. Initially available for the .223 Remington ($37.99), 6.5 Creedmoor (47.99), and the .308 Winchester ($48.99), all will be loaded with a precise open-tipped-match (OTM) bullet with a very sleek profile. These loads are also held to Federal’s tightest quality-control standards and feature Gold Medal primers and brass. —R.M.
Federal Custom Shop Waypoint
Federal is now offering Custom Shop Waypoint ammunition for the 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, and the .308 Winchester. Federal Custom Shop Engineers worked with Springfield-Armory during the development of the rifle to design ammunition specifically for the new platform. Like all Federal Custom Shop ammunition, Model 2020 Waypoint ammunition is handloaded by Federal engineers to your individual order featuring Federal Terminal Ascent or Nosler AccuBond bullets. These loads are not inexpensive, cost is $109.99 per box of 20, but they should deliver knockout performance from your Waypoint. —R.M.
Federal 360 Buckhammer Power-Shok
Ok, grab the popcorn because this, like all new cartridge introductions, will generate the usual discussions about why it’s the best thing ever, or why we don’t need it. You can read more about the new 360 Buckhammer under the Remington entry below because they were the driving force behind its development. For now, just know that Federal is offering two loads for this new cartridge in their Power-Shok line. The first 180-grain bullet and the second is a 200-grain bullet. MSRP for a box of 20 is $36.99. —R.M.
Hornady 7mm PRC
Admittedly, the 7mm PRC cartridge is not exactly new for 2023, but not everyone has heard of it yet. And we’re now just starting to see what new rifles will be chambered for it. What is the 7mm PRC? It falls between Hornady’s two other PRC cartridges—the 6.5 and the 300—and head-to-head it offers about a 200 fps advantage over the 7mm Remington Magnum. However, the 7mm PRC is beltless and has a SAAMI specified 1 in 8 as opposed to a 1 in 9.5 twist rate. This means it can handle heavier and higher BC bullets. Currently, Hornady is offering a 160-grain CX Outfitter load, a 175-grain Precision Hunter load, and a 180-grain Match load. Prices range from around $55 to $60 per box of 20. —R.M.
Lehigh Defense Controlled Chaos Loads
The Controlled Chaos bullet from Lehigh Defense has been around a while but oddly, it does not get a lot of attention. I’ve seen it in action in a variety of calibers and from various cartridges, and it works on critters as small as badgers and as large as buffalo. The front section of this all-copper bullet erupts after impact creating a massive—shrapnel-induced—wound cavity. However, the base of the bullet continues to penetrate deeply. It’s sort of a Nosler Partition version of a mono-metal bullet. For 2023, Lehigh is introducing a 55- and 62-grain load for the .223 Remington, a 115-grain load for the 300 Blackout, a 125-grain load for the 300 HAMR, and a 152-grain load for the .308 Winchester. 20-round boxes will cost between $43.49 and $66.49. —R.M.
Remington Core-Lokt 360 Buckhammer
Ok, we teased you when talking about the new loads from Federal, now here’s the story behind the 360 Buckhammer. This is a straight-wall cartridge specifically intended for a lever action rifle. It uses a 180 to 200-grain .358-caliber bullet and delivers external ballistics similar to a .30-30 Winchester. With its moderate recoil, it should be easy to shoot and those who must hunt deer with straight wall cartridges should be excited because Henry is offering three new lever guns, and a single-shot rifle chambered for it. Like Federal, Remington is also offering a 180- and a 200-grain load for the 360 Buckhammer. Think of it as an old-school but modern take on the 35 Remington. —R.M.
Remington Premier Long Range
While a new straight-wall cartridge sounds exciting, if you can hunt with whatever rifle cartridge you want, this new offering from Remington is even more so. The new line of Premier Long Range ammo from Remington features the Speer Impact bullet—and it’s the first time this bullet has been loaded into factory ammo. The sleek construction and high BC of the Impact bullets are noteworthy for long-range shots, but so too is the fact that these bullets will upset at impact velocities as much as 200 fps slower than other tipped bullets. Initially, Remington will offer these loads for the 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag., .30/06, .308 Win., 300 Win. Mag. And the 300 Rem. Ultra Mag. Cost per box of 20 ranges from $59.99 to $97.99. —R.M.
Sierra Sports Master Rifle Ammunition
Sierra has been offering ammunition for various handgun cartridges in the Sports Master line, and now, for 2023, they’re adding rifle cartridges. These loads will utilize a versatile, hollow-point bullet that provides great accuracy for the price point. And while it’s ideal for paper and steel, they’ll also work for varmints, predators, and other thin-skinned game. Initially, Sierra will be offering Sports Master rifle loads for the .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, 300 Blackout, .308 Winchester, and the .30/06. —R.M.
Underwood Ammunition 350 Legend and 338 Lapua
Underwood Ammunition has been offering high-quality ammo since 2013. The company has grown exponentially, partly because of the quality of the ammo they craft, and partly because of the diverse array of cartridges they load for. I also give them extra points for listing ammunition on their website—correctly—by “cartridge” as opposed to “caliber.” For 2023, they have two new loads from opposite ends of the ballistic spectrum. There’s a 350 Legend load ($37.99) topped off with a 170-grain JSP bullet at 2250 fps, and a 338 Lapua load ($73.99) with a 300-grain Nosler AccuBond Long-Range bullet at 2700 fps. —R.M.
Winchester M1 Garand
With all the attention high-BC bullets and flat-shooting cartridges are getting, it seems like one of the best American centerfire rifle cartridges is getting overlooked. Well, not by Winchester. For 2023 they’ve introduced ammunition for the .30/06 Springfield that has been optimized for the M1 Garand. It features a 150-grain Ball M2 bullet loaded to 2740 fps. It is closer to the original .30/06 ballistics than modern ammo and is head-stamped to indicate the Ball M2 specification, so that you can get your WWII groove on. —R.M.
New Shotgun Ammo for 2023
It’s a good year for shotshell ammo introductions, and the most interesting ones fall into three categories. First of all, the 3-inch 28-gauge, as you’d expect, is the bright, shiny new toy among shotgunners for 2023, and there are plenty of turkey and waterfowl loads for it. Bismuth loads for all gauges keep proliferating, as they should. Bismuth is denser than steel, if not as dense as lead, cheaper than tungsten-iron shot, safe in old gun barrels, and not too hard on your teeth, either. And, bismuth is better than it used to be. Bismuth loads of today are made of much less fragile, frangible shot than the original bismuth of the 90s and 00s.
The third trend at SHOT may not seem as exciting as potent smallbores or harder-hitting non-toxics, but I think it’s most important to the future of shooting sports. Plastic wads wash up on beaches, litter gun clubs, and sometimes get ingested by animals mistaking them for food. Within a few years, I believe, plastic wads will be the new lead, subject to restrictions and outright bans. You can complain about change all you want but you won’t stop it from coming, so it’s best to be ready for it. Fortunately, more manufacturers are offering shells made with bio-degradable wads of various kinds at this year’s SHOT show. It’s encouraging to see ammo makers looking for alternatives. —Phil Bourjaily
Remington Premier Bismuth
Now owned by Vista Outdoor, the same parent company that owns HeviShot, Remington has access to HeviBismuth pellets. Big Green offers a whole bismuth lineup comprising every gauge but the 10. There are 2 ¾- and 3-inch loads of 12- and 20-gauge in 2 and 5 shot, with 2s making the right choice for geese, 5s for ducks and pheasants. The 16, 2 ¾-inch 28, and 3-inch .410 are loaded with 4 shot, which is comparable to the all-around steel 3. All the shells are loaded to 1350 to 1400 fps, which is plenty fast enough for dense non-toxics. Prices range from $60-$75 per 25. —P.B.
Winchester offers a couple of steel target/game loads for 2023 made with their “BioAmmo” bio-polymer wads. The four-petal wads will look, seal and protect barrels just like plastic wads. Once they hit the ground or water they will also degrade, leaving no plastic residue in the environment. The initial offerings in the lineup are 1-ounce, 1325 fps loads of steel 6 or 7 ½ shot which will work for all clay target games, and the 6 shot will give you clean kills on doves and teal, too. —P.B.
Federal 28-gauge Black Cloud
The 3-inch, 28-gauge Black Cloud shell stands out from the rest of the magnum pack because it’s loaded with steel, not pricey TSS or bismuth. Instead, Federal engineers made a skinny version of the rear-braking FliteControl Flex wad, loaded it into a 3-inch, 28 gauge hull, and added Federal’s now-familiar mix of 40 percent ridged “Flitestopper” pellets and 60 percent round shot that provide even, dense patterns. The ridges add to the cutting diameter of the pellets as well. The new Black Cloud comes in ¾-ounce payloads of 3 or 4 shot, and make a good alternative for hunters put off by the sticker shock of pricier premium non-toxics. They list for about $40 per 25. —P.B.
Federal Hi-Bird Fiber Wad
Fiber wads are having a moment again, and they may be the wads of the future for soft shot like lead and bismuth because they are biodegradable. If you have ever hunted at a preserve or at a South Dakota pheasant operation where it seems like you’re walking in ankle-deep plastic wads wherever you go, these new loads make immediate sense. Loaded with 1 ¼ ounce of lead 5 shot at 1330 fps, these shells will have just the right amount of punch for pheasants and they will not leave any messy litter behind. $24.99 per box of 25. —P.B.
Fiocchi 28-gauge Golden Waterfowl Bismuth
Here’s some ammo trivia: Fiocchi actually announced 3-inch, 28-gauge loads a few years ago for the Benelli Ethos 28, but I don’t know if they were ever produced. These have been. Fiocchi’s 3-inch Golden Waterfowl line now includes these 15/16-ounce loads of bismuth 4 shot, which should make a good all-around duck-over-decoy load. They come in packs of 10 for $31. —P.B.
B&P Privilege Ammo
Bashieri and Pellagri of Italy is well-known for its precisely made, consistently-performing shotshells and for the Gordon System, a crushable basewad that shooters believe reduces recoil. B&P’s new Privilege line consists of 2 ¾-inch, 12-gauge, 1325 fps, 1 1/5 ounces of lead 5, 6, or 7 ½ shot loads with either the “Green Core” biodegradable wad or felt wads that will shoot more open patterns. —P.B.
Hevi-18 TSS Low Recoil
Line extensions for HeviShot’s excellent Hevi18 TSS turkey loads this year comprise low-recoil 2 ¾-inch 12- and 20-gauge offerings. All three share the same 1 ¼-ounce payload. That’s important because fewer expensive TSS pellets per shell mean less pain to your shoulder and less hurt to your wallet. The 12- and 20-gauge come in 9 shot. Even with the reduced payload, that’s still over 450 pellets to sling at a turkey’s head.
The 12-gauge shells are dialed all the way down to 1090 fps, which is more than enough velocity for dense TSS yet very comfortable to shoot. The 20-gauge clocks in at 1200 fps. You can pay twice as much for more pellets and more pain, neither of which you need, or you can buy these for $64.99 per five. —P.B.
Hevi-18 3-inch 20 gauge
With Benelli, Beretta, Mossberg, and others offering 3-inch 28s just in time for turkey season, HeviShot brings us a 3-inch TSS turkey load. The 28 represents a major upgrade over the .410 as a smallbore, and the 3-inch 28 holds 1 ¼ ounces of shot, a big step up from the almost-an-ounce of the .410. Hevi18 is excellent stuff, and here you can have it in 7 or 9 shot at 1200 fps. The shells sell for $49.99 per five, which, hard though it may be to comprehend, is a bargain in TSS these days. —P.B.
Federal Hevi Bismuth
Federal loads bismuth shot from sister company HeviShot into hulls containing Federal’s FliteControl Flex wad. An unslit, rear-braking wad, Flitecontrol Flex holds pellets together for a few feet out of the muzzle, producing tight patterns downrange. And, Federal claims that HeviBismuth is formulated to be less brittle than other bismuth shot, reducing the number of pellets that fragment when the shell is fired. For now, they are available in 2 ¾- and 3-inch 12- and 20-gauge in 3, 4, and 5 shot, with payloads up to 1 3/8 ounce in the 3-inch 12 and velocities in the 1350 to 1450 fps range. Prices start at $66.99 per 25. —P.B.