Hornady Superformance Ammunition

I have been remiss in not discussing Hornady’s new Superformance Ammunition before now. The Superformance loads attain a 100-200 fps increase in muzzle velocity at standard SAAMI pressures (ie. they are not hot loads). Hornady’s chief ballistics scientist told American Hunter …

“Until now, center-fire ammunition performance has been based on the IMR-series propellants developed in the 1930s and ’40s,” he said.

They achieve this by developing a set of new powders and blending these powders specifically for each cartridge so that all the powders burns completely inside the barrel. This allows maximum power transferred to the cartridge but also lower muzzle blast, thereby reducing recoil.

Graphs from the Superformance White Paper …

So why have handloaders not attempted this before? I am sure some have, but blending powders is dangerous because the pressure curve cannot be predicted. You cannot create a load made up of 50% of Powder A and 50% of Powder B and assume max pressure will equal (Amax+Bmax)/2 or when the maximum pressure will occur.

Currently Hornady is offering Superformance loads in .243 Win, .257 Roberts, .25-06 Rem., 6.5mm Creedmoor, , 7mm Rem Mag, .270 Win., 7mm-08 Rem., .300 Win. Mag, .300 RCM, .308 Win.
.308 Win., 30-06 Springfield, .338 Win Mag, .338 RCM, .375 H&H , .375 Ruger and .458 Win.

It is interesting to note that Hornady is not offering any intermediate/varmint cartridges. A Superformance 5.56mm round tuned for the M4 (but fully compatible with other 5.56mm systems) would be very useful.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Thomas

    Hornady Releases Superformance 308 Win Match Cartridge..


  • SpudGun

    ‘so that all the powders burns completely inside the barrel’ – that’s the money right there. Hornady have finally discovered the way cartridges should work – powder burns, gas is produced, bullet is propelled. Woo-hoo.

    Now that Hornady have found this magic blend of powders, will they implement the new mixture across their range with no price increases, so the end consumer gets the best product possible?

    Yeah, bound to happen.

  • ericire12

    The best thing from SHOT that no one is talking about….. cant wait till it trickles down to handgun ammo. I think you will really see some significant performance gains in short barrel carry guns and mouse guns.

    • ericire12, I suspect you we will not see SuperPerformance for handguns. There just is not enough barrel.

  • subase

    Is muzzle blast the same as flash?

    Cause this stuff seems to be super duper defense ammo.
    (Kel tec RFB in .308)

    • subase, I don’t think flash and blast are the same. Blast is gas escaping, flash is light.

  • Komrad

    The .204 Ruger uses blended powders and was developed by Hornady, so the intermediate caliber niche is already filled.

  • Ed

    “This allows maximum power transferred to the cartridge but also lower muzzle blast, thereby reducing recoil.”

    How does this reduce recoil? If anything, having all the powder burn inside the barrel should increase recoil. By pure physics, if the bullet is moving faster, recoil has to be greater.

    Of course you can spread recoil out over time to decrease the perception of it, but I fail to see how these rounds would affect felt recoil either.

    • Ed, it will reduce recoil because the gas will be moving slower by the end of the barrel. Much of the recoil is from gas shooting out the end of the rifle, like gas shooting out of a rocket’s nozzle.

  • subase

    Thanks steve.

    But it will by definition have less flash, since that powder is burning and igniting inside the barrel and not outside of it.

    I wonder what technology they used to find these ideal powder burning ratio’s.

  • subase

    After reading that .308 hornady release.

    I wonder if this increases the accuracy of the bullet too? The release would definitely indicate that .680 inch groups at 200 yards?

    Notice that silencers increase accuracy as there is less ‘blast’ escaping the barrel and effecting the flight of the bullet once it exits the barrel. Perhaps these new bullets will do exactly the same.

    In addition these bullets theoretically be less noisy since less fast moving gasses escape from the barrel. (They would have burned up and slowed down giving all their energy to moving the bullet faster)

  • jody

    this was the idea with 454 casull, right? blending powders?

  • Thomas

    If i remember correctly.. The early 454 Casull loadings were Tri-Plex loads.. A small charge of Bullseye over the primer, then a main charge of 2400, followed by a smaller charge of Unique. These were experimental loads, not recommended for the public to try.

  • Carl

    I’m not a handloader, but it seems reasonable that you should be able to blend powders safely if you slowly work your way up from a very light load of the same blend proportions, and watch for signs of overpressure.

    • Carl, powders burn consistently and you can predict pressure, you cannot predict how a mixture will burn.

  • Ok, I’m coming late to the party, only having found this blog today.

    Am I the only one who feels that this is almost all just hype? Look at the pressure graphs. “Superformance” is so nearly identical to “Light Magnum” that it falls within the variation you will always get from lot to lot. Same peak pressure, almost the same pressure curve, only slightly less muzzle pressure and then nearly parallel pressure drop after the bullet leaves the muzzle.

    So Hornady has made a slightly shorter extruded powder grain, and given it a tad heavier inhibitor coating. That’s the only difference. A faster burning powder would develop chamber pressure faster (to the left of the peak on graph 1). We’re not seeing that. This one lights up a teensy bit slower – that’s the inhibitor working. A slower burning powder would hold pressure longer (to the right of the peak in graph 1). We’re not seeing that either. This one falls off exactly the same as the Light magnum powder. But it all burns up in the barrel! Yes, because the kernels are a wee bit shorter.

    A truly “magic” powder would ignite like a slow powder, achieve less overall chamber pressure, yet hold onto the higher pressure longer, giving much more area under the graph. And area under the graph is the amount of gas that the propellant generates; more gas equals more velocity. Gas volume really has nothing to do with maximum pressure or powder burn rate. Sadly, we’re not seeing that one here either.

    All the powder burns up in the barrel? Great! What length barrel?

    And this new blend does it’s magic within SAAMI pressures? Well, gee, isn’t it a tad illegal for ammo companies to sell ammo that exceeds SAAMI pressures without them telling you this? The actual fact is that while all ammo sold is below SAAMI max pressure so that it’s still safe under extreme conditions, almost all ammo sold is way way below SAAMI max pressure, due to lawyers. So a load that comes nearer to max pressure with a flatter MPLM (less variation shot to shot) will generally be more high performance if it uses a powder best suited for the barrel length used. I think that’s what we’re seeing here.

    I’m perfectly willing to give Hornady credit for their “rocket science”, but I don’t think they’ve created a miracle here. In this day and age, with all the computer power and transducer data available, they ought to be able to turn out custom blends for any cartridge using a specific bullet and barrel length. Yes, that would destroy their production economies of scale, but the technology exists. It really isn’t rocket science, just effective analysis and marketing. And you’ll pay an extra $8 per box for it, and be happy, because it will be potent and consistent ammo in your rifle.

  • subase

    Research is time consuming and expensive and if Hornady is charging a premium and people are willing to pay for it, then we will no doubt see them adapting their technology to loads like the .223, handgun calibres and maybe even .22wmr and .17.

    Fast burning powders in defensive ammunition, that are up to +P+ rated demonstrates this. Once a rarity, it is now a stample and people are willing to pay the costs to get the best defensive ammo they can.

    They’ve managed to research blending powders to create a superior powder that burns completely up and gives the following benefits.

    Lower muzzle blast (which means less recoil, less sound, less gasses to effect bullets trajectory when exiting barrel which would increase accuracy)
    Faster bullets at the same pressures. (in the future performance can be even more improved)
    More powder burned means less flash.

    If any of these benefits are noticeable, then it will be a real advance. Only time will tell. Those graphs don’t mean squat if thier effect isn’t noticeable in real life. Could all just be a marketing gimmick, hopefully it isn’t.

  • Rog Bailey

    Hi guys
    First let me say opinions are like bellybuttons, everybody has one. Second,every gun is a law unto it’s self and possibility shooter error. I can only tell you what works for me. I don’t buy into hype.
    I became a Hornady fan when they came out with the Hrn. le ammo. for lever guns.I have old 30-30 and 2yr old 444 and the LE ammo. works as advertized at 100 and 200 yd’s.
    As for Hrn. Sf. ammo. two of my main three deer rifles(06 and o8) will group 1in.at 2in. high at 100 yds..I recently acquired a 270 Win.(used,7600 made in 83) in like new condition with scope. At the range the first shot (100yr’s)was 2 in. high and deadcenter. Stopped there because going to replace the scope and get it a trigger job.
    Give Hrn. SF a try. I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed,
    but above all, shoot the gun you like and the ammo that
    works for you.

  • I’m impressed with the extra 100-200 fps. that these new rifle rounds achieve. I can’t afford to buy this ammo (.223) because I shoot much more than 20 rounds a year. If Hornady would market there powder with reloading data they would make a great deal more $$$$ from me. I realy would like to get my .223 loads up to 3460+ in the near future.

  • David R Strassman

    Do you people just like to hear yourself talk,try buying a box and shooting it, It is everything they say,milder recoil,clean,and accurate farther then any factory ammo I’ve tried. Get outside,enjoy shooting.

  • scott

    yes the powder will be for sale 1- 8 lbs seen it in the new px mag plus the factory just down the street no price yet but will go check in a week or so. ammo on web site ya pricy 25-28 but thats msrp or just hack sellers. for 20 rounds.

  • Ramv36

    I’ll be waiting as several above for the powder to be applied to handguns. Barrel length shouldn’t be a concern performance wise if the powder is tailored to handguns themselves.
    If I could produce a .45acp handload that pushes a 230g XTP at about 1200-1300fps from my 4.4IN barrel USP…..then why would I need anything else?

  • Greg

    What is the .243 load with an 85 grain barnes bullet with the superperformance powder. I need to know the velocity and the barrel length?

  • Grant

    The 308 SST 150gr is likely everything it’s talked up to be on the range and in test labs, but in the field (where it counts) it left me wondering what all the hype is about. The bullet entered the deer’s chest, travelled between the animal’s rib cage and its shoulder exiting in two places 10 and 12.5 inches behind its shoulder. A third part of the bullet travelled down through the rib cage and distroyed the liver. Nowhere did the bullet or parts of it hit any bone! Not good!