Short Barrel Soft Point Showdown: Hornady Black HD SBR Review

    Hornady Black HD SBR 75GR InterLock, note Protective plastic sheath

    Hornady Black HD SBR 75GR InterLock, note Protective plastic sheath

    Hornady Black HD SBR: Ammo OPtimized for your shorty 5.56

    SBR’s and PSB stabilized AR Pistols are handy for sure.  Their shorter OAL makes them a great candidate for a lightweight and compact defensive firearm, especially as a suppressor host.  Short barrels chambered in 5.56 have one major…shortcoming. The velocity and resultant lethality loss due to the reduction of barrel length.  Hornady has some relatively new ammunition to remedy this shortcoming, however:  Hornady Black HD SBR 75gr.

    Hornady Black HD SBR 75GR InterLock

    Per Hornady:

    5.56 Nato 75 gr InterLock HD SBR Hornady Black is designed specifically for 10.5″-11.5″ SBR’s by using proprietary propellant technology and a bullet designed with technology from industry leading Critical Duty FlexLock bullets. This round provides exceptional ammunition performance in SBR’s suppressed or unsuppressed, with virtually no flash or residue, dramatically reduced sound signature, will not foul or overheat suppressors, uniform velocity and accuracy, and provides controllable rate of fire in automatic platforms. Designed to meet the requirements of the FBI protocol, this round is the optimum choice for 10.5″-11.5″ barreled 5.56 rifles.

    Hornady (oddly) quotes velocities and energies from a 20″ test barrel on their website.  (2321 fps and 897 ft/lbs at the muzzle).  Being that this ammo is formulated for 10.5-11.5″ barrels, let’s take a look at my data when I took this ammo to the range along with two other barrier blind SP rounds, shall we?

    Comparision Candidates

    Top to bottom: Hornady Black HD SBR 75GR InterLock, SPEER Gold Dot Personal Protection 75gr GDSP, Federal XM223SP1 ETSP

    Top to bottom: Hornady Black HD SBR 75GR InterLock, SPEER Gold Dot Personal Protection 75gr GDSP, Federal XM223SP1 ETSP

    Like TFB’s head honcho Pete recommends, SP loads are a good choice for your AR in a defensive situation.  Hornady’s Interlock and FlexLock (Interlock w a ballistic tip) ammunition expand consistently even at lower velocities due to the inner grooves that “strategically weaken” the upper jacket.  The inner ring embedded in the bullet’s core ensures weight retention and prevents full separation of the jacket and core.  This same attribute helps the FlexLock and Interlock achieve barrier blind performance.

    Image Credit: Hornady

    Hornady Black HD SBR comes in a 20-round box.  Rounds are stored tip-down in a plastic sheath that protects the soft point.  The primers are sealed as well.

    Protective plastic sheath

    Protective plastic sheath

    Sealed Primers

    Sealed Primers

    I compared the HD SBR ammo with two other reputable barrier blind loads: Speer Gold Dot 75gr GDSP and Federal XM223SP1 62gr ETSP, which uses the same bullet as Federal’s Fusion SP, FBIT3M, and Premium Tactical 62gr.

    Radian Model 1 Pistol with the three SP Loads

    Radian Model 1 Pistol with the three SP Loads

    Test PLatform, Range Time and Results

    Radian Model 1 Pistol with the three SP Loads

    Radian Model 1 Pistol with the three SP Loads

    My test platform was a 10.5″ Radian Model 1 pistol.  It was outfitted with Scalarworks’ PEAK iron sights designed for a 15″ sight radius, as well as an Aimpoint Micro-T2 2MOA RDS.  I’m pleased to report that there were zero malfunctions from any of the ammo out of Magpul, Colt and Brownells 10, 20, and 30 round magazines, as well as from a Magpul D60 drum.  The Radian 10.5″ has a .223 Wylde chamber, 416 stainless barrel, and 1/8 twist rate.

    The HD SBR rounds played nicely with all magazines tested

    The HD SBR rounds played nicely with all magazines tested

    Hornady’s claim for reduced flash seemed to ring true when I shot the pistol in the early morning or at dusk.  There was little to no flash out of the 10.5″ barrel equipped with SiCo’s ASR flash hider.  The flash seemed less than when I shot it with the Federal or Speer loads.

    Velocities were measured with a LabRadar @ 5000ft.  Velocity results are as follows:

    Hornady Black HD SBR 75gr:

    • 2282 fps, 867 ft/lbs @ muzzle
    • 2140 fps, 763 ft/lbs @50y
    • Ext. Spread: 44

    Speer GD 75gr:

    • 2215 fps, 817 ft/lbs @ muzzle
    • 2095 fps, 731 ft/lbs @50y
    • ES: 46

    Federal XM223SP1 62gr:

    • 2389 fps, 766 ft/lbs @ muzzle
    • 2252 fps, 698 ft/lbs @50Y
    • ES: 74

    Accuracy was tested at 100y, braced off a front and rear bag.  Results are an average of 5-shot groups, measured center-center using a micrometer and calculated to MOA (“[email protected]).

    Hornady Black HD SBR 75gr:

    .61 MOA

    Speer GD 75gr:

    .79 MOA

    Federal XM223SP1 62gr:

    .68 MOA

    Though the HD SBR was the most accurate, accuracy was excellent with all three loads and well within my shooter margin of error.  Hornady’s proprietary powder excelled once again, putting up the best velocity and energy results.  Interestingly enough, Hornady HD SBR 75gr was faster and more accurate than the Speer Gold Dot load, despite the Speer’s significantly smaller meplat.

    L to R: Hornady Black HD SBR 75GR InterLock, SPEER Gold Dot Personal Protection 75gr GDSP, Federal XM223SP1 ETSP. Note the smaller meplat of the Speer.

    L to R: Hornady Black HD SBR 75GR InterLock, SPEER Gold Dot Personal Protection 75gr GDSP, Federal XM223SP1 ETSP. Note the smaller meplat of the Speer.

    I stretched the HD SBR ammo out to distances of 300 yards on various steel targets, and while using the appropriate hold-overs, was rewarded with solid hits each time.

    Overall Impressions

    Hornady Black HD SBR 75gr represents an excellent choice of premium factory ammunition for one’s short barrel 5.56 platform.  Low-flash, with a high degree of accuracy and performance, it would be an excellent choice for a defensive load.  If one can find it.  For more information, please visit Hornady.

    Hornady Black HD SBR 75gr Interlock

    Hornady Black HD SBR 75gr Interlock


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    Rusty S.

    Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. Editor at Outdoorhub.com


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