Ammunition Consistency Testing: Hornaday Steel Match and HPR Match Ammo for 5.56

Everyone wants to use match grade ammunition, but no one wants to pay match grade prices. Know what Wilson combat charges for their 5.56 ammo (which currently tops our charts)? A buck fifty a round. Yeah. Hurts, doesn’t it? But what if there were a way to get the same quality without the pants-browningly high prices? Turns out there are one or two manufacturers trying to do just that. But how good is their ammo really? . . .

What we have today are two brands, each trying to meet the same goals, but doing it in two different ways.

Hornaday’s Steel Match goes the same route as Tula, Wolf and the various “Bear” ammunition manufacturers — namely, its all steel cased ammo. But inside that case is the same loving and caring manufacturing process that makes Hornaday’s ammo some of the best in the world. Well, not THE best, but pretty darn close.

HPR, on the other hand, decided to recycle some old components. Just the cases though, not any of the other parts. The cases are all once-fired Lake City brass, and each round is inspected by hand before being packaged and shipped. They believe that allows them to make some amazing ammo without having it cost an arm and a leg. But just how good is it really?

Brief note here to remind everyone of the testing methodology: we run 20 rounds of each brand through a chronograph and look at the IQR or InterQuartile Range to get an idea of how tight the group is going to be downrange. There are plenty of other factors in accuracy, but velocity is the only one that’s “clean” enough to calculate and compare (as everything else can be influenced by the shooter, equipment, etc.). For the full methodology check out this article. Just remember LOW = GOOD and we’ll be on the same page.

So, how did things turn out? let’s compare the numbers we got with the current reigning champ.

That’s, uh, well, hmm. Hornaday seems to be doing pretty well, but I can already tell this won’t end well for HPR. On to the normalized graph….

Yeah, not so good for HPR. The maximum observations for Hornaday don’t look so hot either, but the IQR is still pretty solid. Let’s see how these newcomers stack up on the chart.

For Hornaday, things actually look pretty rocking. Their El Cheapo option for ammo has landed them squarely in third place on our scoreboard in terms of consistency, and actually seem to be BETTER than their brass cased compatriots. Which seems odd. I’ll have to re-test that and double check, but having followed the procedures to the letter, what you see is what you get.

HPR, on the other hand, is ranked just below Wolf. But as increased velocity does have a tendency to improve velocity consistency we’ll have to give their 55 grain flavor a try and see if we get the same results.

So what’s the verdict? Hornaday’s Steel Match is all that and a bag of chips. If you need match ammo on the cheap, have no fear.

Brand and Weight Caliber IQR $/round
Wilson Combat
77gr Sierra HPBT Match
.223 Rem 19 $1.52
Wilson Combat
65gr Sierra SP BT
.223 Rem 21 $1.52
Hornady Steel Match
75gr BTHP Match
.223 Rem 25 $0.44
75gr BTHP Match
.223 Rem 29 $0.79
69gr HPBT
.223 Rem 30 $1.18
Remington Premier Match
77gr BTHP
.223 Rem 36 $1.50
64gr “Power Point” SP
.223 Rem 38 $0.82
55gr FMJ
.223 Rem 40 $0.21
Federal XM193F
55gr FMJ
.223 Rem 40 $0.32
55gr HP-BT
.223 Rem 42 $?.??
75gr BTHP Match
.223 Rem 43 $0.50
Nosler Varmint
40gr Ballistic Tip
.223 Rem 44 $0.86
Handloads – 20.8gr N-135
75gr Hornady HPBT Match
.223 Rem 49 $?.??
Handloads – 21gr IMR 3031
75gr Hornady HPBT Match
.223 Rem 52 $?.??
Winchester PDX-1
60gr SC-HP
.223 Rem 58 $1.45
American Eagle
55gr FMJ-BT
.223 Rem 68 $0.30
Brand and Weight Caliber IQR $/round
Remington UMC 115gr .300 BLK 20 $0.52
Remington AccuTip Premier 125gr .300 BLK 20 $1.39
CMMG 147gr .300 BLK 26 $0.78
Remington Subsonic 220gr .300 BLK 27 $0.92
PNW M 155gr .300 BLK 28 $0.90
PNW D 220gr .300 BLK 54 $1.08
Brand and Weight Caliber IQR $/round
Hornady Superformance Match
150gr SST
.308 Win 26 $1.21
Wilson Combat
168gr Sierra HPBT Match
.308 Win 28 $1.99
PMC Bronze
147gr FMJ BT
.308 Win 39 $0.50
SetPoint – 44gr Varget
150gr Hornady FMJ BT
.308 Win 52 $1.74
Prvi Partizan
150gr FMJ
.308 Win 54 $0.82
Remington “Managed Recoil”
.308 Win 125 $1.40