2020 was the year of ammunition shortages and 2021 promises to be more of the same. Even so, it’s always interesting to see what new loads manufacturers come up with when the new year rolls around. For 2021 there are quite a few new ammunition loads coming. These are a few of our favorites.
Winchester USA Ready Defense
Winchester introduced a trio of loads —9mm, 40 Smith and Wesson, and 45 ACP —for this line as part of their Primed for ’21 Virtual SHOT Show product launch.
The company utilized the latest technological advances to address the needs of gun owners who are carrying for self-defense purposes. Among other things, the USA Ready Defense line features match-grade primers for reliability and a rigid polymer Hex-Vent insert in the bullet’s nose to prevent clogging and encourage expansion. According to the manufacturer the line was designed to penetrate as needed for self-defense without risk of over-penetration. The ammunition’s energy and velocity are optimized for use in short-barreled guns.
The Winchester USA Ready Defense line is a natural continuation of the Winchester USA Ready line of training ammunition. Full ballistic information is not yet available but we look forward to trying it out.
Federal Premium Hammer Down
Lever-actions may be seen as the guns that Won the West but lately, they’ve been making a modern-day comeback. As someone who loves levers, it warms my lever-loving heart to see them get some of the attention they deserve. Even better—the fact that Federal Premium has come out with a lever-specific ammunition line, Hammer Down.
Federal’s engineers created Hammer Down to more precisely fit the needs of lever-action rifles. From the Gold Medal primers to the nickel-plated brass and carefully-designed propellant these loads are made to maximize your lever’s potential. Federal loads these rounds to the ideal velocities for peak performance and stellar ballistics and tops them with molecularly-bonded bullets for superb weight retention. They did have some help designing this ammunition line; Federal teamed up with the classic company Henry Repeating Arms to make sure these loads are exactly right for their specific purpose.
The Hammer Down line is available in a variety of calibers including 45-70 Gov’t, 30-30 Win, 357 Magnum, 44 Remington, 327 Federal Magnum, and 45 Colt. Depending on the caliber, these rounds are loaded with either Bonded Soft Point or Bonded Hollow Point bullets, making them a fantastic option for hunting.
You may also like: Building a Tactical Lever Action Rifle.
Browning X-Point Defense
Browning is a manufacturer I consider one of the semi-hidden gems of the ammunition world. Everyone knows (or should know) that Browning exists and yet it seems many handgun owners forget that detail when selecting ammunition. If you’re a handgun owner you should be trying Browning’s ammunition because it’s been a top-performer in my personal guns and review guns for years. This new Browning X-Point Defense promises to be another excellent load for gun owners who carry handguns for self-defense.
This ammunition was made for reliable performance through barriers. As you can see in the image above there is a literal “X” in the nose of the bullet. Although that “X” isn’t polymer (its metal), it functions similarly to polymer inserts by helping the bullets expand consistently on impact without being clogged or otherwise impeded by solid material. These hollow points are also used in the Browning BXP line, a line that’s proven itself to be accurate and reliable in a wide range of guns.
Other features of this line include nickel-plated cases, consistent expansion, and rapid energy transfer.
The Browning X-Point Defense line is currently comprised of 380 ACP, 9mm, 40 Smith and Wesson, 45 Auto, and 10mm Auto.
CCI Clean-22 Realtree
CCI has long been known for producing good-quality 22 LR ammunition so it comes as no surprise they’ve added to their Clean-22 lineup for 2021.
CCI Clean-22 utilizes polymer-coated lead round nose bullets to reduce fouling in barrels —something 22 LR is a bit notorious for—and to prevent buildup in suppressors. In fact, CCI states their Clean-22 line can reduce suppressor lead buildup by as much as 80 percent.
Polymer bullet coating greatly reduces lead fouling in the barrel without leaving residue
Cuts lead buildup in suppressors 60 to 80 percent
40-grain lead round nose bullets
Optimized bullet geometry for improved accuracy
Reliable function in semi-automatic firearms
Great option both casual and competitive shooters
CCI Clean-22 Realtree is available with 400 rounds to a bottle. The Realtree designation comes from the Realtree Edge camouflage decorating the bottle. Rounds have 40-grain bullets with tan, green, and black polymer coatings. The listed muzzle velocity is 1,235 feet per second. CCI states “the 40-grain round nose lead bullet’s geometry has been optimized for accuracy and is ideal for both targets and game.”
Whether you’re interested in plinking, teaching new shooters, or hunting varmints, CCI Clean-22 Realtree makes it more fun (and cleaner, too).
Hornady 6mm ARC 103 grain ELD-X Precision Hunter
A welcome addition to the new cartridges you might be tempted to add to your collection this year, Hornady’s 6mm ARC is efficient and an impressive performer across the board from a ballistic perspective. It’s a great option for competition, personal defense, and hunting. And now, with the Hornady 6mm ARC 103 grain ELD-X Precision Hunter, hunters have a load from Hornady’s top-tier Precision Hunter line to help them with ethical one-shot kills.
The Hornady 6mm ARC 103 grain ELD-X Precision Hunter load is made for the AR platform. It features the ELD-X bullet with polymer Heat Shield tip, Interlock ring to prevent the core and jacket from separating, and a streamlined secant ogive. The bullet consistently delivers 85 to 90 percent weight retention and is suitable for medium-sized game, such as deer.
Hornady also manufactures 6mm ARC in ELD Match and BLACK loads, among others. This cartridge would be a smart addition to any shooter’s stash.
Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you’ve seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master’s Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.
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