Hornady Continues a Tradition

Hornady pushes into 2020 with innovative, new products and plenty of carryover from its past successes.

Hornady Continues a Tradition

In 2019, Hornady's facility in Nebraska was updated with the latest technology and expanded to meet demand. 

From its founding in 1949, Hornady Manufacturing has been at the forefront of bullet-making technology, precision, quality and innovation with an earned reputation for consistency.

The last two years have been exciting from a product introduction perspective, and 2020 brings even more from Hornady. But not everyone was so excited about bullets back in the beginning.

Shooting Sports Retailer had the opportunity to recently tour the Nebraska-based Hornady facility and talk with company communications manager Neal Emery. Walking the facility, we were able to see first-hand the company’s historical innovations and progression over 70 years. Hornady has been at the center of bullet-making technology after being founded on a ludicrous idea — at least that’s what their banker thought — of making precision, match-grade bullets.

With the war ending there was a surplus of ammunition, but not the right kind for hunting. Joyce Hornady created the Spire Point .308 bullet, which is still one of Hornady's most popular bullets. At the time though, precision bullet making was an odd idea.

Hornady started by procuring the bullet-making equipment available at the time. Much of that used equipment was steam powered and, in some cases, predated World War I. Emery lovingly refers to it as “tonnage” due to the huge heavy, steel-cast frames on all the old equipment. Hornady converted the equipment to electric and retrofitted the tooling for its new Spire bullets.

Today, visitors can see these machines still working next to some of the most cutting-edge ammunition manufacturing equipment available — some of it by Hornady’s own custom design.

Hornady was founded with the mission of creating the best, precision match-grade bullets for hunters and sport shooters.
Hornady was founded with the mission of creating the best, precision match-grade bullets for hunters and sport shooters.

SSR - What made up the DNA of Hornady when it was founded and why?

Emery - Since Hornady was founded in 1949, making bullets with extreme precision and quality has been our passion and the basis for what has become Hornady today with a full line of components for the reloader, ammunition specifically tuned for any type of shooting requirement and security equipment to keep firearms safe.

Over the years we have continued to work closely with a wide range of manufacturers across the industry to assure our products meet the current needs of the consumer and any new future calibers that emerge on the market.

SSR- What has Hornady become today?

Emery - Our focus is to provide the highest quality, most reliable, innovative and precise ammunition and components available in the market. Along with older production equipment we have automated, updated and used to make ammunition for decades, Hornady has invested in new higher-capacity equipment. We have also expanded our manufacturing space several times over the years. We are lucky that we have the real estate to continue to grow out from our original building.

SSR- Most dealers know of the product breadth, but what are some of the newer products over the last year that are still hot?

Emery - From a rifle bullet perspective, the ultra-low drag aluminum tipped A-Tip is still super-hot with precision shooters who want to squeeze every bit of accuracy out of every round. We actually used Doppler radar to verify our design and the result is a truly amazing bullet for reloaders. The copper-alloy (lead-free) bullets such as the GMX bullets offer the hunter a reliable and extremely accurate round that is designed for the hunt. Probably the most anticipated bullets were our Sub-X, designed and optimized for expansion and performance at subsonic velocities.

Within our reloading category we have expanded brass cases to a variety of new calibers. Our Auto Charge Pro and Precision Measurement Station are focused on the reloader who needs that extra margin of precision — for the PRS shooter, these are the ultimate tools for load development and ongoing consistency. The Frontier, American Gunner and Hornady Black have done extremely well over the last year and we are continuing to expand those lines.

Dealers who are carrying our RAPiD Safe security products find they hit a good niche in the market and sell very well. This last year we introduced a few new products including Night Guard and Ready Vault. 

SSR - What are the new 2020 releases that had a lot of attention at the SHOT Show?

Emery - With the popularity of calibers like the 300 Blackout and the surge of suppressor ownership, the SubSonic line was probably our most discussed ammunition at SHOT. We used the Sub-X bullets, introduced in 2018 and designed to expand at subsonic velocities, to create ammunition specifically tuned for a variety of calibers. We started with the 300 Blackout and now have expanded to the 450 Bushmaster and other established legacy calibers like .30-30, .45-70 and handgun rounds as well.

The Handgun Hunter ammunition is a growing segment as we see more and more hunters carrying and hunting with handguns. We had requests to offer hunting-focused game-stopping rounds for handgun calibers. Some of those requests are from handgun hunters, and hog hunters and others want to carry a concealed carry weapon (CCW) or other similar handgun on the trail for protection against potentially dangerous predators like bears, hogs and wolves. The Handgun Hunter line is built around the tough, copper-alloy Monoflex bullet that expands, penetrates deep and retains practically all of its weight. It’s also a good choice for hunters in areas that require a lead-free option.

SSR - How is Hornady involved in the shooting sports industry?

Emery - We sponsor a large variety of events throughout the industry including many shooting-sports-related television shows. We support the NSSF, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Youth Shooting Sports Program and many, many others.

SSR - What is special about Hornady compared to competitors?

Emery - Over the years it has been our quality and innovation that keeps customers coming back to the Hornady brand. It all started with the Spire Point and today we have the largest breadth of specialized bullets and ammunition on the market. No matter what the need, the customer knows they can always come to Hornady for the right components, equipment and ammunition to fit the requirement.

SSR - How do you engage with dealers?

Emery - We work primarily with distributors and buying groups. We have an active sales and rep force that is quick to respond, and every year we offer incentives for early orders. Combined with consumer sales programs like “Get Loaded” for reloading tools and the marketing that takes place, Hornady products are of great interest to carry for dealers.

SSR - Where do you see the market going?

Emery - One of the strongest areas currently is related to long-range shooting. The hunters who are extending their range rely heavily on Precision Hunter ammunition and ELD-X bullets. Long range shooting in general is very popular so ELD Match ammo and bullets are in very high demand. Adding the serious nature of the PRS/NRL shooters along with longer established disciplines like bench rest, and the newer A-Tips are providing even more of a competitive edge.

Consumers who simply like to shoot but don’t necessarily compete love the quality and competitive price of our ammo brands like Hornady Black, American Gunner and Frontier, which have moved very well at the stores. 


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