October 23, 2018
Photo: Michael Anschuetz
On the cover of this issue is the story behind the FBI’s new duty round, Hornady’s Critical Duty. Critical Duty in 9mm and .40 will be issued to FBI agents. This technologically advanced pistol round was introduced commercially in 2012, but shares flexible-tip technology first released in LeverEvolution followed by Critical Defense in 2008. Read more about the development of the FBI’s load and the trials beginning on page 66.
Where does this attention on the development of handgun ammunition leave rifle shooters? Well, Hornady has launched Critical Defense Rifle and a new Subsonic load.
Hornady recognized two important factors about the gun market. First, the AR-15 has become a top home-defense choice. Second, consumers want a top-performing, personal-protection rifle round.
Armed with this knowledge, Hornady engineers called on the company’s V-Max to deliver the goods. Typically a varmint bullet, V-Max has proven outstanding for use on soft targets due to its expansion and minimal penetration characteristics. Still, Hornady felt they could improve on the V-Max for personal protection against bipeds and turn V-Max into the ultimate home-defense rifle load.
Hornady ballisticians, using the varmint round as a starting point, translated V-Max’s rifle pressures and velocities and blended the performance characteristics and technology of its Critical Defense pistol load in creating Critical Defense Rifle.
Designers of Critical Defense Rifle were not concerned with long-range capabilities. That’s why these rounds have a large, fat ogive and flat face. It’s all about short-range performance. Bullets needed to open up fast, not over penetrate soft targets and fragment quickly when striking harder targets such as wall board.
Critical Defense Rifle ammunition is available in both 55- and 73-grain .223 Rem. loads, as well as a 155-grain .308 Win. offering. Keep a close eye on this lineup as you’ll likely see it expand into other configurations. In fact, we’ve already seen a byproduct of Critical Defense Rifle with Hornady’s new Sub-X subsonic rifle ammo. Sub-X is a 190-grain .300 Blackout cartridge that’s intended to retain all of its weight while reliably expanding at subsonic velocities (down to around 850 feet per second). These differ from Critical Defense’s characteristics, which expand fast and fragment at supersonic velocities. Sub-X is an absolute boon for suppressed .300 BLK shooters and is a leap forward in expanding, subsonic, rifle bullet technology.
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