January 28, 2021
This past year was certainly a strange one. Between a global pandemic and a hotly contested presidential election, 2020 threw everyone a heck of a curveball. Almost every aspect of day-to-day life and business was affected in some way.
This was certainly true of ammunition manufacturing. Demand for ammo over the past year grew tremendously, even as many assembly lines were forced to halt due to COVID-19.
The result of all this is that manufacturers have been scrambling like crazy to keep up with demand. It should surprise no one then, that in this time when ammo companies are usually debuting a host of new products, in 2021 there seems to be notably fewer new product launches. Fortunately, "fewer" does not mean "none," and there is still plenty of new ammo to get excited about this year. Below are 10 great new products for hunters to check out.
Winchester 6.8 Western
Built in collaboration with Browning, the new 6.8 Western is purpose built for long-range hunting. Based off the .270 Winchester Short Magnum, the new cartridge utilizes long, heavy .277-caliber bullets for accuracy and lethality at extended ranges—and it is designed to fit into short-action rifles. In terms of performance, if there’s anything to take away it’s this: According to Winchester’s tables, the 6.8 Western offers more energy than the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and 7mm Remington Magnum while generating less recoil than the .300 WSM, .300 Winchester Magnum and .300 PRC. In Winchester’s lineup, the 6.8 Western will be available in three loads: a 170-grain Ballistic Silvertip, a 170-grain MatchKing Boat Tail Hollow Point in the Match line and a 165-grain Accubond LR Long Range in the Expedition Big Game Long Range line.
MSRP: $TBD | Winchester.com
Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS
Tungsten Super Shot, or TSS, has changed turkey in some pretty profound ways. Most notably, it has extended the range hunters feel confident in killing turkeys. Because TSS is much denser than lead, you can use a smaller shot size with comparable lethality. And, because you’re using a smaller shot size, for any given turkey load that would’ve used larger-sized lead shot, you can pack in significantly more of the smaller-sized TSS. This results in more pellets downrange and thus, greater lethality. This year, Federal is adding a 2-ounce mixed No. 7 and 9 shot 12-gauge load in its popular Heavyweight TSS line. It offers more than double the pellet count of lead No. 5 loads of the same weight. Each box comes with five shells.
MSRP: $67.99 | federalpremium.com
Apex Ammunition Upland and Waterfowl TSS Z-28
About five years ago, I went on a pheasant hunt with Benelli’s then brand-new Ethos 28-gauge shotgun. I was more than a little surprised at the time, thinking the market for the 28 gauge was mostly limited to English aristocrats and other fancy folk too “cultured” for the common 12 and 20 gauges I had always used. However, I found myself eating crow pretty quickly, as the lighter gun was a joy to carry afield all day, shot well with less recoil and, most importantly, dropped birds. Ever since, I’ve had a strong affinity for the 28 gauge, and recent introductions of 28-gauge guns and ammo suggest other hunters do as well. Apex Ammunition, one of the first manufacturers to integrate high-density Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) into commercial production, is the latest manufacturer to offer new 28-gauge loads. For 2021, it is introducing its Upland and Waterfowl TSS Z-28 loads. These 28-gauge TSS loads are designed to have a shorter shot string and deliver most pellets on target within a three-foot pattern spread.
MSRP: $TBD | apexmunition.com
Federal Premium Swift A-Frame .327 Federal and 10mm Auto
This one’s for all the diehard handgun hunters out there. Federal is extending its premium handgun hunting lineup to include a new .327 Federal and 10mm Auto load with the excellent Swift A-Frame bullet. These two new loads are perfect for medium- and big-game. They feature a bonded, expanding front half and a back half that remains intact for increased penetration. The .327 Federal and 10mm Auto loads utilize 100- and 200-grain bullets, respectively. Cases are nickel plated to prevent corrosion and aid with extraction.
MSRP: $48.99 and $54.99 | federalpremium.com
Winchester Deer Season XP Copper Impact .350 Legend
Introduced for deer hunters in states only permitting hunting with straight-walled cartridges, the .350 Legend has certainly become well regarded in these areas; however, its popularity doesn’t end there. It’s a solid deer cartridge, and it can be fired from the nearly ubiquitous AR-15. For 2021, Winchester is offering a new .350 Legend load in its Deer Season XP Copper Impact line. With a 150-grain Extreme Copper Point bullet, it should prove to be a hard-hitting non-lead option for hunters in restricted states or those who just enjoy shooting the .350 Legend out of an AR.
MSRP: $TBD | winchester.com
Hornady Precision Hunter 6mm ARC
This summer Hornady officially launched its brand new 6mm ARC (Advanced Rifle Cartridge). Designed specifically for use within a specialized group in the U.S. DoD (Department of Defense), the 6mm ARC offers performance above and beyond cartridges like the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO and .224 Valkyrie as well as less recoil than the .308 Winchester, and better long-range performance than the 6.8 SPC. This cartridge, while intended for use in AR-15 rifles, can also be fired from various short- or micro-action bolt guns. The offering in Hornady’s Precision Hunter line features a 103-grain ELD-X and could be a popular choice with deer and varmint hunters.
MSRP: $24.99 | hornady.com
Browning Long Range Pro Hunter
The long-range shooting trend has been big for years, and nothing from this year’s new product introductions suggests that is changing anytime soon. So, it makes sense then that Browning would introduce a new ammo line tailored to long-range hunting. The Long Range Pro Hunter line features eight loads, including one in the new 6.8 Western that Browning and Winchester developed and launched this year. All are tipped with Sierra’s renowned Tipped GameKing bullet.
MSRP: $TBD | browning.com
Federal Premium Hammerdown .45 Colt, .35 Remington and .444 Marlin
Introduced last year, Federal’s Hammerdown line is designed for optimal cycling, feeding and overall performance from lever-action rifles. This year it gets three new loads in .45 Colt, .35 Remington and .444 Marlin. These loads utilize molecularly bonded soft point bullets that provide best-in-class expansion and performance on impact.
MSRP: $21.99-$49.99 | federalpremium.com
Winchester Double X Diamond Grade .410
Today’s shotshell innovations have led to some pretty interesting hunting trends, especially with regard to turkey hunting. One of these has been the more widespread use of .410-bore shotguns among serious turkey hunters. A new option for hunters adopting this sub-gauge is Winchester’s new Double X Diamond Grade .410 load. Utilizing No. 7 1/2 Diamond Grade copper-plated lead shot with 8 percent antimony, this new load produces dense, hard-hitting patterns that place 20 percent more pellets in a 20-inch circle at 30 yards compared to standard No. 7 1/2 lead shot.
MSRP: $TBD | winchester.com
Browning Wicked Blend Shotshells
Stacked payloads of mixed shot are becoming more and more common in hunting shells, and Browning is another manufacturer getting in on the game. New Wicked Blend shells feature precision round bismuth paired with precision round plated steel shot for a pattern that is dense, retains a lot of energy and offers deep penetration. The blend is 30 percent bismuth and 70 percent steel shot, and the shells utilize Browning’s rear-stabilizing Wicked Wad system to produce a straighter flight path and more consistent, tight patterns. There are five loads listed initially, four 12-gauge options and one 20-gauge offering.
MSRP: $TBD | browningammo.com