Review: Hornady Practice 223 Ammunition

Hornady Practice 55gr Ammunition in .223, shot alongside Black Hills Mk262 for comparison. Test platform is a LaRue Tactical Stealth upper receiver atop an LMT lower receiver with Geissele SSA trigger group.

Demand for ammunition is as high as it has ever been, and in response, the big three have been cranking out cartridges as fast as they can. Many folks have reported a noticeable decline in quality control, noting function issues, or degradation in accuracy. Winchester “white box” and Federal XM bulk packs have been a staple of mine for training for a long time, and while quality has been generally pretty good overall, this seems to have been variable over the years. A while back, my good friend, Gunsite Instructor Giles Stock turned me onto a loading  that Hornady had put together specifically for law enforcement agencies looking for high quality training ammunition at a reasonable cost. 

Having had positive experiences with their steel cased, 75-grain training ammunition, I was certainly interested in what Hornady had to offer. This load, numbered 80275 or 80276 (depending on box color and distribution channels), features a 55-grain boat tail bullet in a brass case. Giles told me I had to try this ammunition out as he was getting near match grade accuracy from this load for a fraction of the cost of actual match ammunition.

So after a few phone calls resulting in another line on my credit card statement, I had a couple cases on its way. The test platform would be centered around a LaRue Stealth Upper, featuring a 1 in 8″ twist stainless steel match barrel and known for its sub-MOA accuracy. It is an economical and turnkey way to turn any service grade rifle into an accurate and reliable DMR type platform. As a comparison, I brought with me a couple boxes of Black Hills Mk 262 77 gr Match.

Former Army SF and SWAT Sniper Bob R. helping me out with the accuracy testing. Optic is a Schmidt & Bender 3-12×50 PMII in a LaRue OBR mount.

At about 100 yards, shooting off a rickety picnic table, we got just under 1-inch with the Hornady Practice Ammo and similar results with the Mk 262. I was getting some horizontal stringing issues with my groups, probably thanks to my herniated disc at C7. Bob fared a bit better, but I’ll let the groups below speak for themselves. Over the past few months, I’ve shot about 1000 rounds of the Hornady Practice and found it to be reliable, consistent, and clean. At about $28/50 through outlets like Midway, it is a little pricier than bulk practice ammunition, but a heck of a lot cheaper than true match grade ammunition, and is comparable in price to Black Hills’ Blue Box Remanufactured 55 grain ammo. If you’re looking for some clean, accurate ammunition that bridges the gap between bulk ammo and true match loadings, check this load out.

Source: Hornady Manufacturing

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About Tim Lau

Tim Lau has over a decade of experience as an end user, armorer and instructor. He has worked for several well known firearms training organizations, and holds multiple firearms instructor certifications. He owns and operates 10-8 Consulting, LLC, which provides industry consulting services as well as marksmanship and specialized firearms training to qualified civilian, law enforcement and military personnel.