Ammunition test: Hornady Superformance Varmint

Hornady Superformance Varmint ammunition box on a table with a loaded magazine to the left, and loose rounds in foreground

If you're looking to try a high speed and dedicated varminting round look no further! - Credit: Archant

Paul Austin tests the Hornady Superformance Varmint ammunition and falls in love with these super accurate, straight shooting rifle loads

This is the first time I’ve put pen to paper, or more accurately pinkies to keyboard, to extol the virtues of a factory load, but credit where it’s due, this particular cartridge certainly deserves a resounding slap on the back.

I was lucky enough to get hold of a Sako Carbonlight about a year ago and after trying a few off-the-shelf loads the Superformance Varmint soon claimed the top spot in this superbly accurate and lightweight .22-250 rifle.

After looking at the specs for the Superformance, and indeed the rounds themselves, I must admit I had my doubts. These rounds are easily the ugliest factory-produced cartridges I’ve ever laid eyes on. They look awful. At first glance, you’d swear they were knocked out on the cheap in second-hand brass and stored for 25 years in far from ideal conditions.

Hornady Superformance Varmint bullets arranged in a circle on a wooden table

The rounds might not look the best out of the box but they certainly perform out of the barrel - Credit: Archant

The cases look grubby and tarnished, as indeed do the bullet heads. However, first impressions can be very deceptive and it turns out these ugly ducklings are absolutely stunning when it comes to down range performance.

With a staggering 4,450 fps (box speed) quoted for a 35gr NTX bullet, I didn’t hold out too much hope in terms of accuracy initially, but I couldn’t have been more wrong – with cloverleaf groups at 100m and devastating impact on target, these have become my go-to foxing round.

The .22-250 calibre is renowned for its speed and has a reputation for being a bit of a barrel burner, so these super-fast rounds are certainly not ideal for plinking, but get these zeroed and out in the field and you can’t help but be impressed.

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Typical .22-250 bullets generally weigh in around the 40/50gr mark, with 50s being the most common. So, just 35gr is a significant reduction, which accounts for the phenomenal bullet speed. Much to my surprise, of all the .22-250 I initially tested, these ultra-light rounds came out way ahead when it came to their flat shooting trajectory and more importantly superb accuracy.

To give you an idea of the sort of performance you can expect, I ran the numbers in StrelokPro based on the off-the-box speed to illustrate just how flat these amazing little rounds are. Strelok not surprisingly suggested a fairly long zero of 219m in order to achieve a MPBR (max point blank range).

Punching in a 1" maximum trajectory height, the software predicted 249m of essentially point-and-click shooting. In the real world, this translates into a maximum of 0.2mrad (2 clicks), from 50m all the way out to 280m.

The really good news is you don’t have to rush out and buy a .22-250 for similar results, with lightweight NTX and V-Max bullets available across a range of varminting calibres, alongside more traditional bullet weights.

Obviously, barrels differ from one rifle to the next and some may not get along with such lightweight bullets, but next time you’re in the market for some ammo I’d strongly suggest you give Hornady’s Superformance Varmint a try, I absolutely love the stuff!  

Lightweight variants include: 
.17 Hornet 20gr V-Max 
.204 Ruger 24gr NTX 
.222 Remington 35gr NTX 
.223 Remington 35gr NTX 
.22-250 Remington 35gr V-Max 
.243 Winchester 58gr V-Max

Supplier: www.edgarbrothers.com 
Available from: all good gun shops 
Price: .22-250 - £28.25 per box (20)