Although Norma Ammunition hasn't enjoyed quite as much name recognition in the United States as some ammunition brands, the company has been building a worldwide reputation with a broad range of high-quality cartridges including pistol, rifle and rimfire offerings. While they began making ammunition in Oslo, Norway in 1895, Norma wasn’t established until 1902 after the Enger brothers moved their operation across the border into Åmotfors, Sweden. Today, Norma's parent company, the Swiss technology company RUAG Ammotec, produces more than 30 million rounds each year in more than 100 different calibers for rifle, pistol and rimfire platforms.
Plenty of American Norma fans can be found, including precision rifle fans and hunters, especially those who harvest game with rifles chambered in less common or older calibers. But the company has been determined to introduce more American enthusiasts to what Norma ammunition has to offer. As of 2013, the Florida-based Norma USA operation is producing components and factory loaded ammunition right here so that they don't have to rely on third parties to import or distribute their products.
I've enjoyed positive results with the Norma ammunition I've tested in the past, so it was good to learn that Norma is continuing to grow and adding more innovative products to the company's line up. Here's a closer look at two new-for-2019 center-fire loads: a defensive pistol round and long-range hunting rifle loads, along with one of the company's top notch .22 LR rimfire cartridges.
Norma MHP 9 mm for Defensive Pistols The 9 mm pistol cartridge dominates the defensive handgun market these days because of its compact size, modest levels of felt recoil and inexpensive practice loads. It give pistols designed for personal protection a good balance of ammunition capacity and effective stopping power. However, the performance of the typical hollowpoint bullet used for self defense can change depending on its velocity. In other words, some bullets that perform reliably when fired from a larger duty-size pistol may only expand a little or not at all when fired from shorter pistol barrels.
Norma's engineers decided to tackle this issue of varying bullet velocity head on with the development of the Monolithic Hollow Point (MHP) pistol bullet. This cold-formed, all-copper bullet has been strategically designed so as to penetrate and expand reliably at a variety of velocities from the slower pocket pistol length pistols all the way up to those of the faster 16" barrels of pistol-caliber carbines.
The first factory load to be made available is a 9 mm topped with a 108-gr. version of the MHP bullet. It was one of four loads formally testfired while wringing out the recently released compact Taurus G3 9 mm pistol, which is a polymer-framed semi-auto with a 4" barrel. The MPH load is listed with a velocity of 1312-fps. for 413-ftlbs. of energy at the muzzle. From the Taurus G3, it produced an average muzzle velocity of 1121-fps. for 301-ftlbs. of energy according to a Lab Radar chronograph. Firing five 5-shot groups at 25-yards from a bench rest, this load tapped out a best single group of 2.99" with a five group average of 3.22" making it the most accurate round of the test group.
I'm looking forward to conducting more tests with this promising new defensive load.
Bond Strike Long-Range Hunting Loads Today many hunters are looking for gun and ammunition combinations that will allow them to harvest big-game at longer distances. This customer demand to extend hunting distances to 400 yards and beyond is driving innovations in bullet technologies. Norma has been producing accurate and effective hunting loads for quite some time so it's not surprising that the company is keeping pace with the changes in the market place. Norma announced its new Bondstrike long-range hunting load at the 2019 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.
There are some inherent challenges to constructing a bullet for long-range performance. Although a hunter might have the opportunity to take a shot at 400 yards or more, it's just as likely that they'll bump into game at moderate or up-close distances. This means the bullet needs to be effective at a variety of ranges. To achieve this end, the Bondstrike bullet is constructed around a precision-formed lead core which is then chemically bonded to a copper jacket. Rather than shedding or fragmenting the jacket, the bonded bullet maintains its mass as it penetrates bone and tissue while expanding reliably. To enhance accuracy, the Bondstrike has a carefully crafted ogive, boattail and aerodynamic polymer tip.
As of 2019, the Bondstrike is available with 180-gr. bullets for rifles chambered in .308 Win., .30-06 Spring., .300 Win. Mag., .300 WSM, and .300 RUM. I opted to work with the .308 Win. which gave me a great excuse to break out a favorite precision bolt gun, a McRees Precision BR-10 outfitted with a 22" competition-grade bull barrel and topped with a Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 FFP scope. This Bondstrike load has a listed muzzle velocity of 2625 f.p.s. for 2755 ft.-lbs. of energy. When fired from the BR-10 it averaged 2610 f.p.s. for 2723 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy. Accuracy testing was conducted from the bench at 100 yards where this load printed satisfying sub-MOA results with a best group of 0.87" and an average of 0.98".
Although the .308 Win. may not be considered a cutting-edge round these days, a well made rifle with the right loads, like the Bondstrike, still has what it takes to get the job done.
Match-22 Rimfire Plenty of .22 LR rimfire rifle fans are just as passionate about printing tight groups as those who enjoy platforms chambered for larger calibers. Based on the results I've had with three of their loads, Norma applies the same dedication to quality, reliability and accuracy to its rimfire products as the rest of its extensive center-fire catalog.
The TAC-22 target and hunting load pushes 40-gr. lead round nose bullets at a listed velocity of 1100-fps. while the Subsonic-22 round has a reduced velocity of 1033-fps. for use with sound suppressors. Norma .22 load I've enjoyed working with for a few years now is the Match-22, a competition-grade target load also topped with a 40-gr. lead round nose bullet with a listed muzzle velocity that splits the difference of the other two at 1082-fps.
When it was my turn to take the bolt-action Ruger Precision Rimfire .22 LR for a test drive, Norma Match-22 was one of the first loads put on the list for formal, benchrested accuracy testing at 50 yards. From the 18" bull barrel of this rifle, the cartridge produced an average velocity of 1056 f.p.s. Aiming with the aid of a Bushnell AR Optics 2-7x32 mm rifle scope, the Match-22 tapped out a best group of 0.78" with an average group size of 0.83". Group sizes like that make for enjoyable afternoons at the range.