While Hornady still focuses on making bullets, the company took its projectile-producing focus and spun that off into the development of entire cartridges. This process has resulted in some notable offerings today, particularly 6.5 mm Creedmoor and the more-recent 6 mm ARC. Watch our American Rifleman exclusive video above as NRA Publications Editorial Director Mark Keefe discusses Hornady's cartridge-development process with Jason Hornady.
"We still think of ourselves as a bullet company, the bullet makes the cartridge, the whole deal," said Jason Hornady, vice president of Hornady Manufacturing. "But the 6.5 mm Creedmoor started the whole trend of 'get that bullet out there,' it doesn't always have to just be fast, let's go efficient. And then you start looking at different platforms. Everybody's got an AR-15 these days, right? You hear all kinds of things about how we need to do something better than a .223 or a 5.56, so a couple of years ago, we started working on something that was a little heavier, a little longer-range platform, and we came up with the 6 mm ARC."
Developed for use by a specialized group within the U.S. Department of Defense, the 6 mm ARC uses bullets weighing as much as 108 grains and is sized for use in AR-15-size rifle receivers. Thanks to the efficient design of the cartridge case and the bullet itself, the 6 mm ARC provides better long-range performance, improved terminal ballistics, less drop and less wind deflection than .223 Rem. or 5.56 NATO. Part of the company's success lies with its development tools.
"We started messing with Doppler radar, and you see what starts happening with bullets for real. You start talking about drag curves, which instead of it being a ballistic coefficient which is a math number that's estimating things, now we can tell you exactly what's going to happen," Hornady said. "Once you started learning that, then you started changing the way you're making tips, you start changing the boattails, and it's just opened up a whole new world of exciting stuff that makes shooting fun."
Hornady's cartridge development processes have spurred the creation of other improved cartridges, including the 6.5 PRC, 7 mm PRC and 300 PRC.
"If it makes sense, we're gonna do it. We don't have to spend a whole lot of time doing budgets, and we're not publicly traded," Hornady said. "Pretty sure we're walking HR nightmares, but it seems to be working."