Earlier this year Hornady announced the biggest update to their bullet lineup in a long time: A-Tip. This new bullet technology from Hornady promises more consistency from bullet to bullet, enhanced performance, and accuracy at extreme ranges. When I watched the announcement video, I knew I had to try these bullets out myself to see how they would perform. That’s the topic of this article: testing Hornady’s 135 grain 6.5mm A-Tip bullets. This will be fun!
A-Tip features a new AMP jacket design, shifted CG for optimal stability, and an aluminum tip with a very consistent profile that won’t melt during super-heated high speed flight. That last point is important for rifle scenarios like 6.5 Creedmoor where speeds are in excess of mach 2.5!
Here’s a cutaway view view of the bullet (from the Hornady website):
Here’s a video where Neal Emery and Joe Thielen discuss this new lineup of bullets, and what makes them different:
And some background information on A-Tip bullets from the Hornady Product Page:
- Aluminum tip is precision machined and longer than polymer tips which moves the center of gravity and enhances in-flight stability.
- Aero-ballistically advanced tip design results in tighter groups and reduced drag variability.
- Perfect blend of ogive, tip length, bearing surface and optimized boat tail by caliber.
- Doppler radar verified low drag coefficient (high BC) bullets are forgiving of twist rate, seating depth and muzzle velocity.
- Refined design of the AMP bullet jacket offers industry leading uniformity and concentricity.
- Right off the press – sequentially packaged, one clone after another for the ultimate in consistent performance.
- Minimal handling throughout the manufacturing process ensures consistency from bullet to bullet.
- Packaged with a polishing bag to prepare bullets for loading (bullets aren’t bulk washed after manufacture).
135 Grain 6.5mm A-Tip Specs and Ballistics
Hornady 135 grain 6.5mm A-Tip Bullet Specs
From the Hornady product page, here are the Specs for this particular A-Tip bullet:
A G7 BC (preferred method to quantify boat tail bullet ballistic coefficient) of .321 is very good. That means these bullets should perform well at long range, and we’ll get into quantifying that performance below!
When evaluating a match bullet, one of the first things I’ll look at is its ballistic performance out to the distances I would plan to shoot at with it. And that means selecting a cartridge or cartridges to evaluate ballistic performance with. In the case of this 135 grain 6.5mm bullet, there’s two cartridges that come to mind: 6.5 Creedmoor, and 6.5 PRC!
6.5 Creedmoor 135 grain A-Tip Ballistics
6.5 Creedmoor has become such a popular cartridge in long-range shooting circles, and for good reason! So I’ll lead with ballistics analysis with 6.5 Creedmoor. Here I’m using Hornady’s free online 4-DOF ballistic calculator to produce these charts and diagrams.
I used 2826 fps for my muzzle velocity because that’s the peak velocity from my testing with this bullet during load development. So that’s a real-world number! Now let’s see how 6.5 PRC would perform with this bullet!
6.5 PRC 135 grain A-Tip Ballistics
I estimated a muzzle velocity of 3200 fps based on published load data for 6.5 PRC. Hornady has 6.5 PRC load data published online as a downloadable PDF. Over 1800 FPS at 1000 yards- that’s impressive! Let’s take a quick look at a comparison of bullet drop between 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC:
As you can see, 6.5 PRC gives you a “big edge” over 6.5 Creedmoor. 6.5 PRC looks so interesting, I may have to get some hands-on experience with it [subtle hint].
Taking a “theoretical look” at these bullets is both interesting and helpful, but I always base my evaluation on first-hand experiences, so let’s get “hands on”!
UR Lab Consistency Tests
Consistency is the key to accuracy, and the consistency of each bullet you shoot is a key factor for small groups and “hits” instead of “misses”. I focused on three consistency tests for these 135 grain 6.5mm A-Tip bullets:
- Consistency of diameter (bearing surface)
- Consistency of bullet overall length
- Consistency of bullet weight
The length/diameter measurements were taken with precision micrometers accurate to 0.0001″, and the weight measurements were taken with an A&D FX-120i scale that’s accurate to 0.02 grains. Here’s the data!
These are some impressive numbers, specifically:
- The diameter data shows an SD of 0.0001″ – that’s crazy consistent!
- Bullet length varied by only 0.0017 total- that’s pretty amazing!
- Weight was the most consistent I’ve seen for any bullet I’ve tested to date
During these tests, I gave bullets the “white glove treatment” while handling to avoid any alteration to the weight of the bullet. Bluetooth (micrometers) and USB/Serial PC interfacing (scale) made these measurements much easier to collect and process!
6.5 Creedmoor Load Work-Up and Performance
I started my load development (and shooting) for these A-Tip bullets with a Scott Satterlee 10-shot load development string. I started at 41.2 grains of H-4350 and maxed out at 43 grains (0.1 grain over the max listed by Hornady- don’t attempt this at home). This was my first opportunity to use my Autotricler V3 with all of the “final release bits”. The phone app and Bluetooth interface came in very handy here!
Using a precision lab scale is important here- we’re looking at variations in velocity, and have only one shot per “incremental charge weight” to base our analysis on. For that reason, it’s important to remove as many variables as possible (like charge weight inaccuracy). Here’s the data I collected shooting the 10-shot string over my Magnetospeed V3 chronograph:
*Note: These shots were fired in my Uintah Precision UPR-10 6.5 Creedmoor bolt-action upper which has a 26″ barrel, 1:8 twist. The accuracy testing shown below was conducted using my Ruger Precision Rifle which has a 24″ barrel with 1:8 twist.
My max charge (plus 0.1 grain) shot a higher velocity than what Hornady has published for this load. That could be due to the 26″ barrel being used. I took a look at the “speed node” between 42.6 grains and 42.8 grains to see how this rifle would perform. The 42.6 grain load shot better groups, so I focused on that charge weight.
Here’s the setup I used to shoot 5-shot groups at 100 yards (note that velocity data shown is at 100 yards, not the muzzle):
Here I’m using the ShotMarker system– I can use my Android Tablet to view my shooting results as things unfold, and even screen record my progress (as shown in the video for this article). This is truly a game-changer for me! I can use the Shotmarker e-target and generate paper results at the same time (sometimes it’s good to have both). During my shooting session, I produced one of the best 5-shot groups this rifle has ever shot!
I’m very happy with these results, especially for a factory rifle! I’m confident that if this were a custom rifle (or semi-custom with hand-lapped match grade barrel) that these bullets would be capable of producing groups in the 0.250″ range for 5- shots at 100 yards (four of the shots above fell within that group size). I’m very much looking forward to more shooting with these A-Tip bullets: I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. I may even have to try these with 6.5 Grendel (a tad heavy, but why not?).
Also, Midsouth Shooters Supply has Hornady A-Tip bullets in stock, so if you are looking for some, check out their inventory online!
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