Pat’s Product Review: Black Hills Ammunition

I actually got started writing back in 1983, when I reviewed books for a Christian bookselling company. These were soon-to-be-released books. My “pay” for reviewing the books, was that, I got to keep the books. I built-up quite a library of Youth Ministry books over a couple years. I had help along the way, with my meager writing efforts, and I still don’t consider myself any sort of writer, per see – but I hopefully can communicate with my readers, so they understand what I’m trying to convey to them.
It was 1992, before I started writing firearms articles, and it was as the insistence of the late Col. Rex Applegate – I worked for the good Colonel for three years and I will be forever grateful to him, for all he taught me. Now, when Applegate told you to do something – you did it – not out of fear, but rather, out of respect. Applegate told me to start writing firearms articles, and he opened a lot of doors for me in this respect. I met the late Chuck Karwan, who was a fantastic writer, and for quite some time, Chuck was my personal editor – checking over my articles before I submitted them. It was Karwan, who told me to just write the way I speak – easy-going. When I first started out, I was overly technical in my articles. “Thanks” Chuck – for all you did for me – you are missed! I met the great Wiley Clapp, who I had admired for years – we worked together on the very first video that Paladin Press put out. I also worked with Tommy Campbell, on this same video, and he was the top shooter, at one time, for Smith & Wesson. Peder Lund, who owns and operates Paladin Press – he published one of my books, “SWAT Battle Tactics” that I co-authored with my late friend, and Hall of Fame martial artist, Master John McSweeney.
Col. Applegate always taught me to give credit where credit is due. Don’t take credit for someone else’s works – acknowledge when someone has helped you along life’s road. So, it is with this attitude, that I would like to introduce SurvivalBlog readers to Jeff Hoffman, who owns and operates Black Hills Ammunition with his wife, Kristi. It was actually Chuck Karwan, who introduced me to Black Hills ammo back in 1992, and to Jeff Hoffman. If you’ve followed my firearms articles on SurvivalBlog, or in the gun magazines over the past 20 years (I no longer write for gun magazines) you’ll be familiar with the brand-name of Black Hills Ammunition. I use the ammo in just about every firearms article I write.
I believe it would be safe to say, that in more than 20 years of writing about firearms, I’ve easily fired at least a hundred thousand rounds of Black Hills ammo – maybe twice that amount – I’ve lost track. Jeff Hoffman told me, when I first start using his ammo, to never let my ammo locker run dry – and he’s been supplying me with his outstanding ammo for all these years. Without his help, I wouldn’t have been writing as many firearms articles as I have – I simply wouldn’t have been able to afford to purchase all the ammo I’ve shot while writing those articles. Black Hills is now one of the big names in the ammo industry, too.
One thing that Black Hills Ammunition does, that no other big name ammo company does, is that, they hand inspect each and every round of ammo before it is packed. No other big name ammo company does this! I have never had a bad round of ammo from Black Hills in all my years of shooting their ammo. I wish I could say the same of some other big name ammo makers – in particular, Remington. I’ve found numerous bad rounds of ammo from their boxes – many times primers were upside down or even sideways in a shell – and many dead primers, too. Jeff Hoffman assures us of the best quality control out there – if you want lesser quality ammo, you can find it, but you won’t find lesser quality ammo from Black Hills.
Jeff Hoffman, isn’t just an ammo maker, he’s also a part-time cop, a sniper on a SWAT team, too – and he’s authored a few magazine articles on the topic of long-rang shooting, too – he knows his stuff. He won’t settle for anything except the best ammo money can buy. Hoffman takes his job very seriously – he and Kristi are Black Hills Ammunition – along with all their knowledgeable and capable employees and staff.
I can’t possible cover all the different ammo that Black Hills Ammunition manufactures in this article, however, I wanted to touch on a few calibers in particular. First up is their .223 Remington and 5.56mm calibers – and no one, that I’m aware of, makes a wider assortment of .223 Rem ammo than Black Hills does. They have the bases covered from their 36-grain Varmint Grenade loading, to their heavy 77-grain Sierra Matchking Hollow Point – and everything in between. And, most folks aren’t aware that, Hoffman makes a proprietary round for ALL of our US Special Forces units – it’s a 77 grain 5.56mm round, that is proven very effective for longer shots on the enemy. I’ve only, in the past year, have been able to get my hands on some of this ammo for testing in my AR articles – it’s always in demand by our troops, so I didn’t mind waiting, until there was a few rounds that could be shipped to me – I prefer our SF guys get it before I did! If you can’t find a Black Hills loading in .223 Rem or 5.56mm rounds that shoots well in your AR rifles, then it’s the gun – not the ammo! Simple as that! You should also be aware that, Black Hills has a pretty extensive line-up of remanufactured ammo, too – not just their red box new ammo. We all have our favorite loads, and if I were to pick one .223 Rem round from Black Hills, it would be their 68-grain Heavy Match Hollow Point loading – it shoots great in any AR I’ve run it through.
In the 9mm department, I have two favorites, and I don’t know if I could nail it down to just one of these rounds as my favorite. I like the 124-grain JHP +P load, that is coming out of full-sized duty guns at about 1,250 per second. I like the 124-grain bullet because they penetrate a little deeper and expand well. It’s a great load. I also love the 115-grain Barnes all-copper Tac XP +P load – this load is coming at about 1,200 feet per second, and it penetrates deeply and stays together – no matter what it might hit. Many years back, we didn’t  have such a variety of 9mm self-defense ammo – the few JHP loads we had, just didn’t perform all that well, that’s why the FBI and many police departments switched the .40 S&W load – they wanted a load that would penetrate deeply enough to do some damage, and a round that held together, too. An interesting turn of events is now taking place with many police departments in that, they are dropping the .40 S&W round and going back to the 9mm with high performance JHP ammo. Many police officers aren’t into shooting, and don’t practice on their own, and they have a lot of misses and low qualifying scores with the .40 S&W round. When they went back to the 9mm – their qualification scores really shot up there, and they are getting the same manstopping results on the streets in real life, that they were getting with the .40 S&W rounds. What’s old, is now “new” – all over again.
Black Hills has a 140-grain Barnes all-copper Tax XP .40S&W round that I really like. It is coming out of the barrel at around 1,100 feet per second, and once again, the Barnes all-copper, hollow point bullets penetrate deeply and stay together. If I had to pick one Black Hills .40 loading to carrying in my handguns in .40S&W, this is “the” load of my liking! It is controllable, and will get the job done. ‘Nuff said!
When it comes to the grand ol’ .45ACP, Black Hills has a good selection, but once again, I have my preferences. For self-defense, I like their 185-grain Barnes, all-copper, hollow point, TAC XP load that is rated at +P. However, I’ve found this load to be very controllable, too. It will penetrate deeply, and the bullets stay together – this is important! This round is coming out of a 5″ Bbl 1911 at about 1,100 feet per second. For everyday shooting, I like the Black Hills .45ACP 230-grain FMJ load – while not advertised as a “match” load, I’ve always had match-grade results with this loading, and wouldn’t hesitate to use in in a competition – it’s “that” accurate. And, don’t forget, Black Hills also manufactures reloaded handgun ammo for all your paper-punching needs.
In the .308 Winchester round, I love the 168-grain Hornady A-Max loading – this is just a great all around big game loading, as well as being an outstanding “sniper” load, for those long range shots. If I had to pick one .308 Win loading for my big game hunting needs, this would be it. They also produce a 180-grain Nosler Accubond loading, and this is great for long-range shooting at big game, like elk or moose.
I don’t do much reloading these days, I simply don’t have the time any longer. However, when I do reload, I only reload .300 Win Mag rounds, and I’m very proud of a load I came up with. Enter the Black Hills .300 Win Mag 190-grain Match Hollow Point load – this load is used by snipers all over the world, and it is, without a doubt, the most accurate .300 Win Mag load I’ve ever fired – in any rifle chambered in .300 Win Mag. Given a good rifle, and a good shooter, it will do all you ask of it, and routinely shoots sub MOA. My own .300 Win Mag reloads equal this load, but I can’t beat it – not matter how hard I’ve tried – I’ve tweaked my .300 Win Mag loads every which way I can, but I can’t beat this Black Hills loading – I can only match it!
So, these are only a few of my favorite Black Hills Ammunition loadings. I’m betting you’ll find something to your liking, if you take the time to go through their web site. Just be advised, the great ammo drought is still going fairly strong, and you may not find everything you want at Black Hills these days. Jeff Hoffman, has worked very hard at keeping me supplied with his outstanding ammo for my articles, and even so, he’s out of certain calibers and types of ammo these days. I’m dying to get my hands on some of the .45ACP 185-grain Barnes all-copper TAC XP +P loads, but they are out-of-stock right now – but Jeff has me on his list, to send me some, as soon as they get more made.
Look, if you want a lesser ammo, then go to one of the big box stores and buy it. You’ll be getting good ammo – but you won’t be getting ammo better than what Black Hills Ammunition is making these days. If you want some of the best ammo on the planet, then check out what Black Hills has to offer. One word of advice, though – you’ll be spoiled, and the ammo from the other big name ammo makers won’t be up to your expectations, after using Jeff and Kristi Hoffman’s ammo. You’ve been warned! – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

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