Home Culture Hornady SST Review: The Whitetail Slayer

Hornady SST Review: The Whitetail Slayer

Hornady SST Review

When it comes to bullet innovation, Hornady is one of the few companies out there that continues to try and push the envelope in terms of terminal performance and accuracy. From LeveRevolution to the ELD-X, Hornady continues to offer high-quality hunting bullets that never seem to disappoint.

Hornady Super Shock Tip (SST) continues in this legacy, as these bullets are designed to hit hard and shoot flat. This combination makes for a potent big-game hunting round that is perfect for whitetail deer, pronghorn, and feral hogs.

But many hunters wonder if the Hornady SST lives up to the hype or if it’s all just a marketing gimmick?

In this Hornady SST review, we will look at the technology behind the Hornady SST and help you decide if it’s a good choice for your next trip into the woods or if you should stick with a classic hunting bullet like a Nosler Partition, Remington Core-Lokt, or Barnes TSX.

If you’re ready to pick up some solid Hornady hunting ammo, we have tons in stock here at Ammo.com. Otherwise, keep reading and discover what makes the Hornady SST such a deadly hunting round.

Hornady SST Ammo Overview

In 1949, the United States was coming out of the WWII economy, and things were slowly beginning to get back to normal. It was then that Joyce Hornady decided that he needed to create a company that produced accurate, deadly, and dependable hunting bullets for American sportsmen.

There was plenty of military surplus ammo on the market after the troops started coming home, but none of it was suitable for hunting.

Although the banks refused to fund his business, Hornady moved forward with his concept and produced his first 150-grain 30-caliber spire point bullet. From the beginning, this was one of his most popular creations, and Hornady Bullets found its home in the small town of Grand Island, Nebraska.

Since then, Hornady has consistently been one of the leading companies when it comes to new cartridge and bullet innovation. Hornady is the company that brought us the 6.5 Creedmoor, Interlock soft point bullet, LeveRevolution, Interbond, A-MAX, ELD-M, ELD-X, and of course, the SST.

Hornady SST Review

Released in 1998, the Hornady Super Shock Tip (SST) bullet was designed to deliver crippling impact trauma and massive expansion to create a wide wound channel and prevent a complete pass-through.

The SST has multiple bullet innovations that make it an excellent choice for your next mule deer hunt in Texas or for hunting whitetail in the forests of the Midwest.

First off, the SST uses the same technology as the company’s legendary Interlock bullet. The Hornady Interlock ring is a proprietary technology that mechanically locks the jacket and lead core together near the bullet cannelure.

The result is exceptional weight retention which is what you need for deep penetration to reach the vital organs. This functions similarly to a Nosler Partition, ensuring the base of the bullet remains intact while the hollow point expands and creates a massive wound channel.

Hornady SST bullets also utilize the company’s HeatShield polymer tip to aid bullet expansion. When the tip encounters soft tissue, it plunges into the hollow point of the bullet and acts like a wedge to initiate expansion almost immediately. This allows the SST to be effective at close range, long range, and at almost any impact velocity. Perfect for sniping antelope on the Great Plains!

The use of a polymer tip on ammo is nothing new, as many shooters compare the Hornady SST to the Nosler Accubond. However, unlike the Accubond, the SST uses a mechanical process to lock the lead core and jacket together instead of chemical bonding.

Lastly, the SST utilizes Hornady’s classic secant ogive boat tail design. This bullet profile increases the ballistic coefficient to ensure your bullets hit where they aim them and hold true to Joyce Hornady’s quality standard: 10 bullets, 1 hole.

Hornady SST bullets are primarily loaded in the company’s Superformance line of ammunition and are available in popular calibers like 243 WinchesterRemington 7mm Mag30-06 Springfield308 Win, and 338 Win Mag, just to name a few. Hornady also has a line of SST sabot muzzleloader bullets available in 45 and 50 calibers.

Our Hornady SST Ammo Review

If you’ve read any of my reviews in the past, you shouldn’t be too surprised to know that I’m a huge fan of Hornady ammunition. Their products never seem to disappoint, and I love that their company offers numerous bullet profiles for reloading at a reasonable cost.

Hornady SST Review

I’ve found their ammunition and bullets always to be extremely accurate, and their hunting bullets never seem to let you down when you do your part.

The Hornady SST is an interesting hunting projectile that is perfectly designed for deer hunting. It’s sleek, streamlined, and causes massive impact trauma that’s ideal for putting down a deer or antelope in quick fashion.

For medium-sized game like deer, most hunters report satisfactory exit wounds on broadside shots when using the SST. However, some hunters have been less than impressed with the bullet’s performance, primarily on shots when the game animal is quartering towards.

Based on the bullet design, this is not overly surprising. The Hornady SST bullet was built for rapid expansion when it encounters soft tissue. Although expansion is a good thing for a hunting bullet, too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing.

Rapid expansion means that the bullet will create an impressive wound channel, but it can also have issues with penetration, as the bullet will slow down rapidly once it begins to expand. This can also destroy a lot of the meat if your shot placement is off or the animal is quartering away.

Some hunters also question the SST’s ability to take down elk, citing lower penetration results and the bullets exploding inside the animal. Although I’ve not seen any evidence of this in the deer I’ve bagged with an SST, elk hunting is a different ball game.

Based on the design of the bullet, it would make sense that if you plan to use an SST on your next elk hunt, you will need to be pickier with your shot placement to ensure proper penetration and a clean kill.

I have no doubt that a Hornady SST chambered in a proper elk hunting cartridge like a 30-06 or 300 Win Mag can easily take down an elk, but if you are concerned at all, I’d recommend Hornady Extreme Hunter ammo loaded with ELD-X bullets.

In summary, I love the SST for taking down deer and hogs quickly and efficiently. It’s a projectile that offers the exact type of performance I want in a deer hunting bullet, and once you see the exit holes from your SST broadside pass-through shots, you’ll understand what I mean!

What’s It Best For?

Hornady SST bullets are best used for hunting medium to large-sized game animals. These bullets are perfect for whitetail deer hunting, feral hogs, and pronghorn, as they are extremely accurate and create massive wound channels on thin-skinned game.

The Hornady SST can be used for an elk hunt, but be sure your shot placement is on point, and you nail that double lung shot to ethically put down the animal.

Hornady SST Review

However, these bullets are exceptionally accurate and perfect for long-range hunting on deer-sized animals.

Disadvantages

Although the Hornady SST is designed for rapid expansion, this can also be a disadvantage when hunting big game like elk, caribou, and bears where you need deeper penetration. Since these bullets expand essentially on impact, they won’t penetrate deep enough to reach the vital organs of larger animals that have thicker hides, bones, and sinew.

There have also been some reports of SST bullets fragmenting when firing at higher impact velocities. Although these reports have been primarily contained to internet forums, they contest that when the SST is fired at high velocity, it behaves like a Nosler Ballistic Tip, fragmenting on impact.

Pros and Cons

As much as we love ammo, we understand that no manufacturer is perfect. Here are some of the pros and cons of Hornady SST bullets you should be aware of.

Pros

  • Extremely accurate
  • High ballistic coefficient
  • Rapid expansion for large wound channels and large blood trails

Cons

  • Lacks penetration needed for thick-skinned game like bears
  • Concerns of fragmentation and low penetration at high-impact velocities

Variations

Hornady has a massive selection of cartridges loaded with their SST bullets, from bullet diameters ranging from 0.243” all the way up to 0.338” caliber. Below is our review of some of their more popular factory loads for you to consider for your next elk hunt or deer season.

Hornady SST 308 Review

Hornady SST 30-06 ammo

If you’re looking for a “jack of all trades” hunting cartridge, you simply cannot beat the versatility of the 308 Winchester. Load it with a Hornady SST bullet, and now we are talking about a deer-slaying machine that won’t kill your shoulder or shooting budget.

Hornady loads their 308 Winchester SSTs in their Custom and Superformance lines of ammunition with bullet weights of 125 gr, 150 gr, and 165 gr.

My personal favorite deer hunting load would be the Superformance 150 grain SST traveling at a muzzle velocity of 3,000 fps. Although some shooters opt for the heavier 165 gr SST, I find that 150 grains is more than enough for deer, and I can save a little on recoil while shooting a lighter bullet.

However, for elk, I’d prefer the 165 gr SST as I want that heavier bullet and added penetration. With a muzzle velocity of 2,840 fps and muzzle energy of 2,995 ft-lbs, this round is more than capable of taking down elk out to around 400 yards.

Hornady SST 7.62×39 Review

When you pick up an AK-47 or SKS, most shooters don’t associate these rifles with hunting. However, over the past few years, the 7.62×39 has been gaining a lot of popularity in the deer hunting community as a low-recoil, short-range hunting round.

Seeing this need, Hornady made the decision to offer their Hornady Black 7.62×39 ammo loaded with a 123 gr SST bullet. Although the muzzle energy on the 7.62×39 is nowhere near comparable to the 308 Winchester or 300 Win Mag, the 7.62×39 offers hunters about 150 yards of effective range on a deer.

And in heavily forested areas as I deal with here in southern Indiana, 150 yards is more than enough range to bag all but the most elusive bucks in Hoosier National Forest.

So, if you hunt in an area where shots over 150 yards are simply not possible, I’d recommend you give the Hornady Black 123 gr SST a solid look. This is an incredibly low recoil round that’s very easy to shoot and makes for an extremely enjoyable hunting experience.

Hornady SST 270 Review

If you’re a hunter who is a little recoil shy but expects to shoot over 150 yards, then the 270 Winchester Hornady Superformance ammo should be on your shortlist for this fall. Loaded with a 130-grain or 140-grain SST bullet, these rounds offer you over 500 yards of effective range on whitetail, mule deer, or antelope.

The 270 Win is known for being a flat shooting, low recoil cartridge that more than makes up for its smaller bullet diameter with exceptional penetration. Combined with a Hornady SST bullet and you’ve got a hunting round that is more than capable of filling your deer tags during rifle season.

My preference would lean towards the 140 gr SST Superformance with just under 3,100 fps muzzle velocity and an impressive 2,968 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. This will be more than enough for long-range shots on mule deer, mountain sheep, or antelope or close-range shots in the woods.

For recoil-sensitive shooters or those who simply can’t handle a 30-caliber rifle but still want to shoot long-range, the 270 Win Superformance SST is an amazing combination.

Hornady SST 30-06 Review

Hornady SST 30-06 ammo

And now we come to the two-time World War champion, the venerable 30-06 Springfield. However, I don’t think your grandpa or great-uncle was storming the beaches of Normandy or Okinawa with rounds like the Hornady Superformance 30-06 SST!

Truly one of America’s all-time favorite cartridges, the 30-06 is the quintessential big game hunting cartridge by which all other rounds are measured. Peruse any big game hunting forum, and I have no doubt you’ll see at least five comments or more along the lines of, “Sure, it will do the job, but is it better than a 30-06?”

Hornady really made sure to do the 30-06 justice in their Superformance line, loading it with your choice of a 150-grain, 165-grain, or 180-grain SST.

For whitetail deer and similarly sized game, my preference is still the 150-grain SST as it offers the highest muzzle velocity and flattest trajectory of the three. However, if I’m headed into elk or bear country, I’m loading up with the 180 gr SST load for the higher kinetic energy and deeper penetration.

Parting Shots

The Hornady SST is an amazing hunting bullet and a great choice for whitetail, mule deer, antelope, and feral hogs at both close and long ranges. It is designed for massive impact trauma that is deadly when used on thin-skinned game.

Developed with Hornady’s attention to quality control and always keeping accuracy at the forefront, the SST is an excellent option for long-range deer hunting thanks to its high ballistic coefficient and streamlined design.

However, it’s important to remember that the SST is not a “do all” bullet, and it has its limitations. Be selective with your shots to ensure a clean kill, and never take a shot you aren’t 100% certain about. Do that, and I have no doubt that the Hornady SST will bring home that trophy buck that has been teasing your trail cam during the off-season!

If you’re ready to pick up some Hornady Superformance or Custom ammo loaded with SST bullets, make sure to check out our full selection of Hornady Ammo in stock and ready to ship. And I’ll look forward to seeing your trophy pics this fall!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hornady SST worth buying?

Yes, Hornady SST bullets are exceptional for hunting game animals like whitetail, mule deer, elk, hogs, and elk. They are extremely accurate, deadly, and reliable. You can buy factory loads topped with the SST bullets in Hornady’s Superformance line of ammo.

What is the range of Hornady SST ammo?

The effective range of a hunting bullet will be determined primarily by the cartridge itself. However, Hornady SST bullets are designed for both long-range and short-range hunting shots and provide exceptional expansion at multiple impact velocities.

Hornady SST Review: The Whitetail Slayer originally appeared in The Resistance Library at Ammo.com.

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Sam Jacobs
Sam Jacobs grew up in Southern New England, probably the part of the country with the weakest gun culture. However, from a young age he believed firmly in the right of self defense and the right to keep and bear arms. This, coupled with 12 years of education in public schools and an argumentative nature, meant that he was frequently getting into debates with his teachers about the virtue of the Second Amendment. A precocious student of history and the Constitution, Jacobs became interested in both the practice of armed self defense throughout history as well as the philosophical underpinnings of the Second Amendment. Jacobs has an affinity for the individual and the common man against centralized forms of power and elites, whether they be in the government or the private sector. In particular, he is interested in the ways in which private companies work to subvert the legislative process and to undermine American freedoms outside of normal legal channels. He considers the resolution of how corporate power can hem in Constitutional freedoms to be the most pressing political question of our age. The private sector and the public sector are increasingly indistinguishable from one another, both because of behind-the-scenes corporate chicanery that undermines the legislative process and because private companies are rapidly becoming far more powerful than the federal government. Thus, it is more important than ever to both fight the incursion of private companies into our government and to become independent and self-reliant enough to make it difficult for private companies to hem in your rights. So Sam believes. Jacobs is the lead writer and chief historian with Ammo.com, and is the driving intellectual force behind the content in the Resistance Library. He is proud to see his work name-checked in places like Bloomberg, USA Today and National Review, but he is far more proud to see his work republished on websites like ZeroHedge, Lew Rockwell and Sons of Liberty Media. You can catch him on Quora and Parler as well as on our very own Resistance Library podcast. How many firearms does Sam own and what’s his everyday carry? That’s between him and the NSA.