Home Culture Hornady Subsonic Rifle Ammo Review: Slow, Suppressed, and Lethal

Hornady Subsonic Rifle Ammo Review: Slow, Suppressed, and Lethal

Hornady Subsonic Rifle Ammo Review

You’re watching your game cams all summer. You see a few nice-sized does and a trophy buck. Naturally, your hunting season wouldn’t be successful without bringing them all home. You’ve looked into subsonic ammunition, and you need to know if Hornady Subsonic rifle ammo is going to help you complete your mission.

Hornady hunting ammo is some of the best out there. If you have a suppressor or you’re looking into bullets that don’t make the “crack” sound, you can pick up Hornady’s Sub-X rifle ammo HERE.

However, if you have some questions and need a little more information, keep reading my review of Hornady’s slow but vicious rounds.

Hornady Subsonic Rifle Ammo Overview

Hornady ammo is made right here in the USA. The company does wonders with ammo manufacturing and engineering. For example, Hornady overcame expansion issues and failures with hollow points when they developed the patented Flex Tip (FTX) for their Critical Defense line of handgun ammunition.

The company has mastered overcoming obstacles like increasing the muzzle velocities of rifle cartridges without increasing the pressure and, of course, creating effective subsonic ammunition that travels below the speed of sound while also having excellent terminal performance.

Hornady utilized their FTX technology to create the Sub-X bullet that will still have adequate penetration and expansion at lower velocities to take down big game. While the bullet travels slower than other hunting rounds, it still has the power to penetrate and expand.

Similar to the FTX bullets I mentioned above, Hornady includes them in this slow-moving rifle cartridge to ensure reliable expansion at slower speeds.

Ultimately, Hornady’s Subsonic rifle ammunition is designed to perform well at lower velocities. The bullet has a lead core and grooves cut into the gilding metal jacket. The flat polymer tip forces expansion upon meeting its target and creates wider wound channels.

Moreover, Hornady subsonic projectiles expand with velocities just above 900fps. That means you can still take shots out to 200-300 yards. It’s quite miraculous to have expansion at those speeds and that range, to be frank.

The company is still engineering subsonic cartridges in common rifle calibers. While we wait for a 6.5 Creedmoor version, we can get these bullets for the 30-30 Winchester300 AAC Blackout (300 BLK)7.62x39mm350 Legend, 450 Bushmaster, and the 45-70 Government.

Our Hornady Subsonic Rifle Ammo Review

Hornady Subsonic 7.62x39 Ammo

Now that you know the logistics of Hornady Subsonic rifle ammo, you’re likely wondering how it performs and whether we like it. Although I typically hunt with supersonic ammo like the Hornady ELD-X or Federal Terminal Ascent, the Hornady Subsonic ammo is quite impressive.

First, subsonic ammo is a must-have if you prefer using a suppressor. However, a subsonic won’t have the same crack sound as a supersonic round, even without a suppressor, but there’s definitely a difference in the sound.

Next, subsonic rifle ammo has a few benefits. One, the lower muzzle velocity is going to result in a lower perceived recoil. If you’re taking your kids hunting this season, this is a viable option. Next, you’ll likely still spook your trophy buck when you take a shot at the doe. But your hunting activities won’t bother the neighbors as much. So, these are the main reasons we look into subsonic rounds.

Unfortunately, even though we think the Flex Tip is a fantastic idea, it doesn’t change the fact that you need a much larger caliber to take down big game. Subsonic rounds, even Hornady’s, don’t have the same muzzle energy as supersonic ones. Therefore, you can’t take these bad boys hunting with something like a .223 Rem. They just don’t have the energy to take down a deer.

Furthermore, the Sub-X bullets are much slower than typical hunting rounds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting more range. The 300 BLK variation has a muzzle velocity of 1,050 fps and 465 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Comparatively speaking, the Hornady V-Max is a supersonic round with 2,375 fps muzzle velocity and 1,377 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Whereas the V-Max is also a polymer-tipped bullet, its lowest speed for adequate expansion is 1,600 fps (200-300 yards). This range is nearly identical to that of the Sub-X bullets.

Finally, Hornady subsonic ammunition also has an adequate ballistic coefficient to overcome wind drift. Going back to my scenario above, the Sub-X projectiles have a B.C. of .286, and the A-Max has a B.C. of .290. So, there really isn’t much difference between the bullets in terms of ballistic coefficient.

Ultimately, Hornady Subsonic rifle ammunition performs quite well, even when we compare it to supersonic projectiles. The bullets deal excellent terminal damage despite the lower muzzle velocity, thanks to the Sub-X bullet. Of course, keep in mind that we have to use a bit bigger caliber to help with weight retention and terminal performance at these low velocities.

What is It Best For?

Hornady Sub-X bullets are best for small and medium-sized game hunting and home defense. You can use it for coyotes, hogs, and deer, as well as protect your livestock and family with it. Furthermore, subsonic ammo is better for those who prefer to use a suppressor. It’s definitely the way to go if you have cranky neighbors near your hunting property.


Hornady Subsonic Ammo Bullet

Now, Hornady Subsonic rifle ammo isn’t all great. It’s one of the best subsonic rifle bullets you’ll find, but there is one disadvantage: Accessibility.

Whereas other ammo reviews I’ve written about have a ton of versatility and calibers, Hornady Subsonic rounds are a bit lacking. You won’t find it in .223 Rem or 6.5 Creedmoor. Also, the ammo is a bit challenging to find at times.

Subsonic hunting cartridges are only valuable to a small subset of consumers. Therefore, it’s a bit more challenging to find in stock because it isn’t as widely produced as other bullets.

Pros and Cons


  • It has excellent terminal performance, considering the lower muzzle velocity
  • It utilizes FTX technology to ensure expansion
  • It has a high ballistic coefficient despite the flat tip design
  • Hornady uses high-quality primers and powders
  • It’s reloadable


  • It can be challenging to find at times
  • It isn’t available in some of our favorite hunting calibers


Hornady has quite a few variations of subsonic rifle ammunition. If you’re wondering about your specific go-to caliber, wonder no more. Just scroll down a bit and read about this ammunition as it relates to your rifle.

Hornady Subsonic 300 Blackout 190gr Sub-X

Hornady Subsonic 300 Blackout Cartridge Specifications

I’ve already covered the specs of the Hornady Subsonic 190gr polymer-tipped bullet above. But this is one of my favorite cartridges, and Hornady is one of my favorite manufacturers, so let’s cover it again.

Hornady Subsonic 190gr projectiles are heavy and slow. While some shooters want the fastest muzzle velocities and a lighter bullet, the 190gr variation travels well and expands even at velocities around 900 fps.

Fortunately, Hornady pulled this off in one of the more popular calibers for suppressors. Using your 300 BLK, you can take down a deer from about 150-200 yards and that’s pretty decent for a subsonic rifle round.

Hornady Subsonic 450 Bushmaster 395gr Sub-X

Hornady Subsonic 450 Bushmaster Cartridge Specifications

Next up, we have Hornady Subsonic 395gr for our 450 Bushmaster fans. You can use this cartridge for deer and other medium-sized prey. The 395gr variation of subsonic rifle rounds has a 0.30 ballistic coefficient and 1,050 fps of muzzle velocity. Coupled with the massive 967 ft-lbs of muzzle energy, you’re getting a good 100-200 yard range with these subsonic rounds.

However, the 450 Bushmaster is a bit too much for home defense. So, this is the only variation of this ammunition that we wouldn’t necessarily recommend for that.

Hornady Subsonic 30-30 Winchester 175gr Sub-X

Hornady Subsonic 30-30 Winchester Cartridge Specifications

The last caliber I’ll cover here is the 30-30 Win. Hornady offers the same subsonic rounds as above in a 175gr version for the 30-30. Naturally, this one is closer to the 300 BLK in terms of ballistics and speed (seeing as how both use a .30 caliber projectile).

The 30-30 variation has a ballistic coefficient of 0.30 and a muzzle velocity of 1,050 fps. Furthermore, it’ll give you 428 ft-lbs of muzzle energy and an effective range of about 150 yards. Any further than that distance, and you may experience expansion failure.

Ballistics of Hornady Subsonic Bullets

Hornady Subsonic Rifle Ammo Ballistics table

Parting Shots

It’s no doubt that Hornady Subsonic rifle ammo is good ammo. Although, it isn’t for everyone. If you’re planning on going elk hunting and need 1,000-yard shots, this isn’t the ammo for you. On the contrary, if you want to stock up on some subsonic home defense or hunting rounds, this is the one to get.

Although the ammo stock fluctuates a bit, it’s a great buy when you can find it. Hornady produces great American handgun and rifle ammo across the board. If you need to stock up then make sure to check out our full selection of Hornady ammo, I promise you won’t be disappointed!


Is Hornady Subsonic ammo worth buying?

Sure! If you have a suppressor or want ammo with a little less kick, these cartridges are a great buy.

What is the range of Hornady Subsonic ammo?

Hornady Subsonic 30-30 Winchester Ammo

Because we’re slowing the bullets down, you’ll get less range than faster options. The typical range of Hornady subsonic rifle rounds is somewhere between 100-250 yards.

Will these work in bolt action rifles?

Yep! Hornady subsonic rounds will shoot fine in bolt action rifles.

Are Hornady subsonic rifle rounds good for reloading?

Absolutely. You’re getting brass cases and Boxer primers, so they’re ideal for reloading.

What other calibers can I find Hornady Subsonic ammo in?

You can easily find Hornady subsonic loads in .45 ACP and 9mm for your handguns and revolvers.

What are subsonic velocities?

Although the answer to this varies depending on the caliber, subsonic velocities occur below 1,050 fps (unless we’re talking about handguns, which are typically below 980 fps).

Why are the bullet weights high?

A high bullet weight means a slower projectile. To get subsonic velocities, we must increase grain weight.

Hornady Subsonic Rifle Ammo Review: Slow, Suppressed, and Lethal 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.