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Thread: Confusing AMax vs VMax description

  1. #1

    Confusing AMax vs VMax description

    So before this gets out of hand this is nothing more than a comparison and a critique of the marketing of these two bullets

    I was intrigued that on the Hornady site it says the following:


    Designed by match shooters for match shooters. With an ultra-low drag tip, our A-Max match bullets feature an aerodynamic secant ogive that delivers flat trajectories with excellent uniformity and concentricity. Find out more...

    • Rapid, explosive expansion with limited penetration.
    • Recommended muzzle velocity range: 2000+ fps.
    • These bullets are not recommended for hunting.


    The industry's leading varmint bullet with polymer tip and streamlined design results in ultra flat trajectories. The match grade jacket design provides maximum accuracy at all ranges as well as explosive expansion, even at low velocities. Find out more...

    • Rapid, explosive expansion.
    • Recommended muzzle velocity range: 2000 to 4000+ fps

    I draw your attention to the impact description for both

    This confused me as I was always told that AMax were more frangible that VMax
    Designed to splatter on steel plates etc.
    The marketing description seemed to back this up with the additional "limited penetration" added to the AMax line

    However I find from using them in foxes show the opposite with more exits from 52gr AMax (90%) compared to 50gr VMax (15%)

    so I wrote to Hornady...
    which culminated in a simple direct question:
    "Can you tell me what technically differentiates the two products and why AMax particularly are not recommended for hunting?"

    Their response:

    "Essentially the biggest difference is the V-max does fragment on impact and it is tested and made to do so. The A-max is a match grade bullet and is not tested for expansion as it is a match bullet,
    therefore we cannot recommend using it on large game such as red deer/elk.
    There are better options for larger game such as the Interlock or GMX bullets.
    We appreciate your business.
    Thanks again"

    Now ignore the "use on game" part for the moment

    Marketing Literature
    VMax- Rapid and Explosive Expansion
    AMax - Rapid and Explosive Expansion with limited penetration

    Tech Support response:
    VMax- "Designed to fragment in impact and limited penetration"
    AMax - "Not tested for expansion or penetration characteristics"

    I seems odd that the only differentiator in their own marketing material is in complete contrast to their own tests and designs.
    Especially when they can be bought in such similar weights and profiles

    Now I also find that Hornady use AMax in their "TAP Precision" factory cartridges (TAP I believe stands for "Tactical and Protection") - 155 gr. A-MAX

    .308 155gr AMax TAP Precision
    "The 155 gr. A-MAX® TAP Precision® cartridge offers match accuracy with a high ballistic coefficient providing superior long-range performance. This load demonstrates expansion and fragmentation similar to the 110 gr. load, but with a noticeable increase in penetration and retained bullet weight. This bullet penetrates glass with minimal deflection and exhibits excellent expansion and fragmentation characteristics."

    Then I found this:

    Hornady 140gr A-MAX
    Average Penetration (inches): 12.17
    Average Weight Retained (grain): 75.9
    Average Weight Retained (%): 54
    Average Expansion (inches): 0.597

    Hornady 95gr V-MAX
    Average Penetration (inches): 6.25
    Average Weight Retained (grain): 34.1
    Average Weight Retained (%): 36
    Average Expansion (inches): 0.470

    me too!

    Why can't a manufacturer stick to a single line of marketing?

  2. #2
    Very interesting, you've obviously done quite a bit of digging.
    You could almost say Hornady contradicts themselves in their description.

    I sometimes think the best way forward is to experiment with these things yourself and draw your own conclusions

    Unfortunately I can't find A-Max in .224 anywhere at the moment.

    Just to add. . I've found A-Max have significantly better penetration properties than V-Max.

    A-Max appear to penetrate and subsequently shatter, whereby V-Max fragment violently.
    Last edited by Cadex; 19-10-2014 at 17:09.

  3. #3
    Why are you confused?
    a-max = target bullet
    v-max = varmint bullet

    thats what they're designed to do.
    in real world terms the a-max may expand like a hunting bullet but that's not what it was designed for.

  4. #4
    There seems to be an unlimited amount of misinformation flying around about the A-Max. It certainly is not designed as a Target bullet. It is designed and tested for law enforcement so they are probably correct that it is not tested for game. I did a fair bit of digging too. It seems because of the section 5 for expanding ammo issue in the UK there is loads of smoke and mirrors over the whole thing. It most definitely expands but there are better bullet options for the needs of most hunters.

  5. #5
    The AMax will be stopped by target backers/berms at ranges. The V-Max will explode on varmints. Same description promoting a different end.~Muir

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by palmer_mike View Post
    Why are you confused?
    a-max = target bullet
    v-max = varmint bullet

    thats what they're designed to do.
    in real world terms the a-max may expand like a hunting bullet but that's not what it was designed for.

    Actually from an external ballistics point of view they are identical.
    Down to the calibre multiple dimension of the secant ogive and the angle of the boat tail (.224 50gr vs 52gr example I have measured)

    From a terminal ballistics point of view the confusion comes from a bullet that is simultaneously marketed as (and I quote!):
    "explosive expansion, limited penetration"
    "exhibits a noticeable increase in penetration and retained weight"

    I am no physicist but I am intrigued how a bullet can explode into lots of pieces and not hold enough mass to penetrate yet also retain increased weight and penetrate!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Muir View Post
    The AMax will be stopped by target backers/berms at ranges.
    The V-Max will explode on varmints. Same description promoting a different end.~Muir
    but won't everything be stopped by the berms?
    Seems to me the AMax holds together a hell of a lot more than some bullets actually designed for controlled expansion
    Nosler Partitions for example market the designed weight retention on game as 66%
    In practice it is usually 45-60% from my experience
    Last edited by bewsher500; 19-10-2014 at 18:54.

  7. #7
    Probably the crux of most of the previous heated discussions about A-Max versus V-Max and the same with Berger "match" varmint/target/game etc etc, the advertising guys have got carried away leading to total confusion. Trying to be all things to all men.
    Probably not a great problem in most countries but because of our ridiculous laws on expanding "missiles" causes a whole heap of problems.
    It's the calibre of the shooter that counts not the calibre of the rifle.

  8. #8
    And that's the crux of it , our ridiculous laws !
    Right where's those stones , I'll start !

  9. #9
    lucky i have just picked up 500 more we dont want people stocking up on them as they work so well do we

  10. #10
    am no physicist but I am intrigued how a bullet can explode into lots of pieces and not hold enough mass to penetrate yet also retain increased weight and penetrate!? [Bewsher500]
    Have a look at articles by Dr. Martin L Fackler, a retired US medical colonel and expert on gunshot wounds who studied the subject for many years. Military FMJs starting with the German 7.9mm 153gn IS of 1905 and the UK Mk VII 173gn 0.303 of 1910 both penetrate and shatter causing massive internal injuries in some cases. The mechanism is that in soft tissue (which is more liquid than solid), the bullet intially penetrates and produces a modest diameter wound channel but after two or three inches it loses stability and yaws / tumbles creating a massive cavity. Worse (from the victim's point of view), the yaw / tumble puts a heavy stress on the bullet jacket which will often fail usually at the cannelure causing large lumps of projectile to 'explode' and create new secondary wound channels. We squeaky clean Brits even designed the Mk VII to be base heavy by building in a cavity up front under the jacket in the nose / tip area to assist in the start of tumbling.

    This still happens today with bullets like the M43 0.310" 123gn FMJ used in the 7.62x39mm Soviet designed AK round, and the Belgian designed SS109 62gn 0.224 FMJBT used in current 5.56X45mm NATO ball rounds. The original Vietnam era 5.56mm M193 with its 55gn FMJBT exercised the minds and consciences of the anti-war brigade mightily because of this effect which caused massive short-range wounding, especially inflaming the Swedes whose government / Red Cross tried to have the US charged with war crimes. (According to Fackler, the contemporary Swedish version of the 146gn 7.62x51mm NATO which was loaded with a copy of the West German bullet employing a thin mild steel jacket exhibited identical behaviour in tissue, if anything producing worse damage - an example of being sure of your facts before accusing others, or stones and glass houses!)


    I'd imagine it's this mechanism that sees the Berger Hunting VLDs perform the way they do on live game, but not the Target bullet range with a thicker / heavier jacket.

    (Hitting heavy bone causes a different mechanism to come into play with thin-walled fast-moving FMJs but with similar effects - the bone shatters causing fragments to produce a large wound cavity and multiple wound tracks.)

    In the case of the A-Max, things are complicated by this being a thin-walled hollow-point with a polymer tip driven back into the nose cavity on impact. I'm not sure how this interracts with yaw / tumble effect, or if it does at all.

    There are other important issues for law enforcement rifle bullets, one being bullet behaviour on striking plate glass, shots often being taken at targets through windows or glass doors. Research into that after a high profile failure of a short-range .308 Win shot with Federal 168gn HPBTM ammo led to a bloodbath in an armed siege / hostage situation found that the best bullet available at that time as a glass pentrator was counter-intuitively, the Nosler Partition. Police are also very concerned about over-penetration (on people and building walls) plus ricochets leading to inoocent bystanders remote from the target being injured or killed. So, there is nothing straightforward in this issue at all. The one sure and certain thing is that our fireams laws are a mess when it comes to this issue and were framed in the light of emotion / hysteria (JSPs were used in the Dunblane massacre). not on any logical basis.

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