You Don’t Know “Match Grade” Until You Try This

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The new ELD-Match has redefined precision long-range performance. Here’s how…

by the ShootingDaily staff; promoted by Hornady Manufacturing

“Match grade” is one of those nebulous terms in our industry. It’s a moniker with no true definition, no industry standards, and only an implication by the manufacturers that the so-labeled bullet and/or cartridge is up to the task of delivering the kind of performance a dedicated target or competitive shooter demands.

Sure, there are generalities that allow a bullet or cartridge to fall under the “match grade” banner, key among them being manufacturing and performance consistency and an adherence to precise tolerances in bullet construction and predictable propellent performance.

Consistency is the important factor. And therein lies The Great Separator.

Balance, precise concentricity, and a superior aerodynamic profile are the fundamental platforms for a bullet that delivers a high ballistic coefficient (BC), which is the ability to maintain relatively high velocity over an extended range through reduced drag, or the ability to overcome air resistance. A high BC, low-drag bullet has obvious benefits, among them a flatter trajectory at longer distances and less susceptibility to wind drift.

For years now, the boat tail hollow point (BTHP) with a secant ogive profile has been recognized as the superior bullet design for achieving the highest possible BC and accuracy (assuming precise manufacturing and consistency, of course). The variable, however, between manufacturers of “match grade” bullets often comes down to the bullet tip, or meplat. This is where inconsistencies can degrade accuracy in a precision shooting platform.


Here you can see variations in the meplats of assorted BTHPs. This is due to the often-inconsistent nature of draw-forming the jacket. As you can imagine, such imprecision can affect bullet aerodynamics and balance, and is one of the reasons why seasoned target shooters manually trim meplats even on their match-grade ammo.

Well, meplat trimming is now a thing of the past thanks to Hornady’s new ELD-Match™ bullets. ELD stands for Extremely Low Drag. Hornady didn’t exactly set out to develop a superior match bullet (as their Match™ bullets were doing just fine in competitive circles, thank you very much), but a funny thing happened on the way to the hunting fields.


Several years ago, Hornady’s engineers were tasked with creating a match-grade polymer-tipped hunting bullet that would deliver optimal short- and long-range terminal expansion on large game. For their testing, they used Doppler radar to chart ballistic performance instead of the conventional use of acoustic devices and chronographs set at specific distances. This gave the engineers a better picture of the bullet’s performance with a nearly infinite set of data points to look at. What they discovered both puzzled and surprised them.

The team found a notable drop in ballistic coefficient once polymer-tipped bullets passed the 100- to 150-yard mark. This held true not only for Hornady’s test-mule polymer-tipped bullets, but also for the polymer-tipped bullets from other manufacturers used for comparisons. In the end, Doppler radar showed that the polymer tips on high velocity, high-BC bullets heat up and deform not long after leaving the barrel. This deformity causes increased drag and lower BCs beyond the 100- to 150-yard range.


To fix this problem, Hornady worked to develop a new class of polymer tip—called the Heat Shield—with a melting point 2.5 times greater than conventional polymer tips. Furthermore, the molding process of the Heat Shield tips provides consistent diameter and shape. Back to the test range, the new Heat Shield tip allowed the ELD bullet to maintain a consistently high BC along the entire flight path.

So, what does this mean for the long-distance precision shooter? In a nutshell, it means that the superiorly accurate BTHP secant ogive concept just became more accurate right out of the box courtesy of the new Hornady ELD-Match bullets. By virtue of the Heat Shield’s precise and consistent meplat, another variable has been removed from the accuracy equation and manually trimming bullet tips is a thing of the past.

Of course, other manufacturing enhancements add to the ELD-Match bullet’s exceptional performance.


First, the ELD-Match starts with a precision-swaged lead core. Second, this core is seated in Hornady’s proprietary AMP (Advanced Manufacturing Process) technology jacket. The value of the AMP technology is that it offers nearly perfect concentricity, which ensures bullet stability along the flight path and further assists in maintaining a high ballistic coefficient. This combination, along with the Heat Shield tip, sets the new benchmark for those seeking long-range accuracy and high BC requirements in their competition-grade ammunition.

Speaking of competition, many shooters running the competition circuits this year have experienced solid wins with the ELD-Match ammo—particularly in the Precision Rifle Series. Weapons test specialist Greg Hamilton, for example, took the MGM Targets Ironman Long Range Challenge Precision Rifle Series Gas Gun match in Idaho, shooting 108 gr. ELD Match ammo in 6mm Creedmoor.

“I felt very fortunate to get the open division and overall match win with [ELD-Match] factory ammo,” Hamilton said. “The factory ammo is doing everything it’s supposed to do with zero hitches throughout the entire match.”


As precision shooters know, the smallest details can make all the difference. Hornady’s new ELD-Match advances several of these small details that, combined, have raised the stakes in long-distance accuracy. If you “load your own,” you need to give this new technology a try.



Hornady Manufacturing


article copyright © 2017; promoted by Hornady Manufacturing

Although Hornady Manufacturing is one of our sponsors, the views expressed in this article are those of the author. receives compensation from Hornady Manufacturing in various forms to help promote their products.