Hornady Varmint Express with NTX Bullets

Hornady Varmint Express

Hornady Manufacturing announced a new series of offerings in the Varmint Express line that features the NTX bullets.  NTX (Non Toxic eXpanding) bullets are lead-free bullets designed to meet the ‘no lead’ hunting restrictions of various states.  According to Hornady, these loads are California approved.  Instead of a lead core, Hornady uses various metals to form the core of these bullets.  The metal material varies from caliber to caliber.

Hornady NTX ammoThe bullets are “highly frangible,” and are designed to break apart immediately when encountering anything denser than ambient air.  The bullets have a V-MAX type polymer tip that improves the ballistic coefficient and helps with very rapid expansion.

When these were announced, initial loads were a  15.5 grain bullet in the 17 Mach 2 and 17 HMR, a 25 grain bullet in the .22 WMR, a 30 grain bullet in the .204 Ruger, and a 45 grain bullet in the .223 Remington.  Since that time, Hornady added loads for the .17 Hornet and the .222 Remington.

The Varmint Express with NTX cartridges were first available in March 2010 and as of late 2013, they are still being sold.  These are screaming fast rounds, and I would love to see one in .220 Swift just for grins.

Hornady Varmint Express Centerfire Ammo

 .17 Hornet.204 Ruger.222 Rem.223 Rem
product number8300483209830983266
bullet weight15.5 gr24 gr35 gr35 gr
muzzle velocity3870 fps4400 fps3760 fps4000 fps
energy515 ft-lbs1032 ft-lbs1099 ft-lbs1243 ft-lbs

Hornady Varmint Express Rimfire Ammo

 .17 MACH2.17 HMR.22 WMR 
product number831768317183201
bullet weight15.5 gr15.5 gr25 gr
muzzle velocity2050 fps2525 fps2200 fps
muzzle energy149 ft-lbs236 ft-lbs268 ft-lbs

Take a look at this video made by Hornady on the NTX bullets and the Varmint Express loads.  It will give you a good look at the performance capabilities of these loads, including shooting gel, shooting varmints and some accuracy testing on paper.

This Varmint Express video is the original 30-second advertisement from Hornady on these rounds.

If any of you varmint hunters have tried this ammo, would you please let the rest of us know what you think of  it?  I’ve always liked Hornady’s stuff, but I would like to get some feedback from others that are actually using the Varmint Express loads with the NTX bullets.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.