Scary experience with HSM ammo

See update at bottom.

I was at a machine gun shoot over the weekend. I took my 1886 Winchester to zero after installing the Providence Tool Company sight. I plan to have Scalisi Shooting Specialties custom load some ammo for me for that rifle, but in the mean time I planned to zero it with some 400 gr soft-point HSM loads that I picked up a while back from Wild West Guns. I figured it would give me a chance to burn up that ammo.

The range was a little over 300 yards with a 20 foot tall berm at the end. After the event ended for the day, I set up a target at 175 yards and began to zero, with someone spotting rounds for me. I fired a couple rounds and got it zeroed in close, then fired one that was just over the target. The spotter couldn’t quite tell how far over that one hit, so I fired again with no adjustment. This round fell short, but I was confident in my sight placement on both shots. Recoil on all rounds fired so far seemed slightly inconsistent.

I told my spotter that I was confident in my shots and that I would fire another round. When the trigger broke the rifle slammed my shoulder with substantially more recoil than I had ever experienced with a .45-70. It seemed like double the recoil of previous shots. The lever smashed into my fingers. The round struck the berm (over 300 yards out) about 10 to 15 feet up. I don’t know what kind of velocity increase it takes to cause a 400 grain .45-70 bullet to shoot that much flatter, but it must be substantial. The shooters on each side of me turned to me and said, “What was that!?” After my heart slowed, I put that ammo away, checked the rifle,  and finished my zero with a few rounds of Winchester ammo I had left, which shot very consistently.

It is fortunate that I was shooting an ’86 Winchester, which is the strongest traditional lever-action design. Had it been a Marlin, which cannot handle the pressures that the Winchester can, or another type of rifle, results could have been worse.

I will be contacting HSM about this and will report the results, but it will take a lot for me to ever be comfortable shooting their ammo again.

It has been over two weeks, and I have not received any response or acknowledgement from HSM. I am beginning to feel that they may care no more about me than about the safety of their ammo . . .

~ by 7.62 Precision on 30 May 2012.

7 Responses to “Scary experience with HSM ammo”

  1. Update:

    After several months and a couple emails, I did finally get a response from HSM.

    “All of our ammunition goes through a six stage quality control program to insure accuracy and consistency. When an issue occurs I can track all components used by the lot number on the box. Since you do not have this information would it be possible for me to send you a call tag to get the remaining rounds back? I will send these to my ballistic lab to see what is happening with the pressure spikes.

    If you suspect there is damage to your rifle caused by this incident, it is HSM company policy to get the rifle back here first before sending it on to the original manufacturer. We will take pictures of the rifle and check the barrel with a bore scope. Once our recording is done I will forward the rifle on to the manufacture and request an engineers report be done.

    Can you tell me where you purchased the ammunition from?

    If you have any questions please let me know. I appreciate your time and look forward to resolving this issue.

    Best Regards,”


  2. UPDATE:
    It has been over two weeks, and I have not received any response or acknowledgement from HSM. I am beginning to feel that they may care no more about me than about the safety of their ammo . . .


  3. I seem to remember reading about a .270 Weatherby exploding while firing HSM ammo a few years back. It seems that HSM has not gotten the problem under control. Do you know when the ammo was manufactured?


    • Unfortunately the box was damaged on a trip and I threw it away, so I have no lot number. I purchased it a couple years back.


      • It could be then that they have improved their quality control since then as it might have been made at the same time as the .270. I have never purchased HSM,but have put hundreds of remanufactured rounds through several guns with no problems. Considering the wide selection of ammo on the market and the multiple catastrophic failure reports, why risk it…. unless its your last box of ammo and your surrounded by zombies…


  4. WOW!! Usually the stuff from Hunting shack munitions is pretty squared away. I hope they REALLY MAKE THIS RIGHT.

    good luck


    • I hope so. I hope they make it right by tightening their quality control and making sure this sort of thing does not happen to others. A quick internet search immediately uncovered at least one Glock, an AR-15 in a training course, and two law enforcement AR-15s that were destroyed by HSM ammo, with many less substantiated reports of inconsistencies, over-pressure rounds, firearms damaged, .40 S&W cartridges mixed in boxes of .45 ACP.

      The attitudes that many have toward problems like this are perplexing. I am used to people overlooking almost any fault in favor of price, but when it has to do with safety, I would think people would demand better by taking their money to a competitor. I read a statement from a guy who works on a range that sells HSM ammo who said he has seen two Glocks blown apart shooting HSM, but he says that is just part of shooting – you have to expect pistols to blow up sometimes. Others say, “Well, it hasn’t happened to me yet, so I will keep shooting it until it does.” I prefer to take a lesson from the experience of others.

      Some say never shoot remanufactured ammo, but I have shot a ton of remanufactured ammo in the military, and have no issue with buying it from a trusted company like Black Hills, for example. I wonder if some of these companies are being started by reloaders who are getting in over their heads in trying to get into production ammo manufacturing without the necessary experience. Some stores up here began selling Sheep Dog ammo, until some customers returned to the stores with bags full of little bitty pistol pieces. Something needs to improve with the manufacturing processes used by some of these companies.

      On the other hand, I think this .45-70 was supposed to be factory new, not reloads.

      Have not heard back from HSM yet.


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