Hornady 5.56 TAP T2 versus TAP FPD
For this article I compared Hornady’s 75 grain 5.56mm TAP T2 round to their 223 Remington 75 grain TAP FPD (For Personal Defense) round. The TAP FPD comes in a “black box” and uses “black nickel” plated cases. The TAP 5.56mm comes in a “red box” and has brass cases with crimped primers and uses the new “T2” 75 grain bullet. Both bullets have a cannelure and both rounds have a crimped case neck.
The headstamps. Note the 5.56 round has a crimped in primer.
The 5.56mm TAP uses "temperature stablized" ball powder...
...and the TAP FPD uses a short cut extruded powder.
The bullet on the left is a virgin 75 grain BTHP sold as a reloading component. The bullet in the center is pulled from a TAP FPD round and the bullet on the right is the new “T2” bullet pulled from a round of the 5.56mm TAP T2.
I asked Dave Emary (Chief Ballistician for Hornady) about the redesign of the ogive on the T2 bullet. Here was his reply:
“We made the ogive radius shorter, makes the ogive a little fatter, on the TAP load because testing showed it fed better in the M16/AR."
While the original 5.56 TAP was loaded in “Frontier” head-stamped cases, the load now comes in "Hornady" head-stamped brass.
In interim years, the 5.56 TAP T2 has also been seen loaded in Lake City and Winchester cases.
The original lots of 5.56 TAP did not have sealed primers. When Hornady did started sealing the primers, it was reported that this sealant was a new “anaerobic” type. It had a distinctly “rubbery” feel to it as compared to traditional lacquer type sealants.
The primer sealant used in one of the later lots of 5.56 TAP that I've tested appears to have a different consistency than the original sealant used.
Contrary to internet myths and even Hornady promotional material, for years after its introduction, 5.56 TAP did not
have sealed case mouths. Sealant at the case mouth on 5.56 TAP has been a relatively recent development. I first noticed it with lot #3071004 and oddly, I've noticed some lots after that one that didn't have the case mouth sealant; go figure.
Since its introduction, Hornady TAP FPD ammunition has been loaded in black-nickel coated cases. According to Hornady these “revolutionary” cases “eliminate the potential for corrosion and improve feeding in all firearms.”
In 2009, Hornady began loading the TAP FPD ammunition in “revolutionary” silver-nickel coated cases and according to Hornady these cases “eliminate the potential for corrosion and improve feeding in all firearms.” Hornady also states that these newest cases “are easier to see in low-light conditions and when checking for loaded chambers.”
Chronographing was conducted using an Oehler 35P chronograph with "proof screen" technology. All strings of fire for this report consisted of 10 rounds each unless otherwise noted. All of the velocities listed in this report are MUZZLE
velocities and were calculated from the instrumental velocities using Oehler’s Ballistic Explorer
The three different barrels used in testing were:
A Colt 14.5” M4 barrel
A Colt 16” light weight profile barrel
A Colt 20” government profile barrel
All of the barrels used are chrome lined, NATO chambered and have 1:7” twists.
Here is a table showing the muzzle velocities of each load from each of the three different barrels, along with a column showing the difference in velocities between the two loads.
Temperature- 84 degrees F
Humidity - 53%
Barometric pressure – 30.02
Elevation- 960 feet above sea level
Winds – variable
Skies – partly cloudy, Jupiter aligned with Mars
The Hornady 75 grain bullets are considered to have a fragmentation threshold of 2200 fps +/- 50 fps. Based on the conservative figure of 2250 fps the table below shows the range (in yards) at which fragmentation can be expected to occur for the two loads being tested. It also shows the gain (in yards) before reaching the fragmentation threshold for the 5.56 TAP load.
Velocities of the various 5.56 TAP lots have remained remarkably consistent over the years. I still had a few boxes of each lot of 5.56 TAP that I had tested over the last 2½ years, so I decided to fire 10 rounds from each lot over a chronograph in back-to-back fashion. Seven different lots were tested using an Oehler 35-P chronograph with “proof screen” technology. The rounds were fired from a 20” Colt M16A2 government profile barrel with chrome lining, a NATO chamber and a 1:7” twist. All velocities listed below are muzzle velocities
, as calculated from the instrumental velocities using Oehler’s Ballistic Explorer
. None of the lots tested had an average muzzle velocity that varied more than 0.61% from the grand average muzzle velocity of 2808 fps and most of the lots varied significantly less than that.
Accuracy Results - part 1
Normally when attempting to determine the accuracy (technically the precision) of a particular load, I use one of my stainless steel Krieger barrels for testing. However, since part of this test involves the 5.56 TAP round loaded to NATO pressures, I was just not willing to risk pressure issues from firing a NATO pressure load through one of my match chambered, tightly rifled Krieger barrels.
I could have used a Krieger barrel for the SAMMI pressure 75 TAP FPD load and a different barrel for the 5.56 TAP load, but I felt this would have given an unfair advantage to the TAP FPD. Therefore I decided to test both loads from a NATO chambered barrel. What I was most interested in gleaning from this test was the relative
accuracy of the two loads compared to each other anyway. It has been my experience that NATO pressure loads tend not to shoot as accurately as loads that are downloaded by 150 to 200 fps (depending on the bullet weight.)
I have a 20” Colt HBAR with a 1:7” twist that shoots relatively well for a factory barrel that is chrome lined and NATO chambered. The barrel is free floated and is capable of shooting 10-shot groups from 100 yards that hover right around one inch.
All shooting for this test was done at 100 yards from a benchrest with the rifle resting on front and rear bags. (Remember, I’m trying to test the accuracy of the ammunition and not particularly my shooting skills.) As a control for this test, before firing the TAP ammunition, I obtained three 10-shot groups using Sierra 77 grain MatchKings. (In an effort to reduce the human error involved in this test, I actually fired four 10-shot groups of each load and used the best three for analysis.)
The three 10-shot groups using the Sierra 77 grain MatchKings measured:
Now here’s the good part. I obtained three 10-shot groups of the Hornday 75 grain TAP FPD load and the three groups measured:
Next I overlayed the three 10-shot groups from each load on each other using the RSI Shooting Lab
software program and obtained 30-round composite targets for each load. The mean radius of the 77 SMK control load measured 0.32” and the mean radius for the 75 TAP FPD load measured 0.37”! I consider this to be excellent accuracy for a factory load, especially from a chrome lined, NATO chambered barrel.
(See this thread
for an explanation of the “mean radius.”)
Accuracy Results – part 2
Proceeding in the same manner as described in part 1, I conducted an accuracy evaluation of the 5.56 TAP load. Remember, all groups fired consisted of 10 shots each and were fired from 100 yards from a bench rest.
For this portion of the test, I fired a 10-shot group using the control load with the Sierra 77 grain MatchKing that measured exactly 1.00”. This is the smallest group obtained with the control load, with the largest being 1.10”. This group along with the three groups fired in part 1 of this test gives us four 10-shot groups of the control load fired from 100 yards that have an extreme variance of only 1/10th
of an inch! (1.00”, 1.05”, 1.07”, 1.10”) I think this gives a pretty good indication of the capabilities/limitations of the barrel being used for testing and did not think that any more control groups were necessary.
Now for the really good part. I obtained three 10-shot groups of the 5.56 TAP load that measured:
For comparison the three 10-shot groups of the TAP FPD load from part 1 of the test measured:
I compiled a 30-round composite target from the 5.56 TAP groups and measured the composite mean radius. The mean radius for the 5.56 TAP load was 0.46" while the mean radius for the TAP FPD load was 0.37". While the 5.56 TAP load is clearly not quite as accurate as the TAP FPD load (and we are only talking about a difference of 0.37” from the smallest FPD group to the largest 5.56 group at 100 yards in this test), I think the 5.56 load shows excellent accuracy for a NATO pressure load. As I stated earlier, it has been my experience that NATO pressure loads do not shoot nearly as accurately as loads that run 150-200 fps slower.
5.56 TAP T2 Terminal Ballistic Test Results
Testing by DocGKR
shows that Hornady's 75 grain 5.56mm TAP T2 load continues to have some of the best terminal ballistic properties of any non-barrier blind 5.56mm/223 Remington load currently available. Here's a quote from Dr. Roberts on the Hornady load: "The Hornady 75 gr was the most impressive loading in bare gel––even more so than the numbers illustrate and it was extremely consistent..."
Hornady 5.56 mm 75 grain T2 TAP OTM
Velocity: 2689 fps from a 16" 1:7” twist barrel
penetration in bare ballistic gel: 13.8"
neck length: 0.8”
Maximum temporary cavity: 4.3” at a depth of 4.7”
Recovered diameter: 0.40”
Recovered length: 0.25”
Recovered weight: 30.5gr
Percentage of fragmentation: 59%
Hornady 75 grain 223 TAP versus 75 grain MATCH
Hornady’s 75 grain BTHP Match ammunition (part #8026) is loaded with the same 75 grain boat-tail hollow point bullet that is available from Hornady as a reloading component (part #2279). The case mouth of the Match load has a slight taper crimp on it which puts a small crease in the bullet itself. The Hornady 75 grain 223 TAP load (part #80265) uses the 75 grain BTHP bullet with the addition of a cannelure.
Previous lots of both the Match and 223 TAP load have been charged with a short-cut, charcoal colored extruded powder, while the most recent lots that I have purchased (including the ones used in this test session) are charged with a greenish/yellowish colored short cut, extruded powder resembling those powders found in the Hodgdon lineup of powders. Both loads use traditional brass cases and the caseheads from both loads are head-stamped “Hornady 223-REM” and neither load appears to have sealed nor crimped primers. The case mouth of the 223 TAP load is crimped into the cannelure of the bullet.
Chronograph testing was done using an Oehler 35-P chronograph with "proof-screen" technology. All strings of fire consisted of 10-shots each. All velocities listed below are muzzle velocities
, as calculated from the instrumental velocities using Oehler’s Ballistic Explorer
Accuracy testing was performed using my 24” Krieger barreled AR-15. Shooting was done from a bench-rest at 100 yards. All groups were 10-shot groups. Prior to testing the Hornady ammunition, I fired a 10-shot control group using handloaded 55 grain Sierra BlitzKings. That group had an extreme spread of 0.63”.
Starting with the Hornady 75 grain 223 TAP load, I fired five, 10-shot groups from 100 yards and used the best three groups for analysis. Those three groups had extreme spreads that measured:
for a 10-shot group grand average of 1.03”. The three 10-shot groups were over-layed on each other using RSI Shooting Lab
to form a 30-shot composite group that had a composite mean radius of 0.32”.
In the same manner described above, I obtained three 10-shot groups of the Hornady 75 grain Match load. The extreme spreads of those groups measured:
for a 10-shot group grand average of 1.03”! Over-laying those three groups on each other using RSI Shooting Lab
yielded a 30-shot composite group with a mean radius of 0.36”.
For additional comparison, I obtained three 10-shot groups from 100 yards using hand-loaded Hornady 75 grain BTHP bullets. The extreme spreads of those groups measured:
for a 10-shot grand average of 0.67”. The mean radius formed from over-laying those three groups on each other was 0.23”.
Here’s a pic of the composite groups side by side for comparison.
Well informative, You did a exellent job comparing.
All good information that correlates fairly well with my testing in 20" and 16" weapons. One correction, however, is that the fragmentation lower limit on the 75gr hornady bullet is 2200fps, not 2300fps. That's good for another 40-50yards.
When Hornady sent me their brochure it showed effective ranges for their various loads. The effective range for the 75gr looked like it corresponded to around 2200fps.
I also found this while searching the web.
EXCELLENT work Molon and thank you for taking the time to share it with us. First class write up all the way. And yes that is my post on tacticalforums and yes it is accurate.
Actually, I should be clear. At the time I responded to the OP, I was unaware their 5.56mm ammunition used a different bullet (the T2). I thought it was the same projectile I had always shot loaded to higher pressures. The 2200fps +/- 50fps figure I got from talking to Hornady reps was regarding their Hornady TAP Red Box 75gr .223 pressure (same projectile as used in TAP FPD). However, I reviewed the test data I have on Hornady TAP 75gr 5.56mm T2 and their claims for maximum performance range and it is the same for a given velocity.
Hornady TAP 75gr Red Box .223 pressure from a 20" barrel:
Hornady's data: 2663fps, claimed max performance range 225 yards
Hornady TAP 75gr 5.56mm T2 from a 14.5" barrel:
Hornady's data: 2667fps, claimed max performance range 225 yards
It is possible that the BC for the T2 projectile is slightly lower (it appears less aerodynamic to me anyway but this is only an eyeballed guess and you know what those are worth) but also has a slightly lower fragmentation floor to compensate. Although, I kind of doubt it. I'm pretty sure DocGKR would've spanked me if the data was wrong.
Also, as for the BC of the "non-T2" (does it even have a name? T1?) 75gr projectile, you may want to consider my comments in this thread:www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=16&t=282084
I personally don't believe their claim of .390 BC for the current 75gr projectile used in their .223 pressure load. More like ~.340.
ETA: When I use your numbers (environmental, BC of .389/.350, velocity) in my ballistic calculator I'm consistently reaching 2300fps 8-14 yards further than where you are hitting 2300fps. Not saying my ballistic calculator is more right than yours, just wanted to add that bit of info.
Originally Posted By DevL:
It is my understanding that much like M193 traveling through the 2700 to 2500 fps range that the Hornady 75 grain OTM bullet fragment violently at 2300 and above and fragment less (can still break at cannelure) and with less reliability down to 2100 fps.
My understanding is this.. The reliable fragmentation floor is 2200fps +/- 50fps for manufacturing variances. This means all will _reliably_ fragment at 2250fps, but some lots may fragment reliably down to 2150fps. When the velocity is lower than, but relatively close to the reliable fragmentation floor, whatever it may be for that lot, fragmentation is possible, but a crap shoot (unpredictable). I suspect by manufacturing variations they mean the exact composition of the copper jacket, the lead core, jacket thickness, cannelure depth, exact gel calibration, what the individual barrel does to the bullet, etc. All of these things have tolerance ranges and vary atleast a little. If you had one lot with all the tolerances stacked in one direction and another lot with all the tolerances stacked in the other direction I could see how there could be a 100fps range of variation in reliable fragmentation floor. Match projectiles even vary in weight by a tiny fraction of a grain here and there. I am aware of some testing on the Nosler 77gr in which it fragmented as low as ~2050fps but it was not considered a reliable fragmentation floor because it was not tested across multiple lots and not more than a few times at velocity.
ETA: We must also remember that the whole 2200fps +/- 50fps figure almost definitely follows a Gaussian distribution where, for example, 80% of the lots are actually something like 2200fps +/- 25fps, but the remaining 20% stretch the figure to 2200fps +/- 50fps. In construction/manufacturing actual far-end to far-end variances are relatively (<-key word) uncommon and variable items (such as jacket thickness or the thickness something must be machined to, etc.) are somewhere in the middle 25%-75% of their tolerance range a majority of the time.
What range was the chrono measurement taken at? Did you add that range back to the fragmentation range? Where did you get the BC for the T2 bullet? EDIT: I SEE NOW ITS JUST A GUESS... does Hornady not have the BC info for the projectile? Are you brave enough to put your chrono out at 100 yards and take some measurements?
He said he did add the velocity difference back to his muzzle velocity. I don't know about the fragmentation range. Maybe that's why I am getting 8-14 yards further on the fragmentation range on my ballistic calculator using his numbers (me starting with his muzzle velocity, him starting with his chrono'd velocity)? It could just be differences in the calculators' algorithms though. Hornady does have their claimed BC info for the Hornady T2 bullet, it is listed in their LE catalogue.
Im not talking match vs milspec I am talking cut vs button rifled. Example... Which deforms the bullet less, a single cut Krieger or a button rifled PacNor?
The ballistic coefficients that I used were not “guesses.” As stated in my first post, they were estimations extrapolated from Hornady’s ballistics tables. For example, Hornady gives the following information in their ballistic table for the 75 grain TAP FPD round.
Muzzle velocity: 2790 fps
Zero: 200 yards
Trajectory at muzzle: -1.5” (height of sights above the bore line)
Trajectory at 300 yards: -8.30”
Since no atmospheric conditions are given I used the “Standard Atmospheric Conditions” for ballistics.* Punching the first three data points into an exterior ballistics calculator program and adjusting the ballistic coefficient until the trajectory matches -8.30” at 300 yards yields a ballistic coefficient of .389.
*Stand Atmospheric Conditions for ballistics.
Altitude: Sea level
Barometric pressure: 29.53 inches Hg
Temperature: 59 degrees F
Relative humidity: 78 percent