The Extremely Low Drag – eXpanding (ELD-X) is Hornady’s match accurate hunting bullet. You can find it available as a component bullet in popular rifle calibers ranging from .243 to .338 calibers. The bullet is featured in Hornady’s Precision Hunter label ammunition. The technologically advanced ELD-X pairs tack driving accuracy with catastrophic terminal performance – at all ranges.
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The Science Behind Hornady ELD-X and ELD Loads
Back in 2012, Hornady perceived a real demand among hunters who had embraced modern technology to extend their reach dramatically. While several available hunting bullets at the time performed admirably at ranges up to 400 yards, very few offered reliable terminal expansion beyond that range – and none performed satisfactorily at virtually any range. The ELD-X was thus conceived by Hornady’s engineers with unparalleled versatility in mind.
Ballistic Coefficient’s Impact
Hornady’s engineers knew their new bullet had to possess a high ballistic coefficient, which would enable it to retain greater energy with which to overwhelm game over long distances. This ballistically efficient bullet would further deliver a flatter trajectory and superior resistance to the deleterious effects of crosswinds. At the same time this bullet would have to expand reliably at lower velocities, as well as expand at higher velocities without risking overexpanding or blowing up altogether.
While analyzing their prototype bullet’s ballistic performance, Hornady’s engineers found traditional chronographs too inaccurate. To truly fine-tune their new bullet’s aerodynamic properties, they needed data from far more than two to five points along its flight path.
Hornady purchased their own Doppler radar. This device let their engineers collect ballistic data from every one to two feet of their prototype’s flight path. And Hornady’s Doppler tests revealed a big problem: Their bullet’s ballistic coefficient rapidly declined between 100 to 150 yards. The culprit, they concluded, was its polymer tip.
Solving the Melting Polymer Problem
Hornady’s engineers knew early on that their bullet required a polymer tip to reliably initiate expansion over so wide a range of velocities. However, the polymer itself was deforming in response to aerodynamic heating – effectively melting to destroy the sharp, centered, and symmetrical meplat the bullet needed for accurate flight.
This problem wasn’t exclusive to the polymer tip Hornady was using. Further testing confirmed that all polymer tips deform in a similar fashion at high velocities. To solve this hurtle Hornady invented something new: the Heat Shield tip, which resists aerodynamic heating to remain unchanged throughout the entirety of its bullet’s trajectory. They now had the foundational feature for the ELD-X.
Hornady put their considerable experience to work designing a bullet worthy of their novel Heat Shield technology. They began with their Advanced Manufacturing Process (AMP) jacket. That jacket exhibits virtually zero variation in its wall thickness to promote exceptional in-flight stability. Hornady shaped their AMP jacket in a secant ogive profile, a specific type of geometry proven to enhance a bullet’s ballistic coefficient. Hornady additionally outfitted the ELD-X with a low-drag boat tail, in effect granting the heaviest .338 caliber ELD-X a G1 ballistic coefficient in excess of .750. Even Hornady’s lightest .243 caliber ELD-X does not evince a G1 ballistic coefficient less than .400.
Having created a match accurate bullet, Hornady set out to optimize its terminal expansion over virtually any velocity. To ensure devastating terminal performance at high velocity impact within 400 yards, they gave it a thicker jacket shank with an InterLock ring. The InterLock essentially embeds the jacket into its lead alloy core. This mechanically locks the two together to promote superior weight retention. In effect the ELD-X loses no less than half of its original weight as it penetrates deeply within game.
Enter the Heat Shield
The ELD-X’s Heat Shield tip rams inward to initiate massive expansion following lower velocity impact past 400 yards. It retains no less than 85 percent of its weight as it mushrooms outward to inflict a wide, deep, and thoroughly lethal wound channel upon its target.
Hornady also showcases their Heat Shield polymer tip technology in their ELD. That’s a match target shooting bullet with ballistic performance analogous to the ELD-X. Unlike the ELD-X, the ELD does not deliver terminal expansion that would have suited it better for hunting.