Wondering about Herter’s ammo? We were, too, to be honest, so we decided to take a deep dive into this historic brand.
We reviewed the ammo itself and looked into where and how it is made. We also found out some fascinating stuff about the original Herter’s brand (that I didn’t even know, and I’m supposed to be an expert on this stuff).
Here’s what we learned.
The most obvious question is also the most difficult to answer, unfortunately. Is the ammo any good? Probably, yes.
See, Herter’s isn’t actually a company anymore; they went bankrupt in the 1980s. What happened after is a familiar story in the firearms industry: the brand name got bought out and is now used by another retailer. In this case, Cabela’s currently owns the Herter’s brand name and contracts out the actual production of the ammo to other ammo manufacturers.
Principally, we’ve found that most of Herter’s ammo is now produced by the Olin Corporation, AKA Winchester. This is especially true of handgun ammo and shotshells.
Winchester is, of course, great! They make excellent ammo that hunters, target shooters, and those looking to defend themselves can depend on.
There has only been one recall or major issue associated with Herter’s Winchester-produced ammo, and that was due to a powder issue that wasn’t really Winchester’s fault. Many people report getting rounds of Herter’s ammo with a Winchester headstamp, and this ammo is likely to be great.
The problem is, Winchester isn’t the only manufacturer that produces Herter’s ammo, and since Herter’s is effectively a reseller label for other brands, it’s impossible to know what exactly you’re getting without checking the headstamps on the case. Which you can’t do online and often can’t do in-store either.
What does this mean?
Unfortunately, without being able to verify any contract info (all of which is non-public) or being able to see where Herter’s ammo is coming from, it’s impossible to say how good the ammo actually is. You’ll never know exactly what’s in the box until you shoot it, and even then, you might not be able to tell, depending on the headstamp.
All in all, some Herter’s ammo is likely to be made by Winchester, which means you’re getting good stuff, but with other ammo being made or imported by other mystery brands, in many cases from overseas, it’s difficult to confirm the quality of the ammo overall.
There are some upsides to the Herter’s brand, but there are some issues to look out for as well. Here’s the basic rundown.
- Much of Herter’s-branded ammo is made by Winchester (good quality)
- Brass is typically good for reloading
- Ammo is sometimes deeply discounted in-store at Bass Pro or Cabelas
- Reliable primers ammo in brass cases (older steel-cased ammo might have issues)
- Handgun, shotgun, and rifle ammo are available
- Great for plinking or training
- Shotgun slugs have very consistent velocity in our testing and matched closely to the FPS rating on the box
- Quality of ammo varies hugely from lot to lot
- No way of knowing who manufactured or imported ammo
- Inconsistent velocity
- Supply shortages have a greater impact on resellers like Herter’s because brands focus on their own offerings first before fulfilling contracted work
- Limited rimfire offerings
- Some steel case ammo is of dubious quality
- Only available from one retailer, so supply can be limited
- Primarily full-metal jacket (FMJ) and soft-point projectiles
The ammo offerings from Herter’s tend to vary, so it’s difficult to say what is available or to find things in stock reliably. If you’re looking for a specific loading that you or your gun especially like, we recommend trying Winchester ammo (Winchester White Box specifically) because it’s very likely the same stuff you’ll find in boxes of Herter’s.
This is especially true for more common calibers in the USA like:
- 9mm Luger
- .45 Colt
- .45 ACP
- .223 Remington
- .308 Winchester
- .30-06 Springfield
- .243 Winchester
- .300 BLK
You can also check out all of the Winchester ammo offerings out there if you’re looking for something else or a bulk pack of target ammo for any of the above.
Herter’s has a fascinating history that goes back to the Great Depression era when George Leonard Herter turned his father’s dry goods into a mail-order operation similar to Sears & Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and others of the era.
Herter, out of personal interest and experience, decided to focus on big-ticket hunting and fishing items in his catalog and would go on to open retail locations that would go on to inspire some little-known names like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops.
After the end of the Second World War, Herter became a writer and focused on a series of historical recipe books, life advice, outdoor philosophy, and personal hunting and angling anecdotes.
Like many mail-order operations, Herter’s then struggled through the 1970s before finally going bankrupt in 1981. From there, the brand bounced around a bit until being bought out by Cabela’s, and thus the Herter’s name became a reseller brand sold in Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop stores.
Today, Herter’s ammo is primarily sold in-store and is manufactured by a variety of different major ammo manufacturers. Most marked with the “made in the USA” label come from Winchester, but there may be others making “Herter’s” ammo as well.
Herter’s ammo is made in facilities owned and run by other manufacturers, though the brand’s headquarters is in Syndey, Nebraska.
Herter’s shotgun shells are primarily manufactured by Winchester, one of the most prolific and successful ammo manufacturers on the planet, and are thus typically very good.
Herter’s ammo is an interesting one, and one that I honestly didn’t have much experience with before reviewing them here. I’ve found some of their ammo to be very high-quality, which is typically the USA-made stuff produced by Winchester.
Some of their other ammo, particularly the imported stuff, has been inconsistent.
Which is really the only problem with the ammo. If you’re alright with one box of ammo not quite being up to the same standards as another, and you can get it for a decent price, go for it. We just can’t know who exactly made the ammo or where it’s from, and that makes it hard to recommend for anyone who needs consistency from box to box.
If you enjoyed this Herter’s ammo review, or you’d like to learn more about the company that makes a lot of Herter’s best stuff, you can read up on Winchester and their product offerings, or you can check out other ammo reviews, like our review of Hornady or Prvi Partizan.
Herter’s Ammo Review: Is It Any Good? That Depends… originally appeared on Ammo.com