Ammo review: Hornady Custom Lite Reduced Recoil .308 Winchester

Jeez, that title was a mouthful, wasn’t it? I swear, ammo manufacturers are getting carried away with their product names these days. But that’s not the point, the point is to talk about this product from Hornady. Today we’re reviewing their reduced recoil .308 Winchester load, which is loaded with Hornady’s 125 grain SST bullet.

Hornady Custom Lite .308 Win

The first question to ask about this ammo is “what is it for?” Well, I’ll let Hornady answer that question with the text from the back of the box: “Hornady Custom Lite ammunition provides reduced recoil and muzzle blast from standard cartridges, and puts the fun back into shooting for kids, women and every shooter looking to keep recoil to a minimum.” I’d say that’s a perfectly reasonable raison d’etre, especially for a .308 cartridge. With its 125 grain SST bullet, it’s easy to imagine this being a go to load to drop into a scoped, bolt action deer rifle. But that’s not what I used to test it.

colt marc901 .308 carbine

My test platform for this ammo was the Colt MARC901 .308 carbine. This is a 16 inch, semi-auto AR-style rifle chambered for 7.62 NATO, it’s also on Colt’s modular platform which means it can be converted to a .223 if you wanted to. Not that I’d want to, but the option is there. My Colt is topped with a Leupold 2-7x scope in a Leupold mount. Initial zero was established using 150 grain Federal FMJ, which also provided a baseline for whether or not the recoil impulse would be reduced or not.

The first question I wanted to answer after zeroing the gun was whether or not the Hornady rounds would actually reduce the recoil. Short answer? Yes. Felt recoil is a really subjective topic for people, because what I perceive as “harsh” may be “mild tickle” for someone, or could be “unbearable” for someone else. The best way I can describe the recoil impulse from the Hornady Custom Lite is that it’s much more pleasant than a full house .308, but you still know you’re shooting a .308 and not a 5.56. But you can shoot it all day long and have a pretty pleasant day, which is saying something when your platform is a 16 inch carbine that isn’t mounting a very good brake.

Due to range constraints, I was only able to shoot the ammo at 25 yards, and 25 yard group sizes with a rifle are damn near pointless to report. Especially with a relatively powerful scope like my gun was mounting, if I wasn’t able to shoot one hole groups off a rest all day long it means I suck at life. Good news: the Custom Lite put 5 bullets all through one hole at 25 yards. I’m sure if I was able to push this out to 100 or 300 I’d see excellent accuracy as well.

Hornady Custom Lite .308

Important questions: does it reduce recoil? Yes. Does it run my .308? Yes. Is it accurate? Yes (at the distance I had available). According to Hornady, the Custom Lite is pushing 2600~ FPS from a 24 inch barrel, and experiences pretty considerable velocity loss around 300 yards. With a 200 yard zero, the round impacts 10 inches low at 300 yards according to Hornady’s figures. So what would you use this round for? Well it’s pretty obvious, right? Deer hunting within 300 yards. It’s pleasant to shoot, and a 125 grain SST bullet at 2000 FPS is no joke. If you’re looking for a mild shooting, accurate, reliable .308 for hunting season, give Hornady Custom Lite .308 Winchester a look.


  1. So basically a lighter powder charge with a lighter bullet? Huh this may actually be brilliant for something like bringing at least one of my nieces up from the .22/5.56 (she’s maybe 70 pounds if you get her all muddy).

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