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The AR15.Com Ammo Oracle

History and Basic Design of .223 and 5.56 Ammunition.

Performance of .223 and 5.56 Ammunition.

Terminal Performance of .223 and 5.56 Ammunition.

.223 and 5.56 Ammunition Testing

Selection of .223 and 5.56 Ammunition.

Ammunition recommendations from the authors of the AR15.com Ammo-Oracle.

Purchase and Storage of .223 and 5.56 Ammunition.

Legal questions.

Miscellaneous .223, 5.56 and Other Ammunition Questions.

Ammo Oracle

Q. What ammunition does Tatjana recommend for self-defense, storage, plinking, training and match use?

Self Defense: My self-defense ammo selection is driven by several requirements.

1. My rifle (16" Bushmaster 1:9) is my primary self-defense weapon. My pistol is used to fight my way to my rifle.
2. I doubt I will ever be in a situation where I have to engage anything beyond 200 meters. Even 200 meters is hard to see happening.
3. Because terminal performance is critical to me a short neck and severe fragmentation is important in gel testing.
4. I need a round that will be available in enough bulk to practice with. Cheap would be nice, but I'm not all that concerned with price for this stuff since I only really need around 500-1000 rounds for long term use. My self-defense round is used to augment my M193 stores and for home defense. 5 or 6 twenty round magazines are near the rifle at any time.

Given my requirements above. For self-defense I have moved from the 69 grain Sierra Match King to the 77 grain Nosler NATO loading from Black Hills. These rounds meet all my needs particularly in terminal performance. They are expensive but I think them worth it. I have two rifles in which the 77 grain Nosler works well out to at least 150 meters, both of which, ironically, are 1:9. I intend to switch my home defense weapon to a 1:7 barrel as soon as I can get my hands on one. That will make me even more sure of my 77 grain loadings.

Plinking ammo: I usually use plinking as an excuse to burn off old M193 stores. Q3131a and XM193 figure prominently in my plinking use. I don't shoot Wolf.

Training ammo: I don't distinguish much between plinking and training. Accordingly, I tend to use NATO loadings for training. Usually this is a mix of M193 and Nosler 77 grain. "Train like you fight," is an important concept for me so I take it to heart and use the ammo I am mostly likely to have to fight with when I go to the range or when I'm just plinking. M193's cost (or lack thereof) makes this work well.

Storage ammo: My circumstances are somewhat unique so I store more than 5000 rounds of XM193 or Q3131a (though I prefer XM193) at any given time. As soon as I get close to coming under the 5000 mark (rare) I buy more M193. I cycle out the old ammo with the new so at any given time my storage ammo is as recent as it can be. One exception is the emergency "bug out" pack I keep of 1000 rounds. I don't ever break into that unless I have another prepared pack to replace it with before I open the first.

I don't store Nosler 77 grain since it pretty much sits out ready to go all the time. My M193 stores are on strippers, in 7 pocket bandoleers stacked in ammo cans. I use the dry ice method to purge air from my cans and then use a moisture absorbing pack to finish them up before I seal them.

Match ammo: I am a big fan of Swiss GP90 for military or service rifle match ammo. It has the disadvantage of being a horrible terminal performer though so I don't keep much of it around. For more serious match ammo I am partial to 69 grain Sierra Match King and 77 grain Sierra Match King.