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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 twist rate do I want for my rifle?

Probably 1:9, but it depends on what kind of bullets you intend to shoot.

Special purpose rifles often have uncommon twist rates. For example, if you are building a varmint rifle and want to shoot the short 35 grain, 40 grain, and 50 grain bullets, a 1:12, or even 1:14 twist would be best. On the other hand, long range High Power shooters often select 1:8, 1:7.7, 1:7, or 1:6.5-twist barrels to stabilize the long 77, 80 and even 90 grain bullets used for 1,000 yard competition. Additionally, new testing of heavier rounds (68-77 grains) seems to show that they perform very well in simulated tissue and may be a better defensive choice than 55 grain or 62 grain rounds. The majority of shooters, though, typically shoot bullets of 50 to 69 grains in weight (note that the 62gr SS-109/M855 bullet is as long as a 71 grain lead core bullet) and should select 1:9 twist barrels. At typical .223 velocities, a 1:9 twist will stabilize bullet lengths equivalent to lead-core bullets of 40 to 73 grains in weight.

1:12 twist rifles cannot stabilize SS-109/M855 bullets and 1:7 twist rifles are slightly less accurate with lighter bullets and will often blow apart the thin jackets of lightweight varmint bullets. The 1:7 twist is used by the military to stabilize the super-long L-110/M856 tracer bullet out to 800 yards, but unless your plans include shooting a significant amount of M856, the 1:9 twist rate is better suited for general use.

There is, of course, an exception: if you want to use loads utilizing the heavier, 75-77 grain match bullets currently used by Spec-Ops troops and other selected shooters, you'll want either a 1:8 or 1:7 twist barrel. Although military loadings using these bullets are expensive and hard to get, some persistent folks have managed to obtain a supply, and will need the proper barrel twist to use them. Anyone who foresees a need to shoot this ammo should consider a minimum 1:8 or 1:7 twist barrel.

Opinions (Pro and Con):

1:9 is best.
Why? Flexibility. It doesn't seem to have any problems throwing M856 tracers around, unless it gets really cold, it wears better than 1:7 and it stabilizes more rounds than 1:12. Additionally, 1:9 rifles, even Mil-Spec chrome chambered and barreled, can attain 1.0-2.0 MOA out to 300+ meters.

No, 1:7 and 1:8 are the best.
Why? Accuracy. For heavier and longer rounds during competition shooting, 1:8 and 1:7 twists are the best for heavy 77-80 grain rounds that I use to shoot competitively at 500-1000 meters. Who needs to shoot tracers anyhow? More importantly, heavier rounds are showing very good results in terminal testing and are proving to be much better defensive rounds.