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Page AR-15 » Ammunition
AR Sponsor: bravocompany
Posted: 6/23/2011 6:51:44 AM EDT

I'm picking up my first AR15 this weekend (M&P15), and I'd like to order some range ammo, and some for personal protection/home defense.

As a 9mm shooter, I have a good handle on what to look for in personal protection vs. range grade ammo.  But I'm clueless for .223.

What grain weight should I look for in "the good stuff" for home?  What's are the best ammo brands?  On the other end of the spectrum, the forum "Ammo Price List" shows a brand called "Wolf Military Classic" at a very attractive price.  I'm guessing this is Russian or Chinese made?  Will it run a lot dirtier?  What should I look for in range grade ammo?

Link Posted: 6/23/2011 7:38:25 AM EDT
I load two kinds of ammo for each particular purpose.  Since I own 10-30 round magazines, I only have to carry the ones I use for range practice and leave my self-defense magazines at home.  This is not gospel so take it with a grain of salt.  STAY AWAY FROM BEAR AND WOLF AMMO.  You have a precision firearm why run crappy ammo for the sake of cost.  I use the same ammo I will use in a dynamic threat situation....why?  Because that ammo is what you will use to protect your family and yourself so use it at the range so you know its capability, your confidence in the ammo will translate into confidence in your self-defense, and you will become more of a threat to intruder(s) than they are to you.  At the range, you're shooting at 100 yard still targets.  In your home or business, you will engage moving, maybe shooting threats and if you use the same ammo and make decent groups at 100 yards, the 20-30 feet encounter will ensure either the intruder ceases to be a dynamic threat because of some well placed "get the hell out of here shots"; or worse case scenario, he persists and you make the lethal triple shots you trained for. (2 in center mass and one to the head) I use Black Hills 52 grain moly Hollow points, mixed with American Eagle Tactical XM193 55 grain FMJ in the same magazine.  All 10 of them.  Every other round is one or the other.  I start my first round with the FMJ in case I need to fire through sheetrock or cabinets and doors.  Although terminal velocity is reduced, a lethal amount of energy still remains and a 55 grain 5.56 can slip through these soft barriers and still have lethal penetration.  The Hollow point is for clear targets beyond cover.  52 grains delays the expansion long enough to penetrate into the vital organs of a threat before dramatic expansion occurs.  I was a former Green Beret and my brother a Marine Sniper.  I can state from experience that organs untouched by the round of a hollow point will literally explode from a hollow point's cavitation once a threat is struck.  Essentially, because the hp is expanding while still retaining penetrating energy, the round begins to rotate wildly inside a soft target, causing cavitation and subsequent massive damage.  One problem.  The 5.56 or .223 is a .22 cal rifle and its immediate stopping power is on the lower end of scale.  I use an Rem 870 tactical with a side saddle full of 3" 00 Buck magnums.   Six in the tube, one in the chamber and six in the saddle.  If I ever am forced to use it, I will have to remodel my house.  Now I'm not shooting someone over my wallet or a flat screen TV.  But I will warn them I am armed, I have a vicious dog with me, I am on the phone with LE and he better leave now with what he has.  If fired upon or the intruder approaches my family's bedrooms, I will empty the shotgun into him, shoot through walls, doors, cabinets, and keep firing until he is unable to threaten me.  00 Buck has a way of destroying flesh in a gruesome manner.  My military experience is that at 30 yards, one round will strike a large bone or organ and render the tango down.  Just my opinion.  AR-15 are not cheap and literally need oil dripping out of them if you intend to "run the gun".  Why buy a precision firearm and run cheap Tula or Russian ammo when you intend to defend yourself with other lethal rounds.  Practice with the ammo you intend to use.  Your practice is really training to protect you and family.  With that in mind, why cut costs.
Link Posted: 6/23/2011 7:54:37 AM EDT
Link Posted: 6/23/2011 8:04:55 AM EDT
From the ammo FAQ:

If Barrier penetration is NOT an important factor AND your rifle can stabilize them (1:9 minimum twist rate):

   Hornady 75gr OTM loads
   Nosler 77gr OTM loads
   Sierra 77gr SMK loads

If Barrier penetration is NOT an important factor AND your rifle can't stabilize the heavy 70+ grain bullets:

   Sierra 69gr SMK loads
   Hornady 68gr OTM loads
   Winchester 64gr JSP (RA223R2)
   Federal 64gr TRU (223L)
   Hornady 60gr JSP

If your rifle is 1:12 twist rate and can only shoot lighter-weight bullets:

   55gr Federal bonded JSP load (LE223T1 or P223T2)
   Barnes 55gr TSX/TAC-X
   50gr TSX loaded by Black Hills*

If Barrier penetration IS an important factor (most of these should work with 1:9 barrels, but use common sense in regards to twist rate requirements)

   62gr Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw (TBBC) bonded JSP (XM556FBIT3)*
   64gr Winchester solid base bonded JSP (Q3313/RA556B)*
   50gr TSX loaded by Black Hills*
   Speer 55 & 64gr Gold Dot JSP (5.56)*
   Federal 62gr Mk318 Mod0 (T556TNB1)*
   62gr Federal bonded JSP Tactical (LE223T3)
   55gr Federal bonded JSP load (Tactical––LE223T1 or identical Premium Rifle––P223T2)
   Swift 75gr Scirocco (usually requires 1:7 twist)
   60gr Nosler Partition JSP
   Remington 62gr bonded JSP
   Federal 55gr TSX (T223S)
   Speer 55 & 64gr Gold Dot JSP (.223)
   Federal 62gr Fusion JSP (Same construction as the Gold Dot)
Link Posted: 6/23/2011 9:42:16 AM EDT
Congrats on joining the world of the Black Rifle. See the Ammo FAQ for Self Defense ammo info.

Wolf is a Russian ammo distributor. Except for their Prvi Partisan brand made in Serbia, essentially all of their ammo is steel case, Berdan primed, and polymer coated (newer product) or lacquer coated (older product which may still be found in gunstores who don't sell much ammo). The oldest argument, other than which is first, chicken or egg, is whether steel ammo will function properly in our American-made AR-15s. Some say they shoot thousands of rounds without issue, and there's something wrong with your rifle if you have problems. That arrogance does not impress me. Your mileage may vary, and we live in a free country (still).

In my own experience, the only Wolf I will shoot in my DPMS Classic 20 is the Prvi Partisan brass. Why? As my gunsmith told me, the rifle was designed in the USA, and we have, since the work of Horace Smith & Daniel Wesson inventing the self-contained metalic cartridge in the mid 1800s, used quality brass ammo in our American guns. Brass does a better job expanding and sealing the chamber, and the cases, if Boxer primed and made from good spec brass, are capable of being reloaded. I shot about 300 rounds of Wolf Poly out of my AR-15 and suffered a broken extractor, which cost me more for shipping than the cost of the part. In addition, Wolf is loaded (2,700 fps) weaker than American .223, and much weaker than NATO quality 5.56 (3,150 fps). In my humble opinion, Wolf propellent is low quality, and is much dirtier. However, Wolf steel ammo is cheaper than brass ammo from anywhere, including European ammo mfgrs, and that appears to be its saving quality. Again, in my opinion, you get what you pay for, and most importantly, your M&P is much too good a firearm to be fed 86 octane ammo.

What kind of range ammo you get depends on several factors: how you intend to shoot at the range (casual, competition practice, etc) and how much money you have/want to spend. Results are often a factor of cost. If you want to part the hair of a mosquito, obviously you will pay dearly for match-grade ammo. If you will shoot casual target, major brand USA and European FMJ .223 will be cost effective and satisfactory (Federal, Winchester, Remington UMC, PMC, Sellier & Bellot, Dynamit Nobel, FN Herstal.)  If you want punch and distance, American NATO grade M193 or M855 from Federal or Winchester are your loads. There are other brands of very good quality, and you will pay for it: Hornady and Black Hills are two that come to mind.

I'm sure everyone on the board is lined up to criticize what I have said. No matter. Read the pinned post info in the beginning of this section, buy a small quantity of ammo at a local gunstore, ask questions while you're there, clean and lube your rifle per S&W's instructions, and take your time when you get to the range. And good luck!
Link Posted: 6/23/2011 9:52:18 AM EDT
Please get started in the FAQ's and let us know what questions you might have after digesting the (considerable amount of) information there.  
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