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Old 04-22-2015, 12:58 AM
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Default Ammo for an AR15 S&W rifle

So, I am in the market trying to buy some ammo for my new AR, but find it a bit confusing as it refers to the grain levels, and such... I am also not too knowledgeable about using 2.23 vs 5.54, and that, combined with the grain powder, makes it a bit of a challenge to go out there and shop. I also heard that you can only use certain ammo at certain ranges...
so I guess these are my questions:
1. what is a good AR ammo and a good grain (what does a higher grain vs lower grain numbers mean?)
2. what should I get? 5.56 and 2.23? or both?
3. buying local vs buying online? (I know prices are generally better online)--going to a gun show this weekend...is there good ammo sold at those shows?
I guess you can tell this is AR for dummies time...
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Old 04-22-2015, 01:28 AM
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I started typing some responses but then thought I'd hit google. You've got a lot of things in your questions and in a cursory view, this article will give you some starting points on bullets weights, twist rates, caliber selection, ... All should form the beginning of your own follow on searches. I'm really not trying to be a wize guy but I think you should spend some quality education time and then keep asking questions here so the really smart folks can help you. I'm also not endorsing any of these sites. As I said, after a cursory review, the links below seemed to provide the BEGINNINGS of the information you requested. Spend time, google, study, learn, ask!!!!

AR15 Primer - A Beginner's Guide to the AR-15 Platform

.223 vs. 5.56
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Old 04-22-2015, 01:31 AM
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Don't panic, we were all where you are now at some time.

Fist of all the two rounds you are looking at are 5.56x45mm which is the NATO round and .223Rem. Either one is acceptable for a S&W M&P. If you have any doubt, the caliber is usually stated on the barrel. If it says 5.56 on it, it can fire either 5.56x45mm or .223Rem. If it says .223Rem, then it can only fire .223Rem. The 5.56x45mm round has a little more pressure.

The "grains" you are hearing are for bullet mass not amount of powder. Typically you'll hear of 55gr, 62gr and 75gr. There are others, but these are the most common.

Typically, the 55gr works best with the 1/9 twist barrels and the 75gr works best with the 1/7 twist barrels. These are generalities and not set in stone. The 1/9 means 1 turn of the rifling in 9" of length or every 9" the bullet will rotate 1 complete turn.

There is a lot more to this, but what I've posted will get you started. For the best accuracy you'll have to pair the load (bullet weight and charge) to the gun you have. The only way to do that is to get some different loads and shoot them to see what works best for you. However, for just having some fun at the range, go buy some 55gr rounds and go shoot. They will work well enough for most shooters.
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Old 04-22-2015, 07:38 AM
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Welcome aboard. At some point, everyone here was new to the AR-15. Better to ask questions than find out the hard way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shielded4good View Post
1. what is a good AR ammo and a good grain (what does a higher grain vs lower grain numbers mean?)
Grain refers to the projectile weight. In simple terms overall shorter projectiles weigh less, overall longer projectiles weigh more. A projectile's grain weight and projectile shape are paired to the twist rate of a barrel and the purpose of your shooting.

How to Pair Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets | Guns & Ammo

For range practice, I'll buy the most affordable ammo which is usually 55gr.


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Originally Posted by Shielded4good View Post
2. what should I get? 5.56 and 2.23? or both?
That depends on your barrel's chamber. Check your barrel. It should have the caliber stamped on it. If it is not readily visible, reference your owner's manual to find out what your rifle's manufacturer explicitly states.

Simple rule of thumb:

5.56 chambered rifle = shoot both .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO

.223 chambered rifle = shoot only .223

Why?

While visually similar in outward appearance, there are differences in case construction and propellant charges. The 5.56 NATO cartridge produces higher pressures than .223 Remington cartridge. There is also a difference in the 5.56 NATO chamber and the .223 Remington chamber.

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Originally Posted by Shielded4good View Post
I also heard that you can only use certain ammo at certain ranges...
This issue arises mostly from the use of steel case, bi-metal jacket ammo typically of Russian manufacture. Where a traditional FMJ consists of a copper jacket, a bi-metal jacket projectile consists of a mild steel, copper washed, jacketed lead core projectile.

The reasons some ranges ban the use of Russian steel case, bi-metal jacketed ammo:

1. The mild steel jacketed projectile can spark against a backstop. This has the potential of igniting range dust at the backstop, causing a fire.

2. The backstop is damaged by the use of the mild steel jacketed projectile.

3. The range uses spent cartridges as a small extra source of revenue. Brass cases are usually reloadable. Steel cases are not. The labor to sort out the steel cases (even using a magnet) from the brass cases negates the cost/benefit of selling fired range cartridges to commercial ammo remanufacturers.

*** Keep this in mind when buying ammo. Some ranges do not allow commonly found "green-tip" 5.56 ammunition. This is 5.56 ammunition with a copper metal jacket with a steel penetrator tip.

Everything you wanted to know about steel case, bi-metal jacket v.s. brass case, copper FMJ is here. I suggest you read it later.

Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo - An Epic Torture Test

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shielded4good View Post
3. buying local vs buying online? (I know prices are generally better online)--going to a gun show this weekend...is there good ammo sold at those shows?
There can be good ammo sold at gun shows, but the better question is at what price. The hard part of being new is calibrating your internal price barometer. Price is relative to the construction specs of the ammunition. The best way to start to calibrate your internal 5.56/.223 price barometer is to:

1. Go online to price out ammo.

2. Take the total cost of the ammo and divide it by the number of rounds. That will give you price-per-round difference. The price-per-round makes a difference as you buy greater quantities of ammo.

Remember to factor in total cost. Total cost = cost of ammo + shipping + tax.

3. Pay attention to the different ammo specs. Price is dependent on component material, country of manufacture, and purpose of use. Plinking ammo made in a former Soviet-Bloc country will be cheaper than super-accurate U.S. manufacture hunting rounds.

.... now that that's over....

Buy the plinking/practice ammo that will give you the most opportunity for trigger time, given your local range restrictions. After years of buying a few boxes of ammo here and there, I started to buy ammo by the case. It's a punch to the gut to spend that much on ammo in one shot, but the price-per-round drops.

If ranges near me did not prohibit the use of Russian steel case ammo, I would buy it. The spec of the Russian steel case bi-metal jacket ammo I will buy is 100% dependent on the construction details of the casing. I will buy:

1. Polymer coated steel case. An example is the TulAmmo typically found at Wal-Mart.

2. Zinc coated steel case.

I personally stay away from lacquer coated steel case ammo. The lacquer melts in the high heat of the chamber, causing a gummy residue in the chamber. That gummy residue can cause failures to extract. It's also a cumbersome chore to clean out.

Good luck. If you have any questions, just ask.
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Old 04-22-2015, 07:59 AM
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I stumble accross this article one time. I found it interesting, but I am no AR platform expert like so many on here.

Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo - An Epic Torture Test
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Old 04-22-2015, 08:46 AM
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I stay away from gun show ammo. Virtually every kaboom I've heard of has been caused by either gun show ammo or gun show powder.
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:30 AM
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What all these guys have been kind enough to write in their lengthy replies and links they have posted tells you what you need to know. It's really not as confusing as it seems and for the average shooter plinking with the ar, most of these things such as bullet weights and twist rates will never make a difference. As long as your barrel is stamped 556 (which it should be), you are perfectly safe shooting ammo marked .223 Remington and 5.56 Nato in any bullet weight. Keep an eye out for threads on here for good deals on ammo, there is one going now about wolf gold 223 and if I was talented enough I would put a link to it, but maybe you can find it or someone else can put a link to it for you. Welcome to the forum and the world of the Ar, as you can see there are lots of good guys and information here.
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Old 04-22-2015, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smokindog View Post
I started typing some responses but then thought I'd hit google. You've got a lot of things in your questions and in a cursory view, this article will give you some starting points on bullets weights, twist rates, caliber selection, ... All should form the beginning of your own follow on searches. I'm really not trying to be a wize guy but I think you should spend some quality education time and then keep asking questions here so the really smart folks can help you. I'm also not endorsing any of these sites. As I said, after a cursory review, the links below seemed to provide the BEGINNINGS of the information you requested. Spend time, google, study, learn, ask!!!!

AR15 Primer - A Beginner's Guide to the AR-15 Platform

.223 vs. 5.56
I definitely appreciate those links... Thank you!
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Old 04-22-2015, 10:56 AM
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I stay away from gun show ammo. Virtually every kaboom I've heard of has been caused by either gun show ammo or gun show powder.
There are also a bunch of AR kabooms on youtube. Every one of them is from reloads. Every one I saw had improperly sized cases (from the type of stoppage, very characteristic of oversize cases). The shooter continually ejects the "bad" round till he gets one that will allow the bolt to close, except one of the ejected rounds left a bullet crammed into the throat, and the shooter forced the bolt closed with the forward assist. When the round goes off, there is a barrel obstruction, and KaBoom.

NEVER use the forward assist on the AR platform. I know all the mall ninjas love to be all ticti-cool by jamming on it, but do not use it. If your bolt doesn't seat properly, find the problem and fix it. The original M16 did not have a FA, as the designer did not find one necessary.
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Old 04-22-2015, 10:58 AM
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I appreciate you all for the thorough responses and explanations... I will come back to give feedback on what I read and find..

Thanks again!

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Old 04-22-2015, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
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I stay away from gun show ammo. Virtually every kaboom I've heard of has been caused by either gun show ammo or gun show powder.
For the most part, so do I. Unknown parties selling ammo and powder in legitimate looking factory containers. If the person manning the table does not represent a bricks-and-mortar licensed business, I'm not buying.

Also stay away from gun show reloads. Usually it's some guy at a table selling ammo he cranked out himself. Rule of thumb is that unless it's commercially remanufactured, I don't shoot reloads made by anyone but me.
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Old 04-24-2015, 12:45 AM
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Another place online that I find good ammo prices is bulkammo.com. I bought a 1k rounds of PMC 55 grain, FMJBT (full metal jacket boat tail). It came out to less than $7 per box of 20 not counting shipping. I have had nothing but good luck with this ammo. Clean and accurate ammo.
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Old 04-24-2015, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AGoyette View Post
Another place online that I find good ammo prices is bulkammo.com. I bought a 1k rounds of PMC 55 grain, FMJBT (full metal jacket boat tail). It came out to less than $7 per box of 20 not counting shipping. I have had nothing but good luck with this ammo. Clean and accurate ammo.
My math says that's $350.00/1000 rounds. Expensive. Wolf brass case is barely over $300.00 and Wolf steel case is around $225.00.

The four I check before every order, and that I pick one from (as I am in 5 minutes...time for more 40 cal):

Cheap Ammo For Sale | In Stock Ammunition For Sale
SGAmmo.com | Family Owned and Operated Ammo Sales, Stillwater OK
Ammunition Store ? Bulk Ammo and Cheap Reloading Supplies from WOLF Ammo and more For Sale Online
Ammo, Optics, Bullets & More | Natchez Shooters Supplies
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Old 04-24-2015, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhayles View Post
My math says that's $350.00/1000 rounds. Expensive. Wolf brass case is barely over $300.00 and Wolf steel case is around $225.00.

The four I check before every order, and that I pick one from (as I am in 5 minutes...time for more 40 cal):

Cheap Ammo For Sale | In Stock Ammunition For Sale
SGAmmo.com | Family Owned and Operated Ammo Sales, Stillwater OK
Ammunition Store ? Bulk Ammo and Cheap Reloading Supplies from WOLF Ammo and more For Sale Online
Ammo, Optics, Bullets & More | Natchez Shooters Supplies
The price is $344 per 1000. I would rather spend a tiny bit more and get quality ammo than spend less and get dirty, lower quality ammo. I choose to shoot only brass out of my AR. For me, it is not worth the hassle of shooting non brass out of the gun. By hassle, I mean that a lot of places around me, do not allow steel ammo. Why save money on ammo I can not shoot. Like I said above, I have had nothing but good luck with this ammo and company. Oh, here is a link to the ammo. And from the reviews, I am not the only one who likes this ammo.

http://www.bulkammo.com/1000-rounds-...pmc-55gr-fmjbt

Last edited by AGoyette; 04-24-2015 at 01:25 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 04-24-2015, 01:36 PM
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bhayles,
I just checked your links and compared your favorite places to get ammo with mine. (Hey, I am also open to finding a cheaper place to get ammo) Of the four links you have listed, only 3 have my preferred ammo, PMC. 2 of the 3 places have it listed for more than bulk ammo does. Only one, SGammo has it listed for less. Bulk ammo has it listed for 34.4 cents per round. SG has it listed for 33.9 cents per round. Plus SG's shipping is a little less than bulkammo.

Last edited by AGoyette; 04-24-2015 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 04-24-2015, 06:22 PM
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Great feedback you guys! I will be checking more of those links as time goes by... For now, I kinda wanted to get going and bought a bag of 100 and my local dealer... I think I got a good deal on them..

More comments soon...

Peace out.
Ed
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Old 04-24-2015, 08:17 PM
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.223 and 5.56 refer to the caliber of the round. 5.56 is a higher velocity round. Check the TOP of the barrell on your M&P 15 SPORT AR-15 and it will have the caliber stamped on it. If it reads 5.56 then your weapon is calibered to shot either 5.56 or .223. If it's stamped .223 then SHOULD ONLY have .223 fired from it. If you fire 5.56 in a weapon calibered for ONLY .223 it will DAMAGE the barrell. I use AMERICAN EAGLE .223 55 GRAIN for target shooting in mine and it works great. I also use some 5.56 bulk ammo that I get from VENTURAAMMUNITION.COM. It's cheap in bulk and I've had no trouble running it through my AR-15. Hope this helps you some.
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Old 04-30-2015, 12:39 AM
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Great article. Very thorough. A bit too technical for me, but glad I read it...I also looked up diagrams with AR parts or what have you... Very much fun getting into it...
Looking forward to reading up on ammo...
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Old 04-30-2015, 01:55 AM
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Something about bullets that I didn't see mentioned in the previous posts is the Armor Piercing or Steel Jacketed ammunitions.

Before the ATF's foolish announcement that they would be looking into rescinding some exemptions for Steel Core ammunitions the NATO type M855, otherwise known as Green Tip was extremely popular due to it's low cost in combination with Lake City's excellent brass case. Now, due to that ATF announcement the M855 has been selling at premium prices in spite of the ATF stating their announcement was a mistake and M855 won't be subject to any potental ban in the near term.

So, what is M855. It's ammunition with a 62 grain bullet that features a steel core, lead surrounding that core, and a copper jacket. It's also ammunition that was labeled as Armor Piercing in the past because it could go through a Level I or level II bulletproof vest. A type of protection once preferred by the police due to low cost and light weight. Now due to advancements in materials most police agencies are issuing protections that meet the Level 3 standard. Now you know why the recent blathering about M855 has sent prices skyrocketing, a real shame because it once sold for under 20 cents per round.

So, what is the problem with Steel Core or Steel Jacketed ammunition. At many indoor ranges the bullet traps are designed using steel that is hardened to what is required to work with pure lead or lead core copper jacketed bullets. When steel core or steel jacketed ammunition is fired into these traps it can leave the surface of the steel pitted and over time that pitting can cause fragments to ricochet back to the firing line. In addition the steel hitting steel can cause sparks and when you have a ground rubber damping material that usually has some unburnt powder residue in it those sparks can cause a fire. End result is most ranges will ban the use of any bullets that attract a magnet and if a range officer sees sparks downrange you may be ejected for sneaking some steel bullets into the range. So, if you see ammo that has a green tip for sale at a gunshow, give it a pass or only use it at an outdoors range where most of the bullet traps are sand berms.

The same goes for any ammunition that has a steel jacket. BTW, most steel jacketed ammo has a copper plating on the jacket so the only sure way to spot this is to use a small magnet, you cannot go by appearance. I'll also note that there have been some torture tests that indicate that steel jacketed ammunition will about DOUBLE the rate of wear on the barrel, so any cost savings will end up being spent on a new barrel. One test I saw indicated that just 5000 rounds of Wolf steel jacketed ammo was enough to require replacing the barrel.

Bullet weights. I prefer 1:8 barrels but 1:9 barrels have proven to be nearly as versatile and they do work a bit better with bullets of 50 grains and lighter. The problem is that 1:9 barrels can become a bit fussy with bullets 65 grains and heavier, especially the extra long solid copper projectiles. With the 1:8 twist you should consider the optimum working range to be from 55 to 78 grains, so they will work with a weight range many consider the "sweet spot" for the 5.56/223. Unless you are reloading most of what you will be shooting will be ammunition with a 55 to 65 grain bullet weight. If you look at the prices for a specific ammunition outside that weight range you'll find that it is a specialty ammunition that can cost as much as 1 dollar or more per round. Fact is the 77 grain Match ammo can be quite expensive. I can also tell you that you likely won't see any accuracy gain with Match ammunition until you install a match grade barrel on your rifle. So, stick with the 55 grain "cheap stuff" until you are ready to spend the bucks on a Match Grade rifle and start reloading for it. You have lots of fun and won't be paying horrendous prices for ammunition.
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Old 05-04-2015, 11:14 AM
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Good, short and to the point. I went to the site he mentioned (Aim Surplus AIM Surplus) to get brass .223 Federal ammo, but none listed. Is that because they do not have it in stock? or discontinued?

Anyway, thanks again...
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Old 05-04-2015, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by JaPes View Post
Welcome aboard. At some point, everyone here was new to the AR-15. Better to ask questions than find out the hard way.





How to Pair Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets | Guns & Ammo

For range practice, I'll buy the most affordable ammo which is usually 55gr.


Good luck. If you have any questions, just ask.
OK... so, taking the thread piecemeal, Here is my barrel's spin rate? (not sure if calling it right)
"This is the beginning of the road for the shooter wanting to take advantage of the heavy bullet trend.

Read more: http://www.gunsandammo.com/ammo/pair-barrel-twist-rates-ammo/#ixzz3ZCCoksik"

My AR twist rate is 1/9.

So... What I am understanding so far (correct me if I am wrong)...
2.23 caliber is more appropriate for range shooting and for small to medium game.

5.56 is more appropriate for long distance shooting, a tad more expensive than the 2.23 caliber...

The iron casing can cause problems after shooting them for a while, and the flashing is definitely something to watch out for... (brass casings look definitely cleaner, and I also understand that because the russian made rounds are cheaper, the powder build up is greater, therefore the need to clean the AR more often)... and there can be, after a while problems ejecting, etc... etc...

I'll have to read your post a bit more, as well as those that came after you...
I'll probably need a year or so before I can digest all your answers...

Thanks!
Ed
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Old 05-19-2015, 02:55 PM
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samnev samnev is offline
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If you don't hand load 69 grain Federal Gold Medal Match ammo is hard to beat. It will bring out the best in your rifle. M855 or M193 are at best 2-3 moa shooters. If you have a good barrel and decent optics (not 1X red dots) you should be able to get 1 moa groups or better with 69 grain FGMM.

Last edited by samnev; 05-19-2015 at 03:06 PM.
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