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5.56 (223) ammo preferences

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Koda, Apr 21, 2016.

  1. Koda

    Koda Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    I’m starting out with 500rds of Federal Independence 55g but hasn’t arrived yet. I'd like to try out some premium factory loads for grouping and accuracy to sight in on but I haven’t formed an opinion on what load to buy... . While I’m comfortable figuring it out on my own Im not experienced with this caliber at all to know what to expect so I thought I'd like to see what everyone’s opinions are?

    Note, I don’t reload so I'd like to keep this discussion to factory loads available. Also my build is a 5.56x45 chamber, 16"bbl, 1:7 twist.

    What is your favorite load for accuracy?

    Are there any loads for hunting in 5.56?

    I know I can fire 223 but is this ideal? Does anyone with a 5.56 chamber actually use 223?

    any and all opinions appreciated thanks in advance.
     
  2. Boboclown

    Boboclown North Carolina Well-Known Member

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    I use .223 when hunting. Otherwise I just use the surplus ammo for plinking and that 77gr Black Hills ammo.
     
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  3. Koda

    Koda Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    so do you sight in zero with 223? Assuming the same grain weight, how much of a difference in the point of impact between 556 and 223?
     
  4. Boboclown

    Boboclown North Carolina Well-Known Member

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    I rezero everytime I switch ammo. I really can't say the difference since when I do change from .223 to the 5.56 ammo its during different seasons.
     
  5. Vorpalis

    Vorpalis Portland, OR Active Member 2016 Volunteer

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    That's a whole lot of questions in such a short post, but they're good questions! ;)

    Every barrel and bolt will favor certain bullet / primer / powder combos, and there's no way to tell which is best without testing yours. I start with 3-5 loads of varying bullet weights from one manufacturer, say 53-60gr, 62-69gr, and 75-77gr. The main reason to start with one manufacturer is so the bullet weight and shape are more likely to be the only variables; case dimensions, powder type and primer type are more likely to be consistent. Black Hills' remanufactured loads are a relatively inexpensive way to do this sort of testing.

    As for plinking rounds, everyone has their favorite brand, but this type of round often aren't loaded with enough care to provide more than 2-5 MOA of accuracy. That's why they're cheap.

    Since your barrel is marked 5.56, you can shoot either 5.56 or .223 and, for most purposes, it won't make any difference.

    Yes, you can hunt with .223 / 5.56, depending on the game you're hunting and the laws in your area. The game will largely determine which type of bullet construction is best.
     
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  6. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    Well, If I really want to feel uptown I break out some CBC MK262 Mod 1 77gr OTM It sounds impressive and shoots pretty good too :D

    I tend to shoot 62 gr stuff, For plinkin ammo I like the ZQI 5.56 Last I bought for .31 cents delivered. Its a tad more than 55 gr stuff but all my rifles are sighted in with 62 gr stuff so that's what I shoot

    I do also buy some 62 gr Wolf stuff for blasting ammo when I take out family or friends and turn them loose with a bullet hose.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016
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  7. Doc In UPlace

    Doc In UPlace Tacoma-ish Well-Known Member

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    I plink/practice and qualify with PMC 55gr. 223 and load for serious with Hornady 5.56 TAP 75gr. BTHP or a mix of Winchester 5.56 frangible and M855 5.56 Penetrator with every 5th round a red tracer.

    Don't hunt 4-legged critters, this is for the much more dangerous 2-legged ones. When we're qualifying it's freehand from the shoulder so anything hitting within an inch at 75 yards is close enough for government work, as they say.
     
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  8. Koda

    Koda Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    so yeah I plan to try out some different brands to see what works best. Ultimately I'll pick a quality load for final sight in/zero and some low quality plinkin loads for the fun of target shooting. For "low quality" I mean as cheap as possible without being dirty or unreliable I understand they wont be as accurate. @IronMonster I saw some of that ZQI brand 62g you mentioned on LAXAmmo for .31c ea I might pick up a case since it works for you thanks for the tip as I’m still not as familiar with some of these ammo brands for the 556.

    For quality loads I’ve found 2 that interest me, 1) Hornandy 556 75g BTHP and 2) Winchester 223 64g. SP. The Winchester is a soft point suitable for hunting so I might make that my main zero round
     
  9. Koda

    Koda Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    to add to the conversation if anyone has a link or can explain all the military designations I see it would help, like M1931, M855, "green tip" etc. ?
    Its my understanding that its called either 5.56x45 or 5.56 NATO, anything else is not what I want... right?

    for example when I was on Winchesters site they had 3 different names for 556...
    winchester.jpg
     
  10. Boboclown

    Boboclown North Carolina Well-Known Member

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    M193 is what the military used to use before they switched over to M855. Some of it might still be in use, unless they finally phased out the 1/12 barrels. There's too many different types of ammo the military uses for me to remember them all on the top of my head.

    As for that site, it looks like they'd be the same thing.
     
  11. Vorpalis

    Vorpalis Portland, OR Active Member 2016 Volunteer

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    M193 is 55 grain full metal jacket, lead core. It's cheap and fine for plinking. It's what the U.S. military used before M855 / SS109. Most 55gr plinking ammo is similar to this.

    M855 or SS109 or "green tip" is all the same thing: 62 grain full metal jacket, lead core like M193, but with a steel pin inside for penetrating light armor. It's currently the standard small arms round for NATO, despite that it's not all that good at penetrating light armor, and has issues stopping bad guys. Regardless, lots of people like it for its military cachet. The "green tip" is just paint used by the U.S. military to distinguish M855 from other 5.56 ammo. Not all NATO countries use the green paint, though, so you can find M855 without it.

    M856 is a tracer round designed to ballistically match M855. It's uncommon, usually more expensive, and though has a "cool" factor, it's not all that useful (well, except for starting forest fires).

    Mk262 is Sierra's 77gr MatchKing bullet loaded by Black Hills to 5.56 specs. The bullet is similar to Hornady's 75gr BTHP you mentioned. Despite that the military uses it for killing bad guys, there are better options available to civilians (not often you get to say that).

    The "X" in the name, like XM193 or XM855, just means that it was intended for a military contract, but was over-run, was from a cancelled order, or it didn't quite meet contract specifications, but is still perfectly safe to shoot.
    Any trailing letters, like XM193LC or XM855AE, are usually just plant / production line / batch codes. A notable exception is M855A1, but you probably won't come across that.

    Almost any brand will work okay for plinking ammo. Just know that the steel-cased or magnetic-projectile stuff like Wolf, Tula, Brown Bear / Silver Bear, and some of the Geco stuff, will cause more wear on your barrel and bolt than brass-cased, non-magnetic rounds.

    Your question about Winchester's website comes from poor website design; those aren't different cartridges, just someone half-assing their job.

    Hornady's 75gr BTHP is excellent for some things, but not very good for others. Winchester's Silver Tip is an older design that can still kill a deer, but there are better options now.
    Before you get too excited about any specific bullet, you should read-up on terminal ballistics. People get SUPER excited :eek: and even defensive :mad: about the cartridge they feel good about, and it's easy to be swayed by that enthusiasm. But, bullet performance for a particular task comes down to its construction and physics, and neither of those care at all how anyone feels about it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
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  12. Koda

    Koda Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    Vorpalis, excellent post and wealth of information for me... new to the 5.56, I wanted to find which one was the lead core option and thus hopefully the cheapest when ordering plinking ammo, I don’t see a need for me for penetrating armor or using tracers. I like your comment about terminal ballistics is very true, although I’m not really intending to hunt with this rifle the avid hunter in me wants to know what would work if I decided to hunt deer with this why I was favoring the Winchesters soft point over Hornandys hollowpoint. I'm guessing there are more hunting options in 223 but I’ve literally just started looking into this I still don’t even have any ammo yet the rifle is that new... :) Federal makes a 223 with a Nosler partition soft point that I think will be my selection.
     
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  13. Boboclown

    Boboclown North Carolina Well-Known Member

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    The cheapest plinking ammo, aside from steel case ammo, will be the 62 gr or 55 gr stuff. The military has way more than just that, such as blanks and other ammo used for the sake of training and testing.

    http://ammoseek.com/ammo/5.56x45mm-nato?ca=brass&co=new
    Aside from a few cents, you won't notice much difference in price.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
  14. Koda

    Koda Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    bookmarked. Thanks... I was using gunbot.net but I like the way this has a column for free shipping as thats what can kill the savings on smaller purchases.
     
  15. Vorpalis

    Vorpalis Portland, OR Active Member 2016 Volunteer

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    I haven't ever hunted, but my understanding is that the better defensive ammo is also effective on deer-sized game.
    In 5.56 loads, there aren't many options, mainly Federal's XM556SBCT3 / XM556FBIT3 or their T556TNB1, Black Hills' various 5.56 loadings of Barnes' TSX bullets, and Hornady's 5.56 loads of their 55gr and 70gr GMX bullets. Some of these can be harder to come by and more expensive than the equivalent in .223.
    In .223 there are a plethora of options. Just look for either a "bonded" bullet, or one of the all-copper / gilding metal bullets: Federal Fusion or the identical bullet in Speer's GoldDot loads, Federal's LE223T1 or LE223T3, Remington's CoreLokt, any Barnes TSX or Hornady GMX, or Winchester's RA556B loading of Nosler's 64gr bonded bullet, which Nosler also loads in their Silver State Armory brand. The Nosler Partition you mentioned should also work well.

    I second Boboclown's suggestion of using AmmoSeek.com to find good prices on ammo. GunBot.net is similar, but their deals are sometimes outdated.
    Also, shipping can add quite a lot, especially if you buy a case. I'll often add something to a website's shopping cart just to check shipping, and factor that into the price per round.
     
  16. Boboclown

    Boboclown North Carolina Well-Known Member

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    Unless its ammo meant for varmints, soft points in general would be okay for deer. Depending on the deer.
     
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  17. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Sub Light Speed Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I would get one or two boxes of every thing you can get your hands on ( with in reason; cost, non standard, not applicable) and shoot it and see which your rifle and you like the most. I would keep track of which shoots the best groups, preforms the best over all, and which I would use just for plinking. Then, I would invest in a case or three. I have yet to find a load that my rifles didn't shoot to at least U.S. Army specs, and that is saying something. Many do not preform the task for which I would need them, but all do work and would suit if it came down to it! I do not reload this chambering, but I do save my brass, just in case I change my mind or want to sell it or trade it for some thing else! Welcome the the AR world, You will find them to be a good all round platform that can fill many needs and are a hell of a lot of fun to own and shoot. Just wait till you decide to modify and customize to fit your needs you didn't know you had!
     
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  18. Nick Burkhardt

    Nick Burkhardt NE Oregon Well-Known Member

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    77grain Sierra MatchKing 556 works the best out of my 16" barrel with a 1 in 8 twist.
     
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  19. Boboclown

    Boboclown North Carolina Well-Known Member

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    To be fair, they give you a lot of room with that.
     
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