Before getting to the nitty gritty's of securing the best 5.56 ammo, let’s talk a bit about the platform. The Ar-15 is one of the most impressive firearms ever to be invented by man. In fact, just a handful of firearms are described as having revolutionized the firearm filed, with the Ar-15 platform being one of such. Developed during the late 1950’s, the AR-15 came into existence as a new rifle for the USA military. It replaced the M11 and the M14 rifles. These were 30 caliber weapons. However, the AR-15 is chambered with a new caliber type known as the 5.56 NATO or .223 Remington. The main reason why it easily came to the filed with a bang is because of its accuracy and how much lightweight the rifle is as compared with the guns it replaced.
After successfully wading through the market, and ending up with the best AR-15 firearm, the time comes when you now need to merge it with the best 5.56 ammo. The question you are now asking yourself is what is the best 5.56 ammo for my AR-15 firearm?
To understand what is best for you, let’s go through some of the most important features surrounding the bullets. These are the bullet type, the caliber, the barrel twist and lastly, the price range.
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Type of Bullet
There are two main bullet type categories namely: the Hollowpoint/Softpoint bullet types and the full metal jackets. The type of bullet you go for will mainly be determined by what you want to use the bullet for. For instance, the best 5.56 ammo for plinking is the Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) type. On the contrary, the Soft points/Hollow point (SP/HP) bullets come in handy when you want something for long range or home defense application.
Still, within the bullet type, the 5.56 rounds are always marked M855 or M193. The only similarity between the two is their pricing. However, it is important to note that the M855 is 62-grain ammo that is a better penetrator than its M193 counterpart. It is, therefore, the best 5.56 ammo if you are looking for something that will cause maximum damage on your target. Unfortunately, it features a steel rod in it, a piece of metal that is highly prohibited in some ranges thus limiting your choice to the M193
The M193 on the other side is standard 55-grain FMJ military grade ammo that offers best soft target hitting below 100 yards. In a nutshell, the best 5.56 ammo for short ranges will be the M193 while the best 5.56 ammo for long ranges is the M855 ammo.
The AR-15 Calibers: .223 Vs 5.56
The AR-15 has been designed to be capable of firing two caliber types namely: the .223 Remington and the 5.56 NATO (5.56x45mm). To know exactly what you gun can shoot, go through the specifications of the firearm or in most cases, you will find it physically engraved on the firearm’s barrel.
When it comes to the physical appearance, the .223 Remington and the 5.56 NATO are very similar. The difference comes in the pressure amount that each can withstand. Ideally, the pressures that can be withstood by the .223 ammo are far much less when compared to the amount of corresponding 5.56 NATO pressures.
It is because of the high pressures characterized with the 5.56 NATO, that it has been marked as a military round as opposed to the .223 Remington, which is a civilian caliber.
Conceptualizing this information makes it clear to you that the 5.56 chamber will be capable of firing the 5.56 and the .223 ammo. Conversely, the .223 chamber is only capable of firing the .223 ammo. Though it may work, it is quite risky to shoot 5.56 NATO ammo, on a .223 barrel gun.
AR-15 Barrel Twist
The barrel of you AR-15 rifle should indicate the required caliber twist. This is indicated in ratio form, with the available ratios ranging between 1:7 and 1:12. The barrel twist simply implies that the barrel spins the corresponding bullet one complete revolution every y-inches. Ideally, the barrel twist helps you in choosing the ideal bullet weight you would prefer for your firearm. Below are some of the barrel twists and their corresponding bullet weights.
Ideally, the heavier bullets have been designed and reserved for the military. The average civilian cartridges are most likely designed for the 55 and 62-grain bullets which perfectly shoot in barrels between 1:7 and 1:9
The Best 5.56 Ammo
You now have it. Don’t do the mistake of confusing between the .223 and 5.56NATO ammos simply because both of them have been designed for the AR-15 platform. After being able to distinguish between the two, take time to consider the barrel twist and bullet type, depending on the type of shooting you will be engaged in. lastly, the reliability and accuracy of the caliber must be considered. In a nutshell, due to the fact that the AR-15 is one of the most common types of firearm, by default, the 5.56 NATO becomes one of the popular rounds of ammo. Go for the best.