Best AR-15 Ammo: 5.56 NATO & .223 Rem

The actual military-grade M4 Carbine, different to the AR-15 you can buy

The AR-15 rifle is America’s favorite and we chew through millions of rounds of 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem Mag at the range each and every weekend.

But what is the best AR-15 ammo when it counts?

When it comes to home defense, or hunting if you live in Coyote country or Hog county, what is the best ammunition to load up with?

To answer the standard question, it is safe to shoot .223 Remington in a 5.56 NATO chamber, but not the other way round due to the higher pressure of the 5.56.

The .223 creates less pressure, and less muzzle velocity, but it’s a Law Enforcement favorite and so a lot of the best technology comes in .223

Not all of it, though…

If you want to look for the best ammo prices and bulk ammo specials, try these live links first:

Here are our top picks for defensive ammunition, AR-15 hunting ammo and some cheap ammo deals for range shooting.

Best AR-15 Ammo: 5.56 NATO & .223 Rem

1. Federal LE Tactical TRU

  • Price: $1.04/round
  • Pack Price: $520.00/500 rounds
  • Caliber: .223 Remington
  • Bullet Type: Nosler Ballistic Tip
  • Weight: 55gr

Federal LE Tactical is approved for Law Enforcement Officers and is arguably the best AR-15 ammo for self defense.

Nosler’s Ballistic Tip jams inward on contact to create expansion and a massive transfer of energy. That results in a spectacular entry wound and wound cavity from these polymer tipped bullets.

By design, overpenetration rarely happens and this is a reliable bullet for self defense and small game hunting. Federal brings it to you in their finest brass casings with Boxer primers and propellant that gives you a solid 3220fps muzzle velocity and a great home defense round.

You can get the corresponding Federal Full Metal Jacket FMJ ammo to save money on your range training AR-15 ammo. For defensive duties, this could be the best ammo at this price point.


Best AR-15 Ammo: 5.56 NATO & .223 Rem

2. Hornady Frontier

  • Price: $0.65/round
  • Pack Price: $12.99/20 rounds
  • Caliber: 5.56 NATO
  • Bullet Type: Boat Tail Hollow Point Match
  • Weight: 68gr
  • Velocity: 2,960fps
  • Energy: 1,323ft/lb

Frontier Cartridge is a sub-division of industry giant Hornady and employs state of the art loading techniques to create a better class of 5.56x45mm ammunition.

This BTHP Match is designed as a defensive round and the best tactical option, but it can also serve as a hunter thanks to the boat tail design that allows you to push the range of your AR-15.

Precision shooters love this boat tail cartridge, too, and Youtube is full of seemingly implausible videos of people ringing steel at 800 yards with this long range shooting ammo.

At this price, you can use this brass cased BTHP match ammo at for range shooting too. But you can also buy the lighter 62gr or 55gr hollow point, and Full Metal Jacket FMJ Hornady Frontier.

Heavy High Velocity Ammo Lands With a Thump

At 68gr this boat tail bullet is on the heavy side for AR ammo, but near 3000fps muzzle velocity and a few design tricks ensure the Hornady Frontier Cartridge flies straight and true, and lands with massive impact.

On contact, the jacketed hollow point does what a hollow point does. It expands and tumbles to create the most dramatic, life ending wound cavity it can. That means it’s a beast for home defense and hunting.

There are options with your weights and you can also buy Frontier chambered for .223 Remington, so check out the full range of bullets, including Full Metal Jacket FMJ, here.


Best AR-15 Ammo: 5.56 NATO & .223 Rem

3. Prvi Partizan PPU Rifle Line SP

  • Price: $0.70/round
  • Pack Price: $13.99/20 rounds
  • Caliber: 223 Remington
  • Type: Soft Point
  • Bullet Weight: 55gr
  • Velocity: 3248fps
  • Energy: 1288lb/ft

This Serbian manufacturer sounds like a budget option, but it really isn’t. The company was founded in 1928 and supplies ammunition to armed forces and law enforcement throughout Eastern Europe.

Now Prvi Partizan supplies a wide variety of rifle ammo, handgun ammo and some of the best AR-15 ammo for home defense.

These brass cased soft point bullets are advanced jacketed hollow points with a soft metal tip to enable smooth flight and a flat metal top with notches that turns it into a normal hollow point on impact. The soft core extends beyond the jacket and does most of the damage.

Prvi Partizan markets these soft points as target and hunting ammunition and it’s a good all round bullet for everything up to White Tail Deer hunting.

People do go hog hunting with them too. Bullet fragmentation, together with insane velocity and strong power, seem to work well in the field. We kinda think hogs need a 308 Win Mag rifle, too, but we’re all different.


Best AR-15 Ammo: 5.56 NATO & .223 Rem

4. Black Hills Ammunition Barnes TSX HP

  • Price: $1.80/round
  • Pack Price: $90.00/50 rounds
  • Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Type: Barnes TSX JHP
  • Bullet Weight: 50gr
  • Velocity: 3275fps
  • Energy: 1191lb/ft

At this price, Black Hills Ammunition needs to be special.

It is.

If you’re hunting hogs or deer then this is one of the few we’d truly recommend here without trying to talk you into a larger caliber.

That Barnes TSX features a monolithic machined copper projectile that expands from the moment of impact. This is 100% copper, lead free design. It’s a classic jacketed hollowpoint that aims to expand and destroy, rather than just tumble, and it punches well beyond its weight.

Black Hills Ammunition has produced a legit brass cased hunting round for medium sized game. Invest in the best gun, high quality red dot sights and then combine it with these Black Hills Ammunition. Your Modern Sporting Rifle suddenly might be the best gun for home defense, hunting, everything…

The only real downer is the price, but this is special occasion ammunition that you save for a pretty narrow band of circumstances.

Special Occasion Mags in Your Gun Safe

Of course you can keep it loaded at all times in your gun safe, too, because you won’t find a better round here for stopping power. Don’t go nuts with this stuff at the range, make every shot count and it makes even the best AR-15s that little bit better.

It is there for humane varmint hunting, just about handles White Tail Deer hunting and is probably the best ammo for self defense you will see today.

The company also makes some of the best 9mm ammo, if you like high price ammunition, with the Honeybadger.


PMC X-TAC M855 Green Tip ammunition. Powerful ammunition that can easily work for home defense.

5. PMC X-Tac M855

  • Price: $0.49/round
  • Pack Price: $255.99/500 rounds
  • Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Type: FMJ Green Tip Light Armor Piercing
  • Bullet Weight: 62gr

Green Tip ammo has a slightly mythical reputation based on half truths and old thinking, but this steel tipped Full Metal Jacket FMJ is still surprisingly potent as a defensive round, an awesome round for recreational shooting and a solid all-rounder.

You can’t use this 62 grain FMJ at a lot of indoor ranges because it can damage steel targets and is plain dangerous when it ricochets.But it isn’t quite as armor piercing as some people would have you believe. You want black tip ammo for that.

This PMC X-Tac can punch through barriers like heavy clothing, windscreens, or basic sheet metal, or even soft body armor designed for handgun rounds without a problem, though. So the LAP designation, Light Armor Piercing, isn’t technically a lie and all this sounds handy in a firefight.

When it comes to terminal ballistics and wound cavity etc, this is still a boat tail full metal jacket 62gr brass bullet. It is the standard 55 Grain M855 Ball ammunition designed to go through 1980s steel helmets.

And Winchester still produces it for government forces to this day. So it works.

The added punch means this 62 grain FMJ is effective when it comes to stopping power and dropping power, but a hollow point is more lethal than this Mil Spec ammo by the numbers. Overpenetration is also a thing with green tips to the point they can just punch straight through with minimal damage.

Cheap, Strong and Abundant

This PMC X-Tac Green Tip 62 Grain FMJ ammunition is much cheaper than the best hollow points and we have thousands of rounds of this stockpiled, just in case Joe Biden does cut off this supply. So look out for bulk ammo deals on good green tip.

It was designed for longer barrels, so it’s probably not the first point of call for your AR pistol. But your rifle will eat this stuff all day long and it is a United States military round, so it’s a ‘certain level’ and shouldn’t inflict damage or pain on your beloved rifle.

Mating the steel tip to the lead core means this PMC X-Tac probably won’t be your most accurate ammunition and a trifle with a low twist rate might struggle to stabilize it, but that shouldn’t matter at typical defensive distances.

Red Dot Sights on your AR-15 should make a much bigger difference to your grouping than your choice of ammo up to and beyond 150 yards…

Because this ammo for sale is so cheap, too, you can use the same 5.56 NATO ammo for range training and small game hunting. There’s a lot to be said for straight consistency.


Winchester Deer Season XP. Turn your AR-15 into a deer hunter

6. Winchester USA Deer Season XP

  • Price: $1.80/round
  • Pack Price: $35.99/20 rounds
  • Caliber: .223 Remington
  • Type: Polymer Tip Extreme Point
  • Bullet Weight: 64gr

Winchester USA created the Winchester Deer Season sub brand in a ranger of calibers, but they’re all aimed at, well, deer.

The 223 Remington version is just enough for smaller deer and there’s a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle version and 308 Winchester Magnum that is clearly there for the big game hunting in your bolt action rifles, and semi automatic rifles honestly.

A large diameter polymer tip allows for a wide and flat hollow point that maintains a flat trajectory and retains more of that 1,296fps muzzle velocity. That polymer tip is designed to get out the way of this next gen JHP and let the alloyed lead core go to work.

Marketing Speak Works

This is really flowery language to describe a massively effective soft tipped HP. But it is a great cartridge and might just be the best AR-15 ammo for home defense & hunting.

Full Metal Jacket FMJ Winchester is freely available, natch, I mean it runs the government contract to produce military rounds and sell the excess. So you can buy 1000 rounds of M855 55 grain FMJ Winchester here.

But we do like this soft hollow point, and it is among the best ammo for home defense. It’s in the conversation anyway when it comes to defensive ammo.


Federal American Eagle XM193 Full Metal Jacket FMJ. Get 1000 rounds, or 20, here.

7. Federal American Eagle XM193

  • Price: $0.63/round
  • Pack Price: $631.03/1000 rounds
  • Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Type: FMJ
  • Bullet Weight: 55gr
  • Velocity: 3250rpm
  • Energy: 1270lb/ft

Federal American Eagle is an institution round these part and this is a great price for a massive box of range ammo. You could always use this 55 grain FMJ for home defense, too.

This is a faithful reproduction of the original XM193 cartridge, designed in the 1960s for the M16 assault rifle and the primary round for the US military until deep into the 1980s. With the benefit of modern materials and mass manufacturing, of course.

American Eagle is a no frills Full Metal Jacket FMJ that always fires, behaves as you’d expect and produces enough velocity to seriously trouble armor plates.

Don’t doubt its potential as an offensive round, too, as it’s totally Mil Spec and good enough for small game hunting and, if it comes to it, a good old American gunfight.

Fragmentation can be impressive and this AR-15 ammo forms its own style of wound cavity that was devastatingly effective in the Vietnam War and other far flung places.

When it worked.

No Stopping Power at Times

Sometimes the Full Metal Jacket FMJ 5.56mm ammo just went straight through and seemingly had no effect on the enemy.

It works like a charm at the range, though, especially if your rifle has the ‘right’ twist rate. And is relatively clean ammo for sale.

You can opt for Green Tip American Eagle XM855. That 62 grain bullet comes with the steel Penetrator tip that helps with clothing, windscreens and small sheet metal shields. Or 1960s helmets. Which could be a thing, maybe…


Is Steel Cased Ammo Good?

No, brass creates a better chamber seal than a steel case, reduces blowback and makes for a cleaner, more reliable cartridge. The only real advantage to steel cased ammunition is price. If you’re putting thousands of rounds of 5.56 ammo through cheap guns, then go for it. If not, stick to brass.

Buy Ammo Online in Other Calibers

Home defense doesn’t begin and end with AR-15 ammo. You need the best home defense ammo, rifle ammo, shotgun ammo, 10mm ammo, rimfire ammo and more.

So where are the best places to buy ammo for home defense? Here are our best picks.

1. Palmetto State Armory

Get a good price on the best ammo for sale with PSA. This is the company responsible for the leading cheap AR-15 and the equally famous PSA Dagger pistol. Definitely check their prices before you buy a gun, from the best Glock through to 22 rifles and an FN SCAR.

It has bulk deals on the best AR-15 ammo and will sell you 1000 rounds of 55 grain FMJBT in one hit. You can choose rimfire ammo, 5.56mm ammo, 9mm ammo, shotgun ammo, 308 Win Mag ammo, AAC Blackout and all big bore rifle calibers.


2. Lucky Gunner

If you’re buying ammo on the regular then you know about Lucky Gunner. It’s s a little off the beaten track, but not much and experienced shooters are often long term Lucky Gunner customers.

Even hard to find ammo for sale is available in bulk, when the more famous names are imposing purchase limits. Especially on popular handgun calibers for the best handguns and AR-15 ammo. Lucky Gunner really doesn’t price gouge either when there’s an ammo shortage.

So if you want to buy ammo online, best check Lucky Gunner prices first for 55 grain FMJBT, handgun ammo prices, AR-15 ammo, 308 Win Mag ammo, AAC Blackout, deals on the best ammo for sale and discounts on the ammo for home defense.

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