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:
- Palmetto State Armory – Bulk ammo, best deals on 5.56 NATO and 223
- Sportsman’s Guide – Bulk rifle ammo and great savings on 223
- Lucky Gunner – Great deals.
Here are our top picks for defensive ammunition, AR-15 hunting ammo and some cheap ammo deals for range shooting.
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 the best home defense ammo.
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. It stakes a good claim for the best home defense ammo too.
Federal brings it to you in their finest brass casings with Boxer primers and propellant that gives you a solid 3220fps, reliable expansion and more.
You can get the corresponding FMJ ammo to save money on your range training AR-15 ammo.
2. Hornady Frontier
- Price: $0.65/round
- Pack Price: $12.99/20 rounds
- Caliber: 5.56 NATO
- Bullet Type: BT Hollow Point Match
- Weight: 68gr
- Velocity: 2,960fps
- Muzzle 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 design that allows you to push the distance.
In our eyes that makes it the best 5.56 ammo for sale if you want an all-rounder. Others do specific jobs better, but as a jack of all trades then this might be the best 5.56 ammo for sale here today.
Long range 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 long range shooting too. But you can also buy the lighter 62gr or 55gr hollow point, and 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 for sale, 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 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.
3. Prvi Partizan PPU Rifle Line SP
- Price: $0.70/round
- Pack Price: $13.99/20 rounds
- Caliber: 223 Remington
- Type: Soft Point
- Weight: 55gr
- Velocity: 3248fps
- Muzzle 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 throughout Eastern Europe.
Now Prvi Partizan supplies a wide variety of rifle ammo, handgun ammo and shotgun shells.
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 soft point rounds, ttoo. 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, but we’re all different.
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
- Weight: 50gr
- Velocity: 3275fps
- Energy: 1191lb/ft
At this price, Black Hills Ammunition needs to be special.
It is. This might be the best 5.56 ammo for sale.
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.
This is a legit brass cased hunting round for medium sized game. Invest in the best gun, the best red dot sights and then combine it with these. 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 defensive duties.
The company also makes some of the best 9mm ammo, if you like high price ammunition, with the Honeybadger.
5. PMC X-Tac M855
- Price: $0.49/round
- Pack Price: $255.99/500 rounds
- Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
- Type: FMJ Light Armor Piercing
- 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, with a few tweaks.
And Winchester still produces the lighter stuff for government forces to this day. So it works.
The added punch means it is effective when it comes to stopping power and dropping power, but hollow points are more lethal than this Mil Spec ammo by the numbers. Overpenetration is also a thing with green tips to the point they can just icepick straight through with minimal damage.
Cheap, Strong and Abundant
This PMC X-Tac Green Tip 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 rifle with a low twist might struggle to stabilize it. But that shouldn’t matter at typical defensive distances.
The best Red Dot Sights on your AR-15 and training matter more to your grouping than ammo choice 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.
6. Winchester USA Deer Season XP
- Price: $1.80/round
- Pack Price: $35.99/20 rounds
- Caliber: .223 Remington
- Type: Polymer Tip Extreme Point
- 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 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 64 grain bullets. But it is a great cartridge and might just be the best AR-15 ammo for home defense & hunting.
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 like these more advanced and heavier bullets more.
7 Speer Gold Dot
- Price: $1.70/round
- Pack Price: $33.99/20 rounds
- Caliber: 5.56×45
- Type: JHP
- Bullet Weight: 55gr
- Velocity: 3220rpm
- Energy: 1266lb/ft
Even at this price, Speer Gold Dot would be much higher up the order if we could find a consistently good supply.
Speer Gold Dot is basically LEO approved, everywhere, and it’s one of the best 9mm cartridges, and 45 ACP ammo. It is almost literally the Gold standard for reliability and rapid expansion and is the best concealed carry ammo on its day.
It is our favorite 9mm concealed carry ammo, as it has been optimized for short barreled pistols and for the performance features you need in the best self defense ammo.
So if you see Speer Gold Dot, it’s as good as anything here. If…
8. Federal American Eagle XM193
- Price: $0.63/round
- Pack Price: $631.03/1000 rounds
- Caliber: 5.56×45
- Type: FMJ
- Bullet Weight: 55gr
- Velocity: 3250rpm
- Muzzle 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.
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. It’s totally Mil Spec, good enough for small game hunting and a good old American gunfight.
Fragmentation can be impressive with these bullet types. 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. 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…
9. Wolf Gold M193
- Price: $0.51/round
- Pack Price: $539.99/1000 rounds
- Caliber: 5.56×45
- Type: FMJ
- Bullet Weight: 55gr
- Velocity: 3,165rpm
- Energy: 1289lb/ft
Wolf Performance Ammunition made its name with cheap steel cartridges, but this 55 grain M193 is their higher quality brass.
Wolf Gold is still cheap and you can buy 1000 round ammo cans in one hit, which is nice if you’re looking for basic personal protection.
It’s pretty basic 55 grain M193, but that works and has done forever. Wolf Gold inevitably is not the best 5.56 ammo, but it’s never going to be the worst.
Wolf Gold is a new tier from the company and you can order target shooting and hunting ammo from them. They also do some solid options for 9mm and 45 ACP ammo for concealed carry.
Is Steel Cased Ammo Good?
No, brass creates a better chamber seal than steel cased ammo, reduces blowback and makes for a cleaner, more reliable cartridge.
Brass is just better than steel cased ammo on pretty much every metric.
You get less problems with jamming and stovepiping with brass cased ammo generally. Add in corrosion resistance, which does matter if you store bullets, and brass is building a pretty formidable case here right?
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 with the steel cased ammo. If not, stick to brass cased ammo and look out for gun deals.
Steel core ammo is totally different thing, and a good thing. A steel core can replace a lead core, which could be important in the near future if pollution becomes a reason to attack the gun community.
Selecting Bullets For Your Twist Rate
Most modern AR-15s will stabilize most modern bullets. That’s not an accident, but at the same time you should pay attention to your barrel twist.
If you’re looking for the last drops of performance with your target shooting bullets or when you’re hunting, this stuff matters.
The first AR-15s came with a 1:14 barrel twist rate, which essentially meant the bullet rotated once on its journey down and out the barrel, with one rotation in 14 inches. It was enough to stabilize the original army issue 55 grain bullets. Sort of.
Now we have 35-70 grain bullets and obviously they are very different. Still, AR-15 twist rates are generally 1:7, 1:8 or 1:9. That’s a narrow band, but you will see different results at opposite ends of that small scale.
In short if you’re running a heavier bullet, you should definitely try a faster twist rate barrel and see the effect it has on your target shooting with your new rifle. Or use lighter bullets. It might be better than you think..
This simple change could be the most effective ASR-15 upgrade you make this year, and it will also help you understand why certain bullets just don’t stay the course in your rifle.
Now a barrel twist rate of 1:8, which is pretty standard, means the bullet rotates once every 8 inches. And if you’re shooting heavier ammo you might want to consider the 1:7 twist rate.
Shorter AR pistols tend to have a tighter barrel twist.
Buy Ammo Online in Other Calibers
The best 5.56 ammo is just the start. Any committed gun owner is going to need other calibers. Don’t worry, we can help, because we have big hearts…
If you want 9mm self defense ammo, rifle ammo, shotgun ammo, 10mm ammo, rimfire ammo and more, here are our best ammunition stores online.
1. Sportsman’s Guide
This company has emerged as an absolute star with popular ammo for sale in large quantities.
You can find the best 5.56 ammo, the best 9mm ammo and lots more besides. Sometimes in 500 round cans or even 1000.
Get 55 grain FMJ ammo or the best ammo for home defense.
Sportsman’s Guide also have some great gun deals on offer.
2. Palmetto State Armory
Get a good price on the best ammo for sale with Palmetto State Armory prices. They include daily gun deals you should really look at.
This is the company responsible for the leading cheap AR-15 and the equally famous PSA Dagger pistol. Definitely check the Palmetto State Armory prices before you buy a gun, from the best Glock through to 22 rifles and an FN SCAR.
It has bulk deals and will sell you 1000 rounds of 55 grain FMJBT in one hit. You can choose rimfire ammo, 5.56mm ammo, shotgun ammo, 308 Win Mag ammo, AAC Blackout and all big bore rifle calibers. They have all the best CCW ammo too.
Palmetto State Armory can also sell you the best red dot sights as well. And guns, lots of guns.
So before you pull the trigger, check Palmetto State Armory prices.
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, 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 ammo for home defense.
If you’re looking for the best CCW ammo for the best concealed carry handguns, they can help there too.
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