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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In was browsing around the ammo department today, and I was struck by the wide range of prices for .223/5.56 ammo. Is there any other caliber where the difference from bottom to top is so big?

There were a couple of brands of plain old 55 gr. fmj for $.37 a round. From there, you could find loads ranging up to over $1.00 a round.

I don't need anything more than the basic stuff for my purposes, and I've found it works just fine. For folks who want/need the good stuff, is it really three times better?
 

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The big thing I notice is the cheaper you go the more likely a flyer is. But even with those at 300 yes on a standard IDPA target you are in the critical ring. Most of th cost stuff I have is PMC brass ammo.

You start pushing 400 yards plus and you would need the side of a Barn for the target to see where you it. The old "Couldn't hit the broadside of a Barn"

I have had good groups with federal 55gr polymer tipped boat tail ammo. It is not a wallet killer and performs well enough that I would need hand loads to do better.
 

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Usually the cheap stuff is from Russia. Some guys swear by it, some guys swear at it. I think the biggest problem with it is the lack of or inconsistent quallity control. It usually goes bang, just don't use it to zero your rifle with.

On going debate about the steel cases and the coating that's used. Stories about the coating melting & building up in the chamber to the point you get a stuck round; trip to the gun smith.

Some of the combloc (Russian) stuff doesn't meat SAAMI spec.

Personally I won't put 14¢ ammo in a $2K gun. I reload.

The Korean stuff is ok. The European stuff is ok.

US Military or REAL NATO is the best. I don't bother with anything over 62g in a AR because of the barrel twist.

Obviously personal defense ammo should be the most expensive but it will all hurt.

But hey, that's just me. You get what you pay for.
 

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I like American Eagle 5.56 that runs me $0.40-.45/locally. Comes in 55 and 62 grain and is a consistent round, reliable, and has decent brass.

I know lots of guys that swear by the Russian steel, etc. because they shoot lots of rounds at targets less than 100 yards and they are not real hung up on accuracy or reliability plus they don't care about reloading.
 

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I think the wide range in price is pretty typical, 223 and 556 are the most common center fire rounds, so it just stands out more. I can find 243 ammo for as little as 55 cents/rd but it goes as high as $2/rd.

Out of my 1:8 barrel, I mostly shoot American Eagle XM855 as range fodder but for long distance precision I shoot 75gr OTM.
 

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Wolf Gold 223 (brass cased ammo) and PMC are made in South Korea. Both get really good reviews and ordered by the case of 1000 rounds it tends to be in the 30-32 cent/round price range. Plus you get reloadable brass so you can shoot cheap stuff, reload better ammo than the expensive stuff and at half the cost.

Least that's what I do
 

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I don't have a clue.
Never bought any ammo except .22lr and pellets for the air rifles.
I get bullets from Midway, brass at the range.
Looks like the primer is the most expensive factor.
.223 do not use much powder.

I have to start shooting the .223 Mini and TC Contender.
I only have about 8000+ rounds.
I keep them in kitty litter bottles not those fancy plastic boxes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I've been perfectly happy with the cheap brass stuff. Have not tried any steel cased stuff in it yet. I've used steel in 9mm and .40 handguns, and it has worked fine for plinking. One brand I tried (Monarch, maybe?) Was really dirty. I'd get all sorts of baked on stuff that took a lot of work to clean off.
 

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So, is the $20+ stuff just more accurate for bench rest shooters?
There are a few factors but you are on the right track. The heavier bullets typically used in competitions and SD need more lead and powder so that drives up the cost. Better made rounds with features like consistent powder charge, OTM, pointed hollow point and boat tails cost more to manufacture. On top of that they are not selling a bazillion rounds so to turn a profit the retail price is usually higher to offset the manufacturing cost.

Based on my rifle specs and experience level (noob moron) I use Federal AE (Lake City) M855 as cheap range fodder and Prvi Partisan 69 and 75 gr OTM for affordable precision ammo. Is PPU as good as Lapua, no way but it's good enough for me.
 

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For plinking ammo I bought up a lot of the American Eagle 55 gr. FMJ before the crap of 2013 at $5.79 a box of 20. Now that same box is $8.99 everywhere I see it. As others have said I just reload most of my 223/5.56 and it' runs me right at .21 cents a round. And it's way better ammo than I can buy in the store for the most part.
 

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On thing about steel case ammo that is a myth is the barrel getting hot and melting the coating. I have put a torch on steel case hulls to see how hot the case had to get to melt the coating. The case was literally red hot before I melted the coating. You are never going to get a barrel hot enough to turn the case red. If you do not believe me most of you have a torch at home, try it for yourself.

If steel case ammo is sticking you need to polish the chamber. You do not want to use Flitz or Never Dull to polish your chamber. The chamber gets so slick that when it gets hot it grips the shell case. 600 grit sandpaper or grinding compound is what you want to use to polish your chamber.

For choosing your 223/5.56 SD ammo you want to select ammo that will penetrate at least 12 inches. Much to your surprise most soft point ammo will not penetrate 12 inches or more. Watch some YouTube videos. Someone has already done the expensive part for you.
 

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On thing about steel case ammo that is a myth is the barrel getting hot and melting the coating. I have put a torch on steel case hulls to see how hot the case had to get to melt the coating. The case was literally red hot before I melted the coating. You are never going to get a barrel hot enough to turn the case red. If you do not believe me most of you have a torch at home, try it for yourself.

If steel case ammo is sticking you need to polish the chamber. You do not want to use Flitz or Never Dull to polish your chamber. The chamber gets so slick that when it gets hot it grips the shell case. 600 grit sandpaper or grinding compound is what you want to use to polish your chamber.

For choosing your 223/5.56 SD ammo you want to select ammo that will penetrate at least 12 inches. Much to your surprise most soft point ammo will not penetrate 12 inches or more. Watch some YouTube videos. Someone has already done the expensive part for you.
The main issue with steel ammo is that it does not expand as brass does, letting hot gas and carbon blow back into the chamber and there are some coatings that will melt with the extra hot gas and cause sticking cases in tight chambers. I have done it, it's a range day ender sometimes. No steel case ammo will ever enter any of my 223/5.56 rifles again.

As far as sanding a chamber that is a no no in my book, if your not careful you'll take metal off and then have an out of spec chamber. If you want to shine it then use a mop with bore cleaner and a chamber brush, that will shine it right up without any possible damage.
 

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I have mixed feelings on steel-cased ammo. I shot it out of my Mosin-Nagant all the time, never a problem but those only Russian rifles, like most military guns, can eat anything. I bought a new Savage .223 Axis bolt and am reluctant to shoot Tula because it's not recommended by the manufacturer. Brass-case is the way to go with modern guns. My 2 cents.
 

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The main issue with steel ammo is that it does not expand as brass does, letting hot gas and carbon blow back into the chamber and there are some coatings that will melt with the extra hot gas and cause sticking cases in tight chambers. I have done it, it's a range day ender sometimes.
You have not shot enough steel ammo to melt ANY type of coating they have. You answered it in the first part of your post. It was the carbon that blew back and built up enough to cause your issue.

Don't take my word for it though...

Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo - An Epic Torture Test

A common belief is that the lacquer coating of certain steel cased ammunition will “melt” in the chamber of a hot rifle and cause subsequent rounds to fail to extract. At one point, we might have believed that.

But in this test, we saw three times as many failures to extract with the polymer coated Wolf brand ammo (15 extraction failures) than with the lacquer coated Brown Bear ammo (5 extraction failures). Although the polymer coated Tula ammunition was fired in different rifles, the rate of extraction failures in those rifles was lower than that of Wolf.

If anything would make that lacquer coating “melt,” it would be the treatment these rifles received during the test. We shot them until they were too hot to hold – hot enough that a chambered round would cook off in ten to fifteen seconds. We also tried leaving rounds chambered before temperatures reached that point. None of this harsh treatment caused extraction problems.

We found no evidence to back up the claim that lacquer coatings melt in the chamber and cause extraction failures.
ComBloc Ammo FAQ

Green lacquer - Isn't that what gums up the chamber when it gets hot and melts?

No.

Surprising, isn't it?

First of all, the coating probably isn't lacquer at all. True lacquer doesn't have very good heat resistance, and would cause havoc in super-hot rifle chambers. As a matter of fact, you can heat a fired lacquer-coated case with a blow torch, and the lacquer won't melt. Unfortunately, this piece of common (and incorrect!) knowledge continues to be very pervasive. Wolf was so plagued by these rumors that they developed the new light gray polymer coating prevalent on most of their current ammo.
 

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I won't use steel cased ammo. It just ain't natural. :)

I'm trying to stick with one brand, so I don't have to keep re-zeroing the rifle. Seems like every brand has a different POI. Fiocchi and American Eagle are the two main ones I use in .223. I can find them online for $6.49-$7.29 per 20. Midway just had the Fiocchi .223 PSP for $6.32 per box. Gel tests show it averages 12" penetration with good expansion. Bought 200 rounds for $63 plus $14.50 S&H. 39 cents a round, delivered.

For 5.56, PMC XTAC is excellent and American Eagle also. They run in the same price range as the .223.
 

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You have not shot enough steel ammo to melt ANY type of coating they have. You answered it in the first part of your post. It was the carbon that blew back and built up enough to cause your issue.

Don't take my word for it though...

Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo - An Epic Torture Test



ComBloc Ammo FAQ
Don't tell me I've not melted a coating, when a case comes out of the chamber tacky, the coating has started to melt. I've had rifles hot enough to cook off a round when it chambered. Monarch steel is bad about it, some cases even have runs of the coating on them.

Just carbon will not cause a round to stick hard enough to have to use a metal rod to drive the case out. I know what I've experienced so don't tell me it didn't happen.
 

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Don't tell me I've not melted a coating, when a case comes out of the chamber tacky, the coating has started to melt. I've had rifles hot enough to cook off a round when it chambered. Monarch steel is bad about it, some cases even have runs of the coating on them.

Just carbon will not cause a round to stick hard enough to have to use a metal rod to drive the case out. I know what I've experienced so don't tell me it didn't happen.
Lol ok... multiple, RELIABLE sources say it's not possible by just shooting but somehow joe-shmoe over here has accomplished it.

"Don't tell me it didn't happen! And that's the bottom line cause Stone Cold said so!!!"


 

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Don't tell me I've not melted a coating, when a case comes out of the chamber tacky, the coating has started to melt. I've had rifles hot enough to cook off a round when it chambered. Monarch steel is bad about it, some cases even have runs of the coating on them.

Just carbon will not cause a round to stick hard enough to have to use a metal rod to drive the case out. I know what I've experienced so don't tell me it didn't happen.
So you have had a rifle barrel SO hot, that a round "cooked off" as soon as the bolt closed on it?........Sorry, I call serious BS on that. It takes about 500* for the powder to get hot enough to go off and the ammo would have to stay in the chamber a fairly long time to reach that temp............so fire as soon as chambered.......NO WAY.
 

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So you have had a rifle barrel SO hot, that a round "cooked off" as soon as the bolt closed on it?........Sorry, I call serious BS on that. It takes about 500* for the powder to get hot enough to go off and the ammo would have to stay in the chamber a fairly long time to reach that temp............so fire as soon as chambered.......NO WAY.
Didn't you get the memo? You CANNOT tell him it didn't happen...
 
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