Is your favorite brand of ammo out of stock and you’re wondering what to buy instead?
Let’s talk about the best ammo brands out there for hunters, target shooters, and those looking to defend themselves
With times being what they are, many of us are thinking about stocking up on ammo.
If you’re looking for another brand because your preferred flavor isn’t available, or you just want an idea of which brands suck and which ones don’t, here’s an overview of the best ammo brands around.
Just because something isn’t on this list doesn’t mean it isn’t good ammo, it may just mean it’s a little overpriced, hard to get a hold of, or ya know… maybe it sucks. Still, there’s plenty of good ammo out there.
But the best is right here.
Ed. note: This isn’t in order of best to worst–just the order we felt like typing it in. We know you like Hornady best, but please be gentle in the comments. We have feelings, too. <3
And yes…almost everything is sold out but stock is slowly trickling in…
Best Ammo Brands
1. Federal Premium
Federal Premium Ammunition has been around in one form or another since the 1920s, and they’ve become one of the premier ammunition manufacturers during that time.
They’re so prolific, you’re almost guaranteed to find Federal ammo on the shelf just about anywhere ammo is sold (assuming the panic buyers haven’t snapped it all up).
No matter what type of ammo you’re looking for, they’re sure to have some options available, from cheap birdshot and plinking-grade .22LR all the way up to more expensive match-grade centerfire rifle ammo for you PRS folks out there that don’t reload your own.
Gold Medal Match is a good option if you’re looking to hit something really, really far away.
No, that’s not a typo. It really is a thing that exists and its for… stuff.
Ostensibly, it’s another stab at .357 magnum power with a smaller cartridge, which allows for a full six shots in a revolver where .357 magnum would leave you with just 5.
Should you rush out and buy one? Maybe not, but it is pretty cool, and I bet none of your buddies have one. And don’t worry, Federal and other manufacturers make plenty of defensive and target loads for it.
Finally, their American Eagle line (the red box on every ammo shelf) is a great budget option that can really run with some of the more expensive stuff, particularly their 9mm and .45 ACP.
Some Federal ammo that might be in stock:
- American Eagle 5.56 55 gr XM193
- American Eagle 9mm 115/124gr
- American Eagle 5.56 XM193 (stripper clips)
Cascade Cartridges, Inc has been around since 1951, when the company was founded by Richard Speer (brother of Vernon Speer from… Speer, which we’ll cover next) and Arvid Nelson.
If you haven’t heard of CCI, or at least seen it on store shelves, you’ve probably never bought any ammo at all. They are probably the biggest name in rimfire ammo, and with good reason.
Their Stinger and Standard Velocity .22LR are two of the most popular rounds on the planet, and you can find them for sale just about everywhere.
Their Mini-Mag .22LR is also one of the best of the best, and is an industry-standard. For this reason, they’re mostly associated with rimfire ammo, including .22LR, .22WMR, and .17HMR. As far as the latter goes, their V-Max stuff is top-notch.
They don’t just make awesome rimfire ammo though. Far from it in fact. CCI actually makes one of our most-beloved handgun practice ammo lines, Blazer Brass.
This is some of the best budget-friendly centerfire ammo on the market, and you best believe we’ve shot many, many thousands of rounds of it. For cheap plinking ammo that could do as competition ammo in a pinch, it’s not bad.
Check out some possibly in-stock CCI ammo:
Speer is owned by the same parent company as CCI (and just about every other shooting sports and outdoors company on the market) and as I mentioned was founded by Vernon Speer, brother of Richard Speer, the founder of CCI.
The idea, at least as I was told, was that CCI would make cartridges and primers and Speer would make bullets. Today, Speer does make a lot of bullets, and they’re very popular with reloaders, but they also make some really excellent high-end defensive ammo.
They’re actually one of the premier manufacturers of defensive ammo in general, and many major police departments and government agencies trust Speer hollowpoints above all else.
Speer is so beloved by LEO shooters that they actually have a line of ammo called “Lawman” that’s designed specifically for duty use.
They also make the ever-popular Gold Dot line that is one of the industry standards for carry ammo (I happen to have them loaded up right now in fact).
Oh, and just like CCI, they make all their stuff right here in the USA. Lewiston, Idaho to be specific.
4. Sellier & Bellot
Sellier & Bellot, or “S&B” as you’ll see it a lot, is a Czech manufacturer that has been making ammunition since the days of percussion caps.
They’re actually one of the oldest continuously-functioning companies in the entire world. They made a lot of the percussion caps for the French infantry following the death of Napoleon.
In other words, while the name may be unfamiliar to those outside Europe, Sellier & Bellot is a company worth being aware of.
They make a huge variety of ammunition, including some really excellent match-grade stuff and high-end hunting ammo. Their line of hunting ammo topped with SBT Gameking bullets is a great choice for hunters looking for extra precision.
Their huge catalog also includes things 6.5×55 and 303 British, so if you have an older European gun, particularly a milsurp of some kind, there’s a good chance they make ammo for it.
Really, there’s a good chance they’ve been making ammo for it since the beginning!
5. Prvi Partizan
Prvi Partizan is another European manufacturer worth knowing. They are another company with a long history, going back to 1928. They’re a Serbian company that primarily made ammunition for the Serbian Army and national police units.
Today, Prvi Partizan ammo is available all over the world, including your local sporting goods store.
They are actually the third largest ammo supplier to the US believe it or not, so you should have no trouble finding their products.
And if you happen to have, say, a rifle you picked up at a gun show that’s chambered in something ridiculous like 7.65x53mm Argentine, there’s a good chance Prvi Partizan makes rounds for it.
They’re actually one of the only manufacturers that actually makes 8mm Lebel anymore, so if you have one of those historic guns and you actually want to shoot the damn thing, Prvi Partizan is a great place to start looking.
Of course, they also make some more standard offerings as well, and they’re all rock solid.
Prvi Partizan is one of the easier-to-find budget plinking options around us, and I bet you can get your hands on some as well. It’s definitely military-grade stuff and it’s a long way from match quality, but it does go bang every time.
If you know anything about ammo, you know that Wolf, like Tula below, is not necessarily a byword for quality. They produce primarily steel-cased rounds for military firearms.
If you’re looking for 9mm, 5.56, or 7.62 and you aren’t going to be defending life and liberty with them, Wolf isn’t so bad.
Yes, it’s low-quality ammo. No, it’s not going to stand up against the more expensive offerings, even Prvi Partisan’s budget stuff. But it’s also cheaper. Much cheaper, in some cases.
And let me be clear, the stuff is not dangerous. Well, to the shooter, assuming they’re following proper firearms safety.
They mostly make FMJ ammo so not the best options for hunting or self-defense, but there’s something to be said for the “buy it cheap and stack it deep” mentality, particularly if you’re looking for training ammo.
And that’s why Wolf (and Tula) are on this list of “Best” manufacturers. When you want to rip through 200 rounds at the range with your buddies without having to hide the credit card bill, look no further.
There’s a certain gleeful joy in turning money into noise, and we’d be the first to admit that sometimes you have to pew pew just for the sake of pew pew.
So with that in mind, remember that just because something isn’t the top of the line, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. In the case of Wolf, if you’re looking for ammo that goes bang and won’t break the bank, look no further.
BUT…they also have Taiwanese manufactured brass .223 that kicks butt.
Unless, of course, you’d rather pick up some TulAmmo. TulAmmo is made by Tula, a Russian arms company about three hours drive South of Moskow.
You Mosin Nagant fans probably recognize the name and yes, this is the company that made several bajillion Mosins for the Russian army. This company helped beat the Nazis.
Today, their ammo is widely known as one of the better cheap and cheerful options when it comes to plinking rounds.
Until about a decade ago they actually made all of Wolf’s ammo, so they’re very similar but I’ve always had better luck with TulAmmo. Your mileage may very.
That said, both are good, both specialize in polymer-coated, steel-cased ammo in military calibers, neither are going to win any accuracy awards, and neither will cause you to spend very much money when you want to go shoot something.
Overall, don’t tear yourself up choosing between the two. Go with the cheaper option, that’s what you’re here for right?
Hornady is a name you’re probably already aware of, but we’re going to talk about them anyway just in case because holy crap they make good stuff.
Seriously, Hornady is far and away the best major manufacturer of premium ammo. There might be better stuff out there in some cases, but for sheer consistency and availability, Hornady takes the gold medal here.
If you’re looking for off-the-shelf ammo that can compete with hand loaded stuff, this is the place to start your search.
Their ELD-M line of centerfire rifle ammo is particularly good and is a favorite around the office for testing long-range setups, especially in 6.5 CM, .308 Win, and other rifle cartridges in that class. They developed 6.5CM so it makes sense they’d do well with it.
Beyond that, Hornady makes some of the finest defensive munitions ever devised by man, with their Critical Defense and Critical Duty lines both being extremely popular with concealed carriers and police officers respectively.
Winchester is a legend in the gun world, and their ammo is a big part of that reputation. “Winchester white box” is the gold standard for a middle-of-the-road ammo offering almost anywhere you go.
They began making ammo back in 1873 and were one of the first companies to really bring together ammo and firearms manufacturing. They’re responsible for helping make firearms such an institution in America, particularly after the first World War.
Winchester makes their products in Alton, Illinois, and that includes their rifle, pistol, and shotgun offerings.
Besides their standard “white box” offerings that come in every common caliber you can imagine, plus several 12-gauge flavors as well, they have defensive ammo in their Silvertip line and they leaned into the law-enforcement market with the Active Duty line.
Rest assured, whatever ammo you need, you can find it in a Winchester box, and you can rest easy knowing you’re buying quality.
PMC ammunition is made by Poongsan Corporation (no I didn’t make that name up) in South Korea. They specialize in everything from small arms ammunition all the way up to artillery shells. In other words, if it goes boom, they know about it.
The company has only been around since the late 60’s, but in that short time they’ve become one of the most prevalent manufacturers in the world.
Every piece of ammo they make is manufactured to the standard of South Korean and NATO allied militaries, so you know it’s good stuff. Not great, mind you, but no military ammo is going to win you accuracy medals.
This is good, honest, hard-working, and dependable ammo. Very working class stuff here, and that’s why we love it.
They offer mostly centerfire rifle and pistol ammo, with an emphasis on military style FMJs. Not a lot of hunting options, but for ratting away for the apocalypse, or just general target practice, PMC is good stuff.
Check out more possible PMC ammo over at PSA.
I’m going to end this list with one of my personal favorite ammo brands, Fiocchi.
Fiocchi is an Italian company that was founded in 1876 by Giulio Fiocchi, and the company is still in Fiocchi family hands, making it one of the oldest family businesses still operating. They are based out of Lecco, Italy and their products make their way around the world.
Fiocchi is a huge manufacturer, and they produce a genuinely staggering amount of ammo for all kinds of centerfire and rimfire firearms, but their big thing has always been shotgun shells.
Of course, it’s a lot easier to get a hunting shotgun in most European countries, so people tend to gravitate towards those over pistols and rifles, but still.
Fiocchi makes every kind of shotgun shell you can imagine, from cheap birdshot to serious defensive buckshot to slugs to freaking birdshot tracers for trap shooting.
The company also makes handgun and rifle ammo, and like Prvi Partizan and others they make some interesting niche cartridges like the historic .455 Webley and .303 British.
Oh, and to make things even better, even though it’s an Italian company, over 3/4ths of the ammo sold under the Fiocchi name in the US is manufactured by American workers in Missouri.
Check out some more Fiocchi at PSA.
There are a number of great ammo brands out there, and hopefully, now you have a better idea of the ones that best suit your individual needs. No matter your intended purpose or budget, there’s a huge variety of manufacturers making great ammo you can use.
There’s really never been a better time to be buying factory ammo because we, as shooters, have a broader selection of quality ammo than ever before.
I hope if you were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of ammo manufacturers, or just wanted to know what was worth picking up at the store to try, maybe now you’ll have a better idea the next time you’re staring at the wall of cartridge boxes wondering what to spend your hard-earned dollar on.
What’s your favorite ammo brand? Do you have another go-to option that we didn’t include on this list? Want more links of in-stock ammo and the places to get them…check out Best Places to Buy Ammo Online!