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Best Ammo Brands for Plinking, Accuracy, & Self-Defense

Not sure if that ammo deal is good stuff? We go over a few of our favorite ammo brands that we use daily for plinking, accuracy, and defense.

Is your favorite brand of ammo out of stock and you’re wondering what to buy instead?

Tested 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo
A collection of 6.5 Creedmoor we use for testing

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 work, here’s an overview of the best ammo brands around.

Bullet Farmer Mad Max
Those who bought ammo BEFORE it all sold out

Note: 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 or hard to get a hold of. There’s plenty of good ammo out there.

But the best is right here.

Spicy Memes
You heard us–the BEST.

Also, before you come for us in the comments…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…

Lots of Ammo
Lots of Ammo

Best Ammo Brands

1. Federal Premium

This company has been around in one form or another since the 1920s. And Federal Premium Ammunition has become one of the premier ammunition manufacturers during that time.

Federal Logo
Federal Logo

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 .22 LR all the way up to more expensive match-grade centerfire rifle ammo for you PRS folks.

SW22 with Federal .22LR
SW22 with Federal .22LR

Gold Medal Match is a good option if you’re looking to hit something really, really far away.

They also have several of their own calibers floating around, such as the .224 Valkyrie that was all the rage a few years ago and some other more esoteric things like the .327 Federal Magnum.

No, that’s not a typo. It really is a thing that exists and it’s for…stuff.

.327 Federal Magnum
.327 Federal Magnum compared to other .32 calibers

Ostensibly, it’s another stab at .357 Magnum power with a smaller cartridge. This means 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.

Federal Gold Medal .223 69gr
Federal Gold Medal .223 69gr

Finally, the 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 9mm and .45 ACP.

Federal American Eagle 9mm
Federal American Eagle 9mm

Some Federal ammo that might be in stock:

2. CCI

Cascade Cartridges, Inc has been around since 1951, when the company was founded by Richard Speer and Arvid Nelson.

CascadeCartridgeIncLogo
Cascade Cartridge Inc Logo

CCI is probably the biggest name in rimfire ammo…and with good reason.

Richard Speer
Richard Speer

Their Stinger and Standard Velocity .22 LR are two of the most popular rounds on the planet, and you can find them for sale just about everywhere.

Popular .22LR Ammo
Popular .22LR Ammo

Their Mini-Mag .22 LR is also one of the best of the best.

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. CCI produces one of our most-beloved handgun practice ammo lines — Blazer Brass.

CCI Blazer Brass 9mm
CCI Blazer Brass 9mm

This is some of the best budget-friendly centerfire ammo on the market, and you best believe we’ve shot 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:

3. Speer

This company is owned by the same parent company as CCI (and just about every other shooting sports and outdoors company on the market).

It was founded by Vernon Speer, brother of Richard Speer, the founder of CCI.

Speer Logo
Speer Logo

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, but they also make high-end defensive ammo.

Vernon Speer and Jack O'Connor
Vernon Speer (left) and Jack O’Connor

They’re one of the premier manufacturers of defensive ammo in general with many major police departments and government agencies trusting their hollowpoints above all else.

Speer 230 gr Gold Dot
Speer 230 gr Gold Dot

Speer is so beloved by LEO shooters that they actually have a line of ammo called “Lawman” designed specifically for duty use.

Speer Lawman 357 sig
Speer Lawman 357 sig

They also make the ever-popular Gold Dot line that is one of the industry standards for carry ammo.

Speer Gold Dot 45 ACP 185gr
Speer Gold Dot 45 ACP 185gr

Oh, and just like CCI, they make all their stuff right here in the USA — Lewiston, Idaho to be specific. 

4. Sellier & Bellot

“S&B” or Sellier & Bellot, is a Czech manufacturer that’s been in the ammunition business since the days of percussion caps.

Sellier & Bellot Ammo
Sellier & Bellot Ammo Logo

They’re actually one of the oldest continuously-functioning companies in the entire world.

S&B even made percussion caps for the French infantry following the death of Napoleon. 

In other words, while the name may be unfamiliar to those outside Europe, this manufacturer is a company worth knowing. 

Producing a variety of ammunition, they’re known for 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.

S&B 303 British
S&B 303 British

Their huge catalog also includes things 6.5×55 and 303 British. So, if you own an older European gun, particularly a milsurp of some kind, there’s a good chance they make ammo for it.

5. Prvi Partizan 

Prvi Partizan is another European manufacturer worth knowing. They are another company with a long history, dating back to 1928.

This Serbian company primarily made ammunition for the Serbian Army and national police units.

Prvi Partizan Logo
Prvi Partizan Logo

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 U.S. believe it or not.

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. 

K31 and PPU ammo
K31 and PPU ammo

They’re actually one of the only manufacturers producing 8mm Lebel.

Of course, they also make some more standard offerings as well, and they’re all rock solid.

PPU 8x50 Lebel
PPU 8×50 Lebel

Prvi Partizan is one of the easier-to-find budget plinking options around.

It’s definitely military-grade and a long way from match quality, but it does go bang every time.

PPU Ammo
Seriously–they make everything.

6. Wolf

Oh, Wolf.

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.

WolfWPALogo
Wolf Logo

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. But it’s also cheaper. Much cheaper, in some cases.

very cheap
@ Tula and Wolf

They mostly make FMJ ammo, but there’s something to be said for the “buy it cheap and stack it deep” mentality — particularly if want training ammo.

mini-gun at battlefield vegas
If you shoot like this at the range, you’re gonna want Wolf 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. We’d be the first to admit that sometimes you have to pew pew just for the sake of pew pew.

Pioneer Arms PPS43-C Steel Cased Ammo

So with that in mind, remember that just because something isn’t 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, you found it.

BUT…they also have Taiwanese manufactured brass .223 that kicks butt.

Best .223 Bang-for-the-Buck
18
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

7. TulAmmo

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.

TulAmmo Logo
TulAmmo Logo

You Mosin Nagant fans probably recognize the name and yes, this is the company that made several bajillion Mosins for the Russian army. They helped beat the Nazis.

100 Nazi Scalps
100 Nazi Scalps, courtesy of Tula!

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 vary.

Tulammo
Tulammo

That said, both are good and specialize in polymer-coated, steel-cased ammo in military calibers. However, neither will win any accuracy awards.

Overall, don’t tear yourself up choosing between the two. Go with the cheaper option, that’s what you’re here for right?

8. Hornady

This is a name you’re probably already aware of…but we’re going to talk about them anyway because holy crap they make good stuff.

Hornady Logo

Seriously, Hornady is far and away one of the best major manufacturers of premium ammo –if for nothing else than sheer consistency and availability.

If you’re looking for off-the-shelf ammo that can compete with hand-loaded stuff, this is the place to start your search.

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor
Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor

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.

(Insert Obligatory Creedmoor Meme)

Beyond that, this ammo maker produces some of the finest defensive munitions with the Critical Defense and Critical Duty lines both being extremely popular with concealed carriers and police officers respectively.

Hornady Critical Defense 9mm, post-firing

9. Winchester

You want to talk about a legend…Winchester is the legend. And their ammo is a big part of that reputation.

“Winchester white box” is the gold standard for middle-of-the-road ammo almost anywhere you go. 

Winchester Logo
Winchester Logo

They began making ammo back in 1873 and were one of the first companies to really bring together ammo and firearms manufacturing. Not to mention, they’re responsible for helping make firearms such an institution in America, particularly after the first World War.

7-62x39-123-grain-fmj-winchester-usa-20-rounds
Winchester White Box 7.62x39mm

This company makes its products in Alton, Illinois, including its rifle, pistol, and shotgun offerings.

Besides their standard “white box offerings that come in every common caliber you can imagine, they offer defensive ammo in their Silvertip line and they leaned into the law-enforcement market with the Active Duty line.

Winchester Active Duty 115gr 9mm
Winchester Active Duty 115gr 9mm

Rest assured, whatever ammo you need, you can find it in a Winchester box.

10. PMC

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.

PMC Ammo Logo
PMC Ammo Logo

The company has only been around since the late 60s, 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.

military grade meme
Yee-up!

This is good, honest, hard-working, and dependable ammo. Very working class stuff here, and that’s why we love it.

PMC Bronze .223 55gr
PMC Bronze .223 55gr

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.

11. Fiocchi

An Italian company, Fiocchi was founded in 1876 by Giulio Fiocch. And the company is still in Fiocchi family hands — making it one of the oldest family businesses still operating.

Fiocchi Logo
Fiocchi Logo

Based out of Lecco, Italy, 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.

12ga Birdshot, Opened
Fiocchi 12ga Birdshot, Opened

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. Like Prvi Partizan and others, they manufacture 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 U.S. is manufactured by American workers in Missouri.

12. Remington

We know, we know, Remington has been through the wringer when it comes to bankruptcy and buying/selling. But hear us out.

They recently moved away from Remington after the company filed for bankruptcy and is now housed under Vista Outdoor — ya’ know, the one that owns Federal.

Since its move to Vista, the company has steadily churned out all sorts of ammunition — from rimfire to shotgun and everything in between.

Overall, we like the direction that Remington’s ammunition seems to be headed. And in an ammo shortage, every little bit counts, right?

Come to us, sweet, sweet brass.

While we probably won’t tote it in our daily carry guns, we do appreciate the value the company brings to range days, training, and plinking.

Plinking is fun!

And, better yet, we got to tour their facility recently. So, if you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind closed doors…check out the article here or the video below.

Conclusion

There are a number of great ammo brands out there and no matter your intended purpose or budget, there’s something for everyone.

When you’re deciding how much ammo to keep around remember to include training time. No matter what, you have to keep your handgun skills sharp and growing.
Empty trays? Time to buy more!

When it comes to choosing ammo, consider your purpose and budget and finalize it from there. You really can’t go wrong with any of the above options.

What’s your favorite ammo brand? Let us know in the comments below. Also, check out Best Places to Buy Ammo Online for our recommended spots to stock up!

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13 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Shoal Creek

    For hunting and match shooting, Norma beats even Hornady in consistency and quality. You can't find a better quality factory match or hunting ammo than Norma. You can get slightly better with hand loads, but only if you're a perfectionist when it comes to hand loading.

    October 14, 2022 9:14 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jim

      Right

      December 3, 2022 12:39 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tomas A. Lange

    good

    March 11, 2022 3:53 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    jalsi98

    Even though sigsauer.cc is my go-to choice for range ammo compared to Sellior & Bellot. Clean, no misfires and compact packaging makes for easy storage.

    March 4, 2022 6:29 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark

    Sellior & Bellot is my go-to choice for range ammo. Clean, no misfires and compact packaging makes for easy storage. For EDC I'm sold on Hornady Critical Defense or Critical Duty for Self-Defense.

    January 4, 2022 11:03 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    John

    The clock is ticking on Tula. Biden banned all ammunition that is manufactured or imported from Russia. Companies have until the expiration date of their current import permits. After that, no more.

    That means Tula has to move their operations or their days are numbered. Wolf carries ammo from Ukraine, Germany, Taiwan, and "other European countries", but they do get a lot from Russia as well. So Wolf will have to come up with other suppliers to replace their Russian suppliers.

    We'll most likely see more imports from other countries increase to fill the market gap, particularly for 7.62x39mm. I've noticed a few lesser-known brands popping up more: Belom (Serbia), Igman (Bosnia), MaxxTech (Bosnia), and Mesko (Poland).

    January 1, 2022 10:22 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Earl

    You forgot the M in PMC, Munitions.

    January 1, 2022 8:42 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    MAV

    Very informative article and enjoyable to read. I noticed the author’s byline is now included at the top of the article, under the title. Also the font is now much easier to read, and the photos seem larger and much sharper. Thank you for these significant changes.

    December 31, 2021 8:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rex t. Dog

    We are .22lr plinkers...we use the cheapest bulk ammo we can find for our lever and single action firearms, any brand will go bang in those guns, but we prefer Remington, Aguila, and Federal (In thousands of rounds we do experience inconsistent ammo and the occasional total dud, but for a few pennies a round we can live with it)...in our autos CCI and Remington have been the best, but we prefer to keep the CCI stashed...for our larger caliber handguns again we prefer the cheapest brands we can find, and have had zero problems with any brand...the 'good stuff' is either loaded for home/carry or stashed...we try hard to not make this rocket science when enjoying ourselves -it goes bang, we good...

    September 3, 2021 5:27 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Marc

    Hi Megan; enjoyed the article. I just picked up 1000 rds of brass-cased, 123 gr 7.62x39 ammo of the Polish MESKO brand, and I don’t know if it’s corrosive or not. Seller is Tactical Shit Shop (I’m not making that up!)
    Any info you can share in this stuff?

    August 28, 2021 1:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Brian

    Hello. I am new to owning a handgun. I bought a Taurus G3.

    I was looking at some US Cartridge 124 Grain Hornady XTP ammunition, listed as factory new. $1.00 per round.

    Should I purchase this ammo?

    Is this quality ammunition? Or should

    November 21, 2020 6:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      billy

      9mm?
      Hell to the no @ $1/rd

      November 21, 2021 10:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mike

    Whatever is or was on sale . As 99% of my shooting is plinking this works for me. Heck, I'm still shooting Russian 9mm I bought back in the 80's.

    July 1, 2020 6:32 pm
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