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Best Ammo Brands for Plinking, Accuracy, & Self-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 suck and which ones don’t, here’s an overview of the best ammo brands around.

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

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.

Spicy Memes
You heard us–the BEST.

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…

Lots of Ammo
Lots of Ammo

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.

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).

federal american eagle
Federal American Eagle Ammo

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.

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 its 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, 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.

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

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.

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 (brother of Vernon Speer from… Speer, which we’ll cover next) and Arvid Nelson.

Cascade Cartridge Inc Logo

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.

Richard Speer
Richard Speer

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.

Popular .22LR Ammo
Popular .22LR Ammo

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.

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 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:

3. Speer

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.

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, and they’re very popular with reloaders, but they also make some really excellent high-end defensive ammo.

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

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 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” that’s 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 (I happen to have them loaded up right now in fact).

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

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.

Sellier & Bellot Ammo
Sellier & Bellot Ammo Logo

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.

S&B 303 British
S&B 303 British

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.

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 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. 

K31 and PPU ammo
K31 and PPU ammo

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.

PPU 8x50 Lebel
PPU 8×50 Lebel

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

PPU Ammo
Seriously–they make everything.

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.

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.

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, even Prvi Partisan’s budget stuff. But it’s also cheaper. Much cheaper, in some cases.

very cheap
@ Tula and Wolf

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.

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, and we’d be the first to admit that sometimes you have to pew pew just for the sake of pew pew.

wolf 223 steel
Wolf .223 Steel

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.

Wolf Gold .223 55gr
Wolf Gold .223 55gr
Best .223 Bang-for-the-Buck
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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. This company 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 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?

8. Hornady

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.

Hornady Logo

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.

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, 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.

Hornady Critical Defense 9mm, post-firing

9. Winchester

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. 

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. They’re responsible for helping make firearms such an institution in America, particularly after the first World War.

Winchester White Box 7.62x39mm

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.

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

Rest assured, whatever ammo you need, you can find it in a Winchester box, and you can rest easy knowing you’re buying quality.

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 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.

military grade meme

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.

Check out more possible PMC ammo over at PSA.

11. Fiocchi

I’m going to end this list with one of my personal favorite ammo brands, Fiocchi

Fiocchi Logo
Fiocchi Logo

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.

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, 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.

Parting Shots

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.

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!

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.

Glock 20 and lots of ammo
G20 and plenty of ammo

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!


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2 Leave a Reply

  • 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
  • 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