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Best AR-15 Ammo [2021]: Range & Home Defense

Not sure the best ammo to feed your AR for the range and home defense?

We’ll go over caliber, barrel twist, bullet type, and price range to find your perfect fit.

Popular 5.56 and .223 Ammo
Popular 5.56 and .223 Ammo

Craziness from 2020 has spilled into 2021 and our sources say ammo may not return to normal supplies until Summer 2021.

One that seems to always be in stock is Tula .223 55gr ammo (50 cpr)…it’s steel cased but right now beggars can’t be choosers. Here are some others:

Brownells also has an in-stock ammo section.

And Lucky Gunner has their .223 ammo and 5.56 ammo.

Can’t wait?  Here’s the best AR-15 ammo:

  1. American Eagle XM193
  2. American Eagle XM855
  4. PMC Bronze .223
  5. Wolf Gold .223
  6. Federal Gold Medal
  7. Federal LE Hi-Shok
  8. Speer Gold Dot Duty

Ready to see why we chose these and the best places to find them for cheap?

Table of Contents


AR-15 Calibers: 5.56 vs .223

Your average AR-15 comes in two popular calibers, the 5.56x45mm NATO and the .223 Remington.

You can double-check what it is by looking at your model specs or physically on your barrel, which should be stamped with the caliber and barrel twist rate.

Faxon 16" Pencil Barrel
Faxon 16″ Pencil Barrel

The two cartridges are physically identical but the 5.56 may be loaded to higher pressures than .223 ammunition.

The .223  is a civilian round and has SAAMI specs (an organization that sets standards for pressure and dimensions) while the 5.56 is a military round that has its own specifications that might require higher pressure for higher velocity.

XM193 Rounds
XM193 5.56 Rounds

Therefore, it’s best to follow the advice:

  • 5.56 chamber: OK to fire both 5.56 and .223
  • .223 Wylde chamber: OK to fire both 5.56 and .223
  • .223 Rem chamber: OK to fire only .223

Please note that .223 Rem and .223 Wylde are not the same things. One (Wylde) is perfectly safe to fire either 5.56 or .223, however, a .223 Rem chamber is not safe to fire 5.56 NATO.

Your barrel or rifle probably won’t instantly blow up from shooting a 5.56 in a .223, but why risk it?

Combine that with the variance in the machining of the barrel and ammo production standards, it’s best to use the proper ammunition.

AR-15 Barrel Twist

Your barrel stamp should indicate the barrel twist after the caliber.

Criterion Barrels, Different Coatings
Criterion Barrels, Different Coatings

You should see a ratio of 1:7 all the way up to 1:12 and it means that the barrel will spin the bullet one revolution every X inches.  Most barrels will be from 1:7 to 1:9 twist, with the most popular being 1:9.

Take a look at the chart below to see the ideal twist rate for your barrel.

Ideal Bullet Weight vs Twist, Shooters Log
Ideal Bullet Weight vs Twist, Shooters Log

The heavier grain bullets are usually reserved for the military and their tracer rounds.

With normal cartridges, you’re most likely to see 55-grain and 62-grain bullets. These are fine to shoot in 1:7 to 1:9 barrels and you probably won’t even notice a difference up to 300-yards.

Bullet Types

You’ll see two big families of bullet types, the full metal jackets (FMJ) and the hollowpoint/softpoints (HP/SP).

XM193 Rounds
XM193 Rounds, FMJ

The FMJ’s are great for plinking while HP/SP are more for home defense or long-range applications. FMJ is also sometimes called Ball ammo.

9mm 147 Federal Hydrashok HST
9mm Hollowpoints For Example

Don’t you love multiple names for things…

Other confusing acronyms you might see include (BT) which means boat-tail and indicate the back of the bullet has a more aerodynamic shape than simply cutting off straight.

62gr XM855 vs 77gr SMK vs 55gr FMJ
62gr XM855 vs 77gr SMK vs 55gr FMJ

Lastly, if you’re looking at military 5.56 rounds, you’ll see M193 and M855. The 55 grain M193 is the standard FMJ of the military while the 62 grain M855 is the “green tip” penetrator round that has a steel rod inside.

Green Tip 5.56 XM855
Green Tip 5.56 XM855

Things to keep in mind for M193 vs M855:

  • Pricing is similar
  • M855 is better at penetration (duh?)
  • Some ranges do not allow steel core ammo like the M855
  • M193 is better at soft targets under 100 yards
  • More info about the differences
  • Most of the time you’ll see XM instead of just M…that means it didn’t quite meet military specifications but still meets commercial specs.  Learn more here.
Clip of 5.56 XM193
Clip of 5.56 XM193

For more on how to pick the right ammo for your AR-15, check out the Brownells Daily Defense video below.

Where to Buy

We’ve selected a couple of our favorite online places to buy ammo. We’ve been buying from them ever since we got started and they have great live inventory, appropriate shipping charges, and quick service.

And since prices and inventory fluctuate, we recommend looking at all the vendors to see the price differences.  Sometimes one will be running free shipping deals!

Finally…the recommendations!

Best AR-15 Ammo

Now we combine the good stuff we learned above and stick to 55/62 grain bullets that are close to military specifications. These are the rounds that we’ve shot tons of and never had a problem.

Assorted 5.56 Rounds (XM193, XM855, Gold Medal 69gr)
Assorted 5.56 Rounds (XM193, XM855, Gold Medal 69gr)

Our suggestions are also all brass-cased so you can keep them if you think you might ever start to reload your own ammo in the future.

1. American Eagle XM193

Our Editor’s Pick is currently American Eagle XM193 since it’s never failed to go *boom.*

Federal XM193

And the price is almost always one of the lowest.

Best 5.56 XM193 55 gr
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. PMC X-TAC XP193

Our second choice is PMC which also has never failed but is often a cent or two more than American Eagle.

PMC X-TAC 5.56
PMC X-TAC 5.56

3. American Eagle XM855

Our favorite green tip ammo suggestion is going to sound about the same…what can I say, it works and the price is right.

Green Tip M855
Green Tip M855
Best 5.56 XM855 (Green Tip)
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. PMC X-TAC XM855

And PMC’s X-TAC XM855 variant is also GTG.

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

5. PMC Bronze

If your barrel is .223 or if you want to shoot some slightly lighter loads in your 5.56 barrel.

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

My personal favorite is PMC Bronze since it’s affordable and the brass is great for reloading. Plus…it’s on the low end of recoil so I love it for competition.

6. Wolf Gold

If you aren’t looking to reload and want the best bang for the buck…all my buddies and I love Wolf Gold. Buy it cheap (1,000 round boxes) and stack it deep! 

Wolf Gold .223 55gr
Wolf Gold .223 55gr

Wolf Gold is made in Taiwan and not Russia like other Wolf ammo.

Best .223 Bang-for-the-Buck
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

And finally…if you’re going for pure accuracy…

7. Federal Gold Match 69gr

Our favorite when we do our accuracy testing.

Assorted 5.56 Rounds (XM193, XM855, Gold Medal 69gr)
Assorted 5.56 Rounds (XM193, XM855, Gold Medal 69gr)

And the “gold” standard for accurate factory match ammo.

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

8. Tula & Wolf Polyformance

We don’t readily use these next suggestions in our ARs, but if you’re really trying to save money, you can opt for Russian steel or coated steel cartridges.

Red Army .223 55gr
Red Army .223 55gr

Start off with a small batch first since some AR-15s don’t like steel-cased ammo. They offer pretty good savings but are dirtier shooting and less accurate…but probably great for the range.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Also keep in mind that you can’t save these to reload later, and you need to shoot at a range that allows both steel casings and bi-metal bullets.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Self-Defense AR-15 Ammo

For self-defense you want the bullet to put all its energy into the bad guy by breaking apart.

That means FMJ and the penetrator rounds are usually not the best choices.

I recommend going with specific use self-defense ammo that is hollow/soft point and used by law enforcement.

9. Hornady Critical Defense 55gr

Both Speer and Hornady are great but I give the edge to Hornady since I love their pistol defensive ammo.

10. Speer Gold Dot Duty 55 gr

Another go-to brand for self-defense rounds…Gold Dot.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing


So there you have it, our recommendations for the best AR-15 ammo in both .223 and 5.56.

Let us know what you went with and how it runs in your AR.

Want more AR-15 guides…check them all out here. Looking for a new AR? Check out our huge Best AR-15s Guide.

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113 Leave a Reply

  • Vulcan

    I note the chart for bullet weight vs twist assuming one is using a 16" bbl, I presume.

    Now........ with a 10.5 - 11 inch AR pistol length bbl, will a 55gr bullet be stabilized but not OVERLY twisted using a 1:7 or 1:8 twist? Anyone experiment with this and know?

    Know I'm giving up velocity/energy in the shorter bbl, but perhaps with the light 55gr load to push, maybe not as much as a heavier bullet.

    (Know in the 16" bbl using 55gr you are best off with the 1:9 twist so it doesn't cause the jacket to misbehave.)

    Thanks guys!

    July 29, 2021 11:19 am
  • Rocky

    I often wonder what difference it makes if ammo is good, when you can't buy it anywhere anyway...

    July 28, 2021 11:06 am
    • sound awake

      its always been available online
      ammo seek dot com

      July 28, 2021 1:03 pm
    • Vulcan

      TONS of it online, just gotta pay a little extra.

      July 29, 2021 11:10 am
  • sound awake

    the nice thing about an intermediate cartridge carbine vs a pistol caliber carbine:

    range ammo and defense ammo = same ammo

    July 27, 2021 11:10 pm
  • Craig T Cardelucci

    No mention of IMI ammo from Israel was a surprise.

    July 27, 2021 5:35 pm
  • Jim Hovater

    By the time this article posted, everything I would have bought at Lucky Gunner was already OUT OF STOCK!!!

    July 27, 2021 4:15 pm
    • Jacki Billings, Editor

      I feel you! Ammo makers are still having a tough time meeting the demand. I suggest checking back with your favorite retailers regularly. (That's what I'm doing these days.)

      July 28, 2021 6:45 am
  • John

    I've got over 3,000 rounds of American Eagle XM193, and 2,000 rounds of PMC’s X-TAC XM855. Had it for a while, got it long before the prices started going up. Both of these are my favorites.

    July 27, 2021 6:03 am
  • C. Ramsey

    Last Wednesday (5/26/21) I made a random stop at my local sporting goods store and found ALL ammo in stock. I bought PMC XTAC $13.99 per 20 rounds and Blazer 9mm $20.99 per 50 rounds. Three boxes per visit limit. Needless to say me, my wife and oldest daughter made several "visits" that day.

    June 2, 2021 10:33 am
  • James Whitaker

    I don't know when you gathered this infomation, but, nothing was in stock when I went to view the details. Nothing! Even with the "OUT OF STOCK" sign out. The price was higher than your article on all
    of the offerings. Sorry man . . . it is what it is! So, that said . . . what do you have to offer in real time?

    May 11, 2021 5:20 pm
    • David, PPT Editor

      Sorry, the prices and stock were accurate at the time of writing. Things have been changing rapidly in the last year.

      May 11, 2021 5:31 pm
      • Jim Hovater

        In the'last year'? This article JUST POSTED!

        July 27, 2021 4:16 pm
    • Jim Hovater


      July 27, 2021 4:15 pm
  • Jim

    "The 55 grain M193 is the standard FMJ of the military while the 62 grain M855 is the “green tip” penetrator round that has a steel rod inside."
    M193 hasn't been the standard round for ages. M855 was for decades after M193 and now M855A1 is. No steel "rod" in M855, the front of the bullet is steel and the rear lead, it is also not considered armor piercing whereas an all steel core is.

    "The heavier grain bullets are usually reserved for the military and their tracer rounds."
    No, the M856 tracer is only 63.7 grains and plenty of people shoot 70-80 grain bullets for long range target.

    BTW the twist rate for stability has more to do with length of the projectile than mass, see Greenhill's formula.

    May 5, 2021 3:06 pm
    • Jim Hovater

      Accuracy (pun intended) in journalism is, sadly, a thing of the past.

      July 27, 2021 4:19 pm
  • Feral Fossa

    "Craziness from 2020 has spilled into 2021 and our sources say ammo may not return to normal supplies until Summer 2021."
    You taking bets on that statement? Put me down for 5 large.

    April 12, 2021 12:39 pm
  • Eddie.C

    I've had good success with IMI M193 in 55 grain.

    March 16, 2021 12:03 pm
  • Greg

    I am new gun owner great information.

    October 26, 2020 7:43 pm
  • Ray Friedman

    Three words: OUT OF STOCK.

    October 22, 2020 6:01 pm
  • Daniel Mesey

    Have you heard of HORNADY?

    September 11, 2020 5:51 am
  • Leonid Suvorov

    I am surprised that I have not seen in the list IMI M855 62 grain

    August 26, 2020 6:09 pm
  • Ed Stettin

    How can you not have Black Hills MK 262 in your top 10? Just curious. Thanks.

    August 21, 2020 2:53 pm
  • paul j gama

    i use Frontier 55 grn fmj never a problem and i get great accuracy, i have an AR 18" S.S. 1x7 Wylde (from PSA) that prefers Fiocchi 55 grn i get 1 MOA with both

    July 29, 2020 7:44 am
  • Ronald Dunne

    5.56X45 55gr projectile (original mil-spec flavor) was designed for a 1:12" spin. It will stabilize in the 1:9" but isnt optimal. With the short barrels used on the M4 it probably doesnt matter that much. I like something in the range of a 69gr bullet (when they can be found) for hunting in my 1:9" twist in my old (original) Bushmaster.

    July 11, 2020 6:48 pm
    • Jim Hovater

      I remember my dad talking about 'the Army', he was 'Active Duty' at the time, having to 'change bullets' (it was actually barrel twist rates) after an uproar in the media about the horrible wounds the M16's ammo produced in Vietnam.

      July 27, 2021 4:23 pm
  • Bull o' the Woods

    Back in the day, when 1-in-12 was the only twist rate available, Massad Ayoob recommended Federal 40 grain Varmint & Predator .223 for home defense. The 40 grain bullet at 3,800 fps was supposed to be devastating on soft targets at household distances but would not penetrate walls, studs, and so forth. Still sounds good to me, but try finding a 1-in-12 barrel these days (unless you order a Brownells retro rifle). With a 1-in-7 barrel you cannot shoot bullets much lighter than 62 grains, 55 at a minimum, so nowadays I'd go with the Black Hills 77 grain OTM SMK.

    June 8, 2020 11:09 am
  • Zachary Eubank

    On the other hand, if you don't care about the cost, and you have a 1:7 barrel... hands down, the best factory load for defense is Black Hills with the 77gr Sierra TMK. I have not seen anything that compares to the 77gr TMK in terminal ballistics. It's brutal. There is a reason why SOCOM loads it in their MK18's. Just saying.

    May 25, 2020 9:06 pm
  • Brian

    I run the Frontier 68gr OTM in all of my AR-15 rifles 1-7 or 1-9 it is good to go

    April 30, 2020 5:41 am
  • Dan

    what's a good home protection gun for a novice

    March 25, 2020 12:48 am
    • Chris

      Dan, I STRONGLY SUGGEST ANY 12 Gauge Shotgun with 00 buck ammo. Also if you are in CA and get raped on ANY gun you choose, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND going by Big5 since a few years ago around Christmas I picked up a Maverick 88 for $185.00! This is UNheard of normally in CA because at the time, the same Manufacturer (Mossberg) was offering almost an IDENTICAL 12GA. for $339.00 for basically the same exact Shotgun. So even if you already picked one up, check their weekly ad between Black Friday and Christmas and I promise that you'll be more than satisfied. Cheers!

      October 25, 2020 9:33 pm
  • Seth

    Ditto on the Hornady FTX for home defense!!

    February 1, 2020 11:02 am
  • Seth

    You skipped IMI 5.56. Really good, inexpensive.

    February 1, 2020 11:01 am
  • Zack Albanese

    Green tip ammo does not have a "steel rod" inside. It is a steel cone.

    October 25, 2019 4:03 pm
    • Francis

      Green tips are also a waste of money. It’s a bit more stable at distance while XM193 travels fast enough to penetrate level III+ armor

      November 5, 2019 3:06 pm
    • Dp17402

      855 does indeed have a steel rod just behind the tip. I estimate it’s approx 3/4” long and maybe 1/16th in diameter

      April 12, 2020 12:03 pm
  • Montgomery Finley

    Whats the best 5.56/ .223 ammo to shoot from a 7.5 Barrel AR pistol w/ 1:7 twist? Can i run a heavier grain than 80?

    September 21, 2019 3:00 am
    • Montgomery Finley

      Suppressed!! I forgot to add. Whats the best ammo to shoot suppressed from these specs.

      September 21, 2019 3:01 am
      • Subsonic

        Hey man. I fought the same battle with a 7.5” with a can and after what seemed like an eternity I finally settled on the 62 grain FMJ 5.56 from Magtech for training and paper punching. I also keep Federals 69 grain SMK handy for serious work.

        December 8, 2019 6:25 pm
  • Brian

    I’m an avid target shooter, and I would like to know your recommendations for a all wood Ak47 that fits the highest standards of quality, and yet exist on the market for sale. I own a Wasr, and I own an AR bushmaster- I decided to buy a M&P AR and want to to upgrade my AK and keep the same look and traditional feel. AR are cool to tac up, the AK looks better naked.

    May 11, 2019 10:56 pm
    • Bill


      October 11, 2019 2:21 pm
  • Nam Vet

    Surprised you didn't mention Hornady in your list of best ar rounds in .223. With their excellent engineering, variety of various offerings, and supreme craftsmanship in their ammo one can't go wrong in using it from game to targets. They are the top of the list in my experience.

    February 23, 2019 2:23 pm
    • David, PPT Editor

      Article is due for an update soon and we were planning on adding Hornady, their .223 ammo is very nice and is what is currently loaded in my HD AR.

      February 23, 2019 2:54 pm
    • Bill

      Are you serious? It was #8

      October 11, 2019 2:20 pm
  • John

    Have you tried Frontier(Hornady/ Lake City) 223 / 556 offerings?

    I find the 55gr PMC bronze shoots well but runs quite dirty/smokey.

    January 12, 2019 6:03 pm
    • David, PPT Editor

      When it first released we heard nothing but horrible things about it, however it seems they have fixed the issues. I haven't personally run any yet, but based off of feedback it should be good to go.

      January 12, 2019 6:16 pm
  • Kenny

    ... I give the edge to hornady since I live their pistol defensive ammo. That's merely opinion, if you are making recommendations at least use factual evidence to present an arguement. In a self defense situation price is irrelevant too, buy the best most reliable and effective ammo so you don't have to worry. Hornady doesn't even make the best pistol ammo. Anyway, the other issue is so much ammo left out. I'd say the biggest one being neglected is MagTech for price, target ammo, "always goes bang" and groups really well.

    January 11, 2019 5:00 am
    • Subsonic

      Magtech in my experience has been awesome. Their 77gr OTM is mega accurate in my 18” guns and I use their 55 grain in all the others.

      December 8, 2019 5:34 pm
  • Celltech

    Hornady Steel Match 75 gr BTHP. Cheap and stunningly accurate with the right twist...

    November 7, 2018 6:37 pm
  • Will M

    accurate 5.56 is Hornadys Frontier 55g HP. Inexpensive too. Shoots (for me) 1 moa and better.

    October 12, 2018 11:27 am
  • DrRJP

    I buy Fiocchi's 50 grain V-Max for SD (and range training) that sells for under $20 for a box of 50. They also have a hotter 55 grain V-Max but I like the less recoil with the former. FYI: Hornaday makes their V-Max bullets. Fiocchi has clean, accurate ammo.

    My second choice are the new Hornaday Black 75gr. Interlock SBR rounds that actually work quite well in a carbine even though they were designed for 11.5" barrels.

    August 31, 2018 7:33 pm
    • Matthew Collins

      All good choices, I also like Fiocchi quite a bit, especially for shotgun ammo. I'll have to shoot more of the AR stuff, thanks for the tip!

      September 1, 2018 7:52 am
  • Bill O' Right

    oooo good. Cheap ammo... :P when do we get one of these for AR10?

    August 29, 2018 10:10 am
    • David


      August 29, 2018 1:21 pm
  • Jeff

    I've experienced very respectable accuracy with "Geco" (50 rd. box) of both .223 & 5,56, "Hornady - Black" (20 rd. box) of .223 & 5,56 and "Lapua" .223 in the 50 rd. box. Plus they all make excellent brass for reloading my own. Best results are with my own "worked up" reloads.

    August 28, 2018 6:53 pm
  • Bravo Tango

    Warning!!! This is my 2 cents. I'm not claiming to be an expert, just going with my experience.

    After dozens of hours on the internet and several sessions on the range, I have found that the best milspec ammo that I can find, for my 16", 1:7 twist barreled rifle, is Sellier & Bellot M855/SS109 ammo. It gives me the best groups at 100 yards, almost always sub-MOA, and I have no problems hitting a human sized torso target, somewhat center mass, every time out to 500 yards. I've never had a single issue with them. I tried several others, of the 55 and 62 gr., and these are the best milspec that I found.

    They are hard to find. I'm out right now. Ammunition To Go and Ammo For Sale generally have them. They are out as I am writing this. If you know another place to get them, please let us all know.

    The best thing to do, really, is to try as many as you can and then pick the best for your rifle, at a price that you think is reasonable.

    I would also like to point out that saying the heavier a bullet/projectile the more rotations it needs to maintain stability is not entirely accurate. To be accurate, it's that the longer the bullet the more rotations it needs to maintain stability. I realize that in general the heavier a bullet the longer it is, but there are exceptions. As a rule of thumb, weight of the projectile can be used to determine the right ammo, but be aware that these exceptions exist and if you run across some ammo that defies the logic of the bullet weight/barrel twist relationship, you will know why.

    August 13, 2018 10:49 am
    • Subsonic

      I know this is an old post but the information is still relevant so I’m wondering if you have tried any 5.56 loads from Magtech?

      December 8, 2019 6:09 pm
  • Glenn

    The shooting instructor a 25 year retried cop/swat. That i took classes from has seen & used the Hornady 223rem 55gr TAP Urban. He was very impressed with it & it didn't exit the people shot with it. I found it for $13/20rd box at Sportsman's Outdoor Superstore 3/18 Just my 2 cents.

    April 9, 2018 6:40 am
  • Don

    should state this is talking about 223 Rem, since wylde is safe for both

    March 16, 2018 12:02 pm
  • Connor H

    Hey, can you guys do am update on all your recommended ammo pages for various calibers? I've read the 9mm, .40, .45, and .223/5.56 articles, and many of the recommendations seem to be based on Federal's awesome rebate last year. Updated recommendations based on non-rebate pricing would be great. Thanks, love the site. :)

    March 7, 2018 8:17 pm
  • Smoke USMVMC

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most people choose mil-spec because it is so readily available. In the event of a catastrophe and economic collapse / zombie apocalypse, many people with AR-15s will have mil-spec weapon systems. If they go down and you need parts for your weapon you have a higher probability of solving your problem by taking someone else's weapon if it is in fact mil-spec. I believe that's why most people try to stick with that. As for the ammo choice, why wouldn't someone look at the 300 Blackout? It's far superior in short and medium range to the 855. That said, I have the Scorpion, 855, 193 + 300 Blackout. I have a lot of fun with all of them and train with them as well. Each one serves a purpose. You just have to find out what's right for you and don't worry about what everyone else says.

    March 1, 2018 1:10 pm
  • H. Michael Sweeney

    Author H. Michael Sweeney, privacy security consultant./lecturer: Kudos for a great job, Eric... very concise and succinct, an easy read for the amateur and meaty enough for the serious shooter, with minimal room for opinionated arguments.

    February 27, 2018 2:17 pm
  • Bill Bligh

    For the record: I have several semi auto .223 rifles and a bolt .308. The idea that anyone here will ever need to use their weapon(s) for home defense is slim to nil. Stockpiling ammo to take advantage of low prices is one thing and entirely reasonable. To do so with the expectation of ever needing any of it for home defense is simply ridiculous. Honestly ask yourself, how many combat vets, without PTSD, stockpile thousands of rounds of ammo for home defense.? The likely answer is very few., probably far less than one percent. To quote BOWDITCH, aka "The mariner's bible, "Rarely does the mariner who has experienced a fully developed tropical cyclone ta sea, wish to do so a second time. He has recognized the wisdom of avoiding them whenever possible," Ditto for combat.

    Very few combat vets have any desire to engage in it again and fantasizing about fighting off an armed intruder with one's personal arsenal is absurd. The statistics about this may be unappealing, but they do not lie.

    February 19, 2018 4:23 pm
    • 82nd_ABN

      So how does owning several .223 rifles and a bolt .308 make you an expert on why other people buy ammunition? Put your psychology certificate back in the cracker jack box.. I"ve never been in a car accident yet at 48 yrs old I have had insurance on my trucks since I was 16. Owning a firearm is insurance against bad guys... Someone makes up crime statistics. Someone is the victim of a home invasion, robbery, assault or worse. Guns are used everyday in self defense. I Have 2 combat tours with Aco 3/505 as an Infantryman, so because of that , I'm not suppose to have firearms and ammunition to protect my family? About the only thing you said right is I hope I never have to be put in a situation where I have to pull the trigger again..

      March 18, 2018 3:52 pm
  • Robert

    Eric, are you getting paid by Lucky Gunner? They are high on prices and availability is hit or miss.. Ive yet to see you mention. SGammo,... Targetsportsusa . or aimsurplus.. These are some great ammo sites that didn't jack their prices sky high after sandy hook ...unlike lucky gunner, ammoman and cheaper than dirt...

    November 12, 2017 9:02 am
    • Robert

      I use sgammo and was surprised they were not mentioned i buy the target ammo there 500rounds for104$ plus shipping great deal

      April 1, 2018 10:01 am
    • Chad Wilkins

      sgammo is a jerkoff.

      July 23, 2018 8:31 pm
  • RiverManPaul

    IMO, a 223 (or 5.56) for home defense is silly. One needs only to turn to the pump shotgun for home defense. A shotgun is not only a defensive weapon but it also qualifies as an offensive weapon. I have many shotguns stationed around the house and all of them are 870 pumps except for one and it is a Beretta 1301. My favorite of those is the youth 870 20 gauge. It has a shorter butt stock and is lighter than a 12 gauge (I’m 6’1″ and 225 lbs). For shear fire power, the Beretta can put an S-load of rounds out in seconds. A pistol is a great defensive weapon but I will go for one as a secondary choice only. With many shotshell choices, you can tailor your loaded rounds to your situation. I prefer to use something #8 – #4 for indoor use. If you have family in your house, you should consider over-penetration collateral damage. And…FYI…my opinions are based on more than 12 years as an LEO and not a video game. Regarding Lucky Gunner, they are a good bit more expensive than other online vendors.

    September 19, 2017 6:42 am
    • Robert

      I have a hard time believing 12 years LEO and recommending using #8 shot for home defense, not to mention if they have body armor on , it will not penetrate at all. You might want to do some actual testing and you will see the over penetration of shotguns.. then shoot a 55 grn sp 5.56 into the same barriers, the results will be enlightening , then come back and say " thank you "

      November 12, 2017 9:08 am
      • Daisy Lee

        Inside? Body armor? HEAD, FACE, NECK, KNEE, UPPER LEG, HAND/WRIST SHOTS work every time - I'm told. Inside? I don't want a around that goes thru him AND my apt walls. OK? Just cocking a pump with scare the hell out of most anyone - you might get away with an UNLOADED pump!

        February 18, 2018 1:33 pm
        • 82nd_ABN

          You really don't understand ballistics that's clear.. Shoot someone in the hand, knee, leg " works every time"?? how many people have you shot in the hand? You need to educate yourself on the penetration of shotgun rounds. Buckshot, and slugs out penetrate most .223 rounds except M855. The chance of a through and through on a bad guy is slim to none with 55 gran m193 or many other 5.56 in 50 grain variety. Look it up for yourself. With 2 combat tours with Aco 3/505 as an Infantryman I have a rather unique perspective on what 5.56 Ammunition will do as well as what shotguns do, since I carried a Mossberg 500 to breach doors and clear buildings... But you keep shooting people in the hand, leg and wrist,, hope that works out for you.

          March 18, 2018 4:03 pm
        • Chad Wilkins

          you should try that.

          July 23, 2018 8:33 pm
    • Robert

      Mossberg 500 was my home defense gun id load slug or 00buck rounds now way a intruder is walking that off lol

      April 1, 2018 10:03 am
    • Kona Golden

      The "which weapon is best argument is dumb", there is no best. There are too many factors involved and different weapons excel in different areas. AR's can be great home defense weapons, and have proven to be many times. Same for shotguns, handguns, and other rifles.

      A rancher, who may be protecting his livestock or property in a barn, as well as his home, has far different needs than an apartment dweller in Baltimore or Los Angeles, or a homeowner in Peoria or Springfield.

      A long barreled weapon is less maneuverable in certain environments. A handgun may not be the best choice if you have a large ranch and may need to defend at longer ranges.

      What you can shoot well, matters. YOU are the most important variable. You need to educate yourself, evaluate your environment and needs, and most importantly, learn to quickly assess the situation, shoot well and practice often.

      August 30, 2018 9:49 am
  • Ethan

    Just a clarification:
    The 55 gr. M193 was the standard round of the U.S. military during the Vietnam Conflict, and was changed to the 62 gr. M855. I believe the M855A1 is now the latest standard.

    July 28, 2017 6:10 pm
  • Charlie

    Winchester PXD1 .223 for self defense, awesome Ammo.

    Hornady 75gr TAP 5.56 is also a devasting round.

    June 3, 2017 5:21 pm
  • SnW-Wolverine

    The Federal .223 64 gr Hi-Shok Law Enforcement is out of stock and i have never seen it in stock anywhere.

    The Hornady TAP Personal Defense Ammunition 223 Remington 55 Grain Polymer Tip Point Box of 20 is discontinued!

    April 3, 2017 8:34 am
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks for that! I've updated the article to reflect stuff more in stock.

      April 5, 2017 4:55 pm
  • Beaver4Badgers

    I don't know why the stigma of the AR-15 in .223 or 5.56 NATO as a home defense gun ever came to be. If you want to get in a battle, throwing rounds out to 300 yards to protect your home, go ahead. My idea of a self defense, home defense carbine is a CZ 9mm Scorpion. AR-15's are long range, flat shooting rifles and I enjoy shooting them, but when I am going to defend myself or my home, I don't think I'll be shooting beyond 50 yards. And that's only if I pursue someone, which is stupid and illegal. Once the threat to your life has past, it's up to the police to follow through. Giving advice to people to buy an AR-15 platform rifle for home defense doesn't make much sense. 9mm and 40 S&W or 45 would be better choices than a .223 or 5.56. I'll stand by my CZ Scorpion with a blinding light on it and a Mepro sight as a gun needed to protect myself and my family and leave the .223 for shooting Coyotes.

    February 16, 2017 6:51 pm
    • Americas Rifle Owner

      What if it was more then one threat and they come in with bigger weapons than your 9mm or your 45? You'd wish you had that AR then wouldn't you!

      March 16, 2017 5:59 am
      • RiverManPaul

        No...shotgun all the way

        September 19, 2017 6:46 am
        • DENVER

          DON'T JUST BUY A GUN

          October 21, 2017 3:12 pm
    • Steve

      Actually an ar15 is better suited for home defense. With a red dot, it is incredibly fast and accurate. It's easier to fire a shouldered weapon accurately under stress. The round hits harder than any pistol round. You have higher capacity than any shot gun or pistol. Most .223s penetrate less than 9mm or 00 buck. The only downside is can think of is the noise. Ar15s are my first go to

      April 1, 2017 9:55 pm
      • Thumper

        If someone enters my house or multiple people with ar15,ar10,m1,m4 etc.
        I will grab 12 guage or .40 .. The time it takes someone to shoulder a ar, etc I'll have 2 rounds in each person . I know my house better than some skumbag. Shoot a AR gun in a house with other family members inside is crazy. The 30 rounds you spent on one person , lol
        You might kill your family and the skumbag gets away.
        People you need to think for yourself. Be careful and safe and stay trained
        A once shot gun beside your bed can get you killed. Shoot as often as you can. You should know your gun inside & out .

        April 22, 2017 3:35 pm
        • Ron

          You're thinking of inside your house only, Ever see the roving gangs following Katrina? I'm guessing you guys down on the AR for PD don't live in hurricane or flood prone areas.

          October 19, 2017 3:23 am
        • Scott Mitchell

          Negative, By the time you try to spray and pray, i will have 3 to 4 rounds center mass.

          October 19, 2017 6:59 am
    • RiverManPaul

      IMO, a 223 (or 5.56) for home defense is silly. One needs only to turn to the pump shotgun for home defense. A shotgun is not only a defensive weapon but it also qualifies as an offensive weapon. I have many shotguns stationed around the house and all of them are 870 pumps except for one and it is a Beretta 1301. My favorite of those is the youth 870 20 gauge. It has a shorter butt stock and is lighter than a 12 gauge (I'm 6'1" and 225 lbs). For shear fire power, the Beretta can put an S-load of rounds out in seconds. A pistol is a great defensive weapon but I will go for one as a secondary choice only. With many shotshell choices, you can tailor your loaded rounds to your situation. I prefer to use something #8 - #4 for indoor use. If you have family in your house, you should consider over-penetration collateral damage. opinions are based on more than 12 years as an LEO and not a video game. Regarding Lucky Gunner, they are a good bit more expensive than other online vendors.

      September 19, 2017 6:41 am
    • Scott Mitchell

      Hmm, i do know for a fact, I used the 5.56 nato in an A2 M-16, then to a M4 clear buildings all of the time......have no idea why people continue to chirp about it is a bad idea. It shows quickly that they have no idea.

      October 19, 2017 6:58 am
  • Dick Coombes

    One of the Great Mysteries of Life is why manufacturers make primarily 1:7 twist barrels and shooters continue to buy them. My non-scientific estimate is that 80% of the ammo available for sale to civilians is 55 grain, which shoots optimally through a 1:12 twist barrel. The M855 is a non-starter for home defense. The 75, 77, and 80 grain bullets that shoot well in a 1:7 barrel are too darn expensive, even if you load them yourself. All the affordable ammo runs best in 1:12 barrels yet everyone wants a milspec 1:7 barrel optimized for heavy [and expensive] bullets. I don't get it.

    February 7, 2017 8:22 pm
    • Eric Hung

      Yup, I prefer the 1:9 that seems to feed 55gr fine for me.

      February 8, 2017 10:04 pm
    • RiverManPaul

      One of my 5.56 barreled actions is a 1:8 twist and will shoot 55 grain Hornady SP bullets into inch or better groups all day long. I don't know that one can go specifically by the twist rate and bullet weight. I think that as a rule of thumb, the twist rate is a starting point when making decisions. I don't just shoot 55 grain bullets. I shoot all the way up to 69 grain and the faster twist rates seem to be more of a compromise over the 1:12 which would limit your accuracy with heavier bullets thus giving you more options. I get good accuracy with all weight bullets instead of just light bullets.

      September 19, 2017 7:06 am
    • Ron

      People will spend the few extra cents to have's tacticool doncha know...

      October 19, 2017 3:26 am
  • Tim

    Yeah... so I clicked on the link to the PMC X-Tax ammo at luckygunner..... It said something about a bad link/script... So I deleted everything from the web address except "" and now it says....

    "You have been blocked due to suspected unscrupulous activity. If this is a mistake, please contact the webmaster."

    I tried a different browser and it says the same thing. So they blocked my IP address for following you link and I can not order from them or even visit their website.

    Just thought you should know. You have prevented me from being able to shop at luckygunner with your link that caused nothing but problems.

    December 9, 2016 12:22 pm
    • Rob

      I've had the same issue with and who obviously use the same database. I had placed several large orders with bulkammo without issues over several years and was happy with their service. Logged in to place another purchase early last year and bang! Got welcomed with the message:

      "Your IP has been blocked temporarily due to suspected unscrupulous activity. If this is a mistake, please contact the webmaster."

      Contacting them I got a single reply to call and place my order over the phone... not to correct the issue. After reading your comment figured its been a year (and well over $1k in ammo from other sites) and as soon as I provided my login info I get this message again.

      I've emailed them, again. Perhaps someone gives a crap now and would like to take an order for a couple 1000 rounds of range ammo in various calibers as well as an order for 500 rounds of 9mm and 38 defensive ammo.

      If not... plenty of other sites out there to take my order!

      June 18, 2017 2:44 am
      • Ron

        Just get an IP generator or call up your ISP and tell them to change your IP.

        October 19, 2017 3:28 am
  • Hans Fischer

    Hi...Im Retired Military....and just recently purchased a Colt Expanse 2000 with the Forward Assist and dustcover......also just got in some Winchester White Box 5.56 in 55 grain......and after reading a ton of blogs...notes...comments....have finally convinced myself that the 5.56 in 55 grain is a Good Choice of ammunition.....both for range and personal protection........and hoping that you agree with me.......I just don't care that the Winchester White Box I purchased ...has TARGET on the front of the box.. :( kinda negates the opinion its a good self defense round.......I appreciate anyone taking the time to answer..Kind Regards....Hans Fischer

    November 6, 2016 7:44 am
    • ehung

      Hi Hans, it should be fine plinking ammo. But there's better options for self-defense rounds out there.

      November 7, 2016 9:50 pm
    • RiverManPaul

      Trust me...if you have to use an AR for self defense, it won't matter if it is target or self defense rounds. The human body at close range will be devastated by a "high power" rifle round passing through their body. Most of the homicides/shooting fatalities I saw (double digit numbers) were DRT by non-expanding ball ammunition from 25 ACP or 22 LR. Unless you are going up against a REALLY bad bad guy, fmj (ball) ammo at 3000 + fps will do the trick.

      September 19, 2017 7:12 am
      • Ron

        What does DRT stand for?

        October 19, 2017 3:31 am
        • javadog

          dead right there

          November 8, 2017 9:40 am
  • James

    What is the best self-defense and plinking for 1:7 twist ratio is what i would like to know! Thank you

    October 24, 2016 12:46 am
    • Ron

      James, if you have a 1:7 twist barrel, it will "eat" anything, hence it's popularity. For self defense well some would say the higher grain 5.56 and some would say the lower pressure .223 it really depends on how close the "enemy" is. If we get invaded by guys in blue hats (no offense Hung) or the dreaded zombie apocalypse happens you would want the former. Close up and personal you may want a different round altogether like the 300 AAC blackout in a short barreled AR platform. But if you don't want to go new AR with a new caliber get .223 hollow points or a shotgun.

      October 19, 2017 3:39 am
    • Ron

      As for "plinking"'s the cheapest ammo you can find...EXCEPT when reloading is to be considered because then the quality of the brass MUST be considered. No one wants to be reloading crappy brass. You will never see me with WOLF or equivalents in my BCM for that reason and others.

      October 19, 2017 3:47 am
  • Alex Tung

    How come you chose only a .223 for home defense and only not a 5.56? Is there a specific reason?

    October 20, 2016 8:07 am
    • ehung

      Hi Alex, great question. There's more options for .223 defense ammo and just in case I have readers that have a .223 chamber instead of the more highly pressured 5.56.

      October 20, 2016 4:42 pm
  • Dan B.

    I really enjoyed reading, and learning from this article, I am a bit curious, Why is the NO Barrett recommendations? I recently purchased the REC7,.... I couldn't have made a better choice. I realize it is a very close brother to the Daniel d, gun, and Hopefully as reliable. Thanks for your Newbee insight..

    August 3, 2016 6:11 pm
    • ehung

      Hi Dan, I just haven't had a chance yet to use any of their rifles...but I've heard great stuff with the REC7. Let me know how it keeps running!

      August 3, 2016 7:54 pm
    • Ron

      Why is there no Barrett recommendations? I don't understand your question. Why would someone recommend a gun manufacturer in an article about ammo for the range and self defense??? Then you thank him for his "newbee" insight? I think we need a mall cop alert here.

      October 19, 2017 4:05 am
  • John B.

    Thanks for straight forward topics, information and additional links to AR platforms. Well written and understandable for those of us in 'learning phase' before purchase mode. Hopefully, we, as citizens, will legally still have federal or state permission to buy this weapon.

    June 19, 2016 10:12 am
    • ehung

      You're welcome John!

      June 20, 2016 8:15 am
  • DaWidowBetke

    Hello Mr. Eric,
    I just bought my 1st AR, the S&W M & P sport 2. Thanks for the knowledge base boost!

    June 11, 2016 7:56 pm
    • ehung

      You're welcome and let me know how you like your new gun!

      June 12, 2016 5:08 pm
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