AR-15 Ammunition in different specifications

AR 15 Ammo – Best Home Defense and Range

The sales of modern sports rifles are high these days, and many people are flocking to the AR-15. What exactly, then, is the best ammo to use with your AR 15 for home defense and range practice?

When we say the “best” ammunition, what sets the standard exactly? Generally, the right ammo will, obviously, be accurate. It will also penetrate the recommended 12-18″ of a perpetrator, and will not over-penetrate if you miss.

Moving on, let’s go over a few things to determine the best.

In this article, we will discuss a few different aspects such as AR 15 caliber, bullet type, and barrel twist.

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Product WeightTwist RatePrice
PMC X-TAC M19355 gr1:9$
American Eagle XM19355 gr1:9$$
Federal Gold Match69 gr1:8$
PMC X-TAC M85562 gr1:7$
Wolf FMJBT55 gr1:9$
223 Rem – Federal LE Tactical55 gr1:9$
223 Rem – Gold Dot Soft Point – Speer Gold Dot55 gr1:9$

Types of AR 15 Calibers

There are two popular types of AR-15 calibers: 5.56x45mm NATO and .223 Remington. While the external dimensions of these two calibers are similar, it is important to understand that they are not in anyway the same.

Rifles that are built to handle the increased pressure of the 5.56 NATO can shoot the .223 Remington, but the reverse is not always likely.

You can always check what yours is by observing the model specs or barrel, which is usually stamped with the rate of caliber and barrel twist.

The 223 Remington and 5.56mm Winchester ammo look nearly identical but may have different specifications
See the difference in AR 15 Calibers

Though the two are nearly identical, the .223 is a civilian round and the 5.56 is military and may have its own specifications. While the .223 has SAAMI specifications (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) the military grade of 5.56 may require higher pressure to go with a higher velocity.

AR 15 Barrel Twist

AR 15 barrel twist rate is the rate at which the rifle barrel rotates or spins

First, let’s look at what a barrel twist actually is.

What is Barrel Twist Rate?

To describe it quickly, it is the rate at which the rifle barrel rotates– or spins. It is represented by inches per turn, and it’s very important that the barrel twist rate is sufficient enough to stabilize the bullet being shot.

Different ammunition types have different barrel twist recommendations. Whatever the number is, it means that bullet will work with a rifle that has a twist rate that matches or is faster.

Effects of barrel twist rate rated from least to best

An example of what a barrel twist rate looks like is one that is a 1:10”, which means it will spin around one rotation in ten inches. If your ammo has a twist rate of 1:10, then it will work with a rifle of that rate, or anything faster which would be rates such as 1:9”.

Most barrels are going to be 1:7” to 1:9”, with 1:9” being one of the most common.

Chart of Barrel Twist Rate Impact based on Stability

How Does Barrel Twist Rate Affect Stability?

There are different ideal rates for different barrels. The best way to line it up is by the measurement of the grain of a bullet (a grain is the mass of the bullet. 1 pound is the equivalent of 7,000 grains. For more info check out bullet guide). Bullets weigh anywhere between 15 and 750 grains.

What are Ideal Twist Rates for Barrels?

    • Weight: 40-Grain Twist Rate: 1:12
    • Weight: 55-Grain Twist Rate: 1:9
    • Weight: 62-Grain Twist Rate: 1:8 or 1:7
    • Weight: 77-Grain Twist Rate: 1:7 or 1:8
    • Weight: 80-Grain Twist Rate: 1:7

Types of AR 15 Bullets

We look at two main bullet groups you’ll notice a lot of. There is the full metal jackets (abbreviated FMJ) and the hollowpoint or softpoint (HP/SP).

Full metal jackets (abbreviated FMJ) and the hollowpoint or softpoint (HP/SP)

There is a form of unwritten guideline that says HP’s are for carry and self-defense while FMJ’s are for the range or practice. While this isn’t an actual rule, many people live by it for similar reasons.

First, FMJs are generally cheaper, and not quite as lethally ideal as an HP or SP. That’s not to say it won’t get the job done however since our military is required to use only FMJ’s due to an international treaty from long ago.

AR Bullet boat tail comparison

What is Bullet Boat Tail?

Another acronym you might come across is BT, boat-tail, which refers to the back of a bullet. This one has an aerodynamic shape to it rather than a flat, cut-off look.

When considering military rounds (5.56) you will notice a lot of M193 and M855. Your standard FMJ is going to be the 55-grain M193. This is referred to as “ball” ammo, which generally just means military loading style.

Then you have the 62-grain M855, which is called the “green tip” penetrator round. It contains a steel rod in it. The reason it is green-tipped is that it is a hybrid of ball ammo but has a penetrator. Armor-piercing ammo will have a black tip, while the ball has no colored tip.

Differences Between 193 and 855

While there aren’t too many differences between the two, here is a list of some of the differences between the 193 and 855:

  • M855 penetrates better (thus the green tip)
  • M193 is better for soft targets of 100 yards or under
  • Certain ranges do not allow steel core ammo such as the M855 so please check with your range

AR 15 Ammo Recommendations

Having looked at all that information, let’s move on to some product recommendations. Below is a compiled list of different styles and families of AR 15 ammo that will suit your different AR-15 needs. You’ll find that the products come from Lucky Gunner because they are a reliable online ammo retailer.

For more ammo choices check out our epic guide explaining the best places to buy ammo online.

AR-15 5.56 BALL AMMO

Because we talked about the standard 55 and 62 grain bullets, we will stick with those for the next section. You’ll also find that the suggested products are mostly brass casing.

AR-15 5.56 Ball Ammo prepackaged

This is so you are able to keep the ammunition should you reload your own or want to.

PMC X-TAC 55 GR M193:

These are best for near-mil spec, in both pricing and availability.

 DescriptionCaliberGrainNo. of RoundsWhere to Buy
image of PMC X-TAC Ammo 55 GrainPMC X-TAC Ammo 55 Grain5.56x45mm55gr20rdCheck Price
image of PMC Bronze Ammo 55 GrainPMC Bronze Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr20rdCheck Price
image of PMC X-TAC Ammo 55 GrainPMC X-TAC Ammo 55 Grain5.56x45mm55gr1000rdCheck Price
image of PMC Battle Pack 55 Grain AmmoPMC Battle Pack 55 Grain Ammo5.56x45mm55gr1000rdCheck Price

AMERICAN EAGLE 55 GR XM193:

 DescriptionCaliberGrainNo. of RoundsWhere to Buy
image of Federal American Eagle Ammo 55 GrainFederal American Eagle Ammo 55 Grain5.56x45mm55gr150rdCheck Price
image of Federal American Eagle MSR Ammo 55 GrainFederal American Eagle MSR Ammo 55 Grain5.56x45mm55gr500rdCheck Price
image of Federal American Eagle Stripper Clips in Ammo Can 55 GrainFederal American Eagle Stripper Clips in Ammo Can 55 Grain5.56x45mm55gr420rdCheck Price
image of Federal American Eagle Ammo 55 GrainFederal American Eagle Ammo 55 Grain5.56x45mm55gr600rdCheck Price
image of Federal American Eagle XM193 Ammo 55 GrainFederal American Eagle XM193 Ammo 55 Grain5.56x45mm55gr1000rdCheck Price

FEDERAL GOLD MATCH 69 GR:

For precision shooting, these 69-gr rounds are much more accurate. They are heavier, boat-tail hollow point bullets.

 DescriptionCaliberGrainNo. of RoundsWhere to Buy
image of Federal Premium Sierra Match King Gold Medal Ammo 69 GrainFederal Premium Sierra Match King Gold Medal Ammo 69 Grain.223 Remington69gr20rdCheck Price
image of Federal Premium Sierra Match King Gold Medal Ammo 69 GrainFederal Premium Sierra Match King Gold Medal Ammo 69 Grain.223 Remington69gr200rdCheck Price
image of Federal Premium Sierra Match King Gold Medal Ammo 69 GrainFederal Premium Sierra Match King Gold Medal Ammo 69 Grain.223 Remington69gr500rdCheck Price

AR-15 GREEN TIP 5.56 AMMO

As we talked about before, green tips are similar to ball ammo but have a penetrator, with a steel piece in it.

AR-15 Green Tip 5.56 Ammo green tips are similar to ball ammo but have a penetrator, with a steel piece in it

PMC X-TAC 62 GR M855:

You might have noticed PMC mentioned a lot above. They are a reliable brand and a favorite of ours, and you can almost always guarantee there will be stock.

You might also notice the LAP label on these products, which means “Light Armor Piercing.” These aren’t technically armor piercing, and work great for plinking.

 DescriptionCaliberGrainNo. of RoundsWhere to Buy
image of PMC X-TAC Ammo 62 Grain5.56x45mm62gr20rdCheck Price
image of PMC X-TAC Ammo 62 GrainPMC X-TAC Ammo 62 Grain5.56x45mm62gr1000rdCheck Price

AR-15 .223 AMMO

Unlike the 5.56 rounds above, if you have a .223 barrel or prefer lighter rounds while shooting, here are our recommendations.

PMC 55 GR FMJBT:

 DescriptionCaliberGrainNo. of RoundsWhere to Buy
image of PMC FMJBT Ammo 55 GrainPMC FMJBT Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr20rdCheck Price
image of PMC FMJBT Ammo 55 GrainPMC FMJBT Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr1000rdCheck Price

WOLF 55 GR FMJBT:

 DescriptionCaliberGrainNo. of RoundsWhere to Buy
image of WOLF FMJBT Ammo 55 GrainWOLF FMJBT Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr20rdCheck Price
image of WOLF FMJBT Ammo 55 GrainWOLF FMJBT Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr1000rdCheck Price

.223 AR 15 PLINKING AMMO

Plinking is the practice of informal target shooting. This can be done with targets like cans, bottles, and any other homemade or natural target. People who practice this form of shooting are known as plinksters.

The following are steel cased so start of small if you’re unsure whether your AR-15’s barrel likes them or not. Not all work well with steel casing.

Keep in mind, also, that they are dirtier and not quite as accurate as brass. Still, for an even cheaper option, they will more than likely work for your target shooting.

(Note that these aren’t saveable for reloading like the brass is. Please check with your range to make sure they allow steel casings/bi-metal.)

WOLF .223 POLYFORMANCE:

 DescriptionCaliberGrainNo. of RoundsWhere to Buy
image of Wolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 GrainWolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr20rdCheck Price
image of Wolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 GrainWolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington62gr20rdCheck Price
image of Wolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 Grain HPWolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 Grain HP.223 Remington55gr HP500rdCheck Price
image of Wolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 GrainWolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr500rdCheck Price
image of Wolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 GrainWolf WPA Polyformance Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington62gr500rdCheck Price

TULA .223:

 DescriptionCaliberGrainNo. of RoundsWhere to Buy
image of Tula Ammo 62 GrainTula Ammo 62 Grain.223 Remington62gr20rdCheck Price
image of Tula Ammo 55 GrainTula Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr20rdCheck Price
image of Tula Ammo 55 GrainTula Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr1000rdCheck Price

Best Self-Defense Ammo for AR 15

The biggest difference between self-defense and range ammo is the fact that you want your defensive ammo to do its job by “putting down” the offender. For this reason, FMJ and penetrators aren’t the best choice, as they don’t break apart or pull a lot of energy.

There are types of ammo specifically for defensive use, such as hollow point. These are common among law enforcement. Here are our top two recommendations:

 DescriptionCaliberGrainNo. of RoundsWhere to Buy
image of Federal LE Tactical Ammo 55 GrainFederal LE Tactical Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr20rdCheck Price
image of Speer Gold Dot Ammo 55 GrainSpeer Gold Dot Ammo 55 Grain.223 Remington55gr20rdCheck Price

Best AR 15 Ammo for Defense and Range – Conclusion

Having gone over many aspects of AR-15 ammo and terminology, you can walk away knowing 5.56 and .223 are the best, and will be found in 55 gr and 62 gr. FMJ and HP will also determine a lot about the ammo and where it is best suited, and knowing all of this will aid in the barrel twist rate.

We hope we’ve helped you find the perfect ammo for you and your needs. There are plenty of other brands and types out there, but we’ve tried to keep the list down to our most trusted brands that have proven to be reliable and affordable.

Thanks for reading, and please check out our other articles as well for more information on all aspects of the firearm universe.

Drop a comment below sharing your favorite AR-15 self defense ammo!

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Chris Browning

Hey everyone I'm Chris. Founder and editor at Gun News Daily. This site was originally started by my father who passed it on to me. Gun News Daily has been reporting on gun news and conservative politics since 2001. We are the original gun news source. Life-long Second Amendment Supporter.

2 thoughts on “AR 15 Ammo – Best Home Defense and Range

  1. Chris Browning ur email available, would like to run a idea by u I don’t want lingering for the thousands that’s really need that twist rate chart, anyway if u are, email me [email protected] its a big idea I already sorta quantified but would like to ask one last expert on AR opinion, I’ve run thru rem 700s and 30.06,308s,and 270s..

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