After buying my brand new AR15, I came across the top choices for ammo: the 5.56mm and the .223 Remington!
As a beginner, I found it hard to choose. What’s more is that I could not, for the love of God, tell the difference! So, for all newbies, I’d like to pass down my wisdom to you, hoping it’d save you unnecessary headaches about choosing ammo.
The best 5.56 ammo and the best .223 ammo can both be used with an AR15. Read ahead to find out our top choices for 5.56 and .233 ammo for AR15s.
At a Glance: Our Best 5.56 and .223 Ammo
- Winchester Ballistic Silvertip .223 Remington Rifle Ammo
- Federal Power-Shok .223 Remington Ammunition
- Federal American Eagle Tactical .223 Remington Ammo
- PRVI 5.56 Rifle Ammunition
- Winchester USA 5.56 mm 62 gr. Rifle Ammunition
- Hornady Custom Rifle .223 Remington Ammunition
Our Top Choice
My top pick has to be the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip .223 Remington Ammo. It is perfect for hunting with your AR 15 as it includes a boat tail design. I found it to be extremely accurate, especially for long range shooting. Furthermore, it helped me take on the largest of the game within seconds due to its explosive expansion and deep penetration capabilities.
Best 5.56 and .223 Ammo Reviews
Winchester Ballistic Silvertip .223 Remington Rifle Ammo: Best Overall Ammo
- Silver Nosler Ballistic Tips on the cartridges
- Lead-alloy core and a boat tail design
- Winchester Lubalox coating included
- 55-grain bullet weight and 3240 fps velocity at 50 yards
What Other Users Are Saying
Hunters and self-defense users alike found the .223 ammo to be extremely reliable. In addition, they found the design to be perfect for long-range shooting. This is due to the aerodynamic boat tail design as well as the polymer tip that helps minimize the effects of any cross-wind drift.
Also included is a lead-core alloy that grants it 100% weight retention. Therefore, the bullet penetrates deeply causing larger wounds. Users noted that when they used small calibers, the expansion was rapid and resulted in fragmentation. On the other hand, when they used it with a medium to large caliber rifle, it was controlled.
Moreover, the Lubalox coating ensures that your barrel remains squeaky clean, with little need of cleaning.
Watch how it holds up in a ballistic test:
- Extremely supersonic speed
- Deep penetration and maximum weight retention
- Rapid or controlled expansion, depending on the rifle caliber
- Reduces barrel fouling and minimizes cleaning
- Perfect for long range shooting
- Boat tail design might cause over penetration
- Might damage the game if used at a short range
Overall, the Winchester .223 Remington ammo performs best in long range shooting and hunting scenarios. In addition, its aerodynamic design and superior accuracy are unique, beyond doubt!
Overall Rating: 4.9
Federal Power-Shok .223 Remington Ammunition: Best Value for Money
- Jacketed Soft Point Bullets
- Includes Federal’s premium brass construction
- 55 gr bullet weight while the muzzle velocity is 3240 fps
- Non-corrosive reloadable boxer primer
What Other Users Are Saying
Most users love the level of deep penetration that the lead core provides. This ensures that the bullets penetrate enough to cause damage but do not leave the other side. As a hunter, it can save you from any collateral damage. Furthermore, the Jacketed Soft Hollow Point Bullets further enhance the penetration capabilities of the bullet.
Also included is a non-corrosive brass primer that allows you to use the bullets anywhere without worrying about moisture. Moreover, the high muzzle velocity of 3240 fps ensures accurate shots. All in all, users found the Power-Shok to be perfect for small- to medium-sized game.
- Deep penetration without any collateral damage
- Non-corrosive and durable bullets
- High muzzle velocities
- Lightweight with little recoil
- Brass boxer primer can be reloaded any time
- The bullet may separate
- Might not expand enough if the target is too small
In summary, the Federal Power-Shok .223 Remington Ammo is best suited for those who need a budget option, without compromising the quality.
Overall Rating: 4.8
Another high-quality ammo from Federal American Eagle, the .223 Remington is reliable and accurate. Furthermore, it is loaded according to military specifications to ensure the best accuracy.
- Full Metal Jacket type cartridges
- Available in a box of 20 or 100
- Includes M41 crimped primer
- 55-grain bullet weight as well as a 3240 fps velocity
What Other Users Are Saying
Most users found the Federal American Eagle to be perfect for training or plinking. They are available in a box of 20 or 1000 rounds. You can easily use the 1000 rounds package to shoot at the range and train yourself. Furthermore, the Full Metal Jacket bullets ensure fast and easy loading and feeding.
Users also noted that they were extra fast. In addition, being FMJs, they passed right through the target and caused minimal damage. So, I wouldn’t recommend them for hunting or use in self-defense. Furthermore, the cartridges use a boxer primer that makes it easy to reload. This way, you can get the most accurate and reliable rounds for training.
Watch a real-life user review:
- Perfect for plinking or training
- Available in bulk quantity so you can train as much as you like
- Easy to reload, boxer primer
- Accurate and reliable feeding
- Extremely high muzzle velocity
- Tends to be a little dirty
- Can cause collateral damage
The Federal American Eagle .223 ammo is the best one for target shooting and practice. Not only is it affordable, but it includes high accuracy and reliability as well.
Overall Rating: 4.7
The NATO 5.56mm rifle ammunition by PRVI Partizan helps give shooters reliable accuracy and consistency. In addition, its production involves the most stringent quality controls to help ensure the highest quality.
- A pack of 20 Full Metal Jacket cartridges
- Non-corrosive boxer primer
- Brass casing along with a lead core
- 55-grain bullet weight as well as a muzzle velocity of 3428 fps
What Other Users Are Saying
Most users consider the PRVI the best 5.56 ammo due to the high-quality production. The 55-grain lead core is perfect to ensure penetration. Furthermore, the Full Metal Jacket, as well as the brass casings, grant the bullets durability. Also included is a non-corrosive boxer primer that you can easily reload and reuse.
These non-expanding rounds are perfect for target shooting and plinking. Furthermore, beginners can use them to practice shooting on a rifle. Not only are they lightweight, but they are fast and produce minimal recoil.
For further insights, watch:
- Durable and non-corrosive bullets
- Reloadable boxer primer
- Lightweight, fast and produce little recoil
- Penetrate perfectly through targets
- Perfect for beginners and training
- Not suitable for use in self-defense or hunting
- Might cause collateral damage, especially if used at a short range
All in all, the PRVI 5.56 mm ammo is the best 5.56 ammo for beginners and those looking to practice their shooting skills.
Overall Rating: 4.7
A pack of soft hollow point ammo, the Winchester 5.5mm ammo is perhaps the best ammo for hunting and self-defense. Its consistent expansion and superior penetration capabilities ensure you can take down the largest of targets.
- Full Metal Jacket bullets
- Steel core as well as a green penetrating tip
- Brass cases with a boxer primer
- 62-grain bullet weight while the muzzle velocity is about 3100 fps
What Other Users Are Saying
Users seem to love these FMJ bullets as they can easily use it for training and plinking without worrying about wasting a huge amount of money. Not only are they affordable, but they come with a green penetrating tip which makes it easy to pass through the targets.
Furthermore, the brass cases are reloadable so you can use them again. Moreover, the boxer primer is non-corrosive and adds a factor of durability to the rounds. In addition to this, the supersonic speed allows for superior accuracy and long-range use.
- Can be used for long range shooting and plinking
- Extremely accurate and reliable feed
- Reloadable and non-corrosive brass casing and primer
- Penetrates easily through
- A little more recoil than others
- Might cause harm to unintended targets due to collateral damage
The Winchester USA 5.56 ammo is best used for plinking or target practice. With a supersonic speed and non-corrosive bullets, it ensures the most superior performance.
Overall Rating: 4.5
If you’re looking for an innovative round for your favorite hunting rifle, then there’s nothing better than the Hornady Custom rifle ammo.
- V-max expansive bullets
- Lead and antimony alloy core as well as copper plated steel jacket
- Polymer tip and streamlined design
- 40 gr. bullet weight and a muzzle velocity of 3800 fps
What Others Users Are Saying
The Hornady V-Max is actually a special bullet that combines the explosive expansion of a hollow bullet along with the ballistic performance of an FMJ. Users found that they offered enhanced accuracy, vast expansion as well as appropriate fragmentation.
Furthermore, the powder blend helps increase the muzzle velocity. Thus, users noted that the bullet had minimal impact on wind drift, energy or accuracy. In addition, the high muzzle velocity combined with the lightweight helps reduce recoil. Moreover, the flat trajectory of the round ensures maximum penetration. The power packed performance is perfect for taking down the biggest game.
For more info:
- Explosive expansion as well as deep penetration
- Lower recoil and reduced wind drift
- High muzzle velocity and lightweight
- Includes ballistic performance of an FMJ
- Non-corrosive bullets
- Not suitable for close range shooting
- A few rounds might misfire
When you’ve got only one shot at the deer, then there’s nothing better than the Hornady Custom .223 rifle ammunition.
Overall Rating: 4.4
Other Great 5.56 and .223 Ammo
- Fusion .223 Remington Rifle Ammunition
- Winchester Super-X Power Point .223 Ammunition
- Federal American Eagle Bulk 5.56 mm Rifle Ammunition with Dry-Storage Box
- Frontier Cartridge 5.56 Rifle Ammunition
About the AR15
The Assault Rifle 15 is, perhaps, counted among the handful of revolutionary firearms. The AR15, developed in the 1950s and ’60s took the US by storm. It effectively replaced all M1 and M14 rifles. However, the AR15 was specifically chambered for a different kind of ammo. This included the 223 Remington and the 5.56 NATO ammo.
Furthermore, the AR15 is a lighter choice than others, which explains its popularity in the US military. Moreover, AR15 can shoot a wide range of other ammo as well, including 22LR, 204 Ruger, 9mm, 40 S&W as well as many others.
Want to know everything there is to know about the AR15? Watch:
.223 vs. the 5.56 mm Ammo: Which Should You Choose?
Visually, there might not be a lot of difference between the two ammo cartridges. They look quite similar in shape as well as size. However, that’s far from the truth! The two cartridges are different in a wide variety of ways. These include:
The .223 Remington includes .224 inches of free bore diameter while the length is about .025 inches. However, the throat length tends to be short and the angle is about 3 degrees.
On the other hand, the 5.56mm NATO cartridge features a free bore diameter of .226 inches. Also, the throat length is about twice that of the .223. The throat angle is about 1 degree while the length is .059 inches.
This is why you can use a .223 bullet in a 5.56 chamber but not vice versa.
The 5.56 bullet is packed with much more pressure than the .223. The main reason behind this is that the 5.56 is designed using NATO standards while the .223 is designed using the SAAMI standards.
Generally, a 5.56 might operate about 55k psi and the .223 might operate at 48k psi. Thus, you can use the .223 bullet in a gun chambered for a 5.56 gun but not the other way around. Because a rifle chambered for .223 ammo would sue lower pressures to shoot the bullet which might not be sufficient for the 5.56.
Another important aspect to consider is the chamber. For a .223 bullet, you might need .08 inches of leade for the chamber. At the same time, you might require 0.16 inches of space.
The 5.56 ammo produces much more recoil than a .223. This is because the 5.56 require more pressure to fire, thus generating a much harsher recoil.
The velocity of the 5.56 might be high at first, but it starts declining rapidly as soon as it is shot. However, the .223 bullet’s velocity remains consistent and does not decline as quickly. So, it might be surprising to know that the 5.56 still manages to cover a larger distance than the .223. This is because the initial muzzle velocity of the 5.5 is higher due to the higher pressures used.
For the complete info:
Boat Tailed vs. Non-Boat Tailed Ammo
AR15 ammo is often available in either a boat-tailed design or non-boat tailed design. The boat-tailed design basically includes a full metal casing such as brass or copper. This tends to give it a shape like a boat. This kind of ammo is mostly used in competition as they are easy to assemble.
Furthermore, they tend to be much more stable at a long distance. Moreover, they are usually more accurate and generate better ballistic performance.
However, they have their drawbacks as well. One such drawback is over penetration where the fast velocity of the bullet will cause it to cut through your target. This can often result in collateral damage.
On the other hand, the non-boat tailed ammo offers lesser accuracy. However, they penetrate lesser into the target as well.
Other major differences can be found here:
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Ammo for AR15
The following factors should be considered when choosing ammo for AR15:
- Purpose: First, choose what you’re going to use the ammo for? Is it intended for plinking, hunting, long-range shooting or self-defense?
- Bullet Type: Based on the purpose, you can now choose between the Jacketed Hollow Point and the Full Metal Jacket bullets. The JHP expands and penetrates into the target, making it perfect for hunting. On the other hand, the FJM is cheaper and hence makes it perfect for practice.
- Number of Rounds: If you’re going to use it frequently or for target practice, you might want to buy the ammo in bulk. Even when going hunting, make sure to choose a pack that has about 20 rounds.
- Gun Sanitation: Some steel cased bullet might cause your gun to become dirty. It might make it hard to clean the gun. So, choose a cartridge that remains clean.
If you’re looking for the best ammo for your AR15, then both the .223 Remington and the 5.56 NATO ammo will suffice. However, I enjoy the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip .223 Remington ammo the most. This is due to the long-range accuracy as well as the deep penetration capabilities it provides the user.
You can use it with small calibers, where it might fragment, whereas, with medium to long calibers, it will expand at an explosive rate. Furthermore, the boat tail design further helps the aerodynamics and the accuracy of the rounds. Overall, it is the best option for hunting medium to big game.