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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Urban Survival Firearms - Reader Question on M-4/M-16 Ammunition received the following comment on the post Urban Survival Firearms - M4-M16 Tactical Lights: ….. “Anonymous said,…… Excellent post on Weapons lights. Thank you. Do you have some suggestions or recommendations on what type of ammunition I should stock for my Bushmaster M-4 carbine? What about the off brand stuff?”

UrbanMan replies: The bad thing about the .223 Remington round or the 5.56x45mm NATO round, which are not identical but virtually interchangeable, is the lack of stopping power when compared to other previous military calibers such as the .30-06 Springfield and the .308 Winchester (7.62c51mm NATO).

The great thing about the .223 Remington round, or the 5.56x45mm NATO round, is the lesser produced recoil and the lighter weight of the ammunition allowing you to carry more. Not to mention much cheaper when purchased over the counter or by mail order.

The really great thing about the .223 Remington round or the 5.56x45mm NATO round is the availability of that cartridge in various bullet weights and configurations to fine tune the applicability to your needs.

The baseline bullet is the 55 grain Full Metal Jacketed bullet loaded into the standard M193 (military designation), most of us just call it the 55 grain FMJ. Probably the cheapest round and also probably your all around cartridge. This bullet will penetrate ¼ inch mild steel.

The newer military cartridge is the 62 grain FMJ, which as a steel core, surrounded by lead then the copper jacket, called the SS109 by NATO or the M855 by the US Military. This cartridge is marked with a green tip. Sometimes it is called the 62 grain steel core penetrator. This is a good load to keep on hand because it penetrates better through harder substances, like shooting through car fenders or front ends to interdict the engine block.

A lot of agencies use a 64 grain lead tip round, sometimes called a PSP or Power Soft Point. This is a common hunting round for a .223 platform.

I don’t like a lead tip, in high heat the lead sloughs going into the chamber and adds to the dirt and function problems, especially with a non-piston gun.

The military snipers and law enforcement precision marksmen, when using a .223 platform, sometimes use the 77 grain Black Hills round. Probably my third choice in a .223 round.

There are many other bullet weights and configurations available including a Frangible round, with a bullet made from compressed metal that disintegrates upon impact but will penetrate bodies. This round is used for close in training on steel targets or operationally on steel structures like ships and oil platforms.

Surplus military red tip, or Tracer rounds, are normally used to mark positions (so your buddies know what you are shooting at). Tracers mark both ways however, letting the bad guys see where you are shooting from. A lot of boys will load 3 to 5 rounds of tracer in their magazines first, so when they see tracer coming out the barrel, they know they need to re-load.

I think you would be well outfitted with the standard 55 grain FMJ and maybe some 62 grain steel core FMJ. Standard American brands such as Remington, Federal or American Eagle, Winchester , etc.,…..maybe even PMC (which is actually South Korean I think) are your best bet. Commercial and Surplus military ammunition are available through places like Cheaper than Dirt – which is my favorite supplier. You should remember that your zero is going to change as you change from bullet configuration. It wouldn’t hurt to try different brands and see what shoots the best in your gun and, very important, what functions the best.

I have no experience with the off the wall brands, marketed under American or English names, such as Grizzly Bear, etc., that originate from the former Warsaw Pact countries. I’ve seen the big price differences and associate that with a performance and reliability difference as well. I could be wrong, but I stick with American manufacturers. I have used Wolf brand ammunition in AKM’s and other weapons chambered for the 7.62x39mm round and have experienced good results and good reliability. However, have not shot any Wolf brand .223 in my M-4’s.

Hope this helps. Stay safe and stay prepping. UrbanMan.

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