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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    496

    Default Preferred 55gr Loads

    Well, looks like antipersonnel 223 is starting to show up again in inventory with online sellers - for example, targetsportsusa has Federal LE 55gr Sierra Game King HP and Federal Tactical TRU 55gr soft point in stock, which is something I haven't seen since the first weeks of COVID in 2020. Still not seeing much of the heavier stuff yet.

    If someone was going to choose a 55gr load for defensive work, what's considered to be a good choice? Any specific ones to avoid (beyond the obvious varmint loads)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    539
    I had some 55gr Gold Dots a while ago. I like the solids, as well in that weight.

    Im not a fan of special bullets. What I mean is if the ammo is scarce enough to make you not want to fire it, zero it, and verify function than I would rather not have it.

    Nothing wrong with M193.

    I have used the GameKings in that weight, and they still need lots if velocity to work properly. Although they are shaped like FMJ so function well in guns.

    Honestly, other than for accuracy requirements or if you want VERY deep penetration, I dont think it will matter very much what you shoot someone with.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    1,400
    I second the gold dots. My best friend shot his buck this year with his AR and used a 64 grain gold dot and it turned the bucks heart completely into jelly. However, those being hard to find I as well like M193. Lake city in particular, out of a 16” tube. I’d not hesitate to put that on a human target out to 400 yards.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    406
    Gold dots in 55gr were the issued ammo for the .223s back when I was exciting. I like the 55gr loads for human use. The federal tactical soft points have always been super accurate for me.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    5,697
    Federal LE223T1. 55gr bonded bullet, which held up remarkably well through barriers like auto glass.
    __________

    "To spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary." Pournelle

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Illinois
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    871
    Been wondering something similar lately. Along with a bunch of other questions about ammo selection in 5.56. Is there a real difference between 55 grain loads and 62/64 grain loads? Since the 5.56 relies primarily on velocity to do its damage, I would think the 55 grain loads would be slightly superior for use against human threats. And while the Barnes Vor-Tx rounds seem to be the go-to in larger calibers, they have a reported tendency to shed petals in the 5.56 caliber. And lastly, is there ANY reason to select M855 over M193 for basic stocking ammo?
    - I am not in danger. I AM the danger.

    - Keep your rifle by your side.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    539
    Quote Originally Posted by MesserMan View Post
    Been wondering something similar lately. Along with a bunch of other questions about ammo selection in 5.56. Is there a real difference between 55 grain loads and 62/64 grain loads? Since the 5.56 relies primarily on velocity to do its damage, I would think the 55 grain loads would be slightly superior for use against human threats. And while the Barnes Vor-Tx rounds seem to be the go-to in larger calibers, they have a reported tendency to shed petals in the 5.56 caliber. And lastly, is there ANY reason to select M855 over M193 for basic stocking ammo?
    Reason, yes.

    62 grain and larger has a much better BC. They have better external ballistics at range. Specifically m855 over m193.

    People get a little too wrapped up in which bullet is better than that. If you are hunting and get ONE shot and must recover the animal without chasing it for miles, than yes, it CAN matter but is one of several factors considered. Range and shot placement are usually more important. The last 2 hogs I killed were shot with a 22lr at around 30 feet. My step dad always hunts with home cast soft lead bullets in a 30-06 because he is boomer as fuck and thats how his daddy taught him.

    For self defense with a carbine at self defense ranges, it is not important to have a stockpile of ammo. A mag or two after zero and funtion testing. Buy what you want, let the marketing Gods be your guide.

    If you want zombie ammo, IMO what matters most is external ballistics and your budget.

    So yeah, there IS a difference. Depending on what you want out of it will depend on whether it matters or not.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Exiled in Texas
    Posts
    7,755
    For rifles, I generally go with whatever is most accurate in a given gun--even for a gun whose primary role is CQB. While terminal ballistics matter, the difference in terminal effects within a specific cartridge are generally not that broad. With a round like .300 BLK, going from subsonic to supersonic is like going to an entirely new cartridge. But within 5.56, shifting from M193 to M855 isn't really that big a jump. While I will consider factors like barrier penetration and expansion, I basically treat those characteristics like tie breakers.

    As an example, I took a 14.5" 5.56 out to test it with seven different types of ammo. These were the results at 50m:
    Winchester M193: 2.75"
    Norma 55gr Tac-223: 0.875"
    PMC 55gr X-Tac: 1.25"
    Fed 69gr BTHP: 0.875"
    Horn 55gr TAP: 0.875"
    Horn 73gr ELD-M: 1.125"
    Fed 77gr OTM: 1.00"

    That's the average of four five-round groups, shot from prone over a sandbag or bipod (I can't remember which). I neglected to test any M855 on that outing. Looking at those numbers, I can immediately toss out the Winchester M193. That load performed abysmally. The cheapo X-Tac was only just barely edged out by the much more expensive ELD-Match ammo. There is a three-way tie for the most accurate ammo in that gun: The Norma Tac-223 (which is basically their M193 load), the Fed 69gr BHTP (SMK), and the Hornady TAP 55gr all turned in virtually identical groups. (I say "virtually" because those numbers above were not parsed out with calipers. I threw a 6" pocket ruler up against the target and recorded the results by rounding them off to the eighth of an inch.)

    Looking at those three rounds, I would toss the Federal load out. The 69gr SMK is really a match target round. The bullet tends to remain solid and tunnel through targets, just like an FMJ. So it doesn't offer me any better performance than the Tac-223, but it does come in at 3-4x the price. Between the Tac-223 and the TAP, the former is a basic FMJ and the latter is a truly defensive design. The TAP offers significantly improved expansion, comes in nickeled brass, and promises better quality control. On the flip-side, it is significantly more expensive than the Norma ammo. And while the two loads perform with similar accuracy, they do not shoot to the same zero. So if I plan to keep the TAP on hand for defensive use, but use Norma for training ammo, then all of my training shots are performed thinking, "Hold low and right. Hold low and right."

    Ultimately, I just settled on the Norma Tac-223 as the sole ammo for that gun. It's not perfect, but it is as accurate as any other ammo out of that gun. It's terminal ballistics are sufficient--especially when you apply the doctrine of 'One Mag, One Kill.' The minor shortcomings of the round are worth accepting in order to have consistent performance and be able to shoot ammo that is cheap enough to train with it.

    Selecting the best ammo for a gun requires a holistic approach. It isn't just about any one factor, and economics cannot be ignored.
    Virtute et Armis

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Western WA
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    6,836
    Terminal performance isn't something I ignore, it's important, but consistent accuracy is much higher on the priority list for me. Best terminal performance in the world doesn't mean much if you miss the target.

    And yes, I don't mind paying more for some things but economics can't be ignored.

    Example. My Suarez "Super Recce" can shoot one hole groups at 100 yards with the right ammo if I do my part. I found that the 77 grain federal match something or other (I don't remember exactly) was incredible out of that gun.

    And I found that 77gr Israeli-made Razorcore ammo performed exactly the same for like half the price.

    Out of that gun, for the role I envision using it, that kind of consistent accuracy is more important to me than what it does on the target. Yes, more damage is more better. But hitting it with the first shot is the most important.

    Head shots and failing that, shoot him to the ground.

    If I was a hunter, concerned about a humane kill (because hey I'm a softy and like animals), yes I want that animal dead in one shot. Bad guys? Well, one shot one kill is a thing, but I'm also not overly concerned about their suffering either.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

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    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

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