Picture this: It’s a sunny summer afternoon and you’re headed outside to do some yard work and check on your garden. What you find is that some varmint has chewed a hole in your fence and eaten half of your vegetables. You race back into the house and grab your .223 to show him who’s boss. Or, it’s that same sunny afternoon and you’re headed to the range to sharpen your skills for next week’s target shooting competition. You reach for the same gun, but with decidedly different intent.

When facing down the varmints in your yard, why pick a .223 instead of something with more firepower? Why not pack more heat at the range? Basically, it’s just not necessary. Ruger has a catalog full of rifles that will fit the bill nicely, from bolt-action Americans to autoloading tactical rifles. There are also quite a few distributor exclusives that do the job with a few extras.

Important Differences in AR Ammo

One of the most important things to know right out of the gate is that there are two types of AR-15 ammo –  the 5.56 NATO cartridge and .223 Remington ammo. Selecting the right ammo is dependent upon the type of chamber in your rifle. For example, if your rifle is manufactured to chamber the .223 Remington, then that is the ammo you must use. If the rifle is chambered for the 5.56 NATO, then your rifle will accept both types of ammo. While the size is the same, the 5.56 NATO has higher pressure, something that a rifle chambered solely for the .223 can’t safely handle.

Both rounds are excellent for varmint hunting and target shooting. Both are highly accurate at long ranges.

In 1964, the .223 Remington cartridge was introduced to the general public for hunting varmints and predators. One month later, the United States Air Force chose the ammunition in the form of the 5.56x45mm cartridge to be used in their new M-16 rifles.

Due to its mild recoil, the .223 Remington cartridge experienced popularity across many different shooting platforms with the majority of the buyers being varmint hunters and those seeking to rid their territory of predators. It was used effectively against small vermin such as rodents and medium-sized predators like coyotes. It should be noted that the .223 Remington is not suitable for deer hunting and is illegal in some jurisdictions.

Law enforcement agencies tend to rely on the .223 Remington as part of their arsenal. It often rides along in patrol cars, at times replacing the 12-gauge shotgun when more precision is required.

The .223 Remington has become one of the most sought-after cartridges in the United States, which explains why firearms manufacturers continue to expand and refine their products, including bulk packaging.

Varmints

Best .223 Varmint Hunting Ammo

“Varmints” are simply small animals that make pests of themselves, often destroying property. These may include rabbits, gophers, rats and other rodents, weasels, groundhogs, etc. Because the animals are small, a great deal of power is not necessary. Medium-sized varmints and predators require more stopping power. These include coyotes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, feral dogs and cats.

Winchester Ammunition: Ballistic Silvertip 55 Grain Polymer-Tipped

The Ballistic Silvertip .223 ammo from Winchester has a polymer-tipped projectile. This is designed to prevent the bullet from deforming and allowing it to fragment for a quick expansion upon impact. This is especially important when taking down medium sized varmints and predators from a long distance.

Ballistic Info:

  • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 55 Grain
  • Polymer Tipped Bullet
  • Nickel-Plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 1282 ft lbs Muzzle Energy

Remington Ammunition: JHP Cartridge 45 Grain JHP

Remington .223 ammo is a versatile round that serves well as part of your varmint hunting arsenal. The brass casing has non-corrosive characteristics which allows you to spend time stalking your pesky prey without fear of damaging the ammo or your weapon. The JHP offers reliable expansion, accuracy, and a flat trajectory.

Ballistic Info:

  • 3550 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 45 Grain
  • JHP Bullet
  • Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 1259 ft lbs Muzzle Energy

Federal Ammunition: Premium 165 Grain Nosler Ballistic Tip

Federal Premium tops our list for the best .223 ammo for varmint hunting. This new production ammo is designed for maximum reliability and performance. Hunters have been using Nosler Ballistic Tip Hunting bullets for nearly 25 years. These bullets are precision-made to provide the utmost quality and accuracy with every shot. The heavy jacket and polycarbonate tip prevent bullets from deformation during firing and remain intact at extreme velocities. Simply put, this is one hard hitting round that will get the job done.

Ballistic Info:

  • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 55 Grain
  • Nosler Ballistic Tip Bullet
  • Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 1282 ft lbs Muzzle Energy

Hornady Ammunition: Varmint Express Ammo 55 Grain V-MAX

You can’t get more specific than Hornady’s Varmint Express when it comes to getting rid of the pests around your property. The .223 ammo works well at short or long range. The cartridge is equipped with a solid polymer tip designed to deliver rapid expansion as well as a think jacket that fragments upon impact.

Ballistic Info:

  • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 55 Grain
  • V-MAX Bullet
  • Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 1282 ft lbs Muzzle Energy

 

AR-15 at the Range

Best .223 Range Training Ammo

The top two things to look for when choosing the best range training ammo is low price and accuracy. Each of these choices offers that plus smooth feeding, eliminating jams and failures. Our top choices include:

Wolf Ammunition: Performance Gold 55 Grain FMJ

Manufactured with brass casing and Boxer priming, this all-purpose round is affordable and reloadable.

Ballistic Info:

  • 3250 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 55 Grain
  • FMJ Bullet
  • Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 1290 ft lbs Muzzle Energy

Prvi Partizan Ammunition: 55 Grain Soft Point

Also reloadable, this round is affordable and available in bulk.

Ballistic Info:

  • 3248 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 55 Grain
  • SP Bullet
  • Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 1283 ft lbs Muzzle Energy

Tula Ammunition: FMJ Ammo 55 Grain FMJ

This .223 ammo is made using a steel casing and Berndan primer.

Ballistic Info:

  • 3241 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 55 Grain
  • FMJ Bullet
  • Steel Casing
  • Berdan Primer

 


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