Question about quality of certain brands of 5.56 ammo

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by hkruss, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. hkruss

    hkruss Active Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Mobile, Al.
    Just wondering if you could critique some different brands of 5.56 ammo for me, based on your experiences.
    In particular, Sellier and Beloit (sp?), Fiochi, Prvi Partizan and PMC. In fact, I would invite you to list other brands and give your opinions of them. Which ones are crap, which are better, and which are best. Don't limit yourselves to the four I listed.
    For now, I am only concerned with good quality plinking ammo, not match target ammo. I usually see Lake City is more expensive (and has a very good reputation), but I was interested in other brands that might be a little cheaper yet compare favorably to it. I guess what I am asking is, is there a mid-priced brand(s) out there that you guys would recommend?
    (By the way, I know Wolf is pretty crappy! The only FTF's and FTE's I've had with my AR, happened while using Wolf.)
  2. cycloneman

    cycloneman Well-Known Member

    Dec 16, 2008
    good ?

    I can say that i have success with PMC, winchester usa, remington umc, and military spec ammo 193 ball and armor prc.

    I have not used & I stay away from Federal, S&B, wolf, privi or anything with steel case.

    I have not tried yet but i have no reservation with Fiochi. I have used other Fichoi ammo and works great and clean.

  3. LurpyGeek

    LurpyGeek Active Member

    Nov 30, 2005
    I use PMC .223 almost exclusively since it's about the cheapest you can get, while still being brass cased. Korean manufactured. It's loaded just a little lighter than mil-spec 193, but has functioned 100% in my XCR.

    I've shot a bit of Sellier & Bellot with no issues, but not enough to form any serious opinions.

    Wolf, Brown Bear, Silver Bear, Golden Tiger, etc. are all very similar. Many of them are actually manufactured at the same factories in former Soviet countries (Wolf is the distributor, not the manufacturer). They are fine for cheap plinking, but I wouldn't use them for competition or hunting.

    You'll hear a lot of people bad mouth the steel cased ammo, but it's fine as long as you understand a few things about it...

    Steel is not as flexible as brass. This is a problem both for shooting and for reloading. Steel cased ammo is made of "mild steel" so it's more flexible than normal steel, but still not as elastic as brass.

    You hear a lot of people talk about steel cased ammo having a lacquer or polymer coating and stories of this coating "melting" and binding up chambers. This is not the case. When brass cased ammo is fired, the brass stretches to fit the chamber and makes a relatively tight seal with the barrel. Steel does not stretch the same way (or to the same extent) so more carbon gets blown back into the chamber around the casing. This wont necessarily hurt anything, but it does mean more cleaning needs to be done.

    The real problem comes when a brass cased round is fired after a session of shooting steel cased ammo. The steel cased ammo has left plenty of carbon and other garbage on the walls of the chamber for the reasons stated above. Then a brass cased round is fired and stretches to fit the chamber as it should. It becomes jammed in the chamber because it has less room to expand and it "sticks" to the fouling. This can cause broken extractors or the extractor can even tear through the rim of the casing.

    This isn't much of a problem with rounds like 7.62x39 (AK, SKS) because they are so tapered. Straighter walled rounds (5.56) have a much greater problem with this.

    It is also a bit of a testament to the somewhat "self-cleaning" properties of a brass case. I've seen brass cased ammo that was fired through an AR after a session of steel cased shooting. The first brass cases fired were covered with fouling. Each round fired pulled out less and less until the chamber wasn't much dirtier than if the shooter had only been firing brass cased (I'm not mentioning the rest of the internals though).

    The other thing about the former Soviet manufactured ammo is that instead of the bullets being copper jacketed, they are normally jacketed in mild steel as well, and then copper washed. This doesn't really mean anything about how the function or wear your firearm, but they generally won't fragment like standard FMJ 5.56 will.

    So as long as you don't mind a bit of cleaning and understand how steel cased ammo is different, there's no problem with running it.

    Sorry for the long answer.
  4. hkruss

    hkruss Active Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Mobile, Al.
    Thanks for the replies.
    And LurpyGeek, I had never thought about the potential problems associated with shooting brass after steel. That info is good to know!
  5. TheGunClinger

    TheGunClinger Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    I have noticed from shooting Wolf ammo the the red primer sealer(?) gets stuck under the extractor and can keep the extractor from working. When you take the bolt apart I would find a red booger under the extractor. Wolf is pretty dirty but shoots quite well for plinking. Gotta clean the weapon anyways.
  6. JohnTheCalifornian

    JohnTheCalifornian Member

    Jun 12, 2009
    I shoot Fiochi in my AR-15. No problems at all with it.
  7. I shoot Selliers & Belloit in my 9MM. I shoot IDPA with it
    and find it to be excellent ammunition. It is also reloadable.

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