Mar
13

Range Report: .223 Ammo Shootout

We had a nice, calm sunny day with a very light breeze here in the midwest – perfect weather for a .223 shootout.

The idea behind this comparison is to find highly-accurate new ammunition that the average person can buy. Personal handload recipes are going to weed out a good 80% of the folks out there that don’t have the capability to roll their own, so we’re going to look at some ammo that anyone can go online or pick up a phone and order.

I tested seven high-quality brands of 50-55 grain ammunition, all rated in the 3200fps range – well-suited to the 1:9 twist of the Savage Model 10 Tactical.

The high-quality .223 ammunition tested

The high-quality .223 ammunition tested

The rounds were shot at 100 yards from The Bench. Because neither The Bench nor myself are perfect, I shot 5-round groups of each ammo, and measured the best three of the five rounds, center to center, to calculate the group. Until I get some better bench equipment, this is the method I’ll be using to calculate when talking about group sizes.

The Candidates:

The Federal Premium 55gr Nosler rounds can be found pretty easily at most sporting goods stores. In fact, these came from Cabela’s and were about $24 per box of 20. These are great varmint rounds, and I’ve taken more than one critter out with them.

Federal Premium V-Shok - Nosler 55 grain ballistic tip

Federal Premium V-Shok - Nosler 55 grain ballistic tip

The Hornady TAP can also be found on the shelves, but it is a bit rarer than the Federal. Several online ammunition stores have it in stock frequently. The TAP in question was about $22 for a box of 20.

Hornady TAP - 55 grain Vmax

Hornady TAP - 55 grain Vmax

Georgia Arms is an online retailer, and they also have a brick-and-mortar retail store. Their 52gr HPBT Match is currently $24.50 for 50 rounds.

Georgia Arms 52gr Boat Tail Hollow Point Match Ammo

Georgia Arms 52gr Boat Tail Hollow Point Match Ammo

Their 55 grain Vmax is $28.00 per 50.

Georgia Arms 'Precision Plus' 55 grain Vmax

Georgia Arms 'Precision Plus' 55 grain Vmax

C&C Cartridge is a small loading company in Benton, IL. I had never heard of them until I came across someone at a gun show selling their wares. This high-quality ammo was almost $40 for a bag of 50 rounds (I transferred them to the boxes in the pic). As far as I know, they don’t have an online presence.

C and C Cartridge Company 55gr Vmax

C&C Cartridge Company 55gr Vmax

Thunder Ammo was a new one to me as well. I stumbled upon their products while searching for a good 50BMG load. 50 rounds of Thunder Ammo’s Vmax runs $32 in both 50gr and 55gr., and TA’s ammo is shipped in nice plastic boxes

Thunder Ammo 55 grain Vmax

Thunder Ammo 55 grain Vmax

Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

I thought the results were interesting – I was expecting Georgia Arms’ 52gr HPBT to perform much better than it did, and I’m surprised at how well the Hornady TAP performed. The Federal grouped much poorer than I expected.

As far as groups go, the gold medal goes to C&C from Benton, IL. However, from a consumer standpoint, it’s only fair to factor price into the grade, so I’m rating them as follows:

Ammo Type Group Size Price per round Grade
Thunder Ammo 55gr Vmax 1/4″ $0.64 A+
C&C 55gr Vmax 3/16″ $0.80 A
Georgia Arms 55gr Vmax 3/8″ $0.56 B+
Hornady TAP 55gr Vmax 1/4″ $1.10 B
Georgia Arms 52gr HPBT 1/2″ $0.49 B-
Thunder Ammo 50gr Vmax 1/2″ $0.64 B-
Federal 55gr Nosler 11/16″ $1.20 C-

Pics of the groups:

A+: Thunder Ammo 55gr Vmax

A+: 1/4" group from Thunder Ammo 55gr Vmax

3/16" group form C & C 55gr Vmax

A: 3/16" group form C & C 55gr Vmax

B+: 3/8" group from Georgia Arms 55gr Vmax

B+: 3/8" group from Georgia Arms 55gr Vmax

B: 1/4" group from Hornady TAP 55gr Vmax

B: 1/4" group from Hornady TAP 55gr Vmax

B-: 1/2" group from Georgia Arms 52gr HPBT

B-: 1/2" group from Georgia Arms 52gr HPBT

B-: 1/2" group from Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

B-: 1/2" group from Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

C-: 11/16" group from Federal Premium Nosler ballistic tip

C-: 11/16" group from Federal Premium Nosler ballistic tip

I have to say, I won’t be buying any more Federal Premium – not only do I consider an 11/16″ group unacceptable for premium ammo, it’s also carries the highest price tag.

As happy as I am with the groups from the C&C ammo, I don’t think I’ll be buying much more. The owner of C&C is very friendly and accommodating, but he didn’t offer a quantity discount until the order reached 1,000 rounds – which he offered to sell for $750.00. At $0.75/round, I may buy a couple hundred to keep on hand for hunting with the Savage Model 10, but it won’t be regular shooting ammo for me.

The Thunder Ammo 55gr Hornady Vmax gets my vote. Consistent 1/4″ groups, great  price for custom loads, plus excellent service and fast shipping. I highly recommend.

Happy Shooting.

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