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AR 15 is probably the most common rifle in the market and there are many rounds you can find from different manufacturers. It is hard to come by a single as most are offered in twenty round boxes which is pretty much the minimum and prices go down when buying a larger quantity. Because AR 15 ammo has a vast array of calibers it is easier to find the cheapest .223 or the most expensive 6.5 Grendel. Here is a list of the most popular AR 15 calibers.
When choosing ammo for your AR 15 it depends on the type of rounds you want. The lowest cost will always be steel-cased FMJ. The same applies when you get into brass cases. Standard 55 grain full metal jacket is going to be the cheapest in any manufacturer’s lineup. Soft points or hollow points tend to cost more, and so will higher bullet weights.
Types of Bullets and Casing Materials that Effect the Cost
Several factors play a role in the effectiveness and cost of AR-15 ammo. Today we look at types of bullets.
Types of Bullets
Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
The most common and basic types of bullets are FMJs (Full Metal Jacket). FMJ bullets have a lead core that is jacketed entirely by a harder metal, which is usually copper. Because of the relatively simple design, it is among the cheapest to produce and therefore cheap to purchase
If you want affordable ammo for both target shooting and general practice at the range with your AR 15 then you should consider the FMJ ammo.
Hollow Points and Soft Points
Soft points and hollow points, and their variations are the types of bullets that will inflict increased damage to your target as they offer greater expansion upon impact. They are projectiles that have more intricate designs. It is what makes them more difficult and expensive to produce, and this explains why they are more costly to the consumer.
Some people find it cost-effective to train with the full metal jackets ammo then use non-FMJ ammo only for specific purposes. You will only need some extra to test to ensure that it works without issue in your firearm.
Steel vs Brass Casings
In the firearm community, a general question is perhaps what is the difference between ammo with brass casings and steel ammo.
Even though steel-cased ammo is cheaper than brass cased ammo they tend to cause more wear on your rifle. However, if the cost is the general factor to consider, then I would recommend the use of steel cased ammo in your AR 15 for practicing.
The argument is that most people do not shoot a lot and therefore will not see the wear effects of steel cased ammo. If there is wear, then it probably cuts the lifespan of your rifle after a couple of thousand rounds.
However, as a precaution, I do not recommend the use of steel cased rounds in any AR 15 rifles if you specifically plan to use it for self-defense. Just to be safe I would also not recommend it anytime you need to maximize reliability.
What AR-15 Calibers and Cartridges Should Chamber Your Carbine
Most new shooters may want to buy an AR-15 but can never decide which cartridge it should chamber. The key to getting the right cartridge for an AR-15 is to match the cartridge to the jobs you are going to ask the rifle to perform. You must choose wisely, or you might decide to choose more than one.
The .223 Remington
It is the most popular and perhaps the most versatile cartridge for the AR-15. The .223 Remington is a top-caliber as a result of its wide selection of factory ammunition and the performance.
Because the .223 Remington is the premier cartridge for the AR-15, there are more ammunition options for it than any other. Another reason why people like the .223 Remington is that this cartridge is interchangeable with the 5.56 NATO. Be careful, the 5.56 NATO ammo should never be fired in .223 Remington rifles. But is safe to shoot .223 Remington ammunition in a 5.56 NATO rifle.
It has a wide selection of factory loads, and the bullets range in weight starting from 35 to 75 grains. The bullets are also available in many styles from monolithic to frangible. The best use of the .223 Remington is it is ideally suited for varmints, home defense, and even large game as deer and feral hogs. In the end bullet selection is the key to the successful hunting of different prey.
The .300 Blackout
The .300 Blackout is ahead of any other AR-15 cartridge when it comes to subsonic performance.
300 Blackout is quite popular partially because of its name, and perhaps because of its ability to provide fantastic subsonic performance. One downside is that shooters discovered that obtaining one-hole, using .300 Blackout, accuracy for both subsonic and supersonic ammunition is near impossible.
But the .300 Blackout has minimal recoil with supersonic ammunition. It makes it the best cartridge for young or new shooters looking for a hunting experience with the AR 15. Another great thing is that there is a wide selection of supersonic hunting loads to choose from. However, the ultimate forte of this cartridge is its subsonic work. It is the sole reason it reigns supreme as the subsonic cartridge for the AR-15.
The .22 Nosler
Some shooters get excited with speed and that is why the .22 Nosler is the best speed AR-15 cartridge for you. It has its perks especially if you want one that works on varmints and deer-sized games.
The .22 Nosler has almost 25 percent more powder capacity than the .223 Remington. It means that the .22 Nosler can push bullets devilishly fast. We can argue that the .22 Nosler is the flattest and fastest shooting AR-15 cartridge. The bullet-style is effective and accommodates a flat trajectory.
It can push a 55-grain bullet to 3,300 fps, and you will find this more than sufficient when going deer hunting. The 55-grain Ballistic bullet has speed that is ideal for also coyotes and varmints.
The 6.5 Grendel
The 6.5 Grendel forges its name as the multipurpose ammo for the AR 15. With so many options for just about any application you want, it can deliver a hard hit at a distance.
If there were ever a cult cartridge for the AR-15, the 6.5 Grendel is it. It is based on the .220 Russian/7.62×39 Soviet case. The 6.5 Grendel was first introduced in 2003 and it has since made an impression in the firearms community.
It can push a 120-grain bullet to 2,700 fps and it also shoots very flat because of the naturally high ballistic coefficient of the Grendel 6.5-caliber bullets.
Interestingly, the 6.5 Grendel has never caught the attention of the mainstream AR-15 enthusiasts. It is perplexing as it is one of the best multipurpose cartridges available. The factory ammo is offered by a variety of manufacturers who include Alexander Arms, Hornady, Federal, and Underwood Ammunition.
If you need a do- it- all AR-15 cartridge, the 6.5 Grendel will suffice well. With the 6.5 Grendel cartridge, you will find the best AR 15 ammo of any kind that has ever been invented. It can however be quite expensive compared to other AR 15 ammo listed here.
See our article on Hunting with a 6.5 Grendel.
The .350 Legend
The .350 Legend is specific ammo created for deer hunting in the states that now allow straight-wall cartridges. However, as it rises to popularity we should reserve opinions as to whether it is already a hero or zero.
The .350 Legend is essentially a .223 Remington case that has no taper and a .35-caliber bullet. Looking at the muzzle, it produces more energy than the .300 Blackout, .223 Remington, and .30-30 Winchester It also recoils 20 percent less than the .243 Winchester.
There are lots of factory loads for the .350 Legend from Winchester. The bullet weights range from 145 to 265 grains. Even though it is listed as the best ammo for deer hunting, make no mistake it is still lethal for other animals like feral hogs.
The .350 Legend is also the best for personal protection and home defense.
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If you’re looking for AR-15 ammo then the best thing you can do is outline the tasks the rifle will perform. You can never go wrong with the .223 Remington unless the state you reside in does not allow big game hunting.
There are other best options in the market for big games and you can substitute the .223 Remington with the 6.5 Grendel.
If you are hunting for varmints and coyotes, the .22 Nosler is probably the best choice. When looking for a straight-wall cartridge, the new .350 Legend is more than capable. However, with the AR 15, you can always have multiple upper receivers. It means you will always have multiple cartridges to choose from at all times. The real beauty of the AR 15 rifle is that it is the most versatile and adaptable rifle ever created.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.