Advances in AR-15 Ammo

The AR-15 platform has become the most popular rifle in the world, and even though most are chambered for the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO cartridge, many other cartridges are now available for this versatile rifle.

The AR-15 platform has become the most popular rifle in the world, and even though most are chambered for the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO cartridge, many other cartridges are now available for this versatile rifle.

AR-15 Ammo Continually Evolving

More often than not, in the world of new cartridges, someone who has a fanciful idea to reach a new ballistic plateau comes up with a cartridge, and then gunmakers respond in kind with firearms adapted or designed around the new round. Quite often, the evolution is parallel.

With its inherent modularity, combined with a wide array of cartridges, the AR-15 is the most versatile rifle on the planet. Suitable for law enforcement, military, sport shooting, and hunting, it excels at all of them.

With its inherent modularity, combined with a wide array of cartridges, the AR-15 is the most versatile rifle on the planet. Suitable for law enforcement, military, sport shooting, and hunting, it excels at all of them.

The .500 Smith & Wesson and the X-frame revolver are good examples; the pair was conceived and born together. But the AR-15, more than any other rifle in history, has broken that mold and reversed the development path of norm. In the last decade especially, a plethora of new cartridges have appeared that were designed just for the AR-15.

Quite a lot of the rounds came from military ballisticians and ammunition companies trying to improve on the 5.56X45mm NATO’s battlefield lethality—or lack thereof. Long-range shooters and competitors also sought to improve on the much-maligned 5.56, those marksmen seeking a projectile fired from that particular rifle that had enough gas to stay supersonic longer and slip the wind better.

Hunters, too, are using the AR-15 to tackle any and all of North America’s small and big game, and still another set of developmental talent wanted to give shooters the option to tackle big game or stop a vehicle or boat in its tracks via big-bore hunting and interdiction rounds. It seems the only limit for engineers, ballisticians, wildcatters, hunters, and shooters has ben making a new round fit in the rifle’s magazine—and it is amazing what will fit in an AR magazine.

One of the reasons the AR-15 has proven so popular with shooters and spawned this new crop of purpose-built cartridges is the gun’s inherent ability to easily adapt to just about any military or police, hunting, shooting, or competition mission. With a steady trickle of improvements since the rifle’s adoption by the U.S. military in the early 1960s, the AR-15 has evolved into a rifle that is extremely reliable, accurate and, most importantly, adaptable. The rifle’s relatively simple design also made it a natural platform for experimentation.

4 thoughts on “Advances in AR-15 Ammo

  1. capta45capta45

    “Slower 1:7 twist rates” – quite certain you meant either ‘slower velocity bullet’ or ‘faster 1:7 twist rates’. Obviously a 1:7 twist rate is faster than a 1:9 twist rate and will produce more rotation. Longer bullets generally need a faster twist rate to properly stabilize.

  2. retired75th

    There is a concerted ongoing effort to “sell” the 5.56. An effort to get the 5.56 to do what it is not cable of doing. If the platform, such as the AR and its variants was not so versatile, the AR in 5.56 would be a dying breed. It is the flexibility of the AR and not the 5.56 that sells the firearm. This is the bottom line. If you are engaging targets at 500 to 600 yes, are you seriously going to rely on 5.56? Of course not, so why push an inadequate round, except to make money. . There is a big difference between hitting the bulls eye on a paper target at 500 yds, and killing the enemy at 500 yds. If you are hooked on the AR, which is a good weapon, and want to engage real targets at extended range at least rebarrel the weapon. No firearm is the ideal for all missions and conditions, so base weapon selection on the mission, and not hype from folks with a financial angle. And one last thing, in what states is it legal to take big game with 5.56 as the author states?

    1. 454lvr

      Texas and Oklahoma are two that I know of that allow 223 to be used for deer. Oklahoma requires a 7 round or less magazine in the 223. If the ar is of the 308 variety you can used the 20 round magazine.

  3. Harold

    If you’re sticking to .223/5.56 mm, consider rounds that use Barnes TSX copper bullets. Black Hills makes loadings in both .223 and 5.56 mm, the latter to NATO and military specs, sealed, low flash powder and all that. They also sell to us their MK262 Mod 1 that you mention.

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