Throwback Thursday: 5 Good .223 Remington Loads

.223 remington loads

The .223 Remington is America’s favorite cartridge according to rifle and ammunition sales. The .223 Remington was developed as a varmint cartridge. The .223 is inexpensive, easy to use well, low recoiling, and often very accurate even with military ball-type ammunition. The cartridge is available in bullet weights of 36 to 80 grains. The lightest and the heaviest bullets are less versatile, but very good at what they do. Some of the heavier bullets may not feed well in an AR-15 and are best used in bolt-action rifles.

There are single-shot, bolt-action, self-loading, and even pump-action .223 Remington rifles. I would have once felt that the top-end bolt-action rifles are the most accurate, but after firing several Wilson Combat AR-15 rifles, I am not certain. The use of the cartridge by our military has led to considerable development. The original 55-grain bullet has been replaced by the 62-grain load in military use.

Civilians began using the cartridge with the 55-grain JSP, a reasonable general-purpose bullet. Development has led to lighter bullets for use on varmints and pests to the coyote class. These 36 to 40-grain bullets, including the famous Hornady V-Max, offer explosive effect on varmints. These bullets do not ricochet, but rather break up on hard ground and are very unlikely to penetrate a varmint’s body. Heavier bullets in the 68 to 77-grain weight have proven effective against deer-size game given good shot placement. The 77-grain OTM has given excellent results in wartime use in the hands our snipers. The .223 Remington has achieved far more than its designers would have imagined.

AR-15 and Ammunition
Fiocchi offers first-class, accurate loads.

1. Fiocchi 40-Grain V-Max

This is a 3,650 fps load intended for use on varmints. Results have been excellent in testing. The V-Max bullet features a polymer tip that ensures expansion. The bullet expands rapidly even at extended range, and fragments and blows up varmints at shorter range. This is a solid performer. While lightweight bullets are sometimes problematic in self-loading rifles, the Fiocchi 40-grain V-Max is reliable in every AR-15 I have tested.

2. Federal 62-Grain Green Tip

I have quite a stock of this load. This is the real thing, and at 3,025 fps it is a fine shooter. It is flat shooting, even holding an edge over the majority of 55-grain loads, at extended range. The famous green-tip loads offer superior penetration and long-range accuracy. I like this loading based on Federal Cartridge Company quality and first-class accuracy.

Federal Green Tip Projectile
.223 Green Tip ammunition is iconic to say the least.

3. Hornady Wild Boar

The .223 Remington has come a long way from its humble varmint shooting origins. The AR-15 is far more accurate in its better examples than ever. The Ruger Mini-14 has been improved considerably as well and will take a back seat to no rifle at 100 yards or a little more. Using the GMX bullet, the 50-grain Wild Boar loading from Hornady offers excellent penetration for use on larger game. Shot placement is everything and this load delivers.

Hornady .223 Remington Ammuntion
Hornady’s Full Boar is a great loading.

4. Nosler 64-Grain Defense

Many of us keep an AR-15 or Ruger Mini-14 at home ready for defense use. The FMJ load isn’t ideal for many of these applications. The Nosler load — like all Nosler products — underwent a tremendous amount of research and development. The result is a loading with a bullet that penetrates straight and true, retains 90 percent of its original weight, and expands well.

Using the Colt M4 carbine with Redfield Battlezone scope, I fired three-shot 0.9-inch groups with this load at a long 100 yards. That is good enough to ride with, and the Nosler Defense loading is also well-suited to home defense.

Nosler .223 Remington Ammo
Nosler’s 64-grain Defense load is a formidable choice for personal defense.

5. Winchester USA 55-Grain FMJ

The 55-grain FMJ at more or less 3,000 fps is by far the most commonly encountered .223 Remington loading. Relatively inexpensive, accurate enough for most uses, and available from the major makers, this is a great loading for all-around practice and target shooting. Due to the high velocity, the bullet doesn’t over-penetrate in building structures, far from it, it breaks up more readily than most pistol bullets. Winchester’s USA loading is reliable, accurate, and offers good economy. This is a standard load for training and gauging a rifle’s reliability. It isn’t a poor choice at all for home defense, as high velocity causes it to break up quickly, but an expanding load is a better choice. The Winchester USA loading is a useful practice load I would hate to be without.

Winchester .223 Remington Ammunition
Winchester’s white box loads are both affordable and reliable.

Conclusion: .223 Remington

There were a number of runner-up loads, and frankly, they are as good as the loads chosen for a given purpose. These are five loads you can count on, but take your own counsel and choose the best for your needs.

What is your favorite .223 Remington ammunition? Why? Let us know in the comments section below!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July of 2020. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (16)

  1. 62 gr military ammo is fkn with a greenn PAINTED tip, and a steel penetrated inside. I don’t know what the bullet shown is, but that I definately (sp) not a green tip mil spec round.

  2. Mr. Huston’s expertise DWARFS mine. But I’ve heard claims that AKs have a “banana” trajectory. I’m getting good results at over 200 yards with a .223 and a red-dot scope. So, my question is, “What RANGE does he like for his rifles?

  3. I’m getting tired of reloading, so I like my ak47 & am revamping some ar & finding them good with the cheap ammo.

  4. I’ve seen claims that armor on some boar hogs can stop lighter bullets. Do Mr. Chamorro and others still like specified hog loads for this situation, and would best bullet placement change? Thanks for some great information!

  5. We have been hunting with the Federal MSR .223 Ammunition with the 62 grain Fusion Bullet, and we have been pleased with the performance. This year my daughter bagged her first deer with a clean heart shot and dropped that deer where it stood. Always choose the right ammunition for the job.

  6. Most of my stockpile consists of the Federal 62 gr Green Tips, and I find it functions well in my DPMS Oracle. A note about the Oracle though, only the upper and lower receivers are original. Everything else has been replaced/upgraded. I bought the gun before I learned more about the AR platform, and the Oracle is an entry level gun. I was dissatisfied with its performance and chose to upgrade rather than replace the whole gun. With a better barrel, GI system, BCG, buffer, stock and trigger, I was pleased, but it showed me I would have been better off buying a mid level AR in the first place, as it would have saved me money and time. Live and learn.

  7. I have been shooting Remington hog Hammer and Barnes Vortex loads against pigs and deer longer than I can remember out of a Mini 14 and a Ruger American Ranch. I have been handloading the 62gr. TSX, TacTx and the LRX for countless years also. The .223/5.56 has been a go to hunting caliber that has always been a one shot kill.

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