As far as affordable ammunition goes, people tend to go for Winchester USA (White Box) or Remington’s value line, UMC. However, when I search for ammo by price, lowest to highest on Cheaper Than Dirt! website, Winchester White Box and UMC rarely pop up as the cheapest.
I like to shoot as much as possible when I go to the range. In order to keep my costs down, I usually buy the cheapest ammo listed that my range allows. Usually, the cheapest ammo is a full metal jacket practice round. For practice, this is just fine. However, you should always keep a box of high-performance, self-defense rounds for your protection gun. It is important to periodically practice with those rounds; however, on a normal range trip when you’re just punching paper, paying less means shooting more.
I tend to pick guns in calibers where ammo stays relatively cheap and easy to find—.22 Long Rifle, .223 Remington and 9mm. My recent foray into the sub-compact .380s means I have been spending a little more. However, I recently found a reliable round that doesn’t break the bank. For .22 LR, I’ve been able to shoot CCI through rifles and handguns with few malfunctions. TRAJETECH pleasantly surprised me how clean and accurate it is in 9mm and Armscor tops my list in all calibers.
.380 ACP: PMC Bronze
When renting a gun at my range, you must also buy and use their ammo. The last time I went to the range to test .380s, they gave me PMC Bronze—a 90-grain full metal jacket round. It ran solidly without issue through a Cobra Firearms Freedom .380, SIG Sauer P238 and Ruger LCP.
I experienced two fail to fires in the Cobra, but these two malfunctions happened in the first magazine ever run through this brand new gun. I count this as an issue with breaking in the Cobra and not the ammo, as I had zero issues in the SIG and Ruger.
The PMC Bronze was incredibly accurate, as well. The .380 ACP has a lead core and a 90-grain full metal jacket bullet. We did not have a chronograph, so I couldn’t record the performance, but PMC reports 185 ft. lbs. of energy and 938 fps at 25 yards. We were shooting from closer distances than 25 yards.
PMC makes all its own propellants, bullets and cartridge case primers in-house and even 95 percent of assembly is done in-house, as well. PMC uses new brass cases; is boxer-primed, loaded to SAMMI specifications and is completely reloadable.
9mm: Trajectory Technologies TRAJETECH
Trajectory Technologies is new to me and Cheaper Than Dirt! currently offers it in 9mm, 7.62x54R and .223 Remington. I’ve only tried the 9mm. I was afraid I was taking a risk when I purchased it. It is remanufactured ammo—meaning it is loaded into once fired brass. Of course, to reloaders this means nothing. However, if you aren’t the one controlling the reloading process, can you trust it? Sure you can!
Each round in the two boxes was shiny, consistent, and clean as a whistle. I shot the 115-grain full metal jacket through a Glock 26 and it ran like a champ.
.22 Long Rifle: CCI
I have been shooting CCI rimfire for over 10 years and loyally feed my rifles with it. Since we might just have seen the days of super cheap .22 LR gone forever, CCI remains an affordable option.
I’ve tried Pistol Match, Stinger, Shotshell, AR Tactical, Mini-Mag, Standard Velocity, and Velocitor—all but CCI’s new .22 Quiet.
CCI offers such a wide variety of rimfire for so many different applications that if your gun doesn’t like a particular round, then try another.
CCI isn’t perfect—is any ammo? I’ve had fail to feeds, fail to fires, double feeds and flat out just bad rounds—from the AR Tactical in particular—in my S&W M&P 15-22, but when you count the ratio of malfunctions to good rounds, you are looking at extremely reliable ammunition.
I find Winchester White Box and Fiocchi .22 LR dirtier than CCI. CCI is not as smoky or make my hands as grimy as other rimfire rounds I have tried. I have come to expect a certain quality from CCI and I have received that reliability and consistency with every box. I have successfully run it through a S&W M&P 15-22, a Ruger 10/22, a S&W M&P 22 pistol, a NAA mini revolver, a DMPS AR-15 with .22 conversion kit, a GSG-533, and a SIG Sauer 522.
.22 Magnum and .223 Remington: Armscor
Ever since the big boss gave me a lot of .22 Magnum made by Armscor, the ammo company has been my go-to brand of ammunition for any caliber. Made in the USA, Armscor ammo is polished, has uniform crimps, and is consistent, reliable and clean burning. The variety of guns I have fed Armscor through without issues include the S&W Bodyguard .38 revolver, S&W .22 Magnum revolver, S&W M&P 15-22, Armscor M200 revolver, S&W SD40, Glock 17, Glock 19, Daniel Defense .223 Remington AR-15, various AR-15 home-builds, Kel-Tec SU16C and the Beretta 92.
Armscor carries a full line of centerfire and rimfire handgun and rifle ammo, including shotshells, from practice to self-defense rounds. The company guarantees its product, too. If you are dissatisfied with even one round in the box, Armscor replaces the entire box free. However, I have never been dissatisfied with any of my Armscor purchases.