Non-Commie caliber = non-Commie manufacturer, Commie caliber=Commie Manufacturer….

As everyone knows, a gun without ammo is just a very inefficient club. Unless you’re on fire, there’s really no such thing as too much ammo.

Personally, I’ve been pulling triggers for just less than thirty years. I’ve shot some really broad varieties of ammo, from lotsa different countries, and from lotsa different eras. When I go to buy ammo I want the most reliable, consistent, affordable, quality-made, ammo I  can find.

American manufacturers:

Rattle of the big brands off the top of your head – Federal, Winchester, Remington, Hornady, Speer… if you buy this stuff you are pretty much guaranteed to be getting good ammo. Sure they have recalls once in a while, but I would take a box of Win White Box 9mm or Federal American Eagle 9mm over a box of Wolf any day of the week. The ammo from the large American companies is usually exactly what Im looking for.

Now, there are, of course, smaller manufacturers and some who are actually reloaders rather than manufacturers. Outfits like MagTech, Black Hills, etc. I used to shoot Black Hills ammo way back in the day…remember those 50-round American Flag boxes? It was usually ‘good enough’ ammo but accuracy was sometimes not as good as one might expect. Pricing, however, was good so if the weekend called for a day of busting rocks that was the ammo du jour.

Locally, we have the old Hunting Shack (HSM) ammo and BVAC (Bitterroot Valley Ammo Company). The nicest thing I can say about Hunting Shack ammo is that usually it goes ‘bang’ every time you pull the trigger. They had the local contract for practice ammo and results were…uninspiring. BVAC, which has/had an interesting pedigree as an offshoot of HSM, is slightly better but the company has had some fluctuations in QC and I’m just not willing to stockpile ammo I don’t trust.

Summary: Buy ammo from one of the big US makers and be confident you got good stuff.

European manufacturers:

I’ve been pleased with Sellier & Bellot, Fiocchi, Norma, Lapua, and Hirtenberger. Lapua is probably the best ammo in the world but expect to pay for that. S&B has been very good and reasonably priced. I use them for my 12 ga. needs. A couple drawbacks to these brands is that they just aren’t represented very well. Find something you like and its very possible it may be unavailable at a later date.

The Russians:

Ammo of last resort. If I’m shooting a Commie gun (AK, Makarov, Tokarov, SKS, 91/30) then I go with the spam cans of ‘surplus’ ammo. The guns are designed around those steel cases. Although they now offer other calibers like 9mm, .308, .223, .45 ACP, etc, they are all steel cased and, in my opinion, usually pretty dirty to shoot. You can point me to all the FAQ’s on arfcom but I am not running steel cases out of my AR…or any of my other non-Commie-caliber guns. The only exception I have is I wouldn’t hesitate to run steel .223 out of a Mini-14.

Wolf has tried, with some success, to clean up their image these days but, to quote Big Bang Theory, you’re trusting the technology of a country that couldn’t catch Rocky and Bullwinkle. When the apocalypse comes and I’m down to my last mag of M855 I’ll grab the packet of Wolf steel cased .223 thats offered to me…but I’ll have misgivings the whole time. On the other hand, if I’m using my AK then I’ll take the Wolf 7.62×39 and feel just fine.

The Chinese:

You don’t see much of this anymore since Slick Willie banned it from import, but it isnt hard to figure that it’s a grey-market product that probably turns up in the US. The Chinese move it to the Russians or other Eastern Block countries, they repackage it as their own, and move it to the US. FIlthy, inconsistent, unreliable stuff in any caliber other than 7.62×39…..then its just inconsistent and filthy. I recall one particular batch of ammo (and ‘gunpowder’) that came into the US that was loaded with what was essentially fireworks powder.

The Koreans:

PMC is actually, in my experience, pretty good stuff and I have no qualms using it. When youre just a short-range missle-launch away from North Korea you take your ammo making fairly seriously.

Misc. Surplus:

Used to be you could get South African, W. German, and other surplus ammo in good quantity at decent prices. (I’ve a dozen battle packs of .308 S. African that I paid something like $20 ea.) It turns up rarely, but when it does I have no problem with it if it’s from a country whose national airline you’d feel safe flying on. I’ll take South African .308 ball over Pakistani .308 every time.

These are all personal preferences. Im sure there are folks who’ll tell me they regularly compete and win in their IDPA division using steel cased .38 Super from Glorious People’s Tractor Factory #54 in China but that’s between them and their guns.

For my AR’s and PTR’s, Glocks and Rugers, its brassed case commercial ammo made in non-Commie countries. For my SKS and AK’s, its Russian or Chinese 7.62×39. If I were to check the stockpiles in the bunker right now it’d be Chinese and Russian 7.62×39, Federal .223, S&B and Rem. 12 ga, Federal .22, South African and PMC .308, Win. 9mm, and a hodgepodge of .357, .38 and .45 ACP (but American manufacturers).

Your milieage may vary, of course, but if someone was to ask me which to get, Federal or Winchester 9mm versus Wolf or Armscor 9mm…..well, you’ll get less of the Federal for your money than you would of the Wolf but I’d feel more confident with the Federal. Or, put another way, when you’re standing in front of your family-owned jewelry store in Ferguson MO and the cops are nowhere in sight will you be thinking “Wow, Im glad I saved nine cents a round on this steel cased Russian 9mm ammo”? Don’t underestimate the value of having faith and confidence in your ammo.



15 thoughts on “Non-Commie caliber = non-Commie manufacturer, Commie caliber=Commie Manufacturer….

  1. I’ve read the articles and seen the reports of running steel cased ammo through an AR and such. I’m told that there is basically no difference. But when I’ve spent around $1500 for a quality AR or $1200+ for a Kimber, I will NOT run steel cased ammo through it. Plus, no one could really explain where the super heated lacquer goes when fired in an AR. They are bad enough to clean as it is.

    For the SKS, AK, Mosin groups, then yes. Since I don’t shoot Hi-Points, my other centerfire pistols and revolvers are too expensive for me to take a chance with steel case. As a last resort, okay. Wolf Gold is brass cased and I’ve used some of it; no problems.

    I have some surplus, Pakistani I believe, that I recently tried to use. Both in a Savage bolt gun and a Ruger SR762. Neither would fully feed. I’ve never had a problem before, but it jammed both guns actions. No fun trying to remove a live round from a 30 cal rifle at the range. Session over. Not sure what is up with it, but since I only have 2 boxes left…..

  2. I’d have to stockpile and shoot way more ammo than I do for the savings from non-American, non-big brand ammo to outweigh the hassles.

  3. No 22LR AMMO in the area, checked gun stores, and big box alike. Wolf ammo when you could get was very dirty.
    But NO 22 can be found.
    Christmas present would be a brick of 22LR, CCI, Federal, or any of the like. Heck any amount would be nice.

  4. This Finnish AK shooter would be pretty unhappy with any Russian or Eastern Europe ammo in my AK (speaking specifically about the 7.62x39mm here) in a serious situation. Not because of the steel casings, those work fine with an AK, but rather because of the bullets used and possibly also accuracy issues. Wolf 123gr ammo (lead core and copper jacket – would be great stuff if it were more accurate) doesn’t shoot for shit in my experience, and the steel core bullets usually used by Russian ammo manufacturers have pretty lousy terminal ballistics. S&B ammo would be otherwise fine, but not really a fan of the huge muzzle flash of that round in low light.

    Me, I’d stick with western manufacturers for any serious use AK ammunition. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’ll work a lot better.

  5. Fiocchi is probably one to avoid. What I’ve heard multiple times, and had verified from chronograph results, is that their ammo is consistently loaded a couple hundred fps below the advertised velocity.

    Personally, I choose to avoid Remington ammo due to a couple of bad experiences, like the 555rd brick of .22lr that turned out to be nearly 1 in 5 duds and the .357 Golden Sabers that won’t edge out a 9mm. YMMV, however.

    P.S. Big Bang Theory notwithstanding, Pottsylvania was the country that couldn’t get Moose and Squirrel.

  6. It could well be coinsidence but it seems to me like most of the time I’ve talked to folks whom have had issues running Wolf ammo in an AR, there have usually been some combination of one or more of a few likely related facts.

    1. A new shooter, a new AR shooter, a new AR or new shooter whom is new to ARs shooting a new AR(any how, they didn’t know to “run them wet”, or didn’t bother to lube at all)…

    Likely using…

    2. Crap mags. Yes, beat up USGI and Thermold magss are cheap, there is a reason for it. Spend $.50 more for a decent USGI surplus mag , a $1 more for a decent new production Aluminum or Pmag…

    And(This seems to me to be the big one for those whom are expierenced shooters with some time on an AR platform, using otherwise quality components)…

    3. 55 grain Wolf(well, Steel Cased, Russian regardless of actual manufacture)…

    Most everyone I’ve chatted with whom had issue with Russian ammo in ARs, if they remember, had been using 55 grain steel cased. I’m not ever going to say the 62 grain stuff is without issue(it certainly is dirty cheap ammo), though it’s never come close to causing enough malfunctions from my personal expierence or in my respective circle, to make me shy from it’s usage(at least as range fodder). I will admit to stocking a fair bit of 55 grain xm193 and more 62grain M855 for more serious than range trip or running out of ammo because the whole place is overrun with zombies, scenarios

    Just my $.02

  7. warning: s&b might be great for shotgun. i tried their 243 in a quality single shot. it was hard to chamber, failed to fire several times and when it did it stuck in the chamber. tried various other brands with zero problems….. pmc shoots dirty but pretty well otherwise….shot steel russian for a while until it stuck in my m1911 and ripped the extractor lug off trying to eject it. wound up having to punch it out with a rod. nobody wants it so it goes in the last ditch cache. one not mentioned but top of my list is prvi partizan. very good ammo from the former yugo. hate their politics, love their ammo.

    • Prvi has been hit-or-miss for me. I suspect that the quality suffered in the years of their violent national breakup.

  8. I generally agree with the following disclaimers from my experience:
    -Wolf/ Tula 115 FMJ works just fine out of a Glock albeit with an arguable slight decrease in accuracy. If I can get it at a sufficient discount over brass US (Win white box/ etc) loads I will use it as range/ training ammo.

    -I’ve used Prvi Partisan 5.56 brass cased stuff for a few years and it is IMO on par with PMC. Next ammo order I plan to try some of their 150gr SP 308 ammo.

  9. I too have tried a wide variety of ammo through the platforms I own. Here are some of my results:
    Hornady 75gr Steel Match is dead nuts accurate out of my Knight’s SR15. Runs clean, zero problems with about 300 rounds downrange.

    A lot of Fiocchi is US made. Check the box. The 69gr Match King round has been very accurate in the above mentioned rifle. Maybe 100 rounds downrange.

    I also have a PTR91. Unfortunately, it’s one of the rifles with the incorrect flutes, which means certain kinds of ammo should not be used. One is 7.62×51 Winchester White Box. Too bad, I have a few thousand rounds of it. Anything with tar sealed primers seems to be off limits. I had some 1969 headstamped IMI. That stuff was also nasty and the rifle suffered some corrosion (my fault). On the other hand, it loves Brown Bear and Barnaul, both Russian made steel cased. Zero malfunctions with over 1k shot. It also loves Federal XM80 and American Eagle.

    I don’t own an AK, though the SIG556R is very appealing.

    No steel cased through any of my handguns. Aluminum cased Blazer functions without a hitch in my M&P45. I do have a couple of boxes of the Hornady Steel Match in .40 S&W I haven’t tried yet.

  10. I think you might want to take another look at Black Hills Ammo. If you read a lot of gun test reports in the many gun rags, they test with multiple brands of ammo, FED. WIN. Black Hills. ect. 9 times out of ten the tightest groups are Black Hills Ammo. And I would rather spend my money with them, a family buisness then with a big corp. Plus Black Hills has started a public shooting course with train too. P.S. glad you are up and running again. almost tweeked when I could not get your site to loadup. been a long hual huh.

    • Black Hills has been around a while and most of my experiences with them are back in the 90’s (and late 80’s, come to think of it). They produce great stuff these days but I just feel more confident with the ‘big name’ stuff from Fed, Win and Rem. Certainly I’d take BH over any Russian or Chinese stuff. It’s just marketing, I suppose…but I always feel more confident with the big-name stuff even though, intellectually, I know there’s virtually no difference in quality.

      And, yeah, things were fine with Yahoo hosting for a while and then they just completely crapped the bed this year.

  11. I’m probably going to come off as a bitter old curmudgeon here but I fondly remember the days, only about 10 years ago, of buying Santa Barbara Spanish surplus 7.62×51 M80 FMJ for $125/1k shipped from Century. I was also buying Russian 7.62×39 for $70/1k shipped and .223 55gr FMJ for $100/1k shipped, both from Sportsman’s Guide. Surplus Indian 7.62×51 M80 and Turkish 8mm Mauser could be had for less than 10 cents per round for awhile (though both were extremely dirty). This was the days for $99 G1 FAL kits from Tapco. Lets just say I shot a LOT of ammo in those salad days. I was on a first name basis with my Century rep and I didn’t even have an FFL.

    When shit started to slide around 2005-2007 I bought up a TON of surplus ammo and Russian steel cased ammo and stacked it deep, and I’ve been living off that more or less for the last decade. Up until the Sandy Hook debacle I was also buying surplus pulldown reloading components (bullets, powder, virgin primed brass) for easy cheap reloading but even that has dried up now. I haven’t bought a box of commercial ammo in a common caliber for many years, even when I wanted to, because I STILL don’t think we’ve returned to sane pricing. Even taking into account increases in the price of metals and fuel, inflation and the general weakening of the dollar, ammo is STILL more expensive per round than it should be relative to 2003-2004 prices.

    My rule of thumb is that a full magazine of common ammunition should never cost more than your standard fast food lunch. So, in my case that’s about $8-$10. A full 30rd AR magazine of Wolf .223 costs around $7 now. The cheapest brass cased .223 I can find squeaks in at just shy of $10, but we’re talking Wolf Gold/Korean/Serbian M855, not Federal premium here. In the case of .308/7.62×51, you’re cutting it awful close as well, with even commercial reloads approaching 50 cents per round.

    In any case, its obvious to me that prices COULD go lower, but simply aren’t due to demand. Someone somewhere in the ammo supply chain is making more profit per unit today than they were 10 years ago, without a doubt. My income didn’t double since 2004, so I’m not going to pay twice the price or more of what I paid back then to have new commercial ammo now, especially when I’ve got a stockpile of loaded ammo and components. Do I shoot less? You bet I do, but I’m also not going broke buying overpriced ammo.

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