Buying ammunition for your handgun or rifle is primarily done based on performance, price, and personal preference. There are many brands of ammo on the market, and it can get a little overwhelming to choose from. As a potential new gun owner, you will need all the advice you can get on ammo and how it affects your gun overall. That being said, you might have heard that certain rounds are better, so does ammo brand matter?
Ammo brand does matter to the performance of your firearm. A brand will typically make a bullet for testing/training with lesser quality and lower price, and the personal protection rounds will be much higher quality and higher cost. Brand quality differs even on the same size rounds. You must try out and stick to the brand that works with your weapon.
Not only is there a belief that ammunition manufacturers try to make more money from gun owners by making bullets more expensive, but some also believe that all bullets are equal. Both of these beliefs are untrue. You would not think about loading test ammunition in your personal protection handgun and expect a good result in a situation. Let’s look at some of the ammo brands available and their features;
- 1 Which Ammo Brands Are The Best?
- 2 Can You Mix Ammo Brands?
- 3 Does Cheap Ammo Affect Accuracy?
- 4 Does Cheap Ammo Affect Velocity?
- 5 The Difference Between Test Ammo And Self Defense Ammo
- 6 Conclusions
Which Ammo Brands Are The Best?
Before you buy ammunition, you need to know the brands out there. Each projectile has specific characteristics and specifications that need to be considered. The best suggestion would be to buy a few test rounds and go to the shooting range and fire a few rounds off. The best teacher here is your own gun. Let’s look at the best ammunition brands you can expect to come across;
1. Federal Premium
This company has been making ammunition since the 1920s. Federal Premium ammo is available at almost any gun shop in the USA. They make practically any kind of round as well as test/training ammo that is relatively cheap. Federal Premium manufacture their own unique calibers as well, making them a niche supplier. Let us look at their ammo range;
- Best Long-Range Brand – Gold Medal Match
- Best Long- Range Precision Round – .224 Valkyrie
- Best Self Defense Round – .327 Federal Magnum
- Best Budget Line – American Eagle Red Box Line
Federal Premium is a trusted brand of ammunition and guarantees excellent performance.
2. Cascade Cartridges Inc. – CCI
CCI started manufacturing ammunition in the 1950s. CCI has become one of the biggest names in rifle ammunition. They have a few rounds that set them apart. Let us look at CCI’s ammo range;
- Best Long- Range Brand – CCI Quiet-22 Semi-Auto 22LR
- Best Long- Range Precision Round– CCI Stingers
- Best Self Defense Round – CCI Velocitors
- Best Budget Line – Blazer Brass
CCI is the type of ammo you don’t need to second-guess.
3. Sellier & Bellot
At the multi-million dollar high-tech plant in the Czech Republic, Sellier & Bellot pushes out thousands of rounds an hour. The massive factory is a sight to behold with its modern machines and ultra-sophisticated testing technology. Any round of ammo that is not absolutely perfect gets removed and recycled. Only the best will do. Let us look at their ammo range;
- Best Long-Range Brand- Rifle AmmunitionMatch Range
- Best Long-Range Precision Round – SBT GameKing
- Best Self Defense Round – .460 S&W Magnum and the TFMJ
- Best Budget Line – Training Range
Sellier & Bellot have one of the most extensive ammo ranges available. They also supply the military with a unique range of ammunition.
Not many people have heard of Hornady, but they make excellent ammunition. They are one of the top premium ammo manufacturers around. Their ammo is considered to be consistent in quality, accuracy, and availability. Three things that really matter to gun owners that spend a great deal on ammo. Let us have a look at their ammo range;
- Best Long-Range Brand- Hornady ELD-X
- Best Long-Range Precision Round- Hornady A-Max
- Best Self Defense Round – Hornady Critical Defense .357 Magnum
- Best Budget Line – Hornady Frontier Range
Hornady manufactures the best personal defense ammunition available, and you will never be left helpless or jammed up in a critical situation with this brand.
By leaving these phenomenal brands out of the list does in no way reflect on their quality or position, but two brands that need to be mentioned here are;
- Winchester – for their long history and fantastic availability and White Box and Silvertip and Active Duty law enforcement range.
- Fiocchi – This Italian company is one of the oldest family-run ammunition manufacturers globally and has been around since 1876. That says something about their quality. They have an incredible range but specialize in the best shotgun shells available.
Can You Mix Ammo Brands?
Technically, there should be no problem mixing ammo brands in the same magazine; however, certain guns seem to prefer specific brand rounds. The firearm will cycle any ammo you feed the magazine, but cheaper quality ammo can cause jamming due to slight imperfections.
You want to make sure you check with the manufacturer and stick to the recommended brands if any are mentioned. You can get great advice from the gun shop owners on particular rounds and test them out at the shooting range for yourself.
You can, with confidence, have different variants of the same caliber bullet in your magazine, for example;
- 2 Ring Tips
- 2 Hollow Points
- 1 Full Metal Jacket
- 1 Tracer
The combination doesn’t really matter, and it will be a personal choice and for peace of mind. Many open or concealed carry owners will use cross-loading as a way to combat any situation.
Some prefer to use the highest velocity rounds all throughout to inflict the maximum damage per magazine. I agree with loading all through the same; you know what to expect in terms of performance, distance, or close encounters.
Does Cheap Ammo Affect Accuracy?
Cheaper ammunition can affect the accuracy of your shot, especially when you look at long-range ammunition. You might not notice the inaccuracy because you are shooting at shorter distances in a pistol or a revolver.
How does cheap ammo affect accuracy, you might wonder? The difference is the following factors that considerably affect a bullet;
- The casing depth.
- The bullet seating depth.
- The primer types.
- The powder quality.
- Adding or removing crimp.
This will be noticeable in most home reloaded ammo and cheaper mass-produced rounds. For accuracy, you need precision in the overall manufacturing of ammunition.
Does Cheap Ammo Affect Velocity?
Cheaper-made rounds will definitely affect velocity. The following factors determine velocity:
- The quality of the primer in terms of the expansion and chemical burn speed.
- The quantity of the primer.
- The weight of the projectile.
- The length of the barrel.
In cheap brand ammo, you will not get the same quality primer or necessarily the correct quantity. Buy the best you can afford for personal protection and long-distance hunting to avoid a disaster.
The Difference Between Test Ammo And Self Defense Ammo
There are a few differences between testing/target ammo and self-defense ammo. They have two very different functions.
The target practice or testing ammo will be;
- It is typically cheaper.
- Rounded, fully enclosed projectile.
- It’s lighter.
- It will pass through anything you aim and shoot it at.
- Typically used in an enclosed or open-air shooting range.
The self-defense or protection ammunition will be;
- A projectile with a structural change like a hollow point.
- Will deform on the impact of a person or object
- It’s heavier.
- It will cost almost double of the test round.
- Uses the best components available.
The better brands of ammunition might cost more, but they are worth having in your magazine.
A responsible firearm owner wants to be prepared for any situation, and that is probably why you own a firearm or a rifle if you hunt. The gun manufacturers had the best brands of ammunition in mind when they designed and made the firearms. They would typically test their weapons with the best brand ammo, and that is a quality bar that they set.
The next time you buy ammo for your following hunting trip or load a few extra mags for home and personal defense, consider going for that expensive brand. Ultimately, you want a gun that will not jam, a bullet that will inflict maximum damage with minimal suffering.
Out in the field or in a life-threatening situation is when the importance of your ammo brand matters.