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Brown Bear 223 Review: Hard Hitting and Hard to Find

Brown Bear 223 Review

It seems everyone is looking for cheap FMJ bulk ammo. Ammo like Brown Bear and Tula are hot ticket items because they’re cheap, reliable, and accurate enough for target work (just don't expect sub-MOA groups). Unfortunately, many beloved cartridges, like Brown Bear .223 Remington ammo, are missing from store shelves and online all over the USA. These lacquer-coated, cheap, and reliable cartridges are a great buy when you can find them in stock.

However, I’ve been having trouble tracking them down for quite some time now, and most dealers simply say they’re discontinued (they aren’t, but that’s a story for another day).

I highly recommend Brown Bear .223 Rem FMJs, JHPs, and SPs. You can check what is in stock HERE. They’re worth buying if you can find them. Of course, if you can’t, read our ammo review on Brown Bear .223 and scroll to our related products section to find something comparable.

Brown Bear .223 Overview

Brown Bear .223 is Russian ammunition. It comes out of the same ammunition manufacturing plant in Barnaul as Silver Bear and Golden Bear. Unfortunately, Brown Bear .223 Rem ammo is virtually impossible to get in the US these days thanks to the Russian Ammo Ban imposed by President Biden in 2021.

Brown Bear ammunition, along with a few other brands, were affected by Biden’s ammo sanctions on Russia. While there were still large supplies in the US at the time of the ban, it seems those stocks have been depleted. There's no doubt that a lot of shooters realized that the sanctions were going to effect Brown Bear ammo and bought the remaining ammunition.

Brown Bear .223 ammunition comes in several grain weights and bullet types. The more common grain weights you’ll see are 55-grain, 62-grain, and 77-grain full metal jacket bullets. However, most of us use the 55-grain variation on the range because it’s inexpensive and has a higher muzzle velocity.

Brown Bear .223 Rem cartridges are lacquer-coated, which helps with cycling, and the Berdan primers are non-corrosive. This makes these rounds perfect for long days on the range. The lead core is encased with bi-metal jackets.

Due to the bi-metal jackets, the bullets will attract a magnet. Therefore, not all shooting ranges allow Brown Bear ammo due to safety concerns. Finally, Brown Bear .223s have steel cases. While this ammo is cheap, it isn’t reloadable and should be considered a one-time use item. Some shooters have issues with steel case chambering, but I’ve never had that problem.

Our Brown Bear .223 Review

Brown Bear 223 Ammo

There’s something about Russian ammo. It’s hot, reliable, and cheap. Unfortunately, some of our favorite brands are no longer available in the US (we’re hoping they come back one day). The .223 Remington is one of the most versatile rifle cartridges in existence. You can use it for hunting, target practice, and personal defense.

Fortunately, Brown Bear was equally versatile. It was cheap and reliable, and while there are better personal defense rounds, it was great for stockpiling, and I’d bet my homestead on it in an apocalyptic scenario.

These hard-hitting projectiles shoot fast and straight. They chambered well, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a misfire or dud. Although they have steel cases, that lacquer coating minimized jams, and they fed well.

It is truly one of the best .233 FMJ cartridges we’ve seen. It had everything we needed. Affordability and reliability. If only it still had accessibility, the ammo review you’re reading would be much different.

If you stumble across a 500-round box of Brown Bear, snatch it up. We’ve used this ammo for decades with no problems. Although these Berdan primed cases aren't useful for reloading, it was cheap enough to still make it worthwhile.

Brown Bear 223 Rem ammo is perfect for rifles chambered in 5.56 NATO or .223 Remington, making it a great choice for your AR-15 carbine, Mini-14, or 223 Rem Saiga.

What is it Best for?

Brown Bear .223 Remington cartridges are useful for a variety of things. You could stockpile them for a SHTF scenario and use them for personal defense. You could spend hours at the range without a care in the world because the only thing taking a hit would be the target, not your wallet.

Depending on which shooting activity you’re interested in, there’s Brown Bear .223 ammo for it. The company makes hunting ammo, personal defense cartridges, and full metal jacket rounds. The FMJs are great for target practice and plinking. The SP (soft points) work well for hunting activities, and the JHPs are personal defense rounds.


Brown Bear .223 has one disadvantage: It’s unavailable. We don’t know when it will be back, but we hope it does come back soon. These cartridges are nearly perfect FMJs, and any drawbacks they do have are still worth the price.

Brown Bear 223 Ammo

Pros and Cons

Although I love Brown Bear 223 Rem ammo, there are some pros and cons that we need to address. Below I've made a list of what you need to be aware of before buying .223 Brown Bear ammo.


  • High-quality Russian ammo
  • Non-corrosive Berdan primers
  • Laquer-coated


  • Not available anymore
  • Not great for reloading
  • Bi-metal jacketed bullets are prohibited by some ranges


Brown Bear 223 Cartridge Specifications


Brown Bear has a few variations and bullet designs for various uses. Like most .223 manufacturers, the company creates full metal jacket rounds for target practice and stockpiling, jacketed hollow points for personal defense, and soft points for hunting.

Before making a purchase, let's review each one.

Brown Bear .223 55gr Target Practice and Stockpiling

For our readers who are new to the ammo game, full metal jacket bullets are pretty much what you envision when you think of ammo cans packed with rounds. They have lead cores and copper-alloy jackets. Some would call them “hole punchers.” They’re designed to hit targets, but they won’t expand, so they aren’t great for terminal ballistics.

The actual muzzle velocity of the .223 Brown Bear projectile varies depending on twist rates, bullet weight, and barrel length. For example, the 55gr leaves the barrel at 3,240 fps with 1,290 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Furthermore, the 55gr FMJs have a boat tail, which increases the ballistic coefficient and decreases wind drift.

Brown Bear .223 62 gr JHP

Brown Bear 223 Ammo

Next up, Brown Bear .223 62gr HPs (hollow points) are essentially the same thing as the Brown Bear FMJs. Unlike handgun ammunition, Brown Bear hollow point ammunition doesn’t expand. Therefore, Brown Bear HPs aren’t exactly personal defense cartridges.

If you are looking for personal defense rifle ammo, you can always pick up a few boxes of Hornady Critical Defense .223 Rem 73-Grain FTX ammunition.

Furthermore, while many competition shooters use hollow point rifle ammo for its accuracy, Brown Bear hollow point ammunition isn’t as accurate as some other brands. Therefore, this isn’t really match-grade ammo, either. Ultimately, Brown Bear hollow point .223 Remington ammunition is something you can buy when FMJs aren’t available, as both bullet types perform similarly.

Brown Bear .223 SPs and JSPs

Finally, Brown Bear gives us hunting bullets. Or what we typically use for hunting. Soft points and jacketed soft points have a soft lead core, which, unlike FMJs, does expand. This Brown Bear variation is designed to penetrate hide, and expand.

Although the .223 doesn’t have the energy to take down an elk, it is an option for deer and other medium-sized game.

Ballistics of Brown Bear .223 Bullets

Brown Bear 223 Ballistics table


I wouldn’t leave you with an awesome review of how much I love Brown Bear .223 ammo and no options to buy today. Like many others, I’ve had to seek out related products. I’ll include them in the following sections to save you some time.

Brown Bear .223 55gr FMJ Alternatives

If you’re looking for cheap range ammo or something to stockpile, Wolf 223 Rem 55 grain FMJ is a viable option that’s similar to Brown Bear. However, if you prefer your ammo box to read "Made in the USA", order a few boxes of Remington 55gr FMJ. They’re a bit costlier, but they also have brass cases and boxer primers, so they’re reloadable.

Brown Bear .223 62gr JHP Alternatives

Federal American Eagle 55-grain jacketed hollow points are an excellent alternative to Brown Bear .223 Rem JHPs. They’re similar in grain weight, composition, and design. Moreover, Federal American Eagle ammunition is much more likely to be in stock.

Federal American Eagle 55-grain JHPs have a muzzle velocity of 3,325 fps and 1,227 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Although, it’s important to reiterate that these rifle cartridges are similar in performance to FMJs. They are not designed to expand like hunting or personal defense cartridges.

Hornady 223 Rem V-MAX Ammo

Brown Bear .223 SP Alternatives

There are alternatives to Brown Bear’s hunting bullets as well. Hornady 55-grain V-Max is great for varmints, and Winchester Ballistic Tip 55-grain polymer-tipped ammo is great for medium-sized game.

Whereas most places in the USA have banned FMJs for hunting, polymer-tipped bullets, soft points, and ballistic tip options are permitted. Both options qualify as ethical hunting bullets due to their design and composition.

Parting Shots

Brown Bear offers an excellent array of hunting, self-defense, and target ammunition. Unfortunately, they’re nearly impossible to find these days. When you do stumble across them, they’re cheap ammo that performs really well, so don’t pass them up.

But if you need some inexpensive 223 right now, then make sure to check our 223 Remington ammo and bulk 223 ammo pages.


Below I've taken the liberty of answering some of the most common questions we get about Brown Bear .223 Rem ammo here at Ammo.com.

Is Brown Bear 223 worth buying?

Sure! Although they’re cheap Russian ammo and aren’t great for reloading, you won’t have many malfunctions or chambering issues.

What is the range of Brown Bear 223?

The range you’ll get varies on many factors. However, Brown Bear .223s typically have a range of just over 500 yards.

Does Brown Bear .223 Rem ammo have a good shelf life?

Yes. Brown Bear’s .223 cases are lacquer or polymer-coated and, therefore, have an added layer of protection from the elements and time.

What is ab223fmj ammo?

This is the UPC code for Brown Bear’s .223 Rem FMJ ammunition. You’ll see it on the boxes and online.

Cassandra McBride
Written by
Cassandra McBride

Ammunition Reviews