5.56x45 Ammo For Sale

Used in the M4 series and other military-style rifles, the 5.56x45 is a hugely popular cartridge. Besides military uses, 5.56 ammo is commonly used in competition firearms, home defense applications, and is replacing shotguns in many police cruisers. Learn More

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  1. SinterFire 5.56x45 Ammo - 250 Rounds of 55 Grain Frangible Ammunition

    31 In stock now
    Image For 250 Rounds Of 55 Grain Frang. Boxer Brass 5.56x45 SinterFire Ammunition
    $315.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by SinterFire

    • Made by SinterFire
    • 250 Rounds
    • $1.26 Cost Per Round
    • 55 Grain
    • Frang. Bullet
    • American-made Range
    • New Condition
    • Brass Casing
    • Boxer
    • 3350 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1370 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • SinterFire SKU SF55655RHA
    • UPC 855040006419
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Perhaps one of the most iconic military cartridges, the 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition, commonly referred to as the 5.56 NATO, has been in active use in the United States Armed Forces since 1964.

5.56x45 NATO ammo features a rimless and tapered bottleneck case that measures 44.70mm (1.76 inches) in length and ranges from a 6.43mm diameter at its neck to a 9.58mm diameter at its base. This casing houses a boat-tailed bullet with a diameter of 5.70mm, or .224 inch. With both bullet and shell, the 5.56 cartridge reaches 57.40mm (2.26 inch) in length.

While the original 5.56x45mm bullet was 55 grain (gr) of lead, the standard bullet now weighs 62 gr and consists of a lead base topped with a steel penetrator. The added weight increases the ammunition’s penetration and velocity, improving its performance.

The ammunition uses a small rifle primer and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) sets the maximum pressure for the round between 55,000 and 58,000 pounds per square inch (psi), but variations are available with  maximum pressures as high as 62,000 psi.

Although the round was originally designed as a military cartridge, the 5.56x45mm NATO has found a home among American civilian shooters. It’s especially popular in military-style semi-automatic carbines.

The Development of 5.56x45mm Ammunition

The 5.56x45 cartridge developed from a need for a faster firing automatic weapon and ammunition. After extensive research, the military determined it needed something that could fire small caliber, high velocity (SCHV) projectiles and do so quickly.

In 1957, the U.S. Continental Army Command (CONARC) requested Eugene Stoner, a lead engineer and designer at Armalite, for a scaled down version of his AR-10, where the “AR” stands for Armalite Rifle, not assault rifle. The AR-10, while effective, fired the first, and at the time only, NATO cartridge – the 7.62x51mm NATO, which is similar in size to the .308 Winchester.

With the request for the new firearm, CONARC also released a call for an ammunition that could go with it. The military knew what they wanted for the new ammunition, primarily a .22-caliber bullet with the following requirements:

  • Maintained supersonic speeds, above 1,080 feet per second (fps) at 500 yards
  • Penetrated an Army-issued steel helmet at 500 yards
  • Penetrated a .135-inch steel plate at 500 yards
  • Reached the ballistic performance and accuracy of M2 ball ammunition, the military version of the .30-06 Springfield
  • Wounded as efficiently as the M1 Carbine, which fired .30 Carbine cartridges

The CONARC required the firearm have both automatic and semi-automatic firing and weight six pounds or less. The firearm needed a magazine that could hold at least 20 rounds.

The ammunition’s development began under Springfield Armory’s Earle Harvey. Starting with a .222 Remington, Harvey lengthened the case to allow for more powder and called it the .224 Springfield. Before he could continue his work on the new military round, Springfield Armory ordered he cease, as they were working on a new rifle chambered in 7.62mm and didn’t want to have a competing round.

Stoner then turned to Frank Snow of Sierra Bullet and Robert Hutton, who worked as the technical editor of Guns & Ammo magazine, and together they collaborated on a 55 gr bullet with a muzzle velocity of 3,300 fps, which could meet the demands of CONARC’s requirements.

By 1959, the AR-15 and the 5.56x45mm cartridge were ready for their first round of testing. By 1961, marksmanship testing had 45 percent of shooters reaching expert certification, while only 22 percent could reach the same level of certification with the M14, leading to the first major order – 80,000 AR-15 rifles for the Air Force.

In 1962, Remington submitted the ammunition’s specifications to SAAMI as the civilian version of the 5.56x45mm, the .223 Remington, which it accepted. By 1964, the U.S. Army officially adopted the 5.56mm Ball Cartridge, M193, or what is commonly referred to as the 5.56 NATO, to be used with its newest firearm, the M16 (or, in civilian terms, the AR-15).

After combat testing during the Vietnam War, the 5.56 NATO and the .223 soon became one of the most popular centerfire cartridges not only in America, but internationally.

Its popularity has been reinforced with the ammunition’s light weight, as well as the light weight of the firearms chambered for it. With the 5.56 NATO, significantly more rounds could be carried both in the weapon and on the person during combat, with no more additional weight.

What’s more, the ease of use, including low bolt thrust and almost non-existent perceived recoil, made the firearm easy to shoot and more shooters were able to become proficient with the firearm and excel with it.

As time progressed, law enforcement agencies and militaries throughout the world, including many non-NATO countries, have opted for the cartridge and it’s become a favorite to an increasing number of U.S. civilians.

The Types of 5.56 NATO Ammo

The original 5.56 NATO was first loaded with a full metal jacket (FMJ) bullet weighing 55 gr that exited the barrel of the new AR-15 rifle at more than 3,200 fps. In 1984, ammunition was adopted by the nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, which is an intergovernmental military alliance between countries in North America and Europe.

With this NATO adoption came a few changes, most notably the addition of a steel penetrator tip in the bullet. Now called the M855, this bullet weighed a slightly heavier 62 gr and had a slightly lower velocity of around 3,100 fps. Although it doesn’t leave the muzzle as fast as the original 55 gr bullet, this heavier projectile has a stronger sustained velocity.

Because of these changes to the ammunition, the firearms needed slight altercation as well. With a heavier bullet (an increase of seven gr from the M193 to the M855), the firearm barrel needed a tighter rifling twist, at a ratio of 1:7, to help stabilize the bullet’s weight gain. This change in rifling led to improved penetration and greater accuracy than the original round.

Beyond the M855, other military variations arose, including the Mk318, a 62 gr barrier-blind round, and for precision marksmanship, the Mk262 Open Tip Match bullet.

For civilian shooters, 5.56 NATO cartridges can be found in a variety of configurations, including:

  • Full metal jacket (FMJ): FMJ rounds feature lead bullets encased, or jacketed, in copper or another hard metal; this metal jacket allows the projectile to keep its shape until impact and leads to greater penetration
  • Full metal jacket-boat tail (FMJ-BT): With FMJ-BT ammo, shooters get a bullet that’s both jacketed and tapered at the rear, resembling the shape of a boat; this shape allows for better accuracy and a more stable flight than other ammunitions
  • Hollow point boat tailed (HPBT): HPBT rounds feature a projectile that has a hollow point into the center of the bullet, as well as a boat-like shape to the back of the bullet; these cartridges are often seen in long-range hunting for big game animals and are known for their rapid expansion
  • Frangible: Frangible bullets don’t expand like traditional FMJ or jacketed hollow point bullets, but instead fragment into many smaller pieces; this fragmentation eliminates the risk of over penetration and can increase the size and internal damage of a wound
  • Open tip match (OTM): Perhaps one of the most controversial types of ammo, OTM rounds feature a jacketed lead bullet; like a hollow point, the projectile has an open tip, but unlike hollow points, it’s not designed to expand; instead the bullet has a poured core, which makes it extremely accurate and a favorite amongst competition target shooters

There are also speciality 5.56 NATO variations, including rounds like GMX by Hornady, which features a monolithic construction that’s tougher than cooper, and the Triple Shock X (TSX) by Barnes Bullets. TSX bullets are solid copper and designed for hunting, with their consistent and uniform expansion.

The 5.56 NATO Performance

When it comes to performance, the standard 5.56 NATO proves its worth. The cartridge penetrates to a depth of 38-51 cm (15 to 20 inches) in soft tissue and, when the impact occurs at a velocity higher than 2,500 fps, the projectile is likely to fragment into multiple pieces, causing significant wound damage.

Some believe the 5.56 NATO is even strong enough to cause hydrostatic shock damage, where the soundwaves from the projectiles’ impact create tissue damage.

Even without hydrostatic shock, which is a theory and not accepted among all gun and ammunition experts, the 5.56 NATO projectile is designed to yaw after impact. When a bullet “yaws,” it moves side to side, creating a bigger wound cavity and more extensive damage than a bullet that travels a straight path.

Yet when this round is shot out of a short-barrelled carbine, it can sometimes fail to yaw and result in over-penetration and limited expansion.

The AR-15 and Bulk 5.56 Ammo

Popular worldwide, many firearm manufacturers have produced weapons chambered for the 5.56x45 cartridge – including Armalite, Bushmaster, and Colt, among others. But the most popular, by far, is Armalite’s AR-15 and the plethora of firearms that have been built in the semi-automatic AR-15 style.

Because these firearms are so prevalent, it’s become easy to find cheap 5.56 NATO ammo and 5.56x45mm bulk ammunition. Surplus 5.56 ammo can be found both in brick and mortar gun stores from coast to coast, and most major online ammunition stores.

Although most 5.56 NATO chambered firearms are semi-automatic, shooters can find pump-action rifles in the military round.

The 5.56x45 vs .223 Remington

Externally, there are no differences between the 5.56x45mm NATO and the .223 Remington. They have the same casing. Their projectiles are the same diameter. Side-by-side, there are no visible differences between the two, other than the headstamp. But inside, there are major differences, ones that can become extremely dangerous if ignored.

When discussing these two cartridges, it’s important to remember that the 5.56 NATO was designed as a military cartridge, while the .223 Remington has been designated for civilians since its onset. One was made for war, one to shoot varmint in the backyard.

It makes sense, then, that the 5.56 NATO has a different powder load, leading to a higher pressure. The military round averages a maximum pressure about 5,000 psi higher than the .223 Remington.

This pressure difference isn’t just because of powder difference (although that’s part of it), it also has to do with the difference in chamber leade. Chamber leade refers to the space between where a bullet sits at rest to where it engages in the rifling twist. The shorter the leade, the quicker the bullet engages, and the more pressure that’s created in the barrel.

Firearms chambered for the .223 have a shorter leade than those manufactured for the 5.56 NATO. Firearms manufactured for the military round have a chamber that’s actually slightly larger than those chambered for the .223 to reduce malfunctions and misfires from dirty guns, like those often seen in battlegrounds. These larger chambers have a longer leade and the 5.56 NATO is made accordingly.

So when a shooter takes the 5.56 NATO, which was designed to be fired from a rifle with a long leade, and puts it in a firearm chambered for the .223 Remington, it engages in the rifling quicker than it should and can drastically increase the pressure in the barrel, endangering not only the firearm, but the shooter as well.

Because .223 ammo is under a lower pressure than 5.56x45mm rounds, and has a shorter leade, the civilian ammunition can be fired without issue from the 5.56 NATO weapons.

To recap, it is NOT safe to fire 5.56 NATO ammunition from a firearm chambered to .223 Remington. But it IS safe to fire .223 Remington ammo from firearms chambered to the 5.56 NATO.

In many modern military-style firearms, the barrel is labeled with both chamberings, such as 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem.

As easy way to think about it is this: Consider the 5.56 NATO as a .223 +P. And like other +P ammunitions, a shooter shoulder never shoot the higher pressure ammo out of a barrel that’s not indicated for its pressure.

FAQ

What is 5.56x45 ammo?

Considered one of the most iconic military cartridges, the 5.56x45mm NATO has been used by the U.S. Armed Forces since 1964. It features a rimless, tapered bottleneck case topped with a boat-tailed bullet that has a diameter of .224 inch. The standard projectile weighs 62 grain (gr) and contains a steel penetrator. The round was born of the .223 Remington and although the rounds look extremely similar, the NATO is more powerful and many like to think of it as a .223 +P.

How much does 5.56 ammo cost?

When it comes to the price of 5.56 ammo, it depends on the type, brand, and quantity of ammo purchased. Standard 5.56 NATO cartridges start at about $0.37 a round and continue upward to more than $1.00. Full metal jacket ammo tends to be cheaper than specialty rounds and hollow points, while bulk ammo is the most affordable.

What is 5.56 green tip ammo?

Sometimes 5.56x45mm rounds have a painted green tip. This signifies the cartridge as military surplus, or bulk ammo, that is redistributed and sold in the commercial market. The green tip means there is a steel bar inside the bullet, increasing its penetration and power. Unlike standard FMJ rounds, ammo with a green tip can pierce some armoured tanks. If the green tip is plastic, not painted onto the metal, then the round may be a polymer-tipped .223 Hornady FTX.

What is the difference between the .223 and 5.56 ammo?

When comparing .223 and 5.56 ammo, they look almost identical in size and shape, but on the inside of the casing, they’re different. With different bullet weights, powder loads, and chamber pressure, the 5.56 NATO is a more powerful force and is often considered a .223 +P. In addition to these configuration differences, .223 rounds have a shorter leade (the space between where the cartridge sits and the rifling begins). In most cases, it is safe to shoot .223 ammo from a rifle chambered for 5.56 NATO, but not vice versa.

What guns shoot 5.56x45 ammo?

The most popular gun chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO is, by far, the iconic Armalite-15, commonly referred to as the AR-15. The U.S. military version was known as the M16 rifle. This firearm has inspired many of the civilian semi-automatic 5.56 chambered guns, which are collectively referred to as being “AR-15 style.” In addition, other firearm manufacturers have 5.56 chambered guns including Colt and Bushmaster. Although semi-automatic is the most common configuration, pump action rifles are also available.

What does 5.56 ball ammo mean?

In military ammo terms, the word balls refers to the standard issue round that doesn’t include any special function. This term arises from before commercial ammo was manufactured and people just used powder and a ball-shaped projectile. Currently, the U.S. Armed Forces uses either FMJ or TMJ rounds for its standard issue 5.56 NATO rounds.

Does the military use 5.56 ammo?

Yes, the U.S. military uses the 5.56x45mm round. It’s also used by the North American Treaty Organization (NATO), Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia, among other countries.

Is there a difference between 5.56 ammo and 5.56 NATO ammo?

The 5.56x45mm and the 5.56 NATO are the same size cartridge and refer to the same round. The civilian version of the 5.56 is the .223 Remington. Although the cartridges look the same, the NATO version has more force and power.

Can you hunt deer with 5.56x45 ammo?

It depends. In many areas, the 5.56x45mm, or more likely the civilian version .223 Remington, is perfectly effective for deer hunting. This is especially true East of the Mississippi where forests are dense and shots are under 100 yards. In the West, the .223 and the 5.56 lack the velocity and power for the necessary long-distance shots required. Check with local regulations as well, as some areas have a minimum caliber that is larger than the .223 to ensure humane harvests. Also check laws regarding the type of firearms allowed, as some areas outlaw the use of semi-automatics rifles for deer hunting.

5.56x45mm Ballistics: Chart of Average 5.56x45mm Ballistics

Note: This information comes from the manufacturer and is for informational purposes only. The actual ballistics obtained with your firearm can vary considerably from the advertised ballistics. Also, ballistics can vary from lot to lot with the same brand and type load.

5.56x45mm Bullet WEIGHT Muzzle VELOCITY (fps) Muzzle ENERGY (ft. lbs.) TRAJECTORY (in.)
  Muzzle 100 yds. 200 yds. 300 yds. 400 yds. Muzzle 100 yds. 200 yds. 300 yds. 400 yds. 100 yds. 200 yds. 300 yds. 400 yds.
55 Grain NATO 3130 2740 2382 2051 1750 1196 917 693 514 372 1.1 0 -7.3 -23
75 Grain NATO 2910 2676 2543 2242 2041 1410 1192 1002 837 693 1.2 0 -7 -21
Molly Carter
Written by
Molly Carter
  • Click To Purchase This 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    based on the 16 reviews below
  • Joe said:

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  • Doc said:

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  • Joe-we-had-a-baby-it's-a-boy said:

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  • Gilbert said:

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  • Gilbert said:

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  • Click To Purchase This 5.56x45 PMC Ammunition
    based on the 7 reviews below
  • Ron said:

    "I like PMC Ammo the 5.56X45mmNato is what I shoot. Great for range, self protection, The reason I purchased this ammo is because of who makes this. "

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  • Runner said:

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  • MM said:

    "I shot about 200 rounds through my brand new SIG716. The very first 3-4 rounds wouldn't feed perfectly, but I attribute this to the brand spanking new equipment. After that, rifle and ammo performed flawlessly. Not a single issue with feeding, cycling, firing, etc. At 150 yards, I had all shots within about 2-3 inches using a cheap scope and no rest. Great product and especially GREAT SERVICE! Thank you guys!!!"

  • D said:

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  • Click To Purchase This 5.56x45 PMC Ammunition
    based on the 5 reviews below
  • olbull said:

    "same as title"

  • john said:

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  • Snake said:

    "Great ammo! Shoots and cycles perfect. Will defiantly buy more. "

  • lroberts103 said:

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  • Michael said:

    "This 5.56 ammo was just what my AR needed."

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  • Click To Purchase This 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    based on the 4 reviews below
  • gokart04 said:

    "Finally got to shoot some of this the other day. Worked well and shot consistant/accurate. No feeding or fire failures out of about 100 rounds in my BCM AR-15. I feel the price is a bit too high at this time. "

  • J.W. said:

    "These were the first rounds shot through my ar. I have no complaints, it cycles fine even through rapid firing. I would definitely buy these again."

  • H.D. said:

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  • Pat said:

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  • Click To Purchase This 5.56x45 Prvi Partizan Ammunition
    based on the 3 reviews below
  • GearheadTony said:

    "I have tried several more expensive brands of 5.56 and .223, but none of them can match the performance per dollar of PRVI. This is now the only ammo I use in my AR. As for Lewmed's review above, my 16" AR with my not-so-steady trigger finger are able to make 2MOA groups at 100 yards. 4 to 5 inches?!?! Not in my rifle."

  • Lewmed said:

    " This is nice clean ammo that shoots and works in all 3 of my AR'S but it is not as accurate as mil. spec. ammo like lake city M193 My normal 21/2" 100 yard groups open up to 4 to 5" I'll use it for 50 yard range ammo."

  • Dorothy said:

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    based on the 2 reviews below
  • murdock said:

    "62 grain shoots just fine. no jams. but that old vietnam ak will fire, even when dropped in mud, and water. thanks Im just glad you had the ammo, and the price was right."

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  • Russell B said:

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  • Bill said:

    "I have tried different ammo with Sig 556. Its eats everything but I find Lake City 5.56 62gr --- No failures, Accurate @ 100 to 300 yards ( my club limits ) I have the feeling of complete depenability."

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    "This is great ammo for the hybrid AR's.The brass is good for reloading and the 62 grain bullets stabilize well. Russ"

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  • Nate said:

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    based on the 1 review below
  • Bear Patrol said:

    "Ammo comes in 5 plastic mini ammo boxes that look really neat! I wish the carry handles were real but they’re still worth holding onto for future use. So far I’ve put about 360 of these through my Windham HBC with no issues. As for accuracy I’ve only fired at targets from 100 yards or less from a standing position, so I’m not sure how they do at longer ranges but they always hit where I aim at those distances. The only downside for me so far is that I have to use paper targets or improvised targets (milk jugs, cans, etc.) Because these were leaving some SERIOUS dents in my 1/2 inch thick ar500 steel target. Overall I’d definitely recommend these to someone looking for decent 5.56 ammo at a good price."

  • Click To Purchase This 5.56x45 Winchester Ammunition
    based on the 1 review below
  • Fiftysum said:

    "I just bought a Colt LE6920 5.65 caliber. The closest thing I ever shot was my M16 when I was in the Army during the Vietnam era -- a long time ago. So my review is not based on a comparison with any other ammo brand in this caliber. I bought Winchester because it is a known brand, is labeled for target use, and I feel it was available for a good price here on Ammo.com. I know there are some premium brands, which I will try eventually, and there are lots of brands I never heard of. Some of them may be good, I just don't know anything about them yet. I'm giving the Winchester 5.56 target ammo five stars in each category because my shots were consistently within one inch of the bullseye at 25 and 50 yards. That I hit the target at all at 100 yards I will count as okay because I didn't have a scope and I could just barely make out the 100-yard target with my not-so-good-as-when-I-was-20 eyesight. I qualified "sharpshooter" when I was in the Army, having missed "expert" by one shot. It makes me happy that this Colt M4 is as accurate, if not more so, than my Army M-16. Good ammo should give consistent results. This Winchester target brand delivers for me."