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. PMC 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    28 In stock now
    Image For 20 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 PMC Ammunition
    $8.00 Price
    • $7.50 each if you buy 25 -  save 6%

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by PMC

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by PMC
    • Foreign Discount Range
    • 37.5¢ to 40¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1306 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • PMC SKU 5.56X
    • UPC 741569010115
  2. PMC 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 62 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    76 In stock now
    Image For 20 Rounds Of 62 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 PMC Ammunition
    $8.25 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by PMC

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by PMC
    • Foreign Discount Range
    • 41.3¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3100 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1323 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • PMC SKU 5.56K
    • UPC 741569010122
  3. 5.56 NATO - Blank - Prvi Partizan M200 - 20 Rounds

    78 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of Blanks Boxer Brass 223 Rem Prvi Partizan Ammunition
    $8.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Prvi Partizan

    • 42.5¢ Cost Per Round
    • Prvi Partizan SKU PPB556A1
    • UPC 8605003807148
  4. Federal American Eagle 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 62 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    84 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 62 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $8.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 42.5¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3020 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1256 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU XM855FL
    • UPC 029465064624
  5. Federal 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Ammunition

    90 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $8.79 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Range
    • 44¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3165 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1223 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU XM193
    • UPC 029465094607
  6. Winchester 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    80 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Winchester Ammunition
    $8.98 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 44.9¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3270 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1306 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Winchester SKU Q3131
    • UPC 020892201880
  7. Winchester 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 62 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    75 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 62 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Winchester Ammunition
    $8.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • American-made Range
    • 45¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3000 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Winchester SKU Q3269
    • UPC 020892213371
  8. Hornady Frontier 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ M193 Ammunition

    74 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $9.00 Price
    • $8.00 each if you buy 10 -  save 11%

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 40¢ to 45¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1282 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU FR200
    • UPC 090255711394
  9. Hornady Frontier 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 55 Grain HP Match Ammunition

    70 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 55 Grain HP Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $9.49 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Range
    • 47.5¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1282 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU FR240
    • UPC 090255711479
  10. Winchester 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 50 Grain Frang. Ammunition

    75 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 50 Grain Frang. Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Winchester Ammunition
    $12.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 60¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3000 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Winchester SKU USA556JF
    • UPC 020892219816
  11. Hornady Frontier 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 75 Grain BTHP Match Ammunition

    76 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 75 Grain HPBT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $13.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Range
    • 65¢ Cost Per Round
    • 2910 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1410 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU FR320
    • UPC 090255711615
  12. 5.56x45 - 62 Grain FMJ - Hornady BLACK - 20 Rounds

    79 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 62 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $15.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Range
    • 75¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3060 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1289 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU 81263
    • UPC 090255812633
  13. CBC 5.56x45 Ammo - 50 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    80 In stock now

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    Image For 50 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Magtech Ammunition
    $17.89 Price

    Qty:

    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Magtech

    • New Condition
    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Magtech
    • Foreign Discount Range
    • 35.8¢ Cost Per Round
    • Magtech SKU 556A
    • UPC 754908200313
  14. Barnes Range AR 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 52 Grain OTM Ammunition

    19 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 52 Grain OTM Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Barnes Ammunition
    $17.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Barnes

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Barnes
    • American-made Range
    • 90¢ Cost Per Round
    • Barnes SKU 30844
    • UPC 716876151110
  15. Fiocchi 5.56x45 Ammo - 55 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJBT Ammunition

    1 In stock now

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    Image For 50 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Fiocchi Ammunition
    $20.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi
    • Foreign Discount Range
    • 42¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1280 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Fiocchi SKU 556M193L
    • UPC 762344712062
  16. Hornady Superformance Match 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 75 Grain HPBT Ammunition

    75 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 75 Grain HPBT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $21.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Range
    • $1.10 Cost Per Round
    • 2910 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1410 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU 81264
    • UPC 090255812640
  17. Barnes VOR-TX 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 62 Grain TSX Ammunition

    46 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 62 Grain TSX Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Barnes Ammunition
    $21.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Barnes

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Barnes
    • American-made Hunting
    • $1.10 Cost Per Round
    • 2850 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1118 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Barnes SKU 31190
    • UPC 716876150939
  18. Barnes Precision Match 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 85 Grain OTM Ammunition

    33 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 85 Grain OTM Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Barnes Ammunition
    $23.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Barnes

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Barnes
    • American-made Range
    • $1.20 Cost Per Round
    • 2600 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Barnes SKU 30848
    • UPC 716876151134
  19. Barnes Precision Match 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 69 Grain OTM Ammunition

    12 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 69 Grain OTM Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Barnes Ammunition
    $24.95 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Barnes

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Barnes
    • American-made Range
    • $1.25 Cost Per Round
    • Barnes SKU 30846
    • UPC 716876150892
  20. Winchester 5.56x45 Ammo - 20 Rounds of 77 Grain HPBT Ammunition

    14 In stock now

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    Image For 20 Rounds Of 77 Grain HPBT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Winchester Ammunition
    $26.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • American-made Range
    • $1.35 Cost Per Round
    • 2750 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1293 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Winchester SKU S556M
    • UPC 020892220379
  21. Magtech 5.56x45 Ammo - 50 Rounds of 77 Grain HPBT Cannelured MatchKing Ammunition

    7 In stock now

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    Image For 50 Rounds Of 77 Grain HPBT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Magtech Ammunition
    $33.49 Price

    Qty:

    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Magtech

    • New Condition
    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Magtech
    • Foreign-made Range
    • 67¢ Cost Per Round
    • 2750 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1331 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Magtech SKU 556C
    • UPC 754908201815
  22. Federal 5.56x45 Ammo - 100 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Ammunition

    33 In stock now

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    Image For 100 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $37.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 100 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 100 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Range
    • 37¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3165 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU XM193BL
    • UPC 029465062491
  23. Black Hills Ammunition 5.56x45 Ammo - 50 Rounds of 69 Grain OTM Ammunition

    43 In stock now

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    Image For 50 Rounds Of 69 Grain OTM Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Black Hills Ammunition Ammunition
    $53.70 Price

    Qty:

    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Black Hills Ammunition

    • New Condition
    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Black Hills Ammunition
    • American-made Range
    • $1.07 Cost Per Round
    • 2875 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1266 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Black Hills Ammunition SKU D556N12
    • UPC 612710127405
  24. Black Hills Ammunition 5.56x45 Ammo - 50 Rounds of 77 Grain OTM Ammunition

    75 In stock now
    Image For 50 Rounds Of 77 Grain OTM Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Black Hills Ammunition Ammunition
    $56.49 Price

    Qty:

    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Black Hills Ammunition

    • New Condition
    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Black Hills Ammunition
    • American-made Range
    • $1.13 Cost Per Round
    • 2750 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1293 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Black Hills Ammunition SKU D556N9
    • UPC 612710126408
  25. Federal 5.56x45 Ammo - 150 Rounds of 62 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    76 In stock now

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    Image For 150 Rounds Of 62 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $60.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 150 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 150 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 40¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3020 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1255 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU XM855BK150
    • UPC 029465065164
  26. Winchester USA 5.56x45 Ammo - 180 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    16 In stock now

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    Image For 180 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Winchester Ammunition
    $75.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 180 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 180 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 41.7¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3270 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1306 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Winchester SKU USA3131W
    • UPC 020892222311
  27. Black Hills Ammunition 5.56x45 Ammo - 50 Rounds of 50 Grain TSX Ammunition

    7 In stock now

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    Image For 50 Rounds Of 50 Grain TSX Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Black Hills Ammunition Ammunition
    $75.49 Price

    Qty:

    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Black Hills Ammunition

    • New Condition
    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Black Hills Ammunition
    • American-made Hunting
    • $1.51 Cost Per Round
    • 3275 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1191 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Black Hills Ammunition SKU D556N1
    • UPC 612710126361
  28. Black Hills Ammunition 5.56 Ammo - 50 Rounds of 62 Grain Barnes TSX Ammunition

    25 In stock now

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    Image For 50 Rounds Of 62 Grain TSX Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Black Hills Ammunition Ammunition
    $75.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Black Hills Ammunition

    • New Condition
    • 50 Rounds
    • Made by Black Hills Ammunition
    • American-made Hunting
    • $1.51 Cost Per Round
    • 3000 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Black Hills Ammunition SKU D556N18
    • UPC 612710129621
  29. Federal 5.56x45 Ammo - 500 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Ammunition

    63 In stock now
    Image For 500 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $159.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 32¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1282 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU XM193
    • UPC 50029465094602
  30. Federal American Eagle 5.56x45 Ammo - 420 Rounds of 62 Grain FMJBT XM855 Ammunition in Ammo Can

    28 In stock now

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    Image For 420 Rounds Of 62 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $159.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 420 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 420 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 38.1¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3020 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU XM855BK420 AC1
    • UPC 604544655957
  31. Federal M855 5.56x45 Ammo - 420 Round Stripper Clips 62 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    65 In stock now
    Image For 420 Rounds Of 62 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $164.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 420 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 420 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Range
    • 39.3¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3020 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1255 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU XM855LC1 AC1
    • UPC 50029465063189
  32. Hornady Frontier 5.56x45 Ammo - 500 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ M193 Ammunition

    31 In stock now

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    Image For 500 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $164.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 33¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1282 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU FR200
    • UPC 090255711394
  33. Federal 5.56x45 Ammo - 500 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Ammunition

    66 In stock now

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    Image For 500 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $168.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Range
    • 33.8¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3165 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1282 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU XM193BL
    • UPC 50029465062496
  34. Federal American Eagle 5.56x45 Ammo - 500 Rounds of 62 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    61 In stock now

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    Image For 500 Rounds Of 62 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $168.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Discount Range
    • 33.8¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3020 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1256 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU XM855FL
    • UPC 50029465064629
  35. Federal 5.56x45 Ammo - 420 Rounds of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Ammunition

    61 In stock now

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    Image For 420 Rounds Of 55 Grain FMJ-BT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $174.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 420 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 420 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Range
    • 41.7¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1198 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU XM193LC1 AC1
    • UPC 50029465065206
  36. Hornady Frontier 5.56x45 Ammo - 500 Rounds of 55 Grain HP Match Ammunition

    6 In stock now

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    Image For 500 Rounds Of 55 Grain HP Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $189.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Range
    • 38¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1282 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU FR240
    • UPC SMQ18B842-001
  37. Hornady 5.56x45 Ammo - 200 Rounds of 75 Grain HPBT Ammunition

    3 In stock now

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    Image For 200 Rounds Of 75 Grain HPBT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $195.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 200 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 200 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Range
    • 97.5¢ Cost Per Round
    • 2910 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1410 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU 81264
    • UPC 10090255812647
  38. Federal 5.56x45 Ammo - 600 Rounds of 62 Grain FMJ Ammunition

    66 In stock now

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    Image For 600 Rounds Of 62 Grain FMJ Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Federal Ammunition
    $200.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 600 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 600 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Range
    • 33.3¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3020 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1255 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU XM855BK150
    • UPC 50029465065169
  39. Hornady Frontier 5.56x45 Ammo - 500 Rounds of 62 Grain BTHP Match Ammunition

    11 In stock now

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    Image For 500 Rounds Of 62 Grain HPBT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $210.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Range
    • 42¢ Cost Per Round
    • 3060 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1289 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU FR300
    • UPC 10090255711599
  40. Hornady Frontier 5.56x45 Ammo - 500 Rounds of 68 Grain BTHP Match Ammunition

    30 In stock now

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    Image For 500 Rounds Of 68 Grain HPBT Boxer Brass 5.56x45 Hornady Ammunition
    $214.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 500 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Range
    • 43¢ Cost Per Round
    • 2690 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1323 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Hornady SKU FR310
    • UPC 10090255711605
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You're free to republish or share any of our rifle caliber histories (either in part or in full), which are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Our only requirement is that you give Ammo.com appropriate credit by linking to the original article. Spread the word; knowledge is power!

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.

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
  • 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:

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  • Pat said:

    "This is excellent ammo. Velocity is up there, at least in my 20" barrel DTI ar 15. Kinda lucky to buy this cheap ammo and get it to shoot the way this stuff did. I love being able to buy metal cases as well as brass cases. The metal are non-reloadable and it's nice to just shoot these and not worry about looking after shooting. I worry about the future of buying ammo over the 'net in the future. Here in Illinois our great governor Quinn moves on every front to close the avenues to get ammo. Good Shooting to All "

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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:

    "Thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot. I was right."

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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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  • Nate said:

    "The ammo itself LOOKS beautiful compared to Lake City penetrators but I have not shot it yet so I can't comment on that. I paid more per round, but that is just the market, not Ammo.com."

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    based on the 16 reviews below
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