5.56x45mm is one of the world’s most popular rifle calibers and one of the United States’ favorites. Popularized in the AR-15 platform, many firearms support this round. According to Business Insider, America has over 20 million AR-15-style rifles in circulation. That’s a lot of guns to feed!
Why is this round so popular? It was adopted by NATO in the 1980s as a second standard service rifle cartridge. This great general-purpose round can be used for anything from hunting applications to Law enforcement & Military use and long-range shooting. Velocities are going to range based on the barrel length, but some average figures are around 2,700 FPS in a 12-inch barrel and upwards of 3,000 FPS in a 20-inch barrel. 5.56mm is what I use for rifle competitions and small game hunting. It’s relatively lightweight, has great ballistics, and you can fit a lot in a standard magazine.
PMC X-TAC 5.56
PMC X-Tac has been the primary brand I have used in competitions over the last two years. It has been the most consistent factory 5.56 ammunition for the price. The rifle matches I’ve participated in have targets from three yards out to 550 yards. The round must remain accurate out at distances. There is nothing more frustrating than when you have to take follow-up shots after you’ve built a solid base and have the visual patience for a good sight picture.
I look for consistency between batches and regularly test the zero in my guns. The consistency between batches is how similar the rounds perform between different manufacturing times of the ammunition. Ammunition made in a certain timeframe is that “batch” of ammo. You will typically find a larger variance with remanufactured ammo due to different head-stamped brass and the type of machine they are loading on. When looking at a large manufacturer like PMC, their commercial loaders ensure each round is made with precision.
The X-Tac brand from PMC was created for military and law enforcement around the world. It has been tried and tested by grueling standards set by these organizations. The primer consists of a sealed box design, which will stand the test of time. When out on the range or on a hunt, the sealed primer will ensure you can keep shooting even during inclement weather. I have shot multi-gun matches in a torrential downpour with zero functionality issues. It is recommended to store ammo in a low-moisture environment for long durations.
- Brand: PMC X-TAC
- Caliber: 5.56MM
- Bullet Weight: 55 Grain
- Bullet Type: FMJ-BT
- Muzzle Velocity: 3270 FPS
- Application: Target & Training
- Material: Brass
- Count: 20 rounds
Buy ’em cheap and stack ’em deep! Shooting is not a cheap hobby, so it’s great when you can save a little bit of money. During the Covid pandemic, we saw 5.56mm going upwards of $1 per round. Currently, the X-TAC is $0.50 per round. This is half the cost of what they were just over a year before this article was written. This is around the going rate you’ll find online but GunMag Warehouse offers fast shipping and convenient checkout.
When I am trusting ammunition to win me a match or, even more importantly, trusting my life with, I always want to make sure that it shoots and groups accurately out of the primary rifles I will be using. Most shooters will fire three-round groups to see how accurate their rounds are, but I have found conducting the grouping test with a large round count makes for better results. I like to shoot anywhere from 10-20 rounds per group to ensure that there aren’t any fliers and account for any unknown conditions I may deal with on the range.
Shooting a high-pressure rifle round increases the barrel’s temperature, which can drastically affect accuracy in some cases. I like to take two initial groups, one when the gun is cold and one after firing a full mag at speed, to group it once the barrel is heated up. Located in Arizona, heat is a real factor on rifles, and I have seen a number of them go down when the radiate temperature on the range is 100+° F.
The photo above shows the first group cold out of my main go-to AR15, the LMT SPECWAR. This was shot at a one-second-per-shot pace, which is faster than most bench shooting occurs. I was on a metal table, using my forearm as my bag, which led to some fliers low and one left. Overall I am happy with the size of the group. If I had spent more time placing the shots or used a bullseye target, we could have gotten it even tighter. You can see that many shots are touching, and some are even overlapping.
Here is the second group after heating up the gun. I had even more shots overlapping in this group. You can see the elongated hole in the center of the group. That hole consists of four shots placed right on top of one another. This was also shot at a one-second-per-shot basis in the same position as the group previously. A heat test is essential when choosing the correct ammunition for your gun because the harmonics and tolerances change when exposed to excessive heat.
As you can see, this ammunition is very accurate. This is why it is my choice for competition shooting. Even after the gun is heated, it can still produce an impressive group. Needless to say, the quality of the rifle and the shooter’s skills plays a part when grouping guns. When shooting off of a bench rest, most shooters should be able to replicate this. Although the LMT SPECWAR only has a 12.5″ barrel, it still has plenty of energy with these 55-grain projectiles to reach out to distance.
At the Rio Salado March Multigun match, I took 1st place in my division by over 6% and 4th overall in the match. This match had multiple shots at 300 yards and many shots at the 100-125 yard mark. The longest distance I’ve taken the PMC X-TAC out to is 715 yards with this short-barreled AR-15. I want to have confidence in all of my gear, and this ammunition has passed all the tests I’ve put it through thus far.
PMC makes a wide variety of ammunition in many calibers. They have complete quality control in their factory with a vertical integration philosophy. All the ammunition is made with new brass casing to SAAMI or US Military specification standards.
An added benefit is for all my reloaders out there, being that all the PMC ammunition is reloadable. Being a reloader, reloadable brass helps me save on cost because instead of buying factory-new brass, I can spend a fraction of the amount for fully loaded ammunition, providing more time on the range.
If you are looking for an affordable, consistent 5.56MM round, you have found it with PMC X-Tac 5.56 55 Grain FMJBT. These rounds will do a lot of the work for you when looking for accurate hits on target. All you need to do is ensure your gun is zeroed, and you are in a stable position to take the shot. Try these rounds and see if you can replicate the same success I have found. Different ammunition will shoot differently out of your gun, so not all ammunition should be treated the same. Depending on your twist rate and the weight of the projectile, you can find your point of impact change. Find ammo you like and stick with it.