When practicing with the .223 Remington/AR-15 combination, I am always on the lookout for quality practice ammunition, such as offering from Fiocchi. While I handload, I do not always have time to keep up with the demand made in testing rifles, practice, and teaching. Most of my practice loads are my own handloads put up in reclaimed brass and topped by some type of 55-grain FMJ.
For certain chores, including the maximum in accuracy, I top a cartridge filled with Varget powder with a Sierra Match King bullet. The .223 Remington is very versatile, given a shooter that understands load selection. You can shoot varmints, take many species of thin-skinned game cleanly, enjoy firing in competition, and shooting just to make brass. As a home defender or a dedicated firearm for area defense, the AR-15 is ideal. Recoil is light, the rifle is fun to shoot and ammunition is affordable.
There is a single bullet I have handloaded and used in factory loads for many years. While I have tried others, and use quite a few for specialized chores, the Sierra 69-grain Match King is at the top of the heap for all around versatility. I have changed service loads in the .45 ACP and shotgun several times, but the 69-grain Match King has remained a constant.
For a go to load that will help thin out coyotes, take deer, or serve for critical use, the Sierra 69-grain HPBT bullet is a great all around choice. This is my go anywhere, do anything bullet regardless of the headstamp on the cartridge case. The real work of testing AR-15 rifles is often accomplished with this bullet and a credible load. If the rifle doesn’t shoot well with the 69-grain MK it isn’t going to shoot well.
When handloading, I load the .890-inch Sierra bullet in a properly cleaned, primed, and charged cartridge case to 2.24 length. (.225 with the tipped version.) I like to load the cartridge to 2,750 fps from the 20-inch barrel HBAR. Remember, SAAMI sets pressure limits for the .223 Remington but not the 5.56mm NATO, so we do not push the envelope in loading for the .223.
Another consideration is ballistic performance and wound potential. Wound potential is excellent. Published results in gelatin testing show an average of 15 inches penetration and expansion to .40 while retaining 41 grains of weight. My own water testing shows 14.0 inches of penetration and identical expansion with slightly greater weight retention. This is a formidable combination and among the best loads for overall AR-15 use.
A few months ago, I laid in a good supply of the Fiocchi .223 Remington load made in Fiocchi’s modern plant in Ozark Missouri. I have enjoyed uniformly excellent results with this loading. It is affordable but also high quality.
I would not hesitate to use this load in any 3-Gun Match, hunting, or for critical use. As an example, my personal Aero Precision custom rifle was recently topped with a TruGlo Eminus riflescope to test several .223 Remington loads. The Fiocchi 69-grain load uniformly went into .9 inch at 100 yards for a 3-shot group. Some were actually a bit smaller, but the shooter isn’t perfect. That is good to go for most any use.
I have also used the 62-grain FMJ in testing rifles for accuracy potential. This load equals the Match King for accuracy in most rifles. The bullet isn’t designed to break up in a target like the Green Tip military loads, but rather it is designed to offer good accuracy and fire to the same point of aim as heavier .223 Remington loads. Accuracy is good and the powder burn is clean.
I think the Fiocchi loads are well worth your time to explore. Some are offered in an economical 50-round box. They are also offered in a canned/sealed version for long time storage.
Are you a Fiocchi fan? How has Fiocchi performed for you? Which load have you have the most success with? Share your answers in the comment section.
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