June 12th, 2018

AR-15 Accuracy with Factory Ammo — Surprising Results

Criterion Barrels AR-15 AR16 ammo ammunition comparison test
Displayed are results with Federal Gold Medal Match — quite impressive accuracy!

Criterion Barrels has published an interesting Ammo Comparison Test, shooting seven (7) different varieties of .223 Rem ammunition out of an AR15 fitted with Criterion Barrel. Each ammo type was chronographed (10-shot string), then five-shot groups were shot at 100 yards. Along with handloads (69gr Sierra MK + Varget), six (6) types of commercial ammo were tested:

PREMIUM Type Ammo:
Federal Gold Medal Match (69gr SMK)
Creedmoor 75gr HPBT
Prime 77gr OTM (Open Tip Match)

BULK Type Ammo:
Federal American Eagle XM193 (55gr FMJ)
Wolf Gold (55gr FMJ)
Wolf Polyformance Steel Case (55gr FMJ)

Here are the results for the four best commercial ammo types tested: Federal Gold Medal Match (GMM) with 69gr SMK, Prime 77gr OTM, Creedmoor 75gr HPBT, and American Eagle XM193 (55gr FMJ). The Gold Medal Match shot the best of all factory ammo tested. In fact, the GMM even shot slightly better than the handloads, which averaged 0.79″ for the three accurized groups.

AR15 Factory Ammo testing

The results are quite interesting. The Federal GMM actually shot the best, beating “untailored” handloads. Basic accurizing efforts and a much better rest set-up showed significant benefits with most ammo types (but not the bulk Wolf Ammo). As you would expect, the more expensive ammo shot best: “Chart 1.2 [below] showcases the average [after accurizing] five-round group sizes with each type of ammunition at 100 yards, while Chart 1.3 lists the price per round of each ammunition type. It becomes immediately evident by reviewing these two graphs that there is an inverse relationship between group size and factory ammunition price.”


READ Full Criterion Barrels AR15 AMMO Comparison Test »

Criterion Barrels AR-15 AR16 ammo ammunition comparison test

Accurizing Improvements — Better Scope, Better Rests, Accu-Wedge
As you would expect, some basic accurizing efforts improved accuracy with the better ammo. The accurizing process included: 1) Swapping to a Vortex Viper PST Gen 1 6-24x50mm optic; 2) Adding an Accu-Wedge; 3) Improving fitment during reassembly, and 4) Switching from Harris bipod to a Sinclair Front Rest and Edgewood rear bag for added stability. The same 1:8″-twist Criterion barrel was used throughout the testing process.

Criterion Barrels AR-15 AR16 ammo ammunition comparison test

If you shoot an AR15, or even shoot a .223 Rem bolt gun with factory ammo, you should probably read this test in full. Criterion put a lot of time into the testing, and experimented with a variety of AR options showcased in a series of YouTube videos. SEE: Accurizing the AR-15 Video Playlist.