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  • Post last modified:April 9, 2023

Whether you're new to AR15 or a seasoned veteran wanting to expand your knowledge beyond just 5.56 NATO. Here is a guide on the best AR15 ammunition options available for range, personal defense and hunting. 

This guide will teach you things about what the AR15 platform is capable of based on ammo type.

Most Popular AR15 Ammo Types

AR15 is designed to shoot the standard 5.56 NATO rounds. Over the years the AR15 platform has evolved to work with:

  • 5.56 NATO and 223
  • 300 blackout
  • 7.62X39
  • 6.8 SPC
  • 224 Valkyrie
  • 22 LR
  • 5.7
  • .25-45 Sharps
  • 50 Belwolf
  • 6.5 Grendel
  • 9mm
  • 350 Legend
  • 450 Bushmaster

There are different AR15 upper receivers available on the market to chamber these calibers.

Best AR15 Ammo For Range

Indoor range lanes

The best AR15 ammo for range use are:

  • 5.56 / 223
  • 22 LR
  • 7.62 X 39

Shooters can get high volume training with these ammo types and cost effective.

We recommend ball brass ammo for shooting at steel and paper targets:

Frangible bullets are recommended for close up steel shooting (Not point blank with centerfire rifle rounds)

ar15 shooting steel target

Steel core ammo isn't recommended for indoor range because it damages backstops that cost tons of money to repair. They will typically use a magnet to check for steel core ammo before enter the range.

American Eagle XM193

  • Federal American Eagle Ammo is perfect for target shooting and training
  • Accurate and dependable, at a cost-effective price for practice
  • Loaded with consistent primers, bullets, and brass in reloadable cases

PMC X Bronze

  • Ammo made in South Korea to promote self -reliance
  • Made to SAAMI or US military specs
  • Bridges a gap for target shooters and hunters

Wolf Gold

  • Full metal jacket copper bullets for indoor and outdoor ranges

Federal XM855 - For Outdoor Use

Best AR15 Ammo For Personal Defense

cloud defensive rein light stream

When choosing AR15 ammo type for personal defense, 5.56 and 300 blackout are the most popular options with proven performance records. There are tons of testing and data to certify them for defensive use.

Black Hills 

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Federal Champion

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Fiocchi Sierra

American Eagle

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Hornady Black

Best AR15 Ammo For Hunting


With all ammo types available for the AR15. The 6.5 Grendel, 350 Ledgend and 7.62X39 are the best option for hunting deer sized game. 

6.5 Grendel

6.5 grendel vs 5.56

The 6.5 Grendel is a great choice for you if you're a recoil-sensitive shooter. Its .264 caliber and short size make it easy to fit into AR-15 rifles.

Federal makes a special bullet for hunting deer, called the Fusion, and it's a great choice. At 500 yards, it still has 588 foot-pounds of power, which is a lot more than the 62-grain .223 Rem. bullet. This extra power increases your chances of taking down the animal with just one shot.

With its ability to fire larger, heavier, and more aerodynamic bullets, the 6.5 Grendel is perfect for hunting deer-sized game. And because it has a slightly larger powder capacity, it generates more power than the .223.

7.62 X 39

7.62 vs 300 blk

The 7.62 X 39 is also a great option that carries more energy into its target as long as the target is within 300 yards. It's much cheaper than 6.5 and 350.350 Legend

350 Legend

350 legend

The 350 Legend is a straight-walled cartridge that's great for hunting deer and medium-sized game in certain states that regulate cartridge design to reduce risk near homes.

It offers low recoil and is considered safer and legal than bottleneck cartridges. Check your state hunting laws for restrictions.

Get a 350 Legend AR 15 upper here

50 BeoWulf

50 beowulf

The .50 Beowulf creates a lot of energy, with a 350-grain bullet producing around 2,350 foot-pounds.

This is almost double the power of the 6.5 Grendel. But, as the distance increases, the power drops below 1,000 and the 6.5 Grendel becomes stronger. If you're hunting bear in dense brush or deer in bear territory, where the shots are usually less than 150 yards away, the .50 Beowulf is a good choice to fight against wild animals.

50 beowulf magazine

Referenced Gundigest

The .50 Beowulf has more kick than other cartridges, but the AR-15's gas system helps reduce some of the recoil. If you add a muzzle brake, it's still strong but easier to handle. This cartridge is great for hunting because of its size and power.

The bullet is half an inch wide, making a big hole in the animal after it hits. This cartridge is powerful enough to take down a bear at medium to close ranges, but you need to aim well. Not many companies make this cartridge, so you need to buy the ammo early.

State Regulations

Sometimes, there are special state rules that say how many bullets you can put in a magazine. Usually, you can only have five bullets in a magazine. There are lots of different kinds of magazines that are the right size. 

Make sure you order one before hunting season starts so it works properly. Some companies that make guns for hunting already include the right kind of magazine with the gun, and you can also buy them as an extra thing.

Best AR15 Ammo For Precision Shooting

36 yard zero high height over bore result

In order to get more out of the AR15 platform for precision shooting, we need to upgrade to a longer barrel and use a different ammo type than using the 5.56.

224 valkyrie ballistics

Referenced TheFirearmBlog

The .224 Valkyrie has low recoil just like the 6.5 Grendel. However, it can shoot heavier bullets up to 1,300 yards while the .223 can only shoot lighter bullets at 800 yards or less. Both are great for hunting, but the .224 is better for hitting long-range targets due to its flatter trajectory and higher ballistic coefficient.

It stays supersonic at a greater distance.

leupold mark 8 3.5-25X56 mm scope

Be sure to check out some great long range scopes with precision aiming reticles to help ID targets and hit more accurately.