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Ah yes, the age old and never ending debate over which pistol caliber is the absolute best; 9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45 ACP. In this blog post I will write about where this debate primarily originated from, and where I think it currently lies.
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The above screenshot is why. Dealer cost is $308 for 420 rounds (as of 04-04-2022) just for normal M193 ammo. I’m simply not going to pay $0.73/rd DEALER COST, and then ask you to pay even more yet. Even now, M193 5.56 ammunition does NOT cost $0.73/rd retail. It typically costs anywhere between $0.60-$0.66/rd retail. So the fact that the WHOLESALE price is $0.73/rd is not only insane, but its also scary. It's scary in the sense that Zanders (and other wholesalers) are clearly raising prices because they see something on the horizon that the rest of us do not. What does Zanders know that we don't? Who knows. But I think it's safe to say that the price of all ammunition will only be going up for at least the next six months, maybe longer.
Why do the big box stores have an abundance of ammunition made by these big name brands for a decent price? I'm not sure exactly how, but I have my educated guesses. If I had to make an educated guess, I would say the big box stores are able to order DIRECTLY from companies like Federal, Winchester, Hornady etc. and do not have to order through wholesalers like 99% of gun stores including myself do. Again, that's just an educated guess.
A lot of the ammunition I routinely order and keep in stock is imported from various European countries. Igman for example, makes the .223 Rem ammo I sell, and that is imported from Bosnia. Belom makes the 9mm ammo I sell, and that is imported from Serbia. Sterling makes the 12ga slug and buckshot shotgun ammo I carry, and that is all made in Turkey. Does imported ammo mean its of lesser quality? Absolutely not. A lot of these companies have military contracts with various countries over in Europe, and have for decades. The reason why you maybe haven't heard of these companies yourself is because prior to the Great Ammo Shortage of 2020, ammo didn't need to be imported the way it does today. Belom 9mm for example, is actually some of my favorite 9mm ammo I've ever used. If you've followed my business for any length of time you'll know I'm a big fan of the resealable boxes they come in, the fact that the ammo uses brass casings, they have sealed primers, and 124gr bullets. Generally speaking, bullet weight for your range ammo doesn't matter too much because you aren't carrying it for defensive purposes. But for me it does because I shoot competitively, and the 124gr bullets seem to knock over the steel "popper" targets a bit faster than 115gr bullets do. That's just my experience. Conversely, there are few things more annoying than the guy who swears he has to have 147gr 9mm ammo, complains that it's $30 per box, and only ever shoots paper targets inside of 20 yards. Don't be that guy. Moving on, the .223 ammo made by Igman has been excellent for me as well. It groups as well as any of the other 55gr .223 Rem ammo I've fired from my home defense AR. That too, also has sealed primers, and brass casings. Big plus.
In my opinion, probably the only time I'd give much thought to my range ammo is if I were planning on buying heavy for caliber match grade ammunition, which costs significantly more. As long as the cheap stuff groups well, and doesn't cause any issues, I'd feel good about buying in bulk from brands I haven't heard of especially if its significantly cheaper than the brands I HAVE heard of. Putting my money where my mouth is, ALL of the 9mm ammo in my personal stash is Belom, about half of my .223 ammo is made by Igman, and I also sold a case of Igman .223 to a close relative. I refuse to sell junk.
To close this blog post, I just want to reiterate that I'm doing my best to invest my capital wisely to continue supplying you with a wide variety of ammunition at great prices.
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Remember how I told you that Vista Outdoors has raised their prices on all their product lines by 5%-20% effective April 1, 2022? If not, click HERE to watch a previous Vlog post of mine from 03/21/2022.
To recap, Vista Outdoors is a company that owns CCI, Blazer, Speer, Remington, Federal, Hevi-Shot, and Estate. Those are just the ammo brands they own. Vista Outdoors announced in December of 2021 that significant price increases would be coming effective April 1, 2022 and cited their inability to source RAW MATERIALS as the reason for the price increase. They also announced that they were no longer selling primers to the reloading market until they got their production issues for the own product lines under control.
Tilson Defense is absolutely smoking these prices, because I saw the writing on the wall, and bought in bulk before the inevitable price hikes came about; which means better deals for YOU.
Shown below are screenshots taken from Remington and CCI's website showing their new, higher prices as of 04-17-2022. Pay special attention to the prices on the ammunition that is aluminum or steel cased. For those of you who don't know, MOST ammunition use brass casings. Brass is the standard. Brass casings can also be reused many times over by people who reload (make their own ammunition). Steel or aluminum casings CANNOT be reused to reload ammo. I point this out, because my jaw hit the floor when I saw a 50rd box of aluminum cased .40 S&W FMJ ammo listed for $27.99. I could maybe stomach that price if it was brass cased, but definitely not aluminum.
As of right now, I can beat Remington and CCI's prices with ease. The problem is, is at some point I'm going to have to order more ammo and the prices will be higher. I make posts like this one for two reasons. 1) I want my customers to be informed as to where the market is at so you know what to expect now and in the future. You wouldn't believe the amount of deer hunters who called me a day or two before they were going to go out hunting asking me for Winchester 350 Legend 180gr loads only to find out it was $50/box. 2) I want to convey to you guys that I'm doing my absolute best to invest wisely in my inventory so that way YOU get great deals on ammunition as often as possible.
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If you're short on time, and want to get straight to the point, just know that if you're using an AR-15 with a barrel marked for either .223 Wylde or 5.56 NATO, you can shoot both .223 Rem and 5.56 NATO through your rifle interchangeably, and without issue. You probably won't ever notice a difference between types either.
If you have a little time, then lets get into the details as this is a very common question that I get asked. Not only that, but I have heard of a lot of customers claiming one is better than the other. Spoiler alert: If you're just planning on buying 55gr FMJ ammo of either .223 or 5.56 there isn't enough of a difference to make a difference.
In having a lot of conversations with people about this topic, I've found that a lot of shooters know that there IS a difference between the two types of ammo, but they can't remember which one can be shot through their AR-15 and which one cannot, and under which circumstance can they be used interchangeably. So, today I will explain the differences, and also clearly explain what can be ran through your AR, and I will also embed a couple of videos from Brownells to help me make my points as well.
.223 vs 5.56. The physical dimensions of both rounds, for all intents and purposes, are identical. The most appreciable difference between the two is the fact that 5.56 is technically a military round (hence the 'NATO' designation). Because of this, 5.56 generally has higher chamber pressure than .223 does. There are also different types of 5.56 that can have higher or lower chamber pressure than other types of 5.56 too (i.e. M855 versus M855A1 versus M193) but that's REALLY getting into the weeds, and doesn't matter for the purposes of our discussion today.
Your AR-15: which type can it shoot? The reason why this discussion exists in the first place is because the chamber in an AR that is ONLY chambered for .223 is vastly different than one that is chambered for 5.56. There are differences in the throat dimensions, as well as the pressure each one can handle. Because 5.56 has a higher chamber pressure than .223 does, any AR-15 or even bolt action rifle who's barrel is marked specifically for 5.56, can also safely shoot .223 without any issues. Conversely, if your AR-15 barrel is marked .223 Rem, it is ONLY designed to handle .223 ammunition, and may not handle 5.56 safely. Now for a curve ball. Some AR barrels are marked ".223 Wylde." What does this mean? .223 Wylde chambers take the best parts of a .223 chamber and the best parts of a 5.56 chamber and combine them into one. It will handle both .223 and 5.56 ammo interchangeably, and safely! Because .223 Wylde chambers have slightly tighter tolerances than a 5.56 NATO chamber, some people see an increase in accuracy because of this. Simply put, if your rifle is marked for .223 Rem, then only put .223 through it. If your barrel is marked as 5.56 NATO or .223 Wylde, feel free to go ahead and run either type through it!
AR-15s that are only chambered for .223 Rem are very rare these days. This used to be fairly common as recently as 15 years ago, but I can't say I've ever seen an AR that was ONLY chambered for .223 Rem... they're typically all marked for either .223 Wylde or 5.56 NATO. It is common however, for a bolt action rifle to be only chambered for .223 Rem. Know your firearm!
Below are a couple of videos from the gunsmiths at Brownells explaining .223 vs 5.56 as I have here today. I've also provided a Paul Harrel video showing the practical differences between the two rounds where he shoots them side by side to see if there is enough of a difference to make a difference.
Thank you for reading!
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I've gotten a ton of new inventory recently! Lots of firearms from an old collection, and plenty of ammunition as well!
As always, if there's a gun you're looking for that I don't have in stock, be sure to email me as I can probably order it in for you!
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Just a couple days ago, I posted a video to my wife's facebook page (because I am in Facebook jail) outlining my thoughts on the state of the firearms industry and its market conditions. I had a strong feeling that what I was saying was 100% correct, but it turns out that not only was I absolutely right about my predictions, but the price increases I spoke about are occurring in the next week or two. At least as it relates to 9mm ammunition. My one supplier that I've always bought PMC Bronze 9mm ammo from not only is out of stock of said ammo, but has also notified dealers that their prices will be increasing by 10% once they receive more. Mind you, they JUST got resupplied about a week ago, and now they're sold out. God only knows when they'll receive more. The good news is, is I still have plenty of access to ordering 9mm ammo, but not for price I could get PMC Bronze for. 9mm ammo will continue to be available at Tilson Defense, but the price (as of now) will be $22 per 50rd box. I still have one case (20 boxes of 50rds) of PMC Bronze 9mm left that I will continue to sell at $20/box until its gone. Get it while you can.
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In future Vlog entries, I will be utilizing a pro-freedom video platform like Rumble and UGETube for my videos. But for now, I have provided the embed code to the video I made yesterday.