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Ammo Strategy for your 3gun AR15

At a certain point as shooters begin to compete at larger matches, the realization that standard 55 grain full metal jacket ball .223/5.56 ammo isn’t quite good enough for many of the long-distance targets. Let’s explore why this is and the strategy employed by most shooters. Your average 55grain fmj projectile is a very adequate projectile and for most range purposes and generous target acquisitions it more than adequate. Most decent barrels I have seen will hold 1-2 MOA at 100 yards which again, is more than adequate until you start to go long. Most barrels 3gun competitors are using are 1/8 or 1/9 twist rate barrels which are inherently designed to stabilize a larger projectile. In .223/5.55 this is somewhere above 65 and up to about 77grains projectiles. This isn’t to say that barrels with these twist rates can’t stabilize a small projectile, but it is not common in my experience. Next let’s talk about bullet quality. A standard FMJ is a bulk and bargain projectile, often without superior ballistic characteristics to optimize flight. Higher precision projectiles are typically hollow points or have an accuracy inducing tip like Hornady Vmax or the Sierra TMK as examples. They also have a “boat tail” feature in the back of the bullets which helps with skin friction as the projectile travels through the air, therefore making it more stable and efficient. Lastly, in the 3gun game, we rely upon a Range Officer to call hits on steel targets at distance. This requires the projectile to induce a visual hit or flash. A smaller projectile will typically have less energy at these kinds of distances and can cause issues with the RO seeing and calling hits.

Now that we have established why a larger projectile is to the shooters advantage, lets discuss how competitors implement this information. The accuracy of the 55grain fmj ball ammo is typically more than sufficient from zero to about 200 yards. Beyond that distance the heavier more precise ammo is typically selected. The rifle optic is also zeroed and characterized with the precision ammo as it has the largest effect on accuracy for the highest precision shots. Next is to understand what the accuracy is of the 55 grain ammo. Typically, there is only a small deviation which is acceptable for the close up and out to 200 yard targets.

Implementing these strategies will help you improve your long-distance skills set for 3gun and ensure you are using the best ammo options for the targets being presented.