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The Best Grain for .223 (Based on Your Needs)

There is no definitive answer to the best grain for .223 ammo. It depends on how you will use it. However, there is a consensus about which grains are better for particular applications. But I do have an opinion on what the best “all-around” grain is.

The best all-around grain for .223 is 55 grains. It is the ideal weight for the cartridge when used to fire an AR-15 and delivers good accuracy and velocity without excessive recoil. However, 40 grains can work well for varmints and 77 grains is better in windy conditions.

For most folks, 55-grain ammo like this type found on, will work well for multiple applications.

This article discusses the most popular grains for the .223. I’ll also cover the benefits and drawbacks of each option.

What Are Some of Your Options for .223 Ammo?

Shelves with rifle and pistol ammo boxes at a gun shop

The most popular options for the .223 are the 40-grain, and 55-grain bullets. There are also heavier options available, such as the 60-grain and 77-grain bullets, but those are less common.

Common grains and best uses for .223 ammo:

                          .223 GrainBest Uses
40-grainUsed for varmint hunting and target shooting because it has the highest velocity of all the .223 bullets
55-grainAn excellent all-purpose bullet weight that works well for hunting, target shooting, and plinking
77-grainTypically used for long-range shooting and windy conditions because it has the best ballistic coefficient of all the .223 bullets

The main benefit of the 36-grain bullet is its high velocity. This speed gives the shot a flat trajectory, making it easier to hit long-range targets. It also makes the bullet more effective for varmint hunting because it will create a larger wound channel.

The 55-grain bullet provides a good balance between the light 40-grain and the heavy 77-grain bullets. It is accurate, has an excellent ballistic coefficient, and provides moderate recoil.

The main benefit of the 55-grain bullet is its ballistic coefficient. It has a better trajectory than the lighter 36-grain and 40-grain bullets. That also means the 55-grain shell is also less affected by wind than the lighter bullets in its family. 

However, results can vary depending on the firearm and manufacturer. It’s a good idea to test different types and brands of ammunition to see which works best in your rifle.

I recommend buying firearms, ammo, and accessories at a reputable online dealer, like my top pick, Palmetto State Armory. They are well-respected in the community and provide a 100% lifetime warranty on every weapon they sell. Just click here to see their latest inventory.

Should You Reload Your Own .223 Ammo or Buy It Pre-Loaded?

You can reload your own .223 Ammo to save money, but it takes time and effort. If you plan to shoot a lot, investing in pre-loaded ammo may be worth your time and money.  Test different brands of ammo to see which works best in your rifle.

Many types of .223 ammunition are available on the market, so it’s important to do your research to find the best one for your needs.

I have AR-15 buddies who swear by the Federal Fusion Ammo .223 Remington because the round seems to work best for them. Similarly, the bolt-loving folks I know say the Ruger American Ranch is a good choice. So, it boils down to the type of gun you have. 

What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing a Grain?

When choosing a grain, you must consider how you will be using the ammunition. For instance, if you shoot varmints or other small game, you will want a bullet that expands quickly and doesn’t over-penetrate. In this case, a lighter shot like the 40-grain option would be a great choice. 

If you hunt larger game such as deer, you’ll want a bullet with good penetration. Heavier ammunition like the 55-grain or 62-grain, like this type, would be a better choice in this case. 

It would help if you also considered the conditions you will be shooting in. If it’s windy, a heavier bullet will be more accurate and less likely to go off-course. 

The distance you’ll be shooting is also a factor to consider. The further the distance, the more important it is to have a bullet less affected by wind. In this case, a heavier bullet like the 62-grain or 77-grain option would be a better choice.

AR-10 With Rounds on the Range
There’s no substitute for testing on the range

Is More Grain in a Bullet Better?

More grain doesn’t necessarily translate to a better bullet. The best .223 bullet weight depends on how you will use it. Generally, ammunition used in self-defense should have enough grain to penetrate barriers, while ammo for target practice can be lighter without sacrificing accuracy. 

Although lighter ammo goes further and faster than heavier ammo, it is also less stable in flight and is more likely to be affected by the wind. Heavier ammo penetrates better and is more stable, but it can over-penetrate. 

Go with a 55-grain bullet if you want the best .223 ammunition for self-defense. If you’re looking to shoot some targets at the range, a 36-grain shot will do fine. Anything above that is overkill for most civilian applications and is also more expensive without providing many benefits.

Bullet Grain and Recoil: What’s the Relationship?

The bullet grain directly relates to the amount of recoil you’ll experience. The heavier the bullet, the more recoil you’ll feel. If you are looking for a .223 round with low recoil, go with a 36-grain bullet. 

However, the amount of recoil isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a .223 bullet. You must also consider the purpose for which you’ll be using the ammunition. For instance, if you are looking for a .223 round for hunting, choose a bullet with a higher grain weight (think 55 grain) to ensure that your target is adequately taken down. 

The Bottom Line

It is my opinion that the 55-grain bullet is the best all-around choice for .223 ammo. It’s light enough to minimize recoil while still providing good penetration. Of course, personal preference and your shooting skill matters. I suggest you test different types and brands of .223 ammo (from the heaviest to the lightest) to see which gives you the best results.

For more, check out Bullet Grain Chart By Caliber.