Ammunition Consistency Testing: Wilson Combat, PMC, and Remington

With the 1,000 yard rifle for $500 project well underway, it makes sense that a nice and consistent ammunition should be chosen to provide the best results. While a single box of anything I tested this time around would put me over budget in a heartbeat it’s still important to figure out which brand out there is the best in the .308 Winchester / 7.62x51mm NATO variety. For, you know, science and stuff.

Our first brand to test today is the reigning champion of the .223 Remington trials, and has failed to be unseated by even the best Hornaday can throw at them. So far, that is.

Wilson Combat hand loads every single round of ammunition they produce, lovingly crafting each round to ensure top notch consistency. They have been good friends to TTAG, putting up ammunition for me to use in my rifle matches and even being an advertiser on the site. Don’t think for a second, however, that we’ve fudged the numbers for them in the consistency testing. They’ve earned their place at the top so far, but can they do it again for .308?

PMC Ammunition is one of the cheaper brands. It’s usually considered well above “military surplus” grade, but also well below “match” grade. It fills that spot in the middle of the spectrum for when you want to shoot for cheap, but still want to be near the X ring. But how does it compare to the other brands?

The guys at the gun shop talked me into buying a box of this last one for one very good reason. According to the sales guys, they can’t keep this stuff in stock during deer season. The second it hits the shelf they’re sold out again. The ammo in question is Remington’s “Managed Recoil” .308 hunting round. It uses a 125 grain bullet and a significantly smaller powder load so that hunters don’t hurt their shoulder when firing, but still provides enough power to put down a deer.

The biggest claim these guys make: the zero is the same at 100 and 200 yards. That’s another story for another day. All we’re concerned about with right now is consistency.

With special thanks to the Clark Brothers in Warrenton, V.A. for providing a range while our usual test facility is under repair, I was able to get some good chronograph readings on everything here. The procedure was set out the first time we did this, and the test rifle remains the Mossberg 100 ATR which we are using for the 1,000 yard rifle project.

As usual, we are including the current “superior” ammunition in these boxplots to give an idea of what the team to beat looks like. While PMC and Remington both are decidedly out of the running for the top slot, Wilson Combat appears to be closing in. While they may not be drastically more consistent, at least their velocities are more normally distributed than the “leader.” Let’s normalize this and take another look.

It’s still way too close to call, at least for the interquartile range. Including the whiskers Wilson Combat appears to be in the lead, but we’ll have to consult the bar graph to see which one really is the best.

After calculating the IQR for all of the ammunition brands tested, Hornaday still seems to hold its lead. Barely. A difference in IQR of just about 2 could possibly be a sampling error, so further testing will need to be done to determine the “true” winner. Until then we’ll just have to keep on testing more and more brands.

The truth is out there.

Brand and Weight Caliber IQR $/round
Hornady Superformance Match
150gr SST
.308 Win 26 $1.21
Wilson Combat
168gr Sierra HPBT Match
.308 Win 28 $1.99
PMC Bronze
147gr FMJ BT
.308 Win 39 $0.50
SetPoint – 44gr Varget
150gr Hornady FMJ BT
.308 Win 52 $1.74
Prvi Partizan
150gr FMJ
.308 Win 54 $0.82
Remington “Managed Recoil”
125gr CORE-LOKT PSP
.308 Win 125 $1.40

While we’re talking about consistency testing, may as well drop in the latest .223 results as well.

Brand and Weight Caliber IQR $/round
Wilson Combat
77gr Sierra HPBT Match
.223 Rem 19 $1.52
Wilson Combat
65gr Sierra SP BT
.223 Rem 21 $1.52
Hornady
75gr BTHP Match
.223 Rem 29 $0.79
CorBon
69gr HPBT
.223 Rem 30 $1.18
Winchester
64gr “Power Point” SP
.223 Rem 38 $0.82
Wolf
55gr FMJ
.223 Rem 40 $0.21
Federal XM193F
55gr FMJ
.223 Rem 40 $0.32
Pierce
55gr HP-BT
.223 Rem 42 $?.??
Nosler Varmint
40gr Ballistic Tip
.223 Rem 44 $0.86
Handloads – 20.8gr N-135
75gr Hornady HPBT Match
.223 Rem 49 $?.??
Handloads – 21gr IMR 3031
75gr Hornady HPBT Match
.223 Rem 52 $?.??
Winchester PDX-1
60gr SC-HP
.223 Rem 58 $1.45
American Eagle
55gr FMJ-BT
.223 Rem 68 $0.30

comments

  1. avatar miforest says:

    I have shot the 30 -06 and the 270 managed recoil ammo. The accuracy I get out of a BAR 270 is excellent at 100 yds and truly outstanding at 50. in that heavy rifle is has very little recoil. since I would not attempt a shot over 200 yards anyway, it is perfect for deer hunting.
    the ballistics duplicate the 250 savage and 257 Roberts cartridges. these are great medium game rounds. It has always been a mystery to me why such pleasant shooting and adequite dear/antelope/varmit rounds died out.

    1. avatar Jason says:

      “It has always been a mystery to me why such pleasant shooting and adequite dear/antelope/varmit rounds died out.”

      Magnumitis. Don’t you know that deer are nearly bulletproof and any cartridge that doesn’t start with a “3” and end in magnum is just going to bounce right off of them? Oh, and your scope has to be a minimum of at least 6 power or you’ll never be able to spot those tiny things.

  2. avatar Joe Grine says:

    Thanks for your analysis – good info. I’m not surprised to see PMC performing well. I have not shot any PMC in .308 but I use the .223 on a fairly regular basis and I beleive it to be superior to the competition, i.e. Remington / UMC, Federal / American Eagle, or Winchester (white box).

  3. avatar Bob H says:

    Nick, is there a difference between .308 Winchester and 7.62x51mm NATO? I saw an article somewhere which claimed that the SAAMI specs were very different for some part. I believe it was chamber pressure. Here is the link to the SAAMI/ANSI standards but I couldn’t figure out what they were saying http://www.saami.org/specifications_and_information/index.cfm?page=ANSI)

    If they are different, how can an ignorant suburbanite like me be sure they have the correct rifle/ammunition combination?

    1. avatar Blake says:

      Bob, going from memory, military 7.62 ammo operates at significantly higher pressure than civilian .308. (50,000 CUP versus 40,000 CUP) Also, there is a very slight difference in headspace (if I remember correctly) the 7.62 being just a little (very little) shorter.

      Bottom line, after all the research I did, it’s considered relatively safe to shoot 7.62 ammo in a modern rifle chambered for .308. However, the converse is not true.

      I won’t claim it’s a recommended practice, however.

      1. avatar Jason says:

        Your second paragraph contradicts your first. And I believe your second paragraph is the correct one. 7.62 is safe in .308s but not vice versa. Just the opposite of .223 and 5.56 where the civilian round is safe in military chambers but not the other way around.

        1. avatar Blake says:

          I’m not sure what I got wrong. Granted, I’m going from memory, but if the 7.62 cartridge is shorter than .308, then where is the contradiction?

        2. avatar Jason says:

          You got the pressures reversed in the first paragraph. 7.62 has the lower pressure of the two which is why it’s safe to shoot the 7.62 in from a .308 chambered gun.

        3. avatar Blake says:

          Jason, I was operating from the premise that even though 7.62 operates at higher pressure than .308, it was safe to shoot in a modern firearm in good condition, but not recommended.

          I was working from memory. I went back and checked my numbers and found out my numbers were wrong.

          Live and learn. Anyway, 7.62 operates at around 50K CUP, while .308 is around 60K CUP.

        4. avatar Jason says:

          Don’t sweat it too much. Just me being nitpicky. It’s a personal flaw I’m working on. 🙂

    2. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      There are some minor differences, but SAAMI considers them safe to be used interchangeably.

      For reference, here is the list of UNSAFE ammunition combinations. Note that “7.62 Military” is NOT counterindicated for .308 Win, but “5.56 Military” IS counterindicated for .223 Rem.

      http://www.saami.org/specifications_and_information/publications/download/SAAMI_ITEM_211-Unsafe_Arms_and_Ammunition_Combinations.pdf

  4. avatar Bub says:

    I’m surprised you have not included PMC 223 in your test results. It seems one of the more popular/cheaper rounds available.

  5. avatar KW says:

    Great info. Wilson continues to prove that they put top notch products out there. I love the Hornady ammo and use some of it (different caliber) for self defense and the Leverevolution in my 30-30. Glad to see the PMC Bronze performing well. It’s my go to practice round in .45 for price and consistency.

  6. avatar Jake says:

    Nice review, but I have never saw a typo be repeated so many times! I have heard people say Hornaday, but the poster of this typed Hornaday quite a few times! Really takes away from the seriousness of it, like if I did a review of a Chevy car and kept putting Chevyroley LOL Its Hornady!!!

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