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by John Boch, president of Guns Save Life

Low muzzle flash is one of the non-negotiable requirements of any good self-defense load. In October, at the GSL Defense Training Urban Rifle 101 course, one of our students was shooting PMC X-TAC 5.56 XP-193 ammo in his stock Ruger SR-556 rifle. We noticed some muzzle-flash during the day. But during the night-time segment of the course, the pyrotechnics were downright obnoxious . . .

We looked over his rifle to see if the problem was there. He had a standard Ruger SR-556 rifle with a standard military-style flash suppressor integrated into the barrel. So we swapped him out some Israeli M193 ammo and saw only a tiny bit of flash — nothing like the ball o’ fire produced by the PMC X-TAC.

So the incident provided a valuable lesson to our students on the importance of test-firing their personal defense ammunition in low-light conditions to make sure there’s little or no muzzle flash. You don’t want to mark your position for return fire from bad guys. Not to mention blowing out your night vision any more than necessary.

In this particular case, the PMC X-TAC XP-193 ammo was double trouble. Not only did it illuminate our shooter, but it also lit up the other good-guys around him, too.

Bottom line: we can enthusiastically recommend this ammo if you want to display an impressive fireball from your muzzle and wow your friends or novice shooters. But only a fool would use this ammo for self-defense purposes, despite the high-speed, low-drag tactical graphic on the box. Remember, as the late, great Paul Vallandigham used to say,
“incoming rounds have the right of way.”

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  1. self defense ammo? no, but good range (day time) ammo, yes, my LWRC eats this stuff up, but i really like the federal 5.56 for plinking.

  2. Folks who don’t know any better might get themselves into this ammo for self-defense use, especially given the slick packaging.

    I’ve been teaching rifle for a number of years now and taking classes, and I’ve *never* seen flash like this before except from either SBRs (which this wasn’t) or non-flash-suppressed barrels (think AWB days ’94-’04).

    It was also a good lesson to the guy who brought this stuff. He said he had a bunch of it. I don’t think he’ll be keeping it in his “go” mags anytime soon after this.


  3. My own experiences with PMC ammo have been negative. I have had semi auto pistols that run well on all types of ammo but choke on PMC. Myself and my sons have had the same experiences in different guns. It’s been a while since we’ve bought PMC.

  4. PMC ammo is absolutely terrible. The muzzle flash is stupendous in my Ruger SR-556 as well. Everyone who reads TTAG should stop buying their clean, reliable M193 and M855 style ammo immediately due to the muzzle flash.

    (If M193 prices ever get back to $5.49 or $5.99 a box, I’m buying another 1000 rounds or so.)

  5. I’ve come close to purchasing standard PMC .223 and PMC X-Tac 5.56 on a few occasions and have always stopped short of pulling the trigger. Now I’m reassured that I made the right call by paying a few cents more per round for Federal / American Eagle.

  6. As a practice round there is nothing wrong with PMC, but it as with any ammunition must fit its role. For practice run anything your gun will cycle and that you can afford en mass. For defense you should be using low flash rapid expansion rounds which eliminate M855 and M193 of all types. Instead using 64gr Ranger/PDX1 (Winchester Brands) or any of the polymer tipped expanders (Critical Defense, Critical Duty, hell even ZMax, Hornady Brand) will produce optimal results defensively.

    They key to keeping practice and protection rounds consistent is testing to be sure the performance of your practice round mirrors closely enough the performance of the protection round. This is true across all firearms used for protection purposes

    (For reference my ‘bump in the night gun’ is a 300 Blackout AR15 loaded with 110gr Hornady VMax Blackout/Whisper, practice load is remington plinker 115gr fml/ctfb)

    • Well said sir. I agree 100% Except my bump in the night weapon is the KSG from Kel-Tec with Winchester PDX-1 12 gauge 2 34″. Single 1oz slug with 3 00buck. People have mixed feeling about the KSG but, I love it!

  7. The 55gr round out of a 16+” 1:9 barrel , under 100 yards, and especially under 50 yards, is a quite suitable round for personal defense, especially for novices.

    Sure, for those of us who know some of the nuances of some of these other rounds, you can do better.

    But for the guy who is going to shoot maybe a couple of hundred rounds a year, if that, who doesn’t know the ins and outs of the AR system, many of them don’t really care about barrel twists, bullet weights and bullet types. All they know is they see a pic of ninja-types on the box and they think, “oh, hey. this is it!”

  8. I’ve shot a large amount of this X-TAC for practice as it was available in a very large quantity for a reasonable price. There seemed to be two batches of the 62gr “Green Tip” (similar to M855), even within the same 1k round cases. One batch shot cleanly, no excessive muzzle flash and had bright, clean annealed case shoulders. The other batch was dirty shooting and had darker brass, especially on that annealed shoulder area. Not only was there excessive muzzle flash, you could see sparks and unburnt power just like the old school Federal 9BPLE +P+ used to do.

    After getting an entire case of the latter (where before it had been sporadically mixed in) I no longer buy this ammo for practice. I’ve never used the 55gr 193 pictured in the article.

  9. I wonder if it is a Ruger deal? I notice two people mentioning their Rugers flashing. I shoot the 162 gr X TAC in my DD Midlength 16″ and have never noticed any flash like that. Day or night. I will have to put the go cam on the next range visit and tape the XTAC vs other Manufactured brands. Just to be sure.

  10. I’m guessing all those people that are having terrific luck with the X-Tac dependability and accuracy are probably ‘not’ from the Zombie or Prepper fantasy land. Just enthusiasts just wanting to head to their local range in the daylight with some good ammo to have some plain ol’ shooting fun. That world isn’t extinct yet, is it?

  11. I found a good price on this ammo so I came here to get some info./review. I’m more confused now than I was before I started. I’m starting to think that I need to put my blinders on on just stop listening to everyone else.

    • Buy it. It is good ammo. I love the PMC .223 and this X-Tac 5.56 is great too. Thousands of rounds downrange. No problems. Very accurate and functions great. Great range ammo.

  12. “Low muzzle flash is one of the non-negotiable requirements of any good self-defense load”

    This is hysterical. You’re telling me that in this hypothetical self defense situation, you give up your advantage with muzzle flash. How are you defending yourself if your adversary does not know where you are until you start pulling the trigger? How can you say you are under attack if your enemy doesn’t yet know where you are?

    I can also see that the rifles pictured are using relatively short barrels. In a 20″ barrel like this caliber was designed to be used in I would expect much less or even no flash.

    You are ready to write this ammunition off just based on that nonsense? Do you have any actual data on how it performs? Did you measure it on a chronograph? What groups did you achieve? Do you simply have an aversion to Korean products because this whole article is nonsense.

  13. Pmc is good ammo period. Way better then American eagle crap. Anybody who trains knows what ammo works. Minus high end loads like corbon or black hills pmc is great.

  14. Yeah, this seems like internet expert advice. I have heard nothing but good about this ammo. In a gun fight the dead last think I am worried about is someone returning fire to my muzzle blast. I am worried about putting rounds on target them moving.

  15. I am using and am very pleased with the round because it is the only ammo that closely matches my reticle on my Nikon BDC P-223 3x9x40 600 yard scope. It allows me to use the exact aiming dots and diamonds with a 100 yard zero and 50 yard increments out to 600 yards. I only have to think when varmint hunting after range finding the distance. I use it in a 16 inch LMT CQBMLK piston AR that has no noticeable muzzle flash in daytime shooting.

  16. I am a Former USAF Security and I got hooked on PMC ammo years ago back in the 80s….First box of PMC .45 ACP JHP . Had nice sized cavity .
    Close to the CCI “Flying Ash Tray”. It was 100% reliable!
    This was long before they came up with the “Starfire” rounds

    My Experience with PM ammo has always had a 100% reliability in numerous other calibers.
    .380 ACP,, 9mm, .38 Special, .45 ACP, 5.56 x 45 NATO, 7.62×51.

    Accuracy is more than one expects out of it. I have used in 5.56×45 NATO and in 7.62×52 NATO rifles and carbines……I and those around me never noticed or complained about excessive muzzle flash.

    The ammo is made by the same company that supplies the Korean Military with everything small arms to Howitzers. Koreans must be prepared or a constant REAL THREAT 24/7/365.
    I seriously doubt they would intentionally make such a product an endanger their troops.

    The only thing “CHEAP” about PMC ammo is the price

    Some say it is dirty ammo…..I know FIRST HAND that it is cleaner than numerous other manufactures.

    I have no issue with carrying or using PMC and have carried it for many years. At times I have carried other brands when I could not get PMC.

    IF you really want to see a muzzle Flash/Blast try the .30 Carbine Ruger Blackhawk OR the Winchester .357 Magnum 110 Grain Silver Tip…especially with a 4 inch barrel. ranted they are handguns.

    These are my experiences with PMC ammo. I can only vouch for my own experiences.
    OF course everyone can and may have different experiences.

    IF PMC can manufacture such quality ammunition at low/reasonable prices and ship it to America…..
    Makes me wonder about the mark-up of ammunition prices of those made here in America.

  17. Jeeeeeez………the vast majority of the posters here come off like “Karens”. For a recreational shooter firing in daylight who gives a rats ass about flash…….which I haven’t really experienced running my 20″ Stag or my Frankengun that has a 16″ Bushmaster upper and a PSA mid level low shelf lower. Its consistent and for self defense I generally rely on the polymer tipped rounds a couple of posters mentioned and adjust point of aim to match that of this “horrible flaming torch from hell” round.
    Man, a lotta you guys come off almost as screechy as that Joy Behar slit.

  18. LOL, being that I’m not deployed and I’m not David Koresh, I don’t give 2 squirts about muzzle flash. Since I’m only shooting to defend myself or others, I’m already the target, or I want them to target me rather than their victim, so if anything I’d prefer a nice big scary fireball as a deterrent.

  19. I have been using PMC XTAC heavily since 2017 and I havent noticed the obnoxious muzzle flash you guys talk about, and I shoot it through a mk18 with a 10.3″ barrel day and night with a surefire warcomp,… which hides flash about as well as an a2 flash hider. I wonder if they changed the propellant type since this was written. I like pmc xtac because of the consistent muzzle velocities for nonmatch ammo, good quality brass, and cheap price. It is great range ammo, and I wouldn’t heaitate to use it for self defense.

  20. I have not witnessed the flash problem on my 16 inch barrel. I use PMC XTAC because the velocity of the round matches the Nikon 600 yard reticle closer than any other ammo I can obtain thus giving me a 100 zero on the cross hairs and 50 yard and 100 yard hold overs out to 600. Yes I am hitting steel at 600 with a 5.56 consistently.

  21. I think John Boch was hitting the sauce on Halloween of 2012.
    I have used PMC XTAC for years and never had any issues with muzzle flash or accuracy.
    Actually IMO it’s a better round then Federal XM193.
    Having shot a lot of it from various length barrels it actually seems a bit hotter.
    Since we are in an ammo shortage the price is right and places have it in stock.
    Anyway here’s a video of PMC out of a 10,16 and 20″ barrel.
    NO muzzle-flash during the day, even out of the 10″ barrel.
    Plus at 46 cents a round shipped, right now it’s a steal in 5.56.

  22. All I’m going to say about this, is you should have put a flash suppressor on your firearm. That goes for all brands, and all types of ammunition/situations where you are trying to stay concealed. While it seems most civilians enjoy the bright flashes, shorter based AR-pistol type firearms, and fireballs that come out of the AR platform, us in the military (101st Airborne, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Rakkasans) are always trying to find better ways to mitigate flash suppression, and reflective properties alike. I wouldn’t even use 5.56 for home defense but that’s a whole nother’ discussion in itself. If you enjoy revealing your position immediately, and risking your life, keep doing what you’re doing!


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