Gun Enthusiasts Weigh In: What Are the Best Ammo Brands?

Every decision we make in life has a direct impact on our journey, and each choice is a step toward achieving our ultimate goal. This statement holds true whether you're a seasoned sharpshooter or a firearm newcomer. Our quest? To find the best ammo brands on the market. The challenge? Navigating an overwhelming sea of choices, each promising to be the 'best' in a saturated industry. But don't worry because every hero has a guide.

best ammo brands

We’re here to guide you through the intricate labyrinth of ammunition brands. With a keen eye on quality and performance, we've scoured the market, scaled the mountains of reviews, and crossed the rivers of opinions. However, to truly enrich this expedition, we’ve turned to fellow travelers - passionate gun enthusiasts like yourself.

These enthusiasts aren't merely casual hobbyists. They've spent countless hours on ranges, hunting grounds, and perhaps even competitive arenas. They understand the subtleties of recoil, the nuances of precision, and the crucial reliability of every round fired. Their experiences have forged their preferences, and it's these seasoned insights we aim to share with you.

Embark with us as we navigate through a carefully assembled collection of opinions from dedicated gun enthusiasts, each sharing their chosen best ammo brands. We're delving into personal experiences and preferences, enabling you to stand on the firing line armed with the collective wisdom of fellow enthusiasts!

Best Ammo Brands - Gun Enthusiasts’ Insights

As we delve into the heart of our discussion, let's introduce the main contributors - our passionate gun enthusiasts. Each of these individuals has spent a significant amount of time honing their skills, exploring different brands, and forming well-rounded opinions. The variety of their experiences and preferences sheds light on the diverse selection of ammunition available in the market. Let's dive into their insights, understanding what makes their chosen ammo brand the 'best' in their eyes.

#1 Jason Hitchcock, Founder of Survival Stoic

One area we focus on is self-defense. I am also a concealed carry gun owner and a competitive shooter. At the height of the season, I shoot well over 1,000 rounds a month.

I use both name-brand ammo and reload my own ammo, so I have some unique insights into the best ammo brands out there. I understand quality when I see it, and I have first-hand experience with all of them.

The best ammo brands on the market are Hornady and Federal Premium.

Hornady makes the best ammo on the market today. Their Critical Defense ammo is the best self-defense and concealed carry ammo available. I have shot thousands of rounds in training and never had a malfunction.

Hornady also makes the best rifle ammunition for hunters. Their Whitetail rifle series ammo is very popular and what most big game hunters reach for. While I have not used much of their ammo for hunting, most people I know will not use anything else.

bullet brands

Federal Premium also has a good selection of competition and self-defense ammo. I have shot over 20,000 rounds of their ammunition and only had one malfunction that was ammo related (and that was in my modified competition gun, in a concealed carry gun it probably would not have happened).

This is only true for the Federal Premium line of ammo. The Standard Federal ammo is not as good, and the quality is not as consistent.

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I have tried many other brands including Winchester, Fiocchi, S&B, CCI, and Remington, and they just do not have the consistent quality that Hornady and Federal Premium does.

#2 Anders Hayes,

What makes an ammunition manufacturer stand out from the rest? I recently retired from the military’s special warfare community, and over my 25-year career, I shot A LOT of ammunition. 

The two main factors I found to be most important when selecting a cartridge are:

  1. lethality 
  2. availability

Lethality is a combination of a projectile’s ability to find its intended target (accuracy) and how much energy the projectile can transfer to that target (terminal ballistics). However, accuracy and terminal ballistics are a moot point if you can’t get your hands on the ammunition. Thus, availability is the second key component when choosing a brand of ammunition. 

In my experience as a DEVGRU operator and Navy SEAL sniper, I have found Barnes to be the industry leader in the performance category. Their bullets are not only accurate but extremely devastating to whatever unlucky target they impact. I have conducted extensive live-tissue ballistic tests and determined their “Vor-Tx” line, equipped with TTSX solid copper projectiles, to be the absolute best commercially available line of ammunition - when you can find them. Barnes ammunition can be somewhat difficult to locate; I pick up a box every time I come across them in stock.

bullet brands

The second-best brand of commercially available ammunition, in my humble opinion, is Hornady. Hornady has helped develop many of the military rounds in use today, and they also offer a solid copper line of ammunition (GMX) that is nearly equal to that of Barnes, though I find them to be slightly less accurate. With the development of a new “CX” bullet, Hornady seems to be making strides toward improving accuracy. Where Hornady outshines Barnes is the availability category. They’ve done an excellent job with their branding and marketing, and you can find Hornady in most big-box outdoor stores as well as many “mom-n-pop” gun stores.

The technological advances in projectile manufacturing over the last 20 years have been truly amazing to witness first-hand. The next time you’re at the ammo counter, I’d recommend grabbing all the Barnes they have available. Followed by Hornady. And if they have neither, grab anything with a solid copper projectile. I think you’ll find them to be more efficient at eliminating their intended target.

#3 Michael Richey,

I am a Texas DPS licensed level 3 firearms instructor, licensed Personal Protection Officer, and I hold several NRA instructor certifications.

As a shooter, it is essential to have reliable and effective ammunition for every gun in your arsenal. However, not every ammunition brand produces ammunition in every caliber or for every use case. This means that most shooters have several preferred brands that they turn to for different purposes.

Being a firearms instructor, I have explained this differentiation many times. Students usually understand through their own experience when purchasing ammunition because different use cases bring different price points.

When it comes to selecting ammunition, two types come to mind:

  1. carry/duty ammunition 
  2. target/practice ammunition

Both types require different features and specifications, and not every brand excels in both areas. Therefore, it's essential to choose ammunition based on its intended use and the brand's reputation for producing reliable and consistent ammunition. 

Most shooters have a go-to brand for carry/duty ammunition and another for target/practice ammunition. This is because each brand has its own unique strengths and weaknesses that make it more suitable for specific applications. 

For example, Federal Premium is known for its excellent target/practice ammunition, and its HST line of ammunition is my personal pick for self-defense situations. Similarly, Hornady is known for producing reliable and consistent ammunition, its Critical Defense and Critical Duty lines are specifically designed for self-defense scenariosSpeer's Gold Dot line of ammunition is another popular choice for those in need of reliable carry/duty ammunition.

These are my top 3 picks for carry/duty ammunition:

  1. Federal HST
  2. Hornady Critical Defense
  3. Speer Gold Dot

bullet brandsWhen it comes to target/practice ammunition, Federal Premium's focus on accuracy and consistency makes itsAmerican Eagle line a popular choice. CCI's Mini-Mag line of rimfire ammunition is known for its excellent accuracy and consistency, making it a favorite among both recreational and competitive shooters. 

Winchester USA and Remington's UMC line of ammunition are both popular choices for target/practice shooting, with a focus on affordability without sacrificing quality. Winchester'sSuper-X line of ammunition is known for its accuracy and consistency, making it a top pick for competitive shooters. 

My top 3 target/practice ammunition choices include a 4th to accommodate rimfire ammunition:

  1. Federal Premium American Eagle
  2. Winchester USA/Super-X
  3. Remington UMC
  4. CCI Mini-Mag (rimfire)

#4 Simeon Slavchev, Co-Founder - Atlantic Survival Gear

*an avid outdoors enthusiast and survival specialist with 5+ years of experience

The brands that I'd recommend and that are highly regarded by experts and enthusiasts alike are Federal Premium, Hornady, Winchester, and Speer.

  • Federal Premium is known for producing high-quality, reliable ammunition that is suitable for a wide range of applications. Their ammunition is manufactured to strict standards, with a focus on accuracy, consistency, and performance. Federal Premium offers a variety of ammunition options, including self-defense, hunting, and target shooting ammunition, all of which have received positive reviews from experts and consumers.
  • Hornady is another top brand that is known for its innovative bullet designs and precision manufacturing processes. Hornady produces a wide range of ammunition for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense, and their ammunition is known for its accuracy and reliability. They have also developed advanced technologies, such as their Flex Tip bullet design, which improves bullet expansion and penetration.
  • Winchester is a well-established brand with a long history of producing reliable and accurate ammunition. They offer a wide range of ammunition options, including self-defense, hunting, and target shooting ammunition, all of which are known for their consistency and reliability. Winchester ammunition has been trusted by hunters and shooters for generations, and their products continue to receive positive reviews from experts and consumers.
  • Speer is known for producing high-performance self-defense ammunition with advanced technologies such as bonded bullets and hollow-point designs. Their ammunition is designed to provide maximum stopping power while minimizing the risk of over-penetration, making it an ideal choice for self-defense situations. Speer's Gold Dot ammunition, in particular, is highly regarded by law enforcement and self-defense experts for its effectiveness.

is winchester ammo good

What sets this brand apart from others?

Each of these top brands has its own unique features and benefits that set it apart from others. For example, Federal Premium is known for its high-quality, reliable ammunition that is suitable for a wide range of applications, including self-defense and hunting. Hornady is known for its innovative bullet designs and precision manufacturing processes that ensure consistent performance. 

Winchester is known for its long history of producing reliable and accurate ammunition, with a range of options for different applications. And Speer is known for its high-performance self-defense ammunition, which features advanced technologies such as bonded bullets and hollow-point designs.

Overall, the best ammunition brand for an individual will depend on their specific needs and preferences, as well as the intended use of the ammunition. It is important to do research and consult with experts in order to make an informed decision.

#5 Jacob Rieper, GunPoliticsNY

I have shot a lot of different brands of ammunition over the years, from cheap foreign military surplus to expensive domestic match-grade ammo. Which is the ‘best’ is subjective. 

The cheapest is best if cost is an issue, while match grade is best for competition. That being said I prefer copper-washed .22LR rimfire rounds either from Federal or Remington as it tends to be cleaner and cycles my pistol better than traditional lead round-nose cartridges. 

For shotshells either Federal or Winchester ‘gunclub’ shells are the best value and, for me, pattern as well as more expensive rounds.

#6 Vedad Hamzic, TradeSmart Safety

For over a decade, I've worked closely with arms, ammunition, and tactical equipment, engaging directly with numerous companies in this space. My experience comes from working with US suppliers in Europe, so I would say I have a unique take on this. This experience has also given me a broad perspective on the offerings in the market and helped me appreciate the nuanced differences between brands. Here are a few standout ammunition manufacturers that have consistently demonstrated high-quality products:

RUAG/AMMOTEC/RWS Ammunition: Originating from Switzerland, RWS Ammunition brings with it a rich legacy of precision and quality. They offer a wide range of ammunition types to cater to various needs, from hunting to competitive shooting. This, coupled with their rigorous manufacturing processes and quality control, ensures top-notch, reliable ammunition.

Sellier & Bellot: Based in the Czech Republic, Sellier & Bellot has garnered recognition in the hunting scene. Particularly, their shotgun ammunition (like the 12 GA caliber) stands out for its reliability and performance, making it a go-to choice for hunters.

best ammo brands

Igman: Hailing from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igman is the country's largest ammunition manufacturer and a leading exporter to the US. They offer an impressive value proposition: affordable, yet reliable ammunition that works well across different types of firearms. Notably, their 9mm pistol ammunition and larger caliber options for military rifles have received positive feedback from users.

Sig Sauer: While the brand originally stems from Germany-Switzerland, Sig Sauer now manufactures in the US. Their diverse ammunition line includes options for various applications, each meeting high standards of quality and performance that the brand has come to be known for.

While it's challenging to single out the absolute best brands due to the vast array of choices, it's crucial to remember that different brands excel in different types of ammunition. For instance, Sellier & Bellot has a solid reputation for shotgun hunting ammunition, while Igman is recognized for its high-quality 9mm pistol ammunition and large calibers for military rifles. In the end, the "best" brand will always depend on the specific requirements of the shooter and the intended use of the ammunition.

Best Ammo Brands - Ammunition Comparison

  • Caliber of firearm: Make sure to choose ammunition that is compatible with your firearm.
  • Budget: Ammunition can range in price, so it is important to set a budget before you start shopping.
  • Accuracy: Some ammunition is more accurate than others.
  • Terminal performance: Some ammunition is designed to deliver maximum stopping power, while others are designed to expand and create a larger wound channel.
  • Durability: Some ammunition is more durable than others and can withstand more recoil.

bullet brands

**The calibers in the table are the most popular calibers for hunting and target shooting. The .22 LR is the most popular caliber in the world, followed by the .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .308 Winchester. They are popular because they are accurate, powerful, versatile, and can be used for hunting, as well as for target shooting and self-defense.

There are a few other popular calibers that are not included in the table, such as the .357 Magnum, .375 H&H Magnum, and .45 ACP. These calibers are typically used for hunting larger game animals or for self-defense.


As we wrap up this insightful exploration of the best ammo brands, let's take a moment to digest the wealth of information we've gathered. We've delved into the experiences of gun enthusiasts, each with their unique preferences, understanding the complexities that make up the world of ammunition.

Best Ammo Brands - Enjoy the Process 

Keep in mind, selecting the right ammunition isn't simply about choosing the fastest or the most accurate. It's about aligning with your personal shooting style, your needs, and your objectives. From the consistent performance of Federal Premium, the meticulous precision of Hornady, the flexible range of Winchester, the innovative edge of Barnes, to the tactical design of Speer - there's a brand for every shooter.

The ultimate goal isn't only about hitting your target, it's about enjoying the process that gets you there. Here's to safe and rewarding shooting experiences until next time.

1 Response



September 21, 2023

I look at two types of shooting. Bullseye and steel plate. With bullseye its all about accuracy and how tight a group you can get at a given distance. Your reward is having the smallest group. You are in training to get that small group by what gun, ammo, type bullet, powder, and the optic. With steel plate you just want to make it ding. If you have a 6" plate it makes no difference that you dont hit the center of the plate. You shoot plate to get in a rhythm that flows naturally where you are one with your firearm and react and fire as fast as possible. The object hitting the kill zone. It doesnt matter so much the size of the plate as much as hitting the kill zone. You are preparing for defense. These are two different skill sets. Both require different trigger response and site manipulation. One is surgical and the other is just throwing lead and being able to hit your kill zone.

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