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Last year, my wife Cherie and I had occasion to visit the Black Hills Ammunition Plant. I’ve been using Black Hills ammunition since a time early in their history and I’ve always had the utmost respect for the company that makes quality ammunition from the best components. Mike Wright took us around the plant from beginning to end and, as one who’s done a lot of reloading in my life, it was a treat. The most impressive part was the quality control.
The machines are checked every five boxes to ensure consistency and each round is individually checked to make sure it’s as perfect as a human can make a round of ammunition. This was really impressive to me since, as a former team coach, I’ve seen a lot of obvious flaws in ammunition get out of factory doors. Most competitive shooters look at their ammunition as they load magazines, but one malformed round can cost a championship. Last year, in a minor match, I had just that happen. A 9mm round that had a split case rolled back to prevent chambering. I missed it when I loaded the magazine and, while it didn’t make much difference in a club match, it could have cost a championship shooter a deserved win.
I recently acquired a heavy barreled AR-15 upper with a 1 in 9″ twist. It’s been my experience that slower twists perform better with lighter bullets and I sent for some Black Hills “red box” 68 grain Heavy Match .223. The red box signifies the best quality, premium ammunition. Blue box rounds may be seconds or remanufactured. There are a lot of 1 in 9″ twist .223 barrels around and while they may shoot heavier bullets well at ranges under 400 yards, the bullet may begin to destabilize past that distance. Choosing a bullet weight matched for your barrel twist will increase your chances for dependable accuracy at longer ranges.
Since I had no idea how this upper would perform, I wanted to use the best ammunition I could find and my trust of Black Hills reinforced my choice. I was not disappointed. At 100 yards, on the first group, the rifle printed ten shots into .721, this was not an expensive tuned upper on a reworked lower. It was an unknown upper, bought cheap at a gun show and mounted on a lower I had lying around. Consistently, the Black Hills 68s printed less than 3/4 minute groups.
What’s so great about this load is the versatility. It will shoot in any barrel twist available, it’s favored by competitive tactical shooters as well as a defensive round and, when I searched the web for impressions of shooters, I discovered it has a large following as a hunting bullet for game up to deer size.
Black Hills red box ammunition has a reputation for being as good as ammunition gets. Their quality control measures I witnessed in the plant reinforce that reputation in my mind.
Accuracy is a major part of reliability in ammunition with the words “Match” on the box. The 68 grain .223 Heavy Match load will run in any AR that will run anything and it will shoot as well as the rifle’s capability.
If ultimate accuracy is your goal, the red box Heavy Match 68 is probably the best choice. For defense or short range tactical shooting, I suspect most shooters wouldn’t notice much difference. The red box load sells for about $.82 per round, about par for premium ammunition, with blue box at about $.60.
Since the 68 grain load will perform in everything from 1-10 to 1-7 twist barrels, you can use it in almost any rifle chambered for .223 with confidence. Obviously, the round is well thought of for accuracy as well.
Image copyright Dick Jones