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Average Score: 3.8 out of 5.0
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Ammunition is a hot topic these days, not so much about accuracy, but about cost and availability. Before the crazy times we now live in, the main subject was cost. The price of brass, copper, and lead have seen a spike and, as a result, the cost of the finished product reflects the change.
In the last few years, steel-cased ammunition has begun to show up and the level of acceptance has been mixed. The guys who shoot a lot of ammunition but aren’t too concerned about accuracy and precision were elated. My opinion as a competitive shooter where accuracy mattered was that steel-cased ammunition was best left to the AKS crowd until I competed in the National Defense Match in 2011. I watched a friend, Iain Harrison, win the match using Hornady Steel Match .223 loaded with 75-grain bullets. Later, I tested the Steel Match 75-grain load and I was impressed. I didn’t feel it shot as well as the brass 75-grain load Hornady sells, but it was very close. I used it in a local High Power rifle match and won with it. I was convinced it was real ammunition.
Late last year, a friend told me about some steel-cased ammunition he’d purchased at a gun show: RUAG MFS steel-cased .223 Remington. He was using it in a short range tactical match the Piedmont Handgunner’s Association (PHA) hosts and he was really happy. He sold me 200 rounds; it functioned perfectly and looked like nickel-cased brass ammunition. The cases looked so good I hated to leave them on the ground. I used it in my Colt Competition Rifle in the next PHA Tactical match and it performed flawlessly, though the accuracy requirements of that match are really low. I wrote it off as good-looking, reliable ammunition but discounted the possibility that the accuracy would be on par with conventional ammunition…until I tested it.
I tested the RUAG MFS .223 Remington FMJ 55-grain load in the DPMS Prairie Panther my grandson used to win Junior class in that same 2011 National Defense Match. His Prairie Panther isn’t really a match rifle–it’s an out-of-the box gune with a good trigger and a medium weight 20” barrel. With really good match ammunition, it shoots five-shot groups just over or under one MOA. Not bad accuracy but not exactly the ideal test bed for ammunition. It shoots consistently under 2 MOA with 75-grain Hornady Steel Match.
My expectations were for the MFS ammunition to group around three inches. This is reasonable combat accuracy and just over what the Prairie Panther shoots with economy 5.56 loadings with 55-grain bullets. I was surprised. While hardly a definitive test, the MFS steel-cased .223 grouped under two inches for several five-shot groups. This is remarkable accuracy for ammunition that is at the very bottom of the price rung, and I’ll bet it’s better performance than a lot of ammunition with a considerably higher price tag. Overall, this is very good ammunition for a very good price.
Now, if I can just find some more.
This is economy ammunition that’s made as cheaply as possible. The box is thin and the rounds are wrapped in brown packing paper. It does look good though.
I’ve shot a couple of hundred rounds. My friends have shot a thousand or so and no malfunctions or duds have been experienced. This is a great record for ammunition that sold at the gun show for under $300 per thousand.
Provided you can find it, this is really good ammunition for the price. In fact it would be hard to find any comparable ammunition at a lower price.
For non-precision shooting, this is great ammunition. I see it as being at least as good as the average lower priced brass cased ammunition and quite a bit better than some. There have been fears of accelerated wear of extractors and bolts, but I don’t worry about them. Even if the wear is slightly accelerated, extractors and bolts are replaceable and the savings are substantial.
Image by Dick Jones