I’m a relative newcomer to the 5.56x45mm round. The first gun I had chambered in 5.56 that was truly my own and not a “shared custody” piece between my father and I was my Tavor SAR. However, my inexperience with the round evaporated during extensive accuracy testing with the Israeli bullpup. I’ve now shot thousands of rounds of 55-grain XM193, 62-grain green tip, 77-grain Black Hills OTM (open tip match), and many others. I’ve also become intimately familiar with the high cost of quality 5.56. When word started getting around that Widener’s, a well-known firearms, ammo, and accessory retailer, was offering a new, affordable Israeli version of 77-grain OTM, I was very intrigued.

Matt Korovesis' Tavor setup for testing the IMI Razor Core ammo. How can you go wrong with using Israeli ammo in an Israeli gun? Image by Matt Korovesis.
Matt Korovesis’ Tavor setup for testing the IMI Razor Core ammo. How can you go wrong with using Israeli ammo in an Israeli gun? Image by Matt Korovesis.

Seventy-seven-grain OTM 5.56 was first designed to be used in the US military’s designated marksman rifles in an effort to improve long-range performance and terminal ballistics. By all accounts, “mil-spec” 77-grain 5.56 variants have done just that. Accordingly, 77-grain 5.56 gained tremendous popularity in the “civilian” market. However, the availability of mil-spec 77-grain to the general gun market has been extremely limited, and often outrageously expensive (with prices hovering around $1/round at the lowest). Enter Widener’s affordable (as low as $0.75/round) and plentiful Israeli Military Industries (IMI) 77-grain OTM, which goes by the brand name “Razor Core.”

I had the pleasure to shoot some Black Hills 77-grain 5.56 through my Tavor roughly a year ago, and the ammo produced the best results of all the types of rounds I tested (1.5-inch five-shot groups at 100 yards). I desperately wanted more of the heavy stuff, but couldn’t justify breaking all 10 of my piggy banks just to scrape together enough funds for two 50-round boxes—bear in mind that this was at the height of the ammo-and-gun-buying panic. With Widener’s IMI 77s, I finally saw an opportunity to economically stock up on top-performing ammo.

But was it really top-performing? Widener’s advertises the IMI ammo as featuring Sierra MatchKing 77-grain HPBT (OTM) cannelured bullets (just like their Black Hills US counterparts) and a “military 41 type non-corrosive crimped-in primer that is waterproofed.” After ordering 200 rounds, I decided to put the ammo to the test with the help of star OutdoorHub contributor and premier paper-shooter Tom McHale. I sent him 40 rounds to test in his Smith & Wesson M&P15 VTAC I for accuracy and ballistic gel blowing-up capabilities, and selfishly hoarded the rest.

One of Matt Korovesis' 100-yard, five-shot groups with the IMI Razor Core ammo. Image by Matt Korovesis.
One of Matt Korovesis’ 100-yard, five-shot groups with the IMI Razor Core ammo. Image by Matt Korovesis.

Tom quickly shot up most of the ammo I sent him and had some exciting results to report. For accuracy evaluation, Tom shot three-shot 100-yard groups with cooling and OTIS Ripcord bore-cleaning periods in between each. His two best groups were .492 and .682 inches—impressive numbers. His Shooting Master Beta Chrony set up 15 feet downrange recorded an average velocity of 2,703 feet per second after five shots, which is comparable to American 77-grain.

The ballistic gel results were also suitably encouraging. I won’t try to paraphrase here and will use Tom’s exact words in his email notes to me:

I shot the 77-grain load into clear ballistic gelatin blocks from a distance of 10 yards. I put two 16-inch-long blocks back-to-back and an old Kevlar vest behind in case the projectile passed through both cleanly.

These are open tip match bullets and not designed to expand so I had idea what to expect. Shooting into clear gel with no barrier caused the projectile to virtually explode about six inches into the gelatin block.

Each projectile broke into three different fragment tracks going deep into the gel. The jacket fragment stopped relatively quickly, between eight and 10 inches deep. The lead core went further to maybe 14 to 16 inches. With each shot there was a small fragment that went all the way through the first block and ended up somewhere into the second, usually four to five inches [in], and so that had a 20-inch total penetration.

After reading Tom’s emails, I was excited to try the ammo myself. I took my Tavor (newly outfitted with a Timney trigger) to the local DNR range and mounted a friend’s Trijicon AccuPoint 2.5-10x scope atop it. Keeping with Tom’s findings, the IMI 77-grain was very accurate in the Tavor. My five-shot groups at 100 yards averaged right at the 1.5-inch mark. I should also note here that I’m a crap marksman, and those results from my trigger finger wowed me even more than Tom’s. There were no malfunctions or weird cycling issues to speak of whatsoever.

The IMI 77-grain Razor Core OTM has impressed me in two significant ways: its low price point and exceptional performance. It’s a “budget” high-quality round that offers shooters sniper-grade groups at a more affordable price. Widener’s currently offers 500-round cases of the ammo for $375 each ($0.75/round) and 20-round boxes for $16 a piece ($0.80/round). I’d recommend that anyone looking for an excellent long-range, terminally-effective 5.56 round should give a few hundred rounds of IMI 77-grain Razor Core a try before dropping significant cabbage on its Black Hills brother.

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  • RC

    Pick up the Sierra 77gr HPBT bullets directly from Sierra, de-crimp the spent NATO cases, clean trim and re-prime with Federal Golden match small rifle primers, and fill with 23.5 gr Hodgons Varget and you’ll be shooting the equivalent for much cheaper than $0.75/round. I didn’t see mentioned in the article the need to have a 1/7″ barrel twist to stabilize the heavy pills.

    • OutdoorHub.com Editor

      Hi RC,

      As a non-reloader (a.k.a poorer shooter), the good performance of this round and its relatively low price appealed to me. To be sure, you can handload similar rounds for much less than $0.75/round.

      I should have included something about needing a barrel with a 1:7 twist rate to properly stabilize the heavier projectiles.Thanks for pointing that out.

      Regards,

      Matt Korovesis

      • M.V.F

        If I am not mistaken, the S&W M&P 15 VTAC, as used by Tom McHale, utilizes a 1-8 twist. therefore, no, you do not need a 1-7 twist rate to properly stabilize the aforementioned round.

      • M.V.F

        I see Tom is using the VTAC 1 as described. I know the VTAC 1 uses a 1-7 twist. I can personally attest to the fact that a 1-8 twist is well suited for the Mk262 round, and is capable of outstanding accuracy.

    • steve miller

      Question RC,
      Yes cheaper to reload but – what was the cost of all your equipment and how do you value your time? You have to figure that in as well as the reselling once fired .223 brass.

      • Doug73

        Reloaders and people who build AR’s pretty much NEVER place a value on their time when talking about how much cheaper it is to reload/build. Which is a mistake, as every economist on the planet will tell you that your time has a “$” attached to it, regardless of whether you realize it or not.

        When that cost is added in (along with amortization costs), I’m not convinced reloading is always cheaper. Especially if you’re a high earner. In that case it’s pretty much never cheaper to reload or build your own AR.

    • nolan

      The 1:8 twist barrels will stabilize the 77 grain Sierra, too.

  • rdsii64

    77 grain match king
    25.2 grains of AA2520
    Lake city case
    2908 FPS from a 20 inch barrel.
    3/4 MOA 10 shot groups from the bench.

    My cost per round is 40 cents with brand new brass.
    The second firing is cheaper.

    I have killed feral hogs and deer with this load

    • David Cagulada

      where are the shot placements for either hog or deer? Thanks!

      • rdsii64

        With deer I like to aim right behind the front shoulder that should put the bullet into the heart and lungs.
        With pigs. I like to put the bullet through the ear. but a heart shot will kill a pig just the same.

      • David Cagulada

        Thanks good to verify especially with the pig. Thanks!

  • Gces

    No. The mk12 Douglas barrel was always 1:7 no matter what mod they all used 18″ spr contour stainless steel 1:7 twist Douglas barrels. Never ever a 1:8.