Black Rifles, Ammo, and Sighting in a New Gun

Thanks to my friends at Olympic Arms, I am now a proud owner of an AR-15 “Black Rifle”. This package just showed up at my gunsmith’s shop as he also serves as my FFL dealer. This is my first AR-15, believe it or not, although I own several other rifles, shotguns, and pistols, with a “black rifle” of another variety or two in the mix.


With a new gun comes new ammunition selections. As we talked about in a previous post, every gun typically has a preferred brand or load of ammunition whether you reload your own ammo or buy it from a commercial ammunition manufacture. Today I purchased three brands of ammunition. Winchester, Federal, and Monarch.

Photo Oct 28, 10 22 55 AM

Of these three, Winchester and Federal are the premium loads with Monarch bringing up the rear. Many people will not recognize Monarch as it is a foreign made ammunition sold by our local Academy sporting goods stores here in Texas. I shoot Monarch ammo in my pistols and rifles because it is a low cost alternative for plinking at the range or even hunting, in some cases, compared to shooting the higher-priced American made ammo. It is not a question of patriotism but, instead, one of economics. The reason I purchased a box of Monarch ammo is simple. My recipe for sighting in a rifle goes something like this:

1) Get on paper with the less expensive ammo, even if its a different grain weight.
2) Dial in your gun with the ammo you plan to hunt with or target shoot with full time.
3) If testing different brands of ammo, start by shooting a 3-5 shot group using the best ammo you have first, for comparison. Get the best starting point you can so you can judge POI (Point of Impact) and group size from a starting point.

Following this method, you are not burning up your premium loads to get your gun on paper but, instead, use them when it comes to fine tuning your gun. You also have a good basis for comparison when sighting in other brands of ammo for comparison to see which brand works best for your gun..

As we have covered before, don’t settle on the first ammo brand or custom load you put your hands on. Do your homework on your gun to squeeze the maximum accuracy potential out of the equation. By doing this, you, the shooter, become the biggest variable to success after you have the rifle, optics, and ammo dialed in.

When considering grain weights in your bullets, keep in mind that heavier grain bullets traditionally hit harder and heavier but can sacrifice accuracy and speed. Lighter grain bullets are typically faster and and more accurate but don’t pack as hard of a punch. As in many things in life, its a compromise to find the best combination. With .223, the spectrum of grain selection is small but this range widens when you move up to larger calibers. As you can tell from the photos, I am going to be ranging between 55 grains in the Monarch to 64 grains in the Winchester brand. Also, the Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) Monarchs are going to impact different from the soft point Winchesters and Federals. I would only consider hunting with the soft point bullets and target practicing with the FMJ loads. Again, it is vitally important to know what you are shooting. The differences may be subtle to the novice eye but the difference in performance is a very important consideration in the field.  Be safe, shoot straight and hunt hard out there!