As everyone knows, a gun without ammo is just a very inefficient club. Unless you’re on fire, there’s really no such thing as too much ammo.
Personally, I’ve been pulling triggers for just less than thirty years. I’ve shot some really broad varieties of ammo, from lotsa different countries, and from lotsa different eras. When I go to buy ammo I want the most reliable, consistent, affordable, quality-made, ammo I can find.
Rattle of the big brands off the top of your head – Federal, Winchester, Remington, Hornady, Speer… if you buy this stuff you are pretty much guaranteed to be getting good ammo. Sure they have recalls once in a while, but I would take a box of Win White Box 9mm or Federal American Eagle 9mm over a box of Wolf any day of the week. The ammo from the large American companies is usually exactly what Im looking for.
Now, there are, of course, smaller manufacturers and some who are actually reloaders rather than manufacturers. Outfits like MagTech, Black Hills, etc. I used to shoot Black Hills ammo way back in the day…remember those 50-round American Flag boxes? It was usually ‘good enough’ ammo but accuracy was sometimes not as good as one might expect. Pricing, however, was good so if the weekend called for a day of busting rocks that was the ammo du jour.
Locally, we have the old Hunting Shack (HSM) ammo and BVAC (Bitterroot Valley Ammo Company). The nicest thing I can say about Hunting Shack ammo is that usually it goes ‘bang’ every time you pull the trigger. They had the local contract for practice ammo and results were…uninspiring. BVAC, which has/had an interesting pedigree as an offshoot of HSM, is slightly better but the company has had some fluctuations in QC and I’m just not willing to stockpile ammo I don’t trust.
Summary: Buy ammo from one of the big US makers and be confident you got good stuff.
I’ve been pleased with Sellier & Bellot, Fiocchi, Norma, Lapua, and Hirtenberger. Lapua is probably the best ammo in the world but expect to pay for that. S&B has been very good and reasonably priced. I use them for my 12 ga. needs. A couple drawbacks to these brands is that they just aren’t represented very well. Find something you like and its very possible it may be unavailable at a later date.
Ammo of last resort. If I’m shooting a Commie gun (AK, Makarov, Tokarov, SKS, 91/30) then I go with the spam cans of ‘surplus’ ammo. The guns are designed around those steel cases. Although they now offer other calibers like 9mm, .308, .223, .45 ACP, etc, they are all steel cased and, in my opinion, usually pretty dirty to shoot. You can point me to all the FAQ’s on arfcom but I am not running steel cases out of my AR…or any of my other non-Commie-caliber guns. The only exception I have is I wouldn’t hesitate to run steel .223 out of a Mini-14.
Wolf has tried, with some success, to clean up their image these days but, to quote Big Bang Theory, you’re trusting the technology of a country that couldn’t catch Rocky and Bullwinkle. When the apocalypse comes and I’m down to my last mag of M855 I’ll grab the packet of Wolf steel cased .223 thats offered to me…but I’ll have misgivings the whole time. On the other hand, if I’m using my AK then I’ll take the Wolf 7.62×39 and feel just fine.
You don’t see much of this anymore since Slick Willie banned it from import, but it isnt hard to figure that it’s a grey-market product that probably turns up in the US. The Chinese move it to the Russians or other Eastern Block countries, they repackage it as their own, and move it to the US. FIlthy, inconsistent, unreliable stuff in any caliber other than 7.62×39…..then its just inconsistent and filthy. I recall one particular batch of ammo (and ‘gunpowder’) that came into the US that was loaded with what was essentially fireworks powder.
PMC is actually, in my experience, pretty good stuff and I have no qualms using it. When youre just a short-range missle-launch away from North Korea you take your ammo making fairly seriously.
Used to be you could get South African, W. German, and other surplus ammo in good quantity at decent prices. (I’ve a dozen battle packs of .308 S. African that I paid something like $20 ea.) It turns up rarely, but when it does I have no problem with it if it’s from a country whose national airline you’d feel safe flying on. I’ll take South African .308 ball over Pakistani .308 every time.
These are all personal preferences. Im sure there are folks who’ll tell me they regularly compete and win in their IDPA division using steel cased .38 Super from Glorious People’s Tractor Factory #54 in China but that’s between them and their guns.
For my AR’s and PTR’s, Glocks and Rugers, its brassed case commercial ammo made in non-Commie countries. For my SKS and AK’s, its Russian or Chinese 7.62×39. If I were to check the stockpiles in the bunker right now it’d be Chinese and Russian 7.62×39, Federal .223, S&B and Rem. 12 ga, Federal .22, South African and PMC .308, Win. 9mm, and a hodgepodge of .357, .38 and .45 ACP (but American manufacturers).
Your milieage may vary, of course, but if someone was to ask me which to get, Federal or Winchester 9mm versus Wolf or Armscor 9mm…..well, you’ll get less of the Federal for your money than you would of the Wolf but I’d feel more confident with the Federal. Or, put another way, when you’re standing in front of your family-owned jewelry store in Ferguson MO and the cops are nowhere in sight will you be thinking “Wow, Im glad I saved nine cents a round on this steel cased Russian 9mm ammo”? Don’t underestimate the value of having faith and confidence in your ammo.