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I picked up an Eagle Arms EA-15 HBAR some time back from a friend who had gotten out of shooting. (Can you ever really get out of shooting?) It was built by Eagle Arms, in Coal Valley, IL., prior to their being bought by Armalite. Since the number of owners prior to my friend getting it was unknown, I had no idea what all the EA-15 had been through. My buddy told me he shot it a lot, using a Dillon 1050 to make reloads for it.
So....after trying some M193 ball ammo in it and some of my own low budget reloads (using bulk 55 grain FMJ bullets and surplus powder), I wasn't really sure if the EA-15 was in need of a new barrel or I just hadn't found a reload recipe that it liked. One thing for sure, it wasn't very crazy about the M193 Military Ball ammo I had tried.
I decided to spend a couple of dollars and pick up a handful of various .223/5.56 ammo to try in the EA-15. If I could something that grouped well, it would answer the question regarding the condition of the barrel. With a $20 discount coupon for Cabela's sitting on my desk, I ordered 7 boxes of ammo. With no shipping charges (I pick it up at the store 5 miles from my house), it was competitively priced compared to the small local gun shops. Since I didn't have time to drive around to various stores to see what they might have, I opted to order it from Cabela's as I could verify it being in stock as I loaded the shopping cart. The prices shown reflect their current price and do not include tax or the discount coupon.
Here is the various ammo I used during this accuracy test in my Eagle Arms rifle.
I started with some genuine GI 5.56mm M193 Military Ball ammo. I don't
have much left anymore but decided I could use a few rounds to establish a
"baseline". This would give me a starting point that I could compare the
other ammo against. The head stamp on this M193 was Lake City
77. I found several references on the web indicating the velocity
to be 3250 FPS.
Since my EA-15 is chambered for 5.56mm, shooting it or .223 Remington would not
present any problems.
Sticking with the 5.56mm theme, a box of Winchester 5.56mm 55 gr FMJ was also
included in the ammo mix. The head stamp for this was WCC 09.
Western Cartridge Company (also owned by Olin) has been filling government
ammunition contracts for a fairly long time. However, the NATO circle
cross symbol does not appear with the head stamp so I'm not sure if this was a
military load or not. The primers were sealed
with the typical red sealant and the Winchester's web page indicates a velocity of 3270 FPS.
Price was $8.99 per 20 round box.
I included a box of Remington UMC (Union Metallic Cartridge Company) for the
test as it is a "value pack" ammo and is what you can often times find in the
sporting goods section at some of larger discount stores. These cartridges
were loaded for .223 Remington with a 55 gr MC (metalic case) bullet which
appears to be UMC's term for full metal jacket (FMJ). Just to be sure, I
checked it with a magnet and could not detect any ferrous components in the
round. Price was $17.99 per 50 round box.
Next on the shopping list was a box of PMC Bronze .223 Remington 55 gr
FMJ-BT. According to PMC's web site, the Bronze line is their "popular
line of affordable ammunition". This puts it at the bottom of list
compared to the other PMC lines. The manufacturer claims a
velocity of 3200 FPS from their test barrel but gives no other details about the
barrel. Price was $7.99 per box of 20.
Another offering from Remington was included in the test group. It was
their higher priced Premier .223 Remington 55 gr Accutip-V cartridge. The Accutip-V
bullet is a polymer tip bullet which is becoming quite common in many of the
hunting rounds, especially in this caliber when used for varmint hunting.
Remington's web page claims "match-grade precision" for this cartridge. It
was the most expensive ammo used in the test coming in at $20.99 per box
of 20. OUCH!!! I won't be shooting this at a Front Sight practical
rifle course any time soon.
More .223 Ammo