A relatively new ammunition manufacturer, American Ammunition, looks like a potential new source for your Match and Tactical ammunition needs. Started in 1983, they've grown steadily and now offer many affordable alternatives in high quality ammunition for defensive, military and law enforcement use. Starting out assembling ammunition from components of partnered manufacturers, much of their current product line is now manufactured in their Florida facility in Miami. As their logo says; Made in America, For Americans, By Americans. However, when you look at their prices, they've managed to compete very well with overseas imports.
For the last 22 years American Ammunition, abbreviated A-MERC, has been quietly manufacturing components and complete cartridges for law enforcement and the military as well as civilian sales. They currently manufacture or assemble 16 calibers in roughly 39 configurations including but not limited to FMJ, JHP, and Frangible.
To lean more about the company and their growth, visit http://www.a-merc.com/about.htm.
Looking for an accurate – and less expensive -- alternative to the 175 grain Federal Gold Medal my particular Remington 700P loves so dearly, I've been experimenting with American's 175 grain .308 JHP, a hollow point boat-tailed match cartridge. While American Ammunition now manufactures most of their munitions here in the states, they have a cooperative partnership agreement with IMI, Israel Military Industries Ltd. The match components in the .308 JHP load are manufactured by IMI and assembled here at the A-MERC facility in Miami Florida. As I understand it, its one of the few cartridges left in their inventory that they are still outsourcing.
Each 20 round box of ammunition comes with the cartridges protectively encased in a blue plastic cartridge holder, which for handloaders may come in handy on the loading bench. The holder completely encircles each round, unlike a belt type holder, providing a container not unlike one you would buy at a gun store for transporting rounds to the range.
Weighing a selection of fired cases with primer still in place, the IMI manufactured brass is about a grain, on average, heavier than Federal match brass. The IMI brass, with primer in place, weighs in at 182.5 grains on average, compared to Federal GM which comes in at 181.6 grains. This extra wall thickness may provide hand loaders with a little longer life as well as giving semi-automatic shooters a little more life as they generally need to full length re-size their brass.
Case length was very consistent with an average of 2.005" long. In fact most of the cases were with in .002 or better of that average. I did find a few examples that went as long as 2.009... but most hovered right at 2.005" in length. Lapua is the only brand I've seen where every case was exactly the same right out of the box but it cost five times as much. The American Ammunition cases were well within match tolerances with only a few examples running long.
Overall cartridge length, as measured from the projectile tip to the case head gave an average OAL of approximately 2.790 inches for the American Ammunition 175 JHP match ammo. The Federal GM2 175 grain load sitting here on my bench averages about 2.793 inches. Neither of these OALs are truly accurate in determining actual consistency of seating depth due to the fact that the tip on all Hollow point, boat tailed match bullets is somewhat variable in cut. This OAL has no bearing on accuracy or reality, other than magazine seating allowances. But it does give you an idea how close the specs are for these particular brands.
To determine real consistency in OAL and how each bullet will seat when chambered, in relationship to the rifling, one must use a Comparator gage to measure OAL from the projectile's ogive. The Comparator gage is about one inch long and a small hole in it that allows a portion of the projectile in, so as to measure each bullet at exactly the same place on the ogive. Using this tool, I took a sample of 10 rounds and the results averaged at 3.202 inches in length for the A-MERC. The longest round was 3.204 and the shortest 3.201, with the majority coming in exactly at 3.201 inches. This is excellent consistency, not varying more than .001" with only a few rounds off the base average by an additional .002". In other words, long or short, no projectile's measure was off from the median by more than .002 and often less.
By way of comparison, I used the same comparator tool to measure the same number of Federal Gold Medal GM2 175 grain Match cartridges and their spread was actually a little wider. Running from 3.203 to 3.209 in length, their average came in around 3.205 inches. Unlike the A-MERC, no more than three Federal cartridges of those measured came in the same length, but all were within .004 of the median average. As Federal GM2 is a known entity to me, and what I use to base my comparisons on all other match ammunition, I'd have to say the American Ammo offering is pretty darn consistent with six out of ten rounds coming right smack on 3.201 in length. Whether this consistency would translate on paper remained to be seen. But things were looking good.
So, exactly how does the A-MERC ammo perform?
In two separate tests with two shooters and two Remington 700P rifles, the A-MERC 175 grain JHP match loading has shown great potential, hinting at far better accuracy, in fact, than I am able to milk from my rifle given my deteriorating eyesight. In spite of my recent lapse in bench technique due mostly to aging eyesight, this ammunition has, in spite of all my attempts to screw up, performed in stellar fashion. To explain the eyesight issue, I have recently developed a problem where my fine focus goes blurry for a few moments, or darkens, possibly due to floaters in the vitreous fluid in the eye. Possibly from sitting here, 23 inches in front of the PC, for far too long. Either way, it has made bench testing a little troublesome as it affects precise aim.
A Hart rest with Sinclair International windage adjustable top.
A tuned Remington 700P with approximately 1566 round through the tube... ok, so that is a little more accurate than an approximate.
A Leupold LR/T M3, 3.5-10x40 with Mildot.
A Protektor Model brand rear bag.
Range, 100 yards.
Temperature, 70 degrees
Wind, gusting to 10 mph.
An aging marksman with 42-year-old eyes and an out of date eyeglass prescription.
I had not fired the 700P in about six months. I swabbed out the gun oil, got settled in and took my first shot. Figuring this Cold Bore Shot would be about a half inch out of the main group, I was pleasantly thrilled when the next three rounds landed within .593 inches. Three of those rounds made a very small horizontal one-hole group measuring .357" long with almost no vertical dispersion! The fourth round was outside the group, opening it up to the aforementioned .593". Thinking I was back in the grove, I took one last shot to round it out to five and knew instantly I should have waited till the blur in my eyes cleared. I called the flyer even as it hit paper. Oh to be 35 again with creak free knees and reasonably decent eyesight.
While the final group measured a plain Jane 1.065", close examination will show that the vertical dispersion was only .378"! I was immediately intrigued as this ammo is far less pricey than my normal fare. Best of all, the Cold Bore Shot was on the left edge of the three shot one hole center group. Had I not rushed the last shot, I would have seen the group go no larger than .6 moa. With a vertical dispersion of less than .35 inches!
Determined to do better, I adjusted the point of aim to a different section of the target and fired off another three rounds. This time the three shot group measured an amazing .148 inches with almost no vertical dispersion to measure. Try as I might afterward, I could not get the micrometer fine enough to get a vertical reading! Back at the bench I thought, you know, now is a good time to quit. I mean, when is the last time I pulled off a .148" group? However, for me, a group isn't a group until five rounds have gone down range so I dropped the last two on paper. By now the eye had defocused enough that in frustration I simply held as best I could and let fly. The end result was a total group size of .995" with a vertical dispersion of about .543". Still, not a bad showing and just a taste of what the ammo can do. The remainder of the box was shot with similar results. Very small three shot clusters with my eyes or my patience falling apart toward the end of the string.
As the groups tended toward horizontal dispersion, I am pretty sure it was my doing and not the ammo. A trip to the optometrist is in the works. American Ammunition on the other hand seems to be performing just fine. If the first three shots out of every group are any indication, a younger shooter, or any highly skilled shooter can expect to see an average between .35 and .6 minutes of angle at 100 yards. Long range testing will have to wait until I have new specs. But when you consider the fact that 175 grain projectiles in the .308 Winchester loads are generally said to be not completely stabilized at 100 yards, one might expect good things from this match loading at longer ranges.
The other shooter in the test was a gent named Aaron Teter. He is my web designer on the Sniper Country PX and runs Digital Data Promotions. An avid shooter, but young and only "semi-experienced", his results were similar if a little better than mine. No one holers mind you, but smaller overall groups. He shot from a bipod with no rear bag... so I suppose I can't razz him too much.
With the price of Federal's GM308M2, 175 grain Gold Medal match ammo nearly $6.00 a box higher for 20 rounds, American Ammunition's 175 grain JHP match is definitely worth looking into. A second report will follow on long range shooting with this brand. Until then, give it a shot. I think you will be pleased.