Range Report: Gorilla Ammunition Field Test
Article first appeared at Cheaper than dirt.
Gorilla Ammunition’s loads have favorably impressed me with good quality control, excellent cartridge integrity and accuracy.While there are many types of ammunition available, ranging from inexpensive steel-case loads we don’t expect much accuracy from to match-grade rifle ammunition we expect to group into a dime at 100 yards, so ammunition must be chosen with care. The object we examine may give a good first impression, but its properties are the determining factor in any further purchases—and Gorilla brings plenty of performance.
There are many questions concerning ammunition. The first is price, and while the price may give us pause in some cases, it’s all relative to the performance of each load. All we may ask of burner or practice loads is that they go bang! with every shot. Match-grade loads must shoot up to the potential of the rifle. We must understand that potential before we begin testing. If the rifle has delivered 1 MOA with quality factory ammunition or our own handloads, we may expect the same from a maker’s match loads. If the rifle has never delivered 1 MOA, changing ammunition isn’t always the answer. In this case, I tested Gorilla ammunition in a number of rifles that have given good to excellent results. As it turned out, the combination proved a happy one in every test program. At $17.27 per box, this is a great buy—perhaps even a bargain.
In my AR-15 rifles, I fire a lot of burner-type loads. With these primarily 55-grain FMJ types, accuracy is relative to the task. Practically any 55-grain FMJ will deliver 3 MOA at 100 yards. When using a rifle with a red dot sight and firing at 25 to 50 yards in practice sessions, anything is OK as long as it feeds and functions (well, to a point). Some loads have a well-deserved reputation for dirty powder. In the end, steel-case loads are OK but not always the most reliable.
These opinions are formed only after firing thousands of cartridges in realistic training. When pinpoint accuracy is vital, I narrow the field considerably in ammunition selection. When deploying a cartridge for personal defense, hunting, or 3Gun competition, greater accuracy is demanded. I also require the cartridge to feature good integrity. Case-mouth seal, primer seal, and the proper crimp are all vital in match-grade loads. It becomes more about quality than quantity.
A true match-grade load is manufactured to closer tolerances. This means attention to detail. Deliberate plus or minus specifications are met. In the race for affordable ammunition, this simply isn’t necessary. I learned a lot about match-grade ammunition and bullets when loading my own. Brass preparation is vital. An ammunition maker must come up with a means of securing similar results with factory ammunition, because the match-grade loads are just that—match grade—and the maker must mass manufacture loads as accurate as the load I painstakingly assemble on the loading bench.
Bullet selection is critical. When you consider the bullet, heavy-for-caliber projectiles are often superior. Keep in mind, it isn’t bullet weight that means the most in stabilizing the bullet; it’s length. When you consider bullet length and barrel twist, most of us look at the turns in the barrel—1 turn in 7, 9 or 12 inches—and it’s a spiral as well as a function of length. Rotational velocity degrades much slower, which is why the bullet remains stabilized at as long a range as you care to shoot. Once the bullet goes subsonic, accuracy will degrade, but that is a long, long way.
Among the best choices across the board in .223 Remington caliber is the Sierra 69-grain MatchKing. The MatchKing has given excellent service in every rifle, from a 16-inch barrel carbine to a heavy-barrel bolt gun. The Sierra bullet wins matches—more than any other bullet in the class, at least to my knowledge. The bottom line on match-grade ammunition is the cost difference in the bullets, brass and powder selection. Combined, each of these elements makes the ammunition more expensive. Production quantity is less.
Cartridge case selection, seating depth and other parameters demand closer inspection. This also means the standard deviation between velocities in each cartridge is much less, and the differences in shot-to-shot performance are less. This means precision—precision manufacturing and high accuracy. For recreational shooting at moderate range, inexpensive loadings work fine. When the stakes are higher—hunting, rifle match or personal defense—match grade is the way to go. Due to the care taken in loading, match-grade loads are often the most reliable and consistent across a wide extreme of temperature.
I tested two .223 Remington loads from Gorilla Ammunition that offer the promise of match-grade accuracy and performance. First is the 69-grain loaded with the Sierra MatchKing. In all particulars, this loading exhibited excellent quality control. At over 2,900 fps, this number is predictably effective for critical use and hunting. I fired it in the Colt M4 Expanse, Colt M4 SOCOM, Smith & Wesson M&P Sport, a custom job with a Spikes Tactical receiver, a bolt-action Mossberg MVP and a Century Arms 5.56mm AK type.
In all rifles tested, the 69-grain Gorilla Ammunition load gave excellent feed reliability and burned clean. Accuracy was excellent. The Colt M4 SOCOM with Redfield Battlezone scope turned in the best group at a solid 1 MOA, with some groups slightly smaller. The Mossberg bolt action with Nikko Stirling scope gave several three-shot groups at 100 yards averaging 1 MOA. Clearly, this dog will run, and Gorilla Ammunition has produced a credible product.
I also tested a 77-grain load, using the heavier SMK. Intended for long-range accuracy and wind-bucking ability, the 77-grain bullet is an excellent choice for long-range work. I used the Colt M4 SOCOM and Mossberg MPV as the test bed. This load is rated at 2,540 fps. It is mild to fire and among the cleanest-burning .223 Remington loads I’ve tested. In this case, I believe I was reaching the mechanical limits of the rifle and shooter.
The 77-grain load was fired in the Colt first. A three-shot group of .75-inch was registered. However, the average group was .9-inch. I used every advantage for accuracy. The Mossberg, an accurate field gun, gave slightly better groups overall. The average was a startling .8-inch at a long 100 yards. These are each accurate rifles that have proven useful with a variety of loads. The Gorilla Ammunition loads get a clean bill of health based on excellent accuracy potential.