Remington UMC .223 Ammunition: A Review

I’m very familiar with Remington’s UMC .223 55-grain ammunition, having used it for many years. This load weighs 55 grains and is a Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) profile. Let’s take a closer look at the .223, and Remington’s UMC load, in particular.


Developed in 1957, the .223 Remington is a rimless, bottlenecked, centerfire rifle cartridge. Originally, it was created for the US Army as a small-caliber, high-velocity round, evolving from the .222 cartridge.

The .223 was eventually mated to Eugene Stoner’s AR-15, which later became the M-16 rifle. In September 1963, the cartridge was officially adopted as the “Cartridge, 5.56mm ball, M193.” In 1964, the M-16 was officially adopted by the United States Army. The official velocity was listed as 3,250 feet per second.

Original M-15 on full auto.
The original M-16, introduced in Vietnam, used the .223/5.56mm round. It was easily controllable, and troops could carry more ammo. Photo courtesy of War History Online.

Remington introduced the first .223 caliber rifle in 1963, the Model 760.

Going from the then-standard .308, many people in the military did not welcome the .223/5.56mm with open arms. Despite the capacity advantages of the lighter and smaller .223, they didn’t have confidence in its ability to stop bad guys over the .308.


Remington’s UMC .223 uses high-quality, factory-fresh brass. The bullet jackets are copper-coated and feed reliably in semi-autos. This is non-corrosive ammo with Kleanbore primers, and the powder is blended for consistency.

UMC stands for Union Metallic Cartridge Company, which was founded in 1867. UMC and Remington merged in 1912 and were a major ammunition supplier during WWI, being based in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Ammunition manufacturing continued there until 1970 when production was moved to a new facility in Lonoke, Arkansas.

This ammunition comes in a 20-round box and, as this is written, costs $11.49 per box. As far as rifle ammunition goes, .223/5.56mm is among the most reasonably priced out there. It’s certainly less expensive than .308 or .30-06!

For those who reload, they’ll be happy to know that this ammo features reloadable casings. In my experience, this brand of ammo has always been very clean and bright upon unboxing it.

Remington's UMC 55 grain load.
Remington’s UMC .223 55-grain ammunition is bright and clean. Great for training, target work, or defensive use, it covers all the bases. Photo: Jim Davis.

The Rifles

Over the years, I’ve used the Remington UMC 55 grain .223 in several rifles, including Ruger’s 556 AR-15, Colt’s AR-15, Stag Arms’ AR-15, and Ruger’s Mini-14, among others. Further, this ammunition has functioned and fed with 100% reliability in most of my rifles.

For years, I had heard that 5.56mm ammunition should not be fired in Ruger’s Mini-14. However, according to Ruger, it is okay to fire 5.56mm through their Mini-14 rifles, except for their Target Model Mini-14. Generally, weapons chambered for .223 should not have 5.56mm ammunition fired through them, but 5.56mm weapons can use .223 without harm. The military 5.56mm has higher pressures than the .223, which is why .223-chambered rifles shouldn’t be fed 5.56mm ammo.

Basically, it’s better to be safe than sorry if you’re not sure which round should be fired through your firearm. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer to see what’s safe for your rifle.

Ruger Mini-14 factory folding stock rifle.
The Remington ammo fed perfectly through a Ruger Mini-14 rifle with factory folding stock. When firing such a rifle, it’s hard not to recollect episodes of the A-Team television show (at least, for those of us who are old enough to remember). Photo: Author’s collection.


We’ll take a look at how the round performs ballistically…


  • Muzzle:  3,240 feet per second.
  • 100 Yds: 2,759 feet per second.
  • 200 Yds: 2,325 feet per second.
  • 300 Yds: 1,933 feet per second.
  • 400 Yds: 1,586 feet per second.
  • 500 Yds: 1,300 feet per second.

Here are some trajectory figures to see how much the bullet drops at various ranges with a 200-yard zero:

  • Muzzle:  -1.5 inches.
  • 100 Yds: +1.6 inches.
  • 200 Yds:   0.0 inches.
  • 300 Yds:  -8.1 inches.
  • 400 Yds: -25.6 inches.
  • 500 Yds:  -57.1 inches.

A 200-yard zero lets us shoot with minimal adjustments out to 300 yards. Even at 400 yards, 25.6 inches of drop isn’t too bad, and we can correct for that fairly easily. Past 400 yards, though, the drop in trajectory becomes significant. Fortunately, many scopes and even iron sights these days have easy adjustments to compensate for bullet drop.

At 500 yards, the projectile is going just above the supersonic threshold, so it’s lost a lot of steam by that time. It would still put some hurt on whatever it happens to hit, but the lethality has definitely been reduced drastically.

Remington does not specify which barrel length they used to obtain these ballistics, but I’m betting it’s between 20 and 24 inches. So if we’re using a carbine-length barrel, the above figures are very likely to be significantly less. Just something to think about.

At The Range

As mentioned, this ammo functions as well as any other that I’ve used. Accuracy is also consistent, with groups being normally around two MOA at 100 yards in my Stag Arms M-4gery. This is good quality ammo for plinking, target shooting, or even self-defense. It’s great stuff for clanging steel too!

Author firing Stag Arms carbine at the range.
This load fed well through a Stag Arms carbine, as well as Colt and Ruger carbines. From a practical standpoint, it’s difficult to feel the difference between .223 and 5.56mm, as far as recoil and muzzle blast are concerned. Photo: Jeremy Charles.

From a practical standpoint, I couldn’t tell any difference between this .223 and military 5.56mm in terms of muzzle blast, recoil, or accuracy. Even in dim light, I noted that the muzzle flash isn’t excessive when compared to other similar rounds. It’s good stuff that simply works very well.


The nice thing about the nature of the .223 is that we don’t necessarily need special bullets, such as soft points or hollow points, for it to be effective in self-defense applications. Even full metal jacket bullets are effective at stopping bad guys, given the explosive nature of the bullet. They tend to behave dynamically when they hit flesh, which makes them good medicine for stopping nefarious folks from doing dastardly deeds. Whether we’re training or defending ourselves, the full metal jacket is a decent choice for the .223.

Another nice aspect is that the full metal jacket rounds are the least expensive of any .223 profile bullets, so the economic angle is maximized. Additionally, the full metal jacket rounds feed most reliably through semi-auto rifles.

In Conclusion

Remington has a winner here in their UMC .223 55-grain load. I’ve found it to be reliable on all the platforms that I’ve tried it in, which is important.

As well, it has proven to be among the more accurate .223 that I’ve used over the years. The fact that it can serve multiple duties as target, plinking, and self-defense ammunition is a plus.

Concerning economy, this is some of the better ammunition on the market, other than military surplus ammo. And it’s from an American company, which is an added bonus.

At present, we are happy to find ammunition on the shelves again after a very dicey few years of a shortage. Prices seem to have stabilized as well, although we realize they’ll never be as low as they once were.

Check out Remington’s UMC 55-grain .223 ammunition. I think you’ll be pleased.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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