Barnes Bullets has been around in one incarnation or another since 1932 when Fred Barnes started selling bullets out of his basement.  Although the business changed hands a few times before being acquired by Remington Outdoor Company in 2010, the commitment to making the highest quality bullets has never wavered.  So when given the chance to test out some of Barnes’ RangeAR 5.56 ammo, I felt assured in assuming I wasn’t going to be sent inferior rounds.  In fact, I’ve run a little of their ammo before.

The RangeAR 5.56 ammo features a 52 gr., copper-jacketed, zinc-core, open tip flat based (OTFB) bullet.  Lead-free bullets usually fall into one of two categories.  Group 1 uses alternative metals of similar density to lead like bismuth or tungsten which are less toxic (but expensive).  Group 2 uses less dense metals such as zinc, which is less expensive than lead or copper.  The RangeAR ammo falls into that second group.  A lower density core means (all other things being equal), a higher comparative muzzle velocity (MV) and a lower ballistic co-efficient to friction (BC).  The 52 gr. bullet I took to the range has an advertised MV of 3200 fps from a 20″ barrel and a BC of .215.  While this bullet will drop off comparatively faster at extended range, using a 200 yard zero means only 8″ of drop at 300 yards.

Barnes RangeAR 5.56 Ammo | Range Test
Radian Weapons Model 1 with Lucid Optics fixed 4x

The only range spot available to me had a 50 yard lane, not as far out as I usually like but good enough to get chrono testing and some groups.  I loaded up my Radian Weapons Model 1 (topped with Lucid Optics P7 4x prismatic scope), then found a nice gravelly spot to lay down and rest the rifle on my shooting bag.

After 5 groups (5 rounds each), my chronograph spit out some impressive data.  Average velocity out of my 16″ barrel: 3228 fps.  Slightly faster than the advertised velocity from a 20″ barrel.  Standard deviation was 11 fps and extreme spread was 25 fps.  I consider that to be extremely consistent factory ammo, especially when not advertised as match grade ammo.

I didn’t have my ruler handy, but at 50 yards these were some of my best groups.  I’ve never been a whiz at shooting tight groups, I always pull one off near round 4 or 5.  Even with the called flyers and a less-than-optimal shooting platform, the groups turned out very well for me.

Barnes RangeAR 5.56 Ammo | Range Test
5 rounds
Barnes RangeAR 5.56 Ammo | Range Test
5 rounds, again
Barnes RangeAR 5.56 Ammo | Range Test
Yes… 5 rounds.

So after getting some good groups in, I spent the rest of the day shooting from standing, kneeling and sitting positions.  Barnes RangeAR ammo went exactly where I intended, every round.  No malfunctions, despite running the gun dry and dirty.

With the RangeAR ammo, Barnes has continued to cement its legacy as one of the world’s premier ammunition manufacturers.  Designed for range and training applications, this zippy 52 gr. bullet is as consistent as factory ammo gets.  Average price on these is around $.75/round, with that going as low as $.71/round if you search about.  If hyper-consistent ammo is what you’re looking for, check it out!

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