I don’t purchase a lot of commercial ammunition, with the exception of designated defensive ammo, I have been handloading most of what I shoot since the late 90’s.   Loading gives me something to do in the winter and allows me to tune the ammunition to my firearms for best accuracy.   Because of this,  factory ammunition typically doesn’t impress me all that much, other than as a source of brass.   When I was offered the opportunity to review Defender Ammunition, I still gladly accepted.  Who in their right mind turns down free ammunition?   Having access to the 1000yd known distance range at Badlands Tactical (where I am an instructor), I requested samples of some of their long-range ammunition:

  • .223 ammunition with 69gr boat-tail hollow-point (BTHP) bullet,
  • 5.56X45 Mk262 clone with 77 grain BTHP,
  • and some 6.5 Creedmoor with 142 grain BTHP.


To perform basic diagnostic measurements, I randomly selected 20 cartridges out of each box of 50.  The heaviest overall cartridge and lightest overall cartridge were pulled down using a kinetic bullet puller. The bullet, casing, and powder charges were then individually weighed.   A third cartridge was selected closest to the average overall cartridge weight which was also pulled down and components weighed.  Case weight variation accounted for the majority of the differences.  There was typically very little (or no) deviation in powder and bullet weight.   This shows excellent manufacturing consistency.


Upon receiving the ammo, I took measurements of cartridge overall length and overall weight, projectile weights, case weights, powder charge weights… all general consistency indicators.


Both the .223 and 5.56 Defender loads used a spherical propellant.  Powder Weights on a 20 round sample of the .223 with 69 grain BTHP varied by no more than .1 grain.  The Defender 5.56 NATO with 77 grain BTHP didn’t vary by even .1 grain.



This box had the highest standard deviation (SD) of any of the Defender Ammo samples tested; 27 FPS.  This still isn’t bad for .223 ammo.  Accuracy performance, however, was amazing. I easily made a ragged 1-hole group at 1oo yards with this ammo.  Once satisfied of zero, I walked it out to 700 yards on steel (with some holds and favors) in shifty Oklahoma wind. Advertised  velocity is 2840 FPS out of a 24″ barrel,  my results from a 18″ barrel show a roughly 25 FPS velocity decrease per inch of barrel length – which is pretty standard.


After getting warmed up with the 69 grain ammo, I switched to Defender’s 77 grain BTHP 5.56 NATO load:


Predictably, 100 yard groups opened up a little …just over 1 MOA. The velocity consistency on this ammo, however, was amazing. Advertised velocity is 2700 FPS out of a 20″ barrel.  I achieved just over 2700 FPS out of an 18″ barrel (with suppressor) with an incredible single-digit standard deviation of only 9 fps. Single-digit SD’s in 5.56 are quite rare in my experience. I also tried this ammo out to 700 yards on steel and could have probably taken it even further if there wasn’t other testing I wanted to do.


Both the .223 and 5.56 ammunition were chronographed with a Magnetospeed on a SPR-type rifle with 18″ stainless steel MK12 profile barrel by Ballistic Advantage, Allen Engineering AEM-4 suppressor, Geissele DMR trigger, and Minox ZP-8 1-8X FFP Mil/Mil optic.


Fired cases were inspected for pressure signs but fired primers had nice round edges and there did not appear to be any brass extrusion on the case head.  Thus satisfied with the performance of the .223 & 5.56 NATO ammo, I proceeded on to the next batch

142 grain BTHP 6.5 Creedmoor

As with the .223/5.56, the 6.5 Creedmoor was measured for cartridge overall length and weight. The heaviest, lightest, and average rounds were broken down and components measured as well.


The Defender 6.5 Creedmoor is loaded with an extruded propellant. Charge weights were extremely consistent, as were velocities. The chronograph indicated a standard deviation of 12 FPS with these loads.



Hitting the Mark


A 5 round group at 100 yards with this ammo easily chewed a sub-half MOA cloverleaf in the paper about 1/2″ from the point of aim…damn. At that point I dialed 1000 yard dope on the rifle and with a 1 mil hold into the wind, proceeded to smack the 1000 yard steel 5 out of 5 times. 3 of the 5 hits were in the 10 inch (1 MOA) “flapper” in the center of our targets. I was thoroughly impressed by both the short range and long range performance of this ammunition. Advertised velocity is 2720 out of a 26″ barrel, my 22″ barrel with suppressor got me within 12 FPS of that, so this ammo doesn’t seem barrel-length sensitive.


Defender Ammunition 6.5Creedmoor ammo was tested in this American Rifle Company Nucleus action in J.A.E. 700 chassis with 22″ Shilen barrel, AEM5-30 suppressor, and Kahles 624i optic.

Defender ammunition isn’t advertised as “cheap” ammo, although prices are very competitive.   The 69 grain .223 load is $.10 to $.20 (or more) less expensive than budget loadings in the same category, but offers outstanding accuracy made in America by a Veteran-owned and operated company.  The consistency and quality of the materials and assembly is apparent in the performance of the ammo and, as we can see by my measurements, in the manufacturing process.   Avid hand-loader though I may be, I foresee some orders to Defender Ammo in my future.


Consistency – 5/5 The consistency of the materials and manufacturing process is quantifiable, and obviously meets stringent quality control specifications.

Function – 5/5 There were no misfeeds or misfires during testing.  Primer depth was measured to be properly just below flush.  

Performance – 5/5 Not only did these loads show velocities consistent with advertised velocities,  they boasted excellent standard deviations. 

Accuracy – 5/5 The 69 gr .223 and 142 gr 6.5 CM were probably the most accurate commercial loadings I’ve ever encountered. 

Value – 5/5 For quality ammunition suitable for competition use, prices are very competitive.

TOTAL: 100%


I don’t usually give perfect scores,  not because I’m a jerk who doesn’t give perfect scores, but you are reading these articles to see the good and the bad and help determine whether a product is worth your hard-earned currency.  I try to be fair, but also honest.  In this case, I’m being fair and honest,  I really do believe this ammo deserves a perfect score based on these ratings.  This is some of the most accurate factory ammo I’ve ever fired.  

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By Michael Lake

Writer Michael Lake is a Benefactor Life Member of the National Rifle Association and has been actively involved in a variety shooting activities since 1989. In addition to being a certified range safety officer he holds several NRA instructor ratings and armorer certifications. He has received training from the US Army Marksmanship Unit, the US Marine Corps Rifle Team and some of the finest private training facilities in the nation. In 2013 Michael co-founded Adaptive Defense Concepts, a Northwest Ohio-based Training organization. currently a contractor for the Department of Energy managing safety for the National Homeland Security program in Eastern Idaho, an instructor for Badlands Tactical Training Center, and is an accomplished Freemason.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.