Federal Gold Medal Match vs. Winchester Match .223 Ammo

photo 3I have talked about my Remington 5R rifle (1:9 twist) with the Accuracy International Stock and a Jewel trigger that has been trued by Gunsmith Mark Penrod. I do have a hand-load ammo recipe for this rifle when I am able to reload in Indiana.  Here in California, to get the best accuracy out of this rifle, I have been using Federal Gold Medal Match factory precision .223 ammunition.  The other day I was in a Cabela’s and found a display with Winchester Match .223 ammunition, I had not known it existed previously. It was also a couple dollars cheaper, per 20 rounds, than the Federal Match, so I decided to buy a box and do a comparison test. This would help me in two ways, one because it is a little cheaper, and the other just so I would have two types of ammo that I could use in cases when I cannot find one or the other. To get started with this comparison, the chart below compares the ballistics of the two match rounds. They use the exact same 69 grain Sierra MatchKing bullet, but as you see the Winchester Muzzle Velocity is 110fps higher than the Federal.

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Allow me to set the stage for this test. It was about 83 degrees, I was out east of San Diego.  It was actually one of the windiest days I have seen in quite a while, but since there was no cell signal out where I was shooting, and I did not have a wind gauge, I have no idea exactly how strong the wind was. This range is surrounded by mountains on all sides, and so the wind swirled around, and varied from gusts strong enough to blow several targets down off the boards to calm. I sat the test up at 100 yards, shooting off a bench and a sand-bag. I was using a Nightforce NXS scope set at the highest magnification, zeroed at 100 yards.

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Federal on the left, Winchester on the Right.

I shot four 3-round groups of the Federal rounds, and six 3-round groups with the Winchester. The average size of the Federal groups was .7135″, and the average group for the Winchester was .9843″.  Below you will see the best groups for both brands. The Best Federal is under 1/2 MOA at 100 yards, and the Winchester is just at 3/4 MOA at 100 yards.

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They both performed very well with my rifle and scope set-up and considering my ability to shoot a group. I am sure, depending on what type of shooting you are doing they are the next best thing to hand-loads. I am going to stick to the Federal Gold Medal Match for now, and I think I will occasionally try this test again. The Federal does seem to work best in this rifle.

Note:  I measured the groups from the widest point, then subtracted the diameter of the bullet to determine group size. 

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6 thoughts on “Federal Gold Medal Match vs. Winchester Match .223 Ammo

  1. I built a .22 match rifle several years ago. I purchased 3 brands of “Match grade” ammo, and while I was at the gun store, I went ahead and bought a few boxes of the cheap stuff.
    The cheap stuff shot tighter. The match grade stuff was more than double the price of the cheap stuff.

  2. Lil, you’re seeing the back end of the ‘quality control’ system at both companies… I’ve done that test before with .308 and come up with the same set of answers… Federal is higher priced because their QA is better and the rounds more uniform WRT powder and assembly.

  3. Maybe. Look at the stamp on the barrel. Is it “5.56 NATO” or .223? the newer style 5.56 shoots better with the heavier bullet (my brain is fried from work, so don’t ask me the grains..but the “newer” stuff is about 62 grains) The newer barrel (think of the difference between an M16A1 and A2) bla bla bla. In other words, a match 50something grain might not shoot as accurate as a stock 62 grain…bla bla.
    Make sense?

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