Freedom Munitions is an American ammunition manufacturer based in Idaho. They are the largest direct to consumer ammunition supplier in the USA and have exploded in popularity since their 2010 launch. Ammo Direct is the New Zealand agent for Freedom Munitions and sells their products online via Facebook and their online store ammodirect.co.nz.
Freedom Munitions produces both new and ‘remanufactured’ ammunition, the only difference being the brass. Remanufactured ammo uses once-fired cases that have been inspected, tested, cleaned and full length resized to meet S.A.A.M.I specifications. Whereas new ammo uses new brass cases.
I contacted Jai at Ammo Direct for some 5.56mm ammunition for a Carbine class at Sparrowhawk NZ that was part of the Gunslinger Precision Long Range Shooting competition this year. I managed to get hold of a quantity of 55 and 62 grain remanufactured FMJ for the class and to do some steel shooting and a spot of hunting if the opportunity presented itself.
The brass is the most expensive component of ammunition and reusing it can save a considerable amount of money. Freedom Munitions only uses once-fired brass for their remanufactured ammunition and it is loaded on the exact same factory line that their new ammo is loaded on. Like many manufacturers, Freedom Munitions also utilises components from large manufacturers. For example their cartridges are loaded with projectiles from Hornady, Sierra, Nosler and their sister company X-treme Bullets.
Ammo Direct offers a wide variety of popular pistol and rifle ammunition and will be expanding the selection soon. The 5.56mm and .223 Rem offerings come in several varieties with hunting, target and 3 Gun shooters all catered for.
Ammunition manufacturers have a weight tolerance which is measured at the end of the production line to determine if the ammunition is within specification as part of their quality control. I elected to weigh the loaded ammunition and compare it to my own carefully crafted hand loads and some premium off the shelf ammunition.
I weighted ten of each cartridge and determined the average weight of a loaded round and the standard deviation from that average. Ammunition that is constructed from quality components means it will usually be close in tolerance and after I calculated the mean I worked out the standard deviation from that mean. Bear in mind that using remanufactured ex-military brass (lake city, ADI etc) is usually heavier than sporting brass as it has to withstand higher pressures and if you use this to hand-load you will often get pressure signs prior to reaching book maximums.
As you can see by the accompanying table the 62 grain offering and federal fusion are both very close with a standard deviation of only half a grain. My hand loads averaged 1.24 grains from the average weight (I use ADI, FNB and any old brass I pick up at the range) and the freedom munitions 55 grain load had the largest standard deviation of 1.74 grains which is still very acceptable.
At the Range
I elected to test the two freedom munitions loads against my hand-loads in two different rifles. The first was my 5.56mm BCM AR15 with a 16” government profile barrel and ASE Utra suppressor. The BCM is my go to rifle for wallabies and goat shooting and I really enjoy hunting with it due to its light weight and reliability. It is currently fitted with a Sig Sauer Electro Optics Bravo 4 4x battle sight with a 5.56 BDC ‘horse shoe’ style reticle and represents a standard ‘open division’ service rifle. The second was a Remington 700 5R with a 26” heavy match barrel with an excellent track record of shooting half inch groups and head shooting animals, fitted with a Leupold Mark 4, 6.5-20×50 with a TMR reticle.
I utilised the newly landed LabRadar unit to record velocity data from the BCM AR15 and shot all groups at 100m. Due to using the majority of the ammunition on a recent hunting trip and the carbine course there was only enough for two ten shot groups to achieve the accuracy data in both rifles. As you can see in the accompanying table the standard deviation on the 62 grain freedom munitions load is pretty good at 35 fps and both rifles shot them well at 40mm (1.6 MOA).
As mentioned earlier I attended a carbine class at Sparrowhawk NZ. Over the duration I fired 400 rounds (200 of each freedom munitions load) and didn’t experience one misfire, failure to feed or malfunction in the BCM. I fired both loads out to 400m and although I didn’t check the groups, I managed to hit the 45 cm square targets 8/10 times using the Bravo 4 BDC reticle.
With a weekend up my sleeve and a leave pass from the wife I managed to head to the Wairarapa to look for a fallow or red deer. Getting onto the property a little late we had missed our opportunity as the land owner had decided to go hunting himself. With time up our sleeves we decided to go do some steel shooting at 300m and 500 m before looking for some goat meat to make our red wine, bacon and goat sausages.
With only 62 grain ammunition left I shot my steel ram target to confirm the BDC and zero and was rewarded with 3/5 hits at 500m on the 30x10cm target, not bad for ‘remanufactured’. Getting into a mob of 15 goats at 100m was simple and we managed to take five without fuss before they made their way into the gorse and cover. The BCM and freedom munitions put three from three on the deck with neck shots and after a quick photo I set to butchering the animals while Paul sorted his two out.
There is plenty of competition at the low-priced FMJ target ammo on the New Zealand market at the moment. Ammo direct has certainly got a winner here and Freedom Munitions makes a no nonsense product that will get the job done at the range or in the field. The 62 grain load is my pick of the two, but both represent acceptable quality and accuracy. With more landing every week and quality soft-point and ballistic loads on offer there is something for everyone. So if you’re in need of ammunition for practice, hunting or competition then look no further than freedom munitions.
Warm barrels and stay safe out there!