AR-15 AR15 ammo test: M193 XM193F 5.56 NATO in ballistic gelatin

Third in a series of tests of ammo from the AR-15. The AR-15 is becoming more common for home defense than ever before. In this video I explore military ball ammo, the 5.56×45 55-grain M193. The test barrel length was 16″.

The M193 is a fragmenting round that relies on high velocity and yawing in the target to initiate fragmentation. The high velocity produces a massive temporary cavity, which gets magnified and turned into permanent damage by the fragmentation. When it works, it’s phenomenal. Sometimes it doesn’t work (such as when fired from too short of a barrel, which results in velocity too low for fragmentation to occur; other M193 failures can occur when the target is very thin, as the bullet may pass completely through the target before yawing).

I used genuine professional organic 10% calibrated ballistic gelatin to determine the penetration and expansion characteristics.

Note: I’m not making any claims for these videos other than that these are the results I achieved, in my own testing, from the stated pistol(s). I have no intention to make a blanket endorsement or indictment of any product, only to review and report what I found in a given instance. Obviously it is incumbent upon each individual to conduct their own research and make up their own mind about which defensive ammunition is best for their own purposes, in their own firearms. Also keep in mind that individual firearms can be persnickety; my AR15 may feed a particular round consistently whereas your AR15 might not work as well with those rounds, so — please conduct your own testing before trusting any particular ammo.

The standards I use to judge bullet performance are the standards established at the 1987 and 1993 Wound Ballistics Conferences, and subsequently adopted by the FBI. You can read more on these subjects in my blog articles, including:

If you like what you see, subscribe to the channel, and also visit the blog at

41 thoughts on “AR-15 AR15 ammo test: M193 XM193F 5.56 NATO in ballistic gelatin”

  1. Looked pretty fucking lethal to me. In Afghanistan we had stopping power issues, but we were using steel core 62 grain, mostly at ranges of 300 meters or more. The steel core stuff is good for armor penetration, but it loses some of the M193's wounding ability.

  2. Love good old M193 for a close range defense load from a carbine. It doesn't do as well in AR pistols but when the velocity is up it's nasty. I stockpile more of this than anything. I don't care too much for M855 because really it doesn't do as well against unarmorer targets and there's nothing it can go through that M193 can't really. I stock up on Independence M193 as it is the hottest I have found and I put multiple rounds of that through a level 3 hard armor plate through my R700 bolt gun when M855 was stopped by the same plate. I will say the green tip is a bit more accurate I think for a target load, but all around M193 from carbine or rifle length barrel is a great round. For my HD mags I typically load a 55gr Sierra Blitzking at 3300fps for my first Mag and the rest are filled with M193. I also like the mk262 mod 1 load and have a few mags full of that as well.

  3. Thanks for all of your very informative videos. I have come to rely on them for my ammo purchase decisions. I am certainly no expert, but I think that unless you fire that XM193 55gr round from a 20" barrel, it may not reach the velocity required for it to perform the way it was designed to perform.

  4. I think I'll stick with xm193 in home defense, and Razorcore 69gr hpbt (or Hornady) for the shtf hunting. 69gr does flawlessly in my 16" 1:9 twist, and I'm testing some Hornaday 75g hpbt next. We'll see how the barrel handles it.

    Everything shoots accurately from quality AR15's.. it's just the situation.

  5. If your defending yourself with a rifle and the first round doesn't do enough damage to stop the problem your facing just follow it up with the other 29 rounds in the magazine… Problem solved.

  6. This is what I use for home defense. That tumbling effect is just brutal. You SBR guys just make sure your getting proper velocities for 193 to tumble and fragment like its supposed to.

  7. Any chance of testing the MK262 (77 gr SMK) or the 77gr TMK (supposedly even better)? From what I understand, it was developed as an SPR round, and the military found that it performs very well out of all length barrels (accuracy and fragmentation from SBR, 14.5, 18, 20). Supposedly, the fragmentation range is 50+ greater than m193 (150-200 yds from 14.5 in m4 barrel).

  8. Why is it some barrels can do this and others take 6+ inches to start frag? I'm beginning to think 1:9 was made specifically for 193 for accuracy and the above stated.

  9. Would love to see a comparison between this and the Walmart variety Federal .223 55 grain bulk, to see if the hotter XM193 NATO round makes a big difference?  From what I can see, they are about the same price per round (with shipping).

  10. 1:17  I've seen all I need to see  Thanks!  M193, you just can't beat it.  It has better terminal ballistics, and it has better penetration on hard targets such as steel. I think just because of muzzle velocity and the FMJ.

  11. This is why I run a .40s&w for home defense, rifles just destroy shit. Don't get me wrong I love my AR, but I'm not trying to kill my neighbor in the process if someone was to try to break in or whatever. And the benefit of a pistol to me, far outweigh the benefits of a rifle for home defense. There is no long barrel to grab, still #1 or #2 in one shot drop, and only 16 inches if penetration on average with my hollow points. And another thing, we don't want the media hating on AR15s any more than they already do, one bad thing happens and it instantly makes all gun owners look bad. It's ignorant and stupid, but unfortunately true.

Leave a Reply