The most important factor when choosing ammo is to make sure you select the right cartridge for your firearm. Shooting a firearm with incorrect ammunition can be dangerous, so first identify what your firearm is chambered for. Once you know that, you can begin to narrow it down.
Next, have an idea of what you will be shooting and what you want the ammo to do. Knowing the purpose and your intended target will focus your search. Why? For example, handgun ammo designed for personal defense can have different ballistics than target ammo. It often comes in smaller quantities and is more expensive. Different loads offer different features. Powerful self-defense loads like Federal Premium HST or home defense loads like Guard Dog are much different than rounds designed for plinking or target shooting.
If you're looking to purchase ammo for a fun time, you have plenty of options there, too. If you're shooting indoors or want a round that will shoot cleaner, check out American Eagle Syntech, a polymer coated round that shoots cooler and cleaner than traditional bullets. Anything from American Eagle is a great option for affordable, accurate and reliable ammo for the range. I not only practice with it, I also depend on it in competition.
Weigh Your Options
Once you have identified the cartridge and use, you often have several options for bullet weight. Keep in mind that different bullet weights can result in a different point of impact. For example, a 115-grain 9mm bullet may hit exactly where your sights line up, whereas a 147-grain bullet may not. This is something to consider, especially if your firearm has fixed sights.
One of the best ways to find out what weight works best and is the most accurate for your firearm is to purchase multiple options. Compare them side-by-side to see if one groups better or shoots more consistently. Snap a few photos on your phone and save them so you can compare other loads and bullet weights to ultimately find the best ammunition for you and your gun.
Practice, Practice, Practice
One final tip: If you're purchasing self-defense loads, you may want to pick up a box or two of target ammo with the same bullet weight. This will allow you to practice with a less expensive option that has a similar point of aim and point of impact.
Remember, know your firearm's caliber and the purpose of the ammo. When in doubt, ask questions. Fellow shooters, range staff and your local gun shop will be able to help find the ammo you're looking for.
Keep it Together
No shopping spree is complete without a range bag to carry everything. BLACKHAWK!'s Sportster Deluxe Range Bag and Go Bag are great options to keep your gear together.
Also, don't forget to grab protective eyewear. Selections include clear, yellow or darker shades. Try sporting a pair of Bolla's camo sunglasses. The frames are constructed of durable, lightweight B88 Nylon, and the hydrophobic-coated lenses have an anti-fog treatment. Thanks to technological advances from companies like Bolla, high visibility and safety have become synonymous with style.
Being prepared will help you feel confident before heading out to the range. It's all about having fun and staying safe.
Maximize Range Time
Nobody has unlimited time to spend at the range, and few know this better than Julie Golob. She successfully juggles being a popular author, media personality and one of the world's most successful competitive shooters with the demands of being a mother of two. Julie's learned a lot about making every second at the line count and she's shared her secrets with us. Click here to learn her top 7 tips for getting more from your range time.
Shoot Like a Champion
You've made your ammo purchase, grabbed your gear and assembled your range bag. What's next? Head to the range and test it. The satisfaction of ringing steel and punching paper will leave you craving more.
For target punching pleasure, grab some Champion targets. The paper targets come in many different styles, including sight-in, hunt practice, silhouette and targets that are perfect for challenging friends and family, while the VisiColor High Visibility Paper Targets make hits easy to see. When struck, the target creates multi-colored impact halos for easy identification of hit locations.
A more explosive option is Champion's VisiChalk targets that provide a cloud of chalk dust with every hit. With their red, blue, white, yellow and orange colors, visibility remains high even at long ranges. These targets can be mounted on a stationary or rotating holder to make them more interactive.