Wolf poly-coated 5.56mm 55gr ammo: review


August 9, 2004, 07:43 PM
Since Lake City XM193 and Winchester Q3131A prices have been on a steady incline I went looking for a cheap practice ammunition for 50 yards and closer. After much consideration I decided to try Wolf's new polymer-coated 55gr FMJ round. I bought a thousand rounds and it worked beautifully in my AR carbine.

On my first trip to the range I shot about 400 rounds through it before experiencing a few malfunctions. When inserting a fresh 20-round magazine (GI issue) the top round occasionally failed to chamber when it's nose jammed on the front of the magazine body. These magazines were loaded to full capacity. When I down-loaded the mags to 18 rounds the problem disappeared. No other malfunctions were experienced... NONE at all! I usually load my 20-round mags with 18 rounds and 30's with 28 rounds, but someone else was loading my mags and wasn't aware of my usual routine.

The ammunition does not feel as "hot" as my normal 5.56 fodder. I'd guess its at least 100FPS slower than XM193 or Q3131A. The POI of the targets below support my suspicion. I do not have a chrono to test the Wolf ammo.

Wolf is definitely dirtier than Lake City, Winchester, and TZZ. It's not horribly filthy, but does require a little extra cleaning. It also smells different that the brass-cased ammo I usally shoot.

My gun is a "frankencarbine" with a PWA Commando lower and a Bushmaster 16" Superlight upper with a 1:9 twist barrel and Vortex G6 flash supressor. The gun has a GI trigger group (unmodified) and an Aimpoint ML2 for an optic. I shot the two pictured groups from prone position at 50 yards.

My "control" load was Winchester Q3131A. I shoot this regularly along with Federal XM193 ball. Both use a 55gr FMJ/BT bullet and are loaded to military velocity. As you can see from the group, I was able to put 3 shots in one hole at 50yds with the total 5 shot group of only 1.26". This is typical accuracy for this load (and Federal XM193) in my AR. The 10:00 shot was a called flyer.

The Wolf ammo was new poly-coated 55gr FMJ. It is VERY reliable in my gun but accuracy is not quite up to par with the Winchester or Federal loads. Point of impact was about 1" lower than Winchester Q3131A. The Wolf group opened up a bit and again, the 10:00 shot was a called flyer. (At least I'm consistant)

Groups were measured outside edge to outside edge... the real way. There was only a VERY slight breeze blowing left-to-right. Temp was about 75 degrees F and lighting was slightly overcast if these sort of things matter to you. I'd say shooting conditions were excellent.

I would not choose Wolf as my primary fighting ammo. The bullet is not designed like the military 55gr bullet and reportedly will not fragment. However, for practicing at ranges ~50 yards it suits my needs perfectly. I've shot 2000 rounds of this ammunition and it has proven to be reliable, reasonably accurate, and at about $100/1000rounds (delivered), considerably more affordable than anything else out there on the market.

I'll throw in a little plug for my supplier, Larence. He has fantastic prices on Wolf ammo and has filled several orders from me quickly and courteously. Lawrence is great about returning e-mails quickly, also.


Winchester Q3131A

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August 9, 2004, 07:47 PM
Wolf poly-coated 55gr FMJ

john l
August 9, 2004, 08:23 PM
Thanks for the review. I would like to pick up a case myself. Thanks for reinforcing my suspicions that this stuff is good ammo. Not top-shelf, but good.
john l

August 9, 2004, 09:02 PM
After being a vocal critic of the lacquer painted Wolf <ahem> junk, I'm a recent convert and fan of the new polymer coated ammo. Picked up some of the 62gr ammo after talking to the Wolf rep at the SHOT show who explained to me the changes in manufacturing (basically, everything is different). For the money, the new stuff can't be beat. Fairly accurate, very reliable, fairly clean and you can't beat the price ($100/case delivered). I can't reload comparable ammo for near that price, and I don't need to chase down the brass. :D

August 9, 2004, 09:09 PM
Thanks for the review.
I had very similar results with the "old" Wolf ammo, of which I fired somewhere between 12 and 15 thousand rounds. I haven't tried the "new" Wolf yet: I have about a case and a half of the old stuff left.
There is a very difinite place for cheap, practice ammo. The more ammo you can afford, the more you can afford to shoot. The more you can afford to shoot, the better you will be in handling your weapon. That is good in every case and under every situation. If you find an ammo that costs $80 less than anything else I can find, and it performs perfectly for your purposes, it would be foolish not to take advantage.

August 9, 2004, 09:16 PM
I've been using the 62gr load in my Bushy 16" H-Bar with good results. I haven't had any problems with feedinf or extracting.

And I can keep 20 rounds in a 6" shoot and see at 100 yards, good enough for plinking ammo

August 9, 2004, 09:35 PM
Another vote here for the Wolf poly coat. 400 rounds through my AR without a hiccup. Probably 10-25% worse accuracy but no biggie if you're just plinkin'.

Kodiak AK
August 9, 2004, 11:49 PM
I have had two seriouse failurs in my RRA in three days with this stuff .
Both cases were stuck in the chamber and needed to be driven out with a steel rod .The extracter of the rifle is ripping off part of the case rim . My rifle is working fine with Win White box , and PMC so I am sure it is the ammo here . 2 out of 300 is not good odds to me .

The lot number of this batch was P 146-03.
I have contacted Wolf about this , but I have not heard back yet .

August 10, 2004, 12:18 AM
Great review!

I've only shot Wolf through my .45acp and 9mm but I have 1/2 a case of 7.62 for my Kalashnikov and should be headed out to the range at the end of the week.

I wouldn't use Wolf as carry ammo but it's great for the range. It's difficult to beat the price on Wolf; probably if you reload but I'm not reloading yet so Wolf is the logical choice for me.

It is dirty and smells bad but if you clean your gun after every range trip, the cleanliness and smell is irrelevant.

August 10, 2004, 03:36 AM
I have had two seriouse failurs in my RRA in three days with this stuff .

Stuck cases aren't that serious in and of themselves. Is your chamber dirty, perhaps burred? Is it a .223 chamber or 5.56? Is it chrome lined?

I've shot 2,000 rounds of polymer wolf in my Bushmasters with no problems whatsoever.

Kodiak AK
August 10, 2004, 09:22 AM
Chamber is fine . It is cut 5.56. I don't know if it is chrome lined or not (RRA TASC).
To me it is seriouse when it end my day of fun , and breaks a cleaning rod trying to get the thing out . YMMV.
I really like wolf , but I thought it fair to give a heads up on this paticular lot of Wolf .If you look at the case it looks like part of the rim is breaking off , which to me says this lot could give a case head seperation .And that is serious.

August 10, 2004, 10:28 AM
Kodiak AK,

Your lot shows an '03 production date. Are you sure it's poly-coated and not the older laquer-coated ammunition? All my poly-coated lots showed '04 production dates.

At AR15.com the old laquer ammo has a notorious reputation for extraction problems. Many feel that when the chamber becomes super-heated that the laquer melts. If the round is left inside the chamber the laquer will re-dry and essentially paint itself into the chamber inducing an extraction malfunction like you mentioned.

I forgot to mention this in my review so thanks for reminding me. During the first 1000 rounds I was concerned about this problem so I set up a test. I shot 4-30 round magazines as fast as I could pull the trigger and then chambered a round of the new poly-coated ammo. I let this sit (pointed downrange) for about 10 minutes and then fired it off. It extracted and ejected perfectly and landed in the same pile as the other shells about 4 feet away from me. I repeated the test again allowing it to sit and "cook" for about 15 minutes and again, it extracted and ejected normally. I was satisfied.

Keep up updated with your dealings with Wolf. I'd be interested in seeing how they handle the issue.

Kodiak AK
August 10, 2004, 06:23 PM
Yes it is the poly . I have shot the laquer pleanty of times with no problems .

And Wolf's response follows.
Sorry to hear about this unlikely situation.
I would not say that we have many complaints like this. However we do have come across jam ups like this now and then.
If you would like, we can exchange your unused portion of ammo for a different batch.

I have no interest in doing an exchange . I just wanted others to have a heads up is all.

August 10, 2004, 11:27 PM
The lot number from the poly stuff I have is 129-03.

All I can say to Kodiak is WOW, check your extractor to make sure it didn't get tweaked trying to yank those cases out of the chamber :what:

August 11, 2004, 12:10 AM
Thanks for the update Kodiak AK and larryw. I wasn't aware '03 lots were poly. I'll keep an eye on extracted cases and see if there's any issues. I have a chrome-lined chamber and bore so maybe that makes a difference, or maybe you just got a bad batch.

Kodiak AK
August 11, 2004, 03:52 AM
Well gang I got my OKO today so I went out to play again . Out of 200 rounds , I had four more . I am thinking my extractor might be fubar now , but I wont know forsure for a few days . I am going to pick up some brass ammo in a few days , and try again .

So I guess all I can say is if you happen to see this lot number in your stuff , make sure you bring a steal rod to the range with you .

August 11, 2004, 06:42 AM
Nothing useful to add... but its-



Just wanted to clarify.

August 11, 2004, 10:29 AM
No issues with Wolf poly coat in my M4gery.
Fine for plinking out to 50 yds. Yes, not as accurate as XM193, yes it smells odd, yes, I find it a bit dirtier.

Sleeping Dog
August 11, 2004, 12:06 PM
I think the Rock River chambers are usually cut as something called a "Wilde" chamber, a little looser than a match chamber, but tighter than a mil-spec chamber. Could the poly-coated Wolf "brass" be a little fatter than the lacquered "brass"? Do you have some unfired rounds you can measure?

I shoot the lacquer-coated stuff in my RR A2 once in a while and it seems to feed and extract just fine.

Keeping a cleaning rod handy is a good idea. I usually have an Otis kit with me, but it probably wouldn't be much good at removing a stuck case.


Kodiak AK
August 12, 2004, 05:35 PM
Sleeping Dog

The OTIS wont do jack . I tried .

I don't have any more Laquer coat , but
W.C.C. 03 white box
2.251 " length
.25" at the neck
.362" at the case
.375" at the base.

Wolf Poly
2.244" length
.248" @ neck
.360 @the case
.375" at the base

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