BIG Freakin’ Cartridge Test 003: Vympel .223 Remington Golden Tiger 55gr FMJ, 14.5″ Barrel, and Accuracy

    Next up for the Big Freakin’ Cartridge Test is Vympel’s budget 55gr FMJ load in .223 Remington, made in Amursk, Russia. This ammunition features a lacquered steel case, bimetal jacketed 55gr FMJ bullet and purple neck sealant. This is one of my favorite practice rounds due to its environmental toughness. The test procedure was as follows:

    1. Condition ammunition to 70 °F +/- 5 degrees for at least 1 hr (in practice ammunition was always conditioned overnight).
    2. Mount chronograph to barrel or rail.
    3. Record the temperature in the conditioned container before each string.
    4. Withdraw one round of ammunition from the cooler.
    5. Load and immediately fire the round.
    6. Cool chamber back to ambient conditions for 30 seconds
    7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 nine more times.

    This procedure was followed for 14.5″, 16.1″, and 20″ barrel length velocity tests. To measure velocity, a Magnetospeed V3 chronograph was used attached to the barrels of the 16.1″ and 20″ uppers, and the rail of the 14.5″ upper. In addition, three 10 shot groups were shot for each round through my Criterion 14.5″ chrome-lined 1:8 twist hybrid contour midlength barrel in .223 Wylde, to determine accuracy. These targets were then analyzed using OnTarget analysis software.

    The chronograph results for the 14.5″ barrel are as follows (Shot #, followed by muzzle velocity in ft/s):

    1. 2,873

    2. 2,984

    3. 2,991

    4. 2,961

    5. 2,994

    6. 2,970

    7. 2,960

    8. 2,978

    9. 2,926

    10. 2,942


    Which gave us the following figures:

    Min: 2,873 ft/s

    Max: 2,994

    Avg: 2,957

    Standard Deviation: 36.7

    Extreme Spread (highest minus lowest): 121


    As expected, the Golden Tiger leaves a lot to be desired in the consistency department, producing a pretty slack ES of over 120 ft/s, and an SD over 35. On the paper, the Golden Tiger produced similarly erratic results:


    Needless to say, I do not really recommend the Golden Tiger 55gr FMJ load for accuracy practice or target shooting, given this result. It’s also worth noting that there were minor functioning issues in my 14.5″ midlength using this ammunition, those being a number of failures to engage the last round hold open. This malfunction is indicative of insufficient gas pressure to allow the bolt to fully complete its stroke. In the 6920 upper receive (which uses a carbine-length gas system and 16.1″ barrel), and the 20″ FN upper (rifle-length system), I have not experienced these same issues.

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]