Ammo Data Visualizations (part 3)

In this last part we’ll look at Match Grade ammunition as well as Self Defense Grade.

Ammo Data Visualizations (part 3)

In this last part, we’ll look at Match Grade ammunition as well as Self Defense Grade.

Now, as you’ll recall our purpose in doing all of this data analysis and visualization was to get a sense of what one should pay for ammo. Specifically what someone should pay for 9mm at this particular point in time (before there is another scare and prices go up).

In order to do this analysis, we needed to group apples with apples and plinking ammo with plinking ammo. In our case, we have four primary groups or ammunition grades that we use at Ammo²: Value Grade, Service Grade, Match Grade, and Self Defense Grade (or Hunting Grade for rifles).

We already looked at price ranges for Value Grade and Service Grade and they came to around 20 and 24 cents respectively.

Now we’ll turn our attention to some grades of ammunition that aren’t as clear cut. First, let’s look at Match Grade ammunition.

First of all, “match” grade is a very loosy-goosy kind of bullet category so forgive us if your favorite brand of match ammunition isn’t included. While there is no doubt about what constitutes a round for self-defense, what constitutes a match round is a bit more gray.

Regardless, we took a stab at it and gathered a bunch of data for match grade ammo for the chart below:

As you can see there is a fewer number of rounds and fewer manufacturers represented. The price range is significant, however, ranging from a low of 30 cents a round to a high of $1.40 for ASYM – we’ll have to go back and check our data but it looks like two separate types of rounds to have such a price discrepancy for ASYM from 60 cents a round to over double that at $1.40 a round. Strike that – we just looked and they are the same round so that just proves the point that prices can vary over an extremely wide margin.  But looking at the chart you can see while prices vary, they also tend to stay in a range – Nosler match rounds, for example, range from 60 cents a round to 75 cents. Lapua span the 70 cents to 1.00 range and Cor-Bon only had two price points at 48 cents.

What’s a good price to pay for Match Grade ammo? Who knows! It really all depends on what you want to shoot. We figured a price of 60 cents looked fair but again, that only covers 2-3 different brands if you want a specific brand you are probably just going to look for that brand and price shop it alone.

Now let’s take a look at the last chart – and the craziest of all: Self Defense Ammo…

First of all, let me mention that we pulled from a specific list of self-defense rounds that can be found on our Ammunition Grades page in more detail but we’ll also just list them here:

Speer Gold Dot
Hornady Critical Defense / Critical Duty
Winchester PDX1 Defender
Federal HST
Remington Golden Saber
Federal Guard Dog
Barnes Tac-XPD
Nosler Defense

The reason we choose these particular rounds is that they are the rounds we would want in our pistols for self-defense. In creating the Self Defense Ammo Grade category, the last thing we wanted our customers to worry about was whether they were getting some inferior generic JHP rounds added to their personal reserve.

We used a number of “Top Self Defense Round” lists to pick the best rounds to populate our category.

So back to the chart – what does it tell us? Well again the price range is very wide with Gold Dot, HST, and Critical Defense starting at about 50 cents a round while Federal Guard Dog and Winchester PDX1 were at the high end of the range at over $2.40 a round in some cases.

Picking a price range, in this case, is a little more difficult because, like Match Grade, it is a lot more brand dependent. Looking at the data, we can at least say that there are two distinct price clusters: one group at 80 cents a round and the other at $1.00 a round.

One of the issues with defensive ammo that keeps the price up is the fact that it isn’t generally offered in case quantity. Sure you can buy 50 boxes of 20 rounds but the retail price isn’t any cheaper. So these prices are actually for individual boxes and not case prices like most of our other data.

So a good price to pay depends on what you like to shoot and what your gun likes, but if you just want a quality defensive round then anywhere south of 75 cents a round is probably a good deal.


That just about wraps up the first-ever Ammo² price round-up! We thought it was fun and interesting and we hope you did too. Maybe you even walked away with some new insights into ammo prices – if you did, be sure to post them in the comment section below or even post to our page on Facebook.