Cost of ammo to military

Apologies for going a bit off-topic, but does anyone have any data on the cost of small-arms ammunition to the military?

I recall once coming across some info on 5.56mm ammo, comparing the cost per round for M855 and M995 (the tungsten-cored M995 being several times as expensive), but I’ve since lost it.

Any info on this subject would be welcome.

It may not count as “small” arms and it’s not contemporary, but I think I have some cost figures on 30mm GAU-8 cartridges from the early 70s. If those would be of interest to you I can try to track down my notes later this week.

as example, the M993 had the following costs in Fiscalyear 2005:

Type Classification Date: 16 FEB 1996.
Unit cost: $2.61 (Fiscal Year 2005).

If you search for US-costs of small caliber ammo, you may find more about.
I had ones a complete Fiscalyear 2008 list of ALL ammo up to rockets, with unitprices and how many where aquired. Unfortunatelly i lost the site-info. But maybe someone with more Computer skills can find it , by using the proper wording in the search.


Sorry, here is an other link, which gives Budget estimates about ammo: … 0-ammo.pdf

Its a large pdf file, but worth to study…

2012 Numbers:

5.56 NATO:

Ctg, 5.56mm Ball M855 (Clip/10) $0.40
Ctg, 5.56mm Ball M855A1 EPR $0.66
Ctg, 5.56mm Tracer M856 A063 $0.33
Ctg, 5.56mm Ball Special Match LR MK262 Mod 0 $0.56
Ctg, 5.56mm Ball MK318 MOD 0 $0.56

7.62 NATO:

Ctg, 7.62mm Tracer M62 A124 $0.34
Ctg, 7.62mm Ball M80 A130 $0.88
Ctg, 7.62mm Ball M118 $1.20
Ctg, 7.62mm Special Ball LR Mk316 Mod 0 $0.74
Ctg, 7.62mm Ball MK319 Mod 0 $0.71

.50 BMG:

Ctg. .50 BMG Blank M1A1 A598 $2.28
Ctg. .50 BMG Dummy M2 A560 $2.93
Ctg. .50 BMG Dummy M2A1 AB48 $2.95
Ctg. .50 BMG API M8 A531 $3.13
Ctg. .50 BMG Tracer M17 $1.36
Ctg. .50 BMG APIT M20 A541 $2.07
Ctg. .50 BMG Ball M33 A555 $3.02
Ctg. .50 BMG SRTA M858 $3.52
Ctg. .50 BMG SRTA-T M860 $4.24
Ctg. .50 BMG SLAP M903 $12.43
Ctg. .50 BMG SLAP-T M962 AA38 $13.22
Ctg. .50 BMG API MK211 A606 $14.00

Thank you very much gentlemen, that’s most impressive!

what i am wondering me: Why are the Prices for Tracer rounds (223 and 308) are cheaper as normal ball rounds?
If i buy Military ammo here, the Tracer rounds are more expensive as the ball rounds…so why the differences here in the US-Prices?


Age of the contract & quant called for under the contract. They fluctuate constantly. Not all those contracts were let at the same time and not all to the same company.

Also there is a lot more lead in a ball round than a tracer.


The bullet will always be one of the biggest factors in determining the cost. But, as Kieth said, the quantity ordered and the contractor may be even bigger factors. Note that the 7.62mm M118 and MK 316 both use the commercial Sierra SMK bullet but the cost is nearly double for the M118. M118 is manufactured by LC but the MK 316 is made by Federal. Likewise the MK 319, which uses the special barrier enhanced bullet, and yet costs less than the MK 316.

I think it would take a comparison of many years of manufacture to come up with meaningful figures, and maybe not even then.



Another interesting point concerning the .50 cal prices quoted: among the shooting ammo, the M33 ball ought to be the cheapest since it has a plain steel core and is as simple as they get. Yet it is only a few cents cheaper than the M8 API which has a hardened steel core plus an incendiary element, while the M20 APIT - basically the M8 with a tracer - costs only two-thirds as much! Very strange…