I didn't have a 5.56 until a few months ago and reasonably prived ammo has been hard to come by. You can find the fancy stuff at my local bullet store, but it is considered lucky to find the plain jane stuff on the shelfs, and then it is usually $6-7 a box. 7.62x39 has bee easier to find, especially in the cheap steel case; plinking 9mm has been hard to come by all year.
Yup, just looked over at midwayusa, which generally doesn't gouge - rarely the cheapest, but a good outfit indeed. As a result of not gouging, they're out of stock on all their highest quality stuff.
Cheaper than dirt has only low quality stuff, and it's on the close order of $1.20/round for .223.
I've had VERY bad luck with reman milsurp. Might as well just pull the bullets, throw them and the powder away, resize the brass, and go from start. Never seen anything so lousy - won't even shoot half the time, the bullets *fall out* of them, or get pushed into the case (dangerous re pressure if you shoot that).
Sure am glad I bought that 2k of lake city brass on sale for around .39, and have massive stock of bullets, primers, powder and oh yes - the tools to make rounds out of all that.
If I don't overdo the pressure, I can get around 12 reloads on a piece of .223. More on handgun brass (20 something?) - the limit there seems to be the primer pocket wearing oversize from too many outs and ins.