In re. to LEO: Did the AR make .223 popular, or did .223 make the AR popular?


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Teufelhunden
October 3, 2005, 02:22 AM
As the title suggests, I'm looking to generate discussion on whether it was the AR-15 platform that serves a specific need of law enforcement, or if the 5.56/.223 round is for some reason particularly suited to the police mission. The AR is undeniably the most popular choice for law enforcement tactical rifle needs, and the market has responded by generating a heap of accessories and ammo.

Coming at it form a platform perspective, the AR is obviously familiar to many people who become LEO's since many of them have military experience. This cuts down on training time and money as they are fielding a weapon the fed gov has already spent thousands of dollars training people on. The modularity of the system is nice; changing calibers is as easy as changing uppers. Finally, while some may disagree, the AR platform has finally matured into a reliable, accurate weapon that can be easily changed to suit mission requirements.

I can't speak much for the .223 since most of my arguments for it go back to vast ammo selection, which is really a Chicken vs. The Egg argument. Suffice to say that its adherents maintain that with a proper round, the .223 is a potent enough manstopper that is suitable for use indoors since it fragments fairly quickly when passing through building materials.

My thinking on this matter started with my search for a patrol carbine. My Sheriff allows his road deputies to select and carry their own rifle as long as they qualify with it. Our SRT unit is issued M4's and many of the deputies have elected to carry an AR of some manner or form. I served 6 years in the USMC and while able enough with an M16 to qualify expert every time I shot it, I never really liked the weapon. I thought the trigger required too much pressure just before it released, the chunking sound of the buffer was distracting, it seemed big for what it did and I could never get to the point that it enjoyed carrying it. Obviously, however, HQ USMC did not consult with me before they issued me a weapon, so I was stuck with it.

Having been out and now having the flexibility to select my own weapon, I've taken a liking to the AK platform. My initial exposure was on a VEPR II in 7.62X39, and I've since also fired a VEPR II-K in 5.45X39. I felt much more comfortable shouldering and firing each of these weapons relative to an AR. The only thing I did not like was where the safety is located. Doing some research led me to the Krebs Custom KTR-03S, which is a high-end AK with rails on the fore-end, a Galil-type thumb safety and a rear sight back on the receiver cover instead of above the chamber. These are all improvements on the standard AK design in my estimation. The price however, is also an 'improvement'.


This digression leads me back to my original post and questions. I enjoyed the VEPR in 5.45 and was accurate with it. However, I have not heard of a manufacturer of 'tactical' or more importantly 'low-penetration' ammo such as Hornady's TAP line for 5.45. 7.62X39 also seems to suffer from this limitation and in my estimation, a 123grn bullet travelling at that speed is simply too much for potential use indoors. This consideration led me to ponder purchasing a VEPR in 5.56 to allow for more ammo varieties. Once I came to that conclusion, it dropped me right back to thinking that if .223 is the de-facto law enforcement caliber, why not just get on the bus and buy an AR?

I would love to buy all three weapons, but a cop's budget is a sad sad thing... My first choice would still be to get the Krebs, but price and the fact that it's only chambered in 7.62 and 5.45 temper that desire some. Second choice is a VEPR II-K, and finding a way of mounting a light on the fore-end. That I can get it in .223 and it's almost half the price of the Krebs is nice.

Does anyone have a convincing reason to select 5.56 over 5.45, and is the concensus that I should just go with the AR flow since apparently many people know something I don't?

:confused:

-Teuf

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1911 guy
October 3, 2005, 02:36 AM
I think law enforcement went with the AR initially because so many incoming officers had millitary experience. That number is rapidly changing, fewer have been soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines. Now LE sticks with it because they have them in stock and the rifle recoils little so as not to upset the darlings who don't want to shoot a mean nasty gun. Having made the obligatory jab at folks who carry a weapon for a living yet never educate themselves about it, I'll say that I personnally like the AR/M-16. Accurate, reliable (in it's recent incarnations) easy to manipulate and enough capacity for most non-military engagements without a reload. I'm not sure if I answered your question, but those are my thoughts.

clange
October 3, 2005, 02:43 AM
Well i'm far from an expert on any of this stuff, but I'd say the AR made the .223 popular for the uses you are talking about. Without the AR it would probably only be chambered in bolt guns with huge scopes.

But popularity among LE is slightly different, and the fact that some such as yourself have considered other platforms in .223 could suggest that the caliber has made the rifle popular somewhat.

From reading and posting in a few 5.56 vs 5.45 threads here, .223/5.56 is more effective. An AR is also probably going to be more accurate, but if it doesnt handle as well for you then that advantage could be negated.

Go with .223/5.56 in whichever platform you shoot the best IMO.

I dont have a problem taking an AK off safe with my index finger, assuming the selector level isnt too 'tight' against the receiver (which is fixable). I have to rotate my hand to the right a bit, but i still have the grip in my hand. The left side safety is an option, but keep in mind back is 'fire' which seems just as awkward as using my index finger on the standard selector.

Coronach
October 3, 2005, 02:45 AM
Also:

1. Uncle Sugar has a whole mess of M16A1s that he will sell to LE agencies for a song.

2. For most applications, .223 is more than adequate, especially when paired with a bullet like Hornady TAP, which is not available to the military.

Mike

Crosshair
October 3, 2005, 03:48 AM
The 222 (predecessor to the 223) was VERY popular in bolt action rifles for those wanting a more compact case than the 22-250. The 222 could have been put into the AR with no problems. Like with all military rounds, cheap surplus and easily available ammo, make it popular.

9mmepiphany
October 3, 2005, 04:06 AM
the .222 was THE varmint/benchrest round long before the .223 came on the market. the .223 does not match the .222 in accuracy, but the .222 cannot compete with the availablilty of military surplus 5.56x45 ammo.

the popularity of the ar-15/m-16 is what made the .223 so popular. the ak, IMO, is basically a better assault rifle platform. with the high end AK clones now on the market, you give up very little to an AR.

i believe the safety on the AK was designed to be disengaged with the left hand coming up from under the receiver.

Delmar
October 3, 2005, 04:54 AM
The 223 was developed specifically for the AR rifle series-or thats what I have heard bandied about. The 222 Rem was a very popular benchrest rifle caliber brought out by Mike Walker and the Remington 722.

The 223 was developed by Robert Hutton, a past technical editor of Guns and Whammo magazine. One of the military's requirements was the bullet to have a retained velocity above Mach 1 at 500 yards. The 222 did not have the capacity to do this safely. The accuracy of the 223 is as good as any of the sporting 22 centerfires on the market. The velocity of the SS109 is around 3100 fps in a full length barrel.

The Soviet 5.45x39 is rated as a better stopper than the old M193 US round, but the newer 62 grain SS109 is likely a touch better at penetration. The Soviet round is going to be hampered by a lack of bullet selection moreso than the 223. The average velocity is around 2950 fps.

I would say the AR series is likely going to be more accurate than the AK series generally, and the load choice is no contest-the 223 wins hands down.

natedog
October 3, 2005, 11:21 AM
If you're more comfortable with the AK, and the AK in question performs adequatly, I'd go for the AK in 5.56mm. You'll loose magazine compatability with the other officers, but a situation where that'd be necessary is pretty unlikely.

Aikibiker
October 3, 2005, 12:55 PM
If you're more comfortable with the AK, and the AK in question performs adequatly, I'd go for the AK in 5.56mm. You'll loose magazine compatability with the other officers, but a situation where that'd be necessary is pretty unlikely.

I think that actually happened back in the Sixties or early Seventies. LAPD got into a massive gunfight with a bunch of leftist terrorists in a house. I want to say Weather Underground, but I can't remember.

During the firefight some SWAT officers were pinned down and out of ammunition for their rifles. Another officer was able to get close enough to throw them some loaded magazines. However the magazines would not fit in their rifles so the officers had to unload the ammunition and transfer it to their empty magazines to get back in the fight. Certainly speaks for the utility of the tactical reload over the speed reload and gives merit to the idea that everyone in a combat situation should have a compatible weapon.

If you don't like the AR series how about one of the host of other rifles that use the AR magazine? AR180b, SU-16, RA-96, RA-XCR(if it ever arrives), etc.

Crosshair
October 3, 2005, 02:06 PM
I have to agree with you Aikibiker. The AR-18 is what the M-16 should have been. If I ever get a 5.56 weapon, that will be the one I look at.

Essex County
October 3, 2005, 02:30 PM
I use to hang ouy at Beckelhymers in the late 60's and he was selling a bunch of AR 15's to ranchers,plain ole coyboys and tick riders, etc. Just for the fun of lighting up coyotes, With iron sights, no less. I used to visit Saturday mornings when I didn't have a cent to spend and he knew it. He always sain "Let me buy you a Coke". He had a Coke machine behind the counter. He"d get you a coke, dump 3/4 of down the drain,fill the bottle with Rum, shake it and pass the bottle back to you. He lost money on me, but I loved the guy. Thirty years later I returned to South Texas and of course it was gone the corner of San Brenado and Hildago, in Laredo always had an empty spot in my heart. Are there any Texans that feel the same way I do? I hope that they are.........Essex

Jenrick
October 3, 2005, 03:15 PM
Another vote for the AR-18/AR-180 series. Great rifles, love mine.

-Jenrick

DMK
October 3, 2005, 04:28 PM
I'd definately go with a 5.56 chambering (and M16 magazines), not only for compatibility with your fellow officers, but also because so much research has been put into what works and what doesn't. There's a lot of good ammo out there now, much better than the stuff you were issued in the Marines. Even the military is testing 77gr. OTM rounds in combat now.

Don't let your service experience with the M16 sway you, a new, good quality commercial AR carbine is going to be lighter, more compact, tighter, much more accurate and have a much better trigger than that M16A2 you were issued in the service.

Whatever rifle you get, make sure you get a chrome lined 5.56 chamber for ammo compatability and reliable extraction.

9mmepiphany
October 3, 2005, 08:46 PM
if you are open to other rifles, i would also recommend that you look at the M96 and 180B...especally the former.

too bad you can't get the AR18 anymore. it really is what the M16 should have been with...better trigger, accuracy and a real floding stock. very dependable too, ask it's biggest user...the IRA

atblis
October 3, 2005, 08:57 PM
except for the parts availability kills that option.
One of the best folding stocks in the Biz
Uses AR mags
No annoying buffer noise
Reliability of an AK
Accuracy and ergonomics of the AR
The ability to directly manipulate the bolt is a big plus IMO.
Do they all have a slow twist?

idakfan
October 3, 2005, 09:05 PM
if you are open to other rifles, i would also recommend that you look at the M96 and 180B...especally the former.

too bad you can't get the AR18 anymore. it really is what the M16 should have been with...better trigger, accuracy and a real floding stock. very dependable too, ask it's biggest user...the IRA

Yeah looks like the IRA is pretty good at destroying their AR18s if the latest news on their disarmament is correct.

Crosshair
October 3, 2005, 09:41 PM
Yeah looks like the IRA is pretty good at destroying their AR18s if the latest news on their disarmament is correct.

Probably just "destroying" the ones that are damaged beyond reapir. That's what I would do anyway. :rolleyes:

1911user
October 4, 2005, 01:47 AM
Lots of good points made in this thread. If you are not looking for a "roadblock" rifle chambered in 308, 30-06, or (maybe) 7.62x39, then .223 is the way to go. Lots of research has gone into 223 ammo and USGI mags for the AR-15 to make it work well. If it's just the issue M16 you didn't like, you have a lot of different options for the barrel, fore-end rails for lights, fixed/telescoping stock, different grips, different triggers, iron and/or optical sights, etc. You really can customize one to do exactly what is needed.

If you go to carbine training classes, ARs outnumber everything else and some specific techniques were developed for ARs.

I don't see the advantage to a .223 or 5.45 Russian in an AK action especially in LEO work. My advice would be to buy/assemble a semi-custom AR to meet your needs and blend with the crowd.

This thread at ar15.com might give you some ideas: http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=118&t=226012&page=1

Coronach
October 4, 2005, 02:24 AM
A few more points about the choice of a personal patrol rifle:

1. The main shortcomings of the M16 series, either real or imagined, are commonly stated as being a lack of stopping power, a lack of robustness, and a lack or reliability. Each of them is less of an issue (assuming they were ones to start with) with a personally owned patrol rifle. You can select HP ammo. You can baby your weapon. You can keep it pristinely clean and lubed so you know it works.

2. You own every bullet you shoot, unlike in warfare. People talk about "minute of torso" and such, and that certainly has an application in warfare and SHTF scenarios, but if I was picking my patrol rifle, I would want the most accurate rifle I could afford and could shoot well. I would want to know that if I shoot something, intended to shoot it.

Mike

Texfire
October 4, 2005, 01:01 PM
Very interesting info. I only saw a AR-180B the other day at a local shop. And I had no idea that the M-96 existed, though it is a little out of my price range. :)

Good info, part of why I love this site.

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