7.62x39 and .308 ammo woes...Is it time to buy my first .223? Which one?


November 7, 2006, 07:49 PM
I have watched the prices of both 7.62x39 and .308 more than double in the past year and a half and their availability plummet as well. While I don't really enjoy shooting .223 rifles, I am beginning to see past my stubbornness against owning a "poodle-shooter" solely because of long-term ammo availability. With .223, I can buy factory reloads from a number of companies at any time or even some cheap 5.56 surplus from a number of countries. I can also find once fired brass anywhere and start reloading it on smaller presses than .308 requires. And there is always Wolf .223 when you just need some dirty but cheap plinking ammo. .223 will be available for many years to come.

Which .223 to buy?

I think the Stoner AR design is great but I have experienced many malfunctions using friends' AR's that were well cleaned and maintained. I also don't like the AR style charging handle, I would much prefer the FAL/XCR style charging handle. I would like to avoid an AR if at all possible but love its aftermarket and versatility.

I am considering a Robinson Arms XCR, an Israeli Galil SAR clone, an HK33 or possibly even a converted Saiga AK.

I've got plenty of AK's so the Saiga is last on my list. The Galil is at least $2200 so that places it further down my list as well.

The XCR has everything from the AR I want mated with all the stuff I love about the AK and FAL, but Robarms' customer service scares me (let's just say I've owned a VEPR for a few years and that gave me a taste.) I would be willing to risk it for the sweet weapon that it is.

A Vector Arms V-93 or V-53 rifle would be sweet as well and in the same price range as the XCR.

Am I missing any other worthwhile .223 rifles to consider (besides the mini-14)?

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November 7, 2006, 08:20 PM
a kel-tec su-16

November 7, 2006, 09:36 PM
The SIG 556 (http://www.sigarms.com/Products/ShowCatalogProductDetails.aspx?categoryid=35&productid=114) could be what you are looking for, but no one will know for sure until they have been in use for six months, or maybe a year (that is, 6-12 months AFTER they actually hit the streets). So, that depends on how much of a rush you are in.

It also depends on what you want it for. If you have all of the HD and SHTF rifles you want/need in other calibers, and this is just something to shoot, might as well get something accurate like a .223 bolt action. If this is a back-up defense gun because you are considering that you might not be able to get ammo for your others, then you might want to consider the Saiga conversions -- you have your AKs for a reason, so another one in .223 might make sense.

November 7, 2006, 09:54 PM
For the same money I would get one of the AR-SD's like we built for Larry. Did you get to shoot it last weekend?

November 7, 2006, 10:10 PM
You worried about ammo prices and don't like .223? Get yourself an 8mm. Ammo 5 cents a round...:)

Don't Tread On Me
November 7, 2006, 10:47 PM
Yes, 8mm is the best thing going right now for cheap shooting. Corrosive, but cheap. Dirt cheap.

.223 has doubled in price also. Availabity of mil-spec ammo is rare and very expensive. XM193, what's left of it if you can find it is hitting $300 a case. It was $140 2 years ago. Even Wolf is up there at $150-$160 range. Any brass-cased factory .223 is well over $240 a case now. With .223, you have the Guatemalan and the British surplus. Neither is that great, and will dry up like the SA .308 is. Wolf is well used and will be a good source, but the demand for brass-cased .223 quality ammo, I fear, will never be satisfied and prices will remain high for a very, very long time. Domestic manufacturers can't seem to mass produce centerfire rifle ammo for a low cost. Most AR people like to shoot Wolf, but always have a demand for brass cased ammo.

I think the most promising cartridge will be the 7.62x39mm. This has an opportunity to come back and in quantity. Due to commodity prices, an inflated dollar and other issues, the glory days of $75 a case are over. But, if the flow starts coming in like it used to, we can probably expect $110-$120 a case which isn't too bad. If it goes down more, better for us and I'll be happy to be wrong. Just my speculations.

If you're used to shooting .308, and it doubled, today's price of .223 is similar to what .308 used to be back then. If that makes it affordable, not a bad idea if you don't mind American Eagle or Winchester Whitebox for $275. If Wolf is ok, that has been more available than x39....

As for the AR-15, it has been a HUGE TREND lately. For the last 2 years, mostly the last year, I have read countless threads on THR and other forums of people speculating on purchasing the AR. Everyone is thinking the same exact thing - get the AR because .223 is around. Well, now that everyone is shifting over (or at least a lot of people), .223 is getting expensive and difficult to get.

Every week there's 2-3 threads on new AR's, with people specifing ammo concerns. With the BATFE's tyrannical imporation bans of AK parts and the lack of 7.62x39mm in the last 18 months and more...demand for AK's and AK shooting has fallen a lot. The ammo shortage and government attacks are killing the AK enthusiast world, which was the best avenue for cheap volume shooting.

Like I said, I think Wolf will come back and slowly, real slowly to the supply levels we once had. That won't solve the AK rifle importation issues, but it will help. Russia can crank out a lot of x39, the only thing that can stop them is an importation ban by an unfriendly administration via executive order.

November 7, 2006, 11:19 PM
Hartzpad, I'll bet you could really grow to like the AR15. But as previous posters have mentioned, the 5.56/.223 scene isn't all that great either.

Don't Tread, just curious about what you don't like about Radway and Guat 5.56? For the money, I think they are by far the best thing going.


Don't Tread On Me
November 8, 2006, 12:34 AM
Well, they're not as good as XM193, and from what I understand, there is limited quantity. I'm not an ammo snob. Everyone hates Olympic and I shot it and it worked fine.

It isn't something to bet on if looking to switch platforms. Kind of like someone buying an autoloading .308 because they're counting on the cheap South African .308 surplus being around. I was floating the idea of an autoloading .308 due to the dirt cheap SA ammo, but all of a sudden the price went up $10 per 140rd battlepack. I inquired and read that it is drying up. For the longest time it was cheap.

For the AR, there's always Wolf...and if you have money to spare, FMJ brass cased Federal or Winchester. If there's Wolf for the AR, there's going to be Wolf for the AK, but it will be a little bit cheaper (should be). The only negative of the 7.62x39mm is that if Russian ammo imports were banned (and I swear I remember hearing some Democratic leaders murmering the signs of an early drum beat towards "punishing" Russian arms industry by banning imports to the US) then at least the AR would still work since you could get factory made ammo for years to come. It will just be in less quantity or more expensive, or both. All depending on personal budgets of course. The 7.62x39mm will be dead as dead can be if Russia is taken out of the picture. The reloading scene on that cartridge is miserable. The AK beats up brass, and finding brass is more difficult and it costs more than other cartridges.

November 8, 2006, 12:55 AM
Am I missing any other worthwhile .223 rifles to consider (besides the mini-14)?

The Armalite AR-180B (http://www.armalite.com/sales/catalog/rifles/ar180b.htm).

image from Armalite's website

Takes AR mags and trigger groups, different operating system than the AR. Reportedly has a tight chamber, so some ammo might give extraction problems. AR15.com has a forum (http://www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=3&f=62) for these. It's a light rifle, ~20 bbl for good ballistics from .223. There's an ACE folder available for it if you lean that way, and at least one person makes a good top rail for it.

Can you tell what rifle I'm aiming for next? ;)


November 9, 2006, 07:17 PM

50 Freak
November 9, 2006, 07:22 PM
I just picked up another FN-49 and a PSL

8mm and 7.62x54 are cheap. Won't be that way in a few years when 308 and 7.62x39 again flood the market.

November 9, 2006, 07:39 PM
If you've got the green, then 5x5 pointed you in the right direction. After handling a couple of SLR-106fr's in the shop I was really in love. The folder is really solid and everything else about the rifle is of the highest quality.

I ended up going with an SAR-3 to solve all the potential problems previously discussed.

November 9, 2006, 08:15 PM
One word....reloading......

Been doing that for 20 years, and saved a bundle......

November 9, 2006, 08:43 PM
Daewoo K2. Has one of the best folding stocks in the business. Second to none.
Uses AR/M16 Mags
Has good sights
has provisions for optic rail
Adjustable gas system
Gas piston operated
Doesn't care about being clean
Has a real charging handle
Very reliable


November 9, 2006, 09:11 PM
I have a hard time understanding your point in buying a .223. The 7.62x39 ammo is the exact same price and just as easy to get in bulk. Just don't make sense.

November 10, 2006, 10:48 AM
First off, all off the 5.56/223 rifles I've ever shot have been much more accurate than any of the 7.62x39 chambered rifles I've ever shot.

and actually, I can get M193 for $115 per 1000 on my doorstep.

The average AR will handily outshoot the average AK/SKS.

November 10, 2006, 11:21 AM
As PvtPyle pointed out, you could get an AR-SD already suppressed for the same amount as some of those others. Did you shoot mine? 2700 FPS at the muzzle, .22 quiet. Looks like a mutant MP5 SD. What's not to love. :)

Since you are already up to speed on the AK, you could do the Tromix. We can do some pretty sweet stuff with those.

As for my opinion of the XCR, I don't know if you saw my review in SWAT magazine month before last, but it had a few issues.

Still 2 Many Choices!?
November 10, 2006, 12:36 PM
Could I see a pic of this,"mutant MP5 sd", if you have one? I wouldn't mind having something like that myself. I might be interested in purchasing a suppressor from you guys if I can get some imfo.

To the tread starter, I vote just get the AR and be done with it. You could build an AR for a fourth of the cost of some of you listed options. But seeing that you already knew that, I'm betting the cost is not too much of a factor.Bite the bullet and get the ,"poodle shooter", you won't be sorry...

Sorry for the hijack....Still 2 Many Choices!?

November 10, 2006, 12:47 PM
I did shoot your AR-SD but only 1 round, it was super quiet and had no recoil. I think it would be really fun. Let's estimate $900-$1000 for the rifle, rails, etc, + $200 for SBR tax stamp + $200 for surpressor tax stamp, is that what you were thinking, about $1400 same as the XCR?

I did read your writeup on the XCR and there were only a few very minor issues that you brought up as negatives such as the height of the buttstock for a proper cheekweld, small parts that can be lost during field stripping, etc.

I just really like the side charging handle on the XCR (a la FAL) and the gas pistol upper. Not to mention the location of the bolt release and the one piece receiver with full top rail. I also like the folding stock.

I don't think I will switch to .223 just yet, I'll just suck up the .308 and 7.62x39 prices and see how it goes. I have thought about getting a surpressor for one of my .308's, not sure if it would be worth it.

November 10, 2006, 01:17 PM
2 Many, no pictures, but it is the suppressed AR from the beginning of this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=kxLoahwIwqU I'm the stunningly handsome man with the goatee in the ACU Goretex. Hartzpad is the guy with the shorty FAL, and then the Krebs.

The price of that package, as it was set up would be $1,600. That includes the suppresor, rail, flip up sights, etc. But not the optic. Except that price would be with the standard collapsible stock instead of the ACE. Of course there is paying the ATF.

I love the idea of the XCR, it was just the execution that bugged me. It was one of those things, where honestly, it could be the best rifle ever. It comes close, but there were too many little things that I just didn't like.

November 10, 2006, 01:34 PM
Fun video, Correia. I liked how you charged the Saiga 12. Have you found it to work better/worse with a standard pistol-gripped AK?

November 10, 2006, 01:47 PM
6 of one, half dozen of another. It doesn't really matter to me. For some folks it does. All personal preference really.

November 10, 2006, 02:47 PM
Well, I bit the bullet and bought a case of South African .308 from a local shop for $245 + tax. I had to get it while there still was some available. Now I just need to get a few thousand more 7.62x39 and I'll have enough to shoot my existing rifles for a while.

Funny thing is, a cop that came out to Utah for one of our seminars left me about 600 rounds of Federal 193 .223, I have been saving it to use in some full-auto AR's. That is what has been tempting me to get a .223, so I can shoot it up.

November 10, 2006, 09:37 PM
MGI, sig, keltec would all be allright, especially the mgi.

Dave Markowitz
November 11, 2006, 09:55 AM
Arsenal AK in 5.56MM. Kalashnikov reliable and quite accurate. Very well made. I have an SA M5 (milled receiver) which is one of the nicest shooting rifles I've ever shot. The SLR-106s (stamped receiver) should be as nice.

November 11, 2006, 10:05 AM
a lot of people are suggesting .223 AK's like Arsenals, but I already have 4 AK's and one of them is a VEPR, you can't get much more accurate than that.

Correia is seriously tempting me with talk of an AR-SD though. Would be a fun toy.

November 11, 2006, 12:44 PM
Suppressed is mighty fun. :)

November 11, 2006, 01:04 PM
my first .223? Which one

TC Contender:D

Or, alternatively, a Lee O press starter kit. I don't worry about ammo costs.

November 11, 2006, 09:19 PM
and actually, I can get M193 for $115 per 1000 on my doorstep.

I'd like to know that source...

November 11, 2006, 09:56 PM
SIG 556 or Arsenal 5.56mm AK.

November 12, 2006, 12:40 AM
get a .223 bolt action. you wont burn through ammo as fast if you make each shot count.

November 12, 2006, 02:06 AM
I traded the AR for a CZ bolt rifle, and thought the same thing.

I was sick if having to work that hard or spend that much to ultimately hit a target that should be simple for a .223.

I now have a CZ 527 American, and 250 yard crows and coyotes are a simple thing now. No more "chasing" with bullets!

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