.223 as a sniper round?


February 20, 2007, 10:55 PM
What do you think? Does it have enough speed, range, power, whatever else a good sniper round needs? I know nothing about these things

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February 20, 2007, 11:03 PM
I wouldn't want to use it as one. Hitting someone a long ways out with only a 55-62gr hunk of lead, especially a center-mass shot, isn't the kind of impact I'd want.

February 20, 2007, 11:12 PM
I'd say it depends on what your definition of sniper is. Would Lee Harvey Oswald have been successful with it, surely. Can it shoot a mile away and have significant energy when it gets there, doubtful.

February 20, 2007, 11:29 PM
Might find this interesting: http://www.gunsandammomag.com/ammunition/mk262_080105/

February 20, 2007, 11:30 PM
TX has it pretty much covered. Police sniper at under 100 yards, .223 would be fine but if we're talking 400+ yards I would step up to something much larger. A good AR can shoot out to 600 yards to a pretty good effect, but then again a .308 can easily, and even farther.

Since I'm assuming we're talking long distance target shooting (400+ meters) I wouldn't use a .223 chambered rifle. Under 400 yards it would be fine.

.223 Just doesn't have the mass to retain energy compared to something like the .308 or 50 cal. It simply has its time and place, of which long distance shooting isn't one of them.

February 20, 2007, 11:32 PM
Wow those look really interesting from my skim of that article.

February 20, 2007, 11:35 PM
Out past @300 yards, the wind has about twice the effect on bullet path as the 308.

February 20, 2007, 11:43 PM
For the law enforcement sharpshooter role, it ought to be okay in the vast majority of circumstances... but for the military sniper role, I'd consider it insufficiently versatile.

February 20, 2007, 11:56 PM
a 70 plus grainer, out of a 26 inch bbl, would do just fine to 600 yds.

February 20, 2007, 11:57 PM
Thanks for the info everybody

February 21, 2007, 01:44 AM
I'd use a 7mm, 308, 30-06. They travel farther & faster with better penetration.

pete f
February 21, 2007, 02:36 AM
'Sniper" ammo brings all sorts of baggage.

truth be told, there are very very few police snipers who would use a .223, not because they do not like it, but it does not have the punch needed in what are common scenarios. It will deflect a lot on glass. It will not penetrate deeply enough if you have to take a thru the shoulders shot.

Most are going to use a .308 both for practical and liability reasons.
A .308 will reliable penetrate glass with enough pop left over to stop the perpetrator. A .223 will not always penetrate the front of the skull AND reliably fly thru from iffy angles or ranges. a .308 to the mellon is going to ruin anyones day. .308's are in wide spread use, there is lots of tactical history of people getting shot with one and being DRT. In today's litigious society, making sure you have used a weapon with precedent is highly desired.

Even though something like 90 percent of SWAT counter shot are at 65 yards, having the range in the box to reach out and reliablly thump someone at 25 or 400 means the .308 is more likely to be the choice.

For working snipers, counter terror people, etc, they often jump up to the .300 winmag for the added reach, better ability with 180 grainers and proven one stop hits on a variety of target scenarios.

WHile .223s are accurate to 400 yards on prairie dogs, much beyond that is a crap shoot, and when you need one shot, one kill, crap shoot is not the term you are looking for. I have personally had 2 PD's fairly hit at long ranges 400 and above, that managed to scramble back in a hole to die in after good hits at that range. jump it up just to the .220 swift or .22 250 an they would not have done that. prairie dogs that are toast at 350 with the .22 250 are walking the thin line when the shot stretches out to 550 and above, 500 is darn hard to do with any gun on a prairie dog, Yet serious snipers in the ITO or ATO are getting hit at 1000 yards on people with .308's and farther too.

February 21, 2007, 03:38 AM
Depends on your definition of "sniper". Short range, I guess .223 could work. Long range, .30-06 or .308 would be better "sniper" calibers.

Don't Tread On Me
February 21, 2007, 03:46 AM
Pete F speaks the truth.

It depends on the mission, or your goal. If you're looking to snipe humans within 300m, then the .223 is a good choice. It will ruin their day (and their life). What others have said it true, the .223 is still lethal beyond that. It can kill out to 1000m easily. It can be lethal out to a mile. But that is stretching what the standards are. Most people want a one-shot, one-kill situation where the impact has the power to incapacite the target relatively quickly. That is less certain with the .223 at greater ranges than with the .308.

If glass is a barrier or a potential barrier, or there's a concern of some type of barrier, than hands down the .308 is better. Because of the little .223 bullet, even at larger grain weights, they shred apart and deform. They don't have the mass of a 168gr or heavier bullet which allows a greater mass to stay together in a larger piece as it penetrates a barrier. The heavier the bullet, the less it will deflect through barriers. Making hit probability much higher.

Also, people say that the .308 is better in the wind at longer range than the .223. This is fact. However, that's not the right way to say it. The .308 is better in the wind at ALL ranges. So, if you're looking to make a surgical strike even at 150 yards (assuming you have a tack-driving rifle), the .308 will be a touch less affected by wind. And at long range, it is a much bigger difference.

Finally, the .308 has superior terminal performance than the .223 - period. I'm a huge fan of the .223 and I advocate it a lot; however, a lot of .223 fanatics will not tell you the whole story. They are often comparing high-end match-grade heavy .223 bullets and their improved fragmentation effects with military ball ammunitions in .308.

If you load a 155gr AMAX in .308, the terminal effects, tumbling and fragmentation as well as penetration is absolutely superior to any .223 on the planet. Massive trauma. So, if you feed the .308 the right bullets, it is more lethal.

In short, with the .223 at appropriate distances, you're not undergunned. However, I believe the .308 to be the best choice even at short range, yet it retains the ability to reach out and touch someone.

February 21, 2007, 02:34 PM

February 21, 2007, 02:43 PM
Does it have enough speed, range, power, whatever else a good sniper round needs?

Short answer: No.


February 21, 2007, 02:45 PM
The primary thing that a sniper has over his enemies os something called ballistic advantage. It's the ability to effectively engage an enemy at a distance where the enemy has a difficult time engaging the sniper.
The .223 simply does not have a ballistic range that can me optimized by precision engineering, skill, and a scope.


February 21, 2007, 03:10 PM
a 70 plus grainer, out of a 26 inch bbl, would do just fine to 600 yds.
i agree, but otherwise it could fill the slot as a countersniper weapon, but i definetly wouldn't use it as a "sniper rifle" if i had a choice.

February 21, 2007, 03:25 PM
a .308 to the mellon is going to ruin anyones day
LOL! I'd go with the .308. Theres a reason that LEOs and soldiers use it for sniping. They know what they're doing. (if you can afford a Barrett .50 I'll change my vote)

Outlaw Man
February 21, 2007, 03:34 PM
If you know you've got a clear headshot it's not at all insufficient in the right hands in the right rifle. 1000+ yards at a match is common.

But how many times is your target going to be standing motionless with nothing in the way?

With no alternative, you might could make due if you have a really well built rifle with some serious optics, but there's a reason so many snipers use .308s.

Don't Tread On Me
February 21, 2007, 03:35 PM
The only niche that the .223 excels in when it comes to "sniping" is in the role of semi-automatic sniper rifles, or SPR or DM style rifles. Which aren't really for sniping.

Because of the AR platforms inherent accuracy, it is a suitable without needing excessive work to turn it into one, unlike other autoloaders which need a complete overhaul and gunsmithing.

The key advantage is the low-recoil and high capacity. You have a rifle which can shoot MOA, do so as fast as you can pull the trigger, and during this whole process, you can watch the impacts through the scope without ever losing your sight picture.

You can't do that with a heavier recoiling cartridge.

Here's another thing to consider. If you're not planning for a revolution, foreign invasion, mass SHTF, gang warfare/civil unrest/chaos, tyrannical government oppression, guerilla warfare etc....and this rifle is going to have a 99.999999999999% of being a range toy like most everyone else's rifles, the .223 will give you your sniping fix for sure. Cheaper to shoot and accurate. Great to learn on. No recoil and a whole lot more fun. Definitely learn marksmanship skills on that as well as on anything else.

Sniper X
February 21, 2007, 03:37 PM
Spotters usually use an accurized M4 or something similar in close support roles, mine did. Also, that question is answerable by need. Police departments world wide use 5.56mm nato, (and 7.62mm Nato) for sniping as their ranges are far shorter than the typical military sniper. The average sniper range in the military in the real world, depending on theater, is about 100~400M, in the US Law enforcement agencies nationwide are limited to 100 yards for a sniper shot for insurance and political correctness/ legality reasons. So, as a result, and for financial reasons, they oten choose either 5.56mm Nato, or actually, .243.

In the military sniping community, we use 7.62mm Nato as a standard in most theaters, and now because of super long ranges and the changing needs for a sniper to take out both soft and hard targets, .50BMG, and the newly adopted world wide super sniper cartridge, the excelelnt .338 Lapua magnum.

Hope this at least partially answers your question.

February 21, 2007, 05:37 PM
If one says "Sniper round" I definitely don't think .223...
That said there's many uses for .223 and everone knows you can make some great long distance shots, but if someone told me to pick a rifle for Sniper work, .30 or bigger.

That's an interesting article by the way.

February 21, 2007, 05:41 PM
Sniper round? I wouldn't shoot a coyote with it after 350 yards or so. I can't believe some of these answers. And yes I served in the military, I know the 5.56 has killed people. Still doesn't make it a sniper round.

February 21, 2007, 05:43 PM

February 21, 2007, 05:58 PM
Not a military sniper round. Maybe police use it for that for some reason that is good for them. The military uses it as a combat round which is a completely different use.

Don't forget Johnny Malvo though. I am pretty sure he used a .223 at short ranges. Just because it is not the best tool for the job does not mean it can not be used that way.

February 21, 2007, 06:01 PM
I was a SDM my last tour and the 77grn 5.56 has plenty of punch out to at least 400 yards. Now dont get me wrong, the snipers in my unit could out shoot me any day of the week with their M24's and there is no doubt that the .308 is a superior sniping round. Even though I had the longest rifle shot of my unit, besting the snipers by 50 meters at approx 425 meters. I have NEVER seen the 5.56 not incapacitate a BG with a good shot.

February 23, 2007, 05:43 AM
I have very little exprience, but it might be a good thing to do (if you're going to be a marksman) to practice a bit with a .223 out to 300m with cheap ammo, than get a .308 and move to a 900, and than try a .338 Lapua beyond the 1000. That way the cost of learning will be kept lower, and you change gear to more powerfull rifles when you 'll have enough exprience under your belt. Also the bores of bigger calibers wear out quicker, so there is very little point starting with a .338 or another magnum caliber and learn basics just in time for a barrel change without using a small part of gun's potential before.

My advice:

.223 --> .308 (ultimate Sako TRG 22 or a AI AW) --> .338 Lapua (Sako TRG 42 or a AI AWM)

The four rifles mentioned - very expensive, but high end accuracy and a benefit of the same stock config in .308 and .338

February 23, 2007, 05:00 PM
Three thoughts:

1) "A .223 will not always penetrate the front of the skull." -- Pete F. I'd love to know your source for this information. I'd like to know what .223/5.56 round that leaves the barrel at 2800-3200 fps is not going to penetrate an unprotected human skull at any reasonable distance that a .223 would be used at.

2) The military needs to make COM hits at long ranges, i.e. 600m+, and usually doesn't have to worry about collateral civilian damage. So a .308/7.62 is fine. PD's need to make head shots at short ranges, i.e. 70m, and always have to worry about collateral civilian damage, i.e. overpenetration and ricochets. I believe that's where the .223 shines.

3) If the .223 is no comparison to the .308, then the .308 is no comparison to the .300 or .338. Where do you want to draw the line? What is your target, distance, and objective? There is some overlap between cartridges; you have to decide what you need. Each can do the job depending on the need.

February 23, 2007, 07:24 PM
77 grain 5.56mm through an SPR isn't the same as M118LR, but it still has sufficient legs to reach out and touch someone out at the ranges where snipers mostly make their money (and guys shooting back at them don't make theirs). Obviously not as much thump as something in 7.62x51 or heavier at any given range, but it has longer legs (with the right ammunition) than the guys who are saying it can't do the job are giving it credit for.

February 23, 2007, 07:51 PM
I will add one more comment: I believe ammo selection is much more important with the 5.56 vs. the 7.62 and up, but if you stick with most anything from Black Hills, you are good to go.

Rifleman 173
May 31, 2007, 07:37 AM
If you REALLY need to use a .223 round for sniping, go for a close range head shot. Long range .223 shots are pretty much not going to be that effective with the 55 grain bullets. Intermediate distance shots might have some left over added power BUT they are not guaranteed to be effective either. If you're looking for an accurate AR-15 type rifle that MIGHT eventually prove to be a decent sniper rifle, go with the new 6.5 Grendels, the 6.8 SPC rifles or go with the .308 AR-10 rifles.

One report out of Afghanistan said that an SF team got into a shoot out with some Al Queda terrorists. They shot one terrorist 4 times, all body hits, but he was able to return fire, reload and kill two SF men. After he killed the 2 SF men, the terrorist also died. One thing about the .223, it is practically useless against anybody who has consumed any drugs, has a mental problem or drank any quantities of alcohol unless you shoot them in the head. In Nam we had one paratrooper put over 20+ .223 bullets into a commie's chest. The commie looked at the trooper, sneered and then calmly walked down the side of a hill. The next morning the commie's body was found part way down the hill and it was determined that he was stoned out of his head prior to the attack. IIRC, there was a small glass vial found on him with some bamboo pieces that had been soaked in opium or something.:fire: Kind of made a number of us mad because, once again, the brass and gunmakers were NOT listening to the guys in the field who wanted a decent rifle that would stop a doped up enemy. Sort of like re-learning the stuff from the Phillipines again.

Zak Smith
May 31, 2007, 11:07 AM
Summary of ballistics, 556, 308, and 338LM:

_Bullet_ _BC_ _MV_ 0 200 400 600 800 | YARDS
556 M193 0.240 3200 > 0.00 3.78 16.96 43.26 87.23 | wind (inches)
556 Mk262 0.362 2700 > 0.00 3.10 13.38 32.67 63.14 | wind (inches)
308 175SMK 0.51* 2650 > 0.00 2.28 9.62 22.92 43.32 | wind (inches)
338LM 0.675 2950 > 0.00 1.42 5.89 13.77 25.49 | wind (inches)

556 M193 0.240 3200 > -0.00 0.77 5.26 12.26 22.68 | drop (moa)
556 Mk262 0.362 2700 > -0.00 1.41 7.03 14.66 24.57 | drop (moa)
308 175SMK 0.51* 2650 > -0.00 1.40 6.72 13.48 21.65 | drop (moa)
338LM 0.675 2950 > -0.00 0.82 4.67 9.45 14.94 | drop (moa)

556 M193 0.240 3200 > 3200 2577 2032 1565 1218 | velocity (fps)
556 Mk262 0.362 2700 > 2700 2319 1972 1659 1394 | velocity (fps)
308 175SMK 0.51* 2650 > 2650 2372 2112 1870 1643 | velocity (fps)
338LM 0.675 2950 > 2950 2730 2520 2320 2130 | velocity (fps)

May 31, 2007, 11:58 AM
One report out of Afghanistan said that an SF team got into a shoot out with some Al Queda terrorists. They shot one terrorist 4 times, all body hits, but he was able to return fire, reload and kill two SF men. After he killed the 2 SF men, the terrorist also died.

There are also documented cases of 500 and 600 meter kill shots with 5.56mm rifles firing green tip over in the sand box. Getting bullets to uniformly and consistently do their job on the battlefield (regardless of caliber) remains an elusive goal.

May 31, 2007, 01:02 PM
Adequate does not mean ideal. A good sniper could do fine with .223, but would probably opt for 22-250 if it had to be .224 diameter bullets. America's top sniper in southeast Asia used a Remington model 700 customized with a 7mm-08 barrel. .308 is almost as good with much better off-the-shelf gun and ammo availability. 300 Win Mag is better for 1000+ yards. The longest ever confirmed kill was by a Canadian sniper shooting a .50 BMG at 2467 meters.
Schennberg.com (http://www.schennberg.com)

May 31, 2007, 02:20 PM
As has been said repeatedly, depends on your definition of "sniper." I remember an early news story from the Iraq war where a U.S. sniper was racking up a huge body count. He wasn't using a manly M14 but an M4. Sounds perfect for urban sniping.

George Hill
May 31, 2007, 02:46 PM
The article linked earlier in the thread: "How our improved 5.56 stacks up against its peers"
Now that you asked the Ford dealer how good his Fords are, go talk to the Chevy guy.

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