308 v 223 v 30-06 v 243 v 7.62x39 v 5.45x39


June 15, 2007, 02:48 AM
Which is the best round for military use? Please note that this poll is not limited to US military, but military in general around the world.

Currently, US is using .223. There have been proposal for .243 due to its remarkable trajectory and slightly more power. 30-06, however powerful, was discontinued from the United States Army, and I dont think any army has it in use, but for some Police use in old rifles in the developing nations. Nevertheless this is not to under-estimate the power of the cartirdge. It is still very popular in the hunting arena. 308 is being used for sports and military use in many countires. 7.62x39 or the Ak47 round is in my opinion the most used round in the world because it equips Russian and Chinese army, and many para military forces in other countries. Now, the 5.45x39 (which is used in AK74 or the SMG AKSU74) is relatively a newer cartridge developed by the Russians, and is being used by the Russian special forces. It has more range and better in target hitting compared to AK47 round.

My vote is for 308 for its power. Critics argue the recoil issue, but a well trained soldier should not have problem with that. It has good efective range and trajectory. My second choice is 7.62x39 for power in shorter range fire fights, and third would be a tie between .223 and 5.45x39 since they are both very similar- it will all depend on the weapon I am using rather than the bullet.

Now I invite your comments.

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June 15, 2007, 03:07 AM
We need 6.8 special and 6.5 grendel for options.

Tony Williams
June 15, 2007, 04:31 AM
You're comparing apples with oranges.

The full-power rifle/MG rounds - the .308 (which ought to be 7.62x51, the military version) and the .30-06 (and the 7.62x54R, which you missed out even though it is very much still in service) are the best for long-range use in support MGs and sniper rifles.

The lower powered 5.56x45 (again, not exactly the same as the .223), the 7.62x39 and the 5.45x39 are much better for shorter range rifles as their lower recoil permits more controllable automatic fire, and the lighter ammo means that the soldier can carry more of it.

Nobody uses the .243 as a military round - it's almost as big and heavy as the 7.62x51 and still has too much recoil for auto fire.

The 6.8x43 Rem SPC and 6.5x38 Grendel are better compromises than any of the above. The 6.5's ballistics are just about ideal for a general-purpose military round.

You'll find all the assault rifle rounds and contenders written up HERE (http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/Assault.htm)

June 15, 2007, 04:48 AM
You can't really use any of the rounds listed for everything. .223 in a general purpose machine gun would do nothing but put you at a disadvantage; .308 in an 11" barreled carbine for tankers would be a flame thrower. 5.45mm won't make much of a sniper rifle round, and .30-06 is going to be hard to control in full auto.

Thin Black Line
June 15, 2007, 07:57 AM
I love the 243 and at one time DSA made an FAL in it. It will do far more in
all ways than the 223 and trajectory on an 85g 243 easily glides past the 308
w/o the associated recoil and still carries plenty of energy downrange....but
I'm a stubborn intermediate cartridge oldtimer and picked the 7.62x39.

June 15, 2007, 08:05 AM
DSA still makes FAL rifles in .243. Call them to see about ordering.

Old Time Hunter
June 15, 2007, 08:59 AM
I would have picked the .30-06, but realized it was more for nostalgia reasons than anything else. The .308 can do the same, except when you get to heavier bullets. The rest are for wimps.

Tony Williams
June 15, 2007, 09:48 AM
The .308 can do the same, except when you get to heavier bullets. The rest are for wimps.

I had no idea that 90% of the US Army, as well as almost all of the NATO forces, consisted of wimps. :what:

Oh well, the Russian Army uses the 5.45mm, so presumably they're even wimpier. On the other hand, the Chinese are standardising on 5.8mm, which must mean that they are more manly than the Americans. Hmm. It makes you wonder how the Allies won WW2, since the German 7.92mm was bigger in calibre than the Allied ammo. :rolleyes:

Bartholomew Roberts
June 15, 2007, 10:38 AM
"Military use" is a fairly broad category. The military uses pistols, PDWs, submachine guns, rifle, precision rifles, general purpose machine guns, and heavy/mounted machine guns. One caliber will not suit all of those purposes.

Second, minor variations in the terminal effectiveness of different rounds (say .308 v. .223 for example) do not win wars. Most enemy soldiers are not killed by small arms fire anyway and of those who are, the difference in .308 v .223 would likely be too small to measure.

Wars are won by logisitics and logistics rewards the smallest possible round you can fit into an effective package. I guarantee you that the PDW is not an accident nor is it intended to be a secondary weapon forever. The whole purpose of the PDW is to see if an even smaller round can be sufficient for small arms since most fights happen within 300yds anyway.

If you look at it from a logistics standpoint, then it is simple. Here is a rough example (with totally made up numbers). Let's say .30-06 is a slayer. For every round that hits the enemy, it kills them dead without fail; but you only get 10 rounds of .30-06 for one pound and your soldiers only hit 75% of the time. Now let's say that 5.45x39 only kills 50% of the time; but you get 30 rounds for one pound and your soldiers hit 80% of the time. You've got 2,000lbs of cargo space. Which one is going to get you the most bang for the buck?

What might make sense on a personal level, doesn't always apply well when scaled up. My personal choice would be 6.8 or 6.5; but given the choices I would go 5.56 for general infantry issue. 7.62x51 doesn't give you enough of an increase to justify the extra logistical load. .243 is neat; but has almost all of the same logistical load as .308, so why even step down if you are going that route?

Mr. 16 gauge
June 15, 2007, 11:41 AM
Personally, I would like to see a rifle in .308 become the standard infantry weapon. The round is accurate and can do the job at long range and would be effective at short range as well. Seeing as how our military may be deployed from anywhere from the arctic to the dessert to some rat hole city, this (at least to me) seems important.....it is about as 'do-all' a cartridge as it comes.
It is my understanding that part of the reason that the military went to the 5.56 mm round was to save weight so the average G.I. could carry more ammo....the 'spray and pray' ideal was prevalent then. I'll take an aimed round any day over sending a bunch of bullets downrange in hopes that one might hit something.
I shoot both the .223 and the .308. I like the .223 for hunting varmints, and in some states it is illegal to use on big game. How can one expect a round like this to be effective on a hyped up human, esp. in it's FMJ military form? Also, there is the problem of wind shift at longer ranges with aimed fire.
Just MHO..........FWIW

June 15, 2007, 11:43 AM
I was pretty much thinking what Bart said. But I say there is something to having at least one soldier in the squad with a .308/ .243 or .30-06 LR rifle. The .243 is just a necked down .308 and would not help much logistically for the soldiers on the ground.

Sniper X
June 15, 2007, 11:47 AM
Like we used to say in the Army.

Weappons depend on theater.

But I will say that the Armed forces do extensive testing on what works and what doesn't based on many peramiters. And seeing that 7.62 Nato, and 5.56mm Nato are still in use world wide, as is 7.62X39mm, they are the best military rounds. You can go ANYWHERE (ther is a conflict) and get ammo of all three kinds no problem.

Jim Watson
June 15, 2007, 11:58 AM
I think the British .280 family of the 1950s had a lot going for it. More range than the 8x33 or 7.62x39 seen in German and Soviet use, less recoil and weight than .303 or .308. Probably the first 7x43 version would do fine, later marks were just souped up to try to catch US interest, but we were set on the .308/7.62 so as to maintain .30-06 ballistics.

I don't think the complicated EM-1 and EM-2 bullpups were the best platform, how about a scaled down FAL, Tony?

June 15, 2007, 12:07 PM
We need 6.8 special and 6.5 grendel for options.

That's why.

For an all purpose caliber, the 6.5 Grendel takes the cake. It gives you the best of all worlds. It gives up little in CQB, but at longer ranges is superior to all of the ones listed. Better armor penetrating ability then all of the others. Slightly heavier than .223 but lighter then the others. It has a wide variety of bullet weights from 95-144gr. Better ballistic then all of the others and less recoil than the majority of the larger cals.

June 15, 2007, 12:27 PM
Hey fellas. First post here on THR so thought I'd say hello first.

Agree with what mostly has been said. 5.56, 7.62x39 & 7.62NATO can be found most anywhere. I would not be against the idea of a new "medium" caliber that could do most of what all three can. But if I had to pick what was in use I'd vote for the 7.62x51.

June 15, 2007, 12:44 PM
I would very much like to see some test results on AR-10s, M-240Bs, etc configured and tactical tested.

If the advantage of smaller cartridges is that they have less recoil and are easier train, um, persons of all gender and body types, the .243 should be a great compromise. Re-tooling existing 7.62 NATO weapons shouldn't be very difficult. FN probably has already tried all of these things.

Jim Watson
June 15, 2007, 12:58 PM
If you have an army, you don't have to "find" ammunition, you make it, so that does not matter.
The problem in most of these discussions is that there are a lot of things any existing army needs worse than a new caliber to change to.

June 15, 2007, 01:41 PM
I've always wondered why the military didn't look at some other commercial cartridges when they wanted something smaller and lighter than the .30-06 and .308 rounds. What about the .250 Savage and .257 Roberts? Would they have been any good? According to the ballistics tables, they look very competitive with the .223 and the 7.62x39.

June 15, 2007, 01:53 PM
The truth is in the middle. I think the current trend is good. General carbine round with the 5.56, and then some designated marksman with something a bit bigger.

June 15, 2007, 02:10 PM
The .243 is not now nor has it ever been a military round. Nor has it ever been considered for military use. It's a hunting round. There have been 6mm military rounds, the 6mm Lee for example, but not the .243.
"...FN probably has already tried..." FN is a commercial manufacturer of military firearms. They don't do much cartridge R&D.
"...see some test results on AR-10s..." The real AR-10 was tested with other than 7.62NATO chamberings in the mid 50's. A few of 'em were made in 7.62 x 39 for Finland. There was another chambering too. A 7mm(not Mauser), I think.

June 15, 2007, 02:39 PM
I voted for .223 & .308/7.62. Both rounds cover just about any scenereo.

June 15, 2007, 03:30 PM
cast my lot with the 7.62x39...

Even though I don't own one personally I still feel from the experience I have had with it both with friends and when I was in the Army that it is a superior round for what its designed purpose is.

the 223 was based off a varmint round...nuff said...even though you can count some of them bassids over there AS varmints....but regardless...

the 308 is near and dear to my heart and would be my choice in a SHTF situation with the selection of my personal gear...given the choice, I would go with the x39 still.

The 30-06 would be good for a DMR rifle. I am sure that it could make a serious comeback given the chance.

The 243...I dunno...wouln't hurt to let it go out in some trials, I think.

The 5.45 was a copy-cat done by the reports done by the Viet Cong that went to the USSR during the Viet-Nam war...


June 15, 2007, 03:35 PM
Not an expert here, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that Hezbollah pretty well faught the IDF to a stalemate last year.....and I'd assume it was with 7.62x39 AKs, RPGs and IEDs.

They used Iranian missles, but these seem to have been deployed strictly as part of their terror campaign against civilian targets.

Others know better and can chime in, but I'm pretty amazed by what a determined & disciplined "gang" can do with so little.

Off course the fact that the IDF demonstrated a lot of restraint and Hezbollah showed zero respect for the lives of their fellow Habs (as they hid behind women and children) played a large role. The extreme bias in the media coverage and UN was a huge factor as well.

June 15, 2007, 03:36 PM
Thank you for the refresher on who FN is.

The discussion is to ask if the .243 should BECOME a military round.

There are commercially produced AR-10s in .243, and it is entirely feasible that every major small-arms manufacturer experiments in a variety of calibers. To state that FN wouldn't even try is understating their status in the industry.

June 15, 2007, 03:37 PM
I have always like a AK47 for a combat weapon.

June 15, 2007, 03:41 PM
5.45mm won't make much of a sniper rifle round
East Germany had a 5.45x39 sniper rifle. Apparentely not very good but they did exist. They were sold as surplus in the USA in the mid-90's.

Short article explains former designation and use (anti-terror units of the
MfS in airport service), some technical details (rear-locking turnbolt
action with four lugs, hammer-forged barrel), trigger is known for
breaking off easily in service (as a former GDR sniper told the author);
group sizes at 100 metres (bench-rested, 4x32 factory-installed scope):
12 cms with Russian military ammo, 7,5 and 4 cms with GDR issue ammo of
Koenigswartha manufacture (mercury fulminate primers, as usual with GDR
small arms cartridges).

High Planes Drifter
June 15, 2007, 04:55 PM
Well, I guess I'll start by eliminating some of the non contenders first. No reason to look at .30-06 for a military round scince 7.62 Nato is pretty much identical in ballistics with 165 gr. bullets. I wouldnt consider .243 scince it weighs just about the same as .308. IIRC, military 5.45 ammo is still being produced with corrosive powder(?), if it werent for that I'd consider it.

That leaves 7.62x39, 5.56Nato, and 7.62Nato. Of the three I'd pick 5.56 for general issue. Its light, its effective at urban combat ranges, light recoiling, and flat shooting enough to be effective in a designated marksman role. Certainly nothing wrong with 7.62Nato, but for fast and furious fighting at close distance, I'd rather a small, light, handy little carbine like the M4. I cant see chambering a carbine that small in 7.62Nato, and I think 5.56 is a better carbine round than 7.62x39.

Bartholomew Roberts
June 15, 2007, 05:20 PM
Why do people assume that merely because you have 150 percent more ammo you can't use aimed fire? Nothing stops you from using deliberate aimed fire whether you use .308 or .223.

Shots over 300yds? You can look at military records going back to WWI and see that small arms engagements beyond 100m are rare and beyond 300 are freakishly rare.

Finally, you have to consider costs. If you have 1,000 troops with a basic load of 210 rounds, you aren't just talking new rifles. You are talking more material to make a single cartridge, new trucks to carry the same amount of ammo, new C130s to carry the trucks, and new personnel to operate all that equipment.

That is a significant amount of expense for a round that isn't that much more effective than the intermediate rounds that replaced it (and even less effective using ball ammo at the ranges where most combat occurs).

June 15, 2007, 05:23 PM
All Militarys should have exactly what they have now.

Personally I would choose .556 for MY military (or something very close to it).

June 15, 2007, 05:44 PM

Twice the mass of 5.56 without substantial increase in recoil leads to better barrier penetration and larger wound channels. Current 5.56 62-gr penetrator rounds do NOT fragment well, leaving tiny wound tracks.

Yes it has a rainbow trajectory when shooting over 200yds but then again as has been pointed out many times already, most firefights take place inside 100yds, anything past that is generally taken care of with MGs and arty.

June 15, 2007, 05:44 PM
I think that all wars should be fought with paintball guns!:neener: If you get hit, you have to go back home.

Actually, I'm liking the 6.8 SPC from what I have seen on them. They have the accuracy and distance of the 5.56 and the punch of a 7.62x39. That makes for a great combination.

Tony Williams
June 15, 2007, 08:33 PM
Jim Watson said: I think the British .280 family of the 1950s had a lot going for it. More range than the 8x33 or 7.62x39 seen in German and Soviet use, less recoil and weight than .303 or .308. Probably the first 7x43 version would do fine, later marks were just souped up to try to catch US interest, but we were set on the .308/7.62 so as to maintain .30-06 ballistics.

I don't think the complicated EM-1 and EM-2 bullpups were the best platform, how about a scaled down FAL, Tony?

I agree that the 7x43 offered a good compromise between decent range and hitting power on the one hand, and compact size/light recoil on the other - better than any of the rounds currently in service (although arguably the 6.5mm Grendel is better still).

The whole point of the EM-1 and EM-2 bullpup designs was to make a gun which was very compact for CQB, and could therefore replace the SMG as well as the rifle. It was a carefully thought-out package, which appeared to work very well.

FN did of course make a traditional selective-fire gun around the 7x43 - the FAL was a scaled-up version of it! It would undoubtedly have been excellent, but not as compact for CQB - or for jumping in and out of vehicles and helos. Judging by the emphasis the US Army is putting on the M4 these days, compactness seems to be important.

June 15, 2007, 09:10 PM
Well, there is no magic bullet (pun intended). Each round has it's niche. However, if I were forced to supply an entire army with ONE caliber, it would have to be either the .243 or the 7.62 Soviet. Both are relatively intermediate rounds, and both have good knock- down power. The .243 round might be a bit heavy on the recoil side, but today's firearm and cartridge technologies might be able to overcome that. And there has to be something that has kept the 7.62 round popular all of these years.

I've always thought that we should start looking outside the box for ammunition possibilities. Heck, maybe the military should take a look at the 7.62x 39. Seems to work pretty well for everyone else.

June 16, 2007, 12:23 AM
Does anyone have ballistics figures for the caseless cartridge the G11 fired? I'd be curious to know.

Tony Williams
June 16, 2007, 03:09 AM
The G11's 4.7x33 round fired a 52 grain bullet at 3.050 fps.

June 16, 2007, 10:02 AM
Sniper's choice- I can understand .308, but general issue I have to go with 7.62x39 the Ak47 round. They are just very reliable, and moderate recoild compare to heavy .308 rifles, yet perfectly powered.

My Second choice would be .243 for it flat trajectory.

Art Eatman
June 16, 2007, 11:48 AM
OneShot!, trouble is, you're ignoring US military doctrine--which is the main determinant. Then, add Bartholomew's comments...


June 16, 2007, 11:51 AM
I'll have to confess that the good 'ol .30-06 is a sentimental favorite of mine.

June 17, 2007, 12:42 AM
I fall in with the 6.8x43 crowd. The Futureweapons guy sure made the 6.8 look good compared to the 5.56x45.

Redneck with a 40
June 17, 2007, 12:54 AM
I have to go with the 7.62x39. Since most firefights are within 100 yards, 7.62x39 is ideal. This round has significantly more knockdown power than the 5.56, the recoil is not severe, the weight increase over 5.56 would be marginal, the 7.62x39 has a lot more punch. I've never been impressed with the 5.56, I've heard reports out of Iraq of the soldiers wanting something more powerful, like the 6.8 spc. If your inside of 150 yards, the 7.62x39 is pretty flat shooting.

June 17, 2007, 01:27 AM
There have been proposal for .243

I'm not aware of there ever being a proposal for a .243 military weapon. And certainly no Army has ever used it despite it being in existence for many decades. 6mm carbine is not .243.

High Planes Drifter
June 17, 2007, 02:15 AM
I'll have to confess that the good 'ol .30-06 is a sentimental favorite of mine

The .30-06 is an outstanding cartridge compared to any cartridge in any time period, and will live forever as a cartridge that served its country perfectly through 2 world wars, and a host of other conflicts. Hell, the round is still in service today in some third world countries. Pretty much every American even remotely farmiliar with guns has a soft spot for the old warhorse. And it has earned its place as "Americas' Round".

That being said, as a military round, shooting 165gr. bullets, the 7.62Nato matches it pretty much exactly while providing a faster cyclic rate in auto weapons, and lighter wieght, due to shorter case length. Niether work well as a carbine round for fast, furious "close in" fighting IMO. They work better as machine gun rounds nowadays.

June 17, 2007, 08:26 AM
Love the 223, hunt with it a lot, didn't get to use it in the army, only ever used the 7.62Nato. Love them both. If I had to carry all my ammo and resupply was patchy, I'd lean towards the 5.56. If re sup was easy, the 7.62.

The new 6.8 round they are kicking about sounds like a good thing. We aussies used to neck 223s up to 243 which made a lovely round.

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