Max. Effective Range of the 5.56 NATO


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Pony Express
September 1, 2009, 10:30 PM
Hello everybody,
I'm currently considering spending a good deal of money to put a scope on my AR. However, as I'm doing this I'm also wondering what the max effective range of a standard 55 gr. 5.56 NATO round. The AR is used primarily for punching paper and shooting yotes, I dont need to know the man-killing range of a 5.56. Does anybody have any information regarding this?

Thanks,

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bang_bang
September 1, 2009, 10:41 PM
My Marine buddy shoots targets all day at ranges up to 600 yards. If I could shoot that well, I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a coyote at 400-500 yards. I'm not familiar with the ballistics or energy of the 5.56 at those ranges, but I would say it's enough to kill a coyote.

Paper, on the other hand, is a lot easier to kill. I'd push your limits on paper...

gondorian
September 1, 2009, 10:42 PM
Are you somehow limited to 55 grain bullets? Because heavier ones will have a longer range, and your barrel length will also affect the range.

Pony Express
September 1, 2009, 10:46 PM
No, not limited to the 55 gr. bullet, but thats what i shoot the most. it is a 20" heavy barrel (HBAR)

otrman
September 1, 2009, 11:16 PM
If I remember correctly Army training manuals says max. effective range with 20" barrel is 600 meters. FMJ rounds are not known for their long range accuracy and past 400 yards wind can give 55 gr. a real fit. Heavier bullets and/or HP or ballistic tip bullets will greatly help out past 400 yards. If your barrel twist is 1/7 or 1/8 you can use up to 80 gr.(actually you could use heavier but that is another project in itself). My AR has 24" SS bull barrel 1/8 twist and I have been hitting 2 liter coke bottles at 850 yards with 80 gr. Sierra Match King bullets.

Maverick223
September 1, 2009, 11:18 PM
If you have a 1:12" you are just about screwed, and with 1:14" you most certainly are, and can use no heavier than 55gr. on average.

If you have a 1 in 10" twist you can use 62gr. and perhaps a little higher.

1 in 9" is the "do-all" good for 69gr. and some can go a bit heavier.

A 1 in 8" is good for 77gr. or so.

1 in 7" should stabilize anything short of 90gr. (for which you generally need a 1/6.5").


Pay close attention to the BC, for that is what you need in a nice long-range .223 projectile...SMK and the Hornady A-Max are likely your best bet. :)

freakshow10mm
September 1, 2009, 11:31 PM
Ball ammo is 600m max. OTM is 800m max.

rtn
September 1, 2009, 11:55 PM
The twist rate of your barrel (among other things) will inform your decision.

mljdeckard
September 1, 2009, 11:59 PM
I thought I saw specialized match rifles set up for 1000 yards using special heavy, single-load bullets.

Canuck-IL
September 2, 2009, 12:05 AM
Berger VLDs and Hornady AMax loaded single shot, just short of the lands are competitive at 1000 yards.
/Bryan

rangerruck
September 2, 2009, 01:56 AM
the army used to say, with open sites, 330m, for the 55 grainers, shooting through an A2 rifle. With 62 grainers, and using a scope, you should be able to pretty much double that, if you know how to use your scope.

now then, if you wanna just tear something up, get a 1/14 twist, with 62 grainers holow points, or better yet, the 1/14 twist with 55 grainers, hollow points. very ouchy and very messy.

I was talking with a dude recently who is a emergency doc at Ben taub , he told me some interesting things about some of the gunshot wounds he sees. he said the 223 hollowpoint, and hit someone at knee level or lower... or in the arm.... , well I won't describe it here.

MarineOne
September 2, 2009, 04:55 AM
From my days in the Corps, it was 500 meters (550 yards) for a point target or 800 meters for an area target. This came straight out of our FM, and from the Weapons training book in the 7000/8000 series for NCOBC/Corporal's Course/Sergeant's Course.

Having shot on a meters course (Edson Range, Camp Pendleton) I can tell you that hitting a man sized target with irons does take patience and practice, but hitting yotes at that distance will need a really good scope and alot more practice than what one would think would be needed.



Kris

Maverick223
September 2, 2009, 05:30 AM
You may want to consider getting a different upper if you are ready to sink some extra cash into the rifle and ammo. A 6.5 Grendel will serve you much better into the 1000yd. line. :)

R.W.Dale
September 2, 2009, 05:49 AM
If you have a 1:12" you are just about screwed, and with 1:14" you most certainly are, and can use no heavier than 55gr. on average.

If you have a 1 in 10" twist you can use 62gr. and perhaps a little higher.

1 in 9" is the "do-all" good for 69gr. and some can go a bit heavier.



I disagree completely, I know these are the figures commonly tossed about on the net but my experiences don't correspond.

I've not yet had a .223 with a 1 in 12 twist that would not shoot 69grn HPBT bullets with very good accuracy even out to 200yds. These same rifles will shoot the win 64grn Power Point like a house on fire

My 1-9 guns would shoot bullets as heavy and long as a 75grn A-max

now my 1-14 22-250's indeed would not shoot anything longer than a 55grn bullet worth beans


Max. Effective Range of the 5.56 NATO-----The AR is used primarily for punching paper and shooting yotes,

To answer your question, Much farther than you or I have business shooting at critters

Maverick223
September 2, 2009, 01:53 PM
I disagree completelyThose are the minimum values that the manufacturers recommend...I too have had rifles that would stabilize rounds that they "should not" have been able to. My 1 in 9" will miraculously stabilize a 77gr...but I doubt that is typical. :)

R.W.Dale
September 2, 2009, 02:41 PM
Those are the minimum values that the manufacturers recommend...I too have had rifles that would stabilize rounds that they "should not" have been able to. My 1 in 9" will miraculously stabilize a 77gr...but I doubt that is typical. :)

In which case wouldn't it be more prudent and helpfull to tell the OP that he'll just have to try a few diffrent loads to see what his rifle likes VS telling him he's SOL and should give up.

627PCFan
September 2, 2009, 02:46 PM
My elcheapo ER Shaw .223 1-14 stabilizes 60 Nosler Partitions. Not match grade accuracy after all its still a hunting bullet. Definitely try a variety and learn its limits-

Maverick223
September 2, 2009, 04:03 PM
In which case wouldn't it be more prudent and helpfull to tell the OP that he'll just have to try a few diffrent loads to see what his rifle likes VS telling him he's SOL and should give up.I never said that he should not...just that with a 1:14 or 1:12 you are SOL at far as bullets with a favorable BC...it may even take a 62gr. bullet...but NO CHANCE at a 90gr. with a .5+ BC. :)

RockyMtnTactical
September 2, 2009, 04:31 PM
Depends on many factors. Max range for what, effective killing or hitting paper? Which bullet weight are you using, etc...

greyeyezz
September 2, 2009, 04:36 PM
There's a difference in hitting a target and actually doing damage. That's what i interpret effective as. How affective will 5.56 be at 600 meters with no fragmentation?

Testing by combat surgeon Col. Martin L. Fackler, MD (USA Medical Corps, retired), determined that M193 and M855 bullets need to strike flesh at 2,700 feet per second in order to reliably fragment. Between 2,500 fps and 2,700 fps, the bullet may or may not fragment and below 2,500 fps, no significant fragmentation is likely to occur. If there isn't enough velocity to cause fragmentation, the result is a deep, 22 caliber hole, except an area where the yawing occurred, where the diameter of the hole grows briefly to the length of the bullet.

http://ammo.ar15.com/ammo/project/term_velocity.html

R.W.Dale
September 2, 2009, 04:58 PM
I never said that he should not...just that with a 1:14 or 1:12 you are SOL at far as bullets with a favorable BC...it may even take a 62gr. bullet...but NO CHANCE at a 90gr. with a .5+ BC. :)

And how many .224 diameter 90grn expanding HUNTING bullets are there?:rolleyes:

You guys get WAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY! too hung up on FPS and BC. There's much more to it than that. You also have to match the bullet construction up with how the game animal is put together combined with the impact velocity. Simply trading velocity for BC or vise versa doesn't not automatically = the best load for the critter.

Maverick223
September 2, 2009, 05:00 PM
And how many .224 diameter 90grn expanding HUNTING bullets are there?I wouldn't place money on a yote hit with a 90gr. match bullet...would you?

R.W.Dale
September 2, 2009, 05:23 PM
I wouldn't place money on a yote hit with a 90gr. match bullet...would you?

Nor I would one hit with a 55grn ballistic tip or even a 64grn power point;)



90grn Berger VLD @ 2550 FPS 9.21" to 300 from a 200yd zero, 879 ft lbs at 300

64grn Win power point @ 3032 FPS 8.69" to 300 from a 200yd zero, 525 ft lbs at 300

55grn Fed Nosler b-tip @ 3240 FPS 6.685" to 300 from a 200yd zero, 598 ft lbs at 300

So please tell me how the owner of a 1-12 is "screwed" out of killing a yote 300yds+ away. You gonna tell me there's not enough energy with the load a 1-12 will shoot to kill Will-E Coyote

rcmodel
September 2, 2009, 05:27 PM
I wouldn't place money on a yote hit with a 90gr. match bullet...would you?No, but I would place money in the odds of recovering it.

I found out in the 60's that FMJ 30-06 was a sure way to hit coyotes and watch them get back up and run off in the brush to die somewhere else where you couldn't find them.

Light, fast, and explosive puts them on the ground DRT.

Long, slow, and non-expanding often puts them into over-drive if you don't break the spine.

rc

otrman
September 2, 2009, 05:35 PM
I know it is not scientific and no idea if it would be enough to humanly kill but I have shot 2 liter bottles filled with water out to 750 yards with 75 and 80 gr. A-Max's and they just explode. Don't know if it would be enough to kill a yote at that distance but just looking at the shredded bottle I would not want to take a hit at that distance. But anyway, consistently being able to hit out past 400 yards will take some practice. Get some different weight and types of bullets and see what your rifle likes. Just gives you another excuse to go to the range, lol.

R.W.Dale
September 2, 2009, 05:39 PM
You guys do understand that a bullet compresses water inside a container enough to cause it to burst through velocity alone even without bullet expansion

Maverick223
September 2, 2009, 05:39 PM
So please tell me how the owner of a 1-12 is "screwed" out of killing a yote 300yds+ away. You gonna tell me there's not enough energy with the load a 1-12 will shoot to kill Will-E CoyotePlease reference where I said that you couldn't kill a yote with any twist...any projectile. I just said that it wouldn't have a favorable BC. Also the OP refers to paper punching at distance...for which it is best to have a good BC.

I found out in the 60's that FMJ 30-06 was a sure way to hit coyotes and watch them get back up and run off in the brush to die somewhere else where you couldn't find them.That is interesting...though most match is HP, I doubt it would fare much better...the A-Max being the one possible exception :)

PandaBearBG
September 2, 2009, 06:19 PM
I'm gonna agree with MarineOne, with standard NATO M855 (62gr), 20" barrel and a 1-7 twist (standard M16 A2) you can hit a man size target 500 with some practice, and a truck sized target at 800. As for match ammo I have no clue. I guess you could say this is the base/standard to judge 5.56 from considering it's many years as the primary eater of 5.56 rounds, there is a whole slew of data/ballistics based on this rifle/round. However because of the variants (M4, bull barrels, different twist rates, match ammo, carbine lengths, new manufacturers) well variation from the standard trajectory will vary. For a scope I'd say a 4x or 10x is all you really need if you do alot of 3-gun/standing, kneeling, running course. Although if you are going to do mainly bench or prone a larger heavier higher magnification would be fine too. I guess it depends on you.

otrman
September 2, 2009, 08:04 PM
You guys do understand that a bullet compresses water inside a container enough to cause it to burst through velocity alone even without bullet expansion

Yes I agree 100% at closer ranges but I've shot 75 and 77 gr. HP at same 750 yards and all it does is put a small hole in the front and split the back open from top to bottom. I have personally seen the expansion characteristics of both Hornady A-Max and V-Max bullets and would have to say the difference in visual impact is due the the expansion of those bullets. The only evidence I have to back this is the visual difference in the damage done to the bottles.

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