.308 vs .223 Weight question


November 5, 2003, 02:22 AM
I have a 2 rifles in 308. (M1A, Mauser).

Got a AR15 Bigot of a friend who tells me that basically a .223 will do the same damage as a 308 within 200 yards, what most combat ranges are etc.. and that you can carry more rounds of .223 than 308 etc..

Now I have absolutely no problems with his statements, and probably agree with 90% of it..

But here's my problem...

Speaking strictly as a civilian (and not as someone who just got dropshipped to Iraq)

I can carry (comfortably) about 8 mags of 10x308. So that's 80 rounds.. 1 in the gun, one in the chamber, that's 91 rounds total and still be mobile..

As a civilian, I'm thinking, if I need more than 91 rounds of 308, I'm in the wrong place!!! :what: Or is it just me? The situations I can foresee are:

#1) The government has come for my guns, I'm hunkered down somewhere in my house (or skunk's house) and we are shooting through crates of ammo. At that point, "carrying more" isn't a problem, we aren't carrying.

#2) I'm somewhere that I do need more than 91 rounds of 308. If ever I'm not near a ammo reload station (say, tamara's house) and I'm out of ammo after firing 91 rounds... I really screwed up somewhere earlier that day or week as far as decision making..

Those two scenerios (to me) seems to negate the "you can carry more .223" as an advantage arguement.

Let the flames begin!

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November 5, 2003, 03:27 AM
I've noticed the probability of a "me generation" reason or two sulking behind that weight issue you just described, especially from those that promote it the most.

IMO, the “carry more ammo” reasoning that the .223 crowd so often uses as one justification for choosing this caliber has some wishful thinking behind it. On the surface, it is of course true. All else being equal, you CAN carry more .223 than .308. You just have to ask yourself if that-is-your-goal.

In my book, one far more truthful reason for choosing the lesser caliber would closely follow the lines of it being a bit easier on one’s senses in the recoil department. No doubt it’s a fun and accurate round to shoot, so things like versatility and effectiveness take a distant back seat for way too many folks under its influence.

Your 91 rounds of .308 should allow you to nicely handle ALL of your pertinent problems, and also a partial portion of your partners as well.

November 5, 2003, 03:36 AM
I'm confused, you're worried about government gun confiscation in Taiwan? As for gun confiscations in general, in the remote likelihood of that happening, you'll be trying to hide your guns instead of shooting it out with anyone. Barracaded in your house your odds of winning is zero.

I do favor a .308 self loader for a number of reasons. One of which is I can't legally own a fully automatic assault rifle, which to me is the main advantage of the intermediate round. If I'm not spraying bullets I don't need to carry so much. Round for round, the ballistics of a good expanding .308 will kick .223 butt at any range. Who says you have to use military ball ammo?

God for bid if you need to shoot other armed people, they'll likely be carrying intermediary rifles, and you can always take their gun if you want it badly. A good .308 self loader is harder to come by in a jam. Get a good sight for your rifle, that's almost more important than the caliber, and even harder to come by.

Jeff White
November 5, 2003, 04:04 AM
The carry more rounds for the same weight is military justification. Hasn't got anything to do with why a civilian might choose that caliber. I for one hope it never comes down to the point where I have to worry about humping 400 rounds of 5.56 to sustain myself in a civilian capacity.


Art Eatman
November 5, 2003, 08:14 AM
If the times are scary enough that a fella worries about how much rifle ammo he can carry, he probably oughta stay close to home or should have left a whole bunch sooner. :)


November 5, 2003, 09:00 AM
As a civilian, I don't plan on carrying more ammo for the weight, I plan on carrying less weight for the same round count.

Hauling all that .30-06 to my car for a 3-gun matches is a drag :p

November 5, 2003, 10:03 AM
Jeff White

Twoblink said he was speaking as a civilian. It is also a topic brought up by civilians when discussing these two calibers.

November 5, 2003, 10:39 AM
IIRC, the weight issue back in the Sixties for a basic load equated one M14 and 100 rounds with one M16 and 220 rounds. Remember, they were carrying a lot more than just the rifle and ammo; grenades, both smoke and frag, much water, food, personal gear, and some ammo for the people who carried weapons that you really didn't want to run out, like the M79 grenade launcher guy, and maybe a belt of M60 manchinegun ammo. For extended patrols, resupply was critical, and for resupply by chopper a lower weight and bulk was equally advantageous.

Speaking of the M60, a recognition that targets beyond 300 meters belonged to the machineguner (or sniper, if you had one along) probably had as much to do with the change to the M16 as anything else.

I suspect the weight issue would not be nearly as stark today, since the weight includes both the weapon and the ammo, and the M16s in use today are much heavier than they were originally. My Bushamster HBAR weighed as much as an M14, for instance.

For civilian use in normal conditions, such as toting the ammo from the trunk of the car all the way to the shooting bench, weight isn't a factor. When crafting scenarios that require a lower weight of ammo, such as living out of a backpack, perhaps it would be useful to go all the way to really lightweight, and go with a rimfire, either .22 LR or .22 Magnum. I could carry thousands of rounds of that, especailly since I won't have to be humping M60 belts or frags. :)

Edited to add that there's no such thing a "too much" ammo.


November 5, 2003, 10:53 AM
I think Jeff understood that and his point is valid

For civillian use weight has probably the smallest relevance.

Unless you really believe you are likely to be attacked by a platoon of chinese paratroopers.

I think the biggest factor for both civillian and military caliber decisions should be engagement distances.

The .308 gives more oomph at longer ranges...better penetration of many types of cover....but it is less important in the civillian world.

They are not equal..but both can be effective inside 200 yds.

If you believe you will need to stop/engage vehicles the 7.62 probably be a better choice

Civillians are unlikely to engage at even 200 yds...less than 150 is more likely (IMHO)

Civillians are more likely to engage indoors/at close range...with the nod to the 5.56 in terms of muzzle blast and penetration.

(Neither the mauser or the M1 seem like the best option in this case)

I have both a FAL and an AR so I have less of an axe to grind than some.

I view the AR as more "convenient" since 56 rounds (1 mag in rifle and 1 spare) is likely to solve any problems I cannot otherwise avoid.

It is like a handgun...where convenience wins out over absolute effectiveness.

November 5, 2003, 11:39 AM
For that thought of convenience winning out over effectiveness, I’d ask the under-gunned loser of a gunfight for his current thoughts about that (if possible). And as for today, there's really no such thing as absolute effectiveness where small arms are concerned.

Dave R
November 5, 2003, 11:43 AM
I might agree that .223 MILITARY FMJ bullets would do as much damage as .308 MILITARY FMJ bullets within 200 yards...but once you start using hunting bullets, that changes real fast. A good .308 hunting bullet will do way more damage than a good .223 hunting bullet.

Even in FMJ, the .308 may not do more damage, but will prolly penetrate cover a lot better.

November 5, 2003, 11:57 AM

I guess we differ in that I feel the caliber is less important than skill in an "gunfight". Back to the convenience argument and why most of us carry handguns instead of rifles to begin with.

I am as big a gear geek as the next person, but to me it is all about reliablilty and shootability over caliber, etc.

I don't see being "undergunned" as the primary concern.

( The size of the fight in the dog being more important than the size of the dog in the fight)

As you said...nothing is 100% effective...which I agree with.

Whatever gets you the quickest, most decisive hits is what generally wins.

The AK weapons series is (IMHO) ergonomically inferior to the AR series

(Please no AK vs. AR crap)

But the man who truly knows the AK will likely prevail over the Novice AR user.

November 5, 2003, 01:39 PM

No absolutes here, but……

In your “gunfight” (or mine) it’s all about stopping power. It’s not about carrying massive amounts of ammo, or lightweight and convenient to carry weapons or any of the other diversions offered by fans of lesser calibers. Be it with handguns or rifles, without stopping power, you START at a disadvantage. And whenever you think “stopping power”, think “major caliber” and you should start out your chosen altercation on at least an equal footing.

I’d like to put to rest all the near fantasy thoughts about headshots (previous thread), surgical shot placement and the “fight in the dog” theory. Sure, placement is a beautiful thing. But a defensive encounter is usually a massive overload of “gray” for most. Up close – and under those circumstances, we strive to contain our wits and place a center mass hit. As distances increase, we hope our chosen rifle caliber has the punch to get through (your choices) of vegetation, sheet steel, glass, trees, heavy clothes, carry gear or whatever else your opponent(s) chooses to put between you and them. Again, “major caliber” should come to mind for most of us. Anyone who is hoping to “place” a smaller caliber under such conditions is deluding himself rather seriously. And IMO, your life is a terrible thing to bet the difference on.

Lastly, I believe your “fight in the dog” reasoning is best applied to encounters that won't involve firearms. Guns add a great level of “fight” by their very nature.

November 5, 2003, 01:58 PM
You can always come up with some scenario in which choice A is better than choice B.

The U.S. Army Infantry Center (http://www.infantry.army.mil/infforum/default.asp) has an online forum that's public. There's an active thread on this very topic (http://www.infantry.army.mil/infforum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=490) by people who know something about combat.

The load issue is no joke. Just take the weight of a helmet, body armor, rifle, and water and you're up to about 40 lbs. Add basic load of ammo (usually 6 magazines), 3-6 hand grenades, and some squad gear that's been redistributed (a couple of mortar rounds, a box or two of SAW ammo, or a 100 round box of 7.6 MG ammo - over 6 lbs) and you're carrying about 50 lbs in assault mode.. The guys who carry the radio, SAW, or M240 can be carrying 10-12 lbs more.

Load a pack up, weigh it, and go run around the house a little - you'll quickly understand why soldiers are mostly 19-21 year olds.

But, damage to what? As all conditions of your discussion are hypothetical, and the other guy, as you described, is a bigot, what's the point?

November 5, 2003, 02:47 PM
That's fine Warner...we don't have to agree.

I have always believed that your first , best weapon is always your brain.

And like most of the experts in wound ballistics I favor shot placement over caliber.

You can have the biggest, baddest, most powerful weapon in the world and still lose if you can't fight with it.

Shooting 1-2 times and hitting the BG in the arms and legs as opposed to 5-6 good COM hits...you decide.

Since lots of people get shot mutiple times with "major calibers" and keep right on fighting, I will go for a caliber that I can get multiple hits in the shortest amount of time.

Lots of people fall down dead from a single hit with "less major calibers"

Hence the fight in the dog theory.

If I change my mind I can always run out and get a new .500 magnum!

You can place your trust in technology if you wish;)

PS: for the last time...the head shot comment in the other thread was a tongue-in-cheek comment on shot placement. As Col. Cooper pointed out a .22LR will do the job if you hit the bad guy in the right place.

(Please remeber neither Jeff Cooper or myself are advocating carrying the .22lr...don't want that dredged up over and over again)

November 5, 2003, 03:19 PM

We can agree to disagree. However you keep adding new ingredients, and off-the-wall exceptions to this mix, and I personally don’t care for your assumptions. Like with your "placement is everything" theory, that sort of thing can get you hurt out there.

Here's a possible scoop for you; Some who choose the major calibers really do practice with them. Good foundations in shooting knowledge seldom stops at just one good principle or two.

And as for technology, it doesn’t interest me nearly as much as history does. Thanks.

November 5, 2003, 04:19 PM
I think it is a moot point for civilians. I know I am not going to be humping any ammo anywhere except to and from the car.
Comparing gunshot wounds at 200 yards between to full size rifle calibers is kind of silly. Would you rather be run over by a train or a concrete truck ?

November 5, 2003, 04:26 PM
You might like my assumptions better if you read more slowly:)

But whether you care for them or not doesn't bother me much either way.

I didn't say placement is everything.....mostly because it is not everything.

(Although no caliber works very well if you miss!)

Assuming you are using a real caliber (9mm or above)

( great..now the .380 crowd will be after me)

And well designed bullets that combine good penetration with expansion.

Then placement is pretty darn important...

As is the ability to get multiple hits quickly...because one shot is rarely enough...with any caliber. and the BG doesn't always stand still...not very sporting.

Movement is also a factor...try to not be there when the BG's shot arrives.

Not wetting your pants and/or dropping the gun is helpful (ie: fight in the dog)

Read a report from John Farnam about an officer that shot a suspect 7 times (out of 9 shots) with his Sig 220...at the end he shot him in the head (I know!) because the guy was still trying to shoot back and the officer was running out of bullets.

(John incidently was a die hard .45 guy and now carries a .357 sig)

As for off-the-wall...my views are a lot closer to the mainstream of those that actually go in harms way/train those that go in harms way....

Than those "Stopping Power" experts in the gun magazines.

But I guess 9mm vs. .40 and 9mm vs. 45 sells magazines

Just not to me! (did I miss the 5.56 vs. 7.62 issue?)

Back on topic now;

5.56 x 45 - .025 lbs each
7.62 x 51 - .055 lbs each

Mags are lighter and hold more for the 5.56..so it will save lbs even if you have to shoot them twice as many times.

Use whatever you are most comfortable with!

Since all things are never equal......make your own decisions


November 5, 2003, 04:29 PM

Concrete truck

That way I could blame the driver

Standing ont he train tracks would be all my fault!:rolleyes:

But I agree...either would ruin your day.

I don't want to get shot with anything larger than a rubber band

Andrew Wyatt
November 5, 2003, 04:39 PM
I'm surptised no one has brought up the real benefit to lighter ammo.

six 20 round magazines of .223 weighs less than 6 magazines of .308.

this means i can carry more water.

November 5, 2003, 04:40 PM
In most fights, the individual who scores the first hit drastically increases his chances of surviving the encounter. This being said, I'd much rather have a 5.56mm weapon, which I am able to use quickly and have quick follow up shots (no ones perfect, misses happen under stress). Secondly, I'd much rather be lining up my third shot while BG is still lining up 2nd shot with his much larger weapon. To each his own though, but getting the first aimed shot off will definately save your ???.

November 5, 2003, 04:51 PM
In the highly unlikely event that I need to fire my rifle in anger as a civilian, I plan on being as far away from the target as possible in a hit and run situation

That's cause --

1) few supporting troops / compadres
2) no arty / close air support
3) no resupply
4) no armor / machine guns / grenade launchers

Protracted fight with tons of suppressing fire is just not a likely scenario. Surgical fire with fast moving coordinated small teams that are in and out are the only realistic way to survive

November 5, 2003, 05:09 PM
"I plan on being as far away from the target as possible in a hit and run situation"

Hopefully your opponent read the script.

November 5, 2003, 05:41 PM
I am somewhat dismayed at the claims being made (and supposedly adhered to) by some members.

Just because John Farnam decides to go .35 has little bearing on my world. I harbor no delusions that he and I equate on pistolcraft talent levels. I’ll stick with a large bore.

His story about multiple hit survival is something that I would classify as an exception. I would never hold it up as something that I am counting on happening.

That would be naïve in the extreme.

Jeff White
November 5, 2003, 05:50 PM
Kurt said:
His story about multiple hit survival is something that I would classify as an exception. I would never hold it up as something that I am counting on happening.

I think you'll find many more incidences of multiple hit survival (from all calber and power of weapons) then you will of one shot stops. I count on it happening, that's why I train. Read Pat Rogers' article on The non-standard response in S.W.A.T.


November 5, 2003, 05:53 PM
Hopefully your opponent read the script.

Maybe not but I don't like the odds (no matter how much ammo you've got) of a protracted firefight between me and a coupla my "rifleman" buds and an armor-reinforced infantry company.

November 5, 2003, 06:10 PM
OK Jeff White, we both train and don't rely on exceptions. Now for the others......

November 5, 2003, 06:29 PM
In civilian uses of firearms, you are better served with a pistol/shotgun, or the .223. Helps in fending off the incoming looters when you are shooting down from your liquor store in the middle of SouthCentral LA

By the time a civilian would need to use the .223 or the .308, thats because you are now in the role of the militia, trying to stop an invasion, or augmenting what is left of the armed forces that just got its butt kicked by a billion screaming chinamen that was upgraded by technology that Clinton gave.

As to the weight question, its more of a military issue, since its better if a unit does not need to be resupplied as often. What is the standard gear of a sniper/scout team? Is it mostly food/water and optics?

November 5, 2003, 07:46 PM
The snipers all go for the "one shot, one kill"..

and mostly done with 308's..

Carrying more water is the best arguement I have heard thus far..

November 5, 2003, 09:13 PM
I mentioned John Farnam only to illustrate what is possible if you have an open mind;)

As to the BG surviving multiple hits...it is not something you should count on...

It is something you should prepare for

November 5, 2003, 10:12 PM
Nice slam, Obiwan.....you are a master.

Even if true, I fail to see how a more open mind adds anything to a .35 caliber bullets diameter or weight. Chinese proverb offered as a general guideline.......It's advisable not to have so open a mind as to let one's brains fall out.;)

November 5, 2003, 11:11 PM
That's why I keep my earplugs in....so my brain stays put.

If bigger is better for you....then you are certainly well served.

I just worry about those that can't handle larger calibers well.

They may be better served with less gun and more control.

But the notion that size means everything:uhoh:

Sometimes pushes them to make poor decisions...for them anyway.

November 6, 2003, 05:38 PM
Now listen, I'm all about the .223's but the .308 has the advantages of more knockdown power, more variety of bullet weights, more range, and it performs better in the wind. I have two great .223's and they both outshoot my brothers .308 but it still shoots about a 3/8 inch group at 100 yards so there isn't anything wrong with that. .223's are cheaper to shoot to. They both are great calibers just different uses.

November 6, 2003, 08:18 PM

but for urban combat, will a .223 do an engine block??

confed sailor
November 6, 2003, 08:41 PM
The US Navy still retains it M14 because:

A. Deck watch doesnt hump it in the boonies, just around the deck.

B. The Navy wants a round from a rifle that can handle some Anti-material responsiblities.

what it comes down to, the penetraition advantages of the 7.62X51 NATO outweight the portability issues. and the light weight of the Woodchuck 5.56 works to its disadvantage.

Also i like to belive that some Admiral follows Roy Ordirica's philosophy "Use a BIG GUN":D

November 9, 2003, 08:26 PM
I think also, shooting from the deck of a ship, you start to realize, the .223 doesn't have enough reach.. Have you seen the size of a carrier??

November 9, 2003, 10:23 PM
what it comes down to, the penetraition advantages of the 7.62X51 NATO outweight the portability issues. and the light weight of the Woodchuck 5.56 works to its disadvantage.

Standard M855 is going to penetrate futher than M80 7.62 Ball. Unless you start using an armor-piercing 7.62, the SS109 bullet will penetate better, the only disadvantage is a .22 caliber hole instead of a .30 caliber hole. This is one of the main reasons we dropped M193 to get M855.

November 10, 2003, 04:13 PM
I think also, shooting from the deck of a ship, you start to realize, the .223 doesn't have enough reach.. Have you seen the size of a carrier??

Not much meat on a carrier. Where is the vital zone at? Whats it weigh after field dressing? :D :p

confed sailor
November 10, 2003, 04:30 PM
a carrier is too tough and gamey, all the radiation from the reactors toughens it up, go with a destroyer if you want true sport :) ask any submariner. :D

November 10, 2003, 08:08 PM
SilverBullet.....I respect your opinion on penetration between the two calibers, because I am not familiar with official test results (which Im sure alot of you are), but I know in the hunting world, when you want more penetration, among other things,you up your bullet weight. Simple physics would tend to coax me into believing that of two projectiles, both being FMJ, the one that is 3 times heavier would stay in motion (keep penetrating) further than the lighter bullet. Does this sound logical?

November 10, 2003, 10:23 PM
Fatelvis, the reason why M855 5.56x45mm penetrates better than M80 7.62x51mm is that M80 ball is a anti-personnel bullet where M855 is a semi-armor piercing bullet (SS109 is the actual bullet). Thats why M855 penetrates better than M80. Now if they were just regular FMJ bullets, the 7.62x51mm would penetrate better hands down.

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