So why the 223?


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gym
January 1, 2010, 08:38 PM
Why not a 270, or something in between. Was it just an easy round to adapt to?, Before the AR15, M16, I seem to remember the 223 as a woodchuck gun. My uncles all used to go upstate NY and use 223,and such, 220 swift, etc for chucks. I don't hunt so don't flame me too hard. I know 308 is used more for distance and power, like on the sniper shows, but was the 223 really the right choice. Or was it the easiest to adapt auto fire and slight of build soldiers, and less expensive ammo?

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THE DARK KNIGHT
January 1, 2010, 08:46 PM
Military arms take into account a number of things civillians don't need to worry about.

Auto Fire
Civillians look at ballistics tests of a single 223 shot fired at a block of gel with denim or sheet metal or whatever and judge the round on that. That is not the effective capacity of a real M16. The real gun is firing 3-4 rounds of that at the target on full auto typically. The target is also being fired at by multiple soldiers possibly, as well as grenades, artillery, helicopters, aerial backup, etc. It is hard to discredit a military firearm with single shot ballistics tests.

Weight/Size
How many rounds can fit in a magazine, how many magazines can a soldier realistically carry all day. How many boxes of that ammo can fit into the truck, in the warehouse, etc. A round being half the size means the force has double as much ammo available to them.

Interchangeability
There's like 3+ dozen countries in NATO all using the same 5.56x45 55gr and 62gr loads, and although almost every country uses a different gun, they all take the same STANAG magazines. The ability for a soldier to pass a magazine to a soldier from dozens of different countries is invaluable. Or bring a couple crates of ammo to an ally's depot in war.

Of course, there are also many economic and political factors as well within the military/industrial complex. Those? Unless you ask them directly, whatever you hear from anyone else it's probably just speculation.

BurningSaviour
January 1, 2010, 08:50 PM
.270 is necked down from the .30-06, IIRC.
The whole principle of the intermediate cartridge... research was in progress before the Second World War, but that's where it really came to fruition. German research showed that firefights most often occurred at a range of less than 200 meters. Topping it off, the standard infantry weapon of the German military was the bolt action Mauser, and the submachinegun typically filled the role possessed today by light machine guns and dedicated automatic rifles. And, it was found to be a combination of too much/too little on both counts. The submachinegun could put out a lot of lead in a hurry, but a pistol cartridge was hardly ideal for many combat scenarios. The K98 had power, but a slow rate of fire, and was comparatively unwieldy.
The most famous (though not only) solution in finding a compromise between the two came in the StG43, which fired a shorted 7.92x33 round - sufficient for the typical firefight, powerful enough to get the job done. reasonably manageable in automatic fire. It didn't have all the pros or cons of either weapons system it augmented, but possessed some of the best features of both. The Soviet Union were the first to actually made widespread use of this principle, although the British were the ones to take it to the next level with the EM2. In fact, the FAL was originally designed to fire the intermediate cartridge designed for the EM2. However, US pressure forced NATO to adopt the 7.62x51 cartridge, and that was the end of the EM2.
The 5.56 was a further adaptation of the same principle.. lighter weight made for more manageable recoil in automatic fire, it allowed soldiers to carry more ammo, etc. Ironically, the US essentially pushed NATO into adopting the 5.56 after essentially forcing the concept off the table in the 1950s.
Interestingly enough, evaluation of US actions in Vietnam seemed enough to convinced the Soviet Union, and they developed a smaller 5.45x39 round for the AKM's replacement.
The 5.56 is not perfect. No round is. It does what it's supposed to, same as any other round. A Combat Basic Load for a US soldier is 210 rounds - even as a line medic, I carried this. A typical basic load for a force using FAL, G3, or other 7.62x51 rifles was 100 rounds.
So, it's all a bit of give and take.

and although almost every country uses a different gun, they all take the same STANAG magazines

This is not entirely accurate. STANAG 4179 was never actually passed, and while a great many NATO countries did adopt the M16 magazine, there's still a great number who did not. Germany does not use the STANAG magazine. Spain is replacing their STANAG compliant CETME Model L rifles with the non-STANAG G36. Poland is using an AK variant, which does not use STANAG magazines, etc.
The Warsaw Pact was better standardized on small arms magazines than NATO ever was, with almost every country using the AKM (Czechoslovakia being the exception to the rule), whereas, at the time, NATO had no standardization requirements (and still really doesn't) on small arms magazines... some NATO countries used the G3, Spain used the CETME, some countries used the FAL, but the British variations of the FAL used a different magazine, and so forth.

SiRed91
January 1, 2010, 09:16 PM
Wounding your adversary takes more men out of action than outright killing them.

gym
January 1, 2010, 09:39 PM
Great information guys, thanks

THE DARK KNIGHT
January 1, 2010, 09:42 PM
This is not entirely accurate. STANAG 4179 was never actually passed, and while a great many NATO countries did adopt the M16 magazine, there's still a great number who did not. Germany does not use the STANAG magazine. Spain is replacing their STANAG compliant CETME Model L rifles with the non-STANAG G36. Poland is using an AK variant, which does not use STANAG magazines, etc.
The Warsaw Pact was better standardized on small arms magazines than NATO ever was, with almost every country using the AKM (Czechoslovakia being the exception to the rule), whereas, at the time, NATO had no standardization requirements (and still really doesn't) on small arms magazines... some NATO countries used the G3, Spain used the CETME, some countries used the FAL, but the British variations of the FAL used a different magazine, and so forth.

Good catch, thank you. So it's a majority but not all.

W L Johnson
January 1, 2010, 09:52 PM
Wounding your adversary takes more men out of action than outright killing them.
Good grief! not that bull again.
If you're trying to say the 223/5.56 is meant to wound rather than kill, that's an Urban Myth.

SiRed91
January 1, 2010, 09:59 PM
Didnt say it was "meant to" but it sure does.....LOL

Also takes up a lot less space.

W L Johnson
January 1, 2010, 10:01 PM
Say again?

http://www.firearmstactical.com/images/Wound%20Profiles/M855.jpg

Gungnir
January 1, 2010, 10:23 PM
Yeah the 5.56mm came about AFTER the 7.62x51, and the 223 Remington dates from 1959, when the prior name the .222 special, was renamed to avoid confusion, and it was specifically developed as a military cartridge.

Post WW2 NATO was trying to standardize, FN had developed the FAL, and was giving the design away with a free license to the allies for liberating them. Churchill wanted a 280 British caliber, and the FAL, Truman would only agree to the FAL, if it was in 30 light (7.62x51), so Churchill agreed, and Truman then selected the M14. It was then discovered that for a select fire infantry rifle the 7.62 NATO round was pretty unwieldy, so British (and others) L1A1's (SLR or FN FAL) were adapted to semi-auto only. Adding in to this as previously mentioned ammunition, and it was apparent that a lighter cartridge and rifle was needed, enter the 5.56mm NATO, and the M16.

Now, interestingly NATO did standardize on the 5.56mm, as an aside British FAL's can accept non-British magazines, but not vice versa. Most NATO with exceptions for former communist block nations have the 5.56mm as their standard infantry round, and select fire. However this did not really happen effectively until the 90's when finally the UK retired the L1A1 and issued the L85A1 (which was originally chambered for a 4.85mm), (now L85A2 SA80), the Bundeswehr converted to the HK G36, the Belgian FN FNC, the Italian AR70 the earliest convert was the French with the FAMAS. All of these accept (as designed or by conversion) a STANAG 4179 specification magazine even though this has never been ratified, even the G36, however due to changes needed if you own a civilian SL8 the changes needed are to the upper, bolt carrier and Mag well. Unlike the G36 you can't just change the mag well.

A full chronology is available at http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html

RockyMtnTactical
January 1, 2010, 11:19 PM
Why the .223? Depends on the job.

It seems to work well for the military though. That's why. ;)

Wounding your adversary takes more men out of action than outright killing them.

This is a myth. The AR15 was not developed for this purpose. The military is in the business of killing people.

billybobjoe
January 2, 2010, 01:16 AM
The next animal you shoot with a some caliber, (if it's a big enough animal) open him up and see what the insides look like. I've done it a couple of times and bullets do lots of damage that you don't see on the outside.

Shawn Dodson
January 2, 2010, 01:27 AM
Wounding your adversary takes more men out of action than outright killing them. If you're overrunning a position, or having your position overrun, do you want to wound or kill the enemy?

R.W.Dale
January 2, 2010, 02:25 AM
Why the .223? Depends on the job.

It seems to work well for the military though. That's why. ;)



This is a myth. The AR15 was not developed for this purpose. The military is in the business of killing people.
Isn't it a Rush Limbaugh quote that the job of the military is to "kill people and break things"

which is a pretty fair assesment in my book.

ohwell
January 2, 2010, 02:57 AM
Wounding your adversary takes more men out of action than outright killing them.


This is actually very true

jon_in_wv
January 2, 2010, 03:04 AM
I dont' think that is the reason we have taken to the 223. The fact is they studied the aspect of using a smaller 22 cal round simply for logistics. They wanted a round that would work well with a smaller, lighter, platform of rifle and in turn had smaller and lighter ammunition. Imagine the weight difference between hundreds of thousands of rounds of 30-06 to the same amount of 223. The 22 cal round is also a decent penetrator vs soft body armor which was another factor. They believed it had sufficient terminal performance that they were not sacrificing much. I think in retrospect they should have used a slightly heavier caliber.

Take a look at the Russians ammo. They have tackled the ammo issue with some pretty interesting solutions. I'm sure our military would say the small gains in terminal performance gained by a similar solution wouldn't be worth the extra cost of production.

From wikipedia:
Design details

The Russian original military issue 5N7-specification 5.45mm bullets are a somewhat complex full metal jacket design. The 56 gr (3.6 g) boattail projectile has a gilding-metal-clad jacket. The unhardened steel core is covered by a thin lead coating which does not fill the entire point end, leaving a hollow cavity inside the nose. The bullet is cut to length during the manufacturing process to give the correct weight. The base of the bullet is tapered to reduce drag and there is a small lead plug crimped in place in the base of the bullet. The lead plug, in combination with the air space at the point of the bullet, has the effect of moving the bullet's center of gravity to the rear; the hollow air space also makes the bullet's point prone to deformation when the bullet strikes anything solid, inducing yaw. The brown-lacquered steel case is Berdan-primed. Its 39.37 mm (1.55 in) length makes it slightly longer than the 7.62x39mm case which measures exactly 38.60 mm (1.52 in). The primer has a copper cup and is sealed with a heavy red lacquer. The propellant charge is a ball powder with similar burning characteristics to the WC 844 powder used in 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.

owlhoot
January 2, 2010, 03:17 AM
Battle philosophy changed around 1960. Volume of fire was deemed more important than accuracy of fire. There were reasons for this. By 1960 we were no longer the "nation of riflemen" that we were in earlier years. Population had shifted from rural to urban so young men could no longer be counted on to know how to shoot well. Urban and semi-urban populations simply didn't have the opportunity much less the necessity to shoot well. The military doesn't have time to really teach marksmanship and they never have. Rather they teach weapon familiarization.

The military already knew that in the stress of combat during WWII soldiers seldom used their sights. This wasn't news. Even during the War between the States, the majority of soldiers didn't use their sights. During that war savvy commanders had three men loading for one expert marksman firing. The results were much better.

Moreover, studies found that during WWII a large percentage of soldiers did not fire their weapons at all under combat conditions. I'm sure the same thing pertained in wars earlier and later.

Consequently, it was reasoned that a weapon that would put out a high volume of fire was preferable to a weapon such as the Garand or the M14 which depended on aimed fire for its effectiveness. So a small caliber automatic weapon with minimal recoil and the ability to pack a lot of ammo for that weapon was what the military wanted.

Most enemy combatants are killed by artillery, air strikes, mortars, and a few highly skilled marksmen or snipers, even in today's wars. But a high volume of fire keeps enemy heads down and permits the killers to do their jobs. So the 5.56 meets the requirements. We aren't likely to change to a heavier caliber - ever. Spray and pray are the orders of the day.

THE DARK KNIGHT
January 2, 2010, 04:18 AM
Most enemy combatants are killed by artillery, air strikes, mortars, and a few highly skilled marksmen or snipers, even in today's wars. But a high volume of fire keeps enemy heads down and permits the killers to do their jobs.

Very well said. People debate the effectiveness of the 5.56 vs. various 6.x's named after Norse mythological characters and forget that the F-22 "dropped a 1,000 lb (450 kg) JDAM from 50,000 feet (15,000 m), while cruising at Mach 1.5, striking a moving target 24 miles (39 km) away."

scythefwd
January 2, 2010, 04:27 AM
Krochus... Not sure who said it first but my old man used to say it as well "The Army's job is to kill, maim and break S@#$ so efficiently that everyone else is too scared to f@#$ with us". He was a grunt.

IdahoLT1
January 2, 2010, 05:12 AM
Battle philosophy changed around 1960. Volume of fire was deemed more important than accuracy of fire. There were reasons for this. By 1960 we were no longer the "nation of riflemen" that we were in earlier years. Population had shifted from rural to urban so young men could no longer be counted on to know how to shoot well. Urban and semi-urban populations simply didn't have the opportunity much less the necessity to shoot well. The military doesn't have time to really teach marksmanship and they never have. Rather they teach weapon familiarization.

The military already knew that in the stress of combat during WWII soldiers seldom used their sights. This wasn't news. Even during the War between the States, the majority of soldiers didn't use their sights. During that war savvy commanders had three men loading for one expert marksman firing. The results were much better.

Moreover, studies found that during WWII a large percentage of soldiers did not fire their weapons at all under combat conditions. I'm sure the same thing pertained in wars earlier and later.

Consequently, it was reasoned that a weapon that would put out a high volume of fire was preferable to a weapon such as the Garand or the M14 which depended on aimed fire for its effectiveness. So a small caliber automatic weapon with minimal recoil and the ability to pack a lot of ammo for that weapon was what the military wanted.


What? The M14 and M16 roughly have the same rate of fire, ~850rpm. And the .223/5.56 is plenty accurate out to 400yds. Soldiers are still plenty trained for longer range shooting/markmenship. In fact, the longest confirmed kill was shot a sniper not 8 years ago.

If you think the M14 is more accurate than the M16/M4 during FA fire, then you might be mistaken. Its much easier to control the recoil of the 5.56/.223 over the .308.

RockyMtnTactical
January 2, 2010, 05:42 AM
Isn't it a Rush Limbaugh quote that the job of the military is to "kill people and break things"

which is a pretty fair assesment in my book.

I got that line from my brother who is in the USAF. He said that his drill instructors would say that to him, IIRC.

scythefwd
January 2, 2010, 05:51 AM
IdahoLT1 - wasn't that kill over a mile and using a .300 WM and made by a Canadian in Afghanistan? Or am I thinking of a different stupidly long shot?

IdahoLT1
January 2, 2010, 06:00 AM
wasn't that kill over a mile and using a .300 WM and made by a Canadian in Afghanistan? Or am I thinking of a different stupidly long shot?

It was in Afghanistan by a Canadian. IIRC, he used the .50cal and it was around 2400 meters or a tad over 1.5 miles. As far as i know, there have been 2 other incidents where the shots were around 2300 meters since the afghan/Iraq conflicts started.

NG VI
January 2, 2010, 09:48 AM
Moreover, studies found that during WWII a large percentage of soldiers did not fire their weapons at all under combat conditions. I'm sure the same thing pertained in wars earlier and later.




And SLA Marshall's own aides couldn't remember seeing him interview a single person. That "study" is bogus.

Tinpig
January 2, 2010, 12:34 PM
And SLA Marshall's own aides couldn't remember seeing him interview a single person.

It's true that his informal methodology and lack of notes lead many to believe that Marshall's figures on rates-of-fire are suspect.

But Marshall certainly did interview combat soldiers, both in WWII and Korea. Here's a 2003 Army War College article containing an interview with an Infantry 1LT who accompanied General Marshall in Korea during the fighting on Pork Chop Hill.

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/USAWC/parameters/03autumn/chambers.pdf

Tinpig

Alex23
January 2, 2010, 12:41 PM
The aim might be to kill the opfor but the geneva convention prohibits the use of hollow points in theater. This has an upside as wounding an enemy does cause the opfor more grief than killing them.

Jorg Nysgerrig
January 2, 2010, 01:25 PM
The aim might be to kill the opfor but the geneva convention prohibits the use of hollow points in theater.
The Geneva Conventions says nothing about bullet types. The Hague Convention of 1899, on the other hand, does.

WC145
January 2, 2010, 02:09 PM
Isn't it a Rush Limbaugh quote that the job of the military is to "kill people and break things"

which is a pretty fair assesment in my book.

I got that line from my brother who is in the USAF. He said that his drill instructors would say that to him, IIRC.

Your brother must be in a different USAF than I was. Back when I went through USAF basic the TI's didn't talk about such things, probably because there's not that many people in the USAF that do those things. There are less than 1000 airmen in jobs that actually put them on the ground killing people and breaking things. Other than them it's the fighter and bomber pilots, drone "pilots", and aerial gunners doing it from aircraft. The other 300,000+ are "supporting the mission".

BurningSaviour
January 2, 2010, 03:38 PM
Good catch, thank you. So it's a majority but not all

Yes.

earliest convert was the French with the FAMAS

France's adoption of the FAMAS was a reaction to the realisation that their (then) current service rifle (the MAS 49/56). France wasn't a member of NATO at the time, and their adoption of this cartridge was probably due more to better ties with the West than with the Warsaw Pact (much the same as other neutral, but more Western-aligned countries such as Austria, Switzerland, and Ireland).
It wasn't until production of the FAMAS F2 began, for the French Naval Infantry (Marines), that the rifle began accepting the NATO STANAG magazine - the original F1, which is still in widespread use in the French military - uses a proprietary 25 round magazine.

bhinks
January 2, 2010, 06:23 PM
Hello all- I've been reading THR regularly for quite some time, but this will be one of my first posts. I prefer to mostly sit back and soak up the wisdom of the good people here ;)

As far as the above quote, it's certainly an old one and we'll never know exactly where it came from. But I am currently enlisted in the USAF and leaving for OCS in the spring- a lot of my closest friends are already finished so I have a decent perspective (at least from the AF side of things, I'm sure that saying is passed around in different forms in all the services). But from my experience, the quote originally came into use during pilot training, specifically the F-16 B-course, and was worded as "your purpose in life is to kill people and break their s*@t". Just as a little reminder to the guys who do take the most lives, but never see the up close consequences of their attacks; to keep their real purpose in the front of their minds. But I can assure you that at least as far back as 2004, the TIs at enlisted basic training are using that. As the Army and Marine Corps are spread more and more thin fighting two wars, the AF has been changing. We are having more and more often to not only provide our own security but to fill in gaps in Army units. Our Security Forces, which is our version of MPs, are turning more and more into a dual-role force, as law enforcement stateside, but essentially as infantry units overseas. In my unit alone, there are well, well more than 1000 personnel whose specific job in theatre is to be boots on the ground and rifle in hand.
I'm certainly not claiming that the quote originated in the AF or in pilot training, but I can testify first hand that it has been used in both those circles for quite some time.

Pyzon
January 2, 2010, 06:45 PM
Cool..........But do soldiers still call you guys zoomies ?

Just kidding, friend. Thanks for the heavy lifting you are doing for all of us, and for the sacrifice you and your family make to keep all of us free, even the dirtballs that don't speak up.

bhinks
January 2, 2010, 07:24 PM
Hey, zoomie is just like grunt, jarhead or squid- a title you wear with pride. :)

And I always feel more like I should be thanking ya'all for paying me to do what I dreamed of as a little kid!

WC145
January 2, 2010, 07:38 PM
As far as the above quote, it's certainly an old one and we'll never know exactly where it came from. But I am currently enlisted in the USAF and leaving for OCS in the spring- a lot of my closest friends are already finished so I have a decent perspective (at least from the AF side of things, I'm sure that saying is passed around in different forms in all the services). But from my experience, the quote originally came into use during pilot training, specifically the F-16 B-course, and was worded as "your purpose in life is to kill people and break their s*@t". Just as a little reminder to the guys who do take the most lives, but never see the up close consequences of their attacks; to keep their real purpose in the front of their minds. But I can assure you that at least as far back as 2004, the TIs at enlisted basic training are using that. As the Army and Marine Corps are spread more and more thin fighting two wars, the AF has been changing. We are having more and more often to not only provide our own security but to fill in gaps in Army units. Our Security Forces, which is our version of MPs, are turning more and more into a dual-role force, as law enforcement stateside, but essentially as infantry units overseas. In my unit alone, there are well, well more than 1000 personnel whose specific job in theatre is to be boots on the ground and rifle in hand.
I'm certainly not claiming that the quote originated in the AF or in pilot training, but I can testify first hand that it has been used in both those circles for quite some time.

The dual role for Security has been around forever, I was an SP in the early 80's and back then we were divided - Security Specialist and Law Enforcement Specialist. The SP's primary job was more combat oriented base, weapon storage area, and flight line security, while the LE's was working the gates and base patrol, like a town cop. It was later, when they changed to "Security Forces" that they tried to integrate the two roles, I guess it's coming back full circle now.

As far as "boots on the ground and rifle in hand", there's a big difference between securing a base perimeter and going outside the wire looking for trouble. The USAF has only three frontline combat jobs - Combat Control (CCT), Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), and Combat Weather (SOWT). These guys are often assigned outside of the AF, usually with the Army, working outside the wire, fighting side by side with their counterparts from the other services. In fact, TACPs are assigned to Army bases, they live and deploy with the units they support. There's only about 1000 total CCT, TACP, and SOWT.

oldfool
January 2, 2010, 09:02 PM
c'mon people, arguing that civilians ought to choose for (home and self DEFENSE whatever the military chooses (for COMBAT) is pretty silly; the 50BMG has surely proven it's worth in combat, but rare few civilians need one for CCW.

military does not choose based on any ONE criteria, nor should you choose on any ONE criteria for your personal needs... but they very likely are very different criteria (and if they are not.. duh, buy more rope)... if 223 fits your needs, it fits your needs.. ok, no problem
but arguing that the 223 is a great one stop instant man-killer is a tad silly
the multiple criteria that the military considers ought to not require lengthy explanations... and anything either Sarah Brady or Rush Limbaugh says about it ought to be greeted with laughter, no matter what she/he says about it, "sound bite slogans" notwithstanding

whitetail deer are a LOT tougher than homo-sapiens, and 223 (legal for deer or not) is not famous for dropping deer stone cold dead on the spot, nor is 30-'06 or 45-70 required to kill a big goat, on average approximate same size as an infantryman (whether or not the goat happens to be shooting back at you)

instead of woobie wars about "if it's good e'nuff for infantry, it's good e'nuff for me", you would be better off doing the AK vs AR woobie war, which is pretty silly, given the track record of both in combat...all the same can be said for the "std" AK round as for the "std" AR round... great combat carbine rounds, poor Grizz killers

Gungnir
January 2, 2010, 09:59 PM
France's adoption of the FAMAS was a reaction to the realisation that their (then) current service rifle (the MAS 49/56). France wasn't a member of NATO at the time, and their adoption of this cartridge was probably due more to better ties with the West than with the Warsaw Pact (much the same as other neutral, but more Western-aligned countries such as Austria, Switzerland, and Ireland).
It wasn't until production of the FAMAS F2 began, for the French Naval Infantry (Marines), that the rifle began accepting the NATO STANAG magazine - the original F1, which is still in widespread use in the French military - uses a proprietary 25 round magazine.

Indeed France did "retire" from NATO in '67 until 2009.

However they are in NATO, and they do use the 5.56mm and the G2 FAMAS does use STANAG magazines, the G2 was developed in 1994, and has a 1:9 rifling rather than the F1's 1:12, which also incidentally rated for steel cartridges (SS109) to cycle effectively, not M855 (so regardless of magazine the FAMAS F1 is not "interchangable" with standard NATO ammunition although it is a standard NATO caliber) perhaps this is to allow the French to take a break while awaiting resupply. Therefore I'd say that the FAMAS is now compatible with STANAG as is the HK G36 for similar reasons.

However it wasn't my intention to go into a technical discussion on the FAMAS, more a discussion about the 5.56mm round.

Skid_McCoy
January 3, 2010, 09:49 PM
If you search around the internet, you'll find some interesting info on the 5.56mm round (.223). Somebody (DOD I think) compared 8 soldiers carrying M16s that could outpower 12 soldiers carrying M14s with 7.62mm (.308). The British were working on a round closer to a 7mm that they were promoting at the time. They hate the 5.56mm because it doesn't have the killing power a military round should. Same for the 9mm. Like SiRed said, it's intent is to wound.

crasen
January 4, 2010, 02:11 AM
I think the 5.56 or 9mm would be more effective for our troops if they did not have to use FMJ bullets. From what I remember the US did not sign the Hogue convention but does not use hollow points due to allies that signed on to the Hogue convention and the need to be able to share ammunition in theatre. It is about time to start using todays modern ballistic technology. I can understand the reason for not using 7.62x51 for a firearm fireing a 3 round burst or full auto. There are many soilders that are too small and lightweight, some even have trouble with a 5.56 in burst. I think in missions where they are more likely to engage CQC a cartridge with more power may be advantageous. The 6.8mm may be a pretty good compromise in some situations.

C-grunt
January 4, 2010, 06:15 AM
If you search around the internet, you'll find some interesting info on the 5.56mm round (.223). Somebody (DOD I think) compared 8 soldiers carrying M16s that could outpower 12 soldiers carrying M14s with 7.62mm (.308). The British were working on a round closer to a 7mm that they were promoting at the time. They hate the 5.56mm because it doesn't have the killing power a military round should. Same for the 9mm. Like SiRed said, it's intent is to wound.
Urban legend. The 5.56 does actually do a pretty darn good job at killing people when you hit them COM.

Hold My Own
January 4, 2010, 06:21 AM
Like someone said, you can carry around wayyyyy more .223's than you can .308's. I think it was around the time of Vietnam that started to use the .223? I'm not sure, don't kill me guys. :p

But yeah, guys were talking about they'd rather have twice the ammo, and give up some range/knockdown power so hence the .223.

Also, the .223 isn't as wimpy a round as people make it out to be. How I see it, if you wouldn't let someone shoot you with it, then it's not a wimpy round. :neener:

I personally like the 5.45x39 more, and they're dirt cheap. But they're pretty close in comparison.

YaNi
January 4, 2010, 01:30 PM
Urban legend. The 5.56 does actually do a pretty darn good job at killing people when you hit them COM.

+1
The 77 grain round has only improved the 5.56's capabilities. I have friends + relatives over there that have nothing but glowing reports about the 77 grain. The 5.56 isn't gonna blow off someone's arm like a .308 would, but hit em in the chest and theres a good chance they are going down and not getting back up.

devildog32713
January 4, 2010, 01:53 PM
"Intermediate rounds" are a compromise of the rifles power, the SMG's controlablity, fire rate. The first prduction example of this was the StG44, or MP44, designed by Nazi Germany. Spain used the CETME,
the CETME was derived from the StG. 5.56x45 (or .223, 5.56 NATO has more pressure, thicker casings) ammo is lighter than 7.62x51 NATO, for the same weight, you could carry twice as much 5.56 as 7.62x51, 5.56 is more controlable in select-fire weapons, the Army's research stated that many men in battle never fired their weapon, but if they had a "rapid-fire" weapon, then they were more likely to fire, more rounds fired=more enemy casualities,
Armalite sold the production rights of the AR-15 to Colt, and Colt produced it as the Model 601, they (Colt) submitted it for Army testing, whatnot, and now it is produced in many variants, for our military. Some modern assault rifles fire the 7.62x51 NATO (SCAR-H) but all in all, .223 is reliable, can penetrate (M885 NATO has a steel rod) high velocity (up to 3,051 NATO) is very controllable.

youngda9
January 4, 2010, 02:24 PM
Wounding your adversary takes more men out of action than outright killing them.
In many states it is illegal to hunt deer with a 22 caliber rifle(.223)...it's in-humane and doesn't kill the small animals quick enough. True.

Brimic
January 4, 2010, 02:40 PM
The 30-06 and various mauser cartridges developed around the turn of the century had in mind the biggest menacing living thing on the battlefield- the cavalry horse. The Germans and Soviets got it right during WWII with the development of the 8mm Kurz and 7.62x39, the British later had a 270 or 7mm intermediate round, but the American military wanted a shorter fatter 30-06, and we ended up with the .308/7.62NATO.

KBintheSLC
January 4, 2010, 02:54 PM
The military doesn't pick the best tool as much as it picks the best compromise. Sure, there are many calibers that are more capable than the 5.56 NATO, but the 5.56 made sense from other perspectives. Same thing goes for the switch to 9mm in sidearms.

I personally believe that the 7.62x39 is the perfect compromise for basic infantry use... but I doubt NATO will ever accept a Russian cartridge. The 7.62 NATO is also a great cartridge for all-around use. I could imagine we might see a resurgence in 7.62 arms like AR10/M14/SCAR type stuff in the future.

Also, the .223 isn't as wimpy a round as people make it out to be. How I see it, if you wouldn't let someone shoot you with it, then it's not a wimpy round.
I agree that the 5.56 isn't wimpy, but that argument doesn't do it for me... I mean, I wouldn't let someone shoot me with a BB gun. That doesn't mean I would consider the BB gun to be a viable battle weapon.

...

Hatterasguy
January 4, 2010, 08:00 PM
I'm just a recreational shooter, but from my experiance 400 rounds of 5.56 is a heck of a lot lighter than 400 rounds of 7.62.

If I had to pick which to hump around in the crazy heat of the desert I would take the 5.56.

W L Johnson
January 4, 2010, 08:57 PM
I personally believe that the 7.62x39 is the perfect compromise for basic infantry use... but I doubt NATO will ever accept a Russian cartridge.

Why would they when even the Russians starting moving away from the 7.62x39 in the 70s to the 5.45x39 which is considered by many to be a twin of the 5.56 NATO.

Shadow Man
January 4, 2010, 09:10 PM
Why would they when even the Russians starting moving away from the 7.62x39 in the 70s to the 5.45x39

Maybe because the Russians then started going back to the 7.62x39 in the early 90's. Of course, that could have had to do with their economic collapse, but I kinda doubt it...

The .223, or 5.56x45 (since we are debating military use) is an acceptable round when used within its design parameters. Mainly, a 20" barrel, and unstable rounds like the M193 and MK262 Mod1. No, the round may not have the most "punch" at range, but follow up shots are ridiculously easy because recoil is so light. It does exactly what an infantryman's rifle should do, and no more; light recoil, accurate and flat shooting from 0-500yds.

And no, the M-16/5.56x45mm platform was not designed to "wound." The system, when used correctly, will not fail to kill a typical target (ie: not drugged, not too far away, not too close with heavy cover, etc.).

W L Johnson
January 4, 2010, 09:36 PM
Maybe because the Russians then started going back to the 7.62x39 in the early 90's. Of course, that could have had to do with their economic collapse, but I kinda doubt it...
Yep, when their economy went to pot they looked around and they had piles upon piles of 7.62x39. Their main army mostly still went to the 5.45 but alot of their 2nd string forces got stuck with the old stuff.

Shadow Man
January 4, 2010, 09:45 PM
Well, I'll admit, I'm not an expert on the Russian military, I just seem to remember a current issue rifle for a front-line unit I worked with being chambered in 7.62x39, that's all I have to go on though.

W L Johnson
January 4, 2010, 09:47 PM
That's why I said "mostly". The Russian's are not going to let anything go to waste.
Here's a link to a Russian Website on the Ak-74 http://world.guns.ru/assault/as02-e.htm

cottonmouth
January 4, 2010, 09:52 PM
Well I am "over there" and I feel fine with .223/5.56. My kit is set up to hold ten thirty round mags plus one in the rifle. When it's 130 degrees I'd hate to have the extra weight of 7.62 to be honest. 5.56 does the job just fine, a human just can't digest it!

J.B.

Redneck with a 40
January 4, 2010, 11:24 PM
Why the .223? Because it a cheap, fun centerfire cartridge to shoot, from target shooting to varmint control, its excellent. Also, I feel the new Mini-14's are excellent defense carbines, especially if you live out in the country. Who can argue with 30 rounds of .223 in a magazine? That's nasty!:D

Recoil and muzzle blast are also very mild, plus you have a myriad of guns chambered for it.

Shadow Man
January 5, 2010, 12:45 AM
I'll check that out W L Johnson, thank you sir.

W L Johnson
January 5, 2010, 12:46 PM
Good grief! I haven't been been on that site in a while and it looks (sounds) like they added some very loud ads. Make sure your volume is turned down.

mcdonl
January 5, 2010, 01:22 PM
Well I am "over there" and I feel fine with .223/5.56. My kit is set up to hold ten thirty round mags plus one in the rifle. When it's 130 degrees I'd hate to have the extra weight of 7.62 to be honest. 5.56 does the job just fine, a human just can't digest it!

Thank you.

Someone else mentioned that the military does not always pick the best but picks the best compromise. This is such a true statement. There have always been, and will always be other supporting gunners in service when the run-of-the-mill battle rifle does not fill the bill.

My brother, a vet and I had this conversation at the range just the other day.

Shadow Man
January 5, 2010, 02:50 PM
Good grief! I haven't been been on that site in a while and it looks (sounds) like they added some very loud ads. Make sure your volume is turned down.


Haha thanks for the heads up. The site keeps switching me to some virus adware thing...kinda frustrating.

W L Johnson
January 5, 2010, 03:14 PM
The site keeps switching me to some virus adware thing...kinda frustrating.
Never seen that, are you using Internet Explorer? Firefox doesn't do that, well, mine at least.

Shadow Man
January 5, 2010, 04:21 PM
Yeah, internet explorer. I'm not a very computer savvy guy, so I just use what comes standard on these things. However, I was able to fight the adware long enough to read the link, so I stand (sit) corrected: thank you for the correction sir.

devildog32713
January 5, 2010, 08:17 PM
In many states it is illegal to hunt deer with a 22 caliber rifle(.223)...it's in-humane and doesn't kill the small animals quick enough. True.

It can be done though, and in my state, the only requirement for deer hunting with a rifle, is that it is centerfire. But not my first choice for deer.

tominct
January 5, 2010, 11:09 PM
To nitpick the OP.......
I remember back in the 70s when it was very hard to find sporting rifles in .223. The closest available was the .222 Remington. I wanted a bolt gun then in the military caliber (ammo was real cheap on the milsurp market) but couldn't find one.

Nowadays, try to find a new rifle in .222,

.223 won out not because it was dramatically better (the 2 cartridges were very similar ballistically) but simply because the .223/5.56 was the military standard.

trigga
January 5, 2010, 11:19 PM
it may appear to be a dinky round but at over 3000fps, the .223/5.56 is no play thing when it collides. very accurate round.

NG VI
January 5, 2010, 11:55 PM
As far as "boots on the ground and rifle in hand", there's a big difference between securing a base perimeter and going outside the wire looking for trouble. The USAF has only three frontline combat jobs - Combat Control (CCT), Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), and Combat Weather (SOWT). These guys are often assigned outside of the AF, usually with the Army, working outside the wire, fighting side by side with their counterparts from the other services. In fact, TACPs are assigned to Army bases, they live and deploy with the units they support. There's only about 1000 total CCT, TACP, and SOWT.


What about their combat medics, the combat air medics, I don't remember the name of the unit/group?



I think the .223/5.56 has some other advantages too, namely higher velocity is always better in a rifle made for relatively shallow targets like people, and higher sectional density is better no matter what. The .223 allows for pretty decent SD, pretty long for caliber bullets compared to other intermediate cartridges. Try loading a 6.8 SPC with lighter/shorter bullets than it ordinarily uses. It is already in the shallow end of its boresize, where the .223/5.56 is using fairly long for caliber bullets. That to me is a huge advantage, because weapons do not cause damage purely with bore size, the length and speed of the bullet matters an awful lot. I think a slightly wider bullet with slightly more propellant behind it would be absolutely perfect for a combat rifle, but the .223/5.56 is pretty decent as is.

How a bullet interacts with its target is at least as important as and probably more important than how wide it is or how heavy it is or how much energy it packs. A long, skinny bullet that penetrates, yaws, then splits in two and wreaks havoc on its target is better in my understanding than a wider, shorter bullet that penetrates its target decently but doesn't tumble or break up into large fragments, and doesn't have a lot of velocity to maximize its wounding.

Even going to a wider bullet doesn't change the fact that it is an intermediate cartridge, it just changes the set of sacrifices accepted. I'd rather keep the velocity and sectional density high than take a wider bullet and give up both speed and sectional density.

BurningSaviour
January 6, 2010, 12:05 AM
Para Rescue is the unit you're thinking of. I'd dare say they're not exactly the "norm" of the Air Force, though.

Deus Machina
January 6, 2010, 12:14 AM
I have to agree and reiterate on a few points.

It's a relatively low-blast, low-recoil round. Which is great, for the burst and full-auto fire of the military.

It's easy to carry a lot.

A proper bullet will still do some nasty things. Not quickly on its own, but three or four in a target speaks pretty clearly.

IMO, it's because the military was looking for a round while remembering the Germans and fearing the Russians. A trained, civilized, military--and that's an important word--force like that wears body armor (albeit however mild) and tends to their wounded.

Now, I don't know if the 5.56 was designed to wound rather than kill, but that's what it does. And we may as well make the most of it.

A wounded soldier makes for a better immediate effect than a dead one. He becomes Priority #1, and three people stop shooting at you right now, which is better than one stopping and the rest taking a hit to morale.

The problem with this is that we haven't fought much of a trained, military enemy since WW2. Our current enemies are untrained, non-military, and--for lack of a better term--uncivilized. They fight to the death, and leave their wounded where they fall. Which makes 5.56 look less effective.

On the other hand, getting shot three or four times from anything will usually start taking the wind out of sails pretty quick.

Shadow Man
January 6, 2010, 01:31 AM
Not quickly on its own, but three or four in a target speaks pretty clearly.

Exactly, and that coupled with a low recoil system makes your (necessary) follow-up shots a breeze. The only problem is fighting in an urban (or jungle) setting where you may only get one shot before the target dissapears into a crowd or into a maze of 12th century-style buildings (all with roof access, and interconnected roofs) and allyways. It can be a real PITA. However, with increased lethality will come (almost garanteed) increased weight and less overall ammunition capacity. It is a real compromise, and no system or round is going to be perfect for everything, until they develop the Bad-Guy-Seeking-Cover-Busting-Civilian-Dodging-Alternating-Hypersonic-Subsonic-Match-Grade (BGSCBCDAHSMG) FMJ round. So, until then, you decide your caliber need based upon your mission, if you have that option.

C-grunt
January 6, 2010, 05:20 AM
In my experience, even single 5.56 rounds are effective at taking the fight out of a guy, with a good hit. Only good body and head hits are effective. Anything short of a cannon doesnt work very well if you hit the bad guy in the forearm.

NG VI
January 6, 2010, 06:42 AM
Well if you nail a guy center mass or anything near it then even if he melts into the crowd he isn't likely to get back into the fight anytime in the next three years.

Art Eatman
January 6, 2010, 10:03 AM
Always think of battle doctrine and tactics. The U.S. had a different doctrine than the Soviets, and that's why we use something like the M16 instead of something like the AK-47.

Over-simplified: The .223 is effective for a control zone of some 200 meters around a position while the primary weapon, the radio, is used to call in artillery and/or air strikes. The cartridge is adequate for that task, and the lighter weight allows for a larger ammo supply to be carried by the soldier. In Vietnam, we generally did not do mass attacks with the use of large numbers of armored vehicles. More of the use of small units, to seek and find.

OTOH, the Soviet assault doctrine generally called for artillery, to be followed by tanks which were accompanied by large numbers of infantry. The infantry would swarm fixed positions and begin firing at close range. Generally, Soviet infantry personnel were much less technologically sophisticated than US personnel.

Shadow Man
January 6, 2010, 10:20 AM
In my experience, even single 5.56 rounds are effective at taking the fight out of a guy, with a good hit. Only good body and head hits are effective. Anything short of a cannon doesnt work very well if you hit the bad guy in the forearm.

True enough C-Grunt, a solid hit will usually do some damage, but anything less than a perfectly solid hit (even 2" off) will not take the fight out of the target. I'm talking an immediately disabling shot, heart, spine, CNS, etc. Especially not with the M855 round. I can still vividly remember it not working on several occasions, while the target dissapeared or detonated IED's. Now, all of that changed with the MK262; with that loading, even a less than stellar COM hit would produce results. They were not one-shot guaranteed kills by any means; I've never seen a small-arm that could do that, not even the .50BMG, but they did give results.

Well if you nail a guy center mass or anything near it then even if he melts into the crowd he isn't likely to get back into the fight anytime in the next three years.

Too bad that doesn't really hold true, and even if it did, it's not an attitude I can adopt.

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