.223 lethality


April 4, 2010, 07:27 AM
Will a single well placed .223 round to the upper body of a homosapien Consistently kill said animal? note that I use the word "consistently", as it is well known to myself and many other shooters that there is no round that guarantees death in any living creature.

Im currently working on a Scout-rifle project with a LTR in .223 and would like personal opinions of the effectiveness of this round against humans. those of you with millitary experience are of particular interest as the .223/5.56 has been a standard round for most of you, I'm also interested to know if barrel length plays a role in the round's effectiveness.

Thank You

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The Lone Haranguer
April 4, 2010, 08:52 AM
Of course it will kill. But lethality and "stopping power" are not necessarily synonymous.

April 4, 2010, 10:10 AM
gut-shot will kill as well only few days later, usually from the infection, you could probably kill an elephant but it will not drop on the spot, for that you will need something in 40 - 50 calibers. Just like Lone Haranguer mentioned there are differences in stopping power usually it relates to the force of projectile which it carries, which is proportional to its speed and weight, so comparing 55 grain and 80 - 90 grain bullets for 223 the stopping power is different, that's why military switched to 1:7 twist rate to keep combatants down, compare to Vietnam era where 1:14 was used, finally another reason for military to adopt 6.8 mm SPC

Art Eatman
April 4, 2010, 10:17 AM
IIRC, the "Washington Sniper" did pretty well with a .223 on homo sap.

April 4, 2010, 10:38 AM
Will a single well placed .223 round to the upper body of a homosapien Consistently kill said animal? note that I use the word "consistently",

There is no comprehensive answer to your question.

How "well-placed"? a .223 through the heart will consistently kill human beings. A .223 in the upper torso can be deadly or not, it just depends on what organs are struck, bullet path and deflection, amount of yawing, etc.

Perhaps the simplest answer is:

The U.S. Armed forces command believed that the advantages offered by the .223 made it the best combat cartridge available at the time of its adoption. Lately, our military experiences in Afghanistan have at least some commanders in our armed services re-thinking the effectiveness of the .223.

Ask 10 people here, and you'll likely get 10 answers, all different, and some of them diametrically opposed.

In the end, you'll have to make your best decision based on your research (including what you read here) and which opinions you choose to listen to.


Tim the student
April 4, 2010, 11:03 AM
Sure, it will probably kill consistently. It just may take some time.

Sorry to be "that guy" but there are lots of other threads here on that may give you more info.

April 4, 2010, 11:05 AM
did the DC "sniper" had bullets with shifted center mass? those don't usually travel in the straight line upon the impact.

April 4, 2010, 11:13 AM
Locally, when the cops shoot somebody with their rifles (AR type in 5.56) they die. Usually one round is all that's fired, what with it being an urban environment and all.


April 4, 2010, 11:27 AM
wild animals have a will to live that when mortally wounded that far outstrips that of human beings.

A 55grn sp through the heart lungs of such a critter of similar size results in death typically much sooner rather than later

April 4, 2010, 12:15 PM
COM, as in heart or really close to it. Will work.

Trusting 1 round to kill effectively is gambleing unless its a head shot. COM hits don't allways kill quickly. Luck deos have some say in the matter.

0-300yds, I have no problems relying on 5.56. I'll stick to SSA 70+gn rounds for defense with 16-20" barrels.

When In doubt= 6.8spc 110gn SSA
Long range AR15 (400+)= 6.5 Grendel

April 4, 2010, 12:49 PM
bullets with shifted center mass?

I'm not sure I understand the question.

April 4, 2010, 01:24 PM
IIRC, the "Washington Sniper" did pretty well with a .223 on homo sap.

I remember watching the news coverage at the time, and they had on all of these experts who said a "real" sniper used 7.62 or bigger. It all seemed silly seeing as that kid (the father didn't do much or any of the shooting, it was all the kid) was able to kill so many people with one shot of the .223.

April 4, 2010, 01:43 PM
Umm, didn't the D.C. "sniper" take most of his shots at under 100 yards?

April 4, 2010, 04:32 PM
At what range? Using what ammunition? It depends. The D.C. murderers were mostly shooting between 50 and 100 yards (one may have been slightly over 100, and that victim lived, IIRC). That's a big difference ballistically from 200 or 500.

.223 is the least powerful of common centerfire rifle cartridges, but it *is* a rifle cartridge.

April 4, 2010, 04:51 PM
as it is well known to myself and many other shooters that there is no round that guarantees death in any living creature.

hit any homosapien with a 30-06 and UP centermass (in the sternum bone) and it will die.

April 4, 2010, 04:52 PM
Shifted center mass bullets:

Some designs of FMJ rifle ammunition inflict more destructive gunshot wounds than others. Not all FMJ bullets contain a simple lead filling, 5.56mm NATO FMJ ammunition has a much thinner jacket than others. As a result the bullet may yaw and fragment by fracturing along the cannelure, as the result a tail-heavy FMJ bullet which yaws violently after hitting the target, creates more destructive gunshot wounds than standard spitzer bullet.

Shawn Dodson
April 4, 2010, 05:54 PM
In 1989, Jamie Martin Wise was shot squarely in the torso with a .223 bullet fired by an Alexandria, VA, police sniper. Wise staggered slightly, and the hostage that Wise was holding by the neck with shotgun pointed at head, broke free and ran. Wise then shot and killed Cpl. Charles Hill, racked the shotgun and wounded SWAT officer Andrew Checlchoski before he was finally stopped by a hail of police bullets.

The .223 bullet nicked a vertebra in Wise's spine and cut his aorta. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-1182280.html

April 4, 2010, 06:04 PM
Post from above:

"wild animals have a will to live that when mortally wounded that far outstrips that of human beings."

Try telling that to battlefield medics.

April 4, 2010, 06:08 PM
I have talked to veterans of recent wars that have used the M16A1, M16A2 and current M4. They are happy with them. This is (happy) with the combination of weight, quantity of ammo carried and general effectiveness.
Barrel length effects velocity. Higher is better.
The previous poster who mentions a change in barrel twist rate is mistaken. The twist rate was changed to allow heavier/longer bullets to be used. The was done to make the rifle compatible with the M249 SAW rounds and vice versa.

April 4, 2010, 06:11 PM
There are many things that can affect the answer to this question.

As a soldier, I do not have the benefit of hollow-point ammo, but I DO have the advantage of automatic fire. As a civilian, I have more say in what I will engage, and where I will engage it. As a soldier I don't. Ac a civilian, I can load up with ammo with much more likely stopping power, like Hornady TAP.

If I were hunting game, I wouldn't want to shoot the animal REPEATEDLY if I didn't have to. I would much prefer to knock it over with the first shot, and not NEED a follow-up shot. As a soldier, if I have engaged a target, I will most likely be able to shoot it repeatedly. Your purpose is a bit vague, in its intention and application. We really don't know what you will be using it for, by whom, or against whom.

As for the DC sniper, I won $50 when I most correctly guessed the profile of the shooter at my place of work. Male, older than 30, socially disillusioned, either denied entry into the armed forces or discharged from the armed forces under other than honorable conditions. I drew this conclusion because he was using a bullet that is not really a sniper round, but one which those who are 'wannabes' with no real background might use for sniping anyway. He WANTED to be a killer but couldn't make the show. He was shooting at targets of opportunity who were unaware of the threat and not shooting back. He could let them go if the shot wasn't ideal. (That he had a juvenile accomplice was irrelevant to our pool, no one guessed that twist.)

April 4, 2010, 06:50 PM
IMHO..223 depends on the type of ammo FMJ ,hollow point,ballistic tip etc,looking at the damage on deer with for example using Hornady tap 75s at 150 yds i have to say i very much doubt how far anybody would go after being chest shot with it ,the last two fallow deer i have shot with it have had massive trauma and wound channels with a lot of hydraulic shock damage and absolutely dropped dead in there tracks.

Art Eatman
April 4, 2010, 07:28 PM
Before we go baying off into the bulrushes with a bunch of stuff about drift, tumbling, bullet type and all that nit-picking, don't you think that maybe the gazillions of accumulated funerals over a half-century are adequate evidence that, yeah, the .223 is bad news for people?

April 4, 2010, 07:38 PM
Why are you asking about killing people, and why should we answer? There is no season on Homo sapiens in the U.S.

If you want to know if .223 is an effective defensive round, that is an entirely different topic. Tasers are almost always effective at temporary incapacitation, but are also almost never lethal. If a round stops an attack, that is all the lawful citizen requires. Its lethality is rather outside the question.

If you don't understand the difference, do some study about justifiable use of force (or, better yet, get training from a qualified instructor) before your next thread.

April 4, 2010, 08:02 PM
No one I know of who teaches combat shooting or writes doctrine on it considers a single round of anything to be a reliable man killer or fight stopper. The idea of controlled pairs dates back at least to the Rhodesian Bush War in the 70s, when guys were trained to put two rounds of 7.62x51 into bad guys as a matter of routine. Likewise, LEOs are trained to plan on multiple shots with buckshot or shotgun slugs. A well placed single round of either or those should be a fight stopper (and so should 5.56), but it's not a safe enough bet for people who gunfight for a living.

April 4, 2010, 08:54 PM
I recently heard that General David Petreaus was hit squarely in the chest with a 5.56x45 round in a training accident years ago. :rolleyes:

April 5, 2010, 12:54 AM
Note that this thread was not posted for some nefarious purpose I am mearly working on building a Scout style rifle (based on Jeff coopers design which I hold in the highest regards) THIS RIFLE DESIGN WAS INTENDED FROM THE BEGINNING TO KILL HUMAN COMBATANTS ON A BATTLEFIELD.

My question can be rephrased for those of you who find it a bit too obscure.

simply put: will this rifle/cartridge combination be effective in combat at ranges of less than 100 yards. I have heard that the original scout-rifle design calls for a round of no less than .30 Cal dimensions.

April 5, 2010, 01:19 AM
Cooper's original idea was that the Scout rifle should be capable of taking down animals up to some weight threshold I don't recall (400 lbs?), which is part of the reason why he specified a 0.30" caliber. (The other was that, despite his major contributions to practical pistol work, he was a hopelessly clueless dinosaur when it came to long guns.)

If you try to build a "combat scout" rifle (quotes because such a creature in bolt action was obsolete in the 1930s), I don't see why 5.56mm doesn't let you be lethal in the range band Cooper envisioned for the Scout with its low powered optics.

April 5, 2010, 06:27 AM
Here is ram weight approximate 200 lbs shot 100 yards away with 65 gr SGK, its lethal I would conclude.

April 5, 2010, 07:22 AM
I can tell you this from the perspective of a 19 year old Marine in Vietnam. Witnessed center mass hits to antagonist .45ACP-1911, M1-Carbine, and M14- 7.62mm were not a show stopper. Before going down our antagonist hosed us with a fragmentation grenade and contents of a “Burp Gun”. A Gunnery Sgt veteran of Korea said it was a (PPS).

My lasting impression there is no guaranties. Is the .223 lethal yes and no? Is the .30 lethal yes and no?

April 5, 2010, 09:29 AM

Rule #2: Double tap

If rule #2 cannot be repeated, go to rule #1: good cardio.

Thank you

Art Eatman
April 5, 2010, 01:13 PM
tcsnake, how many times must you be told that the .223 will indeed be lethal at 100 yards?


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