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Effective range AR15 vs M1 and M14

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by wacki, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. wacki

    wacki Well-Known Member

    Please explain this to me. The 5.56 is the longest range w/o optics?!?!?

    Effective range
    • AR15 400–600 m (avg 547 yd)
    • M1 garrand 440 yd (402 m)
    • M14 460 m (500 yd) 800+ m (875+ yd) (with optics)

    How is effective range determined? Piercing 1/4" plywood?
  2. holdencm9

    holdencm9 Well-Known Member

    I think it has more to do with combat accuracy, max point blank range, etc.

    Obviously the round itself is a different story, once it hits.
  3. nathan

    nathan Well-Known Member

    Past 300 yds all of them go down like rock.
  4. Reloadron

    Reloadron Well-Known Member

    Nutshell Version:

  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    For most people effective range is a philosophical concept.

    Based on your chart, looks like it was put together by a .223 fan boy.

    I have shot 223, 308 and 30-06 out to 1000 yards. Out to 300 yards the 223 is very flat shooting and is moved by the wind just as much as the 30 calibers.

    At 600 yards you start to notice just how much more a .223 bullet is blown in the wind. At the longer ranges the .223 is out of gas.

    At 1000 yards, if you are in the pitts pulling targets for a .223 shooter, those tiny bullets are floating in, can’t hear them, don’t make a “sput” when they hit cardboard.

    A bud of mine, his son was a Battalion Scout Sniper in Iraq. Son said that he did not care for the .223 past 100 yards as the round “just did not keep them down”. Son was very positive about the 308 out to 200 yards, which was the max distance they were shooting in cities.
  6. wacki

    wacki Well-Known Member

    "sput" what exactly is meant by that?

    will .223 break cardboard at 1k? what about 1/4" plywood?

    thanks for all the responses guys.
  7. Reloadron

    Reloadron Well-Known Member

    SlamFire1 makes a good point and thought provoking. I have never pulled butts for .223 but I have my share of time in the butts at 500 meters as well as phone talking at the 500 meter line. The 7.62 NATO when fired from an M14 at 500 meters still makes a very well pronounced crack when it passes overhead. That would lend me to believe the actual bullet is still supersonic with no problem. You would hear the shooter fire on the phone then about 1/2 second later came the crack.

    I would guess a .223 will break light cardboard at 1,000 yards but doubt it will do much else. Not to say I would want to be 1,000 yards down range getting shot at. I base what I say as to .223 on SlamFire's post as to the sound they make or do not make. :)

  8. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Well-Known Member

    Speed of sound at sea level is about 1088 FPS.
    Using a ballistics calculator the .223 will drop below super sonic around 875 yards.
    At 1000 yards it will have about 140 ft-lb of energy. That's more enegery than a baseball traveling at 100 mph...but focused on a point which is MUCH smaller than a baseball...yeah it will break through cardboard.
    600 meters is ~656 Yards...62 grain ball ammo will have less than 300 ft-lb of energy out there.

    the 7.62 MIGHT still be super sonic at 1000 yards...probably just barely. Carrying about 440 ft-lb of energy
  9. High on 8 wheels

    High on 8 wheels New Member

  10. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Well-Known Member

    There are a couple other things to remember about published effective ranges...

    1. The time and context of the publication.

    For example during WWII,
    the manuals for the M-1 Garand were meant to be informative to a group of troops who probably had some sort of experience with firearms. Training films from that era also show that shooting at exposed troops was not the only thing you were expected to do with a rifle. You were also expected to disable vehicles, blast through concrete walls, damage artillery and towed guns, kill troops hiding behind tree (by shooting through the trees) make tank crews button-up and engage enemy aircraft. Using the mass produced ammunition, from various sources that loaded ammo during WWII, you can / could do all of that within 450 yards with an M-1 Garand. As an individual rifleman, a platoon of guys with M-1 Garands can keep an area 1,000 yards away under constant semi-plunging fire.
    During the house top house fighting in Europe, fire teams from "The Big Red One" used their rifles to blast doorways from one house basement to the next house basement, right through concrete and stone masonry.
    My Dad said that in the Pacific his unit stopped the light-weight Japanese tanks using Garands and BARs loaded with M2 Armor piercing ammo.

    *Yes I know that many M-1 Garands shoot nice groups far past 450 yards with good ammo. But during WWII there were lots of ammo makers with different tolerances. Plus there was still all sorts of WWI and 1920s vintage ammo ( the M-1 ammo with the 174 grain boat-tail bullet) in the supply chain besides the M2 150 grain flat based spitzer or the M-2 armor piercing round. Besides that fact that the Army studies at the time said that 400-500 yards was the maximum range for most infantry engagements, there is also the trajectory of the M-2 ball round to consider. It was a 150 grain flat based spitzer bullet at 2,800 fps. If an M-1 Garand is zeroed at 370 yards with M-2 ball ammo, the path of the bullet will always being within 10 inches of the bore line from zero to around 440 yards, thus no sight adjustment needed for an impact somewhere on the full torso of an adult. Either 10 inches low (guts) or high (upper chest) , out to 440 yards without a sight adjustment .

    During the 1950s,
    the folks who dealt with the M-14 were guys like my dad who were WWII veterans. Once again the manual was made to be informative. During this time period 7.62mm ammunition was loaded to better tolerances due to the lack of war-time concerns. The M-14s were also not being made of a mass scale and the barrel tolerances were somewhat better. The same general use of the rifle was expected of the rifleman. So 500 yards was reasonable using the 147 grain ammo..... It was already being done with the M-1 Garand and good ammunition.
    Sight height above the bore-line also comes into play.

    Now enter the 1960s:
    The original AR-15s and M-16s (what the Air Force ordered) and the later Army M-16A1's were greatly resisted by the old time (senior ) troops who had already fought in WWII, Korea, China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and early Viet Nam, using Garands and M-14s. There was a lot of political pressure via the McNamara controlled DoD, to push the weapon into service. Also a lot of pressure to make it seem better than it really was. Particularly since the population of troops was now much less experienced with firearms when entering the service. They needed comic books for instruction...http://www.retronaut.co/2012/07/m16a1-rifle-comic-1968

    Also the need to blast through barriers, disable vehicles, and breach walls was forgotten. Assuming that an M-60 machine-gunner would be available to do the heavy lifting.....

    The original max effective range listed was 400 meters for the M-16. The M-16 original rear sight was not quick adjustable in combat. When zeroed at 25 meters the height of the sights over the bore also meant that the rifle was rough zeroed at 300 meters as well.
    A shot to 400 meters with that sight setting would mean a body hit as long as you held on the upper chest of your target. At least on paper....So 400 meters was the effective listed range...

    With the introduction of the M-16A2 with its 20 inch barrel , 1 in 7 twist rate and the M-855 ammo, the range was supposedly increased due to the ability of the shooter to adjust the sights for longer range engagements. (Which was probably true when used by the US Marines who still taught real rifleman shooting techniques. although the crappy burst mechanism goofed up the trigger pull for accurate shooting. ) The M-16A2 was greatly advertised as having a 800 meter effective range because that is how far the rear sight would go...When we went into Bosnia and the other Balkan countries all the locals asked about it... in disbelief.... So they employed scope bolt guns to counter us... BTW I have shot an A2 at 700 meters and about 30% of the bullets showed tumbling or yawing. I suspect ammo manufacturing and not the rifle.
    I chronographed M-855 ammo from my A2 and it averaged 3,025 fps from the 20 inch barrel for the 62 grain boat-tail. When zeroed for 400 yards it will keep the bullet impact within 10 inches high or low out to 475 yards.

    Of course the 14.5 inch barrel on the M-4 carbine.... now provides less velocity and less sight radius. Really making it into a 300 meter carbine. However on paper,,, a 62 grain M-855 round going 2,820 fps from a 14.5 inch M4 will still hit within 10 inches of the bore line out to 450 yards. *( when the carbine is zeroed at 380 yards) Although it is only going 1980 fps at that range. (like a 22 magnum at the muzzle)

    On paper anyway... since Field Manuals have become the creations of the geeks squads who never deploy.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  11. C-grunt

    C-grunt Well-Known Member

    Ive shot the SAW out to over 1k yards and have shot vehicles and other targets out to close to that. I know that the M855 will still penetrate auto body and doors out the well past 500 yards.
  12. Reloadron

    Reloadron Well-Known Member

    Float Pilot

    Now that was informative! Some I remember as I was USMC trained with the M 14. Thanks for an informative write up!

  13. 61chalk

    61chalk Well-Known Member

    Excellent post by Float Pilot. We were told in the 80's the M16 had a effective range of 400 meters. My M1 Garand reaches out to 740 yds no problem.
  14. hentown

    hentown Well-Known Member

    Maybe the chart was put together by somebody who's familiar with the results of 600-yd-matches @ Camp Perry and not a ".223 fanboy?" :evil:
  15. henschman

    henschman Well-Known Member

    Those are completely arbitrary numbers. Anyone who has shot all the rifles involved knows that it is a lot easier to get hits at 600m with an M1 or M-14 than it is with any 5.56, all using standard issue ball ammo of course. The 5.56 just has so much wind drift at that distance compared to the thirty cals. Also it is pretty hard to dispute that the thirty cals put a lot more ft./lbs. on target and do a lot more damage at those ranges. There is an argument for superior 5.56 lethality under 300, where they fragment, but that doesn't apply at 600.

    If those numbers were true, they wouldn't be rushing 7.62 designated marksman rifles into Afghanistan to help increase effectiveness at the longer ranges.

    "Max effective range," as the military uses it, is a very arbitrary concept. In real life, it is highly dependent on shooter skill. All of those rifles are capable of shooting under 3 MOA with ball ammo in my experience, which is sufficient to hit a man-sized target out to 700 yards or so, every time, if the shooter calls the range and wind perfectly. However, with standard issue 55 or 62 grain ammo, the 5.56 will be transonic by then and likely tumbling, meaning it will probably not do under 3 MOA anymore and will be VERY hard to put on target, and will do dubious damage when it gets there. Plus the wind drift will be much harder to compensate for. The thirty cals will be supersonic still, and will get a solid hit as long as the shooter does his part. There is no doubt in my mind that the M1 and M-14 have a longer max effective range than the m-16/AR-15.

    Of course going to non-standard issue ammo changes the calculus somewhat, and can increase the effective range on all of those rifles.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  16. 303tom

    303tom member

    When I was in the Army all three of those rifles had a maximum effective range of 460 meters, now max range is all together different, the 5.56 NATO will not go as far as a 7.62 NATO nor will it go as far as the .30-06 Springfield, but all in all it is a good subject to argue, check this site out it has that kind of stuff in it...................
  17. tomrkba

    tomrkba Well-Known Member

    But what you don't know is how it behaves in flesh. Even if it penetrates a paper target after going through the door, we don't know that it'll do anything beyond that. The best guess would be to place ballistic gelatin behind the barrier to see what it will do. The alternative is to park a cow there...
  18. C-grunt

    C-grunt Well-Known Member

    Ive seen what the 5.56 does at long range to bad guys. Out past 300 meters the M855 doesnt hit like a hammer but it will still put a quarter inch hole all the way through you. Not only that but the heavy based, pointed bullets will likely yaw inside creating a bigger wound track.

    While that is much less destructive than a good fragmenting round from a closer range shot, it will still easily kill you. My friends I served with, my friends who still serve, my family that served and I have never had a problem with the 5.56 putting bad guys down with propper shot placement. With poor shot placement it doesnt, then again neither does the 7.62 Nato.

    My old team/squad leader is now SF and has confirmed kills out to 400 meters with his 10.3 inch Mk18. He loves that little rifle.
  19. jason41987

    jason41987 member

    at different ranges, the accuracy of the rifle isnt going to be enough to reliably hit a target even from a bench rest... youre going to want all shots to be within the diameter of a basketball at whatever range youre shooting at... and although at longer ranges a 5.56mm might hit someone (AR rifles tend to be more accurate than M1 rifles) its not going to have much energy left to do a reliable amount of damage to a chest...

    im curious though... at what the maximum range a 5.56mm fired from an AR15 can reliably hit, and penetrate the upper torso... including a sternum and ribcage substitute, with, and without body armor?
  20. C-grunt

    C-grunt Well-Known Member

    Well there have been confirmed kills with the Mk12 out to nearly 1k meters. But that is using the M262 round.

    I remember reading something from a Marine who was making kills out to somewhere around 790 meters. At that range the M262 was completely penetrating the bad guys.

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