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The 223

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by dastardly-D, Jan 5, 2013.

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  1. dastardly-D

    dastardly-D Well-Known Member

    I'm reading a lot on the forum lately about guns and killing. I'm thinking when they first invented a gun it was to be used in either defense or offense.To make my point they were still using axe's,spears,bow and arrows,swords,all kinds of assorted weapons even after the gun first appeared ! Of course the first guns were very crude to what we have today,we have some really efficent firearms these days which takes me to a point. I really don't think the 25 auto and assorted small caliber,heck,even larger caliber handguns were an offense weapon,much more of a defensive weapon. Don't start jumping on me now,I know these handguns,like,knives,pitchforks,what have you,can be used offensively.Part of my point being that handguns are mostly a defensive weapon.Now here is my big question that may make or break my point. A 30 cal weapon generally has more killing power than a 223.Did the military invent the 223 for causing casualties,or outright killing. Is the M-16 family intended to be a super killing battlefield firearm or more of a casualty producer ? Thank you for any replies I may get !
  2. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

    The 223 was a logistical consideration, first and foremost. Solders were, quite simply, shooting more ammo. 223 is lighter, cheaper to produce, etc. A soldier can carry a LOT more 223 than he can 308 or 30-06.

    There's a lot of other benefits that made it a worthy choice; full auto fire is more controllable, etc.

    I don't think casualty causing considerations weighed in much, considering getting hit with any projectile travelling that fast is gonna cause casualties. :)
  3. BSA1

    BSA1 Well-Known Member

    On the battlefield it is generally better to wound your enemy as it requires at least of couple of able bodied soldiers to take the unjured man back to a aid station.
  4. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

    Neither, Trent got it right. Numerous studies indicated that most Infantry combat was under 300 yards and volume of fire was very important. Here's a good link:

  5. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

    I want to say that old surplus ammo pouches would carry 2 M14 magazines (for 40 rounds) or 3 M16 magazines (for 90 rounds). So a soldier carrying a "standard load" of 2 magazine pouches plus one magazine in the weapon either had 100 rounds available, or 210 rounds available.

    When you look at the military use of suppressive fire, and the desire to make shooting easy for folks who didn't grow up with firearms, then you can start to see some of the advantages.
  6. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Well-Known Member

    Tired old saw that has absolutely no basis in fact. Firefights are about finishing (killing) the enemy, not giving him big owies.
  7. OhioChief

    OhioChief Well-Known Member

    I recall reading an article long ago, about the study of the Thompson sub-machine gun in WWII. It was very effective in close quarter combat. Ammo was cheap, light, could be fired at a high rate and still controlled, and deadly. part of that study was considered when looking at the .223 5.56 as the primary military round. It fell between the .30 cal and the .45 pistol round. Effective in urban / close quarter conditions, and yet accurate and deadly out to 300 yards with iron sights. The gun (to become the M16) would be lighter than the current military rifle, (and I think produced more cheaply). I'm sure there are a 1000 other reasons why it was chosen, but this was taken into consideration.
  8. Cee Zee

    Cee Zee member

    The M16 really got going in the jungles of SE Asia. The enemy used the strategy of "grabbing the belt buckle" of the US soldier so we couldn't use our vastly superior artillery and air strike capability. And even though the enemy was close it was still hard to see them in the jungle. So the army started laying down suppressing fire where a whole lot of bullets were fired in a specific pattern instead of trying to aim at a specific target. Since a lot more ammo was needed for that style of fighting they used a lighter cartridge because soldiers could carry more of them. And that cartridge was the .223/5.56. Yes the army was already heading that direction because of the lessons learned fighting against the SKS in Korea especially. Smaller rounds were very effective in that war. So that was driving the move to smaller caliber rifles along with the success of certain smaller caliber rifles in WWII. But the success of the .223 round was apparent in Vietnam pretty quickly.

    Now in more open terrain soldiers are using more of the larger caliber rifles they used in WWII and also the nearly identical sized .308 NATO round. BTW the .223 was also a NATO round and the US wanted to adopt it but I doubt they would have done so if it wasn't working well in Vietnam.

    It was a jungle war which required more of a spray and pray type of warfare and the .223 round was perfect for that type of fighting. It was also accurate and powerful enough to work well at medium distances (like 500 yards) so it was a versatile round as far as jungle warfare went. The rest is history.

    Personally I think the 7.62 x 39 round was more effective but it was harder to control and besides, that was what the bad guys used. It would have been like giving Mauser rifles to all our troops in WWI. Over time the .223 was made a lot more effective especially in it's accuracy at longer distances. It's possible to shoot them accurately to 1000 yards and more. Just don't expect the bullets to do a lot of damage at that kind of distance.
  9. BSA1

    BSA1 Well-Known Member

    Tired old saw that has absolutely no basis in fact. Firefights are about finishing (killing) the enemy, not giving him big owies.

    THAT'S what we did wrong in WW1 and WW2!!! We should have killed all of the enemy soldiers rather than accepting their surrender.
  10. d2wing

    d2wing Well-Known Member

    As a combat vet, I can tell you that six gun is correct. The idea of wounding rather than killing your opponent is not U.S. military doctrine and a stupid idea at best. It has been reported that NVA had that doctrine. Maybe but I doubt it. Think about it. How are you going to shoot to wound at a guy shooting at you. Anybody that stupid probably did not live to tell about it. Believe what you want but in head to head battles the M-16 has proven overwhelming superior in body counts. As long as there are morons people will believe stuff like that. Not to be confused with the use of booby traps, mines and other tactics to injure, maim and also kill soldiers. That has a psychological component as well and one of the purposes was to tie up soldiers. That is separate and perhaps was that idea got civilians confused.
  11. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

    Actually my dad was taught that in Officer Basic in 1969 or so. Lots of people have believed it for a while.
  12. MudPuppy

    MudPuppy Well-Known Member

    More speculation than anything, but those big ole' 303s and 8mms are much more than is needed for a fragile human.

    My "guess" is a lot of those were developed when the generals were "fighting the last war" of lined masses firing at each other. The extreme range would be of benefit. After WWII, as tactics evolved significantly, the usual combat range was identified to be around 300 yards/meters. A light, fast 556 is lethal to that (and a good bit more), as is a 7.62x39.

    I think it was simply a natural evolution of efficiency.

    but that's just my own ramblings and made up theories.
  13. dastardly-D

    dastardly-D Well-Known Member


    Well D2wing.....As a combat vet myself and after reading your reply,you sure do talk like you know sooo much ! I never said the primary goal was to wound. How am I going to shoot to wound a guy that is shooting at me ? Wow but that took some deep thinking . ''In head to head battles the M-16 has proven overwhelming superior in body counts.'' Head to head was our superior marksmanship and fire supression. If you think the 223 is such a great round you haven't the expierience I had or our present military in the sandboxes ? The present troops talk about the opponents having to often take multiple hits to put them down. ''morons people will believe stuff like that.'' I'm trying to take you seriously but I'm having a tough time replying to you HighRoad ! I do remember,back in the day,being taught about the 223 taking enemy out of the fight by producing more casualties than outright kills.The 223 has it's advantages,but the 7.62 is a heavier hitter and penetrator.
  14. mberoose

    mberoose Well-Known Member

    This thread is strange.
  15. helotaxi

    helotaxi Well-Known Member

    The 5.56, not the .223, *is* a NATO round, but not by the choice of the rest of NATO. They'd just finished converting to the 7.62x51 that NATO had just adopted as its primary service rifle cartridge when we (the US) basically told them that we were going to adopt the 5.56 and they'd better go along with that as well. It was the choice that the US made and we crammed down NATO's throat.
  16. d2wing

    d2wing Well-Known Member

    Dasterdly, my post is not about the 5.56 at all. It is the idea that we were supposed to shoot not to kill but wound. I would think you shot to kill not wound regardless of what you shot with. I am not aware of any intent to wound rather than kill. I don't dispute your opinion of rounds as my favorite was the M-60, I also shot the m-14. Some of my buddies hated the M-16. I never had a problem. But your point is well taken. I hope we are on the same side ok? I am saying I had no intention of shooting to wound. If you shot to wound rather than kill please explain.
  17. razorback2003

    razorback2003 Well-Known Member

    Pick up an M 1 Garand and an AR 15. Which one would you want to carry all day?
  18. jim243

    jim243 Well-Known Member

    The AR series of rifles was designed to be fired on full auto to KILL the enemy not wound him. If however, 20 or 30 bullets did not do the job, there were other weapons available to a squad to use like the hand granade, granade launcher, laws rocket launcher, M-60 machinegun or napalm from air support.

    The problem was not the rifle, but the ammo. FMJ tend to wound more than kill.

    Does that answer your question?

    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  19. BSA1

    BSA1 Well-Known Member

    With 250,000 rounds for every insurgent killed in Iraq and Afghanistan I can see the case for having soldiers carry as much as ammo as possible.

    And my goal when in any firefight is to cause my opponet to quit fighting, regardless if they are dead, wounded or demoralized. Tying up as much of your enemies resources is a sound tactic.
  20. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    One thing to consider is that few of our enemies since WWII have had anything like the level of personnel and materiel investment in wound care and saving the lives of their wounded as we do. We have trauma centers in forward locations that can perform major surgeries of types that are unheard of in even the urban centers of some of our enemies' societies. We will have a seriously wounded soldier on an operating table in 15 minutes in many cases. The other guys? Not so much. Remember, living through this is not necessarily a primary desire for many of the current batch. So even if the "kill one, reduce the enemy by one, wound one and reduce the enemy by four" concept was doctrinal, it machs nicht on the battlefield we're on these days.

    Not only is this very true, but if you look at the development of military small arms through the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, there were a FEW folks who "got it." 7mm Mauser, 6mm Lee-Navy, .280 Ross, the various 6.5mms, .276 Pedersen, .280 British, and probably others were fielded as more efficient alternatives to the heavies in current favor at the time. But militaries tend to be very conservative and the "bigger is better" concept reigned for many decades. It was almost amazing that anyone had the courage and drive to push the "tiny" 5.56mm into military standard use. And now we may claim they went a little too far with that, but it WAS and IS a better answer to the realities of war fighting as we do it now than the big 8mm, .30-'06, .303 Brit, and so forth.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
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