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223 Effectiveness in Combat

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by blackops, Feb 5, 2011.

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  1. blackops

    blackops Member

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    I’m hoping some guys with infantry experience will chime in here. I have mixed reports from different fellow marines about the effectiveness of the 223 in combat. Let’s just say one guy says it’s not enough and the others claim it be effective. Obviously different cartridges are going to be more effective in different fights. Ultimately though, is the 223 an effective majority cartridge for the military? Now isn’t the most flourishing financial time for our country, so swapping all the parts out on M4’s and converting to a different cartridge isn’t going to happen. Did we make a mistake with the 223? I try to take into account cost, recoil, velocity, energy, and all other factors, still though (in my mind) I think the 223 is a solid choice for a majority infantry cartridge. What say you?
     
  2. Gromky

    Gromky Member

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    I try to take into account cost, recoil, velocity, energy, and all other factors, still though (in my mind) I think the 223 is a solid choice for a majority infantry cartridge. What say you?

    If it wasn't enough, I think they would change it. And notice specialized soldiers aren't using it. There has been a continuous trend in lowering the firepower of general infantry. .30-06 to .308 to .223. Full auto to select fire only. Making them faster and more responsive tends to be better than trying to make them all snipers.

    Sure, there are times when it isn't enough..but it's lightweight, effective against a squishy human, and has virtually no recoil. Notice how infantry holds the rifle in photos or video, they virtually never shoulder it fully, because it's easier to move and clear that way. If they were firing a .30-06 or something more powerful it would be extremely painful.
     
  3. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

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    First: This is all speculation from a non-soldier.

    IMO, .223 is not what we need right now. It would be just dandy against an organized, civilized, and lightly armored foe that goes to see a medic when they get shot. Not one that keeps shooting until they fall over, liquified organs or no.

    The gel tests of .223 look great with the exception that the actual in and out holes are tiny. Our current enemies need larger ventilation. That's why I have no problem with 5.56/.223 for HD with proper JHP ammo.

    That said, 5.56 does very well on the recoil side. Which means that--whether or not it actually works out in an actual firefight--a soldier can put a few extra holes into an enemy combatant. Since I've never seen the front lines, I can't say whether or not two or three rounds from an M1 will actually be any better than three or five from an M4. I can say that if something's worth shooting, it's worth shooting again.
     
  4. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Member

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    My background:

    USMC 0351, did one tour in Al Anbar province Iraq for OIF2, earned a CAR. Issue rifle was the M16A4 20" bbl, using issue M855 ball.

    The rifle itself was made by FN, and was not as well finished as the older Colt contract M16A2. The trigger was horrible, literally heavier than the rifle kitted out with a PEQ-2, a scout light, sling, optics, and a full magazine. Yuck. Never had any malfunctions though, but I made it a point to keep it clean breaking down shotgun style and pulling the bolt for a scrub down whenever time permitted. Also kept the ejection port cover closed, and used the issued muzzle caps to keep dust out of the bore. Made sure to unload and clean magazines and ammo on a regular basis too.

    As for cartridge effectiveness, out of a 20" bbl the M855 seemed to get the job done just fine at reasonable ranges on a point target (you can read into that what you will). Could it have been better if it were a larger, heavier projectile? Absolutely. Would it accomplish what I needed it to if I put the round where it needed to go? Yes. Could the M855 always get to where it needed to go? No, at least not compared to more powerful rounds that penetrate better.

    Major shortcomings in my estimation are barrier penetration/effectiveness after penetrating a barrier (not real strong against mud brick), performance against vehicle mechanical/engine (piss poor to nonexistent).

    I can't speak for performance out of a shorter 14.5" bbl M4, but losing 5.5" of barrel can't help at all where projectile performance is concerned. Plus the shorter gas system really jacks up bolt carrier velocities and tends to be really hard on bolts, and extractors.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2011
  5. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Member

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    Gromky,

    Infantry troops not shouldering the rifle fully has little to do with it being easier to clear or being in too much of a hurry. It has everything to do with it being damn near impossible to get a good shoulder weld when you are wearing body armor with a SAPI plate. The butt stock slides off of the nylon shell material, the plate makes shouldering awkward, and even if you do manage to make the damn thing stay put your length of pull is all jacked up unless you have a neck like a giraffe.
     
  6. Jed1124

    Jed1124 Member

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    I have always thought the effectiveness of .223 to be understated. The DC sniper vermin had 13 one shot kills with .223 with FMJ. We have to remember it is not the purpose of the said round to necessarily kill but maim. A dead man requires no assistance where as a wounded man takes others to help him. The Inuit in AK pride themselves in taking all sorts of animals from mountain sheep to caribou with .223 always taking neck shots. I think with the proper round it is perfectly effective for deer but that has been argued many times before. All that being said if the military was going to change I would like to see them go to .243 but that has also been argued before:)
     
  7. blackops

    blackops Member

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    Yes, this is the boat I'm in. That's why I try to get opinions from guys who have been there and done it already.

    Just tough for me to believe this guy saying the cartridge isn't good enough. I don't believe him for other personal reasons though. The other marines I talked to (lets just say seem to have more combat experience) never complain about the cartridge.
     
  8. FIVETWOSEVEN

    FIVETWOSEVEN Member

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    The original purpose was having better control when firing full auto to allow more rounds on target.
     
  9. Skyshot

    Skyshot Member

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    It would be easy to convert all the 5.56 rifles to a 6x47 which IMO would make better choice. That would give more energy with a slightly heavier bullet that should have better penitration. And still carry the same amounts of ammo and use the same mags. thats my 2 cents worth
     
  10. Grynch31b

    Grynch31b Member

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    Efficiency with that round and the purposes behind its employment can be defined many ways.

    The M249 is a prime example. It's not meant truly to score 99% of shots fired on any specific target, but, should rather be used as a tool for suppression. As for better control in full auto, when I deployed only the 249's were full auto. Too many soldiers in the past found it easier to empty the mag while only squeezing the trigger once, rather than making controlled bursts.
     
  11. blackops

    blackops Member

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    The center of the debate between this guy and myself is, he claims basically that guys over there would get shot and they would just keep coming. I'm sure it's happened and does, but for majority of cases, I just don't believe it or maybe just him.
     
  12. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    don't let bad hollywood effects give you unrealistic expectations about reality.

    Think about the % of deer that get shot in vital organs with 30-06 or 300winmags and still run 100 yrds before falling over dead.
     
  13. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    +1. I've noted before that it was the Rhodesians, shooting bad guys with FALs, who are the first force I'm aware of who made controlled pairs their SOP for all engagements. There are no silver bullets when terminal ballistics are considered, but the bigger trick has always been getting the hit in the first place, hence the trend towards smaller rounds allowing a greater load of ammunition to be carried.
     
  14. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    though I suppose public educations are as much to blame as hollywood. if kids took enough math and physics to calculate the energy required to knock a 200 lb man off his feet and 6' backwards... theatres would erupt in derisive laughter every time someone fired a handgun
     
  15. trex1310

    trex1310 Member

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    I don't know anything about 'modern' soldiering, but I have seen literally
    hundreds of dead VC and NVA soldiers shot with the .223. Anyone that
    believes that this round won't kill you is sadly mistaken. It may not be the
    best round for the job, but it certainly isn't the worst.
     
  16. wideym

    wideym Member

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    From my (limited) combat in Baghdad, I found that shot placement was the key for 9mm, 5.56, and 7.62 (it doesn't really matter for .50BMG though). I've seen haji's run like a scalded dog after being shot with AKs and 240Bs, other times I've seen them drop dead like a sack of potatos after being hit in the arm or leg.

    Sometimes they take off after a center of mass hit with an M4, but in every case they stopped fighting and tried to leave the battlefield.
     
  17. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Member

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    I've got three tours in Iraq under my belt, and when I needed it, the 5.56 NATO round did it's job quite effectively. In all the time I was in the sandbox, I only ever had one direct fire engagement. All rounds were fired in less than 100 foot distances. The majority of those who took rounds died. In my case, it was that simple, I wasn't wishing for more firepower before during or after.
     
  18. joed

    joed Member

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    I used the .223 while in the ARMY in Viet Nam. It worked for what it was designed to do. It could hit a man sized target at reasonable distances and incapacitate them. Didn't have to kill only incapacitate them.

    Couldn't tell you how it's working in Iraq with buildings and vehicles.

    I've always felt that it worked in jungle warfare OK.

    But I am not a fan of the .223, I owned one for a short while and sold it. For varmint hunting it was only good to 300 yards and that was the outer limits. I know it's popular but I see no reason to own one.
     
  19. blackops

    blackops Member

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    Point taken.

    I have a hard time with the comparison of wild animals to humans though. Comparing where we live, how we live, how we survive, and our physical attributes puts things into perspective. Yeah, I've seen deer shot with big rifles and run 100yds. You honestly believe that if a human takes a 300 win mag in the chest at 100yds he is even making it 40 yds? I guess I'm one of those guys that has to see it to believe it.

    With the 223 I can certainly understand taking multiple shots in some few cases (gut shots/limb shots and even then that person is out of the fight), but for the most part, I would imagine two in the chest pretty much ends the person.

    Again, not to argue and I have no battlefield experience. I respect all of your opinions.
     
  20. JQP

    JQP Member

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    Just my opinion, and they're as common as arseholes, so treat it accordingly, but the 5.56 is not a good general purpose infantry cartridge due to its failure to penetrate and its rapidly diminished ballistic 'goodness' at greater distances, such as those commonly involved in Afghanistan.

    5.56 would be far better suited in a more specialized roles than an all-purpose, infantry one.

    7.62x51mm NATO would be better all-purpose infantry cartridges, adopted force wide.

    For people who think that cartridge is too punishing to fire, I just personally have to wonder about why this is. I don't even think it's too much for a 110 lbs woman who is trained properly.

    It seems the military wanted to prioritize getting as much ammunition per person in the field, with as low of a recoil platform as possible, with minimally trained grunts, all set up to be an assembly line infantry-man logistics operation, when they went to the M16.

    And I would argue that the rounds expended per enemy KIA speaks volumes about why that strategy has failed.

    Our military would be wise to re-'groupthink' its priorities on what takes precedent in modern warfare in the climes we're engaged in, and focus on quality (of marksmanship) and cartridge capability over quantity.
     
  21. mshootnit

    mshootnit Member

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    7.62X51 is too heavy and has too much recoil for modern infantry in full auto. There is no reason going into the fight (expecially against an AK74) with just over half the ammo the enemy is carrying. The M14 was simply uncontrollable by the common soldier in full auto. There is a place for 7.62X51, 5.56, and 7.92X33 (or some such) in every squad. Any increase in diameter of the bullet would have to be minor. There were a pair of soldiers in WWII that cleared out a German barracks killing over 50 men with a Thompson. There is value in controllable full auto.
     
  22. RockyMtnTactical

    RockyMtnTactical Member

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    5.56 works just fine. It's not perfect, but no round is, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

    It makes for a great all purpose infantry round. All that I keep hearing from guys heading over to the middle east is this, it's plenty good in Iraq, it's a little lacking in Afghanistan. In other words, good for closer ranges, which it was intended for, not as good for long ranges... DUH!

    It's all about shot placement. People who get shot in the right place don't take many shots and usually don't get up for long, if at all...

    Also, don't confuse hunting deer with shooting BG's. It's a totally different ball game, and a totally different animal, so trying to make the comparison is like apples and oranges.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2011
  23. THE DRILL INSTRUCTOR

    THE DRILL INSTRUCTOR Member

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    2010 tour in Afghanistan with the Army, Parwan province, Kohi Safi district. 11B/11C. Awarded CIB.

    We were in almost two dozen engagements, mostly at night, and all at over 300 meters. We never recovered a single body.

    Night shooting is difficult; especially at range. Mostly our small arms functioned as supplementary suppressive weapons while we shifted over the 120mm or 60mm mortars.

    In my situation, would a larger caliber have helped score some kills? probably not. Mortars were the king in our fight, but the baddies were usually out of RPGs and running before we could drop rounds on them. And pursuit at night, in the middle of injun-country, with no CAS, isn't happening.

    I believe the 5.56 is fine for CQB, urban fighting, and other heavy infantry roles. If you're stuck on a 10000 sq. ft. patrol base like I was and not allowed to patrol beyond the range of the mortars, it's also fine because you're relying on much bigger guns when the baddies are more than 300 meters out.

    That said, if you're recon, special forces, or anyone else who can't bring arty or have CAS on station 24/7, you have to have a caliber that can reach out and really touch someone; and on a very accurate platform. I think fielding a free-floated piston upper with a chrome bolt, 20" fluted barrel, and a 6.8 or 6.5 chamber would really help those guys who are on the truly pointy end with no backup.
     
  24. JQP

    JQP Member

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    And the U.S. has gone away from full auto for grunts, as they've learned that even in light recoiling platforms, it's a wasteful and inefficient tactic. Hell, even three round burst strings are no longer warmly endorsed.

    The M14 was a heavy and less ergonomic rifle than the M16/M4, but the cartridge is superior.

    With proper marksmanship skills, complete and competent infantry tactics taught, and combined force methods employed, half the ammo that does a much better job, can be far more efficient than the twice the ammunition of a lesser round carried.

    Leave the full auto for the designated SAW man.
     
  25. crossrhodes

    crossrhodes Member

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    Theory ?

    This is just a theory, an observation, if you will. During development stage of the M16 and the 5.56 our adversaries at the time didn't have body armor or conventional battle rattle of today. So the the 5.56, 55gr and a slow twist rate had a devastating effect on the human body, as a matter of fact the Vietcong called it the Black rifle of death. Now jump 20 years and now the Cold War is hot and heavy and our potential adversaries have conventional gear, like flak jackets and helmets. So we develop a round that is heavier, penetrator and a faster twist rate. Now jump another 20 years and and the bad guys don't have the conventional gear and the green tip is punching through them and not having the effect that the Vietnam error ammo had, hence the new round now being issued. I'm referring to the 20 inch barrel and don't want to get into the 14.5 M4 ballistics discussion...a whole different subject. Like I said, just a theory.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2011
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