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5.56 lessons...do they mean much to a civilian?

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

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  1. gspn

    gspn Member

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    Our military has been using the 5.56 on bad guys for a long time now. There are many and varied reports about the inadequacy of the round for putting terrorists down for the count. This has apparently lead to the creation of at least one new caliber over the course of the last two wars...the 6.8mm SPC.

    I'm currently buying some extra AR's and I got to wondering if it's appropriate for me to use the military's experience to steer my choice in caliber. The military is limited to using full metal jacket ammo...I am not. And if I'm not...then can I realistically extrapolate the lessons of FMJ to my use of hollow point or soft-point ammo? I do a lot of deer hunting and I've seen plenty of first hand evidence of terminal performance of expanding bullets. I'm not sure that the old argument that the 5.56 isn't an effective combat round really apply to the potential civilian use of the round as a home/self defense caliber.

    This is just an initial thought and i wanted to get some feedback from others who may have a lot more experience with this than me.
     
  2. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    Given the available choices we civilians have (as you noted), I'd have very high confidence in the 5.56 round as a fight-stopper in a quality carbine or rifle. I see no reason to seek out another chambering.
     
  3. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    55gr + in SP, HP, or Ballistic tip is far superior to what the military is allowed to use in a hunting or self defense role. The exception would probably be in the case of penetration which we civilians seldom want, especially in the home.
     
  4. Onward Allusion

    Onward Allusion Member

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    I can't advise you of which AR to purchase, because all I have done is put a couple of plinkers together. However, you make a very good point regarding our military being limited to FMJ for the 5.56 and FMJ overall for most applications. Civilians have "better' ammo available. It is not valid comparison to use military -vs- civilian.

    BTW, I don't subscribe to the idea that 5.56 is not an effective combat round - only that civilians have a wider range of ammunition for their applications thus extending the capabilities of a particular cartridge. For example, while 9mm NATO is standard for our military, I don't think many individuals would choose it for SD purposes when HST, Cor Bon, or Gold Dots are available.
     
  5. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    The problem with the military round is the bullet, not the caliber. M855s effectiveness can vary rifle to rifle depending on how it flies out of the barrel. Out of some rifles it works very well but some rifles will cause it to pass through without upsetting much tissue. The majority of the time the M855 works very well.

    This issues have not been noted by units using M855A1, Mk318 or M262.
     
  6. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    I use SP for defensive loads for rifles. Unlikely in the extreme I will ever need those, but I want something that is know for good performance on game - usually translates well to "stopping power" on felonious assaulter types, or so I've heard.
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    The problem with the military round IS the bullet.

    Compounded by the too fast 1/7 rifling twist, and too short 14.4" M-4 carbines barrel.

    If you wanted a recipe for a combination designed to reduce velocity, tumbling, fragmentation, and fight stopping damage from a .224" FMJ bullet?
    The M4 is it!

    The old 1/12 twist 20" rifle with 55 grain FMJ used in Viet Nam was highly respected as a fight stopper among the people I served with 40 years ago.

    Using modern JHP and BT bullets in civilian life AR-15's sheds a whole new light on terminal damage to the target.

    rc
     
  8. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    U.S. military 55gr FMJ M193 yaws and fragments, producing a wound similar to a hunting bullet but at a deeper depth of penetration.

    M193 is a superior choice to 62gr M855 "green tip" because it is a simple lead core bullet with less lot-to-lot manufacturing variations that affect angle-of-impact (bullet yaw (wobble) in flight). As a result M193 provides more consistent terminal performance than M855, which has a small steel penetrator tip positioned in front of a lead core.

    Angle-of-Attack is affected by bullet manufacturing variations and "fleet yaw", in which individual rifles stabilize the bullet better/worse than others. A bullet with less "wobble" will penetrate deeper before it yaws and fragments. Likewise a bullet with more wobble (about 2.5 degrees) will yaw and fragment at a shallower depth. Angle-of-Attackl variations explain why one soldier reports excellent performance while another soldier reports poor performance.

    M193 also performs better against automotive windshield glass than M855.

    Perhaps the best performing, and most affordable choice for 5.56 ammo is Mk318 Mod 0 (aka SOST - Special Operations Science and Technology), which is a 62gr lead core open tip match (OTM) bullet with a solid copper base. It is currently in use by USMC in Afghanistan. 500 rds costs about $400.00 It provides terminal performance superior and more consistent than M193 and M855. Upon impact the lead core fragments and the the solid copper base penetrates greater than 12-inches. It's also a "barrier blind" load, which means it can perforate light barrier materials (automotive sheetmetal, windshield glass, etc.) better than M193 and M855 and achieve adequate penetration afterwards.

    If you reload then I suggest the Nosler 60gr Partition bullet. It, too, is a "barrier blind" bullet.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
  9. stubbicatt

    stubbicatt Member

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    I don't know guys. Speaking for myself only, I am not in a position to purchase an automatic M16 rifle, in which this small cartridge would shine in any home invasion self defense sort of situation. Given that I can own only a semi auto rifle, I opted to go with a 308 for those situations where a rifle would be appropriate, thinking as I did that one well placed round from a 308 would be more effective on human or cougar tissue than would one well placed round from a 223.

    I realize my reasoning is subject to criticism. But after many years of pondering this decision I take comfort in it.

    YMMV
     
  10. Maverick223

    Maverick223 Member

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    I don't know one way or another about the twist rate (a slower twist will slightly increase velocity, so it makes some sense), but rcmodel is spot on about the longer bbl. A 20in.+ barrel makes for a much more effective platform IMO. WRT the bullet weight, there are probably better choices than 55gr., but a good ballistic tip, like the V-Max will be more than adequate to get the job done at any reasonable distance (FWIW it's my chosen load).

    The M-855, OTOH, is a poor choice IMO. M193 isn't outstanding either, but affords much more consistent performance.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
  11. proven

    proven Member

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    velocity increase due to twist rate is negligable. with the bullet types available to civilians, the only limiting factor is cost. there are plenty of capable 5.56 rounds no matter the platform used, but they are typically much more expensive than mil-surp. IMHO, it would be wise to stock m193 in quantity and keep a smaller amount of more capable ammo on hand and ready for HD.
     
  12. Fremmer

    Fremmer Member

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    That's a 4" difference in velocity. On a target 100 yards or less away, won't the bullet fully penetrate either way? And is there a significant difference in ft pounds of energy? The brass must not think there's much of a difference. :confused:
     
  13. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    The longer barrel will improve performance at longer ranges where the gun is rarely used. The Vietnamse soldiers were wearing jungle clothing that did not require any special needs for barrier penetraton.

    We are not fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. Most of the fighing in Iraq was close combat inside homes where the short barrels were a huge help. A longer 20" barrel would be in the way.

    In Afghanastan ranges are typically longer, and heavier winter clothing needs to be defeated. The longer barrels and heavier bullets are an advantage here.

    There is no perfect rifle and ammo that will perform equally well in all situations. The M-4 has its negatives, but is the right rifle, with the right ammo for most of the situations our soldiers are finding themselves in. A longer barrel, or larger round such as the 308 would be an advantage in many situations. It would also be a huge disadvantage in many situations. Despite internet gossip the guys I've spoken to who have BTDT, some multiple tours, are very pleased with both the rifle and round.

    For all the negatives I firmly believe we would have brought many more boys home in body bags over the last 40+ years if we had been using anything else.
     
  14. Maverick223

    Maverick223 Member

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    That...unless you handload, which significantly lowers the expense of using BT/HP projectiles.

    4in. in a .223Rem./5.56NATO affords a significant advantage with respect to terminal ballistics. The brass has to balance a great number of factors, the ability to use the rifle in tight confines being one of them. Everything is a balance, they decided the lesser length was worth the detrimental impact on performance.

    :)
     
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I'll take an understabized bullet from a slower twist every time for close range combat with maximum destruction of the target with FMJ military bullets.

    Regardless of the difference in velocity at close or long range,
    A slower under-stabilized bullet at close range is going to tumble and tear a big hole.

    A slower over-stabilized bullet is going on through and leave a small hole behind.
    The 1/7 M4 is over-stabilized regardless of how you load it with FMJ bullets.

    rc
     
  16. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    USMC uses 20" bbls (M16A2, M16A4), USA uses 14.5" bbls (M4).
     
  17. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Soft tissues are, in general, 400 times more dense than air. The bullet is stabilized to penetrate air. 1:7 twist has absolutely no practical difference in bullet stability or instability in soft tissues.

    1:12, 1:9, 1:7 stabilization doesn't matter when a bullet meets flesh. The myth of 1:7 "overstabilizing bullets" is exactly that - a myth.
     
  18. browningguy

    browningguy Member

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    The .223 with expanding bullets should work just fine. I've used Black Hills 55 and 60 gr. SP loads on deer culling trips and it works really well.
     
  19. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    That's not absolutes. My unit in the Army for my 03 and 05 tour used mostly M16A4s and my brother in law who was USMC in Fallujah in 04 used a M4.
     
  20. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Tell that to the coyotes I have shot with both of them.

    There is a noticable differance in terminal effect between the two.

    rc
     
  21. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    The difference you're observing is indicative of Angle-of-Attack variations. See page 8 of this presentation: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2008Intl/Roberts.pdf

    Rifling twist rate has no effect on terminal performance.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
  22. One_Jackal

    One_Jackal member

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    The 5.56 is a souped up 22wmr. Should you have a larger caliber for self defense? I doubt any 5.56 bullet other than a FMJ will penetrate 16" inches of ballistic gelatin. You make your own decision. How much is your life worth?
     
  23. snake284

    snake284 Member

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    I think this is mainly media hype. Why did the Russians follow suit and go from the 30 cal. to a .224 (.223 Remington, that is)? Because it kills fine. The 6.8 is also a fine cartridge for an AR, and if you have multiple ARs then why not have one as a 6.8? Hell, if I ever get the collection of bolt guns I want, and I'm not far from that, I'll probably start a collection of ARs to include .223, 6.5, 6.8, and an AR 10 in 7.62x51 (.308 Win.).
     
  24. 68wj

    68wj Member

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    Good read.

    I think the 5.56 is stronger than some give credit, but when you are tied to the bureaucracy of the .mil, use "friendly" bullets, and continue to shorten barrels, the 5.56 starts to hit more with the foible.

    Like the 9mm, civilians can use better bullets and increase the effectiveness, but still benefit from the economics of a surplus round. I am keeping my 5.56, but prefer my 6.8 SPC for non-paper targets.
     
  25. kcshooter

    kcshooter Member

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    There's a lot of folks that will tell you that the 5.56 is more than sufficient.

    Well, they would tell you, if they weren't dead....
     
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