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If price WASN'T an Issue: .223 vs .308

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by priv8ter, Oct 16, 2004.

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  1. priv8ter

    priv8ter Member

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    Sometime in the Future, maybe Christmas(or sooner depending on how the election goes) I want to get a military pattern semi-automatic rifle. Currently, the only EBR I own is a Saiga in 7.62 X39, and it's more of a QEBR(Quasi-Evil Black Rifle).

    So, before picking out the actual make and brand, I want to settle on the caliber. Already having a 7.62 X 39, I think I want to get it in either .223 or .308.

    Being a 'Bigger Bullet is Better' kind of person, I WANT to get it in .308. But, for the amount of shooting I dream of doing, .223 makes more sense. Ammo is just plain cheaper.

    I'm just curious: If ammo cost the same for both of these calibers, Would any of you out there still pick a .223 over a .308? If so, why?

    Oh, and I don't really plan on useing this gun for varmint hunting, so there goes one place a .223 would be better.

    greg
     
  2. Redlg155

    Redlg155 Member

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    Accuracy.
    You would be hard pressed to get your average .308 semi auto battle rifle to group as well as a .223.

    Controllability.
    A .223 is much easier to control with follow up shots.

    Sound Signature/muzzle blast.
    The .223 has a smaller sound signature. Definitely not the BOOM! of the larger caliber .308. Your muzzle blast on a short barrel .223 is also a lot less than that of a .308.

    Effectiveness.
    There is no arguing that both calibers are effective. However, I would rather use the .223 for home defense before using a .308 due to excessive penetration concerns. Frangible ammunition also makes a lot of sense. If you think you need to have the ability to defeat light armour, the green tip penetrator ammo is always available.

    For an all around rifle the .223 makes a lot of sense. Enough for the military to adopt the 5.56mm cartidge in both the M16 and SAW LMG series. The .308 is still around, but mainly in a specialized version for engaging longer distance targets and older series M60 MGs.

    Good Shooting
    Red
     
  3. natedog

    natedog Member

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    Price really isn't an issue. Good .223 is about $80/500 (Federal M193), good .308 is $70/500 (Portugese NATO surplus). However, if you like wolf, it's available in .223 for $100/1000. Despite the cost, I still like .223 better.
     
  4. priv8ter

    priv8ter Member

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    Things to think about

    Well, that was quick, thanks for the input so far.

    Accuracy: See, I'm OKAY with a gun that is only going to shoot 2-3 MOA. I

    Controllability: Like I said, the only semi I have is my Saiga, and recoil in that...it's a joke. I had always thought that other semi-auto's ate up recoil pretty good.

    The Home Defense argument...right now I have a shotgun and a pistol caliber carbine to backup my pistol. I guess if I ever get enough land to think about defending outside, this would be something to consider. I'm not too worried about punching through body armor.

    greg
     
  5. Feanaro

    Feanaro Member

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    Either way I would prefer 7.62x51. It has longer range and more punch than 5.56, though the latter allows you to carry more ammo. It all depends on your game plan. .223 is cheaper to shoot but surplus 7.62x51 isn't too expensive and it's a lot more fun. :D
     
  6. itgoesboom

    itgoesboom member

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    priv8teer,

    You are at where I was a few months ago.

    I had a SKS in 7.62x39, which is also a quasi EBR (actually, EWR=Evil Wood Rifle). I also already had a 12ga and several pistols that take care of my home defense needs.

    Since it wasn't going to be used for home defense, over penetration was not an issue.

    So I went with .308. Ammo really isn't any more than .223, but it has better balistics at longer ranges, better penetration, and, well, I would have felt a little silly shooting a poodle shooter. :neener:

    I.G.B.
     
  7. Andrew Wyatt

    Andrew Wyatt Member

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    .223 and .308 do totally different things.


    it depends on the situation.
     
  8. one-shot-one

    one-shot-one Member

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    $0.02

    if they cost the same would i choose a .223 over a .308? NO

    if i'm only going to shoot varmits at less than 200 yrds? .223 yes
     
  9. Roadkill

    Roadkill Member

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    I like them both. I own a DSA FAL and a Colt Target SP2, its hard to make a comparison. Sort of comparing a greyhound to a pit bull. I hunt coyotes with the SP2, it has a colt 4x scope, the FAL has a Springfield 1st Gen Combat 14x scope, but I'll most likely use my Marlin 336 30-30 with a3x9 for deer season. Only thing I do with the FAL is paper punching and entertaining my friends by letting them shoot it. Lots of fun, ammo is inexpensive and I reload my .223. If cost goes up or asshat Kerry is elected I'll reload .308 too.

    rk
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    If price weren't an issue, I'd get BOTH.
     
  11. threefeathers

    threefeathers Member

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    I like to have a good rifle in military caliber for a really shtf scenario just in case I can only get military bullets. I have a great Morrison Precision Savage based .308 with all the goodies that make it a long range rifle.

    I also have a really nice HBAR that I shot a bunch of service rifle matches with and now I have a Bushmaster M-4 clone on layaway.

    Even with that my truck gun is a little M-1 carbine loaded with 110 Federal soft point.
     
  12. MaceWindu

    MaceWindu Member

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    ...okay just how dead do you want the BG? :rolleyes:


    Put it this way: "A 9mm may expand, but a .45 never shrinks". Fact: The .308 is a BIGGER bullet. Thats why all standard military sniper rifles are in .308 not .223.

    Andrew Wyatt,

    You make an excellent point...

    You can't compare two rifles that serve 2 different purposes..

    Just my $.02

    MaceWindu
     
  13. 444

    444 Member

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    I have several of both: (several AR15s, three M1s, and one M1A).
    Price of ammo doesn't really play a role for me. I am not rich, but I can afford to shoot pretty much as much as I have time and desire to.
    I have often thought about this subject: IF I had to pick one of these rifles to grab and leave my home (so that I couldn't just pick up one of the other ones) what would I take.
    I believe that if I could only grab one and go, it would be an AR15.
    First of all, to me, the AR15 has a heck of a lot going for it. It is far more accurate than my battle rifles. Ergonomics are much better. The rifle itself is lighter and I am no longer 20 years old. I can carry more ammo comfortably and I am no longer 20 years old. My AR15s have tac slings which were easy to install because of the modularity of the design. One of the major reasons I would choose one of MY AR15s is because of it's ability to be used effectively at night. I have an Aimpoint optic on my AR which allows me to see a sight in total darkness and it has a 900 series Surefire light on it. The rail system allows me to mount other accessories that I can't afford at present, but would someday like to own: like night vision gear. I like the pistol grip and like a forward pistol grip for what I envision in a SHTF type rifle. I fully realize that my range is limited due to the cartridge, however to me, this isn't a realistic limitation. If you were defending yourself against other men, I seriously doubt that you would be making these long range shots anyway.

    I am not going to give up my battle rifles voluntarily. And, right now at least, I shoot my battle rifles more than I do my AR15s: but my interests seem to change periodically. I definitely wouldn't choose some kind of "match" rifle.

    Last night, I read what I thought was a very good review of battle rifles in the book: Boston's Gun Bible. The article didn't really consider anything that wasn't in 7.62, but unlike most of these interenet discussions, he made up a list of criteria and tried to see how the rifles matched up to this criteria. I pretty much agreed with his findings.
     
  14. Bostonterrier97

    Bostonterrier97 Member

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    If Price is not a problem...I would choose, a Custom Built M14 on a Polytech Receiver, Chambered and tuned for 260 Remington.
    With the Rear Sights Re Calibrated for this round.
     
  15. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

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    Having both, I too am torn on the "which one do you grab-n-go", for all of the same reasons as everyone else.

    My current reasoning is thus:

    If I know I'm doing short SHTF duty in a well supplied area, without the likely need to engage targets much past 50-100 yards, or in an urban environment, I'd take my AR carbine. Basically, I think of it as a super easy to use, hard to miss, mucho extra oomph handgun.

    If I just plain out didn't know when I'd ever be home again, or what I was going to need to be doing between now and then, I'd have to take my M1A scout squad, despite the weight related drawbacks. It will simply accept more abuse and indifferent maintenance than an AR, and can be counted on to get the job done at any range. Failures to stop with .308 just aren't that much of an issue. If during that time I was doing things along the lines of scenario A, I _could_ make do with the scout, or just grab one of the bazillion AR's that everyone else brought along. :neener:
     
  16. 444

    444 Member

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    "Failures to stop with .308 just aren't that much of an issue."

    As I mentioned, I have, and enjoy both. I am not beating a drum here nor trying to start a riot but I am not sure everyone agrees with this statement. For one: THE Pat Rogers who used both the M14 and the M16 in combat in Vietnam. He told us (with examples) in the Gunsite Advanced Carbine class, that if given the choice between an M14 or an M4 for combat, he would take the M4 every time. Keep in mind this isn't just another internet commando. This is a guy that has been there, and done that many times over the years and continues to be in close contact with the high speed/low drag crowd of the US Marine Corp.
    Of course, as civilians, we can certainly load our M1As with much more effective bullets. As long as we arn't concerned with shooting through heavy cover.
     
  17. pauli

    pauli Member

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    if price isn't an issue, .30-06 ;)
     
  18. bullfrog99

    bullfrog99 Member

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    the .223 is a fine round for rabbit and you could easily kill deer with it. The .308 is a fine round for everything short of big bears, but you would probably vaporize a rabbit with it. People are about as big a deer so both work for defense. Pick and choose based on what else you might want to use the gun for.
     
  19. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    I've heard stories and have read reports from WWII combat vets that preferred the M1 carbine to the M1 Garand, for probably the same reasons Mr Rogers loves the M4 so much. It's light and handy, and given the infantry tactics our military uses these days, it works well enough.

    I've heard stories and have read reports from WWII combat vets that said the M1 Carbine was inadequate, and that they preferred the M1 Garand. Similarly, I've had guys from Vietnam say the 7.62mm weapon was a better stopper than the 5.56mm weapon. Now, granted none of these guys teach classes at Gunsite, but I don't think anyone I've spoken to is a liar.

    I certainly don't think Mr. Rogers is a liar.

    So who do you believe? One guy who's BTDT tells you one thing, another guy who's BTDT tells you another. Both are only going off of their experiences, and what they've witnessed. No one's done a scientific study of any sort in this area, so all we're going off of is the observations of people who've used these weapons in action. It's about as un-scientific as it can get, so looking for absolutes is futile.

    No one weapon is good for everything.

    Personally, FOR ME, the best balance comes in a 7.62x51mm semiauto with a 20 round magazine. You can get rail handguards for the FAL if you're inclined to hang all the stuff off it (I'm not), and DSA sells 16" lightweight carbines that are probably only a little heavier than an M4 (much bigger fireball, though).

    But then, I'm not worried about a SHTF scenario. If I were, I'd prefer a weapon that could defeat cover, and a 21" .308 has a big advantage over a 14.5" .223 in that area.

    It depends on the mission, basically. I read, in SWAT Magazine, in an article by Pat Rogers, that the Marines in Iraq are complaining that the M16A4 is too long for the mission (he also ponders why the Marines didn't adopt the M4 wholesale).

    On the other hand, I saw combat photos from Afghanistan, featuring the Marines, in SOF Magazine, and that's some WIDE OPEN COUNTRY. I think the 20" would be better there, given the longer sightlines. Also, in Afghanistan, the combat involves riding in a vehicle or crawling through small houses less often.

    So, in one combat envionment a short, handy weapon is perferable, but in another, the one with longer effective range is better.

    Unfortunately, there's no free lunch. You can't have a 30" long, handy dandy carbine with a 22" barrel to maximize ballistic effectiveness. You can carry 2000 rounds of ammo, but not if it's bigger than .22LR, and .22LR doesn't make much of a combat round. It's all about compromise and what you're most comfortable with.

    So basically, here's what you do. Determine your mission requirements, then pick the weapon. People are trying to do it backwards, I think.

    Now, right now, a 21" DSA FAL is the only rifle I own. It's not ideal for some situations, but is ideal for others.

    Regardless, I don't think Pat Rogers, an advocate of the M4 carbine, nor Jeff Cooper, an advocate of the M14, nor John Farnam, yet another advocate of the M14, would tell me to get rid of my rifle and buy something else, if I'm good with the rifle I've got and it suits my needs.

    Personally, I don't care what the military, the Navy SEALs, the Police, the Israelis, or anybody else uses/carries. Marines in Iraq have different needs in a rifle than I do. The Police have different needs in a sidearm than I do.

    Sorry that got so long, but really, all this "which is best" stuff, quoting this or that instructor/Guru/veteran, is an entertaining but ultimately futile mental exercise. (Makes for fun debate though!)

    But getting back to the original question, it's about the compromises you're willing to make. .308 is the the power-to-mass ratio that I feel best with. However, 444 and Mr. Rogers obviously prefer the less power, but less mass quotient of the .223 cartridge (less weight means more ammo).

    But, before you decide how powerful your ammo needs to be, or how much ammo you might need to carry, you'll need to determine what your mission requirements are and go from there.
     
  20. 444

    444 Member

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    Actually, the reason he liked the M4 was because of the stopping power. If I followed what he was saying, I believe the issue was that the .30 bullet just put a .30 hole clean through the target. With military ball ammo it doesn't expand, it doesn't fragment, it doesn't tumble. Again, according to him this resulted in poor "stopping power". Obviously having a hole drilled clean through you isn't good, but appearently in his experience it didn't work fast enough. And, as he always does, he illustrates his point by telling a story of him having to shoot the same guy three times. He would shoot, the guy would go down, he would engage another target and the first guy would be back up again............
    Again, I think this is kind of a moot point for us since we can use expanding bullets in our 7.62s.

    You mention another thing that kind of makes me go for the AR over the M1A and that is physical size. That M1A is a very long rifle. The AR is short and easy to manuver around. You make a good point about choosing the weapon for the mission. If the mission involved getting in and out of vehicles or manuvering in buildings, the AR would definitely be the way to go for me. Now if I had one of those Springfield Armory M1A 16" Socoms, that would probably change this whole discussion for me. It is more of a do it all rifle. It gives you the 7.62 power and range in a much more compact package: but, I don't have one.

    "Sorry that got so long, but really, all this "which is best" stuff, quoting this or that instructor/Guru/veteran, is an entertaining but ultimately futile mental exercise."

    To me, it is far less futile than having this conversation to begin with. At least when you hear a guy like that discuss this same issue, you have some faith that he knows what he is talking about or at least has some personal experience that caused him to form his opinion. Here, we discuss this on the internet and I am sure that some or most of us have no real experience to back up our statements. Since I have no real experience, I quote others that do.
     
  21. jimmyp50

    jimmyp50 Member

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    This is an interesting subject. I am waiting to see if the remington 6.8 cartridge is going to be chambered by others in the AR-15 type platform. I think a light handy gun is important to me, but if you hunt like I do and shoot 150 pound deer from time to time that 660 ft-lbs of energy at 200 yds that a 55 grain .223 bullet generates begins to seem inadequate. Just as a place marker a 125 grain JHP .357 pistol bullet at 1450 fps gets 583 ft-lbs at the muzzle. The reason the .223 bothers me is 200+ yards performance. I just do not think that the 55 grain .223's 473 ft-lbs at 300 and 323 ft-lbs at 400 makes me comfortable. The 6.8 is intriguing if it takes off as it gets 817 ft-lbs at 400 yards in a light easy to use rifle of familiar design. jimmyp
     
  22. 444

    444 Member

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    I always hate these discussions because it seems like I come off as being the champion for some cause or another and I don't start off with that intent. Here, I am busy defending the 5.56 for some reason.

    Let's say that muzzle energy is a meaningful number. And we use those figures just posted.
    5.56 = 660 ft. lbs. at 200 yards
    .357 mag = 583 ft. lbs at the muzzle

    That impresses me. That actually gives me more faith in the 5.56 than I did before. The .357 125 grain is a legendary stopper. And the 5.56 has more muzzle energy at 200 yards than it does at the muzzle. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot an elk with a .357/125 at the muzzle.

    Again, Nightcrawler makes a good point about choosing the weapon based on your mission. If you think about this, and honestly believe that you are going to need to engage the enemy at ranges in excess of 200 yards AND you HONESTLY think you have the skills to do that, then choose your weapon accordingly. As I mentioend, I don't think this is realistic for me. I have done a little bit of shooting at longish ranges. I know that I CAN hit a human size target from a good steady postion at 4-500 yards. However, that is a target on a range. I know the range I am shooting (not guessing). I know the sight dope for that range. I am in a good steady postion lying on a mat and using a sling. I am not under fire. The target is standing in plain sight and not comoflaged. The target is not moving or trying to use cover. I am not moving to avoid being hit....................................... A reality check is always a good thing. Hitting someone at 400 yards is one thing: just seeing them is another thing.
    I grew up in Ohio. Seeing 400 yards in Eastern Ohio is kind of a rare thing. If you are in a town the only way you could see 400 yards would be to stand in the middle of a street and look down it. If someone else had the same idea and stood in the middle of the street and you somehow identified them as a threat, and had the skills, I guess you could try to shoot him before he shot you. In the more rural areas, most are tree covered. Of course there is always a farmer's fields. Here in the desert, you can see for miles in any direction. However, each little wrinkle in the earth can hide a man. Each little short sage brush can hide a man. Each wash could hide hundreds of men. Seeing a guy standing still at 400 yards waiting on you to shoot him......well, I guess he would deserve to be shot.
     
  23. priv8ter

    priv8ter Member

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    Thanks!

    I kind of worried about that when I started this thread. I really didn't want it to turn into 9mm vs .45 kind of thing, and so far, that hasn't happened.

    Hey, slow down there...I never said price wasn't a problem as far as the gun went, just the ammo. ;)

    There has been some good help so far. I kind of forgot to mention that I'm a bigger fan of carbine size guns than M1A size guns. After doing some checking, my choices are way more restricted looking at carbine sized .308's than .223's.

    Also...muzzle blast and recoil. My wife shoots a .270 for deer, so I'm not sure the recoil of a Semi-Auto .308 would physically bother her much, but, she WOULD probably be more comfortable with a .223.

    Well...now I can go start another thread or two about what brand and kind of gun to get...

    Just what the world needs, another 'Which EBR should I get thread!'

    greg
     
  24. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    I am constantly amazed at how everyone here gripes about their .308s being inaccurate. I have a very slapdash Century FAL (at its heart) and shoot whatever surplus I can find, and the gun is a very decent performer. Not much over an MOA, which beats /real world/ AR-15 performance hands down at 300 yards. It holds its own closer in (but for offhand where it can get heavy).

    I would never avoid the FAL because it can't hit a target, until I go to the (also .308) PSS, which will hit anything out past the length of my local range.

    I have never in my life shot a 4 moa (at 100 yds) gun. I have shot plenty of groups bigger than that, but if you really work the gun, you can get sub 2 out of almost everything.


    Sound:
    I find that .223 is much more painful than .308 when unprotected. I believe the frequency issue is known among relevant circles. If you want to avoid the noise issue you are in the wrong ballpark. Pretty solid .45-70s can be fired in the open with no ears and no pain in my experience.
     
  25. MrAcheson

    MrAcheson Member

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    Andrew Wyatt is correct, they do different things. Frankly, my eyesight stinks and my riflecraft isn't that great either. That means I'm not going to be shooting past 200 yards much and I'll need lots of bullets. :D 5.56 just fits me better I guess.
     
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