M16 20” @ 500 yards?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by JCooperfan1911, Jul 15, 2021.

  1. JCooperfan1911

    JCooperfan1911 Member

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    Is it really possible for the small caliber .223/5.56mm to reach out to 500 yards with a 20” barrel? I know the lightweight bullets get blown all to heck the further they go and don’t buck the wind nearly as well as a .308.

    I heard many conflicting information on this. Some say it’s a 300 yard affair max. Others say twice that is doable. I know the Marines qualified at 500 yards (meters?) with their M16s BUT had spotters and wind flags correct me if I’m wrong?

    How realistically possible is it for a solo shooter in a field type situation, with an iron-sighted 20” AR-15, to hit a man-sized target at 500 yards assuming the rifle is capable of grouping well and the shooter is skilled? What goes in to judging windage at such a long range and is it even realistically possible without range flags and spotters?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    My older marine buddies zeroed at 300 yards, hold over for 500 was I believe a foot over the top of the head for a lower chest/belly hit with that zero.

    Here is an article from 2019 about the USMC qual changes, they still shoot to 500.

    https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2019/12/09/drastic-changes-to-marine-corps-rifle-qualification-coming-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

    This is why I like a 25 yard zero:

    FC35D5EA-818E-4F9C-BF86-102AD9E9D142.jpeg

    Very useful at any ranges I’ll ever shoot at.

    Stay safe.
     
  3. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    Don't have a 20" one now, but I and my friends have regularly shot 16-18" guns (ARs, HKs, SIGs...) to 600 yds. Yes, with both 55 and 62.

    I've on occasion gone out to 5-600 yds with my 12.5" 5.56.

    Any time I see someone say a cartridge has a (very short) range I think of how easy it is to cause damage with a 9mm SMG at 3-400 yds, and most of all of the Sandy Hook trials. Tests of accuracy and penetration of the .45-70 out to Two Miles. High elevation, but it sure got on target every time, and went through a lot of wood and sand before stopping.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
  4. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

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    I've got a 16" chrome vanadium 1/7 that I have shot 1 1/2" groups at 300yds using 75gr BTHP, I don't think I'd have any problem going to 500 with it, but haven't had opportunity to try yet.
     
  5. entropy

    entropy Member

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    At least 600 meters. Range flags, no spotter guidance. That's the range I shot them to in the Ft. Ord Post Rifle match. I was able to keep them in the ring on the targets that would be just larger than the center box on the targets riomouse911 shows, and I only finished in the middle of the pack. That was with borrowing the A2's (10 of them) from an armorer friend in the Aviation Bde., and tuning the triggers to just above 4.5 # on all of them. I did it two weeks before the match, after having done 10 of our M16A1's the same way. When we went out to practice, it was basically pure luck to hit the 600m target (shot from prone), but the A2's did it regularity. Before anyone asks, yes the ammo was matched to the correct rifle, M193 for the A1's, M855 for the A2's. I tried a few of each in the others rifle , and found the A2's shot M193 fine, but M855 keyholed in an A1 at about 200 meters.
    300 meters is about the max. for an A1, despite what the TM and the drills in Basic said.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
  6. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    Yes you can hit a target at 600 yards with an A2. Either use a hold over or use the rear sight drum as intended. The rear sight elevation works well.
     
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  7. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    Marines have been qualifying "Expert" with them for years, and they never back down on the qualifying score . . . .

    And, now they are doing it with shorter barrels.
     
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  8. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    The 20" length will reach right out there.
    Right twist rate to stabilize 60-70gr rounds, and distance is more a question of target identification.
    An A2/A3/A4 at 20" will easily keep heads down at 800--a half mile.
     
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  9. Nature Boy
    • Contributing Member

    Nature Boy Contributing Member

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    I shoot along side guys and gals that do it every month at 600 yard NRA High Power matches. Some of them hold 2 MOA pretty consistently, and do it with iron sights
     
  10. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    A 20 inch AR will easily hit 500 yards. At Ft Benning we would occasionally go shoot on the KD range and shoot out to 500 yards (maybe meters, I cant remember) with out M16A4s and M4s. Even the bad shooters in the company could still get decent hits at that range and the misses were close enough to be harassing fire. This was done mostly with red dot and irons. Only a few of us with the DMRs had magnified optics.
     
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  11. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    20 inch rifle with standard carry handle irons.

     
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  12. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    Here is a 18 inch rifle out to 800 yards. Obviously a better setup with optics, match ammo, and a better free floated barrel.

     
  13. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    I was in the Army from 89 to 96. While max range for qualification with teh M16A2 was 300 meter, we did shoot out to 500 meters all of the time and sometimes shot on the machine gun ranges that went out farther. A lot of that depended on the individual unit on if you got to shoot/train at distances past 300 meters.
     
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  14. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Iron-sights would be my only weakness in this scenario. My eyes suck for shooting irons, so I don’t, which means I don’t have DOPE to make corrections for my loads against my sight adjustments.

    Other than ironsights prescribed in this thought experiment, there’s nothing about a 20” AR I would find unreasonable or unmanageable for hitting a man sized target at 500yrds with very little practice or prior prep.

    I’m tempted enough I might take my 20” out this weekend to get some real world feedback for you. I shoot 223/5.56 AR’s at 500 quite often, so the only glitch at all in my mind is the irons.
     
  15. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Yes. The USMC still shoots their qualification at 500 meters. Army SDM do as well. Not so much with iron sights anymore, it is easier to do with an ACOG. Without a spotting scope or flags, you use anything in the environment to get a bead on the wind direction and speed. It could be the target's clothing if it is loose enough. Dirt getting kicked up by the wind at or on the way to the target. Trees. If you can't see any details at the target end, you just have to use your best judgement for the wind at your end. Example, if you have a 5mph headwind you can reasonably assume the target has similar winds and you adjust your shot based off that and if there are no other indicators.
     
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  16. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Not a problem if you do some 500 yard practice. We used to shoot SKS's and AK's at 500 at the old Faragut naval range in Idaho. Also the 91-51's and other short barreled carbines. Hitting torso sized targets at 500, even with iron sights is not a big problem with just about any rifle. Just have to get out and actually do it. You'll find it's not that difficult, unless you are normally a poor shot.
     
  17. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    I qualified with the M16A1 and the A2 during my Marine Corps career. The KD course (Known Distance) was fired at 200, 300 and 500 meters or yards, depending on which range you were shooting on. 500 meters is 560 yards.
    Here’s the targets we used with the size.
    6C701083-1D5F-47BC-8073-0972A8B22BC0.jpeg


    2C27DEBF-3FE5-4699-BED6-D214953B2B10.jpeg
    We zeroed our rifles for 200 with iron sights. At 200 we shot five rounds, slow fire, sitting, kneeling and offhand, and then 10 rounds rapid fire from the sitting position. The hold on the A target was center mass. With the A2 the rear sight was set at 300 minus two clicks.
    At 300 we fired five rounds, slow fire, sitting and ten rounds rapid from prone.
    At 500 we shot 10 rounds prone slow fire.
    All shooting was unsupported with only a sling. No sling was used when shooting offhand at 200.
    I qualified Expert 9 times.
    The black on the target at 500 looks as wide as the front sight. You would cover the black with the front sight and then lower it so that the head of the target was sitting on top of the front sight post.
    One year we were on a range that had a 600 yard line. We should 10 rounds prone from 600 and I got 10 out of 10 in the black. I always found shooting at 500 to be relaxing and fun.
    There were range flags at each berm, on each end. This did help if there was a crosswind. I remember back in 1983 while qualifying in Okinawa, the wind was a mess. There were hills on both sides of the range which effected the crosswinds. I remember on qual day the flags at the targets were straight out. The 200 flags were flapping from half to full out. The 300 flags were flapping from half to zero. And there was no wind at the 500. That day didn’t end well.
    I’ll have to look and see if I can find some old range pics.
     
  18. Jerry M

    Jerry M Member

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    I have been honored on several occasions to watch Navy Midshipmen shoot at 600 yards at the rifle range in Bridgeville Delaware. Not only will the 5.56 mm go 600 yards but many put it in the 10 and X ring.
     
  19. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    I used to shoot a 24" AR at a range in the desert. Man size targets were easily doable. Using the A2 iron sights, small aperture, and the elevation drum at 400meters, I was able to hit a standard road cone at 600 yards 9 out of 10 times. This went on for 40 or so rounds. We misjudged the distance at the time, thus the incorrect elevation, but it still hit. Ammunition was remington 55 FMJ. That 24" rifle shot that load at about 3200fps, easily within the range of a 20". It was a fluted heavy profile (.750"), with a 5.56 chamber. Shooting was from a rest, but not on bags. That was long enough ago I don't think I could do it today, but it does tell me the 5.56 is easily capable of hits at that range. The road cone was probably 9" wide. Hits made a distinctive sound, and the distance allowed the shot noise to dissipate so you could hear it. Thats the longest I have ever shot.
     
  20. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    Even though the Army always had us use the 25 meter zero, I find that the Marine Corp 36 yard zero works better. I have all of my AR's with iron sights zeroed at 36 yards and confirmed at 300 meters.
     
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  21. ontarget

    ontarget Member

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    Now you guys have me wanting to pull out my A2 clone (no fun switch:(), and hit the 500 yd line like the good old days.
    I wonder if Stone Bay would let me in if I asked real nice?
     
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  22. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    The 20" barrel is fine for 500 yards. I have the Rock River Arms predator pursuit with a heavy barrel that I shoot to 500 yards all the time and with consistent accuracy on steel silhouette 18" X 30". I only use 75 grain BTHP Hornady match bullets on this rifle as it does not like lighter bullets.
     
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  23. tbs

    tbs Member

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    It's totally doable!! Got this shooting a 20" A3 with iron sites. I doubt i could pull it off again, now that it's 16 years later.
    Presentation1.jpg Rock River A4 NM.JPG
     
  24. Dale Alan

    Dale Alan Member

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    It has been happening for a long time, but you already knew that.o_O
     
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  25. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    The limitation is the shooter, not the platform.
    I have an A2 clone with a DPMS receiver with a Palmetto Arms upper that has a 1/7” twist FN barrel
    ALG service trigger. It only weighs a little over half what my match rifle weighs. I actually enjoy shooting it more.

    It will come VERY close to matching my RRA NM AR15 with a 1/8” Wilson match barrel.
    My 200/300yd load is the 75gr Hornady BTHP. They are not quite as accurate as the 77gr Sierra or 80gr MatchKings but in bulk cost half as much. 0.15 vs 0.32-0.35 pre-COVID.
    At CMP-Talledega, wind is seldom an issue. Rarely more than 2 MOA.
    At 200yds “Awfull Hand” (off hand), it doesn’t matter what ammo I shoot. I’m happy if I stay in the scoring rings!

    I need to replace my rear carry handle on the RRA from a 1/2moa to a 1/4moa sight. It’s aggravating to be dropping the 80gr MK’s in the right side of the X-ring only to go 1-click left and then be on the left side of the X...
    Actually, Optics are the way to go now that they are allowed in Service Rifle class.
     
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