M16 20” @ 500 yards?

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

  1. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    Gunny, that's a funny meme.

    Another thing to think about with Maximum effective range per the military is that it boils down to the average shooter in a certain weather condition. So it is artificially lower than a good shooter in good conditions can shoot. For example both the Army M24 and the USMC M40 sniper rifles have a listed max effective range of 800 meters. Yet both rifles have many many kills out past that range. The record M24 shot is 1250 meters, or over 150% of it's effective range.
     
  2. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    And we can safely say that the average shooter in the Army and Marine Corp is everyone that qualifies as a sharpshooter. So for the average Joe, hitting a man sized target out to 500 meters with the M16A2 should not be a problem.

    There is a difference between long range precision shooting where you go for the smallest group sizes compared to hitting a man sized target at the same extended distance. For the military, the name of the game is to kill or wound.

    And as far as an AK goes, yes it is possible to hit targets at 500 yards. A lot of it will be on the shooter's skills though since the limiting factor with the AK platform is the sights.
     
  3. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Given this definition, then what is the rationale behind:

    Or is it rather that the maximum effective range of an AK-47 with iron sights firing mil-surp ball ammo from off hand or a battlefield-expedient support on a man-sized target is 300 meters?

    My point in this (what I though was a rather obvious) trap was, as stated above - context is everything, and outside of the specific context, and it is really not the x39’s fault the AK can only get it to 300yrds.

    I know MY effective range with either cartridge is EXCEPTIONALLY limited by mil-spec ammo and iron sights. Neither are the fault of the cartridges.

    ETA: and maybe I’m a little biased, because given a “maximum range to hit a torso sized target,” even my 7yr old son could use a $50 scope and $250 rifle in 22LR to reach to 300yrds, and I do know it’s easier getting x39 out there than it is a 22LR.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2021
  4. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    You may have missed the original question of this topic. What I posted was in regards to that.

    Now if we were talking about shooting rifles with scopes and from a bench rest. The maximum range to just hit a target would be much further. But then the question of how effective would the impact of the round be on the target. If you’re just a paper assassin, pretty much all you have to do is poke a hole in the paper. So max effective range would be grater then if you were hunting game, or man.
     
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  5. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    The Army uses two criteria for establishing "maximum effective range":

    1) Range at which the average soldier can hit an "E" silhouette target more that 50% of the time.
    2) Range at which the bullet is expected to cause a debilitating wound.

    The first is rather easy to establish, just get a bunch of average soldiers and have them shoot at E silhouettes and count holes and compare to rounds expended. The second is a bit harder, so the simple expedient of penetration of both sides of an M1 helmet was used as the standard for the M193 and M855 ammunition. I believe this was also the standard used in evaluating the Soviet M43 ammunition and the AK-47 by the US Army, which is where that 300 meters effective range comes from. (What the Russians consider the maximum effective range for the AK-47 and AK-74, I don't know.)

    Effective range is dependent on the weapon, ammunition and the user.

    EDIT: The M16A1 with M193 ball has an effective range of 460 meters (500 yards), based on the above criteria.

    EDIT EDIT: M193 ball out of a 20" barrel will not fully penetrate an M1 helmet beyond 460 meters. M855 (out of a 20" barrel) will actually penetrate both sides of an M1 helmet out to 600 to 650 meters, but the average soldier can't keep 50% of the rounds in a E silhouette beyond 550 meters. Showing how the two criteria work to establish "maximum effective range".
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2021
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  6. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    The AK being touted as having a 300 meter maximum effective range is taught in the military and I believe is wrong. I think it comes from documentation that the Russians built the gun for combat at 300 meters and in. The iron sights on an AK and it's pretty bad ballistics, make hits from 300-500 meters noticeably harder than the AR/M16 but it's not THAT hard. The video I posted above with the Chinese Type 56 goes into it a little bit. I think the maximum effective range of the AK47 is around 400 or 500 meters, but that's my opinion.

    Like has been stated before, the military definition of max effective range is how far an average rifleman can hit the target. So many factors come into play: ammunition, standard sights, accuracy of the rifle, "average" weather conditions, etc... I havent seen actual documentation on what factors are used or how exactly the max effective range is determined. But my guess is they use a certain cone of fire size and once a certain number of rounds are likely to fall out of that cone, then there is your number. Id guess they calculate weather into it too.

    So the maximum effective range doesnt mean that the rifle or cartridge cant perform past that, it is just measure of a certain performance standard of the average Soldier/Marine. I know of guys killing dudes with M4s out past 700 meters. But that was above average shooters, using not standard sights, and non standard ammunition.
     
  7. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    From FM 3-22.9 (24 April 2003):

    M16A1 - 460 meters
    M16A2/A3/A4 - 550 meters
    M4/M4A1 - 500 meters
     
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  8. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    No, it is based on the fact that the big slow (2350 fps) 7.62mm bullet will not penetrate both sides of an M1 helmet, much beyond 300 meters.

    Yes, you can argue about the validity of using the "penetration of both sides of an M1 helmet" equaling "debilitating wound", but those were the criteria used.
     
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  9. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    It depends. Doctrine in Nam was that they had to be close enough to grab your belt buckle. The AK was designed for auto fire at close range by groups of soldiers. It was designed for volley fire not accurate fire. But the trajectory and accuracy make aimed shots at a person at much over 150 yards in battle conditions very unlikely. I have shot deer with them and consider 100 well beyond accurate range with one. Random hits in mass fire are far more likely. Aimed shots were very rare in my experience. Also in my experience the greater range and effectiveness of the AR round was as important as it's much greater accuracy. Comparing the accuracy or range of an AK is silly as are the AK fanboys. You can lie to yourself but not to me. I was shot at by them as an exposed target many times.
     
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  10. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    I hadnt heard about the helmet requirement outside of the M855 adoption. Do you know anywhere I can read that?
     
  11. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I’ll apologize if my challenges to statements made in this thread seem combative, that’s not my intent. So if you’ve read my posts as combative, indulge me a little reading to explain my position: I’m largely interested in the comparative experience and information out there, but I always want to be sure to understand the context of the “data,” especially when it conflicts my own experience.

    Admittedly, I may also be too stuck in the original premise/premises of this thread, which has diverged into specifically discussing military documentation standards for specific weapon systems - as I assumed this wasn’t a “what could soldiers do?” thread, since it mentioned AR-15’s, but rather “what can civilians do?” since we have access to better options in ammo and optics for the task.

    If @JCooperfan1911’s intent was originally meant to discuss military application only, I missed it. I read the original questions quoted here and answered accordingly based on my observations, experience, and limited personal ability.

    In my first response in this thread, I pointed out my limited ability with irons, which I remain to protest here, but pointed to ONE simple parameter change which easily doubles what I would expect for my “effective range”. And I remain to believe what I originally answered SHOULD be true for most “skilled shooters.”

    If I’m crippled with irons AND Mil-spec ball ammo, AND an issue rifle barrel and trigger and 10 rounds to impact a man sized target... eh, I’m betting against myself at 200 no matter what cartridge you offer me... Maybe this is a sign I need to get out my ONLY iron sighted rifle more often (my eyes absolutely suck, can’t resolve my front sight post any more)...

    So as I’ve read through and chatted in this thread with you folks, the same experience keeps rolling around my head and it just makes this 500yrds thing itch for me - the most recent 20” AR I built for myself was assembled during a one-on-one instruction/coaching session in which I taught a new shooter to build his own AR (a 20” Grendel), then took him and his rifle, and the rifle I’d built for myself to the range. We shot both rifles at 50yrds with a rough boresight, then we walked him out to 100 and 300, then 500. Once he was comfortable on the 875yrd target and just enjoying Trigger Time with his new rifle, I opened my rifle up again at the 500 yard plate - three shots down the barrel at 50 yards with factory ammo, 73 ELD’s, then straight to 500. I recall dialing a bit to raise my waterline, since I didn’t have an accurate velocity, but the first round was on steel (66% IPSC, 12”x18”). Yes, this was prone on a bipod, but even my son, 4 or 5yrs old at the time, was able to crawl behind the rifle and deliver hits on target. The kid keeps me humble, and largely confirms my contention that if I can do something, most people can do it better.

    Equally, with x39, I hunted for several years on properties which would let me knock down multiple doe on the same day to help fill the 9 tags I was allotted, and I used a scoped SKS for faster follow ups, and cheap Remington Core-lokts. This was 20yrs ago, as a young student in college, filling my freezer, just starting into Service Rifle competition (and floundering miserably), and even then from sitting behind shooting sticks, I took deer at 250yrds with the Norinco paratrooper and a TERRIBLE import 3-9x compact scope. The Core-lokts would hold about 4-5” at 250, about the size of a deer’s heart, so that was my limit. Reading 300 as a documented maximum effective range is puzzling to me, as I could be sure I wouldn’t have been falling off the edges of a much larger man-sized target within in the next 80yards with that rifle. Given a corresponding optic, 5” at 250y would still be on a 12”x18” 66% IPSC beyond 500yrds, which would be a small man’s torso, and x39’s not falling transonic until 500-550... And if I’m any kind of marksman today, I can say with certainty, I wasn’t back then, and I don’t particularly find myself to stand out as a marksman even now - just a hell of a lot better than I was then.

    We can point to Black Powder shooters throwing slugs with BC’s on par with VW Beetles with tang mounted ladders out to 1000, or Highpower Match shooters... lots of guys shoot a LOT better than myself... So if I can do it - most people should be able to replicate it.

    My question about “effective range” was also earnest too - I assumed the answer would be as it was, based on hitting a man sized target (OR based on impact velocity for fragmentation), BUT, if the 300m effective range was based on wounding/mortality potential, I’d have been intrigued to hear the gap is so large between Rem Core-lokts quickly killing deer at 250y and Mil-spec x39 ball being ineffective beyond 300m. Any killing I have done past 250 hasn’t been with x39, so I can’t speak directly, but extrapolating... THAT reduction in performance in such a short range surprises me. Heck, an x39 at 700-800y is effectively hitting like a 38spcl at the muzzle, but with a higher sectional density...
     
  12. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    Nothing personal from me. I brought up the fact that a good majority of soldiers can hit a 500 meter target with the M16A2 and M855 ammo to show that civilians can do it too. All it takes is practice and knowing your weapon/rifle and its capabilities. And yes you can hit targets at 500 meters with an AK but you are definitely going to work at it harder than with a M16A2.
     
  13. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    I didn't read your posts as combative, but that is just me. The OP question was, essentially, can I hit targets at 500 yards with a 20" barrel on an AR. Posts by military members were just to show, yes it is possible. Even with iron sights and mil-spec ammo. I have done it in training and combat as well as several others. A good rifleman with adequate training can push the effective range doctrine quite well. I doubt I could do such shooting today, being out of practice. But if I did I would probably try doing the same with better ammo instead of the M855 or M193 I am used to using.

    As far as effective range of the AK, 300 is generous with the AKs I was used to overseas. 300 was the ish number and was considered our "near ambush" distance. Things like the PKM, with a longer barrel and bipod can rain down fire from farther. We also discovered that enemies were doing plunging fire by firing AKs high at an angle to hit our convoys if they didn't have many PKMs. The AKs, optics, and ammo here are a lot better than what was fired at me in the hilly sandbox.
     
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  14. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    Didn’t find your post to be combative. We were just looking at the question from different directions. I hope that I didn’t come off as being rude, was not my intention.
     
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  15. Grumpy_old_Fart

    Grumpy_old_Fart Member

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    I knew a guy ( who has passed) that shot an elk at 200 yards "effectively" with a 22 magnum lever rifle. In the eye. At night. Illegally.

    Just because they say it ain't happening, doest mean it's not possible.

    It fed his family.

    No, it ain't right.
     
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  16. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    For C-grunt... that "both sides of a GI helmet at 500 yards" was on the original wish list way back when the first AR was developed - all those years ago by Stoner if memory serves (and that memory was what I first read about it in the mid sixties as a teenager with an American Rifleman subscription... so I'm certain someone here has a more accurate account...). I also clearly remember the accounts of the terrible wounds that first generation of black rifles were found to produce in combat due to the round de-stabilizing as it hit a human target...
     
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  17. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    We are talking about differing situations. The accuracy reported by Varmint Terror is certainly not my experience but then I respect and value his experience and contributions to this forum. I believe that to be very exceptional but honest and I do not dispute anything you said, except the fallacy of fragmentation. A myth that comes from a dishonest person. Except for a Saiga with a scope and good ammo, none of the SKS and AK's I owned and fired would hold 4 MOA accuracy at 100 yards, much less 250. Another thing is what is meant by effective. The ability to hit a target or make a one shot kill. And under what conditions. Target shooting, hunting and combat are three very different things. I am forced to acknowledge that I don't speak for everybody but I haven't changed my mind in my general opinion. I guess there are exceptions but they don't make the rule in my mind. Shoot what you like. It's 'Merica. I do get cranky at times.
    As to topic at hand, I had a Del-Ton 20 inch Gov't profile that shot MOA or better with hunting ammo and Leupold scope. 500 yards is no problem in a supported position with time to aim and shoot.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
  18. amd6547

    amd6547 Member

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    Ten shots Golden Tiger FMJ, standing, offhand...with a 12" barrel..(with welded extension to make 16")...at 100 yards. 20161116_140922.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
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  19. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    To further explain on this, as far back as the .45-70 days the question what causes a "debilitating wound" came up, it was one of the reasons why the bullet weight was bumped up to 500 grains, to increase the "lethal" range of volley fire out to 3,500 yards (what they used as a metric for establishing lethality, I don't know, but they seemed to have one). From the .30-40 Krag days through the 7.62mm NATO days it was pretty much assumed that the "range at which a debilitating wound is achieved" was in excess of the range at which an average soldier can hit things, that part of the equation was not mentioned.

    When the Army's Small Caliber High Velocity (SCHV) program kicked off in 1952, the question of "debilitating wounds" came up. After shooting goats and pigs and ballistic gel with calibers from .17 caliber through 8mm, the Army concluded that the number of variables made a scientific metric was impossible, so they settled on a simple expedient. The logic goes as follows: The average enemy soldier is basically unarmored, except for the head, which is protected by a steel helmet (assumed to be as least as good as ours), so if you hit a helmet and the bullet passes through both sides, it had enough "wounding potential" to kill a person.

    Not perfect by any means, but measurable and repeatable.
     
  20. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    Oh, and that was just the M1 shell, not the shell and liner. Most other countries didn't use a two part helmet system.

    And, oddly enough, most other nations helmets were a little better than ours as far as penetration of the shell alone is concerned.
     
  21. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    Just about everyone we have fought in the last 50 years didn't wear body armor or helmets. I can't say who we will fight in the future. I do know a guy working on a new type of body armor. It is very light and is in production.
     
  22. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    Who we actually fought and who we planned to fight were totally different.

    And, by the way, in 1950 we came the closest to fighting the near peer war with the Soviets. The NKPA that rolled over the border in 1950 was a highly mechanized army trained in the Soviet 'Deep Battle', and well equipped by the Soviets to do just that. That is why they had such spectacular success early in the war.

    As to the helmets, the German stahlhelm provided slightly better ballistic protection. The M1 helmet shell was formed in a single draw, and the hardness was the residual hardness from cold working. The German helmets were formed in two or three draws and had to be annealed between draws, and after the final forming they were heat treated and tempered. This allowed them to be a more uniform thickness, and harder. The Norwegian and Swedish were also known to be superior in ballistic protection.
     
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  23. champ0608

    champ0608 Member

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    Every weekend, shooters across America compete in NRA and CMP high power matches using 20" barreled AR-15s. At the 600 yard range, shooting prone with only sling support, we shoot at a target with a 2 moa 10 ring. If you want to win anything, you can't put too many rounds outside of that 10 ring.

    Yes, most shooters have switched to a 4.5x power optic rifle, but some of us still shoot A2s, and for 15-20 years that was all anyone shot.

    Yes, our rifles have heavy barrels, float tubes, and 4.5 pound two-stage triggers. They are much better rifles than rack grade M16s. But nonetheless, the platform is capable of exceptional accuracy at the 600 yard line. Some people even shoot them in 1000 yard matches and with the right barrel and heavy bullets, they are more than capable of winning long range matches.

    The Camp Perry National Matches are just around the corner. There will be about 1000 of us putting the rifle to the traditional, known-distance, accuracy test. The winner of the President's Match and the National Trophy Individual will shoot nearly clean scores. Come on out and give it a try!

    And if you aren't a member of your closest highpower club, you need to go give it a try, and earn your Distinguished Rifleman's Badge. https://thecmp.org/competitions/distinguishedbadges/
     
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  24. CptnAwesome
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    CptnAwesome Contributing Member

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    We qualified with the M16A2 at 2, 3, and 500yds. 500yds was prone position. The rifles were surprisingly accurate at that range. I can remember plenty of times going 10 for 10 on our sightly larger than human targets. None of you will prob believe me but I even called a head shot or two from 500.
     
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  25. JCooperfan1911

    JCooperfan1911 Member

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    Thanks all.

    Mu concern was at 500, the lack of wind flags or a spotter in the field would make hitting a stationary man sized silhouette at that distance as I have heard the small light 5.56 bullet gets blown all over the place.

    Obviously this seems to not be the case from most members actual reports and experiences.
     
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