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So why the 223?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by gym, Jan 1, 2010.

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  1. gym

    gym member

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    Why not a 270, or something in between. Was it just an easy round to adapt to?, Before the AR15, M16, I seem to remember the 223 as a woodchuck gun. My uncles all used to go upstate NY and use 223,and such, 220 swift, etc for chucks. I don't hunt so don't flame me too hard. I know 308 is used more for distance and power, like on the sniper shows, but was the 223 really the right choice. Or was it the easiest to adapt auto fire and slight of build soldiers, and less expensive ammo?
     
  2. THE DARK KNIGHT

    THE DARK KNIGHT Member

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    Military arms take into account a number of things civillians don't need to worry about.

    Auto Fire
    Civillians look at ballistics tests of a single 223 shot fired at a block of gel with denim or sheet metal or whatever and judge the round on that. That is not the effective capacity of a real M16. The real gun is firing 3-4 rounds of that at the target on full auto typically. The target is also being fired at by multiple soldiers possibly, as well as grenades, artillery, helicopters, aerial backup, etc. It is hard to discredit a military firearm with single shot ballistics tests.

    Weight/Size
    How many rounds can fit in a magazine, how many magazines can a soldier realistically carry all day. How many boxes of that ammo can fit into the truck, in the warehouse, etc. A round being half the size means the force has double as much ammo available to them.

    Interchangeability
    There's like 3+ dozen countries in NATO all using the same 5.56x45 55gr and 62gr loads, and although almost every country uses a different gun, they all take the same STANAG magazines. The ability for a soldier to pass a magazine to a soldier from dozens of different countries is invaluable. Or bring a couple crates of ammo to an ally's depot in war.

    Of course, there are also many economic and political factors as well within the military/industrial complex. Those? Unless you ask them directly, whatever you hear from anyone else it's probably just speculation.
     
  3. BurningSaviour

    BurningSaviour Member

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    .270 is necked down from the .30-06, IIRC.
    The whole principle of the intermediate cartridge... research was in progress before the Second World War, but that's where it really came to fruition. German research showed that firefights most often occurred at a range of less than 200 meters. Topping it off, the standard infantry weapon of the German military was the bolt action Mauser, and the submachinegun typically filled the role possessed today by light machine guns and dedicated automatic rifles. And, it was found to be a combination of too much/too little on both counts. The submachinegun could put out a lot of lead in a hurry, but a pistol cartridge was hardly ideal for many combat scenarios. The K98 had power, but a slow rate of fire, and was comparatively unwieldy.
    The most famous (though not only) solution in finding a compromise between the two came in the StG43, which fired a shorted 7.92x33 round - sufficient for the typical firefight, powerful enough to get the job done. reasonably manageable in automatic fire. It didn't have all the pros or cons of either weapons system it augmented, but possessed some of the best features of both. The Soviet Union were the first to actually made widespread use of this principle, although the British were the ones to take it to the next level with the EM2. In fact, the FAL was originally designed to fire the intermediate cartridge designed for the EM2. However, US pressure forced NATO to adopt the 7.62x51 cartridge, and that was the end of the EM2.
    The 5.56 was a further adaptation of the same principle.. lighter weight made for more manageable recoil in automatic fire, it allowed soldiers to carry more ammo, etc. Ironically, the US essentially pushed NATO into adopting the 5.56 after essentially forcing the concept off the table in the 1950s.
    Interestingly enough, evaluation of US actions in Vietnam seemed enough to convinced the Soviet Union, and they developed a smaller 5.45x39 round for the AKM's replacement.
    The 5.56 is not perfect. No round is. It does what it's supposed to, same as any other round. A Combat Basic Load for a US soldier is 210 rounds - even as a line medic, I carried this. A typical basic load for a force using FAL, G3, or other 7.62x51 rifles was 100 rounds.
    So, it's all a bit of give and take.

    This is not entirely accurate. STANAG 4179 was never actually passed, and while a great many NATO countries did adopt the M16 magazine, there's still a great number who did not. Germany does not use the STANAG magazine. Spain is replacing their STANAG compliant CETME Model L rifles with the non-STANAG G36. Poland is using an AK variant, which does not use STANAG magazines, etc.
    The Warsaw Pact was better standardized on small arms magazines than NATO ever was, with almost every country using the AKM (Czechoslovakia being the exception to the rule), whereas, at the time, NATO had no standardization requirements (and still really doesn't) on small arms magazines... some NATO countries used the G3, Spain used the CETME, some countries used the FAL, but the British variations of the FAL used a different magazine, and so forth.
     
  4. SiRed91

    SiRed91 Member

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    Wounding your adversary takes more men out of action than outright killing them.
     
  5. gym

    gym member

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    Great information guys, thanks
     
  6. THE DARK KNIGHT

    THE DARK KNIGHT Member

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    Good catch, thank you. So it's a majority but not all.
     
  7. W L Johnson

    W L Johnson Member

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    Good grief! not that bull again.
    If you're trying to say the 223/5.56 is meant to wound rather than kill, that's an Urban Myth.
     
  8. SiRed91

    SiRed91 Member

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    Didnt say it was "meant to" but it sure does.....LOL

    Also takes up a lot less space.
     
  9. W L Johnson

    W L Johnson Member

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    Say again?

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Gungnir

    Gungnir Member

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    Yeah the 5.56mm came about AFTER the 7.62x51, and the 223 Remington dates from 1959, when the prior name the .222 special, was renamed to avoid confusion, and it was specifically developed as a military cartridge.

    Post WW2 NATO was trying to standardize, FN had developed the FAL, and was giving the design away with a free license to the allies for liberating them. Churchill wanted a 280 British caliber, and the FAL, Truman would only agree to the FAL, if it was in 30 light (7.62x51), so Churchill agreed, and Truman then selected the M14. It was then discovered that for a select fire infantry rifle the 7.62 NATO round was pretty unwieldy, so British (and others) L1A1's (SLR or FN FAL) were adapted to semi-auto only. Adding in to this as previously mentioned ammunition, and it was apparent that a lighter cartridge and rifle was needed, enter the 5.56mm NATO, and the M16.

    Now, interestingly NATO did standardize on the 5.56mm, as an aside British FAL's can accept non-British magazines, but not vice versa. Most NATO with exceptions for former communist block nations have the 5.56mm as their standard infantry round, and select fire. However this did not really happen effectively until the 90's when finally the UK retired the L1A1 and issued the L85A1 (which was originally chambered for a 4.85mm), (now L85A2 SA80), the Bundeswehr converted to the HK G36, the Belgian FN FNC, the Italian AR70 the earliest convert was the French with the FAMAS. All of these accept (as designed or by conversion) a STANAG 4179 specification magazine even though this has never been ratified, even the G36, however due to changes needed if you own a civilian SL8 the changes needed are to the upper, bolt carrier and Mag well. Unlike the G36 you can't just change the mag well.

    A full chronology is available at http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html
     
  11. RockyMtnTactical

    RockyMtnTactical Member

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    Why the .223? Depends on the job.

    It seems to work well for the military though. That's why. ;)

    This is a myth. The AR15 was not developed for this purpose. The military is in the business of killing people.
     
  12. billybobjoe

    billybobjoe Member

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    The next animal you shoot with a some caliber, (if it's a big enough animal) open him up and see what the insides look like. I've done it a couple of times and bullets do lots of damage that you don't see on the outside.
     
  13. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    If you're overrunning a position, or having your position overrun, do you want to wound or kill the enemy?
     
  14. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    Isn't it a Rush Limbaugh quote that the job of the military is to "kill people and break things"

    which is a pretty fair assesment in my book.
     
  15. ohwell

    ohwell Member

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    This is actually very true
     
  16. jon_in_wv

    jon_in_wv Member

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    I dont' think that is the reason we have taken to the 223. The fact is they studied the aspect of using a smaller 22 cal round simply for logistics. They wanted a round that would work well with a smaller, lighter, platform of rifle and in turn had smaller and lighter ammunition. Imagine the weight difference between hundreds of thousands of rounds of 30-06 to the same amount of 223. The 22 cal round is also a decent penetrator vs soft body armor which was another factor. They believed it had sufficient terminal performance that they were not sacrificing much. I think in retrospect they should have used a slightly heavier caliber.

    Take a look at the Russians ammo. They have tackled the ammo issue with some pretty interesting solutions. I'm sure our military would say the small gains in terminal performance gained by a similar solution wouldn't be worth the extra cost of production.

    From wikipedia:
    Design details

    The Russian original military issue 5N7-specification 5.45mm bullets are a somewhat complex full metal jacket design. The 56 gr (3.6 g) boattail projectile has a gilding-metal-clad jacket. The unhardened steel core is covered by a thin lead coating which does not fill the entire point end, leaving a hollow cavity inside the nose. The bullet is cut to length during the manufacturing process to give the correct weight. The base of the bullet is tapered to reduce drag and there is a small lead plug crimped in place in the base of the bullet. The lead plug, in combination with the air space at the point of the bullet, has the effect of moving the bullet's center of gravity to the rear; the hollow air space also makes the bullet's point prone to deformation when the bullet strikes anything solid, inducing yaw. The brown-lacquered steel case is Berdan-primed. Its 39.37 mm (1.55 in) length makes it slightly longer than the 7.62x39mm case which measures exactly 38.60 mm (1.52 in). The primer has a copper cup and is sealed with a heavy red lacquer. The propellant charge is a ball powder with similar burning characteristics to the WC 844 powder used in 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.
     
  17. owlhoot

    owlhoot Member

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    Battle philosophy changed around 1960. Volume of fire was deemed more important than accuracy of fire. There were reasons for this. By 1960 we were no longer the "nation of riflemen" that we were in earlier years. Population had shifted from rural to urban so young men could no longer be counted on to know how to shoot well. Urban and semi-urban populations simply didn't have the opportunity much less the necessity to shoot well. The military doesn't have time to really teach marksmanship and they never have. Rather they teach weapon familiarization.

    The military already knew that in the stress of combat during WWII soldiers seldom used their sights. This wasn't news. Even during the War between the States, the majority of soldiers didn't use their sights. During that war savvy commanders had three men loading for one expert marksman firing. The results were much better.

    Moreover, studies found that during WWII a large percentage of soldiers did not fire their weapons at all under combat conditions. I'm sure the same thing pertained in wars earlier and later.

    Consequently, it was reasoned that a weapon that would put out a high volume of fire was preferable to a weapon such as the Garand or the M14 which depended on aimed fire for its effectiveness. So a small caliber automatic weapon with minimal recoil and the ability to pack a lot of ammo for that weapon was what the military wanted.

    Most enemy combatants are killed by artillery, air strikes, mortars, and a few highly skilled marksmen or snipers, even in today's wars. But a high volume of fire keeps enemy heads down and permits the killers to do their jobs. So the 5.56 meets the requirements. We aren't likely to change to a heavier caliber - ever. Spray and pray are the orders of the day.
     
  18. THE DARK KNIGHT

    THE DARK KNIGHT Member

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    Very well said. People debate the effectiveness of the 5.56 vs. various 6.x's named after Norse mythological characters and forget that the F-22 "dropped a 1,000 lb (450 kg) JDAM from 50,000 feet (15,000 m), while cruising at Mach 1.5, striking a moving target 24 miles (39 km) away."
     
  19. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

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    Krochus... Not sure who said it first but my old man used to say it as well "The Army's job is to kill, maim and break S@#$ so efficiently that everyone else is too scared to f@#$ with us". He was a grunt.
     
  20. IdahoLT1

    IdahoLT1 Member

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    What? The M14 and M16 roughly have the same rate of fire, ~850rpm. And the .223/5.56 is plenty accurate out to 400yds. Soldiers are still plenty trained for longer range shooting/markmenship. In fact, the longest confirmed kill was shot a sniper not 8 years ago.

    If you think the M14 is more accurate than the M16/M4 during FA fire, then you might be mistaken. Its much easier to control the recoil of the 5.56/.223 over the .308.
     
  21. RockyMtnTactical

    RockyMtnTactical Member

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    I got that line from my brother who is in the USAF. He said that his drill instructors would say that to him, IIRC.
     
  22. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

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    IdahoLT1 - wasn't that kill over a mile and using a .300 WM and made by a Canadian in Afghanistan? Or am I thinking of a different stupidly long shot?
     
  23. IdahoLT1

    IdahoLT1 Member

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    It was in Afghanistan by a Canadian. IIRC, he used the .50cal and it was around 2400 meters or a tad over 1.5 miles. As far as i know, there have been 2 other incidents where the shots were around 2300 meters since the afghan/Iraq conflicts started.
     
  24. NG VI

    NG VI Member

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    And SLA Marshall's own aides couldn't remember seeing him interview a single person. That "study" is bogus.
     
  25. Tinpig

    Tinpig Member

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    It's true that his informal methodology and lack of notes lead many to believe that Marshall's figures on rates-of-fire are suspect.

    But Marshall certainly did interview combat soldiers, both in WWII and Korea. Here's a 2003 Army War College article containing an interview with an Infantry 1LT who accompanied General Marshall in Korea during the fighting on Pork Chop Hill.

    http://www.carlisle.army.mil/USAWC/parameters/03autumn/chambers.pdf

    Tinpig
     
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