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The 223

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by dastardly-D, Jan 5, 2013.

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  1. dastardly-D

    dastardly-D Member

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    I'm reading a lot on the forum lately about guns and killing. I'm thinking when they first invented a gun it was to be used in either defense or offense.To make my point they were still using axe's,spears,bow and arrows,swords,all kinds of assorted weapons even after the gun first appeared ! Of course the first guns were very crude to what we have today,we have some really efficent firearms these days which takes me to a point. I really don't think the 25 auto and assorted small caliber,heck,even larger caliber handguns were an offense weapon,much more of a defensive weapon. Don't start jumping on me now,I know these handguns,like,knives,pitchforks,what have you,can be used offensively.Part of my point being that handguns are mostly a defensive weapon.Now here is my big question that may make or break my point. A 30 cal weapon generally has more killing power than a 223.Did the military invent the 223 for causing casualties,or outright killing. Is the M-16 family intended to be a super killing battlefield firearm or more of a casualty producer ? Thank you for any replies I may get !
     
  2. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    The 223 was a logistical consideration, first and foremost. Solders were, quite simply, shooting more ammo. 223 is lighter, cheaper to produce, etc. A soldier can carry a LOT more 223 than he can 308 or 30-06.

    There's a lot of other benefits that made it a worthy choice; full auto fire is more controllable, etc.

    I don't think casualty causing considerations weighed in much, considering getting hit with any projectile travelling that fast is gonna cause casualties. :)
     
  3. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    On the battlefield it is generally better to wound your enemy as it requires at least of couple of able bodied soldiers to take the unjured man back to a aid station.
     
  4. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

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    Neither, Trent got it right. Numerous studies indicated that most Infantry combat was under 300 yards and volume of fire was very important. Here's a good link:

    http://thegunzone.com/556faq.html
     
  5. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

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    I want to say that old surplus ammo pouches would carry 2 M14 magazines (for 40 rounds) or 3 M16 magazines (for 90 rounds). So a soldier carrying a "standard load" of 2 magazine pouches plus one magazine in the weapon either had 100 rounds available, or 210 rounds available.

    When you look at the military use of suppressive fire, and the desire to make shooting easy for folks who didn't grow up with firearms, then you can start to see some of the advantages.
     
  6. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Member

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    Tired old saw that has absolutely no basis in fact. Firefights are about finishing (killing) the enemy, not giving him big owies.
     
  7. OhioChief

    OhioChief Member

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    I recall reading an article long ago, about the study of the Thompson sub-machine gun in WWII. It was very effective in close quarter combat. Ammo was cheap, light, could be fired at a high rate and still controlled, and deadly. part of that study was considered when looking at the .223 5.56 as the primary military round. It fell between the .30 cal and the .45 pistol round. Effective in urban / close quarter conditions, and yet accurate and deadly out to 300 yards with iron sights. The gun (to become the M16) would be lighter than the current military rifle, (and I think produced more cheaply). I'm sure there are a 1000 other reasons why it was chosen, but this was taken into consideration.
     
  8. Cee Zee

    Cee Zee member

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    The M16 really got going in the jungles of SE Asia. The enemy used the strategy of "grabbing the belt buckle" of the US soldier so we couldn't use our vastly superior artillery and air strike capability. And even though the enemy was close it was still hard to see them in the jungle. So the army started laying down suppressing fire where a whole lot of bullets were fired in a specific pattern instead of trying to aim at a specific target. Since a lot more ammo was needed for that style of fighting they used a lighter cartridge because soldiers could carry more of them. And that cartridge was the .223/5.56. Yes the army was already heading that direction because of the lessons learned fighting against the SKS in Korea especially. Smaller rounds were very effective in that war. So that was driving the move to smaller caliber rifles along with the success of certain smaller caliber rifles in WWII. But the success of the .223 round was apparent in Vietnam pretty quickly.

    Now in more open terrain soldiers are using more of the larger caliber rifles they used in WWII and also the nearly identical sized .308 NATO round. BTW the .223 was also a NATO round and the US wanted to adopt it but I doubt they would have done so if it wasn't working well in Vietnam.

    It was a jungle war which required more of a spray and pray type of warfare and the .223 round was perfect for that type of fighting. It was also accurate and powerful enough to work well at medium distances (like 500 yards) so it was a versatile round as far as jungle warfare went. The rest is history.

    Personally I think the 7.62 x 39 round was more effective but it was harder to control and besides, that was what the bad guys used. It would have been like giving Mauser rifles to all our troops in WWI. Over time the .223 was made a lot more effective especially in it's accuracy at longer distances. It's possible to shoot them accurately to 1000 yards and more. Just don't expect the bullets to do a lot of damage at that kind of distance.
     
  9. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    Tired old saw that has absolutely no basis in fact. Firefights are about finishing (killing) the enemy, not giving him big owies.
    __________________

    THAT'S what we did wrong in WW1 and WW2!!! We should have killed all of the enemy soldiers rather than accepting their surrender.
     
  10. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    As a combat vet, I can tell you that six gun is correct. The idea of wounding rather than killing your opponent is not U.S. military doctrine and a stupid idea at best. It has been reported that NVA had that doctrine. Maybe but I doubt it. Think about it. How are you going to shoot to wound at a guy shooting at you. Anybody that stupid probably did not live to tell about it. Believe what you want but in head to head battles the M-16 has proven overwhelming superior in body counts. As long as there are morons people will believe stuff like that. Not to be confused with the use of booby traps, mines and other tactics to injure, maim and also kill soldiers. That has a psychological component as well and one of the purposes was to tie up soldiers. That is separate and perhaps was that idea got civilians confused.
     
  11. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

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    Actually my dad was taught that in Officer Basic in 1969 or so. Lots of people have believed it for a while.
     
  12. MudPuppy

    MudPuppy Member

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    More speculation than anything, but those big ole' 303s and 8mms are much more than is needed for a fragile human.

    My "guess" is a lot of those were developed when the generals were "fighting the last war" of lined masses firing at each other. The extreme range would be of benefit. After WWII, as tactics evolved significantly, the usual combat range was identified to be around 300 yards/meters. A light, fast 556 is lethal to that (and a good bit more), as is a 7.62x39.

    I think it was simply a natural evolution of efficiency.

    but that's just my own ramblings and made up theories.
     
  13. dastardly-D

    dastardly-D Member

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    223

    Well D2wing.....As a combat vet myself and after reading your reply,you sure do talk like you know sooo much ! I never said the primary goal was to wound. How am I going to shoot to wound a guy that is shooting at me ? Wow but that took some deep thinking . ''In head to head battles the M-16 has proven overwhelming superior in body counts.'' Head to head was our superior marksmanship and fire supression. If you think the 223 is such a great round you haven't the expierience I had or our present military in the sandboxes ? The present troops talk about the opponents having to often take multiple hits to put them down. ''morons people will believe stuff like that.'' I'm trying to take you seriously but I'm having a tough time replying to you HighRoad ! I do remember,back in the day,being taught about the 223 taking enemy out of the fight by producing more casualties than outright kills.The 223 has it's advantages,but the 7.62 is a heavier hitter and penetrator.
     
  14. mberoose

    mberoose Member

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    This thread is strange.
     
  15. helotaxi

    helotaxi Member

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    The 5.56, not the .223, *is* a NATO round, but not by the choice of the rest of NATO. They'd just finished converting to the 7.62x51 that NATO had just adopted as its primary service rifle cartridge when we (the US) basically told them that we were going to adopt the 5.56 and they'd better go along with that as well. It was the choice that the US made and we crammed down NATO's throat.
     
  16. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    Dasterdly, my post is not about the 5.56 at all. It is the idea that we were supposed to shoot not to kill but wound. I would think you shot to kill not wound regardless of what you shot with. I am not aware of any intent to wound rather than kill. I don't dispute your opinion of rounds as my favorite was the M-60, I also shot the m-14. Some of my buddies hated the M-16. I never had a problem. But your point is well taken. I hope we are on the same side ok? I am saying I had no intention of shooting to wound. If you shot to wound rather than kill please explain.
     
  17. razorback2003

    razorback2003 Member

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    Pick up an M 1 Garand and an AR 15. Which one would you want to carry all day?
     
  18. jim243

    jim243 Member

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    The AR series of rifles was designed to be fired on full auto to KILL the enemy not wound him. If however, 20 or 30 bullets did not do the job, there were other weapons available to a squad to use like the hand granade, granade launcher, laws rocket launcher, M-60 machinegun or napalm from air support.

    The problem was not the rifle, but the ammo. FMJ tend to wound more than kill.

    Does that answer your question?

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  19. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    With 250,000 rounds for every insurgent killed in Iraq and Afghanistan I can see the case for having soldiers carry as much as ammo as possible.

    And my goal when in any firefight is to cause my opponet to quit fighting, regardless if they are dead, wounded or demoralized. Tying up as much of your enemies resources is a sound tactic.
     
  20. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    One thing to consider is that few of our enemies since WWII have had anything like the level of personnel and materiel investment in wound care and saving the lives of their wounded as we do. We have trauma centers in forward locations that can perform major surgeries of types that are unheard of in even the urban centers of some of our enemies' societies. We will have a seriously wounded soldier on an operating table in 15 minutes in many cases. The other guys? Not so much. Remember, living through this is not necessarily a primary desire for many of the current batch. So even if the "kill one, reduce the enemy by one, wound one and reduce the enemy by four" concept was doctrinal, it machs nicht on the battlefield we're on these days.

    Not only is this very true, but if you look at the development of military small arms through the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, there were a FEW folks who "got it." 7mm Mauser, 6mm Lee-Navy, .280 Ross, the various 6.5mms, .276 Pedersen, .280 British, and probably others were fielded as more efficient alternatives to the heavies in current favor at the time. But militaries tend to be very conservative and the "bigger is better" concept reigned for many decades. It was almost amazing that anyone had the courage and drive to push the "tiny" 5.56mm into military standard use. And now we may claim they went a little too far with that, but it WAS and IS a better answer to the realities of war fighting as we do it now than the big 8mm, .30-'06, .303 Brit, and so forth.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  21. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    It is true that strategy depends on the values of your opponents.

    The wounding of our soldiers is certainly a effective strategy as it ties up resources to evacuate and treat the wounded. I would think it would be demoralizing to see your friends maimed for life by a enemy you can't see.

    But my point remains the key to winning is causing the enemy losing their will to fight through a variety of tactics. It certainly is working well for our enemies.
     
  22. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't whether folks just don't know about a doctrine for battle, or don't consider such a thing in these discussions.

    Somewhen between Korea and Vietnam, the issue of number of rounds which could be carried by a grunt entered the picture of changes in tactical doctrine due to improvements in communications.

    The tactical doctrine which came about was that the infantryman should be able to control his environment to some 200 meters while calling in his primary support weapons of artillery or airstrike. In essence, his radio became the actual primary weapon.

    Having more ammo meant a longer period of time with which to maintain control of the combat environment while waiting for artillery or air strikes.
     
  23. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Well, look at it this way.

    Open field warfare was practiced up until the turn of the last century. Then the advent of the machinegun changed that. This caused a "standoff distance" as masses of troops in the open would get slaughtered. Which led to trench warfare.

    Flat shooting single shot rifles capable of penetrating as much mass as possible were still the norm at this point, even though there were machineguns in play. Why" Machineguns were defensive weapons at the time; very heavy, not portable, surely couldn't assault a position with them. So bolt action repeating arms were the predominant form of weaponry for offense, machineguns for defense. Artillery was for attrition and sometimes, point-blank defense.

    Tanks changed that. Made the trenches obsolete. Now one side could run over the troops of the other side and get to those gun emplacements behind them. Now war became mobile.

    So now we enter the WWII era of combined arms. Now the individual soldier has to coordinate his movements with artillery, armor, aircraft, and sometimes naval power to accomplish the same goals. War transitioned to a very orchestrated event, like a giant symphony of big guns and mobile pieces. The concept of a "big heavy gun" started changing - World War II had a WIDE variety of infantry weapons in use, from little 9mm submachineguns clear through to 12.7mm heavy machineguns on carriages pulled by mules or men. (Try collecting all of them, it's ... challenging.)

    Still, by and large, the SCALE of the fighting in World War II was "throw masses of man and machine against the other guy." From the beaches of Tarawa to the shores of Normandy to the battle for Bastogne...

    Mowing down masses of troops was still happening clear through Korea in the human wave attacks. 30-06 and 308 were still good cartridges to have when the ranges were long or you had 3 or 4 targets lined up.

    Then we get to Vietnam. BOY did the face of war change there!

    Now we have these little guys executing small ambushes in thick foliage, TONS of small unit maneuvers, close engagements, hot temperatures where loads cause troop fatigue (we learned a lot about hydration discipline there), PLUS a supply line that stretched 8,500 miles... and the all important advent of Airmobile warfare where troops get dropped off OUTSIDE of supply in hostile territory with instructions to find and kill the enemy.

    With airmobile war, the advantages of having 2-3x the ammo loadout, with lighter, more compact rifles, with the same weight and fatigue levels on the troops were a necessity.

    Fast forward today; we aren't fighting fixed battles. The day and age of the "orchestra" has changed with advents in surveillance technology and smart weapons. Our troops act more like human probes - small unit moves which recon until they find an enemy (primarily by drawing enemy fire). Then they either maneuver to pin the enemy or fight a defensive battle until the rain starts from the A10's or other airborne gun platforms.

    Infantry needs now are essentially to maintain enough volume of fire to keep the enemy pinned in place until something bigger shows up to pound them in to the ground. So high volumes of fire are called for (with some designated marksman to pick off any serious threats), which means our troops still need to carry a lot of ammo. The lighter, the better. They need to deny the enemy MOVEMENT so they can be destroyed through other means.

    How will war evolve from here? Small unit, high intensity ambushes seem to be the norm now, followed by rapid escape and evasion before the big guns can be brought in demolish the position. Hit & run.

    223 fits in, still. High volume, light weight.
     
  24. dastardly-D

    dastardly-D Member

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    .223/5.56

    Trent....I agree with your asessment of evolving warfare.Right on !
    D2 wing....Maybe I took it wrong,but your remarks to me burned under my normaly thick skin. Right,we shot to kill,but a bullet like the 556/223 produced many more wounds than outright kills.I saw one POW camp near Da Nang that consisted of nothing but amputees. The 556 sure does something to bones,but mostly it was a wounder.Same as going on right now,it generally doesn't do as many one shot kills as the M1 ,M14 or M60 ! Which is mostly my point,that part of it's design was to be easier to make more casualties than outright kills.Also like a lot of the other guys said,lighter bullet,lighter firearm,carry many more bullets,more chance of a hit,and an advantage of surpressing fire.....but it wasn't invented to be an all out super killing machine.The super killing machines were arty and air power..
     
  25. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    Project SALVO was an Army study designed to create the next generation of shoulder arms with increased lethality compared to the weapons in service at the time (mid 1950's). NATO at the time was attempting to standardize on a new service rifle and round. The predominant choice was the .280 British IRC for the new service cartridge, but the US was adamant that we wouldn't use anything that didn't AT LEAST ballistically match the old .30-06. The US developed the T-65 cartridge (what we now know as 7.62 NATO) specifically to be a cartridge that dimensionally was smaller and lighter then the .30-06 but had the same ballistics. We ram rod'ed that down NATO's throats, an in exchange we would accept the FAL as the new standard NATO rifle, we'll we went to the M14, but at least had ammunition interchangeability.

    Project SALVO's finding was that there was no correlation between lethality/combat effectiveness with round weight, velocity, etc. What actually mattered was the amount of projectiles in the air aimed at the target. Several suggestions arose from this including: rifles that fired multiple projectiles per shell, long range shotgun like weapons, and weapons that fired super fast bursts of projectiles with each pull of the trigger. The M14 was required to be fully automatic due to the findings of Project SALVO, even though it was considered by most to be completely useless in that roll.

    The M16 stepped into a procurement gap that existed in the US Air Force. They were in need of a rifle to arm their flight line security forces as the M1 carbine was being phased out. Gen. LeMay viewed a demonstration of the M16 platform, and attempted to purchase them for the Air Force. The Army threw a fit of course and halted the purchase. Several samples were sent to Vietnam, followed soon by closes to a thousand rifles for testing. McNamara finally stopped the production of the M14, and elected to go with the M16 due to the fact it could function for all services.

    So in short the M16 was selected due to political wrangling, just like the M14 was selected due to political wrangling. The M1 Garand was almost knocked out of the running due to politics, and so on back to the dawn of the US arms procurement industry.

    The 5.56 cartridge was never designed to be a "casualty producing round" any more then it was designed to be a "killing round." It was chosen because it was light weight and put a lot of rounds into the air quickly. 7.62 NATO was selected because it was similar to .30-06. .30-06 was selected because we felt our machine guns were lacking in indirect fire range with the .30-03, etc. The lethality of a rifle cartridge has NEVER been the deciding factor in ammunition selection or weapon procurement.

    Until the movement to the intermediate cartridges post WW2, there was no question that ANY rifle cartridge from ANY countries service rifle was more then enough round for the job. By the time the switch to intermediate cartridges began, the rifle was no longer the primary killing weapon of the US Army. CAS, artillery, etc was no used to destroy the enemy in concept.

    -Jenrick
     
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