Calibers for Beginners: .223 Remington/5.56mm NATO

There are only a few things that confuse the novice more than rifles that chamber the .223 Remington/5.56mm NATO round. The fake news media describes the AR-15 as a big, scary gun that fires 100%-all-the-time-lethal ammunition at a rate of fifteen rounds a second.

In reality, the .223/5.56 (more on that small difference later) isn’t a particularly powerful cartridge relative to other rifles. And the AR-15 is far less exciting than they would have you believe, with most people able to fire only a handful of well-aimed shots in a minute. So what is it that the beginner should know about the .223 Remington caliber?

The first thing is the difference between .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition. To keep it simple, the 5.56mm is essentially just a different type of chamber profile as compared to ‘civilian’ .223, but the two can pretty much be used interchangeably. There are minute differences in the throat (the space in the bore where the chamber ends and the rifling starts) where wear may be accelerated if one uses higher-pressure 5.56 ammo in a .223 chamber, but that isn’t a big deal. In fact, I doubt that most, if any, shooters would ever be able to tell a difference.

To further confound things, there are hybrid chamberings like .223 Wylde and other match calibers that are dimensionally different from each other, but still fundamentally interchangeable. What you need to know is that yes, they are basically the same, but 5.56mm is slightly higher pressure in a factory loading. Handloaders can play with pressure and powder type, which negates most concerns over .223/5.56mm because it is flexible.

So, on to the fun stuff. As you can imagine, with AR platform guns the most popular rifles in the US, .223 is probably the most popular single rifle cartridge. It has many great benefits which include:

  • Low cost of entry. AR-15 rifles, which are hands-down the most popular guns chambered for .223, can be had for $500, or sometimes less these days.
  • Ammunition cost is low and products are plentiful. A quick look at my media resource book revealed that there are literally hundreds of available factory options and thousands of load data combinations for handloads.
  • The general use .223 cartridge, let’s say a 55gr FMJ or match bullet, displays great ballistics, low cost, and allows the novice shooter to enjoy a day shooting anything from 3-Gun to 500-yard plinking.
  • The .223, especially in an AR rifle, has very little recoil and allows a new shooter to fire a full-power rifle with little discomfort or fear.
  • Low ammunition weight means that a shooter can carry more of it and sweat less on long match days and hunting trips.

As you can probably imagine, there are many myths surrounding the .223. Lots of “alternative facts” are being thrown around, so I will make it simple for the newbie:

  • The .223 is not a very powerful round. The media love to throw around words like ‘high-caliber’ and ‘high power’, but both of these are just plain incorrect. The .223 is a small caliber in most respects and is what most people consider a varmint cartridge. In fact a majority of serious hunters, myself included, don’t even like it for deer and recommend against it if there are better options available. The .223 is best put to use on coyote, groundhogs, and other pests.
  • By direct comparison to other common cartridges, the .223 isn’t especially great at what it’s supposed to do. In fact, there are many cartridges that fully outperform the .223 while remaining in a similar size envelope. The fake news media would have you believe that the .223 is capable of blowing people in half at a distance of a mile, but that’s utterly false.
  • The .223 (and the AR-15 rifles that fire them) are not ‘weapons of war’. Both the cartridge and the rifle are very popular for hunting and home defense use. The .223 is a common caliber for bolt action and single-shot rifles in addition to semi-autos.

There are, of course, many other instances where the vilification of the cartridge, and by default the popular AR rifles that fire it, reached peak disinformation, but we don’t need to go into that any further.

Today’s discerning shooter has their pick of ammo that will do well for them and a massive number of rifles that can fire it. Among the very best ammo out there are:

  • Hornady makes everything from 35gr Superformance NTX Varmint to 75gr BTHP Match and it all rocks. Of particular note are their new 73gr FTX Critical Defense and 55gr FMJ M193 Frontier loads, which respectively offer state of the art self defense capability and military-grade range performance.
  • SIG SAUER has recently released several great .223 loads that include both match-grade and hunting options.
  • Military ammo can be purchased in bulk for relatively low cost, including M855 steel-core and M193 ball from a number of sources.
  • Black Hill Ammunition offers over thirty different .223 and 5.56mm types including new and remanufactured at various price points.
  • Honestly this list could go on and on and on. There are so many types of ammo available from so many different places that I would never be able to list them all. Remington, Winchester, Federal, Silver, Brown, and Golden Bear, PMC, Wolf, Fiocchi, PPU, Freedom Munitions, Nosler, and HSM all make various .223 and 5.56mm loads.

As far as guns to consider for the .223/5.56mm rifles, you may want to take a look at the following systems:

  • The AR-15, of course. Yes, I had to group them all together because there are so damn many. This rifle offers near-insane levels of modularity and limitless customization ability. It’s the most popular rifle type in America today and can be had in almost any configuration from the factory. Some great makers of AR rifles include: Daniel Defense, SIG SAUER, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Aero Precision, CMMG, LMT, LWRC, Noveske Rifleworks, PSA, and Wilson Combat. And that list just scratches the surface.
  • The SIG SAUER MCX. In addition to their AR-15 rifles, SIG makes an entirely unique rifle called the MCX. I have had the pleasure of using these rifles several times and I very much enjoyed their handling characteristics and very low recoil impulse.
  • Ruger Mini-14. This rifle looks something like a shrunken military M14 and operates in almost the same way. This rifle has ‘classic’ lines and typically features a wooden stock and integral iron sights.
  • Remington 700 and other bolt action rifles: There are many hunters and target shooters that use the .223 for small to medium game and mid to long range target shooting. Bolt actions offer better control of fired brass and allow the use of accuracy-enhancing reloading techniques like neck sizing and longer-than-standard bullet seating depths.
  • IWI Tavor and X95. These are Israeli-designed bullpup rifles, meaning their magazines load behind the grip. This allows for a very compact overall length, typically about 26 inches, even with a full 16-inch barrel, so you lose nothing in terms of speed going with a shorter gun.

So there you have it. The .223/5.56 is a huge topic with too many facets to cover in detail here. There are lots and lots of options available and I barely scratched the surface with this article.

If you’re considering a good rifle round for general use, the .223/5.56 is a great choice that tends to grow with you as you mature as a rifle shooter. An entry level AR shooter can develop into anything ranging from a skilled varmint hunter, a high-speed 3-Gunner, or a disciplined National Match service rifle competitor. There’s hardly a branch of the shooting sports that some version of the .223/5.56 doesn’t shine at.

comments

  1. avatar Kevin says:

    Great article, sir! Very well written.

    I have a question about the .223 Wylde chambering. I understand its advantages, but does it have any disadvantages? Thank you in advance.

    1. avatar Rincoln says:

      From my understanding (I have .223REM, 5.56mm, and 223 WYLDE barrels) the Wylde is a good average between a standard .223REM chamber and the 5.56NATO chamber. It is capable of handling the higher pressures of the NATO cartridge, but only occasionally. It should not be used with 5.56 consistently or exclusively. Since the chamber has a longer throat or free-bore, it is not as accurate as a .223REM or match chamber where a handloader can load the bullet near or into the lands (where the rifling starts). The bullet “jumps” through empty space before contacting the barrel and it’s rifling. Depending on who you ask, and upon which components used, the distance of this jump affects accuracy. Some handloaders load directly into the lands, and some prefer a small jump. What does make a difference is that the length of the jump changes the pressure curve of the cartidge. .223REM has a short jump and thus is loaded lighter, and 5.56NATO has a longer jump–which cuts pressure–and is thusly loaded hotter.

      So, in a Wylde chamber, if you are a handloader and your rifle is magazine fed, you may have difficulty loading the bullet into the lands before you reach the maximum length of the magazine.

      1. avatar Kevin says:

        Thank you very much. Everything is a compromise, it seems. 😉

      2. avatar Bcb says:

        Pretry much all right except you can indeed shoot 5.56 in it all day every day. Also it’s still easier to get on the lands as compared to 5.56. I have one and I recommend it. I handload however and want another in a tight 223 chamber. Still a fast twist of course.

        I’d have built mine in just normal 223 if it wasn’t for wanting the option to shoot factory rounds in 5.56.

      3. avatar Matt says:

        No, you can shoot 5.56 in a .223 wylde chamber all day long. Heck, you can do it in a .223 chamber also. The issue comes in if you have a .223 chamber that is below SAAMI spec on throat length. I forget the exact measurements, but the difference is 5.56 is .02″ longer than .223 and .223 wylde is .01″ longer than .223 (it might be thousandths, not hundredths).

        If things are all in spec, all you end up with is slightly higher pressure running 5.56 in .223. SAAMI spec requires over pressure load testing. I don’t recall what .223 and 5.56 are, but you are generally talking around 5 shots over pressure working up to a peak of something like 50% over pressure (so like 100,000psi). And not fail.

        What you would encounter is possibly higher erosion and bolt lug wear. But, there are plenty of .223 loadings that produce more pressure than 5.56 loadings.

        I personally would not run a steady diet of 5.56 in a .223 rifle, but it is going to generally be safe unless you’ve got one of those 1 in 10,000 or whatever that is out of spec. Even then, it would have to not head space to blow up. What you may have it is shears a bolt lug after 500 rounds or similar.

        .223 wylde is going to be just fine unless that is also WAY out of spec. Because of the longer throat you are better off with a 5.56 chamber as that allows you to load longer (longer throat and also longer free bore). But most precision match cartridges are in .223, not in 5.56. The extra chamber of 5.56 is going to lead to fractionally lower accuracy with .223 loadings. Enter .223 wylde as a compromise between them.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I’ve not found one.

  2. avatar Southern Cross says:

    Probably the best introduction cartridge for centerfire shooting. This will be the next step up for my son from air-rifle and rimfire. Low recoil. Flat trajectory. Also good for introducing people to reloading as there are a good range of bullet weights (depending on barrel pitch) and it consumes a large range of fast to medium powders in modest quantities (about half that of most full-size centerfire cartridges).

  3. avatar Mystickal says:

    “wear may be accelerated if one uses higher-pressure 5.56 ammo in a .223 chamber, but that isn’t a big deal.”

    I don’t know if that’s a good statement to make in a ‘Calibers for Beginners” article, especially when SAAMI states specifically to not use 5.56mm cartridges in a firearm chambered for 223 Remington.

    1. avatar That Jason says:

      https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/5-56-vs-223/

      Standards and implementations…

  4. avatar RA-15 says:

    I wouldn’t suggest using 5.56 in a rifle chambered for 223. While you may use 223 in a rifle chambered for 5.56 , the opposite is not recommended.

  5. avatar Nanashi says:

    “Low cost of entry. AR-15 rifles, which are hands-down the most popular guns chambered for .223, can be had for $500, or sometimes less these days.”

    I’m pretty sure AR-15 is the most popular gun period in the US. 7.62×39 is probably the only caliber it supports where it’s not the most popular (as long as we’re only counting pistol caliber carbines and not pistols for pistol calibers anyways).

    “Ruger Mini-14. This rifle looks something like a shrunken military M14 and operates in almost the same way. This rifle has ‘classic’ lines and typically features a wooden stock and integral iron sights.”

    This brings me to something you didn’t cover and should have: 5.56’s accuracy and reasonable range (more than most can do without magnified optics). It’s probably worth noting the Mini-14 will never be able to utilize it and adding accuracy to the list of praise of the AR-15.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      The Mini-14 is a 2 MOA rifle just like most ARs in the same price range. You can mount a rail or a scope on the Mini. I mounted a rail on mine. It’s no big deal.

      1. avatar Nanashi says:

        You’d really have to waste your money to spend $700 on an AR for it to shoot more than 2 MoA. Mr. GunsNGear got better than that out of an M&P15 (that costs 200 bucks less) with steel case Wolf and sub-MoA with match ammo.

        1. avatar tdiinva says:

          That’s not what TFB-TV shows but I guess James is a lousy shot. /S

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          But did it have a wood st ock and 18.5″ bar rel?

          The Mini is capable of shoo ting under 2moa and there are accuracy improvements that can be made, but as a combat weapon what difference would 1moa vs 2moa make when the car tridge is woefully under powered at 300 yards? If anything I’d probably prefer the extra velocity from the longer ba rrel.

        3. avatar binder says:

          tdiinva;

          A LOT of it has to do with the ammo the gun likes, it is real voodoo to figure that out, but even a “cheep” AR can be inherently accurate, with a very light gas tube and being easily free floated, they are just inherently accurate. I have shot old 5R MP-15 Sports that were true 1 MOA guns with the right loads.

    2. avatar Dave Lewis says:

      Its very funny to note that the Mini 14 is under the radar of most anti gunners. 5.56mm rounds out of an AR are evil because the rifle looks so scary. The very same round out of a traditional looking steel and wood Ruger Mini doesn’t upset people. I’ve owned a Mini 30 since way before the old assault weapons ban and I rarely see any discussion of the supposed dangers of either rifle. I’ll grant that my 7.62×39 Mini 30 isn’t terribly accurate but I understand that the newer 5.56 versions shoot pretty straight. I bought my Mini as a light weight short range deer rifle. 120 grain bullets do okay at ranges around 100 yards and the rifle is fun to shoot and functions well even with the steel case Russian garbage ammo. My only gripe is that Ruger insisted on proprietary and expensive magazines (and I guess that’s still the case). A Mini that takes AR-15 (Mini 14) or AK-47 (Mini 30) magazines would be a great rifle.

      1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

        In the ’80s there was a shooting at a Publix in Palm Bay, Fl, the Platt/Maddox/FBI shootout, and one, or two others that don’t come to mind. A hue and cry went up across the land. “Ban the Mini-14!” Same ‘ol shit. Different day. Different rifle.

        1. avatar Nanashi says:

          It was also the weapon used by the rifleman in the FBI Miami shootout.

      2. avatar FlamencoD says:

        That probably has more to do with popularity – how many Mini-14s are there compared to AR-15s? A small percentage.

        1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

          Not in those days. You could walk into any gun store and buy rifles superior to any you find today at reasonable prices. AR-15s and Mini-14s were considered the low end of military style rifles in those days. Those were the really good old days. HKs’ FNs, Galils, etc. All the “black rifles” you can imagine. I used to own a FN-PARA FAL and a Beretta BM-62. If anyone knows where I could buy either at a reasonable price I’d like to know. Or a BM-59.

        2. avatar Toni says:

          oh it would be major league drool worthy these days in australia….. any of those. hell even a mini 14 or a ruger 10/22 is these days in this country. most shooters would give their eye teeth to be able to get them back. the fudds on the other hand are happy plinking with their bolt actions with no more than 5 shots….. some even single shots. the rest of us want them all

        3. avatar FlamencoD says:

          I was referring to these days, not back in those days.

  6. avatar jwtaylor says:

    As some folks above have mentioned, there in fact is a small danger in shooting 5.56NATO rounds in some rifles chambered specifically for the .223 Remington cartridge.
    Several reloading manuals mention this.
    However, any rifle made in the last 40 years and chambered for the .223 Remington will almost certainly be safe to shoot 5.56NATO rounds through. That said, if your barrel is marked .223 Remington Only, consult the manufacturer prior to firing the 5.56NATO cartridge through it. There’s no cost in doing so, and it is worth the teeny tiny risk, as well as your peace of mind.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Another aspect, as I understand it, cham ber pressures can vary significantly between am mo out on a hunt in 10 degree weather and am mo that’s been sitting in the summer sun for a while. What might be safe in the cold could be dangerous in the heat.

  7. avatar Paul McMichael says:

    Wait, you made one glaring mistake. After the Parkland shooting I read comments by one of experts advocating the banning of “assault rifles.” She said that hunters don’t use AR-15s to deer hunt because the cartridge it fires is so powerful it destroys all the meat. A heart shot? Throw away the hams! I suggest, sir, that you review your research.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      In case any beginners are reading this comment, Paul McMichael is being VERY sarcastic.

      1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

        Uncommon_Sense, of course I’m being sarcastic. Sorry, it’s hardwired into me. Only killed one deer with a .223 at, oh, 150 yards, or so. Neck shot. Dropped in its tracks. All the venison processed. And very fine it was.

    2. avatar Dave in PTC says:

      I have witnessed this phenomena. After destroying the deer into a pink mist, the bullet continued into the next county and went through a brick building and eventually was stopped by Dodge pick-up where the round busted into the engine that was shattered into what looked like a pile of metal shards. True story.

      1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

        I believe that.

        1. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

          Clive Lewis has said on Ground Zero that the bullet is now safely contained in a bunker in Area 51.

        2. avatar Dave in PTC says:

          Uhhhh.. I’m a little worried about you guys.

    3. avatar John in AK says:

      It isn’t just that the mighty .223 Remington is too powerful to use on deer, blowing them into tiny bits as it does; It’s also that those incendiary-tipped bullets overcook the meat, making it dry and stringy.

      1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

        And they are heat-seeking (at least according to a certain very knowledgeable NY assemblywoman)…

        1. avatar Iillinois_Minion says:

          Is that when used in fully automatic, high capacity magazines?

          http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2018/05/john-boch/those-high-capacity-magazines-that-turn-regular-firearms-into-fully-automatic-weapons/

          With or without the shoulder thing that goes up and down?

  8. avatar beefeater says:

    What, no mention of the tumbling bullet BS that anti-gun people like to bring up?

    1. avatar Dave Lewis says:

      Lots of people heard the tumbling bullet BS in boot camp so its become a part of our national mythology – sort of like the M1 clip “ping”.

      1. avatar New Continental Army says:

        Huh? Last m1 I shot I heard a “ping”. It’s certainly not as loud as in the movies but it’s definetly noticeable.

        1. avatar Anymouse says:

          Yes, it’s noticeable to the shooter, but it’s not loud enough for the enemy to hear during combat and take advantage of, or for a soldier to simulate by throwing an empty clip to draw the enemy out of cover.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Armies started contriving tumbling bullets just about as soon as expanding bullets were banned at the Hague. The British used lighter materials in the nose of their .303 rou nds – first aluminum and later cellulose and plastic – so that the bul let would destabilize on impact and tumble. Most any FMJ will tumble if the velocity on impact is high enough, although it will take several inches of penetration to begin tumbling, whereas expanding bu llets will fully expand within an inch or so and at much lower velocities.

      1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

        Not to pick nits, but the proper term is yaw, not tumbling. (Did a presentation on it at the academy in an advanced class.) It does occur. Contact with bone can facilitate this event. Also, bullets (FMJ) tend to separate along the cannilure when upset resulting in multiple projectiles. However, this myth was being perpetrated when I was in basic training. We were told that if an enemy was hit in the foot it could exit his chest. I called bullshit that night in the barracks. Many of my fellow recruits cried foul. “He’s an E-6 Range Officer! What makes you think you know so much?” I said, “I just like guns and have studied them a lot.” I was the ripe old age of 21 at the time. lol A few weeks later we were on the M-60 machine gun range. Got to watch a range NCO shoot himself through the hand. With an M-60! A task not easily accomplished. That night in the barracks I asked my fellow recruits, “Still think they know so much?” The crickets chirped.

        1. avatar New Continental Army says:

          The foot to chest thing, I remember that line. From what I’ve read it came from a real life incident in the Ia Drang valley, but it was a crazy ricochet, not the norm for a round. Supposedly a 7.62×39 round hit a dude in the ankle and the bullet ricochet’d upwards into his chest. But the story then grew into something that it wasn’t, as most lore does.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Nit appropriately picked.

          If the object is to kill your targ et as quickly and humanely as possible (game) you go with an expanding bu llet. The Hague Convention was to ensure that the European despots’ conscripts had a fighting chance to survive their wounds. But if a .303 bul let yaws inside your flesh and breaks in two, dumping 2000+ft/lbs of energy into your chest it’s not going to matter weather the bull et expanded or yawed and broke in half. But expanding bul lets are a much more reliable way to dump as much energy as possible before exiting.

          An interesting side note, the British kept their army professional until starting conscription in January 1916. Soldiers were expected to hit a 12″ tar get 15 times per minute at 300 yards. Imagine being the German soldier trying to cross no man’s land with thousands of those professional soldiers on the other side.

          Hand injuries are by far the most fiery pain a human can experience.

        3. avatar neiowa says:

          That is a blast from the past. How about “it’s against the Geneva/Hague Convention to shoot the .50cal at personnel, but it’s OK to shoot equipment. So aim at their web gear”.

          The “caliber” of the Army Inf E-6 in the 1980s, on average, was pretty mediocre. The fallout from Vietnam was still significant. But they were pretty well trained up for real/large scale mechanized war (as Chicom/Russian).

        4. avatar Lazerbeam says:

          For what it’s worth, I was a patient in the 24th Evac Hospital in Long Binh, Vietnam and was chatting with one of the doctors one day. Before his entry into the Army he had been an ER Doc. He mentioned that he’d much rather treat a gunshot by .30 anything caliber (read .32, .38, and I’m assuming 7.62 etc) than a .22. He explained that with the larger caliber there was a more clearly defined wound track. But, with the .22 that little sucker would hit a bone and go off in whatever direction, the wound track being hard to follow, maybe even hiding behind a rib which made it hard to pick up on X-rays. He said it could be quite the challenge. After reading all of these comments that particular conversation, and after not having thought of it in, like 47 or 48 years, popped back into my mind. Just thought I’d share it.

  9. avatar William Ward says:

    Shut up about the fake media and crap. If I wanted a political rant I would read/watch MSNBC or Fox. By the way, you are part of the media, dude.

    1. avatar New Continental Army says:

      Why? He’s right.

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      Chill out, man.

    3. avatar Nigel the expat says:

      Well, if you want no politics, you might try TFB and save a few points of blood pressure…

  10. avatar Harley says:

    I really don’t know about all these “caibers for beginners” articles.
    I guess it may to do with upbringing and location. My beginner shotgun was an 8 gauge, at 12. At 13 it was a 30-30, 30-06 and 308 rifles. At 15 it was a 44 mag pistol. Now almost 50 years later and still have them and makes everything else I have feel like toys.

    First time to drive, 1959 Autocar triple stick, at 13. First motorcycle, 250 Suzuki, at 8. Yeah, pop held it up at first until I got going and mastered shortly afterward. Bought my first car at 14 and rebuilt it in time for my license at 15.

    My dad and my uncle didn’t screw around. Go big or stay home. Do it right the first time or don’t bother. I have used that teaching and training all my life. In doing so I became very successful in my vocation for over 40 years. A teaching I passed down to all 4 of my kids and each is very successful in their own fields. More importantly, if not the most important of, is each one of them is not afraid at all in taking on anything.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      8 gauge? Methinks not. A 10 gauge is said to be 50% more powerful than the common 12 gauge.

      Here’s a clue. The gauge of a shotgun is determined by how many bore sized lead balls will make ONE POUND. This is why the smaller the bore the bigger the number.

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        The eight bore was a black powder shotgun or smooth rifle. Its loading could be wildly variable. All the way from the energy of about a 16 gauge to up two more than twice that of the stoutest 45-70s.
        Given that variability, and the gun’s usual weight, It is completely possible that a child could shoot it. It is also likely that the child did not understand he was shooting a dramatically reduced load.

        1. avatar Harley says:

          This child only knew 1 thing pulling the trigger on that cannon. BOOM-SPLAT! It went boom and my ass went splat. Every. Single. Time.

        2. avatar Harley says:

          This is not a black powder gun. It uses cartridges and have an old wooden box full of them. Made in the early 60s, I am not sure I would trust them to be fired. Unlike brass, aluminum and steel shell that are seal around the primer and projectile these are wax paper rolled shells of long ago. Is the primer still good? Or the powder? Over pressure or a fizzle. Either way its a functional shotgun with questionable ammo and a great conversational piece.

  11. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Harley,

    Many people are not like you and “softer” calibers are the order of the day.

    1. avatar Harley says:

      I realize that many people are not like me as I am not like many people. I dont think I am anymore special the next person. However I do FIRMLY believe that most people contain a vast untapped potential that just needs to be coaxed forward.

      My post was not to be self aggrandizing. My post was meant to show, I guess in my own way, if I can do it you can too. I am a nobody, not special or anything of the sort. Nope not at all. Just reach into yourself pull out that potential and go for. Don’t be coddled, dont coddle others. Just go for it.

      You just might be surprised.

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    It’s amazes me that a select fire military M4 or M16 was (and still is) a “Poodle Shooter,” but the defanged semi-auto AR-15 is a “weapon of war.”

    1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

      Ralph, you’ve read Cooper.

    2. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

      Except when it’s in a police cruiser. Then it is not a ‘weapon of war’ or an ‘assault rifle’. Then it’s a ‘patrol rifle’.

      Some folks couldn’t buy a clue with a million bucks in small, unmarked bills.

      1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

        Gun Free, you are absolutely right! Before I retired it was a patrol rifle. Now I guess I own a few “weapons of war.” The problem is we let the opposition define the terms of the debate. Let’s end this!

  13. avatar New Continental Army says:

    This article is pretty good. I thought it was much better than some of the other ones in this series. Not that I’m claiming to be the ultimate authority on gun articles or anything, but I just felt this article was a solid improvement. I think spending most of the article space talking about the actual round this time, and not a competing round, helps a lot.

  14. avatar Toni says:

    the anti’s are lying their asses off to instill fear in people. .223 is a piss-weak round that while it may be effective out to about 400 yards for hunting vermin species like coyotes, dingoes, kangaroo, rabbits, prairie dogs etc etc and at those longer ranges (200-400yards) you ideally would want to be hand-loading. same goes for target shooting though i have heard of guys using it out to 1000 yards on paper but there you are not trying to effect a one shot kill and it can at that range be quite a challenge to wring accuracy out of it. .22-250 is better for longer ranges out past 400 yards while still using the same size pill and pro roo shooters commonly use it here to take head shots out to max 800 yards and that is the better shooters. 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser is another good round that is very accurate and with a little more knock down power and is also popular with pro roo shooters. for wild pigs i personally would not like to go much smaller than .30 cal and the same for our water buffalo. in saying all that though if needed and IF you can place the shot in one of 2 spots right behind the ears (1 behind each ear) where the skin on a water buff is at its thinnest and get the right angle then you can take down a water buff with a .22lr. damned if i would want to try it though and i know the angles and the right spot 🙂

    1. avatar FlamencoD says:

      I know .223 Remington is not considered a powerful rifle round, but 1,200-1,300 ft lbs of energy is not piss weak. That’s twice as much energy as a stout .357 mag out of a 4″ barrel. I’ve never heard of anyone calling .357 mag piss weak.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        Word. A standard 55 grain .223 round will blow one gallon water jugs to bits and has the ability to penetrate IIIA body armor. The .44 Mag from a handgun generates less energy (or roughly the same with hot loads) and can’t cut through all that Kevlar (or Spectra).

        Granted, 6.5, 6.8, .308, .30-06, .300 Win Mag and the like will zip through IIIA as well, but cost and weigh much more. Want to acquire and store 10 K plus rounds of decent 5.56? Thats roughly 3 grand and 300 pounds. Want that much in a bigger round? Better have deep pockets and strong shelves.

  15. avatar Mork says:

    I was going to read this and gain knowledge but then i read the term “fake news” at the top of your article and decided to go no further, like i tend to do when someone seriously uses the term “sheeple.” Have fun!

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      You need to get out more if you don’t understand the existence of “fake news”

  16. avatar fteter says:

    Bought a budget rifle in .223 Rem last year: Savage Axis II XP. Fun round in a fun rifle. My use is mostly target shooting out to 400 yards and varmint hunting. I’ve really fallen in love with the combo…probably one of my favorite rifles at the moment. But I suspect I’ll be losing the rifle to one of the kids soon, as it’s a logical next step from .22LR.

    On a side note: I was taught that a rifle chambered in 5.56 NATO was good for both 5.56 and .223 Rem. But probably not a good idea to run 5.56 NATO through a rifle chambered for .223. Makes sense, but I wonder after reading this.

    1. avatar Toni says:

      a lot of the military stuff (5.56) has thicker walls which means less case volume for the expanding gasses. this is also part of the reason for the higher pressures

    2. avatar former water walker says:

      Hey they have a 223 Savage Axis at my LGS. Cheap enough at 299. I may have to pick it up…

      1. avatar Timothy says:

        I haven’t seen the need for a bolt action .223 rifle. But I have a Savage Axis II in .308 and outside of the magazine not seating properly, I have no complaints. The rifle has been a fantastic value.

  17. avatar Warlocc says:

    What, no mention of how the 9mm is superior to whatever caliber you’re reviewing?

    I thought this was the “Calibers for Beginners” series!

  18. avatar James in AZ says:

    Look, maybe my googlefu is too poor, but for anyone saying that using 556 in 223 chamber is dangerous, I challenge you to find ONE case of a blown-up gun (either blown case or blown chamber), that is entirely due to using FACTORY 556 loads (not friend-of-a-friend reloads) in a HEALTHY (bubba hasn’t fucked with it) gun, when the barrel was clear of obstruction.

    I’m not holding my breath. I know what SAAMI says, but I ain’t buying it.

    But hey, for the lawyers out there, don’t use 556 in 223. LOL

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      Pressure differences between .223/5.56 and 9×19/9mm NATO shouldn’t be ignored, just as normal vs. +P or black powder vs. smokeless shotgun shells shpuldn’t. Most modern guns can handle both, but some can’t. For a “beginners” article, it’s irresponsible to not mention potential safety issues to a novice, no matter how infrequent. The omission also makes more experienced readers question the qualifications of the author and bias them against directing newbies to it.

    2. avatar Big Bill says:

      SAAMI is a standards organization, and as such is dogmatic. If they were to hedge their language and say something like, “You can shoot 5.56 NATO ammo out of a .223-only rifle, but it’s really nor recommended,” they would be sued to high heaven if someone did that and injured themselves, for whatever reason, even if the 5.56 wasn’t t he actual cause.
      You should also use only the brand, model and size of tires that were original equipment on your car. And only the brand and viscosity of oil they recommend.
      This is what those who set standards do. Does that mean I recommend ignoring standards? Of course not. Does it mean I kept Firestones on my Explorer? Of course not.

  19. avatar Wally1 says:

    Good article, thanks to the writer for the information. 5.56 &.223 are fun to shoot and good for pests, rats, groundhogs, coyotes, but many states Fish and Wildlife departments do not allow this caliber to be used for larger game (deer, etc) as it does not produce sufficient energy for a clean kill. As a military round, it does as intended, designed to wound, every wounded combatant required 2 to 3 others to care for them, taking 3 out of the fight. Many states require at least a .24 cal for large game. So while even a .22 LR will kill a deer, my choice would be a larger caliber for a humane kill. Your mileage may vary.

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      …”as it does not, in their opinion, produce sufficient energy for a clean kill.”

      FIFY.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      “As a military round, it does as intended, designed to wound, every wounded combatant required 2 to 3 others to care for them, taking 3 out of the fight.”

      I routinely hear this from people who have never actually been in a gun fight. A wounded man is not out of the fight, and a wounded man certainly does not require 2 to 3 people to care for them, especially not during the fight. After the fight, maybe they treat him, and maybe they don’t. That doesn’t matter to you one bit if you are dead.

      Wounded people shoot back, even badly wounded people. I’ve shot men with the 556, in the chest, only to see them lean over, take aim, and shoot back. It is disconcerting.

      1. avatar FlamencoD says:

        JWTaylor – Was it the 62 gr M855 out of a 14.5″ M4 barrel? I’ve heard (you can correct me if I’m wrong), the 62 gr M855 out of a 14.5″ barrel doesn’t achieve enough velocity to begin to yaw in tissue when engaging targets at distance. Do you think with the right bullet (i.e., 69 gr hpbt or 77 gr hpbt) and/ or a longer barrel they would have been less likely to still be alive to shoot back?

    3. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

      That whole thing about the 5.56mm wounding a guy who then requires 2 or 3 other guys to care for him is total BS. It depends specifically on the other side being the kind of people who would stop and help a wounded guy.

      The Soviets and Russians were taught to keep going and let the guys behind you take care of the wounded. (joke is on them, the guys behind them weren’t going to help the wounded either) Its a sure bet that Achmed from ISIS could care less about his wounded buddy too.

  20. avatar NOYB says:

    Yeah,you all go on and on about you saying that a 5.56 /.223 will do this and that but not this and that and some ignorant anti is going to read this article and believe most of it and want our firearms banned worse than they ever did.

    Do ya think that Finestink,Peelousy and Shroomer or their lowly minions may be reading these articles to amass more ammunition?.

    In other words,STFU.we need not educate our enemies any further.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Nothing you just said even made sense. Try again, but this time, with logic.

  21. avatar binder says:

    “AR-15 as a big, scary gun that fires … at a rate of fifteen rounds a second.”

    With a Slide-Fire, a AR will do 800 RMP, so you are right as that is ONLY 13 rounds per second.

  22. avatar Alan says:

    Regarding media hysterics, sad to note, most of them hardly know the muzzle end of a rifle from the breach end, not to say that rifles are difficult to understand, rather to point out the ignorance, self chosen, of most “journalists” on a subject they make so much noise about.

    As for a “beginning” caliber, 22 RimFIre is still there, and is hard to beat, as was always the case.

  23. avatar ozzallos says:

    Less for beginners and more for an eye toward the future, there is a lot of things you can do with the combination of the 5.56 cartridge and an AR lower. Reloaders will find 300blk within easy reach. .22tcm is based on 5.56 brass. Since you invested in an AR lower, 458 SOCOM is a possibility, brass notwithstanding. The combination of hardware and caliber is ideal for future growth, imo.

  24. avatar Last OfTheOldOnes says:

    I have AR15s and by no stretch of the imagination would I call them weapons of war. It’s a 22 for god’s sake, with more powder. And the 55/60gr bullet weight does not inspire great confidence.
    It does not make clean kills, since the bullets have a tendency to tumble and make holes, though not very deep. However it IS easy to use, quick, scary looking., and uses cheap ammo. I would call it more of a home defense rifle then an assault weapon, and as the writer attests, great for beginners.

    By using this rifle as an example for banning, the gun freaks show what true idiots they are…….

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