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On this week’s State Your Case, we are looking at two mainstays: the 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO rounds. These are easily two of the most popular rifle rounds in America, and for good reason. Both offer a number of substantial benefits to every level of shooter and hunter. I could end this article right now by saying that a person could do anything and everything they’d need to with these two chamberings alone, but where’s the fun in that?

We will start by looking at the general use characteristics of these two rounds as far as where they are similar, but don’t worry, we will also be looking at the distinct advantages each offers as well. The first thing that you should know about these two rounds is that they share a very similar story. Both were the result of post-WWII armament decisions, decisions that showed how little had been learned from battlefield experience.

Unlike the Soviet Union, which very closely mimicked the German STG-44 and the 8mm Kurz cartridge with their AK-47 rifle and 7.62x39mm round, the US and their NATO allies decided to go with a larger and more powerful rifle and FMJ cartridge. The 7.62x39mm and the AK-47 were the direct result of Russian experience in the war, but the weapons and cartridges fielded by NATO in the post-war era still adhered to what were essentially modernized Napoleonic theories of engagement.

The 7.62x51mm NATO was designed and adopted worldwide to replace many Allied cartridges such as the American .30-06 and .303 British in rifles and machineguns. The British army’s adoption of the FN FAL rifle family led to an almost international acceptance of the platform to the point that the gun was called the ‘Right Arm of the Free World’.

The FAL, often pictured in the hands of strapping young men, sometimes wearing shorts, became the world-wide symbol for the struggle against the evils of Communism, Socialism, and Marxism. The 7.62 NATO had taken hold, but the fight against Communist domination would soon spawn another round: the lighter weight 5.56x45mm NATO.

This little cartridge is, in one form or another, the most popular centerfire rifle round in America. Even though NATO had planned for years and finally adopted the 7.62x51mm, the war in Vietnam called for smaller and lighter weapons that allowed for more ammo to be carried. Vietnam was the second land conflict in Asia that was essentially a proxy war between Communists and the Free World, but it would not be the last. The United States battled Communist guerrillas and regulars that had the AK-47, which was a mature weapon at the time and superior in almost every regard to the USA’s M14, which was essentially an M1 Garand that featured 7.62x51mm cartridges in detachable box magazines.

The little-known AR-15, a civilian sporting rifle that was designed with aerospace materials, was adopted in small numbers by select units and sent to the front in Vietnam. The weapon eventually became the M16, and the ammunition it fired was dubbed the 5.56x45mm NATO. NATO pushed back against this choice, but seeing as how America was, and still is, the trend-setting big brother of limp-wristed European tea-drinkers, the 5.56mm NATO became a thing.

As a side note to complete the cycle of violence, the Soviets, after looking at the value of small-bore, high-velocity rifle rounds, designed their own answer to the 5.56x45mm, the 5.45x39mm and chambered it in the AK-74 rifle. This round accompanied them into Afghanistan, where they became mired in their very own Vietnam against American-backed fighters, a choice that spawned perhaps the best action movie of the era, Rambo III.

When it comes to what you get with today’s variants of 7.62×51 and 5.56×45, you have more options than a warehouse-sized Golden Corral. The ammunition is plentiful and, for the most part, interchangeable with commercial .308 Winchester and .223 Remington, respectively. Yes, I know they are slightly different and I’m sure some of you will be all too happy to tell me just why, but for the average person, there is no noticeable difference.

There are a couple basic platforms that I will cover here. The first is the semiautomatic class of rifles. There are many, many, many types and brands out there from dozens of manufacturers. The two most common are the 5.56mm AR-15 and the 7.62mm AR-10. These are, for the most part, very mature platforms that have massive market support. They are widely used for home defense, hunting, target shooting, recreation, sports, and collecting. You will struggle to find a more adaptable type of rifle than the AR-15/10 and there isn’t much you can’t do with them.

The next major platform is the bolt action. Most bolt action rifles today are used for hunting and target applications. It is rare to find a home-defense bolt-action these days, but I’m sure it happens. The hunter and target shooter will typically select a rifle for the game being hunted. Many small-game and varmint hunters prefer a bolt-action in 5.56/.223, as the small bullets will not ruin a pelt in most cases. Hunters after deer and larger game would do well to have a 7.62/.308 because the bullets are larger and have better terminal ballistics over distance.

At the end of the day, most people looking at these two rounds will select a semiautomatic because it offers a far wider degree of uses and can be readily adapted to nearly any circumstance. When looking at them as apples to apples the logical choice between the two, for most end users, is the 5.56mm. The only major and significant advantage to the 7.62mm for general use is that it has more energy for hunting large game.

For the average American gun owner, the 5.56mm makes a huge amount of sense. The ammunition has substantially lighter bullet weight, is cheaper, and has lower recoil. Inside a 500 yard effective range, which is long range for most shooters out there, there is little difference in terms of trajectory between the two (in a generic sense, I know that special rounds will vary). The low recoil combined with flat trajectory and generous magazine capacity makes the 5.56mm very appealing. A person with an 18” SPR-style rifle similar to the Mk12 would be hard-pressed to find a better general-use rifle.

This is not to say that I don’t like the 7.62 NATO. I have used it for years and have tens of thousands of rounds downrange, mostly from bolt actions. I find that it is a better round in bolt actions than in semi-autos and it offers extremely long barrel life, moderate recoil, and relatively low expense when compared to round that are larger, but only slightly more powerful. If you reload your own and like a forgiving round, the 7.62 NATO is your best friend.

For many people, the choice is easy: get both and make them specialize a bit. A safe with an AR in 5.56mm and a nice, well-built bolt action 7.62mm is the safe of a practical man. These two rounds are under constant assault by rounds like the 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, 6.5 Creedmoor, and many other soon-to-be-forgotten flavors of the day, but rest assured that the choice of either is wise in the long run. They will never lose effectiveness. You can certainly improve upon the performance of both the 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO, but if TEOTWAWKI comes tomorrow, would you really pick that boutique six-point-something?

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  1. There is no case(except the one holding the powder, primer and bullet) these rounds are for different jobs.

    The question should probably be why not own both?

      • I’d like to get a 6.5 Grendel AR. It seems to be a great all around round, that works with the AR15 platform. It is a good step up from 5.56 and 7.62X39, and doesn’t require the weight or recoil of the .308 (which isn’t bad anyway).

        5.56 vs 7.62×51? The clear answer is BOTH. They fill two very different roles. I have 5.56 and 7.62×39 autoloaders, along with bolt actions in .270 and 7.62X54R. Either of those will basically do anything the .308 will. I don’t think I need a .308 autoloader, though I do crave the Grendel.

      • My only concern with the 6.5 Creedmoor is it’s high ballistic coefficient. I mean, if you missed your target it might go into Earth orbit and I wouldn’t wanna be the guy who shot down the space station (/snark).

    • You mean 7.62×39?

      Tell me what 300 Blackout does that 7.62×39 doesn’t already do, other than cost twice as much?

      • The .300 blk fits into an AR-15 much better than the 7.62×39.

        – Can use pistol length gas port without issue.
        – Uses same mags, lowers, and bolts.

        ^ Can’t do that with a 7.62×39

  2. “There are many, many, many types and brands out there from dozens of manufacturers.”

    Actually, there are many, many, many, many types and brands and some of them are very, very good. But not too, too, very, very many.

  3. No vs. here. Both are mandatory rounds. If you don’t own both an AR-15 and an AR-10 you are flat out Communist. Period, end of story.

    • I agree. Same goes if you don’t also own a full auto ma deuce, three Ford pickups, nineteen Wilson Combats, four Nighthawk 1911s, two tricked out Glocks, seven race gun M&Ps, a baby Glock 10mm, 15,000 rounds MINIMUM of every caliber you own (30,000 for primary combat calibers), three sets of body armor, a Humvee, a tattoo of the American flag on your back, and a half million acre ranch. If you don’t check those boxes, you’re either a communist or a fascist or not rich, in which case you’re a commie.

      (No offense. =8 I couldn’t help myself. XD)

  4. I’m a bad shot so I won’t be shooting too far and I’ll need a large magazine full of pretty powerful inexpensive rounds.

    Boom, 5.56.

  5. I used to think the 7.62 NATO was the shit until someone handed me a cup of Creedmoor Kool-aid. Now I realize that the .308 isn’t ‘the shit’ but just ‘shit’. Now I accept that there can only be one and it’s name is Creedmoor. All others are just imitators.

    • Nyet. 5.56 + 300BLK for the hur hur hur “pistol”… and .308 for the AR10 rifle. Bolt guns are for >800 meter precision, anti-material, and vehicle disabling work. .50BMG or 20MM.

    • I see the 7.62 NATO as a DMR round. Another way(like the SAW) to provide a base of fire for a small unit to maneuver from. If the advantages of that are noticed, the DMR can provide accurate, long range(better than a SAW in both areas) fire on a position while others move to attack it from closer in. But for that it must be an autoloader.
      Part of the big advantage of the DMR over a SAW is less ammo resupply needed, but rapid follow up shots will probably be needed, esp. as the partners close in and need more support.
      And if another partner has a bolt action .50 Browning 500 yards behind the DM it’s an even sweeter deal.
      Imagine having a DM throwing rapid, aimed, .308 rounds at your position from 800 meters away, while he’s being covered by a .50 with AP that will take out anything short of a main battle tank from 2500 meters, all while the rest of the squad is moving up on you with 5.56 carbines.
      How is one to deal with that without air-strikes or artillery support?

  6. “…NATO in the post-war era still adhered to what were essentially modernized Napoleonic theories of engagement…”

    False. The Spray and pray tactics used by Soviet forced have more in common with the Napoleonic battlefield than NATO tactics. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union the Russians believed that “God is on the side of the big battalions.” NATO doctrine was built on the concept of deliverying precision firepower to the battlefield, a doctrine that dates to WWII and not matched by the Red Army until the 1980s. Now that Russia no longer has the big battalions the Russian Army uses tactics similar to NATO. Vietnam demonstrated that the general use of automatic fire is not very effective and negates the benefit of carrying more lightweight ammunition. Semiauto fire is now the norm.

    Ordinance experts recommended going to a smaller full power caliber even before WWI. John Garand’s first M-1 design was chambered in .270 Pederson but Gen McArthur rejected it because we had literally a billion rounds of 30-06

    Now for the question at hand. If you live in the states that set the minimum caliber at .23 and above, you need both if you hunt. I would argue that this makes the 7.62 the more a more versatile cartridge. However, neither can match the .243 Winchester for versitility.

    • .243Win is my favorite. A duel purposet cartridge that does it quite well. I’d bet and if I had the chance, I could kill an elephant with it.

    • Until the collapse of the Soviet Union the Russians believed that “God is on the side of the big battalions.”

      But their divisions weren’t so big. At full strength a Red Army division generally had one half to one third the number of men as a NATO division. Throughout the cold war, the Red Army in Europe had more divisions but roughly as many soldiers stationed in Warsaw Pact client nations as NATO had in its member nations. Besides, the Red Army generals were atheists.

  7. I would think, before writing an article about 7.62×51 and 5.56×45, one would at least research to be able to explain the differences between the nato and American counterparts. 🤦‍♂️ Yes the differences are small, but attention to details is important, especially in this case…

  8. I’ve a couple of .308’s but the reality is I never use them for anything. Ammo costs too much to use one for a class. Too much umph for plinking, overkill for hunting in my area. I like that I have them and see no reason to sell them but I also see no reason to use them.

  9. Each one is a tool used for specific jobs. Having used both for many years I can honestly say there is no comparison. 556 is excellent for close in work out to 100 yrds at which time 308 takes over. I’ve shot numerous creatures with both and find each to be an excellent killer. From varmint to elk both will do the job if applied correctly. Knowing how and when to use the appropriate round is all that is needed. As for Creedmoor it’s just the new pup on the porch. Time will tell if it really has what it takes to last for the long haul or will be passed over by the next new thing. And yes there is always a new thing because the gun industry like all industries has to push something new to excite the buyers. Even if it isn’t needed. For me I’ll stick with what I know does the job and is still readily available at a reasonable cost.

  10. I have both on an AR-style platform. In my opinion, they are the ideal hunting rifles (along with a pump shotgun of your favorite flavor). One’s strengths are the other’s weaknesses, and visa versa. With both a .223/5.53 and a 7.62/.308, you can effectively and humanely hunt any game in North America. They are also a lot of fun to shoot, the ammo is cheap and widely available, and on an AR-style platform they can double as a home defense platform in a pinch. But they really shouldn’t be compared as far as one over the other. It’s like asking which do you prefer: a hammer or a screwdriver.

  11. Clearly by misreading, I thought this article was going to compare 7.62×39 with 5.56×45, which is both an appropriate and interesting comparison. Comparing 5.56 with 7.62 NATO is rather like comparing a compact car with a full size truck, different things for different purposes.
    The combination of a light, low recoiling but efficient and capable round like the 5.56 NATO with a lightweight and imminently reconfigurable rifle/carbine as embodied in the AR15, is the preeminent jack of all trades long gun in North America. The AR in 5.56, mags, ammo, accessories and etc are so universally available, light, nimble and adaptable that it serves for everything from a new shooter teaching tool to plinking and competition to SD/HD applications, covers hunting concerns up to and including white tail deer with appropriate ammunition, and if need be can become an excellent tool on the battlefield. As an individual small arm, the AR in 5.56 may be the best best weapon one can have, particularly in the US where the supply of parts, accessories and ammunition are simply massive. If you need mags or ammo, anyplace that sells such items will have AR 5.56 mags and ammunition. The Army issues it, the police prefer it, and if you muster with a self armed militia, you’ll have parts, mag and ammo commonality with better than half your fellows. Not having an AR in 5.56 is something of a handicap.

    That said, the 7.62×39, chambered in the venerable AK-47 fills the same niche pretty well. The cartridge is more powerful, nearly as available commercially, and while the platform isn’t quite as nimble, configurable or user friendly, it is quite capable and robust, popular enough to ensure parts, mags and ammunition are readily available, and if you muster with a self armed militia, you’ll have ammo and magazine commonality with say a 3rd or more of your fellows. The cartridge lends itself better to hunting of medium game than the 5.56, and performs better in a variety of barrier penetration and anti material roles. One cannot be said to be poorly armed with an AK-47.

    Meanwhile, the 7.62 NATO is heavier, with substantially more recoil, and generally found only in considerably heavier and less nimble weapons, with lower magazine capacities. Ammunition is widely available, but more expensive. Unlike either the AK or the AR in 7.62×39 and 5.56×45 respectively, there isn’t really a “standard” weapon for the cartridge, so magazine commonality with a militia is limited. The round out performs the others here at virtually everything except the ability to carry huge amounts of it, and the ability to apply sustained high volume fire.
    A non hunter could get by forever with only either a 5.56 AR or 7.62×39 AK, while a semi auto, detachable mag fed 7.63 NATO rifle will reasonable serve almost every application of a rifle one could have in North America, and makes a great “only rifle”. That is, one cannot be said to be poorly armed with an AR10 or M1A1 or FAL. From a militia standpoint, the 7.62 NATO will share ammo with a substantial minority of other arms presented, and can be reloaded from US medium and GP machine gun stores.
    Part of the beauty of the formation of an American Militia is that each average individual is likely to bring an AR in 5.56, an AK in 7.62×39 or something in a .308. All up to the job, particularly when the more powerful and longer ranged and often highly accurate but lower capacity and lower rate of fire .308s are supported by the high capacity, fast fireing and large ammo larders of the ARs and AKs.

    Every gun, or at least most, have a niche in which they are most capable, and can be to some degree pressed into other use. The 5.56 is a bit underpowered, the AK isn’t as versatile and the .308 is a bit heavy, especially when large stores carried of ammo are in order. If I could only have one rifle, ever, a .308 in an AR10 first and various other patterns after, would be my choice. The power and range allow for almost unlimited hunting and almost sniper like long range work while its penetration and anti material capabilities are robust and still the mag capacity and weight of ammo along with recoil aren’t so onerous that it can’t reasonably be used as a fire superiority or suppressive fire weapon. A great .308 can do it all in North America, and in a TEOTWAWKI situation, it’s still not much harder to feed than the smaller cartridges under discussion.
    As it is I favor an AR in 5.56 as my go to gun. I can carry large stores of ammo, it’s more than capable of accurate engagement to any distance I’m apt to be threatened from, in a pinch it will take most game up to and including white tail deer, It’s potent enough for SD/HD work, and light and nimble enough for use in and around cars and in and around buildings. If mustered into a militia, the AR in 5.56 gives ammo and mag compatibility not only with fellows, but with police and military stores as well.

    The sheer versatility of the AR platform virtually insists than an AR of some sort is the gun to have if you can only have one. Where I see it lacking is power in the 5.56 chambering. It’s why I flirt with SKSs and AKs, the 7.62×39, like the .40sw does for the 9mm/.45 debate, bridges the gap between 5.56 and .308 in power, capacity and shootability in a satisfying way. I really like an AR in 7.62×39…but I really don’t want to give up the cheap, high quality readily available store of mags and parts that the AR in 5.56 brings.

    I’ve rambled enough to make a good start on a book, but can’t leave off without saying that a comparison of 5.56 to 7.62×39 ought to be done, soon and in detail…and I can’t fathom why a comparison between 5.56 and 7.62 NATO was done, unless it was to dissuade people from investing in a rifle not in 5.56, 7.62×39 or 7.62 NATO until they have a rifle in one of these calibers because these are better choices for TEOTWAWKI. If that is the case, I agree, everyone should have a rifle to muster with, and it should be in 5.56, 7.62×39 or .308, and should have reasonable capacity detachable magazines, loads of them, and ammo, loads of it…but this has more to do with logistics and tactics and little to do with cartridge performance, and frankly seems like a different article altogether.

    • The type of militia to which you refer, will never be engaged in real combat. lf it does, its members will be slaughtered the like British at the Somme, or the Anzacs at Gallipoli, but even faster.

    • Being someone who has seen shootings in both rounds and then some, both cause immense damage so I’m going out on a limb and will say, I wouldn’t want to be shot by either devastating round.

  12. I’d like to see a 5.56 vs 5.45 article. I’m sure it’s been done elsewhere, but I’d still think it would be interesting to see.

    • Some more bullet options and some brass case might have made it more competitive. I’m not an AK guy but I like shooting my 74s

  13. “if TEOTWAWKI comes tomorrow, would you really pick that boutique six-point-something?”
    I don’t think it would matter. I’d expect to find lots of 5.56 rifles just laying around on the ground. Some never fired and only dropped once…

  14. Sorry, but that mention of ANY Rambo movie as the best war movie ever made triggered something and I think I may have laughed so hard I hurt myself. I mean, come on people, it’s 84C Charlie MoPic, right? I mean, everybody knows that. -30-

  15. When I gave my sons and daughter their M1-A rifles I explained, “this is not an assault rifle. This is a battle rifle. Assault rifles are for slack jawed effimates who are to limp wristed to handle the recoil from a real rifle.”

    BTW, my daughter is a dead ringer for the Terminatrix in TERMINATOR 3, RISE OF THE MACHINES, who was picking Arnold Schwartzenegger by the scruff of the neck and the genitals to shove him through a wall then ripping his head off. She worked security at the Superbowl in Phoenix where guys were begging her to frisk them before she broke up the fight between two players by picking them up by the scruffs of their necks and knocking their heads together.

  16. Had an AR 15 and then got a LR308. Sold the AR 15 3 days later.
    Once you drive a truly fast car you don’t want a slower one.

    • I’ve had way more fun in a “slow” beater car than the few “fast” high horsepower cars I’ve had a chance to drive. YMMV

      • I agree.
        That beater can be a lot more fun than the supercar simply because you don’t care much if it gets a dent or ding. As long as it’s in good mechanical condition, that is.

      • In high school, the family had a 1979 Ford Fairmont station wagon, which, being a high school boy, I pushed to its absolute limits. This included getting all four wheels off the ground at one point.

        Yeah, beaters can be truly fun.

  17. Honestly I sold all my 7.62 NATOs. Now I’ve just got 5.56 and .30-06. The former is lighter and cheaper to plink with, the latter is a better all-around hunting round.

    I do want to give 6.5 Creedmoor a try in a semi-auto platform, just to see if really is all it’s cracked up to be.

  18. Gee I just got my 1st AR15. Now I gotta get a 308(my buddy has a SCAR clone Century and sez it’s the bee’s knees). I gotta’ make more $😩😵😏

  19. I would love to have an M1A. But I guess I’ll stick w/my rem. 700 in 30-06 springfield. Ammo is in almost any hardware store and rural home. Heavy jungle contact 50 meters or less, .9mm Uzi platform (not the best but available).Ammo was also readily “recovered”. M14 was meant to be a select fire M1. 30-06 was to heavy/powerful a round for the application, so .308. Wanted to replace the BAR so every man was a SAW. If you haven’t dis and re assemble a military pre-ww2 BAR it is not fun. Mannny small parts. The M14E1 is a blast to shoot though. Must use flip up butt piece to help reduce climb on full auto even prone.

    • It’s an OK rifle, Dave. I’ve got one, and I like shooting it, but then again, I’ve slicked it up quite a bit. Match front sight, match rear, a very nicely tuned trigger, etc. One of these years, I’ll put glass bedding into the stock.

      That said, it isn’t a rifle that “does” anything in my collection other than allow me to convert 7.62×51 M80 ball ammo into giggles and noise. It’s too heavy as a hunting rifle. It’s not a great coyote rifle. It works well as a “service rifle” competition rifle – but I like my 1903a3’s better for winning those matches, which is an ’06. Truth be told, it’s much easier to win a service rifle match with a 1903A3 than with many other alternatives…

      The M1A/M14 is a rifle I like, but which I cannot justify intellectually or professionally (as a ‘smith). When someone like yourself really wants one, I explain how your money could be better spent in several different directions. Still, you, like I, really want to find a way to justify buying this rifle, because… well, we want it. I have the sad job of telling you that jonesing after a M1A is like wanting that mid-life crisis ‘vette: you really want to justify it, but we know in Wyoming there’s only maybe five months of the year you can drive the ‘vette, and we’re too old to use them for picking up girls, and while they’re pretty efficient on gas mileage, there’s so many better, more practical cars we could own….

      But we still want a ‘vette and a M1A… common sense be damned.

    • ’30-06 was to heavy/powerful a round for the application, so .308.’

      As I recall, the military load for the Garand was 148gr. at 2750fps and the M14 load was 147gr. at 2750fps, so I think you’d need some pretty precise scientific instruments to tell the difference in recoil. Not sure about the ’06, but the 7.62 NATO case is a little thicker and case capacity is a little smaller than the .308 case for use in machine guns. Anyway, the logic was that with the (then) new advances in powder they didn’t need the extra half inch of case which adds weight and makes for a longer bolt stroke in machine guns.

  20. “only slightly more powerful.”

    Seriously!? What a complete load of shit. Only slightly more powerful? Put down the crack pipe. Look I like 5.56. It makes way more sense to outfit a soldier with 5.56 as the standard rifle round, but to claim .308 is “only slightly more powerful” is beyond a joke.

  21. “…the US and their NATO allies decided to go with a larger and more powerful rifle and FMJ cartridge.”

    Our NATO “allies” had nothing to do with this choice, and they made no such “decision.” Both the Brits and Germans had other, ballistically superior, ideas.

    No, we, the US, as the “senior” partner in NATO, and the nation that was footing most of the bills so these ankle-biting nations could live unmolested by Ivan, we rammed the 7.52×51 down their throats. The Brits had the .270 Enfield, then the .280 British before the adoption of the 7.62×51, and both were superior, more efficient cartridges. Then the Brits researched a series of 7mm cartridges, all of which have advantages over the 7.62×51.

    You’ve heard me say that we should have adopted an intermediate-power cartridge in 6.5mm with about a 120gr pill many times here. Well, the Brits were already making very great moves in that exact direction in the 60’s.

    After the early 60’s, when the US armory system had been brushed aside by Robert Strange McNamara and his “whiz kids,” the Brits sensed another opportunity to replace the 7.62×51, because we were adopting the 5.56×45 as our new small arms cartridge.

    When you look at the 7.62×51 in the scope of history, there was never any reason for it to be adopted. The .30-06 is a better cartridge for bolt/semi-auto rifles and crew served machine guns. The 7.62×51 was (and still is) too much recoil for the idea of a full-auto rifle under 12 lbs loaded weight. We could have adopted the .300 Savage and saved a snootful of money developing a cartridge that we would then try to leave behind.

    • ‘You’ve heard me say that we should have adopted an intermediate-power cartridge in 6.5mm with about a 120gr pill many times here.’ – You haven’t been drinking the Creedmoor Kool-aid have you?

      As I pointed out above, the .30-06 and 7.62×51 military loads were nearly identical, so why wouldn’t the lighter weight and shorter bolt throw be an advantage in full-auto or even semi-auto weapons?

      • I’m building a 6.5 CM, but then I’ve been doing that for years. Maybe this winter, it will get done – behind all the other personal gun projects I have in various states of being finished.

        A gunsmith’s own guns are often like the cobbler’s shoes or the mechanic’s own car.

        My point is that, as you say, there’s hardly any difference between the 7.62×51 and the ’06. We, the taxpayers, had already paid up for lots of weapons chambered in ’06, including full-auto ones: M1919’s, 1917’s, BAR’s, etc. They worked. We won two world wars with these weapons.

        The 7.62 did nothing to improve their function or results. We could have kept using the ’06 for light machine guns and SAW-like guns (eg, a BAR with a big magazine) for the next 100 years. It wasn’t that the 7.62×51 is a bad round, it was that it was a superfluous one. It’s just a smaller ’06. What was the point?

        What was needed for an assault rifle was a 6 to 7mm cartridge with a 120gr pill, a high Bc (so make it a 6mm or 6.5mm caliber) with less recoil. Something like a 6 PPC or 6 BR+ would have done the job. Short, square powder stack, lots less weight, more capable than the squirrel/varmint round that is the .223/5.56. Both of these rounds would have been even shorter than the .223 (if we want to talk about cycling) and they would have been more ballistically efficient.

        But Col. Studler’s manhood was threatened by any round that wasn’t at least 0.300″ in diameter. So here we are. The M-14 was, by any objective measure, a failure in service (being the rifle that was in service for less time than any other in our history – even the .30-40 Krag was in service longer), and our allies adopted the FN-FAL, which had a smaller mag capacity than the AK’s did.

        We keep pouring more and more money into “studies” to re-spin the M-16/M-4/etc up into shooting a better round – and the experiments keep trying to create a round very much like the one I’ve called for above (eg, 6.8 SPC). It would be easier and cheaper if the DOD either just accepted a realization that they’re incompetent and decree that we’re limited to the two rounds we have now for all time (because they’re incompetent to field another round), or if they fired everyone involved in small arms procurement and accepted the mandate of a board of civilian gunsmiths, machinists and ballistics cranks (whereupon they would get something like a 6 PPC).

        • True, I don’t suppose that the 7.62 does anything that the ’06 didn’t do other than cut a minuscule amount of weight. But at this juncture it seems to me that it’s the 5.56 round that’s lacking. I still think the 6.8 SPC would have been a good fit. Range is a bit limited but that’s not what the whole concept of the ‘assault ri fle’ was about. I don’t see a need to change the M240s and M134s. Something like the 6.5 Creed moor or .260 could give snipers and sharpshooters a bit more range, but I don’t see the 7.62 as being insufficient at 500-600 yards and you’re not going engage military targets at 1000 with a Creedmoor, you’re going to want the .300 Win-mag for that. But since we’ve basically abandoned the concept of a full auto, spray and pray 6lb battle ri fle, I’d think that a little more recoil wouldn’t be an issue. Probably should keep it down to 6mm though just to keep the weight down.

  22. Most missions are about load out and how much weight a soldier can carry and be effective. You can carry allot more 5.56 than 7.62. It only takes about one patrol with the 7.62 rifles and ammo and the next patrol its left behind.

    • Proven over and over again everyday for the last 18 years,… but there is just some odd phenomenon that causes everyone to want a bigger gun when they are sitting in front of a computer screen. Hmmmm I wonder what it could be?

      • When using your computer, hold your loaded rifle up with one hand and type with your other hand.
        Guess which caliber gets put down first.

  23. I like both…and would use both for certain tasks….but given the choice….I’ll take 30-06 in North America any day if the week.

    We continue to look for that can do, has done, will do everything cartridge…some day it will invented…and the man who does will name it 30-06 😉

  24. If this was my first visit to TTGA I would be quite impressed with most of the comments on this article. Thumbs up on this one.

  25. State my case? For what, exactly? Best cartridge? If I could have only one?

    Okay, my case is that every American adult/citizen-soldier should have the same rifle chambered in the same round as the professional standing army that stands as their first line of defense. It doesn’t matter a jot if either or both the rifle and ammunition are the best performers because the logistics trump all other concerns. That is why everyone should at bare minimum maintain an M4orgery and or/MK18. A sub $500 rack grade offering from Palmetto State Armory would be fine. Mid length or carbine length gas systems as the rifle length guns are being phased out. Ammunition choice should be 62gr or 77gr, as there are multiple offerings in both bullet weights that serve well and can put venison on the table as well as get a person through a gun fight.

    Should the worst happen, you can take your place on the line standing against the hordes and use the same government ammo and spare parts they are. Should that horde consist of our own government, well, you can still use their spare parts and ammunition which will be scattered all over the ground.

    There. I have stated my case.

    • Many, if not most states disallow the use of centerfire ammunition smaller than .240 for “putting venison on the table.” Unless you are talking SHTF.

      There is no one size fits all caliber. You don’t fix your glasses with a number 2 screwdriver. When the only tool you have is hammer every problem looks like a nail.

  26. I use .223, .308, .303, 8×57, and 7.62x54r in my service rifles (all bolt actions). Which ones get the most use? The .223 Lee-Enfield No4 conversions. It’s biggest advantage is the low costs when reloading. I can reload for about 30c per round where the cheapest factory ammo is going to cost a dollar per round when bought in bulk, and much more when bought in commercial packaging.

    The rifles in .223 are accurate, feed and extract reliably, and the lack of recoil helps in recovery with double-taps and rapids. I will use the other calibres but when scores count it is the .223s

    I used my lightweight Ruger Scout rifle (5.56) yesterday in a 200m telescopic match. Not the best platform with a hastily installed Harris bipod and fitted with a 2.5×28 Leupold M8 Scout Scope. The ammunition was made with the same data I use with 55g projectiles in the Lee-Enfield conversions (25.5g AR2206H, Winchester case and primer). I walked the zero in with 3 rounds and fired another 4 (with no more adjustments). The target was a Figure 12 that could appear randomly for 4 seconds across a 8 foot frontage.There were two stages with 10 rounds per stage. And it was scored with the rings (V, 5, 4).

    I scored 50 with 5 centres on that stage. On the second stage the Fig 12 was used again but this time with a white Figure 14 in the bottom right of the target as a no-hit zone. Having to adjust my aim slightly, I scored 49 with 6 centres. The 4 was the one I put in the head of the target. Total 99.11. The top score when I left was 100.19, done by customised Remington 700 in 6.5 Creeedmore in an Accuracy International stock. The optics alone were worth more than my rifle twice over. If I hadn’t done the head-shot I would have only been behind by 8 centres. But we were in different rifle classes.

      • Sometimes the course requires 2 shots in an 8 second exposure in a stage. This is what we call a double-snap for the purposes of describing the match stage.

        Single-snap 4 seconds. Double-snap 8 seconds. Triple-snap 13 seconds. Rapid 5 seconds per round. Deliberate 2 minutes for 8-10 rounds. Application single scored shots.

  27. Boils down to ComBloc vs ‘Merica. If you’re next to me defending FREEDOM you won’t be asking for 7.62. Anyone holding an AK will be considered a Jihadi.

  28. The FAL, often pictured in the hands of strapping young men, sometimes wearing shorts, became the world-wide symbol for the struggle against the evils of Communism, Socialism, and Marxism.

    Get in fellas, let’s go slot some floppies

    • The FAL is a vastly under-appreciated rifle in the US. Highly influential around the world (both in operation as well as design). It was one of several semi-auto battle rifles western nations made for the 7.62×51.

      There was the FN-FAL, the CETME, the H&K G3 (and the Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and other variants of same), the Beretta BM-59, the French FA-MAS, the Brit L1A1… the list goes on.

      If we had had any brains (and, before someone accuses me of doing so: I am not accusing the US government of being afflicted with intelligence), we would have worked with Armalite to finish developing the AR series of rifles, with an appropriately sized cartridge, and we could have owned the west’s market for small arms, just as Ivan owned the market for dim-bulb savages who were witless enough to think that communism would put food on their tables. If we had had an effective small arm, we could have used it as the Sov’s did – as an instrument of foreign policy. Colt or some other US arms manufacture would be as big as FN is today, and we might conceivably own H&K or FN…

      But, alas, it was not to be.

  29. “The only major and significant advantage to the 7.62mm for general use is that it has more energy for hunting large game.”


    First thing that comes to mind is barrier penetration….7.62 yay. 5.56 nay
    Effectiveness of ammo in FMJ form….7.62 yay. 5.56 HUGE nay
    Single shot incapacitation…. 7.62 yay. 5.56 nay
    ability to reach out and touch….7.62 yay. 5.56 nay (unless specialty ammo like 77 smk, not what most have).

    .223/5/56 never was and isnt equal in any way to 7.62×51. 223/5.56 creates little tiny holes with no yawing or breakup with general use 55GR and 62gr projectiles. There is a reason why its illegal to hunt deer with it in a large number of states. See below for an excerpt where the article calls BS on this but then provides the ‘inside 150 yards’….7.62×51 definitely doesn’t have this problem, even in FMJ form..M80.

    “The .223 Remington is a suitable cartridge for hunting deer, within its limitation. This cartridge relies on velocity to drive the lightweight bullets deep. This same velocity contributes to tissue damage. The key to using a .223 Remington on deer is to keep impact velocities high. In other words don’t shoot deer much beyond 150 yards. Past that distance, the velocity drops below the level needed for dynamic bullet expansion. When robustly constructed bullets like the Barnes TSX, Nosler Partition and Fusion are used inside 150 yards, penetration with the .223 Remington is on par with cartridges like the .243 and the .30-30 Winchester.”

  30. Shoot a Deer with the 7.62 and shoot one with 5.56 see which one falls over on the spot. – — Drops mike and walks off stage…….

  31. After over 20 years in the Army, I am not a fan of 5.56. So, in my personal HK91, I fire 7.62. I am not worried about “big game” since I don’t hunt. But I am concerned about “perps”. 7.62 from a 20 rd magazine will do just nicely, thank you. Takes ’em down quite well……

  32. I wish to reply with a little history. As a ‘limp wristed tea tea drinker’ from over the pond, I can say that we Brits did learn from WW2. We learned from the Germans that a lighter/shorter range round was suitable for European tactical requirements, and we learned from the Americans, Russians and Germans that a semi auto rifle was the way to go. The result was the British EM2 rifle in .280 cal (7mm) which was designed, trialled and ready for adoption in 1949.

    In these early days of NATO, the byword was standardisation and the USA was designing a new round, a shortened version of the 30-06. The adoption/issue of the EM2 was delayed until the calibre for NATO could be decided. In the event the USA decided that it would adopt their new 7.62 round.

    The decision by the Brits and other NATO countries to adopt the American round was based on supply and not on performance. The British Ministerial decision (recorded in the records of our Parliament) followed the argument that in two world wars America had been the arsenal of England and in any future conflict was likely to be the resupply base for NATO – hence adoption of the 7.62 round for NATO would ensure continuous supply at short notice.

    The EM2 rifle had been designed around the .280 cartridge, and when redesigned for the more powerful 7.62 round did not perform as well as the FN FAL (which was subsequently adopted in 1955).

    Thirty five years later the Brits adopted the 5.56 in their own (rubbish) rifle the SA80. Twenty years later experience in the Gulf/Iraq/Afghanistan saw the reintroduction of the General Purpose Light Machine Gun (GPMG) in 7.62 NATO.

    Unfortunately, there are few serviceman who have battle experience with both rounds. 95% of those who have prefer the heavier 7.62 NATO round. This is ‘hunting’ where the quarry shoots back.

    The fact that both rounds are suitable for the US civilian hunting market is a coincidental by product of the military development.


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