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Let’s take look 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. And they’re still the subject of a lot of questions we get from readers here at TTAG.

Both cartridges offer a number of substantial benefits to every level of shooter and hunter. And they’re the subject of almost endless debate. 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, but where’s the fun in that?

We will start by looking at the general use characteristics of these 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 very practical man.

These two rounds are under constant assault these days by rounds like the 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, 6.5 or 6mm Creedmoor, and many other soon-to-be-forgotten flavors of the day, but rest assured that the choice of either is a wise one 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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133 COMMENTS

    • 5.56.

      It’s really lightweight to carry. Is readily available everywhere. It is still capable of “vaporizing” meat, aka – making a meat cloud out of biceps.

  1. If your shooting coyotes and prairie dogs 5.56, if your shooting bears 7.62.
    Oh, coyotes and prairie dogs and bears ain’t people though.
    I quit shooting people, the cops always show up and haul them off for themselves.

    • “I quit shooting people, the cops always show up and haul them off for themselves.”

      I could see that, you just want to enjoy a meal in peace, but, noooooooooooooooooo! 🙂

      How many days do you prefer it to ‘ripen’ before you chow down? 😉

      (Burp!)

    • Now Possum. I, for one, would never have hauled off your bad guys before you had your fun. Besides, it would have been less paperwork for me if you handled the problem.

    • “important to have both.”

      Yeah, I have me a .223, but I’m in the planning stages of a 7.62/.308 bolt-action build. There are some locals that do some night-time ‘pest control’ of feral hogs with .300 BLK, but they say .308 should be a more ‘stable’ platform, so I’m thinking a bolt-action subsonic with a can for such ‘activities’…

    • It’s like asking which is better, a screwdriver or a wench? A bolt or a screw? There is no “better” because they serve different functions.

    • Just $2.50 a round, for some hard, “pipe-hitting” downrange devastation.

      “Reach out, reach out and *hurt* someone…”

      • Hey, at today’s prices, even 30-30 Winchester costs $2.50 per round (at least for the good stuff, Hornady LeverEvolution), so you might as well get .50 BMG since they’re about the same price. It’s weird how every other caliber except .50 BMG went up in price in 2021, so now .50 BMG costs the same as regular hunting calibers!
        Now our governor is trying to ban .50 caliber ammunition, but the bill is so poorly worded that it won’t just ban .50 BMG, it will also ban .50 AE, .500 Smith & Wesson, .50 Beowulf, etc. Maybe I should say “cleverly worded”, as maybe their intent was to ban as many calibers as possible.

    • The ink has not actually been placed on the paper. The Army, along with the rest of the military, can be a deliberative entity. In 1988, they conducted a very extensive study to replace the M-16 family of rifles. Everything from caseless ammunition to duplex rounds were considered. That was 33 years ago.

      Yes, they are considering alternatives. Yes, some sniper rifles and DMRs in new calibers may be acquired in limited numbers. However, a switch to a new standard ammunition has a huge price tag. I just can’t see the performance yet that would justify the cost.

      And it will take a brilliant example for the Army to seriously consider a new standard ammunition.

  2. “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.”

    actually it was the “ArmaLite AR-15” not just AR-15. That’s an important distinction because it bears no resemblance to the term AR-15 today which is basically just a well known term but essentially a marketing designation to take advantage of its well know type familiarity by the public. It wasn’t originally a sporting rifle, it was created specifically for the military.

    It originated with the “ArmaLite AR-10”. The “ArmaLite AR-10” was created to compete as a replacement for the military obsolete M1 Garand. In the end the U.S. Army selected the Springfield T44 and re-designated it the M14 rifle. Later the Army was forced to consider a replacement for the M-14. It was to be .223 caliber (5.56 mm), select-fire, and weighing 6 lb (2.7 kg) when loaded with a 20-round magazine. The 5.56mm round had to penetrate a standard U.S. M1 helmet at 500 yards (460 meters) and retain a velocity in excess of the speed of sound, while matching or exceeding the wounding ability of the .30 Carbine cartridge. That request resulted in the development of a scaled-down version of the “ArmaLite AR-10” that was called the “ArmaLite AR-15” rifle.

    The military never adopted the “ArmaLite AR-15” and this put ArmaLite in a financial tail spin forcing them eventually to sell the patents for the “ArmaLite AR-10” and “ArmaLite AR-15” to Colt who redesigned and eventually sold their redesign to the military as the “Colt ArmaLite AR-15 Model 01” and after a few changes it entered service designated as the M-16. However, the first and only sales of the “Colt ArmaLite AR-15 Model 01” until the U.S. military adopted it was to Malaya and that was the first military in the world to use what would later become the U.S. military M-16. That “Colt ArmaLite AR-15 rifle has never been sold to other than governments. Colt later created the “Colt AR-15” and the term AR-15 entered our lexicon and the rest is history.

      • Not to impress, but this part is wrong in the article by the author of the article so apparently its not known info

        “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. ”

        This part is wrong too

        “The weapon eventually became the M16”:

        No, the AR-15 did not “eventually became the M16”

        The “Colt ArmaLite AR-15 Model 01” eventually became the M-16. The “ArmaLite AR-15” was only on there because of a provision in the agreement with Colt when ArmaLite sold them the patent. What Colt provided was a redesigned rifle that was no longer actually the “ArmaLite AR-15” and its that redesign that eventually became the M-16.

        The “AR-15” never became anything but what we have to day in the civilian and sometimes law enforcement market with the use of the term for marketing and common use application. That was started when Colt created the first AR-15 to be marketed as the “Colt AR-15” for the civilian market, it wasn’t the “Colt ArmaLite AR-15”. The AR-15 was never a military weapon, it was never sold to the military, it was never an “assault rifle” nor was it designed to be an “assault rifle” and it never became the M-16 in reality. What became the M-16 was a different design that was uniquely Colts through a re-design as what was called the “Colt ArmaLite AR-15 Model 01” that eventually became the M-16.

        The “ArmaLite AR-15” was only on there because of a provision in the agreement with Colt when ArmaLite sold them the patent. The provision basically was that the ArmaLite AR-15 concept had to be represented by use of the name being carried forward and not the actual “ArmaLite AR-15” its self.

        Isn’t that one of the problems we have today, that the anti-gun people have seized upon the term ‘AR-15’ to claim the rifle was created as a military assault rifle simply because of the term? Yet the term is implicated here in this article in the same way the anti-gun groups claim it is, its like saying “yeh, the AR-15 is really a military assault rifle.” on a pro-gun web site that rejects so vehemently the false anti-gun rhetoric.

        So yeah, I’m going to say something.

        • “Isn’t that one of the problems we have today, that the anti-gun people have seized upon the term ‘AR-15’ to claim the rifle was created as a military assault rifle simply because of the term?”

          should have been…

          Isn’t that one of the problems we have today, that the anti-gun people have seized upon the term ‘AR-15’ to claim the rifle was created as a military assault rifle simply because of the term and cosmetics?

          additionally;

          We gave/allowed the anti-gun groups that narrative with our loose and inexact and quick quips and lazy use’s and narratives of the gun history. And now we complain about their narrative but keep writing articles and saying things that basically confirm their narrative and now the gun is vilified as basically a military “assault rifle” or “weapon of war” when it isn’t and never was.

  3. If I want a close in less than 100 yard defensive round then it’s 7.62×39. If I want to reach out and touch then it’s my bolt .308. If I need a .22 I’ll use my 10/22 takedown. So neither.

  4. “The FAL, often pictured in the hands of strapping young men, sometimes wearing shorts”

    Uh, Josh, buddy, maybe you should cut down ion the soy milk just a little.

    • Hey, Ralph – Palmetto State Armory bought an eastern-bloc commie ammo plant and are shipping it over here, to make US-made steel-cased 7.62×39 and .54R ammo for all the good little ComBloc rifles.

      It would be *serious* cool if they have the tooling for the spam-cans as well… 😉

        • But the smell from a freshly cracked can from the 70’s is just so… carcinogenic! And there’s usually a little stamped paper with a name or number of the cigar smoking babushka that hand packed it!

    • I wouldn’t say no to either unless I had to lug the .308 around the world. If it was at distance I’d take the weight hit but man that 5.56 would look real tempting.

      I’ll say 243 in an LR platform rifle rocks. I wouldn’t want to lug that ammo all over the world by foot compared to 5.56 and the barrel life ain’t great but trade offs are to be made. I’ll also say that 1:7 barrel twist is a good choice as are some of the mags like the LaRues that let you use slightly longer rounds. You can get into the 107 or 108 grainish territory that way if needed and still maintain a COAL that fits in a mag.

  5. If you told me I could only have one, I’m taking the .308. It’s simply a more versatile cartridge.

    But if I had a nice 7mm Rem Mag or .30-06 already and you told me I had to buy an AR pattern rifle? It would be a 5.56 all the way.

    Thankfully, in America, we can have all four.

    • “Thankfully, in America, we can have all four.”

      For now, anyways… 🙂

      If 50-state shall-issue comes to pass, I’ll feel a bit more encouraged about future gun rights…

  6. If we had a total societal collapse and I was leaving the house with no intention of ever returning I would be rolling with a 5.56 weapon system.

    • Same here, simply because I want as much ammunition as possible in the lightest amount of weight possible.

      The only reason that I can say that, though, is due to modern expanding bullet designs in the 5.56 x 45mm NATO cartridge. I do not like 55 grain full-metal jacket loadings as a man-stopper, especially beyond 100 yards. A 62 grain (or even better 69 grain) softpoint (e.g. expanding) bullet, on the other hand, is an entirely different kettle of fish. I can picture a 62 grain softpoint bullet being a pretty good man-stopper out to, what, 400 yards? And it would certainly kill animals, up to the size of white-tailed deer, in fairly short order out to 300 yards (if not further) if you put rounds in the “boiler room” of said quarry.

      Sure, 7.62 x 51mm NATO easily outshines the smaller 5.56 x 45mm NATO round past 400 yards. And that advantage comes with the penalty of twice the ammunition weight.

      • “I do not like 55 grain full-metal jacket loadings as a man-stopper, especially beyond 100 yards”

        after world war 2 a full study of actual infantry combat was conducted. they found that the average infantry combat encounter distance was 27 feet. not yards, feet.

        infantry weapons were altered accordingly. the m193 works great in its assigned role.

      • “Same here, simply because I want as much ammunition as possible in the lightest amount of weight possible.

        If it gets that dire, a suppressed .22lr will probably keep you alive a lot longer…

        • Geoff PR,

          I have often had the same thought as well. In a long term societal collapse and survival scenario, both food and personal security are paramount considerations.

          Obviously, .22LR is far superior to 5.56 x 45mm NATO and 7.62 x 51mm NATO for taking small game. And .22LR will easily bring down all but the largest of game if you can deliver brain shots. Thus, your only realistic limitation on hunting is the maximum distance where you can reliably connect on head shots. Additional appeal of .22LR: small game is much more likely to be available and, perhaps even more important, .22LR is much quieter than centerfire cartridges and therefore much less likely to draw attention to your activity. (Suppressed would be even better yet in that regard.)

          In terms of personal security, .22LR would work pretty well since no one wants any bullet wound in a societal collapse situation where there is probably no reliable emergency medial care available. Having said that, .22LR is pretty much a complete fail if you found yourself needing to dissuade raiders at 100+ yards (a somewhat likely scenario) or if you were facing an foreign army.

          I guess I would want to have both .22LR and 5.56 x 45mm NATO platforms available to me.

        • Uncommon. You can carry a thousand rounds of .22 fairly easily. For survival small game is much more plentiful than big.

          And if you’re alone engaging in any gun duels is to be avoided at all costs.

          If we had to abandon our home and could not take our vehicles my plan is to load a jogging stroller with as much as possible and then getting out. My primary will be a Glock 19 and my secondary will be a Winchester .22 bolt gun.

      • “And that advantage comes with the penalty of twice the ammunition weight.”

        That and your average person can’t hit shit at 300 yards to begin with so the advantage is actually nil for most people.

        • Agree.

          Not only is it much more difficult to keep sights aligned with your target (which appears extremely tiny at such ranges), bullet drop rapidly increases with distance and therefore rapidly dominates your ability to put rounds on target. And, even if you know how much your bullet drops at distance, you still need a way to accurately determine that distance which most people will not be able to do.

      • It’s been a while since I did the research, but as I recall those 55 grainers will yaw and tumble on impact out to 230-240 yards, depending on barrel length (muzzle velocity) and I think they do better with slower twist rates. Past that range they make nice clean .22 caliber holes, but inside that range they make for a really nasty wound. If you’re shooting with irons or red dots they’d make a pretty good option. (Yes, I know, some people shoot 800 meters with irons, but I don’t.)

    • If I’m walking out of my house never to return, I think my one long gun will be the .30-30. I’m too old to climb mountains or bleed out on a pile of hot brass, so I’m probably hiding out in the woods. Now if I’m driving away from my home, I’m packing all of them.

    • Sticking with 556. Invested as it were. For what I do it’s perfect. Anyone see the aftermath of 17 year old Kenosha Kyle? Blew a giant chunk of arm off an Antifools arm. Free Kyle!

  7. Get both platforms. For SHTF, 7.62 bolt for reaching out and touching at distance, 5.56 for covering the perimeter.

    For point defense, a 12 gauge tactical will do nicely.

    Handguns get you to safety when you’re jammed or need to reload.

    • That’s why I have multiple caliber platforms. Sort of like a finishing hammer for light work and a framing hammer for nailing the Big Stuff.

  8. Without going into the long history the FAL was going to be in .280 British or 7 mm. A 140 grain round at about 2600 FPS.

    The officer in charge in USA (who had never left the country in WW2) got this overturned to 7.62 because it was the best way to get himself promoted plus kickbacks etc. He did a deal that if the FAL was in .30 it would be adopted by US army. He later broke this agreement and we ended up with the two calibers.

    6.8 mm is almost identical to the original British round.

  9. Fit the caliber to the intended target. Small critters, .22LR. Larger varmints .223. Large game .308, .270, 30-30, .357, .44 mag, .45 Colt, .243 for deer, and so on. Whatever suits your fancy. But I don’t think I’d necessarily go hunting with an AR-10 instead of a bolt gun.

  10. If I’m heading out the door for long march or I’m probably never coming home: 5.56. It’s lighting and I can carry more ammo.

    If I’m defending the homestead 7.62. Because deer, bears, and “two legged varmints” kiss the dirt faster.

    • “If I’m heading out the door for long march or I’m probably never coming home: 5.56.”

      you’re more likely to deal with long-range issues when out and about. modern infantry uses the 5.56 because that’s effective in its assigned area, with longer-range regions assigned to auto-weapons and artillery, but a man “out the door” has no such support and must handle everything on his own.

      grid down the most dominant factor in most conflicts will be the long-range rifle, there simply will be no answer to it.

      • That’s dependant on circumstances.

        Head out the door in the U.P. and you’re not going to see many distances longer than 150m unless you find a straight-away on a road somewhere.

        You’ll deal with a lot of dense brush, forrest and *urban* situations. If what you’re defending yourself against are predators of the two-legged variety it’s 5.56 all day in that situation because range is limited and faster follow-ups are a thing that does actually matter.

        • strych9,

          You bring up a compelling point: your environment largely dictates whether 5.56 or 7.62 is superior.

  11. I built up a sexy 18″ Grendel only to have POF release the Revolution DI in 308 the following year.
    So I had to buy that too.
    “Miss Mahshall? Ain’t the 556 for broads?”

  12. 7.62 vs. 5.56. Might as well compare apples and oranges. Both fruit, but that’s where similarity ends. They’re both rifle cartridges, but that’s where the similarity ends. Remember, .308 will do anything a .223 can do and then some. The reverse is not true. Physics says it can’t be true. The weight thing is a legitimate issue. Except for me. My primary 5.56 (16″ Galil ARM) weighs about as much as my M-1 rifle, M-1A and HK91. I did buy another AR-15 a few months ago. I’m so excited about it I’ve never fired it. But, it is light. Bottom line. If I had to unass my A.O. with only one rifle with ammo and support gear it would be a .308. Maybe my 03A3.

  13. The 556 is the best sub machine gun round ever made and pairs well with the AR-15 as the best sub machine gun. More accurate than a pistol, more lethal than a 9mm. Every American should be issued a 556 sbr at birth with an unlimited supply of ammo.

    The 762. A must have if you plan to be dropped off on the western coast of France and battle your way to Berlin on foot. Also handy if armor penetration is required or if you can make your case that a 500 meter shot is within the scope of self defense. But we are Americans and it is a wonderful round. Get more than one.

  14. If you’re going to carry a loadout of 180-210 rounds or shoot a lot, 5.56 is the clear winner. The low recoil makes it useful in rapid fire, and an 11.5″ barrel makes a decent CQB option.

    Otherwise, the 7.62 is ballistically superior if you can handle the extra weight, recoil, and expense and don’t need short barrel maneuverability.

  15. So in my state, the Dept of Fish and Wildlife determined any bullet less that 24 caliber cannot be used for deer hunting. They beleive that smaller bullets do not have sufficent energy and mass for a humane kill. I have to agree because we primarily have Mule deer that can reach 250-300 pounds.
    However in a SHTF situation, I think for self defense a 556 would be a good weapon for two legged predators. . Also a suppressed 22lr such as a Ruger 10/22 would be excellent. Anyone could easily carry 1000 22lr in a small backpack. Both can be used for hunting when rules no longer apply.

  16. If you need to punch through material to get to the problem a .308 does a better job. 5.56 bounced off windshields in Iraq and doesn’t go through cinder block.
    7.62 in steel core is my choice.
    No one is carrying thousands of rounds out the door so the weight isn’t the big issue. Half a dozen mags worth at most. If you plan to shoot a thousand rounds or more you’ve got more than logistic problems.
    Get some glass and learn to shoot 500 yards and you’ll appreciate .308.

  17. I always thought that the real reason the US military switched from 7.62 and .45 ACP to 5.56 and 9mm was because John and Tyrone and Julio can handle full-power weapons, but Brenda and Sally and Danielle can’t.

    • Thanks for the props! Somewhat agree with that assessment, but think that just reinforced the decision. It was primarily money-driven (defense contracts) and pushed by the weight/volume and distances data.

  18. The reason the 5.56 was adopted comes down to the most important word in military history: logistics. Troops can carry much more 5.56 than 7.62. When you consider that the vast majority of rounds fired in combat are fired for the purposes of suppression, and therefore many of them will never hit a target, as long as the round performs adequately, more is always better.

    How that translates to the civilian context is an open question. Suppressive fire isn’t something a homeowner can really engage in, but in a Mad Max situation, all bets are off. Personally, I think 5.56 is good enough for me right now, but once I move to a free state, I’ll probably get something in 7.62 because why not?

    • If only there was a 7.62 round the same size and weight as 5.56, that used the same magazines, shared the same platform, equaled or exceeded the performance of 5.56 at typical combat distances… wouldn’t that be something?

      Just on a lark… if someone were to concoct such a cartridge, it might take the form of something like, um, let’s say… 7.62×35. That would just make so much sense, wouldn’t it?

      Oh, wait…

      • Logistics again. The procurement pipeline for 5.56 is already in place to provide rounds by the ton that stretches all the way from manufacturers to the troops. Unless there’s an extremely compelling reason to switch, no one is going to mess with that.

        • Absolutely. But when debating whether one should pick the 7.62 or the 5.56, you don’t have to choose one or the other- the 7.62×35 literally IS both.

          FWIW- all of my long guns are 7.62… 7.62×51, 7.62×39, and 7.62×35. Ain’t got a single .22 in the whole bunch.

          Carry on

    • CarlosT,
      I have two heavy barreled 7.62x51s rifles that, off a bi-pod or sling supported prone, that can do suppressive fire if I had to with minimal recoil. I know how to work a single shot trigger. No bump stock required. I have done the same with a Mk19.
      Cannot say the same thing with a 16 inch AR15 in 5.56.

      • EDNKH,

        If it works for you individually, then have at it, but at even platoon scales it starts to add up fast.

        Roughing out some numbers, say a platoon is 45 guys. If they can carry 200 rounds of 7.62 or 300 round of 5.56, that’s a difference of 4,500 rounds. That’s a lot more rounds to send down range. When you need to get the other guys to keep their heads down so your guys can move to cover, that’s what matters.

  19. I prefer .308. I can feed it 7.62X51 which will be available even in hard times, better effective range than 5.56 or 7.62×39, etc. For me, it’s as close as can be to the “general purpose – do it all” cartridge.

    I wouldn’t mind an AR piston platform in 300WinMag, or 338LapuaMag. Weight is a non-issue for me and I embrace one of my qualities of being a slow husky that can carry almost anything to anywhere. The downside to these two is availability in SHTF; specialty cartridges that John Doe countryman probably won’t have.

    A .22lr mouse pistol would be a handy complement for it for shooting rabbits and tiny game.

  20. The 5.56/.223 isn’t a round you want to use on fur-bearing animals if you want to sell the pelt. BTDT, and the damage to the pelt was enough to ruin all economic value to a fur trader.

    If you want to shoot a fur-bearing animal and have it retain value, my recommendation is a .17 HMR with the 17gr V-Max. The bullet blows up before it can exit, kills a ‘yote or a red fox, and the furrier can close the wee little hole on entrance with one stitch. I would say that that two red foxes I shot with my .338 (two with one 210 grain Nosler Partition round – one fox was behind the other) exhibited less hide damage than those I have shot with 55 grain M193 rounds from an AR.

    The 7.62 is a far more versatile round for a wildcatter and hunter. You can neck down and get .243, .260, 7mm08, and neck up and have .338 Federal .358 Win, .375 Raptor, etc. A .308-based .338 or .35 round will take most anything in North America competently. There are far more bolt-action rifles extant with 0.473″ bolt faces that can be adapted to take a .308-based cartridge than there are for the smaller 5.56/.223.

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  22. Since the .308 and .243 use the same case, I was curious why they went with the .223.
    The .243 has all the advantages of the .223 in a lighter weight, less recoiling round than the .308 It takes plenty of deer in the US as well.
    Seems to me it would be logistically better to just use the necked down .308 case of the .243, which you could manufacture from the same blanks and save billions.

  23. From a military perspective and the logistics, the 5.56 makes sense.
    But that is combat.

    I do not have the long logistical train of the DoD. What I have on hand is what I have. That is it.
    I need one round that can do most everything well. From self defense, to anti-material, to small, medium and large game (handloads with the corresponding bullets and powder charges, we have moose and black bear up here) and at various ranges and in heavy brush.
    I need it to be common, reasonably cheap (I know that is questionable these days).
    For me, where I live, that is the 7.62×51. Sure, have both, right? Cannot afford that on a limited budget. Wish I could.
    While many look down on a bolt rifle, I need something that will go bang down into single digit and even negative temps. I have been deer hunting when it was 2 degrees when I left the house for the deer stand. When it comes to putting meat on the table, I do not have that kind of confidence in a semi-auto that I do in a bolt rifle.
    I think the late, great, COL Jeff Cooper’s Scout Rifle was the right idea. Does most everything well with a real rifleman who has master the fundamentals of marksmanship behind it.

  24. This site is a communist operation. They censor truthful and objective posts. No one knows their rules and the censor remains a secretive snake in the grass. What are they afraid of ?

    Reddit is a run by Woke Marxists also. Maybe the same people are in charge.

    Several of my replies have vanished after being flagged. But never is a reason given.

    Its time to contact the advertisers and tell them to spend their money where secret censorship is not in play.

  25. “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.”

    What??!! The author is DEFINITELY a fiction writer according to his bio… Does any warm body write for TTAG?

  26. I asked two USMC vets once if they were going to a fight and could only choose one rifle, what would they take. Both said 5.56 hands down. Both are in the gun-fighting business. I listen.
    Both note the round count and weight advantage of the 5.56.

    • Vets of what? Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria? Or Desert Storm? I’d take one of the guys in Restore Hope over Desert Storm, but each conflict has it’s share of challenges and plenty of people that didn’t do shit. Everyone’s got an opinion. Yes, I like 5.56 too, but don’t confine myself to one choice. Choose the tool for the application. For me—I like variety. Just like the spice of life. But I also dabble with 7.5×55 Swiss or 6.5 Carcano. Because I can. Find what works for you and choose wisely.

    • USMC/0311 here as well and I would take an AR10 chambered in .308 or 7.62 because 7.62×51 is included in logistics for feeding the M240 and 7.62rifles . Better effective range, etc, etc.

      It does depend on where the fight is, the scale of the fight / war, etc. If WW3 breaks out and there are logistics issues in getting ammo and essentials then necessity may demand I pick up a local’s rifle and use that since ammo may be more available for it. That said, sweet talking leadership into letting me take a spare M240 would also be an option but this is rifles only, not machine guns.

      It was hard enough just getting a resupply of diesel fuel and mail in Afghanistan; we bought diesel from the locals once or twice just to keep the generator running and the radios charged. The reefer boxes were always full of cheese cakes and icecream, plenty of canned protein shakes. (A nice indication of priorities.) I doubt US military will be able to hold its own against another modern military since it has become too soft and officers above O6 are just a different flavor of politician.

      If I had my way, age of enlistment would be a minimum of 28-32; that is, you can’t enlist UNTIL you are 28. Pop out some kids first, gain life experience, then entertain warfare.

  27. My óld man liked 556. He said it was the only thing NATO ever did right. He also said he didn’t care what anyone 3lse liked as long as they didn’t eff with his likes. Lol

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  29. For home defense 5.56. Home defense ranges are very short obviously. So 5.56 is enough gun and is less likely to over penetrate with the right ammunition. For other purposes 7.62mm is my preference.

  30. Not much. I hate bullpups. They look silly… not to mention that it’s enough to have an explosion going off 6″ in front of your face, let alone right at one’s cheek/brain.

  31. I got into firearms shooting as much 7.62 surplus as possible, which is why so little is left. We all did then. The inevitable did happen, tho, as the M16 proved itself as a viable combat rifle, it also showed whre it is superior on the range, especially if the stages include longer strings of fire where getting back on target quicker is governed by recoil.

    That is what military studies were showing, all the way back to WWI, that the less recoil the shooter SUFFERED, the more he would try to put rounds downrange. And the more bullets in the air, the more casualties the enemy suffered, all because some of those bullets would strike someone it was never intentionally aimed at. Pop up out of a trench a split second AFTER the trigger is pulled and soldiers actually walked INTO the fire. There is a lot of movement in battle and filling the air with more bullets hits more soldiers which reduces combat effectiveness and wins the battle.

    Germans went so far as to assemble squads of MG42 gunners to lay in ambush of the advancing Russian troops and their actions slowed progress by the Soviets considerably. Time was wasted trucking more troops to die on the front line.

    While carrying a .308 for hunting – an HK91 – I also trained and carried an M16 + for 22 years in the service, and eventually decided that surplus 7.62 was no longer available cheap for shooting fun on a range. 25C a round quit happening more than 15 years ago.

    As I wanted a “better” hunting rifle yet on an AR15 receiver, I went 6.8SPC, and it delivers ok, 50% more power than 5.56, exactly what it was designed to do in 14.5″ barrels. In a 16″ even a tad better. A 5.56 AR pistol followed but it does have an 85 yard or so limit with ethical foot pounds of force. I decided that the power of a 7.62 in an AR15 would possibly be the best of both worlds, and all I need now is a .375 SOCOM barrel and bolt to finish.

    Great choice of timing for that. I found components on sale – even cheaper than the days of building a 6.8, altho not as cheap as 4 years back. Will .375 deliver, sure, all the tables and charts say so. Near equal with 7.62 and a 300m max flat trajectory. Effectively the same as 7.62 in a hunting situation. Will UPS deliver, goes to our current situation. As for ammo, I don’t shoot $1 a round 6.8 recreationally, that is what the 5.56 is for. With .375 at $3.00 each, it’s still affordable when a couple of boxes of cartridges will last 2-3 years. I’m not going to waste much of it on paper. That isn’t the point at all.

    The internet answer of “Get both” can be done with one rifle and one cartridge.

  32. Let’s go at this from another angle. When you run out gas or your pick-up breaks down what would you be most likely able to carry? Aside from at least three days food supply, two canteens of water, and a med bag?

  33. Let’s go at this from another angle. When you run out gas or your pick-up breaks down what would you be most likely able to carry? Aside from at least three days food supply, two canteens of water, and a med bag? (think something messed up. Posted twice….)

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