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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A comment was recently made about how the new board format could promote serious, long-debated posts about technical issues. That brought to mind the .223 cartridge issue which has recently become very relevant for me with LE arms sales. I'd like to throw out a few thoughts for comment in no particular order or symmetry:

1. .222 rem was invented for benchrest shooting and adopted by 'we, people' for killing small creatures. It is still respected as the perfect halfway performance between .22 rimfire and loud barrel-burners like 22-250 and 220 Swift.
2. Germany taught the old world many things about weapons in WW2, one of which was that modern military tactics do not require 1,000yd rifle performance. The NATO adoption of 7.62x51 in 1953 was, therefore, a huge tactical mistake.
3. Correcting this mistake caused a move too far in the other direction to 5.56x45, a bigger mistake that NATO has been compensating for ever-since.
4. The problems with 5.56 ammo for military use are long and documented and not on my list of comments to make here. The one advantage that has recently become relevant is the round is capable of penetrating body armour better than most other commonly-encountered LE ammo.
5. This has led to LE agencies adopting 5.56 'SMGs' such as the HK53, SIG552, 11.5" M16 etc. which, be definition, cannot be termed as rifles or carbines.
6. While all this has been going on, sportsmen have benefited by the huge volume of .223 development and have been happily enjoying the .223 cartridge mainly for its primary intended purpose - killing small critters.
7. A small subset of target shooters have developed heavy-bullet loads for long(ish) range match shooting.

Now to the crux of my point for debate: Is there any point in sportsmen and vermin hunters spending time and effort developing .223 hunting loads for short-barreled hunting rifles with heavy bullets? Bearing in mind that the military can't use frangible ammo due to the Haig Convention Treaty and match shooters only punch holes in paper. What new directions can our small subset of hunters take this cartridge without necking it up or down? Can a 16" carbine firing 70gr V-max or other frangible ammo do anything that existing 55gr ammo can't?
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Now to the crux of my point for debate: Is there any point in sportsmen and vermin hunters spending time and effort developing .223 hunting loads for short-barreled hunting rifles with heavy bullets? Bearing in mind that the military can't use frangible ammo due to the Haig Convention Treaty and match shooters only punch holes in paper. What new directions can our small subset of hunters take this cartridge without necking it up or down? Can a 16" carbine firing 70gr V-max or other frangible ammo do anything that existing 55gr ammo can't?
The only issue I see is that most .224 bullets are made to expand at high velocities, not low ones.

However you can still get pretty good speed out of a 16" barrel with a .223. I have a AR15 Carbine and have no problem getting 3,000 fps out of it with 55gr bullets.

But to answer your question, I doubt it.

Also every military round we've ever had was lampooned during it's era. Including the 06!

At realistic combat ranges, the 5.56 has proven every bit as lethal as anything else. There have always been stories of guys taking multiple hits and not going down. Even with the 06.

Many times the "hit" wasn't where the shooter said it was, or was actually a miss or hit the enemy's weapon or other gear instead of his body.

Age old tales throughout every war.
 

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MM
You've definitely brought up lots for discussion with this one. I don't completely agree with a few of your points here. I doubt it if the military saw the 7.62x51mm {308Win} as a mistake. I believe that it came at a time when somebody here in the US decided that the ammo capacity carried by a foot soldier was more important than the terminal ballistics. Testing at that time was also not as advanced either. That was also proven later when the M16 was fielded with the wrong kind of propellant for the environment that they were first used.

Complaints about the lack of performance of the M16 got pretty lound in Somalia, hence the recent re-appearance of the M14 in the middle east in such high numbers these days. The 308 cal round had always been capable, just never used long enough to develop a platform for it smaller than the M14 service rifle. The M16 just came into play too soon after the US dropped the M1 Garand for the M14.

The problem with the terminal ballistics of the 5.56NATO is because of the bullet design. As you stated, the military is not allowed to use anything more frangible than what's currently in use. Current 62gr bullets combine a steel core, lead base and copper jacket in order to obtain both light armor piercing and soft tissue performance out of one bullet. That is generally a mistake. It's hard to get a bullet that small to do everything. They should have been more concerned with soft tissue performance within the rules of bullet design. They tried to design a bullet to give them what the 308 already had. Most times on soft targets, the current US 223 round punches through without the claimed performance on soft tissue. Basically the current US 62gr Round fails to come apart as designed because they are simply too tough. German Hirtenberger 62gr NATO rounds have always performed better in gelatin tests because they manufacture a similar bullet with a thinner copper jacket. But that is something that cannot be completely relied upon, if they change military contractors, the bullet can then easily become like ours, not reliable.

After what I have seen in Gelatin Testing, I would not consider the 223Rem with the right kind of bullet to be inadequate. I believe the main drawback is the bullet chosen by the military. Unfortunately due to bullet diameter{weight}, the choices are going to be limited, given the restrictive rules. As for defeating body armor, all 223 ammo will defeat soft body armor. I am not sure what you meant with this statement about the difference between military 5.56 ammo and Law Enforcement ammo for this purpose. Even 223Rem ammo with run of the mill 40gr soft points will defeat anything in my department inventory except heavy tactical vests with ceramic plates designed for rifle fire.

The shorty AR's and HK53 carbines are purpose weapons, mainly for use as entry weapons and escort weapons. Rifles are just too long for some applications. Some see specialized use in the military. These are not the norm. With the AR platform, reliable feeding becomes an issue with barrels less than 14 inches. Switching to a heavier bullet {75grJHP }generally solves the problem because with the light 55-62gr ammo, the bullet leaves the barrel before the pressure builds enough to cycle the bolt reliably. The other route was to tune the gas system to function with the ammo that was to be used. HK53 which is no longer made had no such problems and worked better as a shorty rifle. The SIG rifle has an adjustable gas system and works great in this capacity.

Sportsmen have the benefit of not having to abide by the rules of war. We are able to use the cartridges advantages of speed and accuracy combined with the bullet of our choosing. We can and have been able to exploit the 223 to our advantage both in hunting and target shooting.

As for the heavy bullets, there is no real advantage in developing a load for the heavy match bullets in a 223 other than to try to reach out there for long distance shots. The 75gr A-Max is an example of a bullet that can be used for this purpose, but not every rifle can shoot them. Not many long distance target bullets in 22 caliber are great varmint bullets. You also need faster twists than standard and they do not fly at the speeds that we would like them to as compared to the lighter V-MAX offerings. I see it as a niche rifle and would not choose to build a rifle with such a short barrel for that purpose.

Ken
 

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.223 Rem comments

1. Interestingly, and apprapo of nothing, the original diameter .224 bullet is considered "illegal" by the Swiss with their interpretation of the Geneva Convention ... they say the bullet either tumbles or breaks up upon impact causing unacceptably serious wounds. They actually make their round 5.63 (I think) rather than 5.56 to deal with that problem supposedly.

But, The idea of a frangible bullet for varmint hunting is interesting, because it eliminates danger of ricochetts. But I question the 16 inch barrel. One of the things we do is shoot longer ranges and a longer barrel would help us get the most of potential velocity and flattter trajectory (for all I know the 16 inch may be the maximum effective length for that depending on the type of powder you're using). But my comment assumes a longer tube in which to accellerate the bullet IS useful.

In terms of heavier bullets, I wish the regular manufacturers would make guns with faster twist options. With a heavy bullet I suspect a 22-250 would be accurate to really exceptional ranges, but with the standard 1 in 14 (or is it 12) twist, there ain't much you can do as far as heavy bullets go. That's why I'm considering a Cooper frifle in 6mm BR Norma with a 1 in 10 twist .. so I can stabilize 100 grain bullets and and shot at really long range. (Also I can use the 100 gr bullet for deer at 300 or less.)
 

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John, please rethink your plan before dumping you money down

for a 1 in 10 twist for your soon to be new 6BR Norma. I've had a 1 in 10 twist in my 6m/m-284 and even with that big ol case, I could NOT shoot bullets of 100 grains. Just wouldn't do it. I too am in the building stage of a new 6BR Norma. Mine is going to be a long neck, no turn with .040 freebore. This should enable me to shoot about everyting from the really little ones all the way up to the 107's and still reach the rifling if that is what I want to do. Like to hear your thoughts on it please. Maybe I'm googing up again?? Thanks for your time.
 

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I have three 6BR's with different twist barrels.

One is a tight neck .265" on a Rampro action for Benchrest work, has a 1in14 twist Hart barrel and likes the light stuff. I shoot 65V-Max and 66gr Fowlers BR bullets from it.

Second is a Rem700 tactical with a 1in12 twist Hart barrel which shoots everything from 58gr-80gr very well. It has a 6BR Norma chamber with a .271 Neck. It is one of my favorite rifles.
Both of the above rifles are built by Mike Bryant.

The third is a Rem700 with a 26inch Hart barrel with a 1in8 twist barrel which was built for the 105-107gr target bullets. It also shoots the light stuff very well and I have done some load development with 65gr V-Max bullets with it. I tried to split the difference with it in Wyoming a few years ago and shoot the 87gr V-Max. I came away disappointed with the terminal ballistics. Although the accuracy was there, the case capacity of the 6BR left speed a little too slow for the 87gr bullets. I made hits out to 400 yards, but prairie dogs fell over like bowling pins rather than blow up like with other faster cartridges.
The following year I returned with the Rem700 tactical loaded with 70gr Sierra Blitz Kings and came away thinking that the extra speed made all the difference for the small case capacity of the 6BR.

I like the 6BR with heavy bullets for punching paper, but for live varmints, I prefer a lighter bullet.
For the long range shots, I built a 6mm-284Winchester for the 87gr V-Max and got what I wanted, accuracy with splat factor at longer ranges. The 6-284Win is a huge powder consumer, but it definitely gets the bullet out there, and with authority.

Ken
 

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1. Interestingly, and apprapo of nothing, the original diameter .224 bullet is considered "illegal" by the Swiss with their interpretation of the Geneva Convention ... they say the bullet either tumbles or breaks up upon impact causing unacceptably serious wounds. They actually make their round 5.63 (I think) rather than 5.56 to deal with that problem supposedly.

But, The idea of a frangible bullet for varmint hunting is interesting, because it eliminates danger of ricochetts. But I question the 16 inch barrel. One of the things we do is shoot longer ranges and a longer barrel would help us get the most of potential velocity and flattter trajectory (for all I know the 16 inch may be the maximum effective length for that depending on the type of powder you're using). But my comment assumes a longer tube in which to accellerate the bullet IS useful.

In terms of heavier bullets, I wish the regular manufacturers would make guns with faster twist options. With a heavy bullet I suspect a 22-250 would be accurate to really exceptional ranges, but with the standard 1 in 14 (or is it 12) twist, there ain't much you can do as far as heavy bullets go. That's why I'm considering a Cooper frifle in 6mm BR Norma with a 1 in 10 twist .. so I can stabilize 100 grain bullets and and shot at really long range. (Also I can use the 100 gr bullet for deer at 300 or less.)
If you want a fast twist 223 go Savage. 1in9 twist factory barrels. I have a old model long action Savage 4x4 with a 20'' stiffy that shoots Honaday 75gr.match ammo like crazy. The only thing is i have to load it single shot. It will not feed out of the magazine worth a damn! The Savage model 10 has no problems with feeding. Or so i've been told.
 

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Monkeyman, the answer to your question is: NO

Instead, an AR-15 owner should buy a 6.8mm upper from one of the many vendors now making these.

You could then load the excellent 110 gr VMAX for varmints, and the 110 gr Triple Shock when you want some expansion, but with deep penetration.

There is no point trying to make the .223 do something it was not designed for. Recoil from the 6.8 mm is really quite mild.

Lance in Orygun
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Instead, an AR-15 owner should buy a 6.8mm upper from one of the many vendors now making these.

You could then load the excellent 110 gr VMAX for varmints, and the 110 gr Triple Shock when you want some expansion, but with deep penetration.

There is no point trying to make the .223 do something it was not designed for. Recoil from the 6.8 mm is really quite mild.

Lance in Orygun
I couldn't agree more on the point about stretching the .223 but the fact still stands: despite many rumours and efforts to the contrary, the 5.56x45 is here to stay. With regard to the point on the 6.8SPC, I have a slightly different approach based on my own personal version of practical engineering: I'd simply half all the key features of both cartridges (5.56 and 7.62) such as bore, bullet weight, velocity. If you use that approach you end up with the 6.5x39/6.5PPC/6.5 Grendel. But that's another argument altogether.

I'll tell you about a situation that recently came up with a regional coast guard customer: They need guns that can stop boats, mostly little ones with outboard motors. Currently they use the 7.62x51 FAL which, in my opinion, is the best MBR ever built and which, by the way, was originally designed for a smallbore cartridge following the experiences of WW2. They wanted to buy belt-fed 5.56 LMGs due to the lack of effectiveness of the 5.56x45 round on machinery and vehicles compared to 7.62 (logic: they need to hit the target more often). Is there any weapon more contradictory than a belt-fed 5.56 LMG? Who supports the fire-support? Might as well just field a heavy-barrel M16 or G36 or SIG550 and feed it magazines until it melts. I'm hoping to sway them back towards one of the best LMGs ever built, the MG42, in 7.62 NATO.

So, with no holds barred, how good could you make the .223? Good enough to reliably bring down 200lb game with body-shots at 600m?
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Are you speaking of firing a 223 at deer sized game or people varmints? If you want to ask me something off the forum, drop me a PM.
Ken
 

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I saw what a .223 can do in Nam. I don't know what bullet we were shooting or what barrel twist,but it made a mess. We were more worried about getting shot at with a M16 than any AK.
 

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Monkeyman, I think you answered your own question

The best way to extend the .223's abilities is to go with multiple hits. So the FNH M249 SAW is definitely the way for your people to go with.

The M249 is a good, proven weapon too. So just have them rain .22 caliber bullets down on the buggers. I really don't know if you need to go heavier than 62 gr. Do they absolutely need to be able to shoot them at 600 m??

Most common criminals are only armed with handguns.

Lance in Orygun







 

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If the 5.56 can't do the trick on an engine, than go for the fifty. If they choose a 7.62, than I'd bet the bullet they carry won't be any better that those 62 grainers. Think of shooting from a swaying boat deck at a swaying boat, they're going to need every round they can carry.
 
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