.223 As A Defense Round
Question - I have seen it stated on numerous sites that the .223 is useless as a defensive round. The typical response is "it's hardly bigger than a .22"
My question is this, if that statement is true why does the military use .223 / 5.56 NATO rounds? The local Army Depot (Richmond KY) ships literally tons of this to troops over seas. Somehow I feel I am getting bad information from well intending individuals.
I'd say the truly ignorant say it's useless as a defensive round, especially at inside the home distances.
And since we're not handicapped by having to use FMJ rounds (as the military is), effectiveness just goes up from there.
Plenty of folks with good intentions don't know what they're talking about.
That's rubbish. At the speed the bullet is traveling it is a very devastating round.
I have read that small high velocity rounds are safer for home defense because they are less likely to fully penetrate walls and end up in a neighbors house. That they expend all their energy on the immediate target instead of passing through.
The .223 fragments so quickly (dissipating all it's energy) that it is actually one of the safer in-home rounds to use. In my training and experience, .223 will -usually- not penetrate 2 pieces of sheet-rock. Which means it enters the wall, but does not exit the other side. Sounds pretty good to me.
That 00buck round your neighbor just fired is coming through your walls next.
The biggest issue with 5.56/.223 is barrier penetration. In some cases, that is a good thing (like home defense). In other cases, it can be a very bad thing.
While I have a 5.56 rifle (Mini 14), if I ever need to defend my general area in a civil disturbance, I'm grabbing my .30-30.
Remember that the individual infantryman with a 5.56 M16 or M4 is backed up by a full-auto SAW (2 per squad), along with 7.62 x 51 machine guns, grenade launchers, and everything else that is only a radio call away. As a civilian, I do not have the big green machine backing me up - so my preferrence is for something launching a heavier rifle bullet.
Next time someone says that, have them find a .22lr, and a .223, and the compare the sizes. The bullet itself on the .223 is about the size of the whole cartridge for a .22lr
Originally Posted by Diddle
Originally Posted by Diddle
A .22lr, with a 36 grain bullet traveling about 1200 fps vs a .223 with a 55 grain bullet going 3200 fps.
A lot bigger
I have read that the .223 is much more effective the closer to muzzle velocity it is. Apparently the bullet likes to go end over end upon striking tissue and fragments causing multiple wound channels and making a general mess of things. The 5.56 out of shorter barrels at longer distance may have more of a tendancy for through and through, knitting needle type wounds. This, mind you, is all based upon reading and not experience. I am a chairborne ranger in that respect. :)
The military FMJ needs high velocities in order to fragment upon tumbling. The problem is that the shorter barrels do not produce the higher velocities. That is compounded by the use of faster twist rates, which were needed for the heavier (and thus longer) bullets, which the military wanted for better barrier penetration - these bullets tend to be more stable. In Somalia, the 5.56 did tend to zip right through the skinny drugged-up militia fighters, leaving ice pick-like wounds that would not quickly stop them unless a vital area was hit. They were so skinny, that the bullets would tumble only after they had already gone through.
As civilians, all these issues can be easily avoided by the use of a JSP or a JHP.
While 5.56 is fine (as is .223), I still prefer a .30-something for serious work.
A 55 grain .223 round traveling at 3000+ feet per second gives a muzzle energy of 1200+ ft-lbs. That is a huge amount of kinetic energy transferring to soft tissue. The 40 grain .22lr gives about 115 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. So yeah, not exactly the same round. :)
I got on some page at the beginning of the war when we all started feeling the large price increases along with the shortages
that we were shipping 3.5 million rounds of 223/556 rounds per mouth to the ground forces.Someone more knowledgeable
than me. I remember our servicemen were using 62grain and 72or77 grain for long distances.I remember during the Viet Nam
era when M16 was first introduced and it was killing our soliders because of using wrong gunpowder not keeping clean.Colt put
up ablock wall and proceeded to destroy it with those little bullets.I know some guys would buy black market thompsons orak's
because they would go bang when you needed.Even today the M-14 still rocks !
There's no such thing as a "worthless" round for home defense because any round of any caliber is better than nothing at all or a golf club.
To me, the most important aspect of a home defense weapon precludes any type of shoulder-stocked rifle or shotgun (of any caliber or gauge) because they are simply too long to quickly swing around, aim (by whatever method) and fire in the generally tight confines of a home environment's small rooms full of furniture, doors, and other proximity objects to hit with the barrel or greatly restrict free weapon movement in any direction. It's very diffcult to quickly aim or point-shoot a target with a long-gun from over or around any cover you may be using without almost fully exposing yourself - not so with a handgun.
After being forced to carry an inferior .223 "varmint round" (best suited for popping prairie dogs at 300 meters) in combat while noting the major wound difference created by the .30 caliber AK carbine round, a 5.56 x 45mm rifle would be my #2 choice for interior home defense.
My #1 choice would be just about everything else.
As a note for "apples to apples" comparison of average mil-spec ball ammo:
5.56 x 45mm (.223) = 56 grain bullet @ 3240fps w/ 1282 ft/lbs me
7.62 x 39mm (.30 AK) = 124 grain bullet @ 2330fps w/ 1495 ft/lbs me
I agree that the bigger problem with the .223 as a home defense round is more to do with the platform than the round itself. Unless your house is a hallway at one end and all the rooms are clustered at one end of it, a rifle just isn't practical. A rifle is a precision instrument for intermediate to long ranges, not next room work unless you've got SWAT-type training.
Now, one of those pistol-grip 12-gauge shotguns... who wants to buy me a Christmas present? :wink:
Word of warning...If you opt for a pistol grip 12 guage get the Knox Breacher grip. They make them for 870s and Mossberg 500s if I remember correctly. Otherwise it can be painful to fire enough to become proficient. A couple of boxes of shells with the old pistol grip left mine and my wifes hands visibly bruised. With the Knox we can shoot boxes and boxes of shells with no problem. Feels like a stout .410 or a light 20G now. A laser sight wouldn't be a bad idea either.
Originally Posted by livewire9880