5.56 vs. .45

This is a discussion on 5.56 vs. .45 within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; In researching a bit as to why the military chose the 5.56 caliber, I ran across this story. I thought it was interesting. Your question ...

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Thread: 5.56 vs. .45

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    VIP Member Array ExactlyMyPoint's Avatar
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    5.56 vs. .45

    In researching a bit as to why the military chose the 5.56 caliber, I ran across this story. I thought it was interesting.

    Your question reminds me of two murders I helped investigate while in Vietnam with the Criminal Investigation Division.

    The first involved a soldier drinking on guard duty. The Sargent of the Guard caught him. The drunk fired a single round from his M-16 at the Sargent. The 5.56 mm round struck the victim on the collar bone of his right shoulder. It shattered the bone and ricocheted downwards and to the left through the torso of the man's body, coming to rest just above his left hip. The bullet tumbled and fragmented as it went through the man's body, leaving a devastating wound that the sargent did not survive. A .308 round would have just punched through the collar bone and shoulder, leaving the Sargent wounded but alive.

    The second case involved a young MP working a traffic control point. He was holding traffic as a long convoy was passing through. A Sargent in one of the stopped vehicles became angry at having to wait so long. According to numerous witnesses he approached the MP, shouting and cursing, demanding that the MP stop the convoy so he could get by. The MP told him to get back in his truck. Witnesses said that the Sargent , a short, fat, 280 pound man, pushed the MP. The MP responded by pulling his .45 auto and again ordering the man back to his truck. The Sargent cursed and said, "Gimme that f*****g gun" and reached for the weapon. Witnesses told me the MP fired two rounds into the Sargent . The Sargent , looked surprised, cursed again, took another step towards the MP, and the MP fired two more rounds. The man reached out with both arms took another step and the MP fired the remaining three rounds into him. Witnesses told me that Sargent stood for a few more seconds and finally fell to the ground. I was assigned to witness the autopsy. All of the rounds were center of mass hits. Five of the rounds had hit the man just below the sternum, one of them poked a hole in the bottom of the heart. The other three were in the chest, two had punctured the left lung and one had gone through the esophagus. None of the rounds fully penetrated the body, all the bullets were recovered. None of them were mushroomed, but were deformed.

    The .223 certainly is a man stopper. The bullet will do terrible damage to the body. The human body, on the other hand, can absorb an awful lot of punishment. If I had to chose which round to be hit by; I think my chances of surviving the hit would be better with the .45
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    Pistols are pistols.
    Rifles are rifles.

    'nuff said.
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    Which is why most instructors say the function of a handgun is to get you to a rifle. 300 win mag is only 2/3 the caliber of a 45 acp...but, I sure don't want to be on the receiving end of it. Likewise, I've shot deer with a 22-250 that didn't seem to enjoy the process either. Rifles are just a completely different ballgame.

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    "A .308 round would have just punched through the collar bone and shoulder, leaving the Sargent wounded but alive."

    This is conjecture and should not be taken as fact.

    Just because someone says it doesn't make it so.
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    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    That can't be true! We know the 45 to be the Hammer of Thor.
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    RKM
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    I made a "5.56 vs .45" thread awhile ago... wondering why the same people who think the .45 is the ultimate man stopper and will throw people across rooms tend to think that a .223 or 5.56 is weak and underpowered. Knowing full well that the 5.56 is superior to .45 in almost every way (except, maybe penetration comparing FMJ rounds).

    5.56 wins any day. However, in the handgun world, .45 is still one of the top dogs as far as I'm concerned. Handguns suck. You have to shoot the threat to the ground. Not shoot, observe, shoot, observe, shoot, observe as the story goes.

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    Senior Member Array taseal's Avatar
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    all i'm going to say in this thread is one caliber, and I will open a nice discussion lol

    5.7x28

    ;)

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    The destructive power of the 5.56 was with the original 55 fmj loading as was first issued to the USAF, and then to ground troops. The ranges were short in this environment and the bullet tumbled on impact which caused the destruction.

    The 55 weight bullet runs out of it's lethal steam at distance, hence the push and development of heavier bullets and faster twist weights to stabilize them. This has worked to make it hit harder at distance, but the reverse effect is that at closer distance, the tumbling effect has been somewhat retarded and replaced with more straight penetration.

    I have always thought it nonsense to say a rifle has more " killing power" than a large caliber handgun, and will never buy into it. What a rifle brings is more power, which makes complete penetration of tissue easier, but a handgun can also penetrate. What makes the rifle the " queen of the battle", is the ease of hits at distance, with subsequent follow up shots quicker combined with accuracy.

    A hole put thru the human body, whether at 900 fps in 45 cal, or one at 3200 fps by a 22 cal, is a hole. Ones just faster.
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    So you just choose not to believe that the temporary cavitation caused by high velocity rifle rounds does more damage to soft tissue than slower pistol rounds?

    .308

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE9xjUVcszs

    .45

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe6hEcdki_8

    Granted, the videos compare .308 and .45, not 5.56. The .45 is still a bigger bullet than the .308 in both diameter and weight though.

    Looks pretty different to me. By your logic that's kinda like saying getting hit by a VW Beetle doing 15 vs an Indy car doing 200 would be about the same. Both of them are cars, one is just going faster right?
    Last edited by sparkykb; September 6th, 2012 at 10:00 AM. Reason: Fixed links to videos, I don't think they were working correctly.
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    Not a valid comparison as both the VW Beetle and the Indy car will effectively knock one off his feet.

    One could be said to be having a bad day if fairly struck by a .45 ACP, .223, VW Beetle, or Indy car.
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    I can't get my head around the comparison of getting hit by a car and a temporary wound cavity.

    Either way, permanent results are final. And temporary is just that...temporary.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    I think I would rather have a Barrett 50 cal than a 223 or a 45 if I needed a "man-stopper" round.

    By the same token, I would rather have a Mack Truck than a VW Beetle or Indy Car if I needed to run someone over.
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    Freight trains are nice.
    357and40, OD* and Rock and Glock like this.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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