5.56x45mm vs .223 Remington

5.56x45mm vs .223 Remington

This is a discussion on 5.56x45mm vs .223 Remington within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'm far from a purchase, but just to increase my knowledge base, I was wondering. I was told to purchase a 5.56x45mm chambered firearm, as ...

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Thread: 5.56x45mm vs .223 Remington

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    5.56x45mm vs .223 Remington

    I'm far from a purchase, but just to increase my knowledge base, I was wondering.

    I was told to purchase a 5.56x45mm chambered firearm, as the 5.56x45mm firearm can use either 5.56x45mm or .223 Remington, however the .223 Remington chambered firearm can not safely fire the 5.56x45mm round. I get the concept, as it is true, but I'm wondering about practically.

    On average, does the 5.56x45mm firearm cost more? Is it available for civilian purchase? Is there a disadvantage to shooting a .223 Rem out of a 5.56x45mm chambered firearm (beyond the different ballistics of the rounds)?

    I'm only starting serious consideration. I'm not sure about availability (of anything), still, always good to learn. Thinking an AR-15. I might wait till I hear more about FN scar (semi-auto version has a price tag, but just interesting all the barrel options and maybe caliber options). This is the first time I've heard about the 5.56x45mm vs .223 Remington consideration. Could use help past this part of the learning curve.
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    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanis View Post
    On average, does the 5.56x45mm firearm cost more?
    A gun's not going to cost more because it's chambered for 5.56, it's just as easy to cut a 5.56 chamber as it is a .223 chamber. However, you do tend to see 5.56 chambers in more 'serious' rifles, which are often a bit mroe price.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanis View Post
    Is it available for civilian purchase?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanis View Post
    Is there a disadvantage to shooting a .223 Rem out of a 5.56x45mm chambered firearm (beyond the different ballistics of the rounds)?
    No.

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    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    I forgot to also ask, is this good advise, go with a 5.56x45mm chambered firearm vs a .223 Rem firearm?
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    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanis View Post
    I forgot to also ask, is this good advise, go with a 5.56x45mm chambered firearm vs a .223 Rem firearm?
    Depends, what is this gun for? Is it going to be a plinker, or a paper puncher, or a game gun, or a serious fighting gun? .223 chambers are a bit more accurate, but they tend to be a bit more finicky, with more malfunctions. If we're talking about a self-defense gun, I'd definitely go with 5.56.

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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Surplus ammo is generally going to be more available in the 5.56mm. Assuming we are talking mainly about the AR-15 rifles here, it just seems to be more sensible to get the 5.56mm chamber. I don't notice any degradation in accuracy using .223 in my Bushmaster at 100yds or less with an 11 1/2" barrel. I don't know of any bolt actions made with 5.56 chamber. In this case, using 5.56 in a .223 rifle might have some risk as it has already been warned against. Then of course you always have those that come out and say they have done it with no ill effects. Those are the type of folks that make things dangerous for others, since others might rather listen to them than what makes sense, and put forth in black and white by the people who know. If you have a firearm that you plan on using both 5.56mm and/or .223, I'd go with the 5.56 chamber for sure.

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    I recently purchased a Stag Arms( You can see my thread in in this forum also) and it's chambered in 5.56. I too was skeptical about launching a 223 out of it. I did my research, and gave it a try, and it shoots wonderfully. I also took a look into the twist; as some say a 1:7 is optimal to shoot both, while mine is a 1:9 twist. I will say that the 5.56 seems a bit more accurate, but I like the option/availability to shoot two different round types. I do it , and will shoot a 223 if the 5.56 is unavailable, or if there is that much of a price difference on the ammo. I know it's a different topic also, but I recently got a Brownells 22LR conversion, and that is fun and cost pennies to shoot just to keep the trigger time in there also. Best of luck, and you'll find plenty of 5.56 rifle offerings out there, as they're more of the norm it seems nowadays.
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    Most rifles with 1:9 twist barrels are actually chambered in .223, not 5.56 NATO. Some companies, like Rock River Arms, use a Wylde chamber, which is a hybrid falling somewhere between .223 Remington specs and 5.56 NATO specs; I don't know exactly what differences there are, just that it's supposedly safe to fire 5.56 NATO through them. Others, like Noveske, have slightly modified 5.56 chambers designed for shooting match-quality ammo like the Mk262. So far as I know, Noveske rifles have always been designed to shoot 5.56, so they're good to go. Consider having someone run a 5.56 reamer through it if you expect to shoot 5.56 ammo.

    NATO specs call for the 5.56x45 chamber to have a longer leade than SAAMI spec'd .223 Remington chambers. A shorter leade means greater pressures. Additionally, while .223 Rem and 5.56 NATO have identical external dimensions, the case walls of the 5.56 are slightly thicker than that of the .223 Rem. Reloaders and gun rag writers like Glen Zediker estimate a combined 15,000 psi (or more) jump when using 5.56 NATO ammo in .223 Remington rifles.


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    Senior Member Array KevinDooley's Avatar
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    I think Timothy is a bit off base here - that big of a pressure jump can (and has) lead to barrels, uppers and what not busting and blowing out when firing high pressure 5.56 rounds in a .223 chamber.

    Like BAC said, most 1:9 barrels (regardless of markings) are actually a .223 chamber. Unless you're going for a high accuracy gun I'd look for something with a 5.56 chamber and a 1:7 twist rate which will a. mostly guarantee that the 5.56 marking is valid and b. allow you to shoot 69gr and heavier(longer) bullets at all temperatures with no problems...
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    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinDooley View Post
    ...most 1:9 barrels (regardless of markings) are actually a .223 chamber. Unless you're going for a high accuracy gun I'd look for something with a 5.56 chamber and a 1:7 twist rate which will a. mostly guarantee that the 5.56 marking is valid and b. allow you to shoot 69gr and heavier(longer) bullets at all temperatures with no problems...
    Even better to know.
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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Bushmaster makes only 5.56 NATO chambers for their AR-15's. I have a 1/9 twist barrel. It's plainly marked.

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    .223 Remington maximum safe chamber pressure is ~ 50,000 psi.
    5.56 maximum safe chamber pressure is ~ 60,000 psi.

    In addition, shooting 5.56 in a .223 chamber may cause significant increases in pressure due to the difference in chamber dimensions.

    Do not shoot 5.56mm NATO-spec ammo in a .223 Remington chamber.

    There's a ton of good info on this on the net. Here's just one of the many articles out there: The Gun Zone -- SAAMI on 5.56 v. .223 Remington

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    Senior Member Array KevinDooley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ram Rod View Post
    Bushmaster makes only 5.56 NATO chambers for their AR-15's. I have a 1/9 twist barrel. It's plainly marked.
    But they're not really 5.56, that's the point. Here's a post by an armorer for a security company. The high ups chose Bushmaster and he's had to ream every single chamber... There's another more in depth post about it, but I can't find it. Here he talks about new barrels the bean counters bought him that had the same (and other problems).

    What they mark them and what they will actually shoot are two different things...
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    Basically the dimensions of the cartridges are the same - the chambers are the same, but the differences are in thr throat, freebore and leade dimensions. The design of the 5.56 chamber helps reduce the pressure spike as the bullet reaches the leade, but is slightly less accurate (at least in theory).

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    VIP Member Array Sig 210's Avatar
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    There are several myths concerning military 5.56mm ammo. It is a myth that US made 5.56mm cases are thicker than commercial cases. For over 40 years I have weighed my cases when real good accuracy is desired. See the link below for case weights.

    It is also a myth that 5.56mm military ammo is loaded to much higher pressure than commercial .223 ammo. US military 5.56mm ammo is loaded to 52,000 Psi + 3 standard deviations; not to exceed 58,000 psi. SAAMI specs are 55,000 psi.

    SAAMI pressures


    BTW: There are at least a dozen different .223 chambers. Unless your rifle is an H@R Handi rifle or it has a tight .223 match chamber there are no problems with firing 5.56mm military ammo in that gun. H@R re-ground their reamers and their chambers are all over the place from huge to very tight.

    A gunsmith friend says that he knows of no US firearm maker who currently uses a SAAMI chamber for the .223.

    This is a good link to peruse:

    AR15BARRELS.COM - Technical Documents

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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sig 210 View Post
    There are several myths concerning military 5.56mm ammo. It is a myth that US made 5.56mm cases are thicker than commercial cases. For over 40 years I have weighed my cases when real good accuracy is desired. See the link below for case weights.

    It is also a myth that 5.56mm military ammo is loaded to much higher pressure than commercial .223 ammo. US military 5.56mm ammo is loaded to 52,000 Psi + 3 standard deviations; not to exceed 58,000 psi. SAAMI specs are 55,000 psi.

    SAAMI pressures


    BTW: There are at least a dozen different .223 chambers. Unless your rifle is an H@R Handi rifle or it has a tight .223 match chamber there are no problems with firing 5.56mm military ammo in that gun. H@R re-ground their reamers and their chambers are all over the place from huge to very tight.

    A gunsmith friend says that he knows of no US firearm maker who currently uses a SAAMI chamber for the .223.

    This is a good link to peruse:

    AR15BARRELS.COM - Technical Documents
    Thank you......I'm now done replying to these types of threads.

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