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5.56 vs 7.62x39

11324 Views 28 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Guest
Eliminate platform (assume Ruger Mini-14 or Mini-30, for example) and price (both with readily-available surplus practice ammo) from the question. Please explain your choice.
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Hello. I opted for the .223 although I like and use guns chambered for both cartridges. The reason is the wider availability of expanding ammunition choices in .223 over the AK round.

I voted 5.56. Reason is that I see it more easily converted to 6.8x43 when and if that becomes widely available. Maybe I'm off in my reasoning, but it sounds right.

Josh <><

I'll take a 7.62X39 anyday over the 5.56, to me the 7.62X39 makes a much better all around cartridge when compared to the 5.56.

Take Care,
Quite a hard choice if you don't consider the platform. I voted for 5.56, more choice in loads. I also like the fact more rounds can be carried than 7.62x39 in the same amount of space. And from my personal experience, you can never have enough ammo in a firefight. But if someone chose for me, I wouldn't be dissappointed with 7.62x39.
5.56 due to weight, availability, cost and choices of bullets. 7.62x39 is a viable round, but I gave it up years ago due to availability which it is now abundant and its too late to start collecting in this caliber again.
The 5.56 has "More" range, but its out of gas by the time it gets there. The 7.62x39 is designed to kill or disable enemy troops inside of 300meters and it does, the 5.56 was designed to keep from penetrating the bodies of the multi-million dollar aircraft the Air Security Police (for whom the AR-15 was designed) were guarding. The adoption of the SS-109/M-855 rounds in 1980 also removed much of what little killing power the 5.56 had by changing to a heavier, over-stablized bullet with a lower velocity, to make the wounds more "Humane".

The whole "It's better to wound than to kill" thing was adopted by the military to explane why they were issueing a weapon that tended NOT to kill the enemy, while it is a valid tactic for guerrillas, or persons operating against an army (like ours) where injured personnel are treated immediately, but Americas enemies at the time (the communists), and in the previous Korean Conflict, DID NOT!

The whole reason for the interest in the 6.8rem and other rounds is because the 5.56, while a fine round for killin' groundhogs and other pests, is inadequate for larger game, and humans are the largest game around because only we can kill at a distance.

At least with a 7.62x39 I can kill a deer.
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....amusing assumptions on the 5.56, I used it for many years, in hot zones...and it seamed to work just fine.
....amusing assumptions on the 5.56, I used it for many years, in hot zones...and it seamed to work just fine.
All the after action (admittedly anecdotal as your own observations) reports from the sandbox indicate some pretty wide stopping power dissatisfaction with current M855 62gr ball in 14.5" M4s.

Interestingly and tellingly, the same stopping power seems to be just fine in a 20" M16 with the same rounds...thus the whole matter of small caliber at lowered velocity is a key factor.

No one seems to question the 7.62X39 for stopping power, just the accuracy of the platform and the production quality of the rounds.
However, the old Soviet Union apparently grew dissatisfied with that round and went to their own version of a .223/5.56 (against the advice of Kalashnikov himself). Interesting.
I chose the 5.56 over the 7.62x39, due to the data accumulated by battlefield surgeons that show the former to be more effective than the latter.
The reason the Soviets went to a 5.56 is that we went to a 5.56. The whole mindset was that if the Americans were doing it, it must be the next big, new, great idea, and we don't want to be left in the dust.

Kalashnikov, himself, believed this at the time, and I think he was right.
In the real world, the platform would have a big impact but we are stipulating Ruger Minis and the mission of self defense.

We did not stipulate the load so I will have to quibble a bit, besides for me it would be a tough call anyway.

If it is any load, I will take the 7.62X39, it simply has more potential and is reliable in the Ruger (It has not proven so in several ARs I have seen).

OTOH, as Steve mentioned, you can find a wider variety of ammo for the .223 so I certainly would not folks who picked the .223 on the basis that they may not be able to find the "good stuff" for the 7.62 (considering that Walmart now has good stuff, that is hard to beleive but it may not be cheap enough to lay in a good supply).

Of course for routine self defense (meaning not needing to shoot more than 5 or 6 people at a setting ;)) it would be neither... a good 30-30 is more effective, more versatile (in the defense role), and much easier to pass off as the deer rifle you just happened to have left in the vehicle. Not to mention, cheaper!

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I tend to agree with PAX on the assumptions based on information coming from the sandbox. A big problem with that sort of anecdotal information is not knowing who the source is. The most important part of the equation is generally where was the bad guy hit? Most of these sources will not be able to answer that question. I may know where I called my shot, but I won't know for sure where I hit him until I go look him over. You don't always get to do the post mortem.

Yes, the barrel length of the M4 lowers the effective fragmentation range of M855 62 grain ball from 150 to about 90 meters. That can be significant. However the Mk262 Mod 1 77 grain HPBT ammunition takes that range back up to around 200 meters in the M4 and more in the full size rifles. How far do you plan on shooting in self defense? For self defense there is much better ammunition available than ball. In fact I would highly discourage you from using ball in any rifle caliber for self defense. It will overpenetrate, sometimes by a lot.

Some will opine that 7.62X39 has 200 foot pounds more energy at the muzzle. How much will be transferred to the target is going to depend on bullet selection. How much technology has been put into 7.62X39 ammunition versus 5.56? Does energy really mean anything?

I have never noticed any difference in the effect of AK or M4 rounds delivered to center chest. They either work or they don't with no apparent difference in placement. That will depend on whether you hit the CNS/spine or they want to fall down or not. This is anecdotal information. I have no pictures, videos, statements, or other evidence to confirm or deny these observations. Use at your best discretion.

I will continue to use 5.56. My current police duty/ home and self defense load is Hornady 75 grain TAP. I know it works on people as well as white tail deer. Any of the 77gr HPBT loads will probably work as well. I know they work in the sandbox. If I absolutely could not take a chance on overpenetration, then I would choose 60 grain TAP or any one of the myriad of similar loads available. That ease of availablility of quality ammunition as mentioned in other posts is a definate advantage to me.

Of course 7.62X39 is a fine caliber and there is ammunition available to do just about anything you need for self defense. If that is your choice then you have made a good one, but I would base my selection on what I know or can confirm through a reliable source rather than information that may be twisted to fit someone else's view or sell a particluar new caliber.

The argument over a military caliber should be kept completely separate from civilian self defense. Many of the variables there just don't apply to self defense situations.

Good luck and good shooting.
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Hello, Allen, and thanks for this informative post. "Good hunting" where you are and keep your head down. From previous emails I know that your time is very limited, so again, thanks for sharing your observations with us.

I think several of us have mentioned that this is a very complex topic.

The feedback we get and the opinions expressed (yes feedback is always an opinion..it is seldom that we get "I hit the subject in the left ventricle and he went down in 2.35 seconds") will depend on the situation.

Folks who shoot people at 50 plus meters have a completely different perspective of how effective a round was than people who engage inside a room.

One of my students engaged several armed men inside a room and hit the first one 7 times at less than 10 feet (all seven in the upper chest)... "At that point I simply had to pay some attention to the other people who were shooting at me." he said.... while the frist one did eventually go down and did not score any hits he was definitely not impressed. Same guy later had a shot to the forehead fail.

Are these exceptions, sure. We have to plan on the exceptions. I don't pay nearly as much attention to one shot stops as I do multiple shot failures...turns out there are way too many of these!

On the other hand if you hit a guy in the torso at 50 to 100 meters and he ceases to be a threat within 3 to 10 seconds then that seems successful enough.

The round is no more effective at longer ranges but the danger increase is inversely proportional to the range. At room range dropping them in 1 second is not fast enough!(though we may have to live with a 2-3 second stop). At 100 yards disturbing their aim is probably good enough.

food for thought,
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How right you are. It just seems that when they are a few feet off your muzzle, it doesn't matter what you hit them with they just don't fall down fast enough do they? I have often thought that a Louisville Slugger, one, each might be a much better room clearing weapon. You tend to get immediate results with that, but they have to be in range. :) It is unfortunate that ball rounds just don't work very well and until we convince the military of that we are going to be doing a lot of fail to stop drills.

On a side note and off topic, I have found when engaging multiple targets that if each is addressed in turn then come back to address those still effective, that I am much more pleased with ammunition effectiveness. They don't fall down any faster, but I am looking somewhere else while the mechanism of collapse takes effect. That way when I come back to check they are already down.
It is probably not the best tactic and that could be debated for years, but it does ease the blood pressure when you aren't watching some dude soak up lead like a sponge and keep shooting back at you. For that reason, I generally send one or two to the body, hoping to hit the spine, and then look for the head. If one or two doesn't work, then a bunch more probably aren't going to speed the process up enough to make me feel good, so I'll take my chances on the headshot. As you said, and I agree, "..a very complex topic."

Good shooting
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Are "bonded" rounds considered OK under ROE? If so, they might be a good compromise between ball and hollowpoint. Just a thought.

Stay safe!

Has better penetrating capability against most barricades (cars,etc.). Has a better battlefield record than the .223 (been on more battlefields than the .223). Of course the russians flooded the world with them so they have been in more battlefields because of that.

In ball I would pick 7.62x39mm. And I say ball because that is what most of us plan on using as defense rounds. So that eliminates that ammo selection argument.

As far as eliminating platforms and price...there is no such thing, that is how we pick our firearms, be it a M1A or Saiga .308 carbine. If I had a choice, hell I would pick .243 or .260 Rem over both of them.

In ball I would pick 7.62x39mm. And I say ball because that is what most of us plan on using as defense rounds. So that eliminates that ammo selection argument.
Not trying to sidetrack the issue, but where did you get this from? I would use a good SP or HP round, as would most here, I think.

I'm just a bit confused sir. ???

Josh <><
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