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Old January 5, 2009, 06:23 PM   #1
MTMilitiaman
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Suppressive fire and the 5.56 for civilian defense

I have been pondering the popularity of 5.56mm rifles for civilian defensive and "SHTF" scenarios. While the rifles are bound to be adequate for the majority of defensive situations a civilian is going to find themselves in, I can't help but wonder how many are confused about the tactics likely to be employed in these scenarios, esp with regard to cover or suppressive fire.

Consider that the 5.56x45 makes it as a combat round due to the tactics and military doctrine that it is employed with and the support that is available--none of which is applicable or available to civilian defense or social disorder.

The round's greatest advantages are in many cases barely even appreciable to civilian use.

For example, the low weight of ammo and of rifles so chambered allowing more ammo to be carried. And the low recoil impulse allowing greater controllability on full auto. The chances of a civilian being put in a position where he/she is actively patrolling a dangerous area on foot are virtually non-existent. In nearly any conceivable situation, by the time things are escalated to violence, the average civilian is probably better off posting up in a defensible position. The amount of ammo and to a certain extent, even the weapon weight is almost completely irrelevant, as ammo can be stockpiled in doors, and the practical differences between an 8 pound 5.56 and a 12 pound 7.62 is hardly worth noting to any decently fit adult.

Furthermore, the tactics employed with the round on the battlefield are 100% completely inapplicable to civilian defensive strategy. First of all, these tactics involve multiple trained operators getting on line with a hostile contact and suppressing it. Once the contact has been suppressed, one unit flanks the position while the other continues to suppress it. A single person can not provide effective suppressive fire and move. These tactics are ineffective with only one person. Likewise, civilians are unlikely to have the weapons and equipment necessary to be truly effective in this role. In the military, the FN M249 Squad Automatic Weapon provides somewhere around 70% of the fire team's firepower and is the primary weapon used to suppress the enemy. However, even with a small group of properly trained people, say you and some buddies from the Army, the tactics still have no use in civilian applications.

As a civilian, you are, one way or another, going to be held accountable for every single round that you fire. Barring the apocalypse, and a complete breakdown of government on all levels, suppressive fire is reckless, irresponsible, and both legally and morally unjustifiable. It's not collateral damage in the civilian world. It's murder.

Finally, the success of the 5.56 as a modern infantry cartridge relies heavily on the presence of heavier support weapons, which, again, are unlikely to be present in any civilian scenario. Civilians aren't going to have access to M2BHs, Mk 19s, M240B/G, M203s, or to Strikers and Cobra gunships.

As a civilian, nearly all entertain-able scenarios are going to rely on sound, applicable tactics and planning. While this may vary depending on your location and the exact situation, most are going to require you make the most with what you got, and get more done with less. This is why I am an advocate of 7.62mm rifles for civilian defense. They give the civilian more bang for the buck. And since all the reasons for the 7.62 being eclipsed as a standard issue infantry round are largely or completely inapplicable to civilian defense, a 7.62mm rifle like the FAL or M1A, or even a good bolt action, makes a lot more sense for the majority of civilians. A 168 gr OTM or Hornady TAP is going to provide better terminal ballistics at all ranges than any 5.56 load. This means it is much more likely to disable a hostile target with fewer rounds. Fewer rounds, especially when aimed, means less chance of harming an innocent 3rd party. The 7.62, so loaded for such an effect, is also going to be more effective at disabling vehicles or personnel with body armor. Basically, a good 7.62mm rifle represents the largest amount of firepower, of bang for the buck, available to the civilian. It can provide 70% of the tissue damage done by a 12 gauge buckshot load up close and it can provide nearly twice the effective range of 5.56mm rifles.
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Old January 5, 2009, 08:06 PM   #2
onthejon55
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you're right, a .308 kicks ass and a 5.56 doesnt.
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Old January 5, 2009, 08:08 PM   #3
bestbod85
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Excellent post, very interesting. also might want to add that the "sporting" calibers are also less menecing to the uninformed public eye. 7.62, 30-06, 7.62x54 ... ect are highly effective rounds for deliberate aimed fire as well as being available in a number of quality affordable rifles. plus the added benefit of cheap military surplus ammo make them excellent choices. great post, I agree 100%
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Old January 5, 2009, 08:12 PM   #4
David Armstrong
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This is why I am an advocate of 7.62mm rifles for civilian defense.
Obviously!
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They give the civilian more bang for the buck. And since all the reasons for the 7.62 being eclipsed as a standard issue infantry round are largely or completely inapplicable to civilian defense, a 7.62mm rifle like the FAL or M1A, or even a good bolt action, makes a lot more sense for the majority of civilians.
Lots of folks out there that pretty strongly disagree with most of that line of thinking, and given the evidence I'd tend to agree with them. The 5.56 does a fine job for civilian defensive purposes, which is why so many tend to recommend it for that purpose.
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Furthermore, the tactics employed with the round on the battlefield are 100% completely inapplicable to civilian defensive strategy.
Thta is why we don't teach those tactics for civilians, but instead teach other tactics more suited to their needs.
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Old January 5, 2009, 08:29 PM   #5
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a way 'over thought and over analyzed' post.

An AR is a dandy defensive rifle for us regular guys.
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Old January 5, 2009, 08:31 PM   #6
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When instances of civilian defensive use of the 5.56 coupled with reports of failure perform begin to mount up, something unlikely to happen, this MAY be a concern. Emphasis on the word "may." Until then it seems to be a re-packaging of the largely academic 7.62 vs. 5.56 debate.
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Old January 5, 2009, 09:31 PM   #7
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Interesting post, I agree with most of it, yet, I don't think any one has loosened their grip on their black rifles . And realistically in a "SHTF" scenario, there are worst firearms one could find him/herself stuck with right?
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Old January 5, 2009, 09:55 PM   #8
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what about people fleeing the area on foot rather than staying put? an AR15 would be a lot easier to pack into the hills.

although since this situation is very unlikely, a 12ga would make more sense
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Old January 6, 2009, 12:09 AM   #9
raimius
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I'll agree that round for round 7.62Nato wins. The OP did overlook a few things, like availability, cost, and the fact that low recoil improves follow-up speed.
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Old January 6, 2009, 06:27 AM   #10
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This is why I am an advocate of 7.62mm rifles for civilian defense. They give the civilian more bang for the buck. And since all the reasons for the 7.62 being eclipsed as a standard issue infantry round are largely or completely inapplicable to civilian defense, a 7.62mm rifle like the FAL or M1A,
I live in a very rural area. I have the option of using various semi auto's in
.223 or .308

I always grab the .223 if I think I need a rifle out back.

If the crap really did hit the fan, although self protection is important, as a society we'll have more important things to try to figure out.

Heck, things THAT bad, probably hard to beat a nice pistol.

Quote:
you're right, a .308 kicks ass and a 5.56 doesnt.
+1

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although since this situation is very unlikely, a 12ga would make more sense
Carrying a decent amount of ammo is a real pain though
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Old January 6, 2009, 10:45 AM   #11
Rifleman 173
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Having humped 7.62 and 5.56 rifles and ammo in combat, I can say that both systems have their pluses and minuses. What makes the different rounds really work well is shot placement and the tactics behind their uses. Tactics in this situation includes timing of engagements, shot placement and shooting distances. Tactics are based more on common sense rather than the military versus civilian mindset and larger firepower support services. After all, many of us who are or were military originally came out of the civilian tactical arena first. So both groups are more or less interlocked by personnel and technology. The OP also fails to take into consideration the newer technology involving the newer 6.5 Grendel systems and the 6.8 SPC systems. Then you have the new factors involving the 7.62 X 39 firearms too. So while the 7.62 NATO ammo is good, it is quickly being overshadowed by newer technology. When one looks at the 6.5 Grendel ammo and rifles, one is very curious as to why that round is not being used to replace both the 5.56 and the 7.62 NATO ammo. The factors involving prohibiting the 6.5 Grendel are cost and licensing challenges which are obvious if you research it a little. But, given time, the 6.5 Grendel may eventually win out as it already has proponents in place singing its praises. Then there is the brand new 6 millimeter family of rifles and ammunition which is just starting to surface for possible military and civilian use. Sure the 7.62 NATO is good but eventually time, training and technology will dictate to us who shoot what is good and what is not.
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Old January 6, 2009, 10:52 AM   #12
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Quote:
This is why I am an advocate of 7.62mm rifles for civilian defense. They give the civilian more bang for the buck. And since all the reasons for the 7.62 being eclipsed as a standard issue infantry round are largely or completely inapplicable to civilian defense, a 7.62mm rifle like the FAL or M1A, or even a good bolt action, makes a lot more sense for the majority of civilians.
Since the high-capacity box magazine will likely be a target for the newly empowered "antis", and since "more bang for the buck" seems to be the direction you are going with this post, then why not get an M1 Garand which shoots the mother of all suppressive fire ammunition...the .30-06?
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Old January 6, 2009, 12:02 PM   #13
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To quote a line from "Porky's":

"Grab anything that shoots, boys, and come on."

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Old January 6, 2009, 12:59 PM   #14
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I think your post has some merit and I agree with some of the points. My military experience was mainly with A1's and 5.56, so my opinion is biased. The main reason I've stuck with .223/5.56 as a civilian is pretty simple: cost. Now that Uncle Sam isn't supplying me with ammo I've found that I can shoot more for the same money with 5.56, and at this stage of my life that's very important.

I was impressed with what the M60 could do though - what's considered cover against 5.56 is sometimes only concealment to the 7.62 round...

In a real SHTF situation you should probably be escaping and evading instead of trying to use supressive fires, but that's just me.
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Old January 6, 2009, 01:18 PM   #15
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I don't see suppressive fire being of use. You would have to have a squad with you to suppress fire while you move,then you suppress while they move.

Whatever rifle is used,a person will need to fire accurate shots,then move,take cover and fire again until the escape/evasion is successful. If you have more than one eg. yourself, then the EE will be easier to accomplish.

The trick to using your rifle,is to be able to shoot it well enough to avoid being in close range of your adversary,eg. less than 200 meters..if you can stay 300 meters away from the enemy,and bring accurate fire from there,you will be much more likely to escape,or even eliminate the opposing force.

That is why I prefer a .30 caliber round. My personal choice is the .308 in the M1-A, but that is just the rifle I'm used too,and know it's capabilities.The thing is to know your weapon,what ever you are using,and be able to shoot accurately to 500 meters.

My feeling is if you are in pistol range of the enemy,something has gone dreadfully wrong..
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Old January 6, 2009, 01:38 PM   #16
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Actually, I thought he said "Grab anything that kills..." (pronounced keels)
Umm... what is suppressive fire? Isn't that just pretty much spray and pray firing? I mean this is an odd doctorine to come from a nation of marksmen. If anything, it would be cool to have a calico .22lr mounted to an AR like an M203 so just in case you have to throw a lot of lead at an area. Why? Well, it makes the MG noise to keep their heads down, and .22lr is easy to carry.
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Old January 6, 2009, 01:43 PM   #17
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What sort of civilian situation calls for suppressive fire from a rifle? (or any gun for that matter.)
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Old January 6, 2009, 01:55 PM   #18
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Peetza,I guess that is what I was trying to say...
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Old January 6, 2009, 09:48 PM   #19
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David Armstrong wrote:
Thta [sic] is why we don't teach those tactics for civilians, but instead teach other tactics more suited to their needs.
Yeah, we teach them to banana republic soldiers that have no prospects for employment after their conscription is up and they use them in the employ of drug lords, to destabilize shaky legitimate governments and violate our borders.

Frankly, if we feel the need to teach these tactics to anyone, it ought to be US civilians.
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Old January 7, 2009, 11:44 AM   #20
David Armstrong
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Frankly, if we feel the need to teach these tactics to anyone, it ought to be US civilians.
Sorry, but I just fail to see the need for lots of civilians in the USA to learn military battlefield tactics for their personal defense.
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Old January 7, 2009, 12:53 PM   #21
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Completely pointless waste of time to argue about the two.

For defensive purposes:

1) have a gun
2) know how to use it
3) if possible, have a long gun

Tactics and marksmanship are far more important to the outcome than any difference in the terminal ballistics of one rifle caliber versus another.
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Old January 7, 2009, 10:52 PM   #22
FALPhil
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Sorry, but I just fail to see the need for lots of civilians in the USA to learn military battlefield tactics for their personal defense.
I'm not surprised.
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Old January 8, 2009, 12:25 AM   #23
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Sorry, but I just fail to see the need for lots of civilians in the USA to learn military battlefield tactics for their personal defense.
If we could be certain that those who direct the military, i.e. the federal government, were 100% guaranteed to always be good people and never threatening to us and/or our liberty, I would agree. However such is not reality.
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Old January 8, 2009, 01:51 PM   #24
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Finally, the success of the 5.56 as a modern infantry cartridge relies heavily on the presence of heavier support weapons, which, again, are unlikely to be present in any civilian scenario. Civilians aren't going to have access to M2BHs, Mk 19s, M240B/G, M203s, or to Strikers and Cobra gunships

uh...........darn........


wish I had known that sooner.

anybody want to buy any Strikers or a Cobra gunship?
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Old January 8, 2009, 01:54 PM   #25
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I'm not surprised.
Well, having taught tactics in the military, LE, and civilian realms, I would think I have a fairly good handle on the issue. Of course, I may be mistaken, so please feel free to discuss how things like bounding overwatch, suppressive fire, squad movement and support, and other military battlefield tactics work for personal self defense.

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If we could be certain that those who direct the military, i.e. the federal government, were 100% guaranteed to always be good people and never threatening to us and/or our liberty, I would agree. However such is not reality.
Should that occur I would think that we are no longer in the arena commonly considered for self defense.
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