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Old December 1, 2012, 09:38 PM   #1
Red Dog
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Explaining Calibers

Is it a fair comparison to say 5.56 & 223 is like the 357m & 38 spec in
that 5.56 rated guns can shoot 223 safely like the 357 can shoot the 38 spec?
The reverse is not true.
I'm only asking because I'm looking for a simple way to explain it. Any info would be helpful.
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Old December 1, 2012, 09:42 PM   #2
olddav
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I'm sure I'll get this wrong but while your example maybe extreme it is about pressure and throat length. So yea that seems some what correct.
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Old December 1, 2012, 09:55 PM   #3
Red Dog
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I didn't want to get to technical. Since most people are knowledgeable about revolvers I was trying to use that angle to explaining it.
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Old December 1, 2012, 10:06 PM   #4
Archie
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Not exactly...

The situation between .38 Special - .357 Magnum and .44 Special - .44 Magnum demonstrates the practice of 'developing' a 'new' cartridge from an 'old' cartridge.

The difference between .223 Remington and 5.56x45 NATO is closer to the confusion between .38 Automatic - Super .38 or 9mm Parabellum - 9mm Glisenti. Those two instances featured rounds with identical cases and bullets, loaded to significantly different pressure levels.

Red Dog, I'm sorry to say this, but explaining the difference in calibers is nothing but technicality. But good luck in your attempt.
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Old December 2, 2012, 09:10 AM   #5
Bud Helms
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Why don't you explain the difference between chamberings? The caliber can be identical while it is the chamber that makes the difference.
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Old December 2, 2012, 02:31 PM   #6
AZAK
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Quote:
I'm only asking because I'm looking for a simple way to explain it.
No such animal.

Chambering in a specific cartridge; not caliber.

New thread here the other day:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=507495
and links to this (which is fairly indepth look at your question):

http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/5-56-vs-223/

And there is a physically observable difference between the .357 remington mag and .38 special example, whereas there is not necessarily such a difference between 5.56 and .223.

I just read the barrel and load accordingly regarding .223 remington and 5.56 NATO.

YMMV
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Old December 2, 2012, 03:29 PM   #7
jmr40
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Not a good analogy. 223 is just another name for 5.56. They are one and the same. There is a huge difference between 357 and 38.
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Old December 2, 2012, 05:28 PM   #8
Dr Big Bird PhD
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Quote:
Not a good analogy. 223 is just another name for 5.56. They are one and the same. There is a huge difference between 357 and 38.
Not true, 5.56 uses thicker casing. A .223 barrel cannot fire a 5.56, but a 5.56 can fire a .223
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Old December 2, 2012, 06:47 PM   #9
Bud Helms
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I don't know if I would say "cannot", but you probably should not.
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Last edited by Bud Helms; December 2, 2012 at 06:56 PM.
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Old December 2, 2012, 11:41 PM   #10
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I personally would fire 5.56 in a .223 chamber any day. This is my belief. I have looked at the facts and sought advice from people I trust. I know why people believe it shouldn't been done but I disagree with those points as I believe they are insignificant and unlikely. As I say I have looked into this & would feel fine doing it, BUT it is up to you to make your own call on that.

I think a lot of the hype is fuelled by the attorneys for the manufacturers getting it put on there so they can say "Oh his gun blew up and you're suing us? What ammo was he using? 5.56 you say? Our manual specifically states not to. Sorry, no case." to cater to the lowest denominator. European ammo is loaded hotter than American ammo (or can be by CIP spec vs. SAAMI spec). Once again I believe this is due to the American sue happy attitude (not saying all Americans are that way but it is only America that is that way) It’s the whole "Well the gun says 8×57 so it should fire any 8×57. XYZ Ammo Co. seeing as he was using your ammo at the time pay him eleventy billion dollars" so American ammo is lightly loaded to compensate for that while in most other countries its “You fired modern ammo in a WWII gun that hasn’t been fired or maintained in 40 years w/o getting it checked first? Case dismissed." After granddads 8mm Mauser has blown up in your face.

SAAMI max pressure for .223 is 55k PSI. CIP max pressure for .223 is 62k PSI. Same as NATO's max for 5.56. Euro ammo is just as common as Yank here and people have been firing it in Yank rifles for long enough with no ill effects from the pressure.
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Old December 3, 2012, 08:02 AM   #11
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There's no practical difference between 5.56 and .223. Used to be that some older guns chambered for .223 possibly couldn't handle 5.56 ammo, although I've never seen any proof of this. Unless you are buying an older rifle specifically marked .223, I wouldn't worry about it.

As between 38 special and .357, there's a world of difference. I wouldn't want to see what a cartridge with the same full power of .357 would do to a gun made only for .38 special (if you could somehow cram such a cartridge into a .38)
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Old December 3, 2012, 09:59 AM   #12
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I my experience, I would not fire 5.56 out of a .223. Simple test. Drop a 5.56 into a true .223 barrel, flip the barrel upside down. Does it drop? Can you remove it with your finger? Or did you have to "help" it out. Well it's most probably the latter.. 5.56 does stick a little in a .223 barrel and that would worry me if I expected to have perfect performance. Will it work? Sure it will. But just because it can, does not mean you should IMHO. And the previous response of the case of a 5.56 being ever so slightly larger is correct. Check the case specs. Last time I did, there was a difference.
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Old December 4, 2012, 01:11 PM   #13
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I don't see how you can make the relationship of two cartridges clearer by drawing a comparison to other cartridges; someone who understands .38 Spl/.357 Mag, or .38 Auto/.38 Super, would also understand 5.56/.223.
If you need to get less technical, choose something that laypersons would understand, like gasoline octane, to illustrate how you can use one, but not the other. If your car requires 92 Octane, you can't use 87, but if your car will run on 87, it will run on 92.
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Old December 4, 2012, 01:43 PM   #14
Jim Watson
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My perception is that the 5.56 chamber is cut for an automatic weapon shot hot, dirty, and with wartime ammunition that might be at the edge of specification on pressure and bullet profile.

I would not worry about shooting US peacetime 5.56 in a .223 chamber, but would avoid the imports that might not hew as closely to specifications.
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Old December 15, 2012, 01:53 PM   #15
Double J
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I' ve seen .223 rifles that wouldn't function with .223 ammo. In particular, a lot of NEF Handi-Rifles.
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Old December 16, 2012, 01:06 PM   #16
Edward429451
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Quote:
5.56 uses thicker casing.
Only on paper. The scale does not support this (theory).
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Old December 16, 2012, 01:29 PM   #17
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Mil-Spec and SAAMI spec are two different things. Somethings but not always the cartridges may be fired in the other gun (.223 for 5.56 mm or .308 Winchester for 7.62 x 51 mm Nato). For a civilian gun, what type of chamber is it? Is it minimum SAAMI spec which would be a match chamber? A go gauge may work in it but not a no-go gauge.

Buying surplus ammo may be affordable, but doesn't mean that it will work in your gun. Remember the military doesn't dispose of ammunition just because they're being nice. They're getting rid of stuff they don't want or need. It may be old. It may be poor performing. It may be substandard and hence dumped onto the market. Caveat emptor.
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