The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Art of the Rifle: Semi-automatics

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old January 7, 2017, 06:20 PM   #1
f2shooter
Junior member
 
Join Date: December 24, 2016
Posts: 20
5.56 useful range in an AR

Evening all,

I've been shooting most of my life and spent quite a bit of time shooting matches ranging mostly from 100-300 yards, 500 and once in a while I would go humble myself shooting at 1000 yards, all with a 308 bolt rifle. I've owned an AR here and there but never got serious about that caliber until now. What is the useful or maybe I should say reliable range for 5.56 in a good AR? I will have a couple of them with a heavy barrel and good optics. For longer range shooting I've nearly always shot from a bench rest but since the AR is so much lighter I'll work on my freehand shooting but still, will the 5.56 shoot accurately out to maybe 500-600 yards with good loads and a good AR? Would it do noticeably better in a bolt gun? I feel like it should but wonder if the 5.56 has a useful range past 300 and simply don't know. Thanks.

Rick H.
f2shooter is offline  
Old January 7, 2017, 06:55 PM   #2
Reloadron
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 8, 2016
Location: Cleveland, Ohio Suburbs
Posts: 1,062
Here is an old thread on the subject.

I guess to an extent we could say effective range for what? I can make holes in paper out to 1,000 yards as long as I can hit the paper. For some game animals the cartridge is effective out to 150 - 200 yards, for rabbits much more. I was never a fan of the cartridge for deer size game but only because I have other rifles I prefer. Many hunt deer size game out to 150 or 200 yards. I see the cartridge as having an effective range of 200 yards or so. Look at bullets and look at the retained energy at different ranges. That should help with effective for what?

Ron
Reloadron is offline  
Old January 7, 2017, 07:43 PM   #3
ShootistPRS
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 3, 2017
Posts: 1,584
The military maximum effective range is approximately 500 yards. Their definition is
Quote:
"The effective range of a firearm is the maximum distance at which a weapon may be expected to be accurate and achieve the desired effect."
I believe that range to be "optimistic" for most military shooters but that is just my opinion.
ShootistPRS is offline  
Old January 7, 2017, 08:15 PM   #4
marine6680
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 24, 2012
Location: Parker, CO
Posts: 4,579
You can use an AR at 500yds no problem. It can reach out to 1000 if you know what you are doing.

Using 77gr bullets is best for extended ranges. (I have seen heavier grain bullets mentioned for use at 1000yd, but they are too long for the magazine, and must be single loaded.


A good AR built right, trued receivers, etc... with a quality barrel, can shoot sub moa... I have seen reports of 0.5moa...

I have a couple that shoot 1moa and I didn't do anything special, but put in a decent barrel.
marine6680 is offline  
Old January 7, 2017, 08:16 PM   #5
Chainsaw.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 12, 2015
Location: Issaquah WA. Its a dry rain.
Posts: 1,673
Ive shot ARs with red dots to 300-400, thats really stretching them without magnification. Add glass and 600 is doable. Some people (not me) shoot 556 to a 1000 but the drop is substantial. Like running out of elevation substantial.
__________________
Just shoot the damn thing.
Chainsaw. is offline  
Old January 8, 2017, 12:02 PM   #6
Mobuck
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 2, 2010
Posts: 6,263
I wouldn't say that "5.56" will make the grade at extended range. "5.56" ammo is often "mil-spec" quality and not built for high end accuracy.
I have little confidence in .223 at longer ranges after using it as a varmint round for several years. Shooting the .223 at long range is more a challenge of wind doping rather actual marksmanship.
Mobuck is offline  
Old January 8, 2017, 12:28 PM   #7
g.willikers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 28, 2008
Posts: 10,447
Doesn't the CMP (Civilian Marksman Program) hold service rifle matches for .556 at distances up to 600 yards?
__________________
Walt Kelly, alias Pogo, sez:
“Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.”
g.willikers is offline  
Old January 8, 2017, 12:53 PM   #8
Wyosmith
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 29, 2010
Location: Shoshoni Wyoming
Posts: 2,505
To get any intelligent answer to your question about "useful range" you would have to tell us what use you have in mind.
Wyosmith is offline  
Old January 8, 2017, 01:03 PM   #9
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 18,546
In the 1970s, using the M16A1 (20" barrel) and the standard 55gr FMJ ammo the Army said the maximum effective range was 460 meters. Troops were required to shoot to 300 meters for qualification.

I am informed by some former Marines that, at that same time, using the same weapon and ammunition, they shot to 600 meters.

I'd say the maximum effective range of any round is the furthest distance you can reliably hit your target, and the round has enough energy to do the intended job.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old January 8, 2017, 01:04 PM   #10
marine6680
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 24, 2012
Location: Parker, CO
Posts: 4,579
I got the sense he is referring to target shooting.

If hunting is ever a concern... I would limit it to 200yds or less, and that is very dependent on the game, and the load used.
marine6680 is offline  
Old January 8, 2017, 06:55 PM   #11
COSteve
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 6, 2009
Posts: 1,058
As vague as the OP's original question is without defining 'accurately' and/or 'useful', I'll throw in this bit of information in the form of personal experience.

I handload 68grn Hornady HPBT bullets with TAC powder loaded at 5.56 levels for my Wylde chambered RRA 20" 1:9 A4. Scoped, I use this rifle to shoot medium sized apples (approximately 3" diameter) at 400-450yds. When I take my time and do it right, the apple gets vaporized most shots.

I handload these loads and shoot them in this AR specifically for their ability to complete this goal. If the OP would also consider these 5.56 loads as 'accurate' and/or 'useful' under his original post, then I guess I'd agree with him. I for one, this performance perfectly acceptable.

I understand that this is a shorter distance than the 500-600yds he asks about, however, I'm using 68grn bullets and as others have indicated, 77grn bullets give better longer range performance, however, without a 1:8 or 1:7 twist barrel, I'm not inclined to use the heavier bullet weights.
__________________
Steve

“Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” - Confucius
"When you find a find a big kettle of crazy, it's best not to stir it." - Dilbert
COSteve is offline  
Old January 9, 2017, 01:09 PM   #12
Jayhawkhuntclub
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2007
Posts: 573
I've shot 0.5 MOA groups at 440 yards and that's using a 14.5" pencil barrel with 50 gr v-max bullets. Haven't attempted to go out further than that. I don't care for the 223 as a deer round though, at any range. It will kill them. But I rather use a 300 BO or 6.5 Grendel for deer. Great for coyotes though.
Jayhawkhuntclub is offline  
Old January 9, 2017, 01:37 PM   #13
Scorch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2006
Location: Washington state
Posts: 13,390
Quote:
In the 1970s, using the M16A1 (20" barrel) and the standard 55gr FMJ ammo the Army said the maximum effective range was 460 meters. Troops were required to shoot to 300 meters for qualification.

I am informed by some former Marines that, at that same time, using the same weapon and ammunition, they shot to 600 meters.
460 meters is about 500 yds. And we Marines qualified with the M16A1 at 600 yds (550 meters). Effective? Sure. Accurate? Plenty.
__________________
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
Summit Arms Services
Taylor Machine
Scorch is offline  
Old January 9, 2017, 02:54 PM   #14
Reloadron
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 8, 2016
Location: Cleveland, Ohio Suburbs
Posts: 1,062
Maximum effective range aside for a moment and regarding Marine Corps qualification. I was on the Edson Range Camp Pendleton CA. during June 1969.

Me at the 500 Yard Prone.


Yes, I was shooting left handed.

Marine Corps qualification involved shooting Standing, Sitting, Kneeling and Prone positions. Slow and rapid fire sequences were fired at the 200, 300 and 500 yard lines with some shooting 200, 300 and 500 Meters just depending on which range you shot on a given day. We were also taught the Maximum Effective Range of the M14 Rifle was 500 yards or 460 Meters.

During 1969 we were issued and qualified with the M14 rifle at MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) San Diego CA. My understanding was Marines were issued the M14 and trained with the M14 until end of June 1973 (MCRD Parris Island SC) and September of 1973 MCRD San Diego CA. During 9 years active duty I never recall a qual course where 500 yards or meters was exceeded. I didn't get to Vietnam till 1972 with MAG 15 and that was my first exposure to the M16 rifle. Prior to Iwa Kuni Japan and Vietnam while at Cherry Point NC it was still the M14.

Ron
Reloadron is offline  
Old January 9, 2017, 04:15 PM   #15
kraigwy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 11,018
Quote:
Doesn't the CMP (Civilian Marksman Program) hold service rifle matches for .556 at distances up to 600 yards?
__________________

Yes, so does the NRA. In fact that is the ranges (200, 300 & 600 yards) you need to shoot to get your Dist. Rifle Badge.

Furthermore they are used in 1000 yard service rifle matches.

Granted to be successful you need heavy bullets. I use 80 gr. SMKs for 600 and 1000. They have to be loaded long, and don't fix the magazine, but that doesn't matter since you have to single load in these matches.

M14/M1As (308) are still used, but they cant compete with the M16 series shooting 223/5.56.
__________________
Kraig Stuart
CPT USAR Ret
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old January 10, 2017, 11:01 PM   #16
f2shooter
Junior member
 
Join Date: December 24, 2016
Posts: 20
5.56 useful range in an AR

Looking through all these replies I see that I didn't make it very clear about what I have in mind. Most of my shooting the last 10 years or so has been with a 308 bolt rifle in a target or tactical set up. Primarily I was shooting a Remington PSS and a bigger rifle built up on a Ruger action, Blackstar barrel and one of the nicer custom stocks whose name I have forgotten. Great rifles and very accurate with hand loads I worked up out to around 600 yards. I didn't get to spend much time at a range with longer distances. Problem was, those are heavy rifles and I only used them for practice or match shooting. I'd like to keep an AR as a truck gun or one to carry around the uninhabited wooded areas and other isolated places I frequent. I'd like to be able to count on this rifle and cartridge to be able to consistently hit softball size targets from handheld positions as long as I do my job. I would like to expect good accuracy out to maybe 500 yards. There are times when I simply feel more comfortable having a reliable rifle close by but I will not be using this for hunting at all. Shooting for fun, practice and knowing what to expect if I really need it is my goal here.

Rick H.
f2shooter is offline  
Old January 10, 2017, 11:25 PM   #17
rickyrick
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 15, 2010
Posts: 6,797
223/5.56 will be sufficient (and gruesome) at ranges that would qualify as self defense in a decent society.
rickyrick is online now  
Old January 10, 2017, 11:40 PM   #18
Model12Win
Junior member
 
Join Date: October 20, 2012
Posts: 5,866
Ricky speaks the truth.

Any realistic civilian self defense shooting is going to happen at less than 200 meters distance, at least one where the defendant would have any possibility of surviving in court for shooting someone from that far away, possibly even (much) closer.

Plus, even in a total breakdown, the odds of someone being a true threat that you cannot evade beyond that is slim to none.

But, as for the round, it'll do the deed of man killing out to 500 meters with a box stock AR carbine and Wally World .223/5.56mm. A kitted out DMR w/ 20" bbl and 77 grain OTM rounds can extend that range to 700 meters or better in trained hands. This will never be needed by the civilian.
Model12Win is offline  
Old January 11, 2017, 12:31 AM   #19
marine6680
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 24, 2012
Location: Parker, CO
Posts: 4,579
I would say that unless some extraneous circumstances were involved, 50yds would be about max for reasonable self defense for most people. And 556/223 is Very effective inside 100yds if you pick the proper bullet.

A 55gr FMJ 5.56 (or even 223) is effective out to a few hundred yards, and remains deadly for several hundred more. (there are better choices than milspec type 55gr FMJ, but price is higher)

In a SHTF situation, and I had to traverse terrain... If anyone decided to shoot at me from 150yds+... I would do a fighting retreat and evade as best I could.


It will be good for two legged predators, and four legged critters up to a few hundred pounds. So large wild cats, wolves, that kind of thing... Not likely to be super effective on a grizzly, but better than other options you may have in a light and handy package. And if you manage shots to the head, it should work well enough on most things, having the power to punch through even some think skulls.

Last edited by marine6680; January 11, 2017 at 12:38 AM.
marine6680 is offline  
Old January 12, 2017, 11:12 PM   #20
f2shooter
Junior member
 
Join Date: December 24, 2016
Posts: 20
5.56 useful range in an AR

If I am in a situation where I have to defend myself at longer distances, say 200 yards as an example, my preference would be to exit the area if possible. When I am out in wooded areas my bigger concern is an unfriendly critter. Fox, coyotes and a few others are common here and may take exception to my presence not to mention the owner of the odd crop of marijuana which is often even more common. As for distance shooting I enjoy it and want to be familiar with the capability of the cartridge. It's probably the last thing I would want in a home defense situation. Too much traffic, too many neighbors. Distance is not an issue but I would prefer a handgun or 12 gauge quail loads for that problem. The question I honestly am not asking is how effective this will be at killing a person several hundred yards away. It didn't even occur to me until I read many of the replies here. Nevertheless I appreciate all the input here. It gives me new issues to consider.

Rick H.
f2shooter is offline  
Old January 13, 2017, 12:06 AM   #21
marine6680
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 24, 2012
Location: Parker, CO
Posts: 4,579
Self defense in a home... Misses are real and likely possibility... Its why I choose an AR. More effective than a handgun, and if you use 55-60gr varmint bullets, much less likely for a stray round punching through your wall and your neighbors wall... They start to break up inside the first wall.

As far as a shotgun, heavy bird shot may be effective at contact distances, but is not very effective from across the room. Its wall penetration isn't very high, so it is less likely to cause issues there... but its the lack of effectiveness on an attacker, that would steer me away.
marine6680 is offline  
Old January 13, 2017, 10:58 AM   #22
Knightsofnee
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 1, 2013
Posts: 150
When some NATO countries were pushing to replace the 55gr. load with the 62gr. "green tip" penetrator round their definition of "effective" was the ability of the bullet to penetrate ONE side of the standard issue Soviet helmet at 600 meters from a 20" barrel.
Knightsofnee is offline  
Old January 31, 2017, 09:20 PM   #23
jrothWA
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 11, 2006
Posts: 2,292
ve used teh AR-15 in NRA KD matches...

using the 68 gr bullets in my reloads.

I am confident in placing shots were needed, BUT for hunting I will limit to 250yds, if needed.

I will hold shooting if I do not feel comfortable with taking the shot and not be respectful of the animal.
jrothWA is offline  
Old February 1, 2017, 09:48 PM   #24
ShootistPRS
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 3, 2017
Posts: 1,584
f2shooter,
It seems your desired use is not being discussed much, so let me help bring this back on topic for you.
The 223/556 is good enough to hold .5 MOA to MOA. If you are capable of holding on target at the range you want to shoot at (besides being a better man than I) the gun will do fine. Just like with any gun you have good barrels and bad ones but a good barrel will hit that softball or grapefruit size target a lot farther than I can shoot off hand.
ShootistPRS is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:36 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.10328 seconds with 7 queries