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Posted: 8/29/2003 10:33:49 AM EDT
I got into an hour long argument about the difference in the .223 and 5.56 chambers and saftey issues with a friend of mine last night. I brought to his attention the FAQ section of this website. I also showed him the differences between the two in some diagrams.

His reply is always the same: "It says .223/5.56 on the box (of ammo) so it will work with either one. If will fit in the chamber, it will safely function. As long as you properly maintain your rifle there won't be a problem."

Here is what I know:

1. I am right.
2. This website is right.
3. He is wrong.

Is there anything I have missed which would cause him to not understand? Or the next time he brings it up should I just nod and smile?
Link Posted: 8/29/2003 10:50:28 AM EDT
Nod and smile. He may be fine. He will most likely never blow up his .223 Rem gun with 5.56 loads. He may have extraction problems at some point. He may wear out the throat of his rifle sooner. He may even figure this all out someday. But for now, don't shoot his gun, and do the nod/smile thing.
Link Posted: 8/29/2003 11:30:17 AM EDT
I had the 5 minute version of that talk with a vendor at a gun show this spring. After hearing the "thousands of rounds" spiel I did the nod and smile thing. One of the first things I learned when looking into ARs.
Link Posted: 8/30/2003 8:36:18 AM EDT
Your friend is right. Despite any [i]FAQ[/i] there is no "5.56mm chamber specification." The 5.56mm M16 rifle has one, and the 5.56mm M249 squad automatic weapon has another one, and the 5.56mm minigun yet another. And they're different to allow for reliable functioning in a variety of field conditions. They're also different from SAAMI .223 (which is smaller). The predominant ".223" and ".308" cartridges sold and fired in the US are "converted" from military surplus 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO cartridges by the exotic and magical method of pasting new labels on the boxes and restenciling the cases. This is the stuff you and I buy by the case. Peel off the paper label on that South African ".223" or Portugese ".308" ammo and it'll say 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO underneath. There are no safety issues related to this "conversion" nor should you be concerned about firing the ammo without pasting a different label on the box. [;)] I'll leave the rest of this to the [i]Chicken Littles[/i] of the world. -- Chuck
Link Posted: 8/30/2003 8:53:58 AM EDT
Then how come .223 winchester ammo (white box 50 rounds) will feed in my buddies ASA, but the 5.56 (winchester USA) won't? I've shot my .223 reloads in his gun also with no problems, but ANYTHING with 5.56 hangs in ths chamber, which judging from what I've asked/read on this forum, it due to a tight .223 chamber, and 5.56 doesn't like tight .223 chambers. NEVER had any problem with .223 remington either commercial or my reloads.
Link Posted: 8/31/2003 4:39:10 AM EDT
5.56 is thicker in the neck area and any .223 rifle that has a chamber cut for tighter necks will show this difference. They don't even have to be match chambers, just a reamer that was sharpened too many times when that chamber was cut. In these guns, the the 5.56 becomes dangerous since it may not release the bullet as easily and will increase pressures. On the other hand, .223 may not have the same strength in the web area that 5.56 has and since military headspace allows more brass to hang out of the chamber the .223 may rupture in a gun that still passes the 'field' gauge test that 5.56 was meant to accomodate.
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