5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (2023)

5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (1)

February 2, 2023 By Michelle Hamilton, Field Editor

Ask any firearm owner or gun dealer, "What is the best firearm for home defense?" and the most likely answer will be a 12 gauge shotgun, with "pistol" second. What often goes unmentioned or touched upon is a rifle, especially the medium-powered, medium-caliber ones. This is unfortunate considering that a lightweight AR15 carbine has significant advantages over a pistol or shotgun. However, there is a stigma attached to using rifles or carbines for home defense. Usually, the word "overpenetration" is used a lot. Sometimes they even add a fun addition about blowing up the neighbor's cat. How much truth is there in this old opinion? Is it supported by science and facts? In short, no.

Rifle projectile overpenetration

5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (2)

The main concern with using a home defense rifle is often excessive penetration. This is a valid concern, but it should also be clear that there are different subcategories of rifle cartridges. Certain rifle rounds penetrate less than a standard 9mm pistol, interior walls are little more than partitions that provide protection, and drywall is a soft material that cannot stop a projectile. When it comes to defensive rifles or carbines, magnums, full-size rifle rounds, and large-caliber rifle rounds are not recommended.

Ask any defender about using a rifle for urban or home defense, and the "belted magnum" (like the .300 Win Mag) is never mentioned. Instead, the cartridge of choice is the medium-powered rifle cartridge, or more specifically, the modern "small caliber high-velocity rifle cartridge" (which is a descendant of the 7.92x33mm Kurz and the 44 Assault Rifle). . This intermediate cartridge usually uses a light, small-caliber spitzer-type projectile fired at high velocity. The result is a smaller, lighter payload compared to a traditional full-size rifle cartridge such as a .308 Win. A rifle chambered for one of these high-velocity rimfire rounds also offers reduced recoil and faster follow-up shots while being lighter and quicker to handle.

While there are many popular cartridges in the intermediate family, by far the most popular in the US is the .223 Remington. Also known by its military nomenclature "5.56mm" and later adopted by NATO as the 5.56x45mm, it uses a 0.224-inch projectile with a typical weight of 45 to 77 grains and exhibits velocities often in excess of 3,000 feet per minute. While it is true that most references to the "5.56mm" cartridge today refer to the NATO cartridge, originally the 5.56mm and .223 Remington cartridges were actually the same cartridge. Eugene Stoner helped develop the .223 Remington while working for ArmaLite (a division of FairchildHiller Corporation), which later became Colt Mfg. in 1959 with the purchase of the rights and patents of the AR15 rifle. approved. Fast forward to March 1964 and the acquisition of Colt Mfg. AR15 for US Army. This acquisition of rifles was seen as a "one-off" order, as the US Army still had interests in the Individual Special Purpose Weapons (SPIW) program and ultimately phased out the M14 rifle. With its inclusion in the US military arsenal came the introduction of the .223 Remington cartridge.

5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (3)

With that assumption came the birth and naming of the "5.56mm" and "M193" cartridges, which were little more than a name. It wasn't until NATO officially adopted the 5.56mm that drastic changes were made to the rifle's cartridge or chamber. Field trials would begin in Germany in 1978 and the cartridge would be officially adopted by NATO in 1980 as the 5.56x45 mm NATO cartridge. The 5.56mm rifle in use around the world is often paired with the AR-15 pattern rifle (for which the cartridge was designed) in the United States. They typically offer the ability to carry standard capacity magazines, have extremely light recoil and great accuracy potential. This perfect combination results in a lightweight, maneuverable, and formidable defensive firearm that almost anyone (with a little training) can use effectively. While the 5.56mm shell has proven effective on the battlefield, how well does this shell protect the home front? The answer is very good.

5.56/0.223 at home

5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (4)

Since the American citizen has a much wider choice of projectiles and ammunition than our military (due to NATO's adherence to the Hague Convention), the responsible armed citizen can customize the ammunition for his 5.56mm carbine to suit his needs. and individual requirements. But first you need to consider the most likely situation in which your longarm will be used and choose the correct load. This choice requires an understanding of the projectile's performance and the way it works in general. This can actually be a bit overwhelming given the wide range of 0.223 Rem and 5.56mm loads available. However, it is common for uninformed people to come together to buy the 62-grain FMJ-BT M855, commonly known by the unofficial name "green tip". A standard US Army issue for decades, this ball charge is known as "Light Armor Penetration" due to the mild steel "cone" sitting on a soft lead core. The lead and steel treatment is encased in a conventional copper jacket.

For many firearms owners, the M855 has an almost magical or mythical "power" that cannot be explained outside of "our military uses it..." and is usually followed by "it's good enough for me... ". While not known for its accuracy, the 62grain M855 is known for its erratic and inconsistent top end performance, especially when fired from shorter barrels. Sometimes the M855 will fragment and give good end results, and sometimes the casing will penetrate cleanly, leaving only a small hole. Inconsistent results are believed to be due to minor manufacturing differences. The older classic M193, 5.56mm 55-grain loading FMJBT (which replaced the 62-grain M855 in US military service) is a higher-end cartridge in terms of terminal performance. It really is the only logical FMJ choice for home defense or most personal protection situations the US citizen may find themselves in.

5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (5)

However, US citizenship is not limited to ammunition decisions, as NATO and other countries adhere to the Hague Convention. While the M193's "Ball" ammunition is superior to both, it is effectively the "lesser of two evils" so to speak, as higher performance ammunition exists and is available for public use. For non-chaotic situations, I personally recommend looking outside of using the FMJ 5.56mm for more custom ammo to suit your personal needs.

My list of recommended loads of 0.223 Rem/5.56 mm for personal protection pretty much mirrors Dr. Gary K. Robert, with just a few select loads from companies likechallenging ammoand its TCX line. The fillers I recommend have given excellent results in terms of accuracy, penetration, extension and weight retention during my personal research and testing. While there is no "one size fits all" cartridge for every person and situation, the 0.223 Rem/5.56 mm defensive load selection can be divided into three basic categories based on how a given projectile will perform at 10% gel reaction of artillery. . Below I personally describe my choice of defensive magazine .223 Rem/5.56mm.

Video that might interest you

Rifle defense in urban areas

5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (6)

These areas are densely populated areas or multi-family residential areas, such as condominiums or for those who live in an apartment or house with people close to them. It's in these areas that you want to get the most out of a rifle, but with limited penetration. Typically, a fast-expanding varmint husk is a good choice, with husk weights in the 50-60 grain range. They are likely of deep hollow point or pointed hollow point construction and feature a thin copper shell with a soft lead core. This causes rapid expansion and fragmentation, resulting in limited penetration of enemies and barriers and drastically reducing the chance of collateral damage.

Probably the best deals areHornady with its TAP Urban and Custom lines, which uses their proven VMax shells. For budget conscious users,Flakes Perfecta aus den USAline is a good option. Fiocchi uses Hornady's VMAX shell and is a good alternative overall. However, this choice is not without drawbacks. While over-penetration is kept to a minimum, terminal performance can be reduced due to shallow penetration. Overall I think this is an acceptable compromise as the permanent wounds remaining are huge and will encourage rapid blood loss. It is important to understand that the individual is responsible for every shot fired. This means that while these cartridges help limit collateral damage, the end result (whether successful or tragic) and responsibility begins and ends with the person behind the gun.

urban environments

5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (7)

Urban environment is a person who lives in a sparsely populated area. Possibly an apartment with neighbors, a subdivision or a typical suburban neighborhood. This area opens up a wide range of ammo. It also adds a higher probability that photocell penetration will be required. This could include car doors or car glass. With areas like these, a person can comfortably exit the varmint round arena and access superior ammo options. This includes glued and non-glued soft point projectiles, ranging in grain size from 55 to 75 grains. These shells use an exposed lead nose and often feature a heavier, tapered copper jacket (excluding vermint weak spots). Offerings like Hornady's Interlock will feature a blocking band and lead core with a higher antimony content. This interlocking copper strip promotes high weight retention and controlled expansion by "pinning" the core into the copper shell. While not a chemical bonding process, it does allow weight retention equivalent to chemically bonded projectiles. Softpoint ammunition like this offers good overall accuracy and excellent terminal performance. This type of ammunition strikes a great balance in terms of delivering mass to vital points through penetration, while damaging large areas through expansion (and hydrostatic shock, for those who believe in that theory).



5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (8)

My personal choice of ammo falls into this category and I go for the versatile Federal Fusion, 62 grain soft point. More forgiving areas like this also allow for high performance solid copper offerings such asBarnes TSXin the 5.56mm Black Hills, Remington's Pig Hunt line, Barnes' ammo line and Hornady's GMX copper offering. Other well known performers include Hornady's TAP "T2" 75grain BTHP, Black Hills Mk 262 Mod 0/1,Speer Gold Dot grano 55 a 75YFeds Mk. 318 module 1, which uses a 62-grain trophy bear claw. For those looking for great value bulk purchases, consider the 75-grain Hornady Black Interlock Softpoint, 62-grain Hornady/Frontier Softpoint, 68-grain Frontier OTM, and 75-grain OTM. Hornady/Frontier is loaded with 5.56mm Lake City brass and high quality Hornady shells. While it doesn't shoot as accurately or accurately as the premium offerings, it's reliable and shoots well overall.

sparsely populated areas

These areas are outside city limits. Typically, these areas are on much more than just one or two lots, and the neighbors are quite far apart. In most cases, these are houses, and not apartments or residential complexes, that is, residents of individual families. At worst, areas like this may require light to medium barrier penetration. This could include car glass, car doors, or even wood.

This is probably the most forgiving area, but it can also be the most dangerous and you need to prepare for these potential dangers. As protesters threaten to move out of burning cities and into rural or suburban areas, this may require attacking multiple targets, possibly using cars or trees as cover (as cars are likely being used as the most common means of transport). likely). Fortunately, the ammo types for this area are virtually endless. I would skip varmint hollow points, varmint tipped ammo (e.g. V-Max or Nosler ballistic point) or varmint soft points. Consider using Black Hills and their 50-grain Barnes TSX Reservoirs. This specific projectile is designed for light to medium barrage and for use in carbines or gas guns.

Other competitors would be the Hornady TAP GMX 55 grain full copper hollow point,Ammunition TCX-Line Challengeror soft spots attached from 60 to 75 grains. Other great options would beWinchester Ranger 64 Grano Bonded Softpoint,62-grain Federal Fusion Bonded Soft Point, Federal/Lake City Mk. 318 62 grain and 62, 64 and 75 grain Speer Gold Dot Bonded Softpoint. Budget options would be the 75-grain soft-knit Hornady Black and the 62-grain soft-knit Frontier. Also consider .223 Rem for medium game and those designed for wild boar hunting as they are designed for controlled expansion, high weight retention and deep penetration.

Speaking of which, Fragile Practice Ammo isn't a great option for defense. Regardless of Internet lore, most frangible practice ammunition uses a thin copper jacket with a compressed gunpowder core. It was designed for use on steel targets as a close-range training aid and to prevent dangerous spasms. Fragile practice rounds don't behave like steel against soft targets. Often frangible ammo will fire at reduced velocities (as I saw a 10-12% reduction in frangible 5.56 as opposed to its FMJ counterpart with the same projectile weight) and will work less efficiently than frangible ammo. Mass-produced FMJ M193. .

5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (9)

If brittleness is a consideration, use M193 55grain as that would be a better choice. However, this does not include flimsy defensive ammo, as it is a completely different animal. While offering the security of traditional breakable ammo against difficult targets, this ammo is also specifically designed for defensive use. DRT, MagSafe, Glaser and their "Security Snail" offerings will all bring with them the reduced chance to penetrate difficult targets, with the rapid expansion normally found in varmint ammo. This is another route that those concerned about excessive penetration can take.

All of these choices in .223 Remington/5.56mm and 5.56x45mm NATO cartridges are excellent performers, providing the user with the ideal level of performance for their unique situation. However, these carefully selected self-defense cartridges also penetrate drywall. The reason for this is that drywall is a relatively soft and thin building material that was an easy and inexpensive replacement for drywall. Drywall is ultimately a room divider that is typically one-half to three-quarters of an inch thick, giving a total thickness of 1 to 1.5 inches for two layers. This surface is just camouflage at best and won't stop bullets of any kind. A simple fist or heavy-duty knife blade will go through drywall, as will a .22 caliber bullet from an airgun. With this soft building material, one must pay more attention to limiting excessive penetration.

As hard as it is to believe, light varmint loads of 0.223 Rem / 5.56mm (such as the 55-grit V-Max) will penetrate LESS into drywall than a glue-coated hollow point fired from a 9mm gun or a 12 00 caliber charge He fired Buckshot using a flight control pack. One might wonder how, but it's simple physics and understanding how different ammo types work. A defensive pistol projectile is designed to penetrate vital organs and also pass through various light barriers (for example, heavy clothing). Because of this, there is a high probability of clogging the cavity with drywall dust. When this occurs, the relatively heavy but slow projectile behaves like a full metal deck, penetrating several layers of drywall before coming to rest. A shotgun is very similar to a pistol in that it fires its load at relatively slow velocities and relies on penetrating vitals (or just removing vitals). With this, the flight-controlled cotton ball maintains a tighter pattern over greater distances. This means that a 10 to 15 foot miss will result in an almost massive mass of lead. This buckshot pattern, when fired at 1200 feet per second, is difficult to stop and will continue for several layers before stopping.


5.56 and 0.223 for Home Defense: is it right for you? - Firearms news (10)

However, the .223 Rem/5.56mm small-caliber pointed bullet is fired at speeds close to or greater than 3,000 feet per second. This is significantly faster than a pistol or shotgun. Drywall impact can initiate destabilization of very finely coated Varmint projectiles, causing them to deflect and fragment, resulting in limited penetration and reducing the chance of collateral damage.

Ultimately, this is a simplified version of the dynamics of how shells can and will work. To learn more, I recommend that you study the FBI's tests, evaluations, and findings on the subject. They found that even the 5.56mm 55-grain M193 FMJs produced much less over-penetration than conventional pistol and rifle cartridges. The 5.56mm is probably one of the best options and my personal first choice for home invasion defense. Light weight, light recoil, large capacity, multiple loading options, impressive terminal ballistics and ease of use make the practical 5.56mm AR carbine the first choice for defending not only the home front, but the home as well.

About the author

Michelle Hamilton holds a BA in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security, is a serious student of wound ballistics, military history, small arms design and manufacture, and a competitive marksman.

If you have any thoughts or comments about this article, we'd love to hear from you. Send us an email toFirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.

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