Saturday, April 6, 2019

Understanding the .223 Remington vs. 5.56 Safety Issue

Common sense and the rules of safety dictate that you NEVER chamber a cartridge in a firearm other than the EXACT one that is specified for that firearm.

If you have a gun that is not clearly marked as to what is the specified cartridge that it will safely fire, have it checked by a gunsmith or a competent firearms professional, as even the cartridge identification markings on the gun itself may not be correct on some firearms, as I will elaborate on later.

I bring up this topic because the proliferation of the AR-15 'style' of tactical weapons has greatly popularized the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge that many of these guns are chambered for. But if you have a tactical rifle or carbine that appears to be chambered for the 5.56 cartridge, you had better make SURE. Some of these look-alike guns are actually chambered for the .223 Remington cartridge, and may or may NOT be clearly marked as such.

There were a number of AR-15s and AR-15 look-alikes sold by several manufacturers to the public that were incorrectly marked as being chambered for the 5.56x45 NATO round, but were actually chambered for the .223 Remington. So... again, if you have purchased a new or used rifle or carbine that is marked as being chambered for the 5.56 round, it may be advisable to check the serial number and call the factory, or take it to a gunsmith who can accurately measure the chamber and throat of the barrel BEFORE you fire the weapon, or even load it, for that matter.

Side by side, these two cartridges look identical to the naked eye. Even the diameter of the bullet of these two cartridges is the same. I checked this out by looking into my old Speer reloading manual. The actual diameter of the bullet used to reload both the 5.56x45mm NATO and the .223 Remington measures in at 0.224 inches. When I checked a gun forum online, they verified the Speer reloading manual is correct on the 0.224” diameter bullet for both those cartridges (and also among several other popular small bore cartridges).

But the assembled 'cartridges' are not exactly the same in several respects.

Let's look at some of the data that outlines some of the differences between these two popular cartridges:

Let's start with the brass cases used to make up the two cartridges. The brass used to produce the 5.56x45 NATO cartridge is thicker (and likely stronger) than the brass used to produce the .223 Remington.

Most all of the 5.56x45 NATO cartridges produced have a slightly longer overall length (by a few thousandths of an inch) than the commercial .223 Remington cartridges. And there are also critical differences in the chamber dimensions of these two high-power rifles (and carbines) that these loads are designed for.

There is a free space, referred to as the leade or throat, where the chamber meets the barrel of a rifle just short of where the groves and lands of the rifling begin. This space is most critical. If the assembled cartridge is too short, the leade will be too great, with a negative effect on velocity and accuracy. But if the leade space in the gun is too short, and if the bullet is forced into the rifling as it is pushed into the chamber, when the gun is fired, excessive (DANGEROUS) pressure could likely be built up which may not only seriously damage the firearm, but could seriously injure, or in the extreme case, even kill the person firing the weapon!

When we are talking about high pressure here, we are dealing with from approximately 40,000 pounds per sq. inch when the .223 Remington cartridge is fired, as compared to more than 50,000 – 55,000 pounds per sq. inch when the 5.56x45 NATO cartridge is fired. That's why the margin for error is so critical when we are dealing with cartridge and chamber measurements.

With a .223 Remington-chambered carbine or rifle, the leade measures 0.085” as compared to the relatively longer 0.162” leade in a gun correctly chambered for the 5.56x45 mm NATO cartridge.

So... in a nut shell:

Never Put A 5.56x45mm In A Gun Chambered For The .223 Remington!

While a .223 Remington round can 'normally' be safely fired in a gun chambered for the 5.56x45mm, you will lose ballistic efficiency. * But there have also been incidents (mostly with reloaded ammo) where excess free space (leade) caused some cartridge cases to rupture. *

And with ALL firearms, if there is Any Doubt at all as to whether you have the EXACT cartridge that can be safely fired in that weapon, Don't Even Load It!

Here's an excellent article on the subject: .223 Remington vs. 5.56 NATO: What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

And this video should also be of help in understanding the issue:

Stay Safe and Protect Our Second Amendment!

Gary Miller

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Here's the Rest of the Western Magazine Digest Story

Howdy, partner!

You already know the weekly publication side of Western Magazine Digest (WMD), but as Paul Harvey use to say, "here's the rest of the story." Besides publishing feature stories weekly, we also feature news and comment via our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter). If you're not tuning in to these two social media channels, then you're only getting part of our story.

For example, yesterday we sent out several news items, two of which I thought should be of great interest to our WMD readers. The one in Argus Courier, entitled "Petaluma’s Past: Northern California’s ‘Indian War,'" discusses the one and only Indian war that occurred in the State of California.

When we send our social media notices over our channels, we use a simple formula. We usually carry one or two sentences, we add three or four hashtags (to draw the attention of other social media networks), as well as a link. Photos are either natively provided by way of migration through the respective social media channel, or we add them where it seems appropriate.

Here's an example of our California Indian social media notice, along with a screen shot (above):

Petaluma’s Past: Northern California’s ‘Indian War’ | #TpromoCom #WMD #Indian #War | It was the only actual “Indian War” in California history. And the only Native American uprising in which a U.S. Major General was killed. One-hundred-forty-six years ago, Sonoma County and Petaluma were terrified.
A second news item carried yesterday was that of a special ranch that provides help with the care of horses for local Tallahassee residents, which is carried by WTXL, channel 27, an abc affiliate:
Triple R Horse Rescue giving horses second chances at life | #TpromoCom #WMD #Horse #Rescue | Rescue and rehabilitation ranch, that's what the Rs stands for in Triple R Horse Ranch. After 10 years, the group has grown, but their mission remains the same. (see the blurb below)

According to the author, Jennifer Meyers of WTXL, "Triple R Horse Rescue doesn't just bring in abused horses to make them healthy. They truly give these animals a second chance at life, just like Choco, who has been here for two and a half years."

Headlines from other recent news postings include:

  • Gunslingers bring Old West to Central Virginia
  • Arizona's 'Superstitions' mountain range home to myth and legend
  • Editors’ Picks 2019: Standard Manufacturing Single-Action Revolver
  • Last rodeo: Cowboy calls it a career after 28 years
  • A Cowboy’s Faith: Cold night healthcare rewarded

To read these and other items on our social media channels, click on the icons below:

Where the Inspiration Comes From

Currently there are two authors at work on the WMD, Gary Miller and myself.

I believe I speak for both Gary and myself when I tell you that the inspiration for our stories comes from a variety of places, but the foremost spot is that of the heart.

Both Gary and myself have extensive histories in being a childhood cowboy or an Indian (you have to take turns you know). The countless hours that we, as young boys, played "cowboys and Indians" helps fuel the fire of interest in all things of the Old West.

Gary also has the benefit of caring for and riding horses on a regular basis a time or two during his lifetime. I have relatives in Martinsville, Indiana who have a horse ranch where I also got my feet wet riding a horse or two. And then there are the hundreds of hours spent watching westerns on television and in the movie houses of our youth.

Now that we're older, we draw from those wonderful memories every time we sit down to write a feature story.

Another source of inspiration for myself is that of old western magazines, like the Old West magazine shown on the right. This is the Winter 1982 issue of Old West. From it the trail has led me to two or three feature stories. For example, on page 12 is a story entitled, "Old West Gunfighters: The Men Who Fired in Anger" (see the table of contents below center). This story led to the writing of "Gunfighters of Renown," which we featured in WMD on November 23rd of last year.

A more recent story, entitled "The Historical Photography of Dr. Edward H. Latham," was inspired by another story in the same publication entitled, "A Girlhood Spend With Chief Joseph," on page 18. Through this article I began to research the photographer of that era who's work was featured in that story, Dr. Edward H. Latham. I scanned the pages of this old magazine and featured the photos so you could view it as well. What a treasure.

Last December we featured four stories that culminated from a WMD article entitled "The Story of Bloody Bill Anderson," taken from an action story in Old West magazine, Winter 1978 edition, entitled "Cord of Death." Note that there are links at the bottom of part 1, 2, and 3, as well as a fourth story that culminated from this Old West article.

The thing about these old magazines (I have a huge collection of these collectible treasures), most every story involves real historical data either researched or told to someone who lived it. If you're interested in acquiring one or two of them, contact me at 614-585-2091 or email me. You also can review the few I've managed to add to our eCommerce store.

Be sure to leave a comment or question below. If you do not see the comment box, click on the "no comments:" and you will be on the actual article page. Scroll down and you will find the comment box. Thank you for reading WMD!

--Al Colombo

Looking for Writers

I wish we could dig deeper and provide even more information by way of additional stories on these subjects, but that would not be practical for us at this stage in our publication. In fact, we're looking for additional writers, so if you're a writer, or if you would like to try your hand at writing, I'd be happy to work with you (email me, or call 614-585-2091). If you do not get a response in 48 hours, please try again.

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