VIDEO: Rifle Terminal Ballistics Chalktalk
Just threw together a video giving an overview of some common .223/5.56 rifle duty/defense loads, and charted them so that people can see what they're capable of.
Well done video.
Question, if you just have a pistol versus a shotgun for home defense....what would you continue to use as primary home defense?
Pistol. The advantage with a pistol is that it's small, less cumbersome, can hold a weaponlight and still be operated with one hand, has higher magazine capacity and you can shoot faster. Recoil is also less for staying on target. If you use quality ammunition like HSTs or another tactical bonded JHP designed to not clog, you have a lower propensity for over-penetration. Shotguns do devastating damage to the body, but they're very cumbersome weapons IMO.
Awesome video...really helped me visualize this stuff. I was really interested to see how the m193/855 loads looked on the sheet so I'm glad you included that information.
So, would it be safe to say that based on the chart, the optimum self defense/duty load would be the T3 62 grain bonded softpoint (second from top)? That one fits square in between the boundaries and looks fairly consistent.
I would consider grabbing a few boxes and loading up 2-3 mags for the SHTF situation with that stuff.
Yeah, it's one of the best. It uses the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw (TBBC) JSP bullet. The FBI uses the same bullet with a 5.56 case and pressure, dubbed the XM556FBIT3, which is even better. If you can find that one, go nuts.
The problem is that Federal Tactical rifle loads are EXPENSIVE, and are around $2/rd. Speer Gold Dot JSPs are half that, as are some other loads. I use the LE223T1 55gr at home, but that's because I got a bunch of it for free from work. The 55gr tends to work better in SBRs.
Other excellent loads are also the Barnes TSX in 45gr, or the 50gr option made specifically for Black Hills. Also, the 70gr TSX performs really well. I have the FBI data, but I can't post any of that stuff on YouTube. The FBI docs puts the Speer GDSP in much better light than ATK does, which is funny.
I would also have no problem using the Federal TRU 55gr BTHP Sierra GameKing or 55gr Nosler Ballistic Tip for HD, as the numbers that are at or inside the ideal range are all from bare gelatin or heavy clothing. The low numbers on them are from the harder barriers, which would not be a major concern for HD. Actually, might not be a bad way to go if you really are concerned about overpenetration in a populated house or apartment.
Great info again haha. You made an interesting point about the 55gr working better in SBRs, which raises a few issues. Presumably, these tests are conducted out of a 16 inch or 20 inch barrel? Surely the penetration characteristics change based on going to a shorter barrel length? I would imagine that the velocity might effect some of these loads more than others
The performance for these loads is done out of a 16" barrel. FBI tests are done out of a 14.5" or 16" barrel, depending on which ones they are testing, but they have done testing on 10.5" and 8" barrels. It's very interesting to see what happens with those rounds. At CQB range, it's not too much of an issue, but once you hit 25yds, anything over 55gr starts to have issues with the really short barrels. 11.5" and 12.5" barrels obviously will do a lot better.
Every bullet has an operating range with a needed minimum velocity to expand properly. This is why the TSX loads are the best for SBRs. The 70gr TSX is designed to open up down to 1800fps, as are the other loads like 45gr and 55gr. The Black Hills 50gr TSX is a different design and is designed to operate down to 2300fps, but that's because it's a dedicated LE round with thicker petals designed to resist shearing off when penetrating through auto glass and steel. But, considering that the 50gr is an actual 5.56 load with 5.56 pressures and not .223 like everything else, they have velocities up in the 3000-3200fps range in most rifles. That gets you optimal performance out to 200yds or so, unless you are talking about stuff like a Mk18 or shorter.
Anything 55gr or less, 70gr TSX, or the 75gr BTHP or 77gr OTM are all documented to work well out of SBRs.
I'm bumping this post as I'm currently in the market for additional barrier penetrating defensive ammunition. This will be strictly limited to shooting out of 11.5" or 10.5" SBRs. I'm a bit worried that most of the loads on the market are 223 rather than 556, and my BCMs are temperamental shooting low pressure ammunition. I found this list, which includes some of the previously mentioned rounds. Also, as mentioned above, I have been unable to find the XM556FBIT3.
I know that there are members here with more ballistic knowledge than I have, so what would be your choice out of the 556 offerings that are actually available?
62gr Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw (TBBC) bonded JSP (XM556FBIT3)
64gr Winchester solid base bonded JSP (Q3313/RA556B)
50gr TSX loaded by Black Hills
Speer 55 & 64gr Gold Dot JSP (5.56)
Federal 62gr Mk318 Mod0 (T556TNB1)
62gr Federal bonded JSP Tactical (LE223T3)
55gr Federal bonded JSP load (Tactical--LE223T1 or identical Premium Rifle--P223T2)
Swift 75gr Scirocco
60gr Nosler Partition JSP
Remington 62gr bonded JSP
Federal 55gr TSX (T223S)
Speer 55 & 64gr Gold Dot JSP (.223)
Federal 62gr Fusion JSP (Same construction as the Gold Dot)
Most duty/defense grade .223Rem is actually pretty high pressure stuff. Not to 5.56 pressures, but significantly higher than conventional .223 target and hunting loads like Remington UMC, Remington Core-Lokt (non-premier), Federal Power-Shok, Winchester USA, Wolfshit, etc. Here's what I would take:
5.56 options in order of preference:
1: Black Hills 5.56mm 50gr TSX
2: Federal Tactical XM556FBIT3 62gr TBBC
3: Silver State Armory 45gr TSX
4: Hornady 5.56mm 62gr TAP Barrier
5: Silver State Armory 70gr TSX
.223 in order of preference:
1. Federal Tactical LE223T1 55gr TBBC
2. Black Hills Ammunition 45gr TSX
3. Silver State Armory 45gr TSX
4. Federal Tactical LE223T3/Fusion 62gr
5. Remington Premier CLUB 62gr Bonded PSP
6. Speer Gold Dot 55gr GDSP
7. Hornady 62gr TAP Barrier
8. ASYM 70gr TSX or SSA 70gr TSX
A couple thoughts:
With barrels that short, you want to stay in the lighter bullets at or under 55gr, or the very heavy 70 TSX bullets. The mid-range bullets are not as ideal, though they generally will still perform inside of CQB distances. It depends on the bullet, because Bonded JSP's typically have a higher minimum velocity threshold for performance. For SBRs, the TSX bullet is exceptional since it will open up down to 1800fps. The heavy 70gr load will be fast enough to function and open, but slow enough to have minimal chance of over-penetration. The super light 45gr won't over-penetrate. The 50gr TSX by BH opens at 2300fps because it's a heavier design, but it's been designed for SBRs so it will function just fine. It's the 55-62gr TSX bullets that I tend to avoid. They will over-penetrate more often than not. The Hornady GMX is a good barrier load and is similar to the TSX, but it has a higher tendency to over-penetrate so I don't really like it.
SSA makes both .223 and proper 5.56 ammo, and now that they're owned by Nosler, their quality has gone up even further.
Speer only makes .223 spec loads, not 5.56. The 55gr is good for SBRs, and is more ideal than the 64gr IMO. ATK hotloads the piss out of their Tactical loads, and they tend to run a lot hotter than other .223 loads. Both Federal Tactical and Speer are more than ideal, and would function just fine in your rifles.
Mk318 Mod0 T556TNB1 ammo is barrier blind, but it's a hammer. From the tests I've seen, it heavily over-penetrates. It's a much heavier construction than typical LE bullets.
Thank you for the reply. I'm a bit curious that you say the mid-range bullets are not as ideal as 55g or lower, or 70g and higher out of my chosen barrel length, but then you have ranked a 62g on both the 5.56 and .223 lists higher than others. I think my ideal cartridge is the Hornady TAP 75g, I just can't find it anywhere. Truthfully, it's been very difficult to find any of the cartridges on the list.
I've pretty much given up on the MK318 for the same reason that you listed above, over-penetration. I have no first hand knowledge of this, just through research that I've done but I've read enough to dismiss it from my "want" list.
Yeah, I probably should have qualified my statement a little bit. Inside CQB distances, 62-64gr JSP loads work fine. It's out past 50yd where it starts to get questionable. The loads I listed are known to be very good performing loads when they work, which is why I put them on there. The Federal TBBC is the best Bonded JSP on the market. The Remington CLUB PSP is also very similar in design and capability. Those were chosed because of their dominance in overall performane in ballistic tests.
The Hornady 62gr on the other hand has a very thin jacket, and it's sort of a hybrid urban/barrier load. It can operate at lower velocities. It's not my first choice, but it's a decent enough load if you don't need to shoot through glass.
Thank you for the clarification. Really, I'm looking for a jack of all trades for defense and definitely within 50 yards. I prefer a barrier round because, well, you never know what you will encounter even as a civilian. :dunno:
I searched for every round on that list today and only found a few that were in stock. At this point I think I have to give my OCD a rest and just pick the highest rating on that list that I can actually find and be done with it.
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