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    Profile photo of Roadracer

    Interesting comments on .223. Understand the comments, but in a SHTF situation, if your scrounging, having the ability to use something as common as the .223 just seems to make sense to me.

    Also the area where you live may be a deciding factor. In the western states a long shot is more likely to occur than in the east. For me the longest shot will probably be 150 yards at a whitetail. Don’t have moose or elk. On an off chance of actually seeing a black bear it will be on the small side.

    Whirlbird what’s maximum range of your shots for antelope and deer? What caliber do you prefer.

    Profile photo of 74

    The whole topic of cartridge selection is another curnundrom of compromises. A deer can be taken with a 22lr to the head and most other animals can be as well. Even big hogs and cows go down in a lump. The 233 with SP or HP’s is deadly with the right shot placement. People hunt deer with 300 Win Mag that is way overkill or do I need a 338 lapua?
    It’s nice to have choices now because somewhere down the road we might be using homemade bows and arrows.


    This is true , the intermediate cartridge , as we know it today , was invented by the Germans at the end of WW2 , it was basically their standard rifle cartridge , cut down so the soldat , could carry more ammunition , but still have the lethality of a rife round , but sacrificing range . The Russians did the same thing with the 7.62×39 . I dont know what we were thinking with the .223 ………but then again , there are a lot of things we dont get , when we try a new concept . We could have cut down our standard ( at the time ) 30-06 , and come up with something like 7.62×42 or similar , still small , but at least it would be a 30 cal round going down range instead of a 22 , that the bad guy can avoid by hiding behind certain types of walls ….whereas the 39 will still penetrate . Just Sayin .


    We have shots that range anywhere from 50-600 yards easily for everything from antelope to moose.
    Right now I have deer and elk droppings in my front yard, not 15′ from the front door, in town.
    We have moose and bear in town, mountain lions and wolves right outside town, the local sheep herds are a favorite meal.

    In ten years of rural LE work, I had the displeasure to shoot an average of two animals a week, ranging from rabid skunks and raccoons to road injured deer, elk and cows.

    My first department, the local wildlife officer wouldn’t go out after 5pm or come out before 9am. Our dispatchers would call me for everything on our side of the county during his off hours. As such, I got to try a variety of guns and ammo in ways most never get to try.

    We also had a couple of pit bull breeders who were raising fighting dogs in and outside town. Needless to say, we had to deal with a number of them over the years.

    While one can take a deer with a .22, I have skinned deer with .22 bullets under the hide that were perfectly healthy at a later date.
    I used to use the .223 for a great many things, but after several failures, dramatic to me, I have a hard time with it as a hunting round or for defensive purposes.
    The truly ‘effective’ .223 loads (70gr jhp) are expensive, $1.00 or more a round.

    I switched to the .308 round in a FAL because of the increased effectiveness on critters, and proven effectiveness on two legged critters.

    I still feel that for my use, it’s the optimum choice.

    No one doesn’t need a .300WM for deer, however around here because of the longer shots, and critters that hunt back, it’s very popular, as are many of the larger choices.

    My UPS driver bears the scars of a grizzly bear attack, it happened within a hundred miles of here.

    Better to have more power than you need than too little.
    At the same time, finding a balance is good, most of your really high velocity choices tend to bloodshot the meat leaving useless meat jelly near the impact and exit holes.

    Most of the classic cartridges are fine, 7&8mm Mauser, .308, .30-06, .270, .303 British, 7.62x54R. No drama, not a lot of fanfare but they work on critters both two legged and four.

    One of my customers (SF medic) wants a .338 Lapua for elk. He is still in the gun/ammo stages of prepping so I have been working with him slowly, but I asked him why he needed that.
    After some talking, going back and forth on real needs and real life use, he’s getting a .35 Whelen built to go with his .30-06.

    I still have a .223 and use it for a house gun (for the kids), but it will soon be a 6.8mm because it’s a better deer/defense round.

    I have to look at guns as multi purpose items, hunting and defense, for a number of reasons, but when you’re arming a family for hunting and defense, it just makes sense to combine them whenever possible.

    The problem with choosing certain cartridges with a particular specialty or boutique bullet that makes it acceptable suddenly, is sudden unavailability.
    During the recent shortage, .223 was unobtainium, still is some places. Especially ammo loaded with the 70gr TSX bullet, arguably the best hunting and defense choice for the .223.

    Meanwhile .308 hunting loads were still available, albeit expensively. And at that power level, one doesn’t need specialty bullets.

    Perhaps it’s a different thought style, but I prefer to look at the incapacitation factor more than killing power.
    I don’t care if the bad guy dies, but I want him to stop what he’s doing, as soon as possible.

    The Israeli Mossad have proven that the .22 is lethal. But it’s hardly a good choice for defense. Same applies to all the other choices, looking at them subjectively. Then you make an informed choice.

    Much depends on where you are and what you do.
    Back when I carried a badge, I had help coming or there in a sticky situation so a failure of a particular round wasn’t as critical as me facing a threat alone and having the same failure.
    Today, it’s my kids, my wife I’m protecting.
    I want the bad guy stopped right now, not expiring at some later date.

    Same for critters, I want that meat stopped right there and now, not running off to die elsewhere where someone else may gather the meat or it’s just lost to the wild.

    For me:
    Short range rifle (<250y) 6.8mm
    Rifle .308
    Handgun .45 or 10mm

    My needs, my location, my choices.


    Lotta talk here running down the 5.56/.223 (though they are not the same cartridge).

    Not to be snotty, but folks who usually run down the 5.56 are usually the ones who haven’t seen anyone shot with it. I’ve used Nam-era XM16E1’s all the way to the latest A2 designs, including the M4. The “bad old” M193 round and the “good new” 855. The cartridge is effective if it is used as it was intended.

    Anecdotally, I took two deer last hunting season with my ’93, both double tapped right behind the shoulder. I was using Remington’s 50g JHP hunting load. I have to because my ’93 still has it’s factory original 1/12″ barrel and won’t stabilize the heavier projectiles..

    Both deer went down like they were pole-axed and didn’t move. Distance was a touch over 100 yards, which is about par for this area of Kentucky. Dressing them out showed that those light projos made a right hash of their heart and lungs… just shredded.

    At some point, I will have to have that barrel swapped for a 1/8 or 1/9 so I can use whatever I want, instead of being restricted to the lighter bullets…

    The 5.56 is a purpose-built cartridge. If it is used within the parameters it was designed for by a competent rifleman, it is effective. Are there more effective rounds out there? Yep. But I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the 5.56.

    Let me change gears…

    Couple years back, I decided to streamline the firearms safe. Dumped the guns which were in oddball or obsolete calibers. The only “oddball” I retained was a 98 Mauser in full battle rattle in 7x57mm. South American contract gun made by the Germans. Acquired a period correct high-turret repro mount for it and put an old El Paso steel tube Weaver K-10 on it. Out to 600 yards or so, it’s a death laser. Good intermediate cartridge and accurate enough with handloads using the right components..

    Having a rifle and sidearm that both take the same ammo is downright handy… but limiting. If you’re okay with those limitations, then I say go for it. If not, then you’ll have to buy more than one kind of ammo… and, like my esteemed colleague Mr. Bird says “Stack it high and deep”…

    The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1


    Not running the .223/5.56 down, just have lost my faith in it for my uses.
    Like most cartridges, kept within its parameters, it can be a good choice.

    A lot of development has happened in the last 50 years to make the .223 better, and with good results.

    Depending on your needs however, it may not be enough. I have used it to dispatch an 1700 lb angus bull hit by a Cadillac, in hindsight I should have shot the car also. The 55gr bonded SP barely made it into the skull from 4′. A similar bull was neck shot from @25y and the bullet failed to make it to the spine. That bullet/load has a good reputation as a LE round, but we’re not talking people now. I have had better luck with the same shots with a .45 auto and several different hollow points, the heavier bullet drove farther in.

    A larger heavier rifle bullet would have been more effective in both instances. The .223 can make do, but at that point shot placement becomes even more critical. The larger/heavier bullet is somewhat more forgiving of placement errors.

    As a general purpose round the .223 is lacking, within its context it can work but I also prefer to stack the deck in my favor.

    And I’m not getting rid of my .223 upper, just adding to the guns usefulness and power level.

    By the way, the ancient short stumpy yet heavy .224″ plain base soft point (will look up the number tomorrow) from Speer, 60’ish grains often shoots well out of the 1/12″ twists. It’s not as pretty as the new long bullets, but normally stabilizes when they won’t.


    It never ceases to amaze me how many “experts” are out there talking about guns, ammo, and stopping power. It is my belief that the best gun you could have is the one you are the most proficient with. In a basic “survival” situation, a small caliber gun that is relatively quiet is better that that 30.06 in your closet. If WW III happens, almost nothing that a civilian has will be of any consequence when facing an armored personnel carrier or a tank. Most people have never seen any real war, most have no idea how they would react to any particular situation unless they have faced it before.

    My question would be how can I learn the skills I need to survive if I can’t get my ass up off my chair and away from the computer to go out and test my skill? Where can I go to learn how to…? If you want to know how hard it is, turn off the power to your house for one week and see how that goes. Can you cook a meal or for that matter, even start a fire? Can you kill something with your rifle, bow or spear and then clean it and cook it? See where I’m going? You can have the best sniper rifle in the world, but if you can’t hit your target it’s just a big fancy club!

    With all that being said; think .22LR, .38/.357, 9mm, and .45 long Colt. All these can be had in both pistol and carbine varieties, and all of these are quite adequate for most personal defense and small game hunting. The other factor here is, you are not just carrying around a gun, you are also carrying ammo. Think that’s no biggee? Try carrying an extra 15-20 lbs. of anything with you next time you go out for a walk or a hike! My only other suggestion is, again in my opinion, a good shotgun. With the proper application of ammo, from bird shot and buck shot to slugs, is great for hunting small to medium game as well as self defense scenerio.

    Just my two and a half cents worth.

    Profile photo of 74

    Your correct, Whirly is correct, Melgus is correct. Even I was right once. Not even shtf will stop this discussion.

    Profile photo of Danie Theron
    Danie Theron

    I will not weigh in here on the caliber and gun debate, because in spite of all logic and prior efforts attempted to focus people on training and mindset, people are determined to have this argument and make a big production of it. I guess, at least, it is fun entertainment.

    ScottK, you logic is right on and solid. One point that I disagree with: You say…” If WW III happens, almost nothing that a civilian has will be of any consequence when facing an armored personnel carrier or a tank.” Make no mistake, in urban warfare and guerilla warfare – small arms in the hands of non-governmental forces are a game changer. They are the single most important force multiplier available. Small arms are THE VERY FIRST thing we (US) supply rebels with when we are assisting them in fighting their government. After that comes rudimentary training. Small arms in the hands of small groups trained in basic team and infantry tactics are the cornerstone of any civil conflict or fight. Tanks and APC’s are in limited supply and there is a host of tactics to deal with them. There will always be vulnerable targets of an opposition group who are forced to operate outside protected areas and without amour/tanks. Small arms will be the preferred economical way to deal with those people for many years to come.

    Other than that, ScottK….homerun with your comments.


    Had this big, elaborate post ready. Deleted it. Why?

    1. Whatever I say won’t matter anyway. ’74 is right. This debate has raged and will rage for the foreseeable future.
    2. Taking umbrage at certain things that have been said will only drive my blood pressure up and spark an argument that might turn ugly. I don’t want that on Selco’s site, sooo…
    3. Speaking my mind, especially about 4G asymmetrical warfare is bad OPSEC. The playbook might already be known, but I’m not going to potentially help someone who does not particularly like Patriots who might be reading this site and taking down names/notes (not accusing anyone here… but ever since Snowy dropped a dime on the NSA, I watch my step).

    That’s pretty much all I got, soo… yeah.

    The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1

    Profile photo of freedom

    OK I like the .22lr when the SHTF because it does not make a lot of noise. I do like my .308 because of the stopping power but I can go a long way with two boxes of 550 rounds of .22lr.


    Whirlibird, enjoyed your posts. Too bad there is no “Like” button (that I could find).


    Bushrat, thanks for that.

    I tend to ramble a bit though.

    I think subjects like this are discussed heavily because as was previously said, we are all right.
    We all are correct for our areas and situations.

    Our experiences color our choices, some are comfortable with one choice, others another choice.

    Malgus, hope #2 wasn’t because of anything I’ve said. If so, apologies are offered.
    Not looking to argue, just promote thought and offering an opinion that’s been very costly to earn.

    As with so many things, location is everything.

    When I lived in a “city”, my choices generally were small bore high capacity firearms.
    As were many of my cohorts and co-workers.
    Having worked in rural areas for the most part, what I need/needed was different, therefore my choices and needs were different.

    An amusing story.
    Back in 2008, I watched a couple of SWAT officers at a police supply house.
    They were each buying a pair of Glock 17’s (9mm) and a pile of magazines (17 and 33 rounds).
    I looked them over, noted the .45’s (1911 and G21) on their hips and moved over to have a word.
    As I moved next to them, I exposed my badge and asked if they had a minute.
    They smiled and one responded, long as you need.
    I asked what’s with the 17’s, were they switching belt guns, was it a departmental change or something.

    They both laughed and the second one said, nope, just stocking up while we can.
    These aren’t for duty use.

    I understood and we chatted for a bit, seems they were stocking up for emergencies.
    They had been putting things back for a while, guns, ammo, food, etc.
    We compared notes, city vs. rural LE, prepping and such.
    It was interesting, to say the least.

    Long story short, they had high cap, small bore, guns for the city,
    For their BOL, (and yes they had one) big bore, high cap guns.

    Profile photo of freedom

    Whirlibird, I find it interesting the talk with the SWAT officers since I live in the middle of a City. I own two 22lr rifles, one 9mm handgun, and two shotguns because of the City. In a SHTF that is what I would use. I also own a .308 but that is for hunting. Because I live in the City I also own other handguns like a small .380 and a .357, but the 9mm will be every were in a SHTF.

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