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Marine: .223 May Not Be Lethal Enough for Civilians

The Truth about Guns – by Robert Farago

I know that you can see my name in my email address, however, if you don’t mind I would like to remain anonymous for obvious reasons which will become clear in a moment.

Please, allow me to introduce myself. I was a Marine scout/sniper. I fought in Fallujah, Iraq in Nov 2004 with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Alpha Co, 1st plt. I was in the historical “Candy Shop” skirmish. I was also involved in Afghanistan, Liberia, Djibouti, and a slew of other places many people have never heard of. I know what I am talking about and usually stay quiet on many subjects, but the subject of gun control has me irritated . . .

Recently there have been many arguments that the .223 (or 5.56) is a powerful round that civilians cannot handle or is for military/law enforcement use only. I have a personal story to share to the contrary.

This is a true and accurate account of what happened to me and my fellow Marines in a deadly firefight in central Fallujah, Iraq.

I was sitting on a roof top of a two story building, we were pushing south with other units. Our tactics were to move at night and setup in buildings during the day for the fight. Rarely did we move during the day, and if we did, it was not far. The other Marines on the rooftop with me were spotting targets and eliminating them. I noticed a bad guy, with a AK strapped to his back, run out into the middle of an ally about 100yds from me, produce a RPG and take a knee.

I carried 3 different weapons with me in the Fallujah battle. My M40 bolt gun, my M9 pistol, and a modified M-16A4 with a heavy barrel, better trigger, and a scope. I generally used that last rifle as my primary. It shot a standard 5.56 cartridge, nothing special about the ammo.

This bad guy took a knee and started to aim his RPG at our building. I fired once, hitting him square in the chest. The man stumbled a bit but regained his balance and steadied his weapon. I fired again, again hitting him. But this time, it did not faze him and he was able to touch off that grenade. The explosion rattled the building and injured a Marine below me on the second floor.

The bad guy dropped the RPG once he fired it, got up, and ran down the alley away from me. He still had the AK on his back. I fired again, twice, both times hitting him in his upper thoracic region. He was not phased. My L-T was shooting at him while yelling at his sniper (me) to kill him!

The man started pushing himself up a short wall near the end of the alley way. The wall was maybe 4 1/2ft tall. I decided to take a head shot at about 125yds. I centered the cross-hairs, and squeezed. JUST as the round broke, the man ducked his head, the bullet entered his brain housing group just at the base of the skull, effectively removing the back portion of his dome. I skull capped him.

He stumbled over the wall and fell down behind it, out of my view in the dead space. For a split second, I thought “there…” until I saw him RUNNING away from me, brains leaking from his head! As soon as I saw him, he fell down and did not get up again. It took 5 well aimed rounds to put this guy down. Granted, he was most likely on something, but it still took 4 in the chest, and one head shot to stop this guy. I was not the only Marine to be involved in something like this. Who is to say that an attacker in the U.S. is not “on something?”

Now, is the .223 (5.56) a deadly round? Absolutely! A .22lr is deadly in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. Is it effective? In this Marine’s opinion, no. The .223 is a varmint round, meant to kill targets no larger than a rabbit or coyote. Because of its horrible terminal ballistics and external ballistics, many people build AR’s in other calibers.

The AR-15 can be built in many different calibers that better meet the needs of HUNTERS and target shooters. 6mm, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8lbc just to name a few. Also the AR-10 is .308. The primary reason the military adopted the M-16 in 5.56 is because of the LOW recoil, and amount of ammo that a warrior can carry into battle. The .223 is the smallest the military would adopt at the time.

I have much more info to share, but I know your time is precious and I have other rants to get to. I believe this nation needs to be better informed of the truth, especially if someone believes the .223 is “too lethal” for civilians.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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39 Responses to Marine: .223 May Not Be Lethal Enough for Civilians

  1. US Marine Fighting Tyranny says:

    My Fellow Americans:

    To My Brother:

    My Brother Marine,.. Semper-Fi and welcome home.

    Unfortuanately, the war against a criminal and treasonous gov’t is upon us,.. and your training, exprience and leadership abilities are once again in demand,… I’m sorry to tell you the bad news,.. it would have been nice if you could have come home and felt secure,.. but that is not the case.

    To All Others:

    I fully understand the point my brother Marine is making in that a .223 may not have the stoping power the average person is envisioning, however, it is still a good round.

    As he states in his own comments, even a 22LR is deadly in the right hands.

    He conveys an unusual circumstance where the guy was just brutally tough &/or hopped up on something that numbed his sense of pain,.. Idon’t know, but I do know the average person getting hit with a .223 in the chest will drop 80%+ of people with the first round.

    If they are wearing a vest, that is different, if they are hopped up on drugs, that is different, but overall,.. you can be sure a chest shot,.. or headshot will be quite effective at dropping someone, or at least getting the target to break contact with you or your group.

    A preferred caliber for “one shot – one kill” is the .308.

    If your not happy with the thought of a .223’s effectivenenss,.. just give it to a fellow Patriot,.. I’m sure they will make good use of it.

    JD – US Marines – Any weapon is a good one in the fight against tyranny,.. choosing the most effective one depends on circumstances.

    • Henry Shivley says:

      I prefer my 7mm magnum with 165 grain ballistic tip. Anywhere in the body is a kill and any appendage hit is removed.
      What kind of odds are you going to give me on those kind of twitchings?

      • US Marine Fighting Tyranny says:

        Hi Henry,

        Lets see,…. hmmm,…. odds for “twitching” from a 7mm,….165 grain,…. headshot,…hmmm,…Oh,.. here it is…

        Henry, thats paying 1 to 5. (For every 5 you bet,.. you get your 5 back plus 1,… not very good odds,… means they expect you to win almost every time…)

        I guess the bookies feel they will loose a lot of money on that bet!

        JD – US Marines – Bookie For The Gallows,… and head shots.

  2. Fred54 says:

    Absolutely agree. I own a .223 but don’t consider it much of an effective weapon. If I need a real rifle I would grab my 7.62X51 or my 7.62X54.
    Bolt guns. Another good choice for long range accuracy and stopping
    power is my .303 British with a hot handload. It’s not how many bullets
    you fire it’s what muzzle energy they have that counts.

  3. diggerdan says:

    I`l tell ya what, I saw my first Russian aa-12 gauge yesterday and it was impressive, I guess that they come in either a 12 or a 20 g. and fully auto drum clip. they are awsome. Not much for long range but boy – o – boy they will cut the enemy in half if you let loose with a full clip on full auto.

  4. ronnyquest says:

    Retired Army airborne infantry here. I can speak to the disappointment and frustration many soldiers experience when engaging the enemy with 5.56 N ammunition. Certainly, any weapon and ammo combination is potentially lethal, but what this marine experienced is not unusual with that round, especially at medium to long range. This is why, given the choice, I would use any of my rifles chambered for 7.62 N over a rifle chambered in 5.56 N under nearly any circumstances where I desired a high first-round kill probability against an enemy combatant–which is all the time.

    Also, the 7.62 N or its civilian counterpart, .308 Winchester, is a fine round for long-distance engagements, especially the latter. One rifle, many uses.

    However, if weight and mobility were less a concern, and I really needed to reach out and touch the enemy, I might prefer to also carry my 7mm Remington Magnum to ensure that the enemy I hit stayed hit.

  5. Robert says:

    Been wondering about the stopping power myself, but ammo seems
    cheaper and available.

  6. pete says:

    it’s not so much the calibre as the actual bullet.

    something like TSX(expanding petalised copper) or a blended metal round(explodes into shrapnel on impact),
    is much better on a person that a ball round.

    but a ball is better on something hard like a door, window or car.
    it’s just a matter of the right tool for the job.

    lead btw has no place other than on a church roof.

  7. Large Scale Aggressor says:

    I remember reading once that the .223 caliber M-16 was designed not to kill the enemy but to seriously wound him. The theory being that a wounded fighter not only puts him out of the fight but anyone assisting and caring for him.

    • Joe in JT says:

      Nope. The .223 round is used in our military because grunts can carry more ammo, plus with no recoil any swinging dick (or boob) can shoot it.

  8. European American says:

    This video/article brought up a number of questions. But right off the top, the “Ice Block” video. Were they not satisfied with the depth of penetration or by the fact that both examples veered up and out the top? What were their expectations? Ice block vs human physiology. Seems it did an “adequate” job, considering. (Or is an ice block not a fair comparison to the thickness of some Americans craniums?)

    The story of the so called “bad” guy (One has to wonder which side is made up of the bad guys over there, and, who are the “insurgents”) taking multiple hits before the perceived head shot eventually took him out. Could he have been wearing a vest, in addition to being a very tough and brave individual? I could see patriotic Americans capable of doing the same thing if “they” had invaded our country.

    Is this .223 vs (.308) debate not as old as time? I suspect for most civilians it’s a matter of finances. However, when ones life is at stake, and after some research, I would think though, the choice would be obvious. Personally, I chose the .308 in the two rifles I own, because in my opinion, my skills, or possibly lack there of, I couldn’t afford not to; I may not have a second chance.

  9. uka says:

    why are my comments never posted

  10. Brett says:

    The easy answer is 7.62 H&K or FN Fal, will outrange any 5.56. The fal has an extra 1/4 turn in the rifling which causes the bullet to tumble after 100 yards, will stop a grisly with standard ammo no need for hollow points. this weapon will kill a person even if it hits a limb because of the tumble it dosn’t go staight through, it ricoshes of bone and has been known to hit in the leg and come out the shoulder. A a british grunt thats very reasuring, the round was designed to stop a person charging with a bayonet in his tracks no run on that happened with the .303.

    • Kratoklastes says:

      That’s why the AK is the preferred weapon of freedom fighters trying to get ISAF (the Yanks and their toadies) out of their countries: the 7.62 (rimmed [WPact] or rimless [NATO]) will take a limb off at 150yds. Plus, the AK is reliable, indestructible and cheap (unlike the M4 in all those respects).

      This is why the current US political nonsense over banning Armalite variants is obviously just theatrics: the AR15/M16/M4 was always an inferior battlefield weapon in terms of its ability to get the other guy to stop permanently – but that was NOT THE PLAN (the aim was to inflict casualties and cause resource attrition).

      Plus, American soldiers have always been soft: they want lighter weapons and ammo so they don’t get sore feet from carrying heavier mags. The tradeoff is “lighter weapon and ammo for more ballistic protection” (body armour, heavier helmet).

      In my day, a grunt not only carried 7.62 ammo and an FN-LAR… they carried their rations in CANS, not MRE pouches. 3 days rations weighed twice as much as ammo.

  11. Kratoklastes says:

    5.56 is the preferred weapon of US forces because it causes CASUALTIES, not FATALITIES. I do not know a single former soldier who does not know that fact.

    Every battlefield casualty inflicted on the enemy, causes MASSIVE expenditure of battlefield and rear-cadre resources: the wounded man’s comrades have to make him safe (and their attention to the fight is reduced); whoever acts as the team’s medic (if anyone) is taken out of the fight; a medevac has to be arranged; rear cadre has to take care of the downed guy – and the team’s willingness to maoeuvre is compromised (they are unlikely to want to give ground – even if doing so would be sensible – if the wounded man will fall into enemy hands).

    Something like 8 effective man-days is required to deal with the first 24 hours’ care of a single wounded individual. And wounded often scream – reducing the moral and altering the focus of his team.

    Contrast that with a dead guy: he can be left in situ until the firefight is finished (he’s not going to get angry or any deader), and then he’s just meat to put in a bag and send off the field.

    THAT is why .mil rounds have metal jackets, high muzzle velocities and relatively low calibre: it increases the effective WOUNDING range.

    And a “sniper” without a M107 (or even better, a CheyTac Intervention) is just a grunt who’s a decent shot: a .408 Lapua (or .50 from the Barrett) will ruin anybody’s day.

    • come-and-take-it says:

      Suppose that’s why the VC killed their wounded more often than not.

    • dog says:

      This is nonsense. It is McNamara thinking, based upon WW2 experience. What McNamara forgot was that Germany, Japan, and the US were using heavier caliber guns than 5.56, and that was why the wounds were so incapacitating. The standard US pistol round, the .45 was developed after our experiences in the Philippines, when we found out the hard way that the .38 was not adequate.

      As for casualties vs fatalities, our opponents haven’t figured this out yet. Maybe that’s why we are still fighting (and losing) after 10 years of war in the middle-east. WW2 took less than 4 years to win, before we adopted this clever strategy.

  12. Billy T says:

    More of a story of what an individual is capable of withstanding when fighting for their country against invaders, than a rant about the stopping power of .223 IMHO.

    Personally, I don’t know a damn thing about rifle rounds, all I’ve got is a .50 cal. Desert Eagle and an old .357 mag S&W revolver. As far as I’m concerned they will have to do if I get into some kind of trouble. However, I understand what the government is up to, and I’ll defend ANYONE’S right to purchase and own semi-auto or full-auto rifles even if I don’t intend on owning one myself.

    • Kratoklastes says:

      Your position is the right one (in terms of understanding why folks might need a longarm to defend themselves from the scum who seek to rule), but I question the wisdom of relying on sidearms if TSHTF: with a decent (scoped, zeroed, maintained) rifle you can warn would-be intruders at 200yds, and stop them at 150 if they continue. With a handgun – even with consistent training – you’ve got no hope until they’re on your porch: at that sort of range, under that sort of stress, ten thousand hours of range practice won’t stop you from firing high and right, and you’ve got 20 rounds – and four seconds – to make your point. That’s too hard.

      If worse really did come to worst, I would not even want to own a carbine: the only reason to have a short barrel is if you plan on fighting at close quarters – which means you’ve got a bad plan. Hell, I wouldn’t even trust a good bullpup (unless it was a Dragunov SVU).

      Jefferson had it right: ownership of firearms is the only way to give pause to tyranny (that’s not a direct quote).

  13. M says:

    If you want a one shot guranteed kill . A projectile of no less than 3 inches in diameter is required.

    A tongue in cheek commentary by ballistic experts in the early 20th century. After spending months shooting cow carcasses and researching the wounds.

    Personally I don’t think you should be allowed anywhere near a gun . Without having read at least 500 books on firearms.

  14. oldvet says:

    Its all been said..already. My kids understand what Uncle Sam taught them on the 223….Im older school.. we had the early A-1″s…I didnt care for them then…still dont now. Yes its a lot less weight…but c’mon?

    Give me .30Cal. any day all day…I can and will still carry the load…
    I do every other weekend now…

  15. come-and-take-it says:

    9mm carbine with 147 gr bullet does a great job out to 100 yds. Outside of that it’s the .30 cal. Can’t argue with .223 owners though. Low recoil and the wife likes it. Just limit the expectations and put another round in the sucker.

  16. Alberet says:

    The .223 was specifically designed to wound and maim people, in order to tie up enemy personnel. My DI’s bragged that it takes 1 to bury someone, but 3 to handle the wounded. The .223 should be outlawed under the Geneva Conventions, as should ALL hollowpoints and other “fragmenting” rounds. Actually they ARE. But You need to realize a basic fact. The CHICKENHAWKS that are provoking and creating all these wars NEVER GO TO THEM. So THEY don’t give a damn about you Peasant’s pain and suffering. The only bullets that should be used are FMJ and AP of .30 cal and larger. But the CHICKENHAWKS sit safe at home cashing their DEFENSE INDUSTRY dividend checks, while we are maimed. Geneva Conventions were written for a reason, that our dumbed down Population has forgotten.

  17. richard says:

    Dear Experienced Warrior,

    I am grateful for your feedback and do not dispute your conclusions on the .223 (or 5.56) round.

    My point of contention is different. You described the “guy with a AK strapped to his back”, who ran out into the middle of an ally as the BAD GUY.

    May I remind you that the man in question was defending his family, friends, and nation from invading marauders. He was and is a hero.

    The WAR was and is built on lies. If we did not know it in 2003, there should not be any doubt of it in 2013.

    The brave young men and women who fight and die in foreign lands are nothing but the muscle and the thugs of the criminal banks.

    And now those banks who so eagerly murder innocents overseas are happily planning to disarm, imprison and murder any American that stands in their way.

    U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler figured this out in 1930.
    Why do we have to repeat this idiocy every generation.

    We have to unite to fight these monster and clearly .223 round is not big enough.

  18. JK says:

    When i was training in the Canadian infantry it was explained to us that the purpose of the smaller caliber (.223 / 5.56mm, used for the Canadian M16 variant), is to INJURE the opponent not necessarily kill him, because it then requires some more enemy personnel to stop fighting and retrieve the injured to administer first aid.

    And you get to shoot at the rescuers. They won’t try to get to get to someone who looks very dead while the firefight is ongoing.

  19. Brett says:

    Cant understand you Americans, you talk about survival and bugging out, you favour AR15 and glocks, they are good range day weapons but when your life depends on yout choice and your out in the hills you need reliable weapons, AKs, Colt 911s or .45 carbine accurate to 250 yards, dragonovs, fals, .308 or for urban protection the .45 ACP thomson is still the best and most durable if it will stop a soldier on a banzai charge it will protect your house and if you must have a 9mm it should be a Browning high power because its the only 9mm ( for your Wife )you can abuse and fire any quality ammo through without jamming, try that with a glock or sig. Revolvers are still the most reliable .357 or .40 or bigger. The last line of defence for any home should be a sawn off 12 guage because when it hits the pan you dont have to aim and even if their wearing armour their blind and cannot walk.

  20. Abbey says:

    While the argument about the lethality of a particular caliber is interesting, it’s how we got to this point that is the problem.
    Killing the so-called “bad guys” in countries most Americans couldn’t even find on a map, whose families were killed for defending themselves from the “good guys” who themselves haven’t the slightest idea what the hell we are doing as a bankrupt nation invading countries that have never attacked us, is why we are losing our freedoms here, in America.
    “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Madison

  21. David V says:

    Very good comments from all. 30-06 hasn’t been mentioned. It can kill up to a mile away. The farther out you get them, the less chance they have at getting at you. Remember that we’re not looking at pitched battles with armies and such. Anyway, best plan is to have more than one kind of weapon at hand, and plenty of ammo for each. AK is very effective IMHO, because it’s cheap and reliable, and has pretty good knock-down power. But a .22LR will work in an emergency.

  22. Steve says:

    I was in the Canadian military in the late sixties early seventies and we used the FN 7.62 in 20 rd sem1-auto(C1) and the 30 rd fully auto(C2). They have of course now gone to the nato caliber, but that 7.62 was powerful, and dependable if somewhat heavy.

  23. pete says:

    learn how to make micro-landmines using 12guage shotgun cartridges & metal pipes.

    because if your on the move, you want to thin them out & demoralise them without stopping.

  24. cyndi l says:

    Thank you for the info.. But more so, THANK YOU for serving this Great country of ours! GOD bless you..

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