The .223 Remington cartridge came from a series of designs that were created after the Second World War. Germany had made famous their MP43 assault rifle. Military leaders demanded that their firearms designers follow suit. Designers were ordered to create ammunition that could mirror the success of the 7.92×33 Kurz cartridge. They required the ammo to be light enough to carry into combat and powerful enough to defeat its enemies. Munitions designers experimented with prototype assault rifles and scaled down cartridges. Members of the newly-formed NATO agreed to work together to create a universal rifle for the allied infantry.
Development of .223 Remington
The 1950s changed the firearms industry in many ways. The American military demanded lightweight rifles. In 1955, ArmaLite’s Chief Engineer, Eugene Stoner, presented his design for the ArmaLite AR-10. The AR-10 was the first lightweight infantry rifle, chambered to the 7.62x51mm NATO. The military rejected the AR-10 in favor of the M14, most likely because the former was too late to complete the appropriate tests.
The military revived the AR-10’s hopes in 1957. The United States Continental Army Command asked for a smaller version of the gun. They wanted the new rifle to use .22 caliber ammo. Stoner invented the AR-15 rifle.
In 1964, the U.S. Air Force adopted the AR-15 as the M-16 rifle. The rifle eventually became standard issue for the military.
In 1980, the .223 Remington round was changed again. It now uses a 62-grain full metal jacket bullet with a 7-grain steel core for improved penetration.
The standard .223 cartridge uses a .224-inch diameter boat-tailed bullet in a rimless, bottle-necked case. The bullet measures 1.76 inches in length with the overall length of the round is 2.26 inches.
Standard factory loads range in weight from 35 to 85 grains. However, the most common is the 55-grain bullet. It uses a small rifle primer and has a max pressure of 55,000 PSI.
Remington introduced .223 ammo to the general public one month before it was adopted by the Air Force. It uses a lower pressure than the 5.56 NATO. As a result, it is good for target shooting, plinking and for first-timers or kids. Although it isn’t legal in all states, hunters often use the ammo to hunt deer or similar medium-size game. Perhaps the most common use is to control varmints – rats, rabbits, gophers, weasels and groundhogs, etc. The round can also stop larger pests such as skunks, coyotes, feral dogs and cats, raccoons, and opossums. The ammunition is relatively cheap, especially if it’s purchased in bulk. Secondly, it’s easy to get and can be used for a variety of things.
In addition to general use, .223 ammo is also a preferred round for law enforcement agencies. Police often use the ammo in their patrol cars, often as a replacement for a 12-gauge shotgun if they require more accuracy and precision.
With its wide range and popularity, the .223 Remington cartridge will continue to be one of America’s favorite rounds for years to come.