.223 Rem. vs. 5.56 NATO: A true head-scratcher

Introduction:

It was Thanksgiving 2013, and I was just out of grad school. The local gun store was advertising an AR-15 for its Black Friday Sale, and I wanted one. Just to make sure it was a good deal I got Dad to a look at the gun for me. He informed me that this AR-15 was a .223, and not a 5.56 that the military uses. I looked at him very puzzled and asked him to explain. He sighed, then launched into telling me about the complex topic of .223 Rem. vs. 5.56 NATO. At first, I was very irritated at Dad for bringing up such a complex subject when all I wanted to do was buy the AR-15 at that moment. However, I am glad he did tell me. He saved me from making the same mistake so many people have in the past by not knowing the difference between the .223 Rem and 5.56 NATO.

For the history buffs out there, check out this snipercountry.com article for a detailed history on this topic.

Section 1: 223 Rem. 5.56 NATO ammo Looks the Same

If you put both rounds beside each other, they will look identical because both have almost the same exterior dimensions. Take note that I said nearly the same, and look at the image below. Do you notice any difference?

Image Source GunDigest
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Settling The Doubts About Ammo Stored In Your Oven Car

lockbox

If you are concern about your ammo that’s in your gun and stored securely in your car on a 100+ degree outside weather. Could it have a chance of exploding? Well Let’s take a look at some numbers first.

When we look at a modern round of ammunition, it consists of the following:

  • Smokeless primer incorporating nitrocellulose.
  • A lead projectile.
  • Gunpowder.

There can be other ingredients depending on the specific make and model of a round of ammunition but those are the three primary components. For your reference,

  • Lead melts at 621 °F
  • Nitrocellulose ignites at around 320-338 °F
  • Gunpowder ignites at 801–867 °F.

Surprisingly high temperatures, right?

The hottest place on earth is Death Valley, on July 10 1939 the record recorded temperature on earth was 134 °F. Now imagine the temperature inside of the car, it was probably around 200 °F, well that’s still no even enough to cause your rounds to explode. But if you throw it in to the fire (I don’t recommend this) it will pop.
I would be more concern about the gun’s accessories.