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Difference Between 5.56 and 22LR (Explained!)

Difference Between 5.56 and 22LR (Explained!)

Want to know what makes 22LR and 223 different? Let’s start!

When they say the .223 and .22LR are interchangeable, they refer to the same bullet diameter. Although the game cartridges’ casings are different, and the bullets may appear completely different, they all have the same .223″ diameter.

So why is it? Two hundred twenty-three referred to as 5.56MM?

Just the metric equivalent of .223″ is 5.56mm. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) refers to 5.56 rather than .223 Remington because the metric system is a much more widely used unit of measurement worldwide.

The heat of the load, or the fact that it contains more powder, will be the main distinction between the .223 and 5.56 NATO rounds.

The chamber pressures are the main issue you need to worry about. The traditional .223 barrel/chamber has been rendered obsolete by the invention of .223 Wylde.

The 5.56mm NATO round shouldn’t be fired through a rifle chambered in .223 because it typically has a higher PSI chamber pressure. However, a 5.56mm rifle can fire .223 rounds just fine.

The most important conclusion is that the 5.56mm round and the .223 bands differ most in the amount of powder used.

Why Not Use a .22LR Instead of a .223 Rem or a 5.56mm Round?

Want to know what makes 22LR and 223 different? Let’s start!

After hearing that they use the same size round, that is an intriguing and somewhat valid question. The most popular competition worldwide, 22LR is less expensive, sometimes easier to locate, has less recoil, and both the guns and the ammunition are typically lightweight.

Although the bullets have the same diameter, their grains differ. The term “grain” only refers to the bullet’s weight. The case, the powder, and the primer are not included.

So, all that is being discussed is the component that flies through the barrel and hits the intended target. The different grain weights of bullets determine a bullet’s flight trajectory, thermal ballistics, and velocity.

Case typeRimmed, straight
Land diameter0.212 in (5.4 mm)
Rim thickness.043 in (1.1 mm)
Maximum pressure24,000 psi (170 MPa)
Bullet diameter0.223 in (5.7 mm) – 0.2255 in (5.73 mm)
Rim diameter.278 in (7.1 mm)

How Many Types Of Grain Bullets Are There?

The .22LR Grains

Readily available commercially: The typical grain range for 22LR ammunition is 20 to 60 grains, with velocities ranging from 575 to 1,750 ft/s (feet per second).

5.56mm and .223 Grains

Most readily available commercially: The weight range for NATO 223/5.56 ammunition is 35 to 85 grains. The different grains give the fired round unique characteristics both in flight and at impact. The.223 / 5.56mm round’s most popular grain weight is 55gr or 55 grains.

The difference in power usage between the 5.56mm round and the.223 bands is the most significant finding.

Access To 22LR And.223 Rifles

During the COVID-19 pandemic, so many guns were available that it was ridiculous. The most challenging item to locate in the world of firearms is probably ammunition.

If you could even find it, the price was so outrageous you’d think Snoop Dog was selling it!

Until recently, it wasn’t easy to find 22LR and 223 ammo in stock. If you’re looking to buy some ammunition, you can check sites like Brownells, Palmetto State Armory, Lucky Gunner, True Shot, and to see what’s available.

Quantities Of 22LR Vs. 223 Ammo

The quantities each ammo is sold in are among the key distinctions between 22LR and 223 rifles. Typically, 22LR is offered in blocks of 50, 250, and 500 rounds.

They are known as blocks because the packaging, which frequently takes the form of a partnership and holds numerous 22LR rounds, is block-shaped. 223 is typically sold in bulk quantities of 500 and 1000 rounds and comes in 20-round boxes.

The 5.5645mm NATO cartridge family was created by F.N. Herstal in Belgium in the late 1970s. Its official NATO nomenclature is 5.56 NATO, but it is frequently pronounced: “five-five-six.” The SS109, L110, and SS111 cartridges make up this set.

Gun and bullets
Quantities of 22LR vs. 223 ammo

Arrangements For Rifle Barrels

NATO chose a 178 mm (1:7) rifling twist rate for the 5.5645mm NATO chambering when it became the industry standard in 1980 to properly stabilize the relatively long NATO L110/M856 5.5645mm NATO tracer projectile.

At that time, the U.S. converted all of its stock of rifles by swapping out the barrels, and this ratio has been used to produce all-new military rifles for the U.S.


5.56mm NATO ammunition displayed with other rounds and a $1 bill. NATO 5.56mm rounds in a STANAG magazine. In ideal conditions, the 5.5645mm NATO SS109/M855 cartridge (NATO: SS109; U.S.: M855) with standard 62 gr.

Lead core bullets with steel penetrators will penetrate soft tissue for about 38 to 51 cm (15 to 20 in). It is prone to yaw in soft tissue, as are all projectiles with a spitzer shape.

But at impact speeds greater than about 762 m/s (2,500 ft/s), it could yaw and then shatter at the cannelure (the crimping groove around the cylinder of the bullet). These fragments can penetrate bone and flesh, causing additional internal wounds.

If and when fragmentation does occur, it causes much more damage to human tissue than one might expect, given the bullet’s size and speed.

Short-barreled carbines generate less muzzle velocity than longer-barreled rifles, which causes them to lose their wounding effectiveness at much shorter ranges. This fragmentation effect is highly dependent on speed and, consequently, barrel length.

The hydrostatic shock theory’s proponents assert that wounding effects from a high-velocity bullet’s shockwave extend beyond the tissue that is specifically crushed and torn by the bullet and its fragments.

5.56 vs .22LR | Why .22 LR AR-15?

Cartridge Comparison:223 Vs. 5.56

The .223 Remington cartridge has the exact external dimensions as the NATO 5.56x45mm military cartridge.

  • It is loaded with jacketed bullets that range in weight from 40 to 90 grains and have a diameter of 224 inches (the 55-grain being the most popular).
  • The primary distinction between the .223 Remington and the 5.56 NATO is under pressure.
  • The.223 Remington is loaded to lower pressures and velocities than the 5.56 NATO.
  • Because of the lower pressure, .223 Remington ammunition can be fired safely in a 5.56mm chambered gun, but the opposite cannot be said.
  • Higher pressure is produced when 5.56x45mm ammo is fired in a.223 Remington chamber.
  • This excessive pressure can result in harrowing extraction, flowing brass, and popped primers.
  • Over-pressure could destroy the firearm and injure the operator in extreme cases.

Final Thoughts

  • If you’re unsure what ammunition to use in your firearm, consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer directly.
  • While .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO are most commonly associated with A.R. platforms, several bolt-action, and semi-auto rifles are chambered in .223/5.56.
  • You are responsible for always knowing what type of ammunition is safe for your firearm.
  • The primary difference between .223 and 5.56 NATO rounds will be the load’s heat or the fact that it contains more powder.

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