223 Remington Ballistics
223 Rem Trajectory
Origin of the 223 Remington
The 223 Remington was adopted as the US Infantry cartridge in 1964 after 7 years of development. The miltary round is known as the 5.56mm Ball Cartridge.
It rapidly achieved widespread popularity amongst hunters and varminters. Early rifles had a slow twist of 1:14 that limited projectile weights to a maximum of 55 grains. However, faster twist barrels, up to 1:7 meant much heavier projectiles could be used.
Hunting & Shooting with the 223 Remington
Story and photos by Don Caswell
Like many other Aussie hunters, my first centre fire rifle was a 223 Remington. That was back in the 70s. I’ve owned and disposed of a series of 223 Rems over the last thirty odd years. It is a calibre I keep coming back to, for good reason.
I view the 223 Remington as a great choice for dealing with pests and for meat hunters chasing small to medium sized game. Currently I have two 223 Remingtons in my gun safe. One is a medium varminter and the other a lightweight sporter.
There are a wealth of projectiles, from a variety of manufacturers, available to suit the 223 Remington for those who wish to hand load. Factory ammunition is available in an extensive choice of projectile types and weights as well. There would not be a gun shop anywhere that did not have a selection of 223 Remington ammo to choose from on its shelves. The price of 223 ammo is quite modest compared to bigger and more exotic calibres.
Similarly, there are often good deals on offer and quality factory rifles with scopes can be had at quite reasonable prices. That makes the 223 Remington a great entry level rifle for new shooters, or for a landowner seeking a sensible choice for pest control on the land.
The 223 Remington is well suited to the hunting of our pest and smaller game species. With the right choice of projectiles, the 223 Remington makes a fine medium game rifle. By choosing premium projectiles, such as the 60 grain Nosler Partition, or the Barnes SX 53 grain, to name but two, a hand-loaded 223 Remington is very capable on dogs, pigs, goats and small deer.
The 223 Remington is invariably a sweet rifle to use, being accurate with a mild report and negligible recoil. These characteristics make the 223 Remington a pleasure to shoot, particularly in the form of a light stalking rifle.
On the varminting side, there are a broad range of projectiles in the 38 to 55 grain range that are ideally suited to popping pests with your 223 Rem. Another caveat here is that some of these lighter varmint bullets are not suitable for use in rifles with high rates of barrel twist such as 1 in 9, or even 1 in 7 inches. So the message is; know your rifle’s rate of twist and take notice of ammunition manufacturer’s cautions on use of their product.
Factory loads are fine for use in a lightweight sporter, shooting medium sized pests. For varminting you will most likely need to handload to get the most from your rig. For calling up predators, to meet their maker, or just having an afternoon working over a couple of rabbit warrens, a varminting rig in 223 Remington is hard to beat. Fitted up with a bipod, and perched up on a convenient spot with a set of binoculars, you can certainly dominate the paddock.
Using 55 grain projectiles, leaving the muzzle at around 3,250 feet per second, the rifle can be sighted to shoot dead flat out to about 220 metres. Using the lighter varmint projectiles at velocities up above 3,500 feet per second the 223 Remington will deliver good accuracy and explosive performance on rabbits and the like.
If the varmints are in numbers, the wind is lacking, and you have your eye in on that particular day, then you can push out towards 300 metres with some confidence. But that is really the domain of other calibres and the 223 Remington, I feel, is best kept in its 200 metre comfort zone, where it excels.
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