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.223 Suitability, and twist rates.

7439 Views 11 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Jeff_850
One plus to selecting a precision rifle in a common caliber is the continuing improvement of factory ammo available for it. Case in point: the .308 Winchester, and .223 Remington.

The continuing advancement of ammunition available for the .223 would seem to make it a suitable choice for the police marksman role, within typical short engagement distances, given proper choice of ammunition and proper shot placement.

You'll forgive the rant, but I think the .223 makes a fine choice for a precision rifle, especially to practice with, being more economical and having lower recoil than most other calibers suitable for such use.

So I come to my question: What is a good general purpose rifling twist rate for the .223, to stabilize the largest range of bullet weights, from 40 grain limited penetration bullets, to 80 grain competition bullets. I'm sure one twist will not fit all, but what is the best for the most?

1:9 seems to be common for "tactical" .223s, 1:12 for varmiters, 1:7 for rifles meant to shoot only heavy bullets, and everything in between as far as custom twist rates. To clarify, I'm asking for bolt action .223 precision rifles with fairly long barrels, not ARs.

Thanks in advance.
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My Stealth is a 1:9. I got that twist because I wanted to shoot the 69 SMK. The 69's shoot great from 300 out to 600 but the 52 SMK's shoot better inside of 300. If you are looking to shoot past 600 use the 80's with a 1:8 or 1:7 twist.

To answer the first question, the .223 is NOT suitable for tactical (police or other wise) situations. It does not have the necessary terminal ballistics to insure consistent instant incapacitation for anything but perfect shot placement. They also lack in penetrating power for barricade shots, and are especially suseptible to fragmentation for glass shots. The new heavy weight bullets (70+ grain) do offer better penetration and have better potential, but are still unproven and lack the ability of heavier calibers. Unfortunately, there have been shots on bad guys that were technically correct shot placements for kills in which it did not kill the bad guy. Such in consistent terminal ballistics is not acceptable for snipers/sharpshooters.

That being said, I have a .223 bolt gun (CZ) with a 1:9 twist. My particular rifle does not like the heavier bullets, but it does stabilize them just fine. This rifle tends to love 55gr ammo but that is not because of the rate of twist.

for additional info, check out the .223 section on snipercentral

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1:12 is only good for the real light stuff, 55 gr and less
1:9 is more versatile... can stabilize 69 gr rounds, Bushmaster claims mine can stabilize 75 gr VDL round but ive never tried this
1:8 stabilizes the 80 gr rounds supposedly 1000y ammo but id have to see it to believe it
1:7 stabilizes even heavier (not sure how heavy) but over-stabilizes say 40 gr rounds which isnt a good thing
Thanks for the advice everyone. I know the .308 would be a better choice for the police marksman, being more versatile. I just went off on that rant after reading about Federal's .223 "tactical" ammo, which has been tested to do fairly well on glass, and when I said correct shot placement, I meant in the eye. Difficult, but not impossible shot; its probably a better idea to just stick with the .308.
Bead Drawer:
well not always possible
what if there is a struggle between the hostage and the suspect?
do you think that your gonna get a moving target in the eye?
you might be better off not taking the shot but if you have no choice?

if im not mistaken a lot of AR-15 'sniper' varients have been popular with law enforcement
i believe Bushmaster for example markets thier Varminter to law enforcement calling it a countersniper rifle
Actually, for law enforcement sharpshooters, the .223 is out of favor. The AR15 variants are used quite a bit by law enforcement, but more commonly they are squad car guns, not sniper rifles (this can be considered "counter-sniper"). The .223 was very popular for sharpshooters in the 80's and even into the 90's but then statistical data started showing up, and real world experience showed the .223 to not be suitable for sharpshooting. It is still used a lot for entry teams, etc. where it does very well.

When I went through an FBI regional SWAT Sniper school, 100% of the sharpshooters (20+) were using .308. I was the only military sniper in attendence, the rest were law enforcement. They were all (100%) bolt action rifles also. Sharpshooters from the entire northwest USA were there, so it was a good sampling.

why no semi-auto sniper rifles for law enforcemnt?
there are plenty of accurate semi-autos that are reliable as well, is flying brass such a big deal? after the damn shot is fired and the situation is over cant they just pick it up to avoid litering?
well i could see how a semi-auto would help them if they do need a followup shot or a 2nd bad guy shows up and must be dealt with quickly
It is a good point, as LE would be the one area that would be "better" suited for semi-autos. But I think the big reason why is cost, reliability, and reputation. Like it or not, LE patterns a lot on the military. Which is pretty much bolt only (for reasons we have discussed before). The cost issue comes into play for most small departments, which is about 95% of them out there. A remington 700P can be purchased for $650. In the school I went to probably 85% of the rifles were 700P's. There were a few varmint 700's, one ruger varmint, and a M24 (I wonder who had the M24? :wink: )

The other big consideration is reliability. I would have to venture to say that it is MORE critical to have a reliable weapon in LE than in the military. Timing is arguably more important in hostage situations than combat. To have a jam in LE can mean hostages lives and missing the ONLY opportunaty to take a shot (or follow up shot, where a jam would most likely occur).

Because of these reasons, semi's are not popular in LE either....

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well cost i can understand bolt guns are more reliable in the field but if your not in the mud which not all law enforcement snipers always find themsleves in then a semi-auto might be a better weapon, they are just as reliable as bolt guns as long as they dont get a bunch of mud or sand in them

but im sure getting both semi-autos and bolt guns to use in mud is just too expensive and complicated

i talked to a friend who is in that business (SWAT) and said that thier department's snipers used to use Accurized AR-15s and every sharpshooter hated them because of lack of a knockdown punch not anything bad about reliablity, they now use bolt guns though even a few M24s and they all have military looking guns there
well cost i can understand bolt guns are more reliable in the field but if your not in the mud which not all law enforcement snipers always find themsleves in then a semi-auto might be a better weapon, they are just as reliable as bolt guns as long as they dont get a bunch of mud or sand in them
Well, I guess that depends on where the agency is! For instance, in montana, a law enforcement sniper will find himself/herself in dirt & mud more than they would in say, So. Cal. Keep in mind MOST agencies are rural across the USA (in terms of percentages of agencies that are rural vs. agencies that are urban), but I will admit that most of the "busy" teams are indeed urban. But even then, blowing wind, trash, gravel from roof tops, etc can cause problems.

Either way, reliability is probably not the number one reason, stopping power IS.

sorry i was thinking urban police sharpshooters only

yea i could see why sharpshooters out in rural areas would prefer bolt guns so they could hide int he mud and not worry about thier rifle jamming

my friend said that reliability of the AR-15s were ok just the sharpshooters wernt confident in the stopping power
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