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Why The .223 Remington Is Our Favorite Light Rifle Cartridge

Some of the most fun I’ve had behind a rifle has been with a .223 Remington. One of my favorite aspects of the .223 Remington is just the sheer versatility of the cartridge. The .223 Remington cartridge is the quintessential Swiss army knife of the small rifle world. .223 also seems to excel no matter the platform, whether in an AR-15 outfitted for 3-gun competition to your standard bolt action hunting rifle the .223 can fit the bill. .223 can be configured through its wide selection of bullet weights and styles to fit just about whatever your heart could desire out of a light rifle cartridge. Combined with its broad ballistic range and light recoil, .223 Remington ammunition can usually be found in ample supply just about everywhere in the United States.

. 223 Remington is so economical to shoot many competitive long range shooters prefer to shoot the .223 in dedicated “training” rifles rather than their actual match guns. Having dedicated trainer rifles in this cartridge allows match shooters to preserve the life of their expensive match barrels for actual matches and helps relieve the costs of shooting their bigger caliber match rifles, thus shoot and practice more. Long range competitors also opt to use .223 Remington despite being a relatively small cartridge it has enough recoil and “big” rifle feel that it can still be used to train for recoil management over other cheaper training alternatives such as .22LR. The cheap per round cost also make it a perfect choice for those looking to get into semi-automatic rifles such as an AR-15 where it is extremely easy to blow through a hundred rounds or more in a single range trip.

At the light end of the spectrum bullets utilized in .223 are usually around 35-40 grains and can be loaded up to advertised speeds up to 4000 feet per second with the lightest weight bullets. Most of the lighter weight bullets are aimed at varmint hunting and are equipped with ballistic tips focused on making quick humane kills on small varmints. The high muzzle velocity makes it an absolute laser with an extremely flat trajectory perfect for long range shots on prairie dogs, squirrels, and rabbits. Most general purpose plinking rounds in .223 Remington fall in the 50-65 grain weight range and usually come in a full metal jacketed bullet which helps keep material costs low yet still have consistent accurate bullets that make plinking at the range enjoyable. My personal favorite bullets in the .223 Remington, though, are the heavy hitters, the 65-85 grain “match” bullets that are long and sleekly designed bullets with high ballistic coefficients. These heavy pills are designed to have a little more “heft” to them that help the bullets maintain their velocity and resist the wind better which makes it possible to stretch the legs on this cartridge on the longer ranges.

We generally want to keep rifles in light, medium, and heavy duty capacities and right now, the .223 Remington is my favorite “light” rifle cartridge. It may not be the newest, flashiest, or fastest light rifle cartridge out there, but its utilization really is almost endless. When I shell out my hard earned money for a new rifle I value what roles a new cartridge can fill for me and my needs. With the .223 Remington’s ballistics, wide selection of both hunting and target bullets, and light recoil really make this rifle cartridge hard to ignore. From predator hunting, medium and long range target shooting, and everything between the .223 Remington really is able to find itself at home. It’s not hard to see why the .223 Remington has been around for so long and continues to be relevant even after almost 70 years after its introduction in a market where we seem to have a new latest and greatest cartridge introduced every couple months. I know for me and the foreseeable future the .223 Remington will always find a home in my gun safe.