5.56x45mm NATO

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5.56x45mm NATO (official NATO nomenclature 5.56 NATO) is a rifle cartridge developed in the United States and originally chambered in the M16 rifle. Under STANAG 4172, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries. It is derived from, but not identical to, the .223 Remington cartridge. When the bullet impacts at high velocity and yaws in tissue, fragmentation creates a rapid transfer of energy which can result in massive wounding but relatively low hydrostatic shock effects.[2][3][4]



The previous standard NATO rifle cartridge was the 7.62x51mm NATO, derived from the .308 Winchester rifle cartridge and designed to replace the U.S. military's .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge. At the time of selection, there had been criticism that the 7.62 mm was too powerful for modern service rifles, causing excessive recoil, and that the weight of the ammunition did not allow for enough rate of fire in modern combat. A soldier can carry more than twice as much 5.56 mm ammunition as 7.62 mm for the same weight.

During the late 1950s, ArmaLite and other U.S. firearm designers started their individual Small Caliber/High Velocity (SCHV) assault rifle experiments using the commercial .222 Remington cartridge. When it became clear that there was not enough powder capacity to meet U.S. Continental Army Command's (CONARC) velocity and penetration requirements, ArmaLite contacted Remington to create a similar cartridge with a longer case body and shorter neck. This became the .222 Remington Special. At the same time, Springfield Armory's Earle Harvey had Remington create an even longer cartridge case then known as the .224 Springfield. Springfield was forced to drop out of the CONARC competition, and thus the .224 Springfield was later released as a commercial sporting cartridge known as the .222 Remington Magnum. To prevent confusion with all of the competing .222 cartridge designations, the .222 Remington Special was renamed the .223 Remington. After playing with their own proprietary cartridge case design, the .224E1 Winchester, Winchester eventually standardized their case dimensions, but not overall loaded length, with the .222 Remington Special to create a cartridge known as the .224E2 Winchester. With the U.S. military adoption of the ArmaLite AR-15 as the M16 rifle in 1963, the .223 Remington was standardized as the 5.56x45mm. However, the .223 Remington was not introduced as a commercial sporting cartridge until 1964.

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