I Asked a Friend What I Should Stockpile for SHTF: The Great .223 Remington Or The Stalwart .308 Winchester?

Travis Pike
By Travis Pike April 3, 2017 12:42

I Asked a Friend What I Should Stockpile for SHTF: The Great .223 Remington Or The Stalwart .308 Winchester?

The firearm world is pretty diverse in terms of calibers and choices. When we narrow it down to rifle rounds, the world really revolves around just a few calibers. Of course, there are also tons and tons of excess calibers out there, some so vague they don’t even sound like actual calibers.

Two of the rounds the rifle world revolves around: .223 Remington and .308 Winchester

Both rounds are insanely popular in the United States and they both even have military variants. The round is available in a wide variety of rifles, including the most popular platform, the Modern Sporting Rifle. Modern Sporting Rifles being semi-automatic, magazine fed rifles that often modular in nature.

.223 Remington

Is an extremely popular cartridge with different loads produced by a wide variety of manufacturers. It’s often used for police and self-defense use. It’s also popular for varmint, predator and medium game hunting. When it comes to the .223 the rifle of choice is most commonly the AR 15. The United States Military uses two different military versions of the rifle, known as the M4 and M16. The AR 15 is America’s most popular rifle.

.308 Winchester

Is a popular caliber for a variety of purposes. In the United States, it is a very common hunting cartridge. It excels for most medium and some larger game. Picking the most common rifle in 308 would be quite difficult. To make this a fair comparison, we are going to use the AR 10. The AR 10 is the older brother of the AR 15. It’s a semi-auto rifle with identical controls and modularity of the AR 15. The AR 10 is a full power rifle that pulls no punches. Variants of the AR 10 are used as a sniper and designated marksmen rifles.

Related: The AK-47 vs AR-15: Which Rifle is Better When SHTF?

Ballistic Performance

The .223 and .308 are two very different rounds that offer significant advantages in different fields:

  • .223 Rem is an intermediate powered round
  • .308 Win is a full powered rifle round

Both rounds have a wide variety of different loads and each load has different ballistic performance. So, for this portion, we are going to look at some similar and common 308 Win and 223 Rem loadings.

Loadingsloadings

Nothing in the world is free, that includes the power the 308 Winchester generates. While it strikes a target hard and fast you better hit it with your first shot. The .308 Winchester has a lot more recoil than the .223 which has a much lighter and more pleasant recoil sensation. In an AR 10, it’s not what I would call painful, but fast and accurate is not an accurate descriptor. The recoil to the shoulder and the muzzle rise makes a big difference.

Related: How And Where To Store Ammo

Recoil

recoil

The .308 Winchester’s full sized nature also makes it more advantageous for long range shooting. The .308 Winchester can be used out to 1,000 yards with a skilled shooter. The .308 is often the choice of sniper rifles. The .308 is a stable round out to that 1,000 yards and still has the power at that range to hit hard.

Range

The .223 Remington isn’t as capable as the .308 Win at long range, but still, holds its own. The .223 is effective out to 500 yards. This range matches most shooter’s skill levels. Shooting a moving target past even 300 yards is quite difficult to do, so 500 yards is excellent for most shooting needs.

Related: DIY Rattle-Can Camo for Weapons and Other Gear

Ergonomics

The ergonomics of both the ammunition and the rifles that chamber them are quite different. The lighter and smaller .223 Rem gives shooters the ability to carry a lot more ammunition. The weight of the round is nearly half of the .308 Win. The standard magazine capacity of a .223 mag is thirty rounds with an AR 15. It is much easier to carry multiple magazines on a plate carrier.

The heavier weight and large size restrict the shooter to heavy, thick and wide magazines. This makes it difficult to carry additional ammunition on a vest or belt. This leads to .308 Shooters carrying less ammo overall for more weight than a .223 loadout.

Rifle ergonomics are also much different. The AR 15 tends to be the lighter and easier to handle a rifle. It’s shorter and can use an overall shorter barrel. The AR 10 is a heavier rifle that suffers from serious performance issues when you shorten the barrel.

Related: How to Conceal Weapons in Your Vehicle

Price

The .223 Remington is the cheaper round and has the most variety in terms of manufacturers and loads. You do pay for the larger size and increased power of the .308 Win round. In terms of rifles, there is also a pretty big difference in price and selection.

There are overall way more manufacturers of AR 15s than AR 10s. The rifle tends to be more popular because it’s cheaper, ammo is cheaper, and it’s easier to handle.  AR 10s aren’t so widely made and you have fewer options overall. AR 10s are also on average more expensive.

Which One Is Better?

Which choice is better is a tough one to make. Because every situation is different, it truly is situational dependent. If you live in an area with an expansive and open area the .308 may be a better choice for a survival rifle. Also in situations where you may face larger game and need a dual purpose defensive use and hunting rifle.

The .223 Rem is the more popular option due to price, recoil, and ease of use. The .223 is often better suited for the average individual. It’s low recoil, accessibility, and price makes it an excellent option for a general purpose survival rifle.

Related: DIY Gun Solvent

In general, the choice is yours, and as a shooter and survivalist, you’ll need to decide what works for you and your situation. Power and range, or speed and accessibility?

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Travis Pike
By Travis Pike April 3, 2017 12:42
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55 Comments

  1. BubbaG April 3, 15:55

    Both are good rounds and both have specific attributes. Like most things there’s some give and take to each individuals needs and desires. For deer hunting here in Va the .223 isn’t a legal round, has to be a .24 caliber or larger but in a SHTF event I don’t guess that would matter.

    Reply to this comment
  2. left coast chuck April 3, 16:22

    The dichotomy between the two is the reason why some shooters are electing to carry an upper in .300 Blackout or 6.5 Creedmore. They nicely fill the gap between .223 and .308. However, once again, there is no perfect solution. .300 Blackout and 6.5 Creedmore are civilian rounds and are not available in that many loads or in stores. If you go into Uncle Mikey’s Bait and Ammo in Whitefish, Montana, chances are he will have .223 and .308 but not one round of the other two. Life is like that. There are no perfect answers. As another poster pointed out in response to the ammo question, it depends upon where you are. Where he lives the foliage is lush and he can rarely see more than 100 yards. He feels in those circumstances the .223 would be used more. OTOH if you live in Greybull, Wyoming, the .308 would be required as there are lots of wide open spaces and it would be real sucky if your target were hammering you with a .308 from 500 yards and you were waiting for him to close to 300 because you have a 16 inch .224. If you have unlimited funds and space, buy them both.

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    • PUNISHER April 3, 20:35

      IN CALIFORNIA, THEY JUST BANNED ANY SEMI AUTO WITH A PISTOL GRIP, FLASH HIDER, OR TELESCOPING BUTT STOCK. I THINK THE M1A/M14 WHICH I HAD IN VIETNAM, WAS MUCH BETTER THAN THE M16. THE NEW M1A’S ARE MUCH MORE ACCURATE THAN THE 1969 MI4 I HAD. THE AR10, WITH THE ILLEGAL COSMETICS, IS A GOOD RIFLE, BUT, THE MIA HAS A 22″ BARREL AND IS A GREAT RIFLE FOR HUNTING AND SELF DEFENSE. WITH A BI POD AND GOOD SCOPE, IT HITS THE TARGET OUT TO 1,000 YARDS WITH A 1.5″ GROUP, USING A 168 GR BTHP. THIS IS MY HUNTING RIFLE, AND MY SAIGA IN 7.62, WITH A REGULAR STOCK, 18″ BARREL, IS JUST AS GOOD , OR BETTER WITH ACCURACY THAN THE AR, M4’S. AND CLONE’S. SAIGA IS MY DEFNESE RIFLE.

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      • left coast chuck April 3, 21:20

        If you live in Kally forniya you had better stock up on ammo pronto. Coming soon to a gun shop near you, limits on how much ammo you can buy and ammo purchasing licenses. Also the state preemption on firearms and ammunition laws is going out. Cities will be able to pass their own laws regarding guns and ammo. California is marching in the opposite direction of almost every other state in the union. Most other states are eliminating local option laws. With regard to firearms and ammunition, California is expanding local option. U-Haul still has more trucks and trailers leaving Kallyforniya than are coming back in.

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        • Kygunner April 3, 23:03

          Sorry buddy. Everyone in our community wants to hate on commifornia. Truth be told it’s a gorgeous state that’s just been crapped on by the libtards. Shame….

          Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck April 4, 04:41

            You’re right. It certainly isn’t the state I decided to stay in when I got discharged here almost 60 years ago. If you worked as a shipyard worker at HUnter’s Point Naval Shipyard or a stevedore on the docks you could actually afford to buy a home in San Francisco. Today? HA! First of all, most of the blue collar jobs have left the state, either driven out by the environazis or because the legislative atmosphere for factory work has driven it offshore to either Mexico or Asia. Wages aren’t the only thing affecting whether jobs stay or leave. Well this is a pepper’s forum, so I will drop this political rant. It’s too close to bed time. If I don’t I’ll be too p.o.’d to sleep.

            Reply to this comment
          • Dori April 6, 13:19

            I think you’re correct
            I love California it’s the damned DEMOCRAPS!

            Reply to this comment
      • TSgt B April 5, 22:39

        If you can shoot 1.5″ groups at 1,000 yards, have you ever competed at Camp Perry?

        Reply to this comment
      • Fergus April 11, 19:54

        Just as well they didn’t ban Caps Lock keys or you’d be well screwed.

        Reply to this comment
    • Wannabe April 4, 17:12

      Just don’t try to get too far of a shot with the blackout. It is a CQ round.

      Reply to this comment
    • Rod April 7, 07:44

      Well I really like your solution of the 300 BO, I have an AR 15 in .223 and one built in 300 BO. The 300 BO uses the same brass as the 223, but cut down about a half inch and necked to accommodate a .308 bullet. I reload, so I bought 1000 once fired .223 cases and have cut down a couple of hundred of them to supplement my store bought ammo, plus I have a lot of 150 grain bullets, powder, and primers. I can reload 308, 223, and 300 BO and well as 38 spl and 357. The 300 BO uses the same magazines as the .223, same BCG, only difference in the 2 rifles is the barrels. Can’t hunt with .223 in WA, but I solved that problem with the 300 BO: basically same rifle, same accessories, different calibers.

      Reply to this comment
    • Mac April 20, 23:05

      You’re right of course. personally where I’m at Isupport the 223, but honestly in fairly close quarters hunting, deer and Hogs under a hundred yards I rely on my 30-30 lever action

      Reply to this comment
  3. Desert Daddy April 3, 16:34

    Which one should you stockpile? Both. Or whichever one you have a rifle for, if you only have one rifle. I have both, so I stock heavily on both calibers, as well as .300 WinMag for large game and loner range needs.

    Reply to this comment
  4. marmy7451 April 3, 19:34

    As a Vietnam vet I have a distaste for the AR platform, but the caliber is lacking too. In a police gunfight in City Park in New Orleans that had to go to 40 S&W it penetrate a pickup cab as the sort bbl AR’ did not work. I will continue to rely on my M1A and lots of loaded magazines. I learned this the day after a firefight in Nam and never touched another M-16. The M1A and a 12 ga pump are functional!

    Reply to this comment
    • Kygunner April 3, 23:09

      The 5.56 round makes its living on being a high velocity high pressure round. Stoner designed it for a 20″ barrel. Its a devastating round with the right ballistics and ammo. It loses its potential to penetrate in barrels under 14.5″ the platform has come a long way since Nam. Google palmetto state armory torture test. Thank you for your service.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Kygunner April 3, 22:59

    Ding ding ding ding. And we have a winner. Desert Daddy! Mossberg MVP patrol in .308 in the truck or strapped to my pack, Spike’s st15 LE at the ready. If that don’t do it it wasn’t gonna happen anyway.

    Reply to this comment
    • Desert Daddy April 4, 01:19

      Well, thankyaverymuch! For the 7.62×51 (aka .308), let’s not overlook the good ol’ Springield M1A, or for those who like the AR10-like pattern, the PTR battle rifle (a “replica” of the H&K 91). Both good rifles, a bit different from one another, but will spit out lead as fast as you can pull the trigger. I favor the M1A, as do others here.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Pumapaws April 3, 23:23

    The .308 can be loaded with many kinds of powder and bullets which can beat the speed and energy you listed without much effort at all.

    There are also many platforms out there for .308’s (7.62mm) and 223’s (5.56mm) that can outperform the AR platform. Bottom line is that each caliber is useful and there are tons of gun choices for each. Perhaps the strongest advantage for using these calibers is the easy availability of ammunition.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck April 4, 04:33

      If you are loading for a semi-automatic .308, unless you have an adjustable gas cylinder plug that will allow you to fire different weights at different velocities, you are limited to the load the M14 was designed for 147 gr. bullet at 2750 fps or thereabouts. You can vary it somewhat but as I pointed out in another post, without an adjustable gas cylinder plug you are limited in how much you can vary your loads. A military semi-automatic is designed to fire a specific load at a specific muzzle velocity with little wiggle room. It’s not like loading up your Dad’s old 1917 Enfield with a 220 gr at 2800 fps and if you are man enough, the gun is strong enough. If the things aren’t in the range of bullet weight/velocity that the gun was designed to handle, you are going to get failure to eject; failure to feed, accelerated parts wear and possible parts breakage. If you are engaged in a sniper duel, the number of rounds you put downrange isn’t going to determine the outcome. A bolt action will do just as well. If you are shooting at 300 yards, the .223 will impress your target sufficiently if you hit it which is the key no matter what weapon you’re using. A hit with a .22LR beats a miss with a .50 BMG every time.

      Reply to this comment
      • TSgt B April 5, 22:46

        I bought an M1A NM Springfield about 20 years ago. I handload for it using IMR 4195 and IMR 4064, shooting Berger 168 grain VLD HPBT bullets. It will shoot 1 hole groups at 100 yards consistently, and does very well at longer ranges, too. I have never had to adjust the gas system on it since the first time I shot it, and it is still in excellent shape.

        Reply to this comment
  7. Flipper April 4, 00:12

    Why would you get a 223 AR when you could get a 556 AR that would take either round?

    Reply to this comment
  8. Tracker April 4, 05:01

    There are no best between the two—they are different “tools” for different jobs. The choice depends in the guy pulling the trigger and the job to be done!!!

    Reply to this comment
  9. Cyan April 4, 12:54

    The all out best gun to have is the one you can handle proficiently and train with often. Anyone can pick up a gun and try to hit paper, but can they hit moving targets; can they shoot accurately in the wind, can they hit targets that shoot back, and do they know the limitations of said gun & ammo????

    Also bear in mind that most confrontations will occur at close range, that you may want your chosen platform to be sound and/or flash suppressed, and that you can carry more small caliber ammo than large caliber ammo.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Fifth Disciple April 4, 20:27

    If I could only have one, tactically, a .308. It’ll do anything the 5.56 will do and more. A muzzle brake does wonders for recoil. However, I suspect most of us here have both in our gun safes. I have a 5.56 for the Mrs and in a SHTF situation her job is fire suppression. I have a .308/7.62 and my job is targeted fire/fire suppression beyond 500 yards.

    I personally don’t “stockpile ammo” I reload so I have a variety of powders and bullets on hand to make whatever ammo I need. For monthly exercise I use light loads with budget bullets. For EDC I have a couple of mags of medium load hollow points. Once a year I load and shoot a box of .357 Sig with 9.3 gr. of Hodgdon Longshot to remind me what recoil is like.

    Reply to this comment
  11. TSgt B April 5, 22:36

    Your first table shows errors about both calibers: it is not “pressure”, it is MUZZLE ENERGY. Also, a .308/7.62×51 shooting a 150 grain Nosler bullet will have a muzzle velocity of around 2,700 to 2,800 feet per second, not 2,280.

    That said, as a retired military Small Arms Expert, former cop, certified firearms instructor, and 40+ year reloader/handloader and bullet caster,if I had to choose ONE, I’d go with the .308/7.62. In the AR-10 configuration, as it is gas operated, recoil/muzzle rise would be minimized, and I’d have a standard A-2 (non-adjustable) buttstock, rail, and flip-up backup iron sights. It would be better, in my opinion, to have more power, ever up close, than not enough. Of course, good optics would be mandatory.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Fred O'Malley April 8, 15:52

    Why would any prepper go with an under-powered round? I have an AR in .223, and an M1A Spgfld in .308, which is my main battle rifle. Sniping = .308, rushing an attacker = .308, big game = .308. The .223 is ok for use as a backup, but to reliably take down an enemy, I wouldn’t rely on it.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Older prepper April 12, 00:25

    lol I have no idea what most of you men are talking about! Good for you though, sharing. These are all foreign words to me. I have my loaded,,,,,,

    Reply to this comment
  14. darwinyarwin April 14, 15:32

    Well, as another older prepper I guess “old school” has no place in this discussion. It’s just that I made my choices of ammo and rifles long ago … .30-06. And I’m not switching out guns or trading out my stockpile of ammo at this point. I’m pretty sure I’ll get by with what I have, though.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Bruk April 14, 16:26

    I have had and still have a Remington 700 bolt action 308 with a great 3 X12 power 50mm Nikon scope on it. I also have a 223 Savage 24 inch barrel rifle with a 3X9 Nikon scope that I reload rounds with Hornady powder and 55 G boat tail bullets. This round at muzzle goes 3,225 fps and is stable enough to hit 4 inch circles at 500 yards plus the slight winds here in Carson City don’t effect as much but only dents a 1/4 inch steel plate. Now my 308 165 g boat tail with Hornady powder goes out to 750 yards with a 5 inch circle at times plus it will still go through a 1/4 inch steel plate.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Mark Martinez April 16, 07:44

    I’m a vietnam era veteran, And was trained on the M-16 .I could do head shots out to 300 meters all day , but I wasn’t being shot at either . I like the AR-15 platform but basically it’s just a souped up .22 that has a tendency to key hole when it hits , I would rather carry the extra weight of the AR-10 and ammo and know that what I’m shooting at will go down with the first shot and I can go to the next tango with little worry the first tango to still be in the fight even only being wounded . A 7.62packs a good punch ,and can be used for any big game hunting in the USA , but that’s just my opinion ,and you know what they say about opinions .

    Reply to this comment
  17. thesouthernnationalist May 1, 21:03

    Why not just stock up on ALL calibers that are common use including hand gun ammo?
    What you don’t use can be bartered for other things you need.

    Reply to this comment
  18. nighthawk May 5, 09:12

    The question isn’t which is the best round, but which will be more plentiful in a SHTF situation.
    The military and police use the .223, which is also used by a large part of the population.
    With that in mind, the .223 will be easier to obtain the other calibers, as will the 9mm.

    Reply to this comment
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