5.56 vs. 7.62. It’s an ongoing conversation my family and I have as we discuss our AR-10s. Sure, they’re fun and fascinating, and for me that’s enough…But I can’t help but be a bit curious about what advantage are we really gaining when we use a 7.62 x 51/.308? We’re certainly paying more, but are we getting more downrange?
To dive a bit deeper into the topic, when we interviewed Chuck Pressburg about his opinion of industry trends and about his experiences with the H&K 416, we also asked his opinion of 7.62 “battle rifles.” In this, our third and final part of our interview series with Chuck, we’re happy to share with you what he told us…
Q: Chuck, what is your opinion of an AR chambered in 7.62 x 51/.308 vs. something chambered in 5.56?
Chuck Pressburg: The 7.62 x 51 cartridge is getting towards the end of its life. People are going to blaspheme me and ask “who is this knucklehead?” But
Someone might say, “well o.k., I’m not going to use it as a sniper rifle cartridge. I’m going to use it as a ‘battle rifle’ cartridge.”
5.56 vs. 7.62 – Velocity is King
Chuck Pressburg: Ok…well, what does more damage to ¼ inch steel plate at 50 yards? 7.62 M82 ball or Winchester white box 5.56 55-grain shot out of a 20” M-16?
Velocity is what you need to beat steel. Because you’re moving material at a high rate of speed. Slow it down, you give molecules time to react, defend…and then you flatten out and bleed off your energy.
Guys don’t even think about it…but go to the range, man. Do you own “Billy Bob Demolition Ranch” testing of 5.56 vs. 7.62
5.56 vs. 7.62 – Weight
Chuck Pressburg: And then there is the weight issue of 5.56 vs. 7.62. I don’t like the idea of “battle rifles” in general, because I have carried 7.62 ammo up and down mountains. I don’t like cutting your ammo in half for the amount of weight that you’re carrying.
5.56 vs. 7.62 – .308 Myths, Steel on Flesh
And then on the subject of light machine guns, the 7.62
You’re not going to a take a 240 on top of a gun truck and fire it on auto and shoot through the wall of a Qalat in Helmand
Chuck Pressburg: So if only hits on people count, I would rather have a belt-fed machine gun that has more ammunition and a longer ability to sustain fire than I would one that has marginally better terminal performance and no increase in material defeat.
Now light-skinned vehicles…that would be where an argument about 5.56 vs. 7.62 could come in. I would absolutely rather shoot a car with a 7.62 belt-fed than a 5.56 belt-fed.
But if I’m shooting at a dude playing “looky-loo” with me out of a window on a second story, the only thing that’s going to put that guy down is steel on flesh. So it doesn’t matter what the caliber is, and I have twice as many of the caliber if I’m carrying it in 5.56 vs. 7.62.
5.56 vs. 7.62 — 300 Blackout – A Viable Alternative?
Q: In recent years, we’ve seen the 300 Blackout (7.62 x 35) come on the scene…as we talk 5.56 vs. 7.62 x 51, I’m very curious about your opinion of that cartridge. Any reason to prefer it over 5.56, or is 5.56 still what you’d recommend for most people?
Chuck Pressburg: I think 5.56 for most people is the way to go. Now, I like WHY the 300 Blackout was adopted by certain elements. I like the idea of looking at Blackout like it’s a sub gun…NOT looking at it like it’s a rifle.
I want my 300 Blackout to be a more lethal sub gun. What I don’t want it to be is a really expensive AR-15. So, as long as you are keeping it in that context of a niche purpose cartridge, I think 300 Blackout does some amazing stuff.
Q: Do you have an opinion on barrel length? I’ve been keeping my builds at 8″. My factory SBRs all have been 7″.
Chuck Pressburg: I personally am not going to add a 300 Blackout to my collection that has a barrel longer than 9”. Rather, I want 5” or 6” or 7” because I want a gun that is small and fully suppressed. I want the overall length manageable, and I want it to do submachine gun stuff. And then I want it to be able to kill people like a rifle when it gets loud and scary.
I can be plugging along with a gun that is as quiet as the gold standard MP5SD, and then with a single mag change, it’s throwing AK-style terminal performance out past 200 meters. Who wouldn’t want that?
A great and sincere thank you to Chuck Pressburg of
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What is ur opinion on the saiga 410 Russian AK. I have had two other semi auto 410s that had major feeding issues. Leaving me hesitant to try this one but I hear that it works. Do you have an opinion on it thank you
Armory Shop 45 has some of the best available 7.62 ammo ‘s for sale
I stopped reading early on when the author of this article 5.56 vs 7.62 stated that Hey man the 5.56 has more penetrating power in steel than the 7.62×51 because its faster man.
That is so frickin false it makes me wanna slap him. I mean WTF man?
Also the .308 isnt phasing out anytime soon.
Level 3 steel plate will stop 308 (that is the NIJ standard it is rated for), but 55 gr 5.56 will punch through it. A YouTube search will show you multiple videos of even 16 in 5.56 guns shooting through level 3 steel plates with 55 gr ammo. A 20 inch 5.56 will do it out to longer range. You should do research before calling people a liar.
Every SASS /CSASS requirement in every Special Operations element of every branch of our military is currently for a caliber other than 7.62mm NATO. My comments in the article have aged very well, if I wasn’t sure about my comments, I wouldn’t have made them. I stand by everything that I said.
No you’re still wrong about 308 vs 556. Short barreled 308 will still penetrate cinder blocks, trees and other materials better. Even vehicles and glass, 308 will still retain speed, while 556 will slow down drastically. Are you intentionally ignoring why 5.56 in Afghanistan we felt outgunned and needed to bring out m14’s and 308 rifles? Additionally you can’t hunt with 556, but even a short barrel 308 is adequate for most North American game. I can go on and on how you are unfortunately wrong. Not to say 5.56 is a bad cartridge, just saying short barrel 308 still… Read more »