Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's the cure for AR .223/5.56 weakness? The .458 SOCOM

One firearm I have had no interest in thus far is an AR rifle. I agree with former Green Beret, now combat journalist Michael Yon, and many troops in the field in the war on terror, that our military's puny little .223/5.56mm rounds just ain't got enough ooomph to get the job done.

The M16 mighta been OK for close-quarters jungle warfare in Vietnam when it was first introduced but it has long outlived its usefulness. I read that British troops are saying most of the firefights they get involved in with the Taliban in Afghanistan begin at 300 yards or further and their .223 bullpup rifles just ain't getting the job done at those ranges.

Maybe sanity will prevail with the paper pushers that buy the firearms for our military and they will get a new battle rifle to replace the 5.56mm, but I doubt it.

Anyway, I said all that to say I've found an AR I might just buy, the .458 SOCOM AR upper.

The real cleverness in the design of the .458 SOCOM is that nothing but the upper need be changed — same magazine as the .223, same buffer spring in the buttstock, same everything. Just get a .458 upper available from Rock River Arms, Teppo Justsu, or other custom builders, get loaded ammo from SBR Ammunition, Corbon, or Reeds and go. Now, your .223 AR has morphed from a varmint getter to a full-fledged deer-, bear- and elk-stopper by simply changing the upper — no new FFL transfer required.

In The Field

Much of the research on the capabilities of big-bore AR-15 rounds like the .458 SOCOM concentrate in the area of subsonic (1,050 fps and lower velocities) and suppressed loads. That's the where and why of the super-heavy 450-, 500- and 600-grain bullets. I would imagine folks hiking, fishing or living in big bear country might also opt for the heavy weights. The Coast Guard uses them to put big holes in bad boats, but for hunters, bullets in the 250 to 350-grain range will be the most useful.

A 300-grain, well-constructed bullet moving at about 2,000 fps is 150- to 200-yard bad medicine for just about anything, including bear and moose. It's certainly big enough for elk, and there's not a deer alive that will walk away from a solid hit. The energy of such a combination is 2,400 foot-pounds at the muzzle and, within 100 yards, it doesn't weaken much. That puts it squarely in the territory of the modern .45-70 or .450 Marlin, and it will do anything those rounds will do. The mighty .458 Winchester Magnum only bumps 2,100 fps with the 300-grainers.

Now there's an AR round that will knock a Taliban/Iranian/Syrian/Arab/Terrorist on his butt. Or some idiot stupid enough to think he can rob my house or stick up the gun store where I work.

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