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Yesterday I go into a gunsop in Brunswick, Me to see what they had. As usual there gun prices were terrible. Before I leave I decide to check out the ammo. I notice they had Prvi Partizan 5.56 which I thought was a little unusual in a gunshop that is tailored mostly for hunters. I then notice that someone had written in pen over the label .223. I ask the lady behind the desk if she knows that there is a difference and she says that she does but they are still interchangeable. Now I know chances are there won't be any problems but there is a reason that box was marked 5.56. What are your thoughts? By the way they wanted $12.00 a box.
 

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The few people who had a gun where it would make a difference (Match boltguns etc)

1. Would know

2. Wouldn't be buying it (They would be rolling their own.)
 

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Externally they appear to be the same round. the commercial round .223 refers to the caliber and the cases tend to be not as thick at the NATO military rounds 5.56x45. 5.56 is the MM of the round. In most cases they will shoot okay but as mentioned above I would not recommend it. Stick with the round made for your gun.

It is like the case of the Springfield 03 round versus the M1 Garand. They appear to be the same but the Garand required some differences in load to make the round operate. Refer to the below notes for more on the two.

The .223 Remington is a sporting cartridge with the same external dimensions as the 5.56x45mm NATO military cartridge. It is loaded with a 0.224-inch (5.7 mm) diameter, jacketed bullet, with weights ranging from 40 up to 90 grains (5.8 g), though the most common loading by far is 55 grains (3.6 g).

While the external case dimensions are very similar, the .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm differ in both maximum pressure and chamber shape. The maximum and mean pressures for some varieties the 5.56 mm (different cartridge designations have different standards) exceed the SAAMI maximums for the .223 Remington, and the methods for measuring pressures differ between NATO and SAAMI.[2] The 5.56 mm chamber specification has also changed over time since its adoption, as the current military loading (NATO SS-109 or US M855) uses longer, heavier bullets than the original loading did. This has resulted in a lengthening of the throat in the 5.56 mm chamber. Thus, while .223 Remington ammunition can be safely fired in a 5.56 mm chambered gun, firing 5.56 mm ammunition in a .223 Remington chamber may produce pressures in excess of even the 5.56 mm specifications due to the shorter throat
 

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Geeze, this really is not as big of a deal as most make of it (including the .308/7.62X51). The complexity arises only as a mathmatical function where the US military has tried to conform to the metric system concerns of NATO allies. Yes 5.56 rounds have thicker brass (for several reasons such as durability in semi and full auto systems) and could potentially have higher pressures but nothing that should harm a well cared for firearm.

If your gun is in fine tune there should be no problem at all. I have an AR and a Savage that shoot both .223/5.56 interchangeably with no issue. The only thing to watch is that the twist rate in both my guns does best with the lighter weight bullets.

I realize that my opinion and situation is not everyone's situation nor reflective of everyone's opinion, but this really is not a panic button concern.
 
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