Just for fun I took a kinda crappy photo of the various caliber ammunition I happen to have around. I don’t have guns for all of these, just most.
I numbered them and will describe their details below. Mainly I want to point out that while the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO round used in the “assault weapons” everyone is trying to ban is a “military” round, it’s also pretty lightweight and low powered compared to other rounds that used to be “military” rounds and are now very common.
1. .45 ACP. This is a pistol round. So you get a sense of scale, it’s about 1.25″ long. Developed around 1900, it’s was the primary pistol round used by the military for 100+ years. It is also the round the iconic 1911 pistol is chambered for. The bullet diameter is .452″, it’s weight is approximately 12-16 grams and it’s velocity is 800-1200 feet per second (fps).
2. .45 Colt. This is one of the original “cowboy” rounds. When the cowboy in a western movie has a revolver, this is usually what it shoots. The 1873 Single Action Army, and the Colt Peacemaker were chambered in this round. It was orginally a black powder round, but it can be loaded with modern smokeless powders also. The bullet diameter is .454″, it’s weight is approximately 16-18 grams and it’s velocity is 960-1300 fps.
3. .223 Remington/5.56 NATO. This is the round the majority of the modern rifles (so called assault weapons) are chambered in. Developed in 1963 to replace the 7.62×51mm NATO round. The bullet diameter is .224″, it’s weight is around 4 grams and it’s velocity is around 3000 fps.
4. .270 Winchester. This cartridge was developed in 1923 and was never a military round. It’s basically a .30-06 Springfield round that is necked down to hold a .277″ bullet. It’s a great hunting round and is used by many hunters. The bullet weight ranges from 6-10 grams and it’s velocity is around 3000 fps.
5. .30-06 Springfield. Developed in 1906 as a military round it was used by the army into the 1960s. It’s a very popular hunting round still and many rifles are still being manufactured chambered in this round. The bullet diameter is .308″, the weight is 10-14 grams and velocity is 2500-2900 fps.
6. .40-82 Winchester Center Fire. This one is kind of a mongrel. Introduced around 1886 for use in Winchester lever action rifles it was not as popular a caliber as the .45-70. I don’t have any real data about this cartridge, I just tossed it in there because I have one.
7. .50 Browning Machine Gun. Developed in the 1910s for machine guns it entered military service in 1921. This round is still used in machine guns and by snipers. It’s also used by enthusiasts for long range (sometimes more than a mile) target shooting. Bullet diameter is .510″, weight is 42-52 grams and velocity is around 3000 fps. Again for comparisons sake, this round is almost 5.50″ long.
So there you go. The .223 round is a pretty light bullet, traveling around the same speed as many hunting rounds. It is less powerful than the .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield rounds.