5.56 Round from 20″ Barrel M16 Through the Leg at Close Range

5.56 Round from 20

OK – since I know nothing about guns, I’m just gonna pass the information along even though I won’t even know what the bloody hell I’m talking about. Even the title is all Chinese to me. I hope at the end of the day it will actually make sense to those who know a thing or two about guns. Here goes:

What I know is that this happened in the Philippines. It was an accidental discharge (allegedly) during military exercises. A 5.56 round (this is where I get lost and no longer know what I’m talking about) fired from a 20″ barreled M16-A1 rifle at close range of about 5 meters entered thigh from the inner side and exited on the outer side.

X-ray photos of the wound are included and from what I’m told, fractured femur is the result of pressure created by the round. The round itself did not hit the bone.

From a completely amateur’s perspective, this is one hell of a bullet wound. I suppose the victim can count himself lucky it hit him in the leg. Given that it was an accidental discharge, it may have gone just about anywhere. Seeing the damage it left, had it entered just a few inches upward, there would be no helping that guy, I don’t think.

Perhaps our gun experts can translate all this into English and provide their expert input cause I really don’t know what the hell I’m talking about here:

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101 thoughts on “5.56 Round from 20″ Barrel M16 Through the Leg at Close Range

    • A 5.56 mm round is a .223 caliber used in US M16 Rifles and many other countries in NATO. It’s technically a .22 caliber bullet but with a higher velocity charge so it’s much more lethal than a .22 LR (long rifle). The .223 bullet above was travelling around 3,000 feet per second compared to 1,000 feet per second of a .22 long rifle. It’s a very small, but devastatingly high pressure bullet that smashes flesh and bone, especially up close. See the guys leg.

  1. I don’t know anything about guns, either. I’ve never even fired one. I sure do like some of the movies that involve them, though. :) Dirty Harry comes to mind.

    • I have never owned a gun (it’s near impossible to get a licence in Australia), but I have had a shit load of fun target shooting, with all sorts of guns over the years, from an air-rifle to a semi-auto shotgun.I love target shooting (tin cans or paper targets drawn on boxes etc) but I’ve been hunting many times, I shot a rabbit once but I usually stood on the back of the ‘ute’ with the spotlight, no-one seems to have any time to go ‘shootin’ any more & feral animals get in plague proportions :( also my favourite gun was the plain old .22 rifle.

      • Inexspansive to shot all day and puts plenty of holes in stuff that it wasn’t born with.

        12 ga. is my firearm of choice.
        From 1 oz. solid sabit slugs (like a huge fucking bullet) to cheep #8 load that a 100 rounds costs less than $15.

        What the hell is a ‘ute?

  2. I’ll try to help, Mark.

    “5.56 round” means it’s a 5.56x45mm round of ammunition, which may also be called .223 Remington. 5.56mm is the diameter of the bullet and 45mm is the length of the cartridge case, sans bullet. This is the NATO standard round used in the M16 rifle and M249 SAW. Being a narrow, elongated bullet, it tumbles once it enters flesh, producing a much larger wound, similar to that from a hunting hollow-point. (Hollow-point bullets have been banned in warfare since the Hague Convention of 1899.)

    I’m inclined to think the bullet must have hit the femur, as that is one helluva big bone and is hard to break from a pressure-wave alone, but I could be wrong.

    So in summary, a close-range impact from a nasty military round. It’s pretty amazing that this guy made it.

    Thanks for another great update, Mark! :)

      • Thanks, FalconPass! :)

        I’ve been shooting that round for… well… ever, it seems like. I’ve seen it break ribs and smaller bones, but not the big leg bones. (Oddly-enough, I’ve never had the opportunity to shoot a man through the leg with it at close-range. And at this point in my life, I hope I never will. ;) )

        So thanks for the real-world corroboration of my hypothesis. :)

    • As for the M16 rifle using the 5.56mm round (bullet), the barrel of the M16 is designed to make the bullet literally spiral…or spin (i guess a better way to describe it) when fired. It’s designed such a way so that the bullet causes more internal damage by twisting and grinding…as well as tumble or ricochet through flesh. At least that is what I know as a US Army Veteran of nearly 10 years. The M16 is a fun weapon to shoot and managed to score expert a few times with one…but a pain in the arse to clean at times…trust me.

  3. Basically a 20″ M16A1 was the standard issue rifle in the latter part of the Vietnam war, the first in the series after the prototype XM16E1. An accidental discharge can happen several ways, faulty firing pin, faulty ammo or careless weapon handling.
    5.56 mm rounds may be smaller than the AK-47’s 7.62 mm but they can be a lot nastier. The AK round is big and powerful and basically punches straight through (with a considerable pressure vacuum) however the 5.56 round (standard ammo for NATO) tumbles and breaks up upon entering the target causing much bigger cavitation and therefore bigger pressure build up – giving it that nice gory exploded look.

    Hope that helps!

  4. I also know nothing about guns (OH Canada!) but i know that that is alot of damage from a bullet.
    Incredibly painful-looking injury. Sucks to be that dude.

  5. He’s lucky lucky he still has a leg,however,if it gets infected and he has to have it amputated,I hope they film it and it somehow gets posted here. and those are some nice pics.

  6. 20″ barrel length is the standard length for an M16 so doesn’t mean much. The fact that it was an M16 versus a 14.5″ M4 carbine means it was a bit more powerful. 5.56x45mm is a big round, but the smaller of the two most common rifle rounds (second being the 7.62 variants used in larger US battle rifles and the AK-47 type).

    So kinda crappy, but could have been a lot worse.

  7. im for one thankfull of this post i have people ask me all the time if 5.56×45 NATO is a good cal. As a gunsmith there all the logs in the testing but this should tell you everything. and to shine some light, a 5.56×45 or.223rem leaves the barrel at 2755fps brands of ammo will differ bye bullet grain wt’ and typ of round. But this bullet more than likely key holed and thats what its ment to do at any range. ask if you need anymore info sorry for the lack of facts on my comment this time but a lil rushed

    • I’ve read this here: 5.56×45 NATO is a good cal

      Who the fuck is Nato? So i’ve read he’s a good Californian resident. Nice to know.
      5.56 x 45 = 250.2 I’m glad to help you’re welcome!

  8. If for some reason you had to make a fucked up choice between getting shot with an AK or an AR pick the AK but most people don’t have a choice in what they get shot with

  9. Wow, this takes the term “shooting leg pain” to a whole new level.

    It’s definitely been a good day for the Best-Gore-illas, thanks for all the uploads they’ve made my morning

  10. The 5.56 mm tumbles at longer distances, its more likely hydro-static shock broke his femur, 5.56 makes a bigger temporary wound cavity than 7.62

  11. Extreme. That wound is quite amazing. Had I not been told it were a gunshot, I would guess an animal mauling or some ripping damage.

    Amazing that a bullet can cause such trauma.

  12. We’ll i’m no expert at guns. i use slingshots and tumor balls, Lol. I’ll leave this to our resident gun experts here like Suicide King. Chief what’s your input about this?

  13. Thank you for such an awesome site. Just proves that the AK is not the best assault rifle. To clear up the gun Chinese, the weapons system is the AR15. The military version of this weapon is designated M16. There are 4 variants..A1, A2, A3 and A4. The barrel of this weapon is usually 20 inches, except when we encounter the shorter versions, the Colt Commando (14 in) and M4 carbine (16 in). The caliber (or the size of the hole in the barrel for gun newbies) is 5.56 /.223. The AK is 7.62 (bigger bullet but slower and less accurate and less damage). Sweet carnage that M16…I get to see me grampa pick pieces of 5.56 ammo from his leg, from wounds sustained during the Nicaraguan civil war.

    • The M16 is great gun, as far as it being the best…I really doubt that and many others would to, I first shot an AR15 when I was 13 and even then the recoil was something a lil snot nose kid like me could handle. The American 5.56×45 NATO is well liked for its low recoil making it easy for any soldier to shoot accurately also for its small weight and size which allows them to load and carry more ammo, and let’s not forget the damage they create. A lot of people not familiar with the weapon seem to always confuse the 5.56×45 for the .223 round thinking they are exactly the same…they’re not. they are very similar but not identical and some weapons can fire both but they are diffrent rounds, its almost comparable with the same way some 357magnum revolvers shoot the 38special…almost the same rounds but they’re still diffrent, the same goes for the .308 and the 7.62×39 if anything the 7.62×51 NATO is closer to the .308 than the 7.62×39 and many noobz have gotten hurt this way by loading ammo they thought was the same (especially 7.63×39/.308). I do own an Colt AR-15/A3 flat top I bought as a kit and build myself, I also own a Arsenal inc Siaga SGL-23, a Russian made/American built AK (Russian reciver with American internals to make it legal). Its true the 5.56 is gnarly in the ballistics department but for me personally it lacks the stopping power of the 7.62’s a lot of American soldiers would agree and many have confirmed this lack of power in battle, many would rather have a larger caliber rifle like an Springfield M14, some even carry around shortened AK underfolders…SFGB style. Id personally perfer the AK to an AR type. For one the AK is way easier to operate and clean, also its tougher than fucking rail road spikes…there hundreds of reports where AKs have been put thru brutal abuses (sometimes on purpose) and still fire with no problem, they’re known to still operate with mud, sand, and snow, inside them…try that with an AR. AK ammunition and parts can be found all over, their are about 10-AKs for every 1-AR built and unlike the AR the AK is in every corner of the world. The AK has fought in every war since WW2, its a gun used by soldiers, rebels, guerrillas, freedom fighters, warlords, criminals, tyrants, patriots, and oppressed people alike. It’s the ultimate weapon. Theirs always been heated debates about which gun is better the AK or the AR personally I think the title of best goes to the AK…theirs a reason why it is the most popular and most produced weapon and has still been in use for more than a half century and will definitely be in use for other half. Their is another weapon out there that I belive would whoop both of these rifles asses and that rifle is the famous Belgian “FAL” battle rifle, I don’t own one but I have had the privilege of shooting one, I’m hoping to add one to my collection soon. they are the cream of the crop when it comes to “battle rifles” they’re chamberd in the NATO 7.62×51 the same as the “M14″ (also one of the best battle rifles out there, the M16 was modeld after it) I can say that the 7.62×51 blows the AKs 7.62×39 and the ARs 5.56×45 completely out of the water, standard issued FALs are known to be so accurate they’re sometimes fitted with scopes and used as sniper rifles, if the AK is considerd the bad guys gun then the FAL would be the good guys gun, a true battle tested weapon which has been in use just as long as the AK and used in just as many wars as the AK. I wish I could go on to talk about the M14 and especially the Israeli “Galil” rifle a truly awesome rifle in its own right (also looking to aquire) which was modeld after the AK design which was modeld after the NAZI’s WW2 Sturmgewehr44,

      • you forgot to mention what the differenece is between the 5.56×45 and .222rem… the 5.56 has a 7000 psi higher chamber pressure so a 5.56 rifle can fire both .223 and 5.56 but a .223 can only fire .223 (whilst being safe)

        • Im pretty sure I explained enough about the 2 rounds and how some rifles are made to fire one but not the other and although a 5.56 can fire .223 no problem, technically a .223 rifle can also fire a 5.56 even tho this is never recommend and can be very dangerous since the pressure is greater and cause damage to the internals and could even blow up in your face, but it is possible since the bullet diameters are both “.223″ the main difference between the two is that the 5.56 has a thicker casing and less propellent than the .223, the 5.56 also had a longer leade ratio, their are even some rifles which shoot both with no problem. It’s hard enough trying to explain weapon systems to my fellow gorelings, if they thought I was talking Chinese before, throw in bullet diameters, casing dimensions, cartridge grains, and bullet velocities and I might as well be speaking martian to them

      • My personal favorite is the GALIL. To me it beats the AK and the AR’s. AK mechanism+M16 loading system and accuarcy+ FAL para stock and carry handle+Garand sighting system+grenade launcher+wire cutter+bottle opener= GOD

        • Agreed! After all it is the gun of “god chosen people” (Jews) lol, produced by IMI (creators of the UZI, Tavor, Negev, Jericho, and the famous Desert eagle) its also the newest out of the four main assault rifles in use around the world (AK, FAL, AR, Galil) I call them the “four horsemen” do to the fact they are the most prevalent assault rifles in modern wars, not including the G3 or SG510 rifles (have shot and worked on the newer HK33 and SG550) both equally awesome in their own rights and just as old and capable as the other four. Sadly I haven’t come across a Galil yet…at the ranges or shops, but when I do I hope to get some trigger time and get a good feel for the gun, all I really know about it is from what I’ve read in my books and magazines and all the information provided by them is always positive, giving it a top spot on my small arms wish list right next to the FAL and the G3

      • Suicide King you know your shooters , affirm your comments on AKs , can appreciate the design features of M16/M4/ etc and you wont regret aquiring a FN-FAL , have used one & have owned the brit/aussie equivilent Browning/Lithgowe L1A1 still have some parts kicking around home for both models , a gunsmith friend converted one to fire .45ACP with a silencer is a lot of fun , if you get FN with a good barrel try 170grain Lapua projectiles , push to approx 2650 fps , adjust powder & gas settings a bit & you will be surprised @ accuracy ,

        • Thanks odgoso I started working on my dads guns early in life and I’ve been certified for about 5yrs now going on 6 which is nothing compared to some of the guys I’ve worked with but I love it and I’m always trying to learn from the old timers not only is it my work and hobby but its way of life for me, same thing with my motorcycles. I’m looking into the DSA models but I’m also looking for FAL build kits, wouldn’t mind building it my self, plus the DSA go for a pretty penny but im sure its worth it once i aquire one I’ll definitely try out those 170gr you mentioned…and that L1A1 45 conversion sounds like a tough project but it also seems worth the fun

  14. i shot an M16A1 in basic training back in 1983 thru a metal ammo can. the round made a little hole going in and a BIG hole going out. the damage here is appropriate and similar to what happened to the ammo can. there is no lie in this post.

        • i guess that makes me FUKING OLD to you kiddies. don’t worry, time is a bitch and you will get where i am soon enough. it all seems like it all just happened yesterday. but no, it was 29 fucking yrs ago. while in the army it seemed like i’d never get out of the army. longest 4yrs of my life. it wasn’t all bad tho, i got to see some shit and got off the block for awhile.

          • I was 17 at the time, doin’ drugs drinki’n and runni’n the streets of brooklyn and queens,those were the days.Ya don’t have me by much mouse and remember we might be in our forties in age, but not necessarily in mentality.

          • Seems like the older I get the faster the years go by :( ….even though I do nothing all fuck’n day.

          • @mouse boy LOL don’t feel old. I don’t consider people to be old unless they’re like…70. Plus you’re technically as old as you feel.

      • my uncle did 26yrs in the air force an retired E7. told me i should have joined AF instead of the army but i didn’t listen. maybe i would’ve had a better time. who knows?

        • Yes mouse I did 4 yrs and came out an E-4…At the time I couldn’t wait until I was out but after becoming civilian again I learned very quickly that I had it very good while I was in the Air Force…If I could do it all over again my stupid ass would have retired from there.

          • yea, it’d be nice to be retired now collecting that govt. cheese pension check FOR LIFE.

      • Guess I don’t feel so bad, I was in USMC Boot Camp in 1982. I was a 3rd award expert with the M-16 and they could do serious damage. I wonder if being in South East Asia if they had some of the old rounds that were too good at “yawing” and did so much damage, that it was declared cruel and inhuman by the UN types. It looks like that kind of injury. The white spots on the left side of the Xray is bullet fragments. Bone fragments do not show up like that. At least from the Xrays I have seen of myself!

        • For Me, I just appricate Your guy’s experiance.
          It’s good to know, for future reffrence that that is where Your comments are drawn from, and NOT from the personal life expericanes of OTHERS you read about, or made up.

          Internet’s up’s & down’s.

          2 generations behind me served and fought.
          By the time I was old enough, nothing means much of anything any more, and I wasn’t about to walk a path that I knew I’d regreat.
          Instead, I walked DIFFRENT paths that now I regreat.

  15. Don’t feel bad Mark it’s all Chinese to me too lol
    It looks like the guy is lucky his leg wasn’t completely blown off if it was close range. Unlucky for me though. I would have preferred total amputation.

  16. How in the hell that didn’t severe a jugular vein? Upper thight gunshots are one of the worst, that guy was more like baptised by fire.
    Damn, fend of Feds and Funds, Mark. I wanna those femjoy pics!

  17. The 5.56 was designed to fire from a 20″ barrel. That is why this wound is so devastating. Wounds from a 5.56 out of a 16″ barrel are nowhere near as bad. The 5.56 is made to tumble and fragment inside the target. It leaves a nasty stretch cavity. So this guy can still die if the wound is not properly treated. If this was in his chest or anywhere near vital organs, he would be dead.

  18. i would spread some light on it but theres really no need every one has done it for me but its nice to know what would happen if i accidently shot my self with mine

    • Yea, video games are SUCH a realistic source of REAL LIFE KNOWLEDGE of how weapons damage tissue, and how to field strip, and how to MAKE SURE YOU DON’T DIE with only having 1 chance (life) to do it all in.

      Are you, 12?

  19. 5.56 or the civilian equivilant being a .223 cal is a high power .22 round. It was chosen from the others due to many reasons but one of which is the disabling ability of it. The military wants the enemy to be wounded which requires a lot more care, and money to take care of than a dead soldier.
    This depleteing the enemies ability to keep the war going.

    Also the round is one that is known to ricochet through the body causing more internal damage than a bullet that goes through.

    Now this seems to have been even closer than 5 meters to me but there is no way for me to tell. How ever the explosive damage may have been easily caused by a point blank shot with the hot gases blowing out the soft tissue like seen there.

    • Graugeist that was the military thinking @ the time when army command & Ordanence procurement standardised the M193 ball round , to wound humans & clog the enermy aid stations etc , times have changed then came the ss109 ball round with 2 small bearings that disstort the projectile when it hits , this did away with the “inhumane” effect of yawing/tumbling & instead put it back under “humane convention” not that Russia or camel jockeys give a shit they dont care about wounded , so the idea was to put the fucker down so he stays down , ie giving 5.56 ball better knockdown , thats fine in a city , now theres more range invovled so thats why theyre workin on the 6.5mm x , an intermediate between 5.56 & 7.62 they want to hit barstard and put him down before he hides behind women & children ,

  20. First, let me break down the title for this photograph.

    The 5.56 mm round is also known as the 5.56 x 45 millimeter round which is standard issue to the United States military as well as many other nations. The civilian version would be the .223 Remington cartridge. The military uses only the full metal jacket (FMJ) round, but civilians have a wider range of projectiles available. These include the full metal jacket round, soft point, the hollow point, fragmentation rounds that are designed to be used on firing ranges for safety reasons, as well as special-purpose anti-personnel rounds similar to the beehive or the Glaser safety slug.

    The 20 inch barrel M-16 was the standard issue version from 1966 until they shorten the barrel to 16 inches for the current M-4 rifle. There were two basic incarnations of this M-16/AR-15, being the A1 and A2 versions. The A1 was first issued in 1966 and was tested in Vietnam and was found lacking. The A2 was an improvement over the A1 but required a change in ammunition. As another picture lists the round as a M193, which is a 55 grain full metal jacket round that was standard issue in Vietnam, my feeling is that this particular weapon was in M-16 A1 military rifle. This is not the current projectile being used in the M-4, which uses a 62 grain projectile.

    For those who may not know, the round entered the inner right thigh, at approximately a 45° angle, and exited on the outer side showing the typical “explosive” effects of a high-powered rifle projectile. It is difficult to tell if the injury is self-inflicted or was inflicted by a comrade standing on the victims left. However, since the majority of individuals are right-handed, this would tend to imply that it was either self-inflicted or that the victim was facing the individual whose weapon discharged into his leg.

    There is little doubt that this is a close range injury due to the severity of the wound. Like most projectiles, the M193 round tends to do more damage the closer it is to the target and less damage, but more penetration, the further away it is. This is also typical of the 7.62 mm rounds currently in use.

    I tend to concur that the damage to this particular bone is the result of the projectile striking the bone. Considering that this is the largest bone in the human body, I find it hard to believe that the pressure of the round passing through soft tissue would cause this kind of collateral damage to the bone. However, if the round was fired from within a foot or two of the leg, it is possible that the explosive force of the powder, combined with the hydraulic shock could have caused the leg to have shattered if a person was standing on it was a full pack. As we can see small fragments around the bones, which would be my guess as metal fragments/lead from the passing projectile, my thoughts are that this individual, when shot, shifted the weight of his body from his right leg to his left leg and then back down onto his right leg causing the break.

    As to how the Philippines have access to military grade M-16 A1 rifles, the answer is extremely simple. The United States provided them these weapons, as usual, as part of ongoing diplomatic relations between the two nations. This is a standard procedure with any of our satellite nations where we are giving them aid and support against threats. Even if this were not the case, the proximity of the Philippines to Vietnam gives them almost unlimited access to weapons that were lost during the Vietnam War. The M-16 is almost as popular and foreign armies as the AK-47 is. And for the record, on the black market in some nations it is cheaper to purchase a fully automatic assault rifle than it is to purchase a carton of cigarettes in the United States.

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