NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was created with the purpose of safeguarding the freedom and security of its members, through political and military means. As of mid-2016, there are 28 Member Countries across primarily North American and Europe, but also including Turkey, which straddles Europe and Western Asia.
“…and Military Means” NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes, but if diplomatic efforts fail, NATO has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis-management operations. Such operations can be carried out under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, NATO’s founding treaty, or via UN mandate. NATO countries may act alone, or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.
As a result of the Treaty, NATO member countries have standardized use of certain ammunition for certain firearms:
- 9×19 NATO is the sidearm, or handgun, cartridge of choice.
- 5.56×45 NATO is the intermediate, or Assault Rifle, cartridge of choice.
- 7.62×51 NATO is the longer-range rifle, sniper and medium machine gun cartridge of choice. (Note that in some cases, other rounds are also used for long range sniping, such as the .300 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Lapua Magnum.)
The Benefits of Ammunition Standardization & Alignment for NATO Members.
Standardization and common use of ammunition provides the following, extremely important logistical benefits:
- Interoperability & Ammunition Sharing between NATO forces.
- Commonality of manufacturing, and reduced manufacturing costs.
- Widespread, Global availability, which greatly reduces delivery costs and complexities.
Knowing brave men and women from the United States proudly serve all over the globe, alongside militaries from other NATO member countries, standardization is a key strategy for ensuring ammo is always available, in large quantities, when and where needed, and doing so in a cost effective manner.
Why is this Important to Firearms Enthusiast?
Quite simply, NATO spec ammunition is effective, ubiquitous, and relatively cheap. Despite what you read in some corners of the InterWeb, and while everything has limitations and tradeoffs, major NATO countries wouldn’t have standardized around these rounds. Nor would these rounds continue to remain the standard if they weren’t effective. And since they are the standards, 9×19, 5.56×45 and 7.62×51 can be found just about everywhere in the World; in large quantities, and generally at reasonable prices since “surplus” ammo is often made available to the public. So, until something drastically changes (like the .300 Blackout supersedes 5.56 as the intermediate round of choice), NATO ammo will continue to be mass produced, and continue to be available at reasonable prices, long into the foreseeable future. The same cannot necessarily be said for non-NATO imported ammo, and that’s without even getting into the doomsday, SHTF, prepper arguments, which we’ll leave to other corners of the InterWeb.
Another benefit of guns designed to fire NATO rounds is that they can generally also safely fire the “civilian” version of the NATO round. Depending upon the actual caliber you choose, this potentially gives you more options, and options are always good. For example, guns chambered for 5.56 NATO can safely fire .223 Remington rounds, but the reverse is NOT true. This is because per SAAMI specs, the 5.56 NATO round is loaded to a hire pressure than .223 Remington. It’s a similar story for 9mm NATO ammo, where true mil-spec 9mm NATO is loaded to a higher pressure than standard 9×19 Luger. 9mm NATO is actually closer to “+P” SAAMI spec commercial ammo. That said, since there is one in every bunch, it’s important to note that .308 Winchester is the outlier, where the opposite is true. Civilian .308 ammunition, designed for long-range, big-game hunting, is actually hotter than standard mil-spec 7.62×51 ammo. Just note that while these are generalities, it is up to YOU, in EACH and EVERY CASE, to ensure you use the proper ammunition for your firearm. Not using the proper ammunition is dangerous, and could result in personal injury or death.
So, if you live in a NATO Member country, you can’t go wrong choosing a gun that fires a standard NATO cartridge.
Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!
© 2016 Inside The X Ring.