5.56x45mm NATO (official NATO nomenclature 5.56 NATO) is a rifle cartridge developed in the United States and originally chambered in the M16 rifle. Under STANAG 4172, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries. It is derived from.The previous standard NATO rifle cartridge was the 7.62x51mm NATO, derived from the .308 Winchester rifle cartridge and designed to replace the U.S. military's .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge. At the time of selection, there had been criticism that the 7.62 mm was too powerful for modern service rifles, causing excessive recoil, and that the weight of the ammunition did not allow for enough rate of fire in modern combat.
The British had extensive evidence with their own experiments into an intermediate cartridge since 1945 and were on the point of introducing a .280 inch (7 mm) cartridge when the selection of the 7.62 mm NATO was made. The FN company had also been involved. The concerns about recoil and effectiveness were effectively overruled by the US within NATO, and the other NATO nations accepted that standardization was more important at the time than selection of the ideal cartridge. However the concerns would prove to be valid and led to the development of the 5.56 cartridge.