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“If you are using a .223, are you seeking a one-shot clean downing of the animal?”, George H. Block asks at “I have little against the use of the semi-autos while hunting, but they should be chambered for cartridges larger than the ever popular .223. It is a fine varmint round, but has no place in deer hunting.” True story?

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    • yes, let us not forget, many of our great-grandfathers harvested deer to feed their family with nothing more than a .22 rifle.

      AND, if I were to be inclined to poach, a .22 rifle would be very high on the list.

      • People using .22 rimfire for deer for sure leave many wounded animals to a miserable death and waste. Probably accounts for the near extinction of deer in the U.S. Around year 1900.

      • To mosinfan and sagebrushracer, I would point out this is a “gun blog”, ie, the majority of people here have a high interest level in guns and shooting and likely shoot more than the average hunter. Sure, shot placement is key, but how many hunters actually practice as much as they should? I live in a rural area and I’m amazed at the number of deer that escape wounded, often by hunters using .308s and such. Note, I’m in Florida and our deer are tiny, compared to their northern cousins … a factor of the heat and humidity. My own neighbor had a tree stand set up along one of our fence lines. Early one morning I heard a rifle shot and thought, “oh, he just got a deer”. Then I heard a number of large caliber pistol shots …”uh oh, he missed with the rifle.” The deer was hit, but got away. He was using a scoped .308 rifle sitting in a tree stand. Typical local idiot with a gun. “Gonna get himself a deer…” but either didn’t properly sight in his rifle (what his dad thinks) or didn’t practice enough (what I think) and was stupid for not using the fence line. He could have marked fence post at 50 yards, 100 yards, etc. and used them for distance judging. Let many of these local bozo “hunters” go after deer with .223s instead of something more appropriate? I think not. Yes, these people live “in the country”, but most did not grow up on farms and “in the woods” squirrel hunting, etc, like the former generations did. It’s a new world. Most of these “country boys” will not survive if the electricity is cut off and they don’t have gas for their pickups. The least we can do for the poor deer is make them carry a more forgiving round.

  1. Yeah, you could take a dear with a .22 short at the right distance and shot placement. There are a lot of veriables. Places where there is wide open country and a high chance of a long shot are not where the .223 shines.

    • Companies that cull over population of deer in city areas use 22 long for head shots. Wacks them every time.

      • Like anything else, shot placement, bullet construction, range and size of the animal need to be considered. With the advances in bullet construction over the last 10-15 years, you can get a bullet stoutly constructed enough to ethically take deer provided you do your part at an appropriate range.

        Certainly enough gun for blacktail deer and smaller bodied whitetails. Maybe you want more gun with mule deer or soybean fed whitetails, especially if the range gets out to 250 yards or more.

      • Sad to say, our township as yet makes no provision for hunting, contrary to PA law. This will be remedied.

        In the meantime we hire the USDA Hit Squad once a year to come and reduced the deer population by 200 or so animals. They bring suppressed 308 rifles and night-vision gear, and put out piles of corn.

  2. If .223 is to light for deer hun ting then is a .44 magnum handgun too light? Either way you should keep the range down, use a proper medium game bullet and probably avoid quartering shots that would require deeper penetration. Bigger would be better but if recoil is a problem I have no problem with the .223 for deer provided the hunter understands it’s limitations.

    • Ah, but a .44 Magnum is about 3 times the weight moving at about half the speed. A lot of this also depends on how big the deer is too. Deer in the “slug states” of the Midwest tend to be larger and hardier, whereas Southern deer tend to be smaller and leaner. I think it would be best just to use at least a real .30-30 or a .44 Magnum for deer up here, maybe a 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel, but never a .223 and probably not a 7.62×39 unless you’ve got some really good heavy load worked up for it.

      • Bullet selection is more critical (IMHO) in a .223 than in a .44 magnum. And in a rifle with a 16″ or 20″ barrel the .44 is clearly more powerful. If the issue is just being recoil averse I’d recommend one of the other calibers you mention – .30-30 has killed more deer than any other caliber and has rather mild recoil. Also, possibly even more important than the size of the game is the angle of the shot. A broadside shot with good old $6/box XM193 at <75 yards would utterly destroy the nearside lung and at least puncture the far side lung. Any deer shot like that won't run more than 100 yards before bedding down to die, regardless of size. Quartering shots could be problematic though.

        • +1 on bullet selection.

          There are plenty of fine hunting loads for .223, but they are no longer anymore cost effective than more traditional deer rounds, unless a .223 rifle is all you’ve got. Or feel proficient with, I guess.

          The “bad” reputation .223 have amongst some deer hunters, is likely due to the extreme overabundance of lighter, poorly penetrating anti personell rounds for sale for it. A bit like dissing 9mm on account of it’s performance with widely available ball.

    • Question: If you were in Alaska and confronted by an enraged grizzly, would you rather have a .223 or a .44 magnum?

      Comparing these two rounds is silly.

      • That’s actually a pretty good question. Would you rather have 30 rounds of .223 or 6 rounds of .44 magnum?

        And yes, all else being equal, the heavier slower bullet will penetrate deeper than a faster lighter one. Which would make one round of .44 magnum a better fit for defense against large bears than a single round of .223. But I thought we were talking about deer?

        • Yeah… I’d never, ever want a .223 anything in the face of grizzky. Even with 30rd mags. It’s simply not going to do the damage nessisary to stop the bear from killing you. Maybe it’ll die of infection or slow blood loss 3 days later, but .223 at a bear is an absolute joke. .44 mag and up for handguns, .308 and up for rifles. Now, an ar-10? Hell yeah that’s a food choices.

      • ANYTHING CAN BE KILLED WITH A SHOT TO THE HEAD . A .223 simply does not have the same killing power of a .30 caliber . End of story . You want to shoot a coyote ? Fine but a .223 is unethical . Period end of story

  3. I have successfully harvested 2 deer with a .223 rifle. First was a yearling buck about 15 yards, he dropped like a stone, the second was an 11 point buck at about 120 yards, he collapsed after about 12 yards. Both shots were broad side through the lungs and both shots exited. .223 is not under powered for an ethical shot at an appropriate distance.

  4. We use it to shoot people in combat, don’t we?

    Oh, and notice that there was no hearing protection for a very young shooter; not even plugs. Tinnitus, hearing loss, and flinching can all be avoided with a little bit of protective gear.

    • I wouldn’t be shocked if one or all of the cutaway shots in this video were out of context and recorded after the fact. Much like the reactions of an interviewer to an interviewee in a news segment. Too much of a PITA to bring a 2nd camera and set all that up. They do that stuff later and cut it in. The profile shot of the kid with his ear in full view would’ve required a second camera on a tripod. That one reeks of staged shot.

      I’m betting the kid’s hearing is fine.

      Dad is just trying to go all Spielberg on this one.

  5. Just depends of bullet and shot placement. Large deer have been taken cleanly out to at least 500 yards. Same with 243 although the range is probably more around 800 yards. Nevertheless, you’ll still find many experts that claim it’s always unethical to shoot a whitetail with anything less than 30-06 and that only to 275 yards.

  6. Took a buck and a doe this year with an AR15 using 60 gr v-max. Doe dropped after 2 steps and buck after 10 yards or so.

  7. Deer hunting? Of course it’s too small. Why would you want to use .223 when there’s so many better options out there? Inhumane.

        • Lemme guess, gun shop clerk roped you into buying that .300 Win Mag rig, and now you’re upset that “the best caliber for deer” has torched your wallet? Happens to the best of us, pal. Chin up.

        • waffensammler98 – My local gun store is a Holland and Holland distributor and it went much worse for me than Dave. I had to sell my helicopter and still don’t have any ammo;-)

        • Okay guys this is going to blow your minds here, get ready for it: use .270.

          If anyone actually tried recommending .223 as a hunting round to me, I’d straight up laugh in their face. Absolutely asinine to suggest otherwise.

        • I’ve hunted humans with .223/5.56 Davey. Seems to work well enough. I’m sure with an ethical hunter taking only good shots .223 is enough gun. Some might want .243 or 260/270 Remington or at minimum a .30 caliber round but clearly .223 is enough gun when ethical shots are made on animals presenting the vitals cleanly and without barriers, chiefly the shoulder muscles and bones.

          You, with your comment about “laughing in peoples faces” sound like the pure definition of a keyboard commando who needs to go back to the bowling alley arcade and its hunting video games.

        • Dave is right. Why do most Western states require 1000 foot pounds at 100 yards? Does a .223 escape the laws of physics? .243 win is the minimum to do the job. Hell even .220 swift is infamous for lightning like kills and also big game hit, wounded and running away. A swift is a damn sight more powerful than any .223. Use the right tool for the job.

        • It wasn’t until recently in MO that you could even legally use the plastic poodle-popper to hunt deer. Colt knew exactly what the 5.56 round was good for from day one – long before the military made the mistake of choosing it as a battle rifle, the ads for the AR touted it’s virtues – as a varmint rifle.

          Not to mention that if you hunt anywhere that has anything resembling foliage, 5.56 is a horrible choice, easily deflected off-course by any errant twig. Or leaves.

          Your choice, your conscience. Objectively, there are far better choices but if you choose to use a 5.56, that’s up to you. Just remember, you made that choice if it goes wrong.

          BTW- In general, the ultimate goal of the soldier is to remove his enemy from the battle at hand. From the standpoint of big picture strategy, it is far better to wound than kill. Takes about 12 people per wounded man, and many material resources to care for them. Dead men impose no such logistical loads on the enemy.

        • 16V – I keep hearing that “Doctrine of Wounding.” I don’t suppose you can get me a citation from the DoD, can you?

        • Button, that’s just commonly known wisdom, since we’ve been fighting wars. You keep hearing it because it is a well-known fact.

      • It’s possible our friend Danger Dave has a torn rotator cuff and is recoil sensitive. Heard he tore it masturbating to pictures of Janet Reno. Thanks for the PSA Dave….and knowing is half the battle!

    • Enough deer has been taken humanely with .223 to render “inhumane” just hyperbole.

      I don’t understand why anyone would NOT use something a smidgen more traditional, exciting and romantic for a hunt than boring old .223, but wth do i know…..

      I agree with you, though: .270 is the magic number for a big-but-not-gigantic-game rifle. Fast, penetrative, and from a family of cartridges with with more hunting tradition, and wider applicability, than anything else this side of a Mauser.

      Or otherwise, 30-30. Or a suitable Mauser derivative (Swede/Roberts/7mm…..)

      Leave the “assault” calibers for two legged critters, and/or training for encountering such.

      • 308 is an “assault “caliber and certainly fine to hunt any North American game with.

        The white tail here in Texas are skinny by some standards. I’d hint them with 223, with hinting ammo. I never have. I had a friend who killed deer with a 222, not one you see often these days. He always had one shot quick kills. But he is an excellent marksman.

        I honestly think 243 is a great deer round. Less recoil than a 270 and more than enough for white tail. Modern bullet technology has made claims of 243 being under powered moot.

        My current bolt gun is 308, but it’s kind of heavy to lug around. I’m considering a lighter rifle in 243 for hunting.

  8. Bullet construction and shot placement are key to ethically taking game.
    And I agree with Red State Bill above. That kid needs hearing protection!

    • Lance and Tom. Yes. It’s up to the ethical hunter to pick the right gun for the situation. And he has to limit himself to realistic shots.

      In my part of CA a .223 is legal for deer and it would likely do the job just fine. Our deer are small. When I hunted WVA, KY and Ohio the rules and the deer were different. Bigger deer at closer ranges. Iron sighted .30-30s were the go to gun where rifles were used and shotguns with slugs where they were not.

      The hunter has to be honest about his abilities. I use a .243 and will not shoot past 300 yards. If I was to move to where they had real deer and elk I would step up to a .308.

  9. I had a friend take one (a doe) with an AR pistol in 9mm. I don’t know the distance, but she dropped after a couple steps. Shot placement.

  10. If you’re planning on shooting a whitetail in the hindquarters, better not bring less than fuddy aught six. Once you’ve literally shot its ass off, it’s going down.

    If, however, you and your rifle can keep it to 4 MOA, then just make sure to use a hunting bullet and shoot from within 200 yards or so.

  11. For a lot of places in the northeast, hunting is not an activity involving great distances(typical distance is well under 100 yds). Haven’t had a problem using appropriate .223 bullets for deer.

    This subject isn’t going to die anytime soon. It’s the interweb thingy!

  12. 2000fps is a pretty good rule of thumb for reliable expansion and hydrostatic shock across all bullet types, but is particularly important for copper projectiles that are tougher and less prone to expand than expanding lead projectiles. The .224 70 TSX in particular was engineered to still expand at around 100fps slower than any other .224 TSX or TTSX (or GMX for that matter), which has something to do with its use in “5.56 Optimized” aka “Brown Tip” that saw use by SOF out of shorter barrels. While Barnes will tell you that all of these rounds expand at 1800fps (1700fps for the 70TSX) that’s only when their tips start opening up, and to me that is insufficient. Google “70 tsx minimum expansion velocity” and you’ll see pretty mushroom pictures that illustrate this.

    A 70 TSX out of a 16″ barrel will comfortably run about 2550fps. That 2550fps 70 TSX will be at 2000 fps at 200 yards. The 70 TSX has an expansion velocity limit 100fps better than the rest, so I suppose you could say 1900fps at 250 yards is the absolute outer limit. 250 yards also happens to be around the maximum point blank range for a six inch diameter vital zone.

    An all copper expanding projectile will stay together and therefore penetrate better than any other given type of hunting projectile, all else being equal, especially when bone comes into play. The lungs will still be jelly, and bones won’t stop all copper projectiles from smashing through and exiting. You also won’t have vaporized 30 or 40 grains of lead somewhere into your meat. So as long as you stay within TSX’s expansion FPS envelope (again, rule of thumb over 2000 fps impact velocity), and of course place your shots correctly, you’ll be fine. In central/south TX just as an example, it is more than adequate for the vast majority of deer taken that are under 150lbs and within 100 yards standing under a feeder.

    If 70 TSX isn’t adequate, then neither are crossbows, muzzle loaders, etc.

    Where this gets really fun is when you put it into context with what the logical next step up in caliber is. A 6.5 Creedmoor with a factory load 120GMX at 3000fps out of a 24″ barrel will still be running 2000 fps past 525 yards, and still carrying 1000ft/lbs. I like black rifles and I don’t like lead in my meat. To me this means that the 70 TSX and 120 GMX are obvious natural heirs to the 30-30 and .270.

  13. Years ago, on Barracks Duty in FL. A fellow COG (corporal of the guard) took a deer in the limited area. It was late at night, way in the swamps(at the time), with a single shot from an M16. It may not have been a long shot but another corporal and I skinned and cleaned it and I can assure you it was graveyard dead.

  14. As others have said it depends on about four variables. Bullet construction, shot placement, size of the deer, and the terrain of the area you hunt. I’d take an M4gery loaded with 70 grain Barnes TSX deer hunting because it would be super handy in a tree stand and the woods I hunt in.

  15. Some states allow it some don’t. However it has a lot more energy then the arrows coming from my bow do. With the right bullet and a broadside shot it will work fine out to some distance. We should be debating that distance, not the validity of the round.

  16. Why would someone use a .223/5.56 for deer hunting? There are so many better choices. Even in an AR15 platform you have 6.8spc2 my favorite and 300blkout. Even a .30 carbine is better than a .223. Sure a .223 will kill a deer. A flat head will work in some phillips head screws, but why do it?

    • The only problem with the 6.8spc (and it’s a fairly minor one) is that they made the spc then turned around and made the spcII chamber with more freebore that could handle greater pressure. Now most of the rifles are in the spcII chamber, but since there’s still a few in the spc chamber all the am mo makers only make the lower pressure spc am mo. Theoretically, the shorter leade of the spc should lend to greater accuracy and since that’s the am mo available they should probably just phase out the spcII.

      • I agree, but the problem can be fixed by reloading. If I had to do it all over again, I would have purchased an 18″ stainless 6.5 Grendel instead of a CMMG piston 16″ Spec II 6.8. The Spec II has a slight power edge, but the 6.5 is more efficient and accurate.

        • a) true
          b) if that extra 50fps were that big of a deal you could also swap out your 16″ barrel for an 18″ or 20″. The weight could be offset by going with direct impingement. Or you could fix it even better by switching to an AR10 in .243.
          c) personally I’d still go with the 6.8 over the Grendel, but I can’t really think of a reason why other than it doesn’t look like a mini super short magnum.

    • “Even a .30 carbine is better than a .223.”
      I don’t see how that is possible. The 64gr winchester soft point from a 16″ AR15 is generating more energy at 100 yards than the .30 Carbine does at the muzzle. They’re not even close.

      • Agree. I have a CZ 527m in x39. I’d be fairly confident with a good shot, it will do the job on your average PA deer with Hornady SST’s — but i havent taken it out yet! because i Know the .270 (with 130 gr pills) will definitely do the job (again, with a good shot of course). I really want to take out the CZ, just havent gotten the sack yet to do so. Man, one bad experience chasing a deer into the night (and with a .308 nonetheless) has left it’s mark on me. I find that .270 with Federal power shok 130 gr SP’s to be optimal for my usage ’round these parts

        • I would take that CZ out in a heartbeat. At least as potent as the .30-30 and more accurate than a lever gun.

        • Excuse me? 7.62×39 ‘at least as potent as .30-30’? I won’t argue that bolt guns aren’t more accurate than lever guns, but the .30-30 starts with a 25% advantage in energy and with the right ammo even has a higher BC.

      • I use an AR Pistol in 7.62×39 with 154gr soft point bullet. Hogs and Deer. 100 yards max range so far and DRT. I love it.

        • Confidence builder, thanks. I really want to take this CZ out and give it a try. I almost never take a shot much over 100 around here anyway (too wooded)…. The thing that holds me back is that i know it’s hard to beat a 130 grain pill moving at 3100+ fps. It’s been my chosen deer meds for many a year by now. Hard to let go of old habits, but man is that CZ light and handy.

  17. “If you are using a .223, are you seeking a one-shot clean downing of the animal?”

    Just out of curiosity, how many shots does George H Block tend to need? If it takes more than one shot, whatever the caliber, you’re doing it wrong and have some skills building to do before you try to take down another game animal. And you sure as hell have no place criticizing other hunters if your skills are so sub-par.

  18. One of the reasons hunting doesn’t appeal to me; schizophrenic ethics. Not that I wouldn’t just decide for myself if I wanted to hunt, but it makes the culture objectionable which in turn is a major point against the activity. It must be a blast for people who like to bluster, preach and go through tired, circular arguments for the millionth time.

    • ???

      As far as “pointless” caliber wars go, .223 for deer has got to be up there with .380 for a defensive pistol, wrt being meaningfully debatable.

      • Yep, pointless. Point of my first post is debates on hunting ethics drive me bonkers because end up descending into the ethics equivalent of bro-science. Bro-ethics. I guess I should just back out and let those so inclined enjoy the convo.

  19. PA sure thinks so. We’ve been raised like that. Doesn’t mean .223 wont do the job of course, but why would you use .223 anyway? I personally dont like chasing their wounded asses all over God’s creation. .270 or aught6 are for deer. 5.56 is for bad guys. We cant use semi auto anyway, but if I do my part, i dont need more than one or two rounds, so it’s irrelevant to me. I use a boltie. Works just fine. Now if i was hunting coyotes or something, thats another story altogether. Just for reference, I am not a Fudd, far from it. Just my .02c

    • My neighbor puts his daughters in a treestand with 9mm carbine, they’ve harvested more deer than I have…

      • To each his own. I like a little overkill in my deer rifle. I chased one into the night once and try to avoid that scenario. You could probably use a 22, but it wouldnt be ideal. Same for 9mm. Everyone is right about shot placement regardless of caliber, but it’s nice to maximize the variables in your favor.

      • Game commission hasnt weighed in yet, last I heard. I’m more excited about being about to use my 10/22 or MkII for small game than using semi for deer. My deer rifle is a Savage .270 beater that I can bang around all day and not give a hoot – unlike my other rifles.

        • The Game Commission has agreed to such rules as are required to activate the statute. They will still need to publish them, but that will happen soon. The Commission concluded publicly that statistics revealed no increased danger in the many jurisdictions allowing semi-auto rifles. Google it. They have agreed to include deer and bear in the semi-is-ok list, which is a major bit of good news.

    • Well, back in the Pennsyltucky hills of my misspent youth, the woodsey types were big on 30-06, or vintage Japanese WW-II rifles (7.7 x 58 for the Arisaka type 99) for deer hunting.

      Sometimes the .308 was acceptable for lightweights and noobs.

      Me, I had a .22 for my war of groundhog attrition.

      • Haha yeah, it was always .06 vs .270 and Ford vs Chevy in my Fathers crew (that taught me how to hunt). They’d bicker like old ladies some days. Guess i adopted .270 out of respect for the old man and made it work pretty damn good with 130 SP’s. Anchored a few right in their tracks and i was hooked on .270 from there.

  20. I maintain that the issue is sufficient energy and penetration. Can that be had with a .223 or .22-250? Sure, but you have to choose your bullet, and 55gr FMJ’s or 62gr Green Tips ain’t it. Neither are 40 to 50gr “varmint grenade” bullets. I’ve seen one such shot by an idiot in Nevada using a .22-250 on elk at over 500 yards. The V-max blew up in the first inch+ of penetration, leaving a gaping, non-fatal wound on the bull, which then had to be tracked over miles (NB the plural) of rough ground, and put down at close range with a .30-06 from a more competent hunter. The hunter who took the first shot was reported to F&G in the state, because the .22-250 was below minimum legal requirement – as well as being simply a stupid choice on elk.

    Most F&G departments don’t get into playing games with “You’re OK to use this particular round on whitetail, and you need to use XYZ on pronghorn, and ABC on elk or moose.” No, they set minimum standards for all big game in their state, and those minimum standards often exclude rounds .224 in diameter and under (which will include the .223, .22-250, .22 Hornet, .220 Swift, etc, etc). Unless you’re hand-loading (and most people aren’t), you will find very few people shooting better bullets out of a .223 for large game. It is easier on all concerned to just say “no .223’s, go get a suitable round for large game” and be done with it.

    Here in Wyoming, the regs have been changed to allow .223’s on deer, antelope, mountain lion and wolves. The bullets need to be at least 60 grains. I disagree with the reg change, but there it is.

    • Big difference between a 140 pound doe and an 800 pound bull elk. If .30-06 is sufficient for the latter the .223 should be fine for the former. Still need to pick a bullet that will penetrate though. But then you wouldn’t load your .30-06 with 125gr. bullets for an elk hunt either. Unfortunately there are people who need the state to tell them what’s OK and what’s not.

      • When people go into Walmart to buy “hunting ammo” for their .30-06, want to know what they won’t find?

        110 or 125 grain varmint pills on a .30-06.

        In .30-06, you’ll see anything from 150 to 180 grain soft-tip or premium expansion large game bullets. Bubba won’t need to think too hard, nor exert himself overly much, to obtain a competent hunting round in .30-06. Since the great .30-06 surplus ammo glut of the 50’s through 90’s is now over, it is actually harder to find 150gr FMJ M2 ball ammo than to find ’06 hunting ammo now.

      • In many states Whitetail Deer are certainly not “big game”.

        I mean, yes, a SmartCar and a Chevy Suburban are both 2 axel, personal motor vehicles.

      • I’m fully in favor if legislation and regulations accounting for reality. And the reality is that most people, being cheap-assed, often lazy, sometimes just ignorant, will buy whatever is cheapest at Walmart and shove that into a .223 rifle, and use that to shoot at deer.

        The round that fits that sort of reality will invariably be 55gr XM193 ball.

  21. IMO, .223 is a varmint cartridge that can be pressed into service as a deer cartridge under the right circumstances (range, deer size, shot angle/placement, bullet choice, etc.). But, also IMO, those circumstances are too limiting to recommend it as a “go to” deer cartridge for the typical hunter. I understand if it’s the only rifle you have, just please respect its limitations.

  22. I’ve seen the aftermath of a mule deer shot with a 55gr FMJ 5.56×45 from a AR-15 and it was a dead Buck. One shot, one buck.
    Now a 55gr FMJ is not what I would use for deer but it did the job. A 69gr .223 hollow-point would be my preference for deer.

    Anyone know of a good affordable scope mount that will work with a unmodified Ruger AR-556?

    • I bought this Weaver mount ( ) from Optics Planet for less than $50, but I haven’t gotten around to sighting the rifle in yet. Seems like a quality piece. A word of warning about Optics Planet though – make sure you click on ‘check availability’ before making your purchase and bear in mind that when it says 1 to 3 business days they really mean 1 to 3 weeks. Your card will be charged the instant you check out, but they’ll take their sweet time getting your products to you.

  23. Am feeling conflicted, most media portray AR-15’s as having the power of a thousand suns and therefore shouldn’t be in the hands of mere mortals. Now they’re saying that an AR-15 cartridge is too wimpy to use on small deer?

    I love how they change their story to fit an agenda.

  24. It’s fine within its limits. I’m a meat hunter when I hunt, so if I lived in a place where deer reproduced like rats and hunting over bait was legal, I’d use a .22 centerfire of some kind. Why endure all the blast and recoil of an ’06 class round why you’re going to be shooting a deer over salt lick from an elevated blind at bow range?

    That said, deer hunting in every state I’ve lived so far is pretty boring and miserable. Deer populations aren’t that high and there are a ton of antler restrictions, method of take restrictions, and prohibitions on taking does during the general firearms seasons (sometimes the ban extends to bow and muzzleloader seasons as well).

    In places like this, a hunter might see one legal to shoot deer in ten seasons (in some cases never during a lifetime of hunting). If you do see that rare legal buck, chances are it’s not going to be a textbook quartering slightly away shot. You may need to defeat minor obstacles, punch through heavy bone, or shoot a little farther than you’d like. That’s why my deer rifle will always be a little on the “overkill” side.

  25. Distance and placement is always the key. I grew up hunting and was taught, “one shot, one kill”. A responsible hunter will not only know what the firearm is capable of but also the ammunition they are using as well as their own limitations. Choosing the correct ammunition is also important. There are rounds designed for maximum penetration while others are designed for maximum expansion with a wide range in between. The last rifle I purchased was a 7 mm Magnum, I chose it for the wide range of available rounds. Depending on the round I am using I can hunt, and bring down, anything in the country, from varmints at long range to even brown bears. Two years ago I brought down a thirteen point white tail at 250 yards when it was at a dead run. Last season I harvested an eight point at over 350 yards. Both were one shot, one kill, with both going down immediately and not moving again. Choosing the correct firearm, and ammunition for the game you are hunting and the terrain you are hunting in as well as knowing all aspects of the firearm, ammunition, and your own abilities is the key to a quick and humain kill regardless of what you are hunting and what caliber you are using.

  26. It is about placement but its not all about energy.

    Arrows kill due to wounding and penetration.

    A 44 magnum has a heavy bullet (compared to 223) and will often penetrate completely through a white tail deer.

    The problem is people using a 223 and pushing out to 250 yards. If they get poor placement the round probably wont penetrate anything critical.

    As had been stated – a 22LR at close range will do the job if placed correctly. At long range the 22LR is being asked to the impossible. The 223 also has limitations

    State Wildlife divisions have to take all hunters in consideration when allowing calibers – not just the stone cold snipers on TTAG.

    If it is only about placement, are you going to tote your AR in 223 in grizzly country? Let us know where you’re going so we can go find the gun.

    • Arrows: Modern broadhead arrows kill by leaving a bleeding wound that bleeds the animal out in a very short amount of time. That’s why bowhunters sit tight and allow the game to run off a short ways to bed down and bleed out before they start tracking. There’s very few “dead right there” bowhunting shots.

      State Wildlife divisions have to take all hunters in consideration when allowing calibers – not just the stone cold snipers on TTAG.

      Ta-da. You’ve nailed the essential nut of the issue here.

      There’s lots of hunters out there who aren’t especially gun-savvy. People like gunsmiths, guides, F&G officials, game wardens, etc get to meet more of these people than most other hunters do.

      The flip side of this entire debate is the recent hunter with a wallet full of cash, burning a hole in his pocket. He’s purchased the latest & greatest ultra-fashionable “gun rag magnum,” has boxes of premium ammo – but because the rifle doesn’t fit him especially well, and because he’s not really a “gun guy,” he hasn’t practiced with said rifle, can barely hit the broad side of a barn and vastly over-estimates the range at which he can shoot competently. This particular sort of hunter is the guide’s worst nightmare.

      • This is why i love my Enfield. While I don’t have the money to practice with it as much as many of you here, if I can see it at the short ranges I hunt at here, I know the .303 150-220gr bullet is going exactly where I want it. I have a range of rifles, both purchased myself and those passed to me from my grandfather, from 5.56 to .300 Winchester. Of them all, I’m beat with the Enfield, and as such, that’s what goes into the stand with me. The deer here in SC aren’t big enough, and the distance they are encountered at aren’t enough to justify anything larger for me anyway.

        By the way Dyspeptic, should you ever find yourself in the Charleston area, I’d love to be able to sit and chat a while.

      • Broadheads help with additional wounding and keep the arrow from backing out.

        Any arrow will kill if the placement is through the vitals.

        Hit a deer in the Butt and you might find in the next county.

  27. Can the .223/5.56 or 7.62×39 be used effectively for deer? Yes! Would I feel comfortable grabbing mine for a hunt? Yeah probably, I would be willing to do so assuming I’d be sure the shots would be sub 200 or 100 yards respectively.

    Should it be legal to use those cartridges? Probably not, look if you’re commenting here I’m assuming you’re the type who likes to go the the range and is pretty proficient in the use of a firearm… but we also have to take into account the “citiots” who don’t hit the range/practice and have a tendency to make some absolutely absurd attempts at taking shots. These people can’t actually effectively make humane kills with the the “fud” rounds, what makes you think they’ll do any better with smaller/lighter rounds?

  28. Will it bag a deer? Yes. Are there better options? Probably in most situations, but why should anyone care what someone else bags a deer with unless they are trying to force you to use the same thing? Variety is freedom.

  29. Killed a nice buck this year with a 223. Used Remington’s hog load that had a Barnes TSX bullet.

    I will never do it again. After being shot through the lung he walked quite a ways and fell over. Upon moving him after 30 mins there was a blood spot the size of a dime, could have never tracked him. I believe the TSX failed to expand, but there you go, and that was with what I found to be the “best” bullet.

    Now the closest I would contemplate would be a 300 BLK supersonic pistol at 30-30 range (100-150yd max). But I think I’d rather not. Lesson learned.

    • You need almost perfect shot placement to bring down a deer with .223/5.56. Minimum caliber that I hunt with is .243. You have a much bigger sweet spot.

  30. Unsure. I had a doe that I shot that flinched. I was sure I had her dead to rights. 100 yards. She took a step and I shot her again. Moved again. WTF. Aimed again. Put it through her neck.

    When I skinned her I found two .223 rounds deformed against her rib cage. Must have been bad powder, but I don’t know…

  31. I had a friend in Montana who developed a severe flinch from his .444 Marlin. With the heavy bullet, the typical dog-legged lever gun stock, and a possibly slightly mis-mounted 3×9 scope, he managed to cut his eyebrow area badly enough to leave a mark. He finally gave up on the gun and bought a Ruger mini 14 to use as his elk rifle. When I asked him how the puny .223 was working on elk, he said “great, I never miss any more.”

    Everyone knows the only humane gun for deer is the .35 Remington. My grandpa swore that the .35 was so lethal it would kill a deer if you shot it in the foot.

  32. I’ve always used my Mini 14 with iron sights. I use 62grn Federal Fusion. Many ammo manufacturers make .223 ammo specifically for white tail. I assume they wouldn’t do that if it was not a good idea… but maybe not. Federal states in a couple of articles that it is more than sufficient for deer.

    Either way I’ve always put it high behind the front leg and the deer runs a couple of yards and falls down. It always breaks the shoulder if it hits it and the lungs and heart are not discernable as anything but soup. Dead is dead. I’ve not lost one but there is little blood trail and I was worried one time but it was tall grass and I finally found her. I’ve seen deer run off after my grandfather hit them with 300 savage and my father with his 30/30. Sometimes they just don’t know they are dead yet.

    In Missouri our hunting is usually under 100 yards and often times 30-50 yards tops. No problem as far as I’m concerned.

    • I once shot a doe quartering away with a 3″ 12ga. slug that entered in front of her left hind leg, went through one lung and broke her right front shoulder on the way out. Deer bolted like I shot it in the butt with a BB. Ran over the hill, bedded down and died. Dropping a deer in it’s tracks is 99% pure luck.

      • I shot a buck last season with an early pre-sunrise shot at about 40 yards with a 30-06. It was also a left side quartering away shot. Once we found it, the deer did not travel that far but the bullet stopped just under the hide on the right shoulder leaving very little blood trail to track in that early morning light. I wouldn’t want to take that shot with a .223.

      • This. I recently posted 2 pics of hearts on my IG, one from an antelope and one from a deer, both shredded from my round. One ran 10 yards at the most, the other over 100 and with only 3 legs. I’ve done a quartering away shot with my .30-06 that left pieces of the heart outside of the chest, when I found the deer, hundreds of yards and a fence jump away.

  33. Pennsylvania is in the process of finalizing it’s regulations for hunting with semi-automatic rifles. We are the last or next to last state to permit hunting with semi-automatic rifles. The expectation is there will be a lot of new first time hunters taking to the woods with their AR-15 chambered in 5.56/.223Rem. Pennsylvania’s current regulations place no restrictions on caliber, only that it be an expanding bullet. I prefer that there be no restrictions on caliber, but I’m hoping the newbies will take the time to find a proper weight bullet to do the job and take ethical shots with good shot placement. We’ll just have to see what happens. If the game commission gets an increase in reports on wounded or unclaimed deer carcasses because of a lack of blood to facilitate tracking, I imagine we’ll see restrictions. Still a lot of Fudd’s up here.

    • I’m in PA, too, and, while I don’t consider myself a Fudd, I am concerned about noobs going afield with ARs loaded with whatever 223 they find on the Wally World shelf. Caliber restrictions are a lazy way to manage this: in PA, subsonic 300 BLK would be legal for elk, but 6.5 CM would be a no-no. Makes no sense. I would much prefer a “Y fpe @ X yds” requirement, or something along those lines. I’ll be curious to see how the 2017 deer season goes if the semiauto ban is officially lifted, because that may determine how the regs get tweaked to manage dumbassery.

      • I’m also in PA. My longtime deer rifle is a 30-06. I intend to take my 300 BLK into the forest for whitetail soon, with a load (perhaps the Corbon DPX 110, 2400 fbs, 1400 ftlb.).

        I’m gratified that the Commission did state that it considered 5 cartridges to be the maximum allowed, a limit which might encourage people to think that buying just a few better bullets would be worth the money?

  34. Well, the 5.56 x 45 certainly works on deer given good shot placement. I’ve never used a .223 for whitetail deer hunting, but the two are very close. When using 5.56 I set my effective range at about 150 yards since I was using 62 grain Mk 318 Mod 0 equivalent ammo. Muzzle energy on that load from a 16″ barrel is about 1200 FPE. The .300 BLK Barnes TTSX works on deer, pushing the 110 grain bullet at about 2375 FPS from my stainless 16″ barrel AR for about 1,377 FPE. I’ve taken 4 deer with that combo and saw my son take a 5th. Some of mine were DRT and two ran about 50 yards.

    Clearly none of the aforementioned rounds hit as hard as a .30-30, .308, .30-06, .300 Win Mag, or .45-70, but they also generate a lot less recoil. A typical crossbow would be lucky to generate 100 FPE, with the most powerful crossbows on the market generating (Scorpyd RDT 165, Barnett Ghost) topping out at about 160 FPE. All that is way above the typical compound bow in terms of energy.

    Recurves have even less energy. Incidentally, my dad got offered $1000 for his beautiful old #52 recurve handed down from Grandpa. Grandpa got a record buck with that bow which was a local news story.

    Personally I’d recommend a .300 BLK, 6.8 SPC, or .243 Winchester for a recoil sensitive hunter. Some states might still ban .223 for deer hunting, so check your local laws.

    Next year could easily be 300 plus yard shots through cold, dense air in SE WI at big bucks so I’m considering my .300 Win Mag. It could just wind up being an armed hike, though.

  35. I notice no one has pointed out that while out deer hunting one may stumble across a bigger, hungrier or more aggressive animal in the woods (i.e. a moose or bear) that a .223 round wouldn’t fair so well against. Depending on where I’m hunting. 308 is usually acceptable, but if I’m going to be somewhere known for bears 45-70 is it. Then I know I can take ANYTHING down thats out there with me.

  36. I used to say the 5.56nato and .223win were too small. Since I learned to use the right bullet, a 64gr JSP, I’ve taken probably 60 white tail with it. All 100 yards or under on hill country deer, usually 100lbs and less. And I don’t do head shots. I shoot them all through the shoulder and into the heart.
    On top of deer, Ive killed antelope and a ludicrus number of pigs like this.

    • For some reason people don’t seem to mind if a pig suffers before he dies, but deer MUST be put down in the most humane way possible. They’re all God’s critters, I say.

      • Agreed. What happened to hunting 101? One shot one kill? A 223 is a great round for varmints, not so much on anything larger.

  37. 75 grain swift scirocco over 25.2 grains of AA2520 in a lake city case equals 2850 FPS from a 20 inch barrel.
    keep the shots under 200 yards and put it where it needs to go and you got a dead dear on your hands

  38. My question would be – Why?

    If the whole point is to harvest the animal as humanely and efficiently as possible, why use .223? You severely limit your angles and range, and considerably increase your chances of having to chase a blood trail for miles.

    For groundhogs and coyotes = perfect! …For deer = sub optimal.

    Maybe for the challenge? …I could think of better ways to do that.
    Maybe because that’s the only thing you have?

    I’m just not sure… why?

  39. Flame thread. Right up there with ‘Glock’, ‘KelTec’, ‘1911’ and ‘9 vs 40 vs 45’

    I’ll say it. Yes, it’s too frikkin wimpy, alright? Can .223 kill deer? sure! Should you hunt deer with .223? No dude, not unless the S has H T F and that’s all you got on you.

  40. I’m going with the opinion of sane range and good bullets. There was an officer at the university I went to that shot a rogue deer (it was attacking people) with a 9mm service pistol and dropped it. I don’t give a damn if he had +P+++++++ in it that doesn’t have anything on a 5.56 with a decent load. (Not some PMC Bronze or w/e you got that day.)

  41. In New England, most deer hunters use .243 Win. or .30-30 Win. ’cause that’s what grandpa used. That’s for medium sized deer in the ooky, spooky woods, where the rifle might have to reach out all the way to 50 yards. For longer-range shooting, the same folks are married to the .30-06 Springfield.

    Is the .223 suitable for the same deer at such short range? Probably, with the right bullets. But there’s something nice about standing in grandpa’s shoes. Figuratively speaking, of course.

  42. My granddad on my mother’s side hunted everything with his .22. It took short, long, and magnum, but if my mom’s memory is right he only turned to magnum late in life when he wasn’t so silent in the woods any longer. Up till then, he got rabbits, ducks, and deer with .22LR, and never needed a second shot.

    One important aspect, though, is that he was hunting in territory where being able to see a deer at more than thirty yards was unlikely, and he maintained that anyone who couldn’t get within 20 yards of a deer without spooking it wasn’t competent.

  43. I think .223/5.56 is an acceptable cartridge for deer, although not an optimum cartridge. Oregon allows .223 for deer, several companies make .223 deer hunting ammunition, and the only centerfire rifle I currently own is an AR so 2 or 3 boxes of good ammunition, a 5 round magazine and a trip to the range to re-zero and practice is the most cost-effective way for me to fill a deer tag. I practice regularly and I have the sense to only take a good solid shot.

  44. That’s a change…….all I keep hearing from the media is how no one hunts with 223 because its a super-powered kid killer that blasts deer to pieces.

    • Yes, the fact that any experienced hunter would think the .223 is too small for deer would be mind blowing information to the assault rifle antis. Every time I have tried to make that point, in a variety of ways including charts and photographs, the response I got amounted to “I don’t believe you.”

  45. I’m not a hunter but I did spend some time exploring state regs for deer hunting among the middle forested states. I was surprised to find one that allowed .22LR deer hunting.

    I have heard that in Alaska, the .223 Rem is extremely popular. I imagine they are mostly not shooting paper (or squirrels) in the backyard. Of course, a 22″ barreled bolt gun will deliver significantly more energy than a 16″ semi.

    I was amused that everyone ignored the comment that commercial hunters hired to cull large deer herds use .22LR. Also amused by the guy who said that deer are very rare in his woods. We have shoo them away inside my city limits, just to go for a walk. My 80 lb. german shepard charged one once, and the buck charged him back, in our yard.

    I get the impression that some of the commentes here wouldn’t consider cutting a board with a 20tpi cross-cut saw because an 18tpi saw is the perfect tool.

  46. Dude the comentors that say it should be ilegal wtf. This used to be a free country, most 2nd amendment people are very anti legislation, yet you want to legislate your hunting morality on others? Other Americans may hunt completely different size deer in different type scenarios than yourself. Ive harvested and also lost deer with a bow, a 40 pistol, 223, 308, and other hunting tools. I have decided over decades of experience what i think is sufficient for me and my quarry, location, situation, as well as my personal hunting morals / ethics. I believe others deserve the right to make the right or wrong choice of hunting tools, its a free country, and most humans are capable of learning from there mistakes. Im against uneccessary agony or pain for any person or mammal, but deer arnt endangered, and most natural deer deaths are way way worse than a 223 wound that kills a deer a few minutes or hours after the shot.

  47. I’ve killed numerous deer with a .223, usually using a plain old Sierra 55 SP. All were 1 shot kills, but all were within 150 yards, were classic broadside shots, and many dubious angle and running shots were passed up. Around here, many folks like the 22-250 and 220 for deer, and I’ve seen more failures with those, usually when the bullet struck a large bone and exploded. Bottom line is that more judgement and perhaps patience is needed with small bores. You just need to be smarter than the gun.They surely will kill a 150 to 200 pound animal, or at least the military says they will.

  48. According to the state of Ohio, .223 is too powerful for deer hunting. I’m not allowed to use any necked cartridge in a rifle for deer hunting (however, I can use necked cartridges, in any caliber, to hunt groundhogs and coyotes all day long). I am, however, allowed to use .38 special in a rifle (not that I ever would).

    And government experts are never wrong, right?

  49. its is enough. only whiners and gun divas say otherwise. after two consecutive seasons actually deer hunting with 223, i will tell you honestly that it is enough. is it ideal? maybe not. is it enough? certainly.if i’ve had worse results with 270. better with 308, but, probably the best results with 22-250. i’m trying a 25-06 next season. i’m hoping for great results.

  50. Depends on where you’re hunting these deer. For me in the central Texas hill country, .223/5.56 with the proper bullet will certainly kill the deer around here. It’ll take down just about any of the game we come across here on a regular basis. That said, I prefer hunting with .308. But I won’t call a local hunter unethical for using it if that was his preference.

  51. There are people who kill deer with pointy sticks. Are you going to stand there and tell me the .223 is less effective than a pointy stick?

  52. Shot placement is correct. Right below the ear with a .223. but I do prefer .243 Winchester or higher for deer hunting. And if I did use a semi auto I would still likely only need one shot because that first shot is the important one and time should be taken to make sure it’s a good one. Sure it’s fun to blast through ammo at the range, but it is not something we want in the hunting woods where deer can be wounded and hunters shot by a barrage of stray bullets. Too many people would just throw lead through the woods without being aware of their surroundings. I did take my 10/22 squirrel hunting this year but still only need one shot at a time.

  53. .223 is a bit light for deer although it will kill a deer with a good shot, I would just rather not, .243 is my minimum for deer, and 7mm08 for anything bigger, i have a 30/06 but it’s really overkill for deer and won’t kill a bear any faster than the 7mm08 with a good bullet.

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