223 for deer hunting

223 for deer hunting

This is a discussion on 223 for deer hunting within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have been entertaining the thought of loading up some Barnes x bullets and using my 223 for deer hunting this fall. I am already ...

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Thread: 223 for deer hunting

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    223 for deer hunting

    I have been entertaining the thought of loading up some Barnes x bullets and using my 223 for deer hunting this fall. I am already familiar with the ballistics of this round and how it compares in energy blah blah to say the 30-30, and believe it is a very viable deer cartridge within certain limitations, which I am also aware of. What I am looking for is feedback from people who have used this cartridge, and what your results were, what bullet used and range used. Please no armchair comments from people who never hunt or step into the woods. Thanks.


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    Its kind of light.
    I have helped track several deer that have been shot with the .223.

    Be sure to use a solid hunting bullet that will penetrate. Lots of people use the explosive varmint rounds thinking that it will be better for deer, but that is a mistake. The bullets often make a superficial wound that looks terrible but never penetrated deep enough to be lethal. Even some of the hollowpoints can fail. While some of the kills are right there on the spot, others will run off.

    Although I have seem some deer killed with it, I dont personally use it. I prefer to stick with the .30 cals. Some of the guys I hunt with do use it. One of my friends has killed many deer with his AR-15, and he only aims for the neck or head.It pretty well drops them on the spot. Another uses a Browning A-Bolt, a pretty little thing. He has killed some deer but lost some too.

    Like any caliber its the shot placement that counts, but you more than likely understand that.

    As for the Barnes X be sure to go with the Triple Shock in 53 grains . Being solid copper they are about as heavy built as you can get with the .223. Go fast, shoot well and they'll kill as well as any. Varget Powder is a good powder to try.
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    Member Array steyrsdad's Avatar
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    i own a 150 acre farm in the best deer county in ohio and get 30 crop damage permits a year . and use all of them. with an ar15 out to 600 yards and drop them in there tracks . 223 works on deer !!!
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    Member Array DIXIETWISTER's Avatar
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    Get you a good beagle. I tried a 22-250(once) and no way would i use less than a .243 now.. guy i know used one he wounded a deer up and couldn't find him..bad thing about that is that he had not been out of the army long and he was trying to prove a point(about the .223).. they still laugh at him around camp, he now shoots a 30-06.
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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Personally, I won't go any less than a 25-06 for deer. I love the 6.5 or .264 for the ballistics. That's what makes the bottom line for me is ballistics mainly. Any sportsman should make sure of a clean kill in my humble opinion. The .223 just wouldn't cut it for me. That's just my personal opinion.

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    I am a life long hunter and I know that you can kill a whitetail with a .223 A good shot to the head or to the boiler room will do the job. The question is why try? We both know that the cartridge is marginal at best so what is your end game?

    Is it just for kicks? Then I'd say don't do it. You owe the animal as quick and painless of a death as possible. I feel there are obviously better choices.

    There are also other compounding factors:

    First is recovering your animal. How much farther with a deer run with a .22 size hole compared to a .30 size hole? Will you get an exit wound and a good enough blood trail with the .223 to find it? Will you get enough energy transfer to open a Barnes bullet if you don't strike a bone? (I've had this happen to me on a doe shot with a controlled expansion bullet from a 300 WSM. It went through her like a laser and even though I double lunged her she ran about 300 yds and left almost no blood trail. I found her by sheer luck, she had died within a few feet of a 4 wheeler trail and a buddy saw her as he rolled on by.)

    Second is what if your shot is never perfect? What if you see the buck of a lifetime and he doesn't give you a perfect broadside shot? You can't rake him with a .223 like you can with a normal deer calibre. You can't ethically try to break through his shoulders either. What if he never offers you a perfect behind the shoulder shot? My point is that for the .223 to be viable you need a perfect shot and we both know that nothing in the deer woods ever goes 100% as planned. Why risk missing out on the deer of a lifetime just for kicks?

    Or is there a viable reason to use a .223? Did you just have a shoulder surgery? Are you taking a youth hunting and he/she can't take recoil? If you have a real reason then I'd say go for it. Hunting with a .223 is better than not hunting at all.
    Last edited by atctimmy; April 25th, 2010 at 11:26 PM. Reason: spelling
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I have killed deer with different calibers, from handguns to rifles, to a stick and string. The only deer I ever lost was with a 270 loaded with a 130 grn speer, shot at about 35 yards. The best performance measured after multiple kills has been my 44 mag carbine loaded with 240 nosler or xtps. I was thinking of the 223 after comparing energy levels with a 30-30, which on paper are not that great a difference. Of course we all know numbers don't tell the whole story. I was thinking of keeping my shots inside of 50 yards, which, where I hunt is a long shot. Thanks for the feedback and keep them coming. The more I know the better.

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Some states don't allow a 22 caliber rifle for Deer hunting,I've shot deer with an AR15,but had a 7.62x39 upper w/127grain soft points and they dropped like rocks
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atctimmy View Post
    I am a life long hunter and I know that you can kill a whitetail with a .223 A good shot to the head or to the boiler room will do the job. The question is why try? We both know that the cartridge is marginal at best so what is your end game?

    Is it just for kicks? Then I'd say don't do it. You owe the animal as quick and painless of a death as possible. I feel there are obviously better choices.

    There are also other compounding factors:

    First is recovering your animal. How much farther with a deer run with a .22 size hole compared to a .30 size hole? Will you get an exit wound and a good enough blood trail with the .223 to find it? Will you get enough energy transfer to open a Barnes bullet if you don't strike a bone? (I've had this happen to me on a doe shot with a controlled expansion bullet from a 300 WSM. It went through he like a laser and even though I double lunged her she ran about 300 yds and left almost no blood trail. I found her by sheer luck, she had died within a few feet of a 4 wheeler trail and a buddy saw her as he rolled on by.)

    Second is what if your shot is never perfect? What if you see the buck of a lifetime and he doesn't give you a perfect broadside shot? You can't rake him with a .223 like you can with a normal deer calibre. You can't ethically try to break through his shoulders either. What if he never offers you a perfect behind the shoulder shot? My point is that for the .223 to be viable you need a perfect shot and we both know that nothing in the deer woods ever goes 100% as planned. Why risk missing out on the deer of a lifetime just for kicks?

    Or is there a viable reason to use a .223? Did you just have a shoulder surgery? Are you taking a youth hunting and he/she can't take recoil? If you have a real reason then I'd say go for it. Hunting with a .223 is better than not hunting at all.
    All good points, and well recieved. Actually, I was thinking about downsizing my collection and trying to find one thing to do it all, you know, put meat on the table, varmit control, selfdefense against zombie hoardes ect. I only use lever action open sighted carbines but they are limited in the areas I mentioned. I was thinking a ruger ranch might be an all rounder for me. I have the ability and experience to reload to cater to my needs, such as ballistic tips for varmits, barnes x or some variation therein for medium size game and bulk ammo buys for plinking and shtf stuff. I do not hunt for trophy deer, as I am more interested in the meat and enjoyment of the hunt than antlers, but you make a good point about things not being perfect in the woods. Maybe I should keep one of my trusty carbines for serious work. Thanks for the insight

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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    All good points, and well received. Actually, I was thinking about downsizing my collection and trying to find one thing to do it all, you know, put meat on the table, varmint control, self defense against zombie hoards ect.
    "one thing to do it all"

    Aint that what everyone searches for but can't be found?

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    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    I don't hunt in the rifle zone of MN, but a good buddy of mine does and has taken several deer with a .223 AR (using the Barnes TSX mentioned above).

    He has yet to have to track one--the round anchors them well, all with typical chest shots.

    Yes, I'd say it's adequate for deer, with proper ammo selection and the ability to place your shots.
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    Distinguished Member Array AutoFan's Avatar
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    I've deer hunted with a 30 carbine, which a lot of people don't consider adequate, but I have to say, the smallest caliber I'd feel comfortable with would be a 6.5mm bullet. The 6.5x55 will take a deer easily, and I know there is a 6.5 round upper and mags that will function with a standard AR platform. Not really familiar with its ballistics or terminal effectiveness, though.

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    6.8mm Remington SPC Is a 6.8mm Remington SPC in your future? | Guns Magazine | Find Articles at BNET Ruger 6.8mm SPC Mini-14 Stainless Ranch Rifle sounds good for deer hunting and defense......is there ammo availability???? i just seen last night on a show how LA SWAT has started to use this caliber.
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    First, check to make sure that caliber is legal in your state. Some have minimum calibers, such as .243.

    I've shot my share of varmits with a .223 with .55 gr spitzers, and to be honest, while it will literally demolish a groundhog, it's been less than spectacular on coyotes. It drops them, but the actual damage done has been surprisingly little on several occasions. I hit one in the back of the head--no exit wound! Deer are pretty tough, and I'd be prepared to do a lot of tracking if you don't hit something immediately fatal.
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    Ruger has the mini 30 in 7.62x39 and they make a mini 14 in 6.8spc now too. Both would serve you well for deer hunting and SHTF or zombies.

    Alexander arms makes a dandy AR in 6.5 Grendel which on paper appears to be a world beater and an all around winner. The down side is that the AR and the ammo are too pricey for me. (It is really sweet though)

    I would suggest keeping your carbine for normal hunting and also getting a 223 for the end of the world as we know it (and for varmints and plinking). If things get real bad you can still use your .223 to deer hunt in an emergency. It's just not something to use every day.
    Last edited by atctimmy; April 25th, 2010 at 11:44 PM. Reason: spelling
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