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Old January 4, 2017, 04:52 PM   #1
dahermit
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least powerful for deer?

In general order of their perceived power:
.300 Winchester Magnum
7MM Rem. Magnum
30-06 Springfield
.303 British
.270 Winchester
.257 Roberts
6MM Rem/.243 Win.
30-30 Winchester
7.62 x 39
.223 Remington
.22 Hornet.

Feel free to add any cartridge to that list if you think that there is one that represents the minimum (it is not within the purpose of this post to go any more powerful).
Which cartridge is the absolute minimum for a chest shot (side to side) on sport hunting for Whitetail deer and what data can you cite for your choice for determining that minimum? No Johnny Sixpack anecdotal stuff...pick a cartridge and defend it with logic and data.
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Old January 4, 2017, 07:45 PM   #2
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Since the deer in my area never get real big, even though there are exceptions a 22 hornet would work with a strong bullet and careful shot placement. My minimum would be a 9mm carbine. My buddy let his young son kill his first deer with a 9mm Marlin camp carbine. The deer ran about 40 yards and died. If minimum power was what I wanted to use my 357 marlin would be it. And from all I have read its a fine deer killer if the ranges are kept short.

I have killed one deer with a Marlin 39A 22lr. It worked pretty good too. Years ago Finn Aagaard wrote an article about what does it take to kill a deer. He ended up stating "Not Much". He loaded a 30-06 with a 170gr lead bullet at 1900fps and killed a few deer with it. That put that round in the 30-30 power class. A 30-30 has been a fine killer of deer for a very long time. Plus its killed a bunch of other game much larger than deer.

In handguns I would start with a 357 and go up from there.

You asked for data and I do not have any to speak of except what I know I have done and what others have done and what was written in gun mags. Most of the 28 deer I have killed were shot with a 7x57 or its twin the 7-08.
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Old January 4, 2017, 08:02 PM   #3
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Why?
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Old January 4, 2017, 08:43 PM   #4
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I might, could have heard of someone killing deer with a 22 WMR. But that would be illegal, so would be of mute point.

Just why would one want to use the smallest caliber to attempt to kill an animal is beyond me. Hunting is not normally done on optimal circumstances.
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Old January 4, 2017, 08:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
what data can you cite for your choice for determining that minimum?
A search of the internet will turn up data showing this topic has been done to death, and it's still all just opinions for the most part.
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Old January 4, 2017, 09:35 PM   #6
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A search of the internet will turn up data showing this topic has been done to death, and it's still all just opinions for the most part.
Exactly. There is no supportable point at which a particular cartridge can be deemed ineffective, but there are so many who cannot see that their opinion on such has no measureable base. It is all just opinion and supposition often driven by hubris and ego.
Where do I put that minimal limit? Gosh, I do not know...there is really no way to tell. Which is my point when topics such as .243 for deer come up.
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Old January 4, 2017, 09:56 PM   #7
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Well, no one needs to look at the numbers to know that the 270 should be placed right next to the 30-'06, rather than behind the 303 British, if they are at all familiar with those cartridges. The 270 is substantially more powerful than the 303, and even somewhat more powerful than the Garand loads for the 30-'06. But otherwise, it's OK to put it below the '06, as long as there is nothing in between them.
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Old January 4, 2017, 10:02 PM   #8
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logic and data? you came to the wrong place for that, bucko.
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Old January 4, 2017, 10:29 PM   #9
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The 223 is legal in Wyoming as long as you shoot a 60 grain bullet or heavier. I have not done it yet, but with Nosler Partitions or Barnes X bullets I would if I had a reason to. It's about good marksmanship more than what cartridge.

I do have some "light deer rifles" so thus far I personally have no reason to use a 223.

I have two 6,8SPCs, an AK in 7.62X39 a 6.5X54 Mann/Schoenauer, and a 25-06 All of which are 100% antiquate for deer and antelope. All of the above named rifles have been used to kill deer and antelope except the 6.5 Mann/Sch. (hopefully that will change soon)

I also have several bigger deer/elk rifles. So going as small as I can just seems to have no point to me.

Not that I am necessary against it mind you.

I know men and women, boys and girls that have done very well with 223s, so I don't say it's sub-standard.

I have gutted a few of those deer and I have butchered about 10 of them, and I can tell you that a well placed .224 bullet that holds together is just fine for deer. Given a good bullet the 223 is a deer gun. I believe it because I have seen what it can do.
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Old January 4, 2017, 10:32 PM   #10
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Anyone whom uses a .22 Hornet for deer is a barbarian.

Even a .223 is not enough IMHO. 7.62x39mm is my bare minimum for deer, and only for close range. I prefer a .30-30 or better, with a .30-06 about ideal.
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Old January 5, 2017, 01:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Anyone whom uses a .22 Hornet for deer is a barbarian
I knew an old guy who used 22 Hornet for deer. He lived in a house under some oak trees, and he would open his window and shoot a deer in the head at about 50 feet when they were eating the acorns that dropped. I would not say it was barbaric, more like finesse. Lots of us can probably point to some instance of someone using a low-powered rifle for deer that worked for them but would not be advisable for most people to use.

As for my list, I would put the minimum at 357 Magnum. No particular reason other than it is very close in performance to the 44-40, which nearly wiped out deer in the continental USA 100-ish years ago. Also, it has fair ballistics and enough energy at 100 yds or so to still be a useful tool for hunting. 38 Special? No, that requires some very specific circumstances where it would be suitable.

As far as bottlenecked rifle cartridges, I would say my minimum point is 223, because I have known people who used 222 to kill deer entirely satisfactorily, only it's hard to come by nowadays, so I'll take a step north from there. Would a 22 Hornet kill a deer? Sure. 218 Bee? I don't see why not. 221 Fireball? I would not be at all surprised. Question would be how reliably they can do it.

I am not prone to judging other people's choices, but there are some cases where you can look at their choice and say with certainty that it would not work in your case.
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Old January 5, 2017, 04:11 AM   #12
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What does it take to kill a deer? - "Not much". There is a stupid statement. It takes some skill with a rifle no matter what round you are using. Here is another one. "The 30-30 has killed more deer than any other rifle in the deer woods." The 30-30 has also hit and lost more deer in the deer woods than any other cartridge. "There is no such thing as a brush gun". There is a good video on You Tube with a guy doing real world experiments with "Brush guns". The results do not surprise me at all. There is no exact answer to some questions.
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Old January 5, 2017, 04:37 AM   #13
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Tough call for "minimum" to the vitals, when there is such a vast universe of options and stupidity out there.
When I was still screwing with "handloading" .22 WMR, I stuffed a number of Barnes 53 gr TSX FBs on top of a hefty dose of powder.
While the rifle was probably screaming in pain, and the cases were ejecting with a substantially bulged body, I would not have felt bad about putting one through a deer's heart.

...Probably not a "DRT" shot, but certainly fatal. (Rank it in the "stupidity" file if you want; but I would still do it, if I had the loads around.)

Quote:
Anyone whom uses a .22 Hornet for deer is a barbarian.
If talking about center-of-mass shots with varmint bullets, then I may agree.

But if talking about opportunistic shots on other parts of the anatomy, then NO.
I have a brother that hunts elk with .22 Hornet and Remington 46 gr SPs in a handload. The only acceptable shot is through the brain, with the elk standing still, while my brother is making lunch in camp.

There's a situation for everything, and an exception for every naysayer.
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Old January 5, 2017, 05:48 AM   #14
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45 caliber or smaller muzzle loader, especially loaded with round balls. Even a 223 is a far better deer killer.

All of the cartridges listed by the OP are equal as to their effectiveness on deer size game. The only difference is the range at which they are effective. A 22 Hornet or 223 kills deer just as dead as a 300 WM. The difference is that the center fire 22's run out of energy at well under 200 yards, closer to 100 with the 22 Hornet. If the shooter has the skills the 300 and 7mm magnums will still take deer at 1000 yards or more.
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Old January 5, 2017, 06:26 AM   #15
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I never could understand someone wanting to use a small caliber for deer hunting that could be marginal. Granted the deer are going to die and sometimes on the spot...but the chances of losing a wounded one with a tiny cartridge is just too high. I personally wouldn't consider anything smaller than a .243 for the task.
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Old January 5, 2017, 08:32 AM   #16
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I have taken many Idaho mule deer with a 357 magnum carbine.

Many years ago I had to put down an cow elk that was struck by a car and all I had was a Ruger 10-22, Yeah I got a slap on the wrist for it but it only took 1 round. I was not going to let it suffer with its spine broken and miltiple broken legs. No I would not use it for hunting large game
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Old January 5, 2017, 09:23 AM   #17
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Quote:
I never could understand someone wanting to use a small caliber for deer hunting that could be marginal. Granted the deer are going to die and sometimes on the spot...but the chances of losing a wounded one with a tiny cartridge is just too high. I personally wouldn't consider anything smaller than a .243 for the task.
How did you determine that a 30-30 or a 7.62x39 or even a .223 are "too small"? Is it that they just look too small?
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Old January 5, 2017, 09:27 AM   #18
dahermit
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Anyone whom uses a .22 Hornet for deer is a barbarian.
Even a .223 is not enough IMHO. 7.62x39mm is my bare minimum for deer, and only for close range. I prefer a .30-30 or better, with a .30-06 about ideal.
What do you base your opinion on? Cartridge size in comparison to one another? A "gut" feeling?
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Old January 5, 2017, 09:55 AM   #19
dahermit
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Quote:
You asked for data and I do not have any to speak of except what I know I have done and what others have done and what was written in gun mags. Most of the 28 deer I have killed were shot with a 7x57 or its twin the 7-08.
How does your experiences compare to that of a scientific study(comparison of wounds on deer relative to the cartridges used, with extraneous factors controlled, which to the best of my knowledge has never been done)...does your conclusion rise to the level of science? How valid are the conclusions of gun writers...do they rise to the level of scientific evidence or are they just more "opinion" with no scientific basis? My original question remains: What evidence is there, beyond someone's opinion, of the minimal cartridge to effectively take deer?

Note that a person's experience on the subject does not rise to the level of science. For instance the deer I have taken:
cartridge deer
.303 British 2
7x57 1
.32 Winchester 1
.375 Winchester 1
30-06 2
.257 Roberts 6
6MM Rem. 9
.308 Win. 2
.41 Magnum 2
#4 Buckshot, (12 gauge) 12
#1 Buckshot, (16 gauge) 2
.22 L.R. 1
#4 birdshot (12 gauge) 1
.45 Colt 1
.50 Muzzel loader, sabot 1
.444 Marlin 1

What I have observed is that all those cartridges were effective deer killers. What it did not tell me, was what the minimum effective cartridge.
Therefore, I cannot make a pronouncement as to what that minimum is because there is nothing in those experiences that have any bearing on the question.

Last edited by dahermit; January 5, 2017 at 10:28 AM.
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Old January 5, 2017, 12:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
What does it take to kill a deer? - "Not much". There is a stupid statement.
Gunplummer if you don't like that statement take it up with Finn Aagaard. It was a direct quote from his article. And it was about how much power in a gun was needed and not about hunting skills. And I trust his opinion far more than I trust yours.
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Old January 5, 2017, 01:11 PM   #21
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Back in the old days when we were kids, we used what our Dads gave us to hunt with.

I have personally killed them with 22 Hornet, 222 Rem, and my buds used 218 Bee, 32-20, and I even killed a few with a 22 LR.

Hell, the highest scoring white tail was killed with a 25-35 and an 86 grn bullet. That was back in 1914, before my time.

I have killed two in the past with a 1965 Pontiac. Cars were tough back then.
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Old January 5, 2017, 02:34 PM   #22
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I killed one with a 1959 Ford F-100 pick-up truck once upon a time. A rifle works better, though.
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Old January 5, 2017, 02:44 PM   #23
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I'll pick and defend 3:

30-06. Is it minimum? No. I have, however, shot over a hundred of our large bodied Montana Mulies and Whitetail with it, and never lost a single one to a well placed hit. Ammo is so common you could almost buy it in a church. On deer, anything good to be said of the '06 could be said of the .270 as well.


.257 Roberts. My personal favorite "minimum" cartridge for large northern deer. It carries the mail with "Boom, Flop, DRT" authority, but with little felt recoil. It's Achilles' heel has always been its price, diminished supply, and a misunderstanding of how it is loaded: regular or +P (not really a true +P) and short action or long (factory ammo is loaded for short actions, hand loaders may seat bullets "normally" in a long action).


.22 Hornet. I wouldn't use this up north. People have, and itsworked to various degrees, but between the style of hunting (few stands are used, stalking is the norm) and the size of the deer... Poor choice.
That said, for southern whitetail at 50 yards over a feeder, from a steady rest, with careful shots...I can't really see the harm.
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Old January 5, 2017, 03:07 PM   #24
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I was under the impression that that Record book Whitetail shot in 1914 was the "Jordan Buck". If so, I believe it was killed with a 25-20, which is even more anemic than the 25-35. Myself, I use a 30.06 most of the time. But next year, due to arthritic shoulders & neck, I got myself a nice Remington 600 in .243 and will be using it packing handloads with the proper Barnes TTSX or Hornady GMX lead-free bullets like I use in my 30.06.
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Old January 5, 2017, 03:39 PM   #25
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Quote:
I believe it was killed with a 25-20...
That is how I remember the published story also. As I recall (the story in a gun rag), it happened in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. A steam locomotive was going down the track nearby and the buck jumped up and stood there when the steam whistle blew. The fellow proceeded to shoot several shots at that huge buck with his 25-20, which turned and ran. He found the buck laying half in a river, apparently dead. Inasmuch as he had forgotten his knife, he could not gut it, and left it there to fetch his knife (and some help I presume). When he got back, the buck, no one could figure out how, had slipped further into the river but was found a short distance down steam. I read that story in my late twenties...I am 73 now, so the details may have drifted a bit from what I read, but I am absolutely sure that it was a 25-20, not a 25-35.
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