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Old September 4, 2012, 06:52 PM   #1
rantingrelentlessly
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deer hunting: .223 vs 12 gauge slug

I recently traded my trusty Browning BAR .300 WM for an AR15. Now im preparing for fall deer season and I have 3 choices. The AR15, a Mini14 and a remington 1100. I would feel like a tool walking around the woods with an AR. That leaves the mini14 and the 12 guage. Keep in mind the model 1100 only shoots 2 and 3 quarter inch shells. I live in a heavily forrested area so any shot I take will most likely be less than 70 yards or so. I have no scope on either one. Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old September 4, 2012, 07:03 PM   #2
hardworker
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Shoot slugs. Simple as that
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Old September 4, 2012, 07:07 PM   #3
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Brenneke slugs for up to 70 yards.
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Old September 4, 2012, 07:09 PM   #4
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I've taken more than a few deer with a .223.

Last year my daughter took a 4 pointer at 45 yards with an AR-15 in .223.

Don't let people tell you that a .223 isn't capable of taking deer. Within 70 yards (heck within 150 yards) its quite capable of taking deer. You just have make sure you put the bullet where it needs to be for a quick kill.

Now personally within 70 yards I'd go with a .223 because of the fact that I've never had great accuracy with slugs out of a shotgun at those distances. A shotgun for me is a 50yd or less deer gun.

If you want a a good deer round get yourself an upper in 6.8spc or better yet for within 100 yards an upper in .30RAR.

Otherwise the .223 is fine.
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Old September 4, 2012, 07:36 PM   #5
rantingrelentlessly
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white tail .223 vs. 12 guage slug

Long story short, I'm in between dedicated deer rifles at the moment. My 3 choices for this fall are AR15, Mini14 and Remington 1100. Thats .223 or 12 guage slug. I'm leaning toward the Mini right now. Keep in mind that the Remington only shoots 2 and 3/4 inch shells. Any advice is appreciated.
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Old September 4, 2012, 07:44 PM   #6
Brian Pfleuger
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I'ds use a 223. I hate shooting deer slugs. Accuracy matters, power does not. A deer with a .223 hole in it's lungs will be just as dead, just as fast as a deer with a 3/4 inch hole in it's lungs.
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Old September 4, 2012, 07:48 PM   #7
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I'd go with the AR.

My experience with Mini-14s is that accuracy is hit or miss with those rifles.

I'm not a fan of taking deer with slugs unless they're REALLY close (nothing to do with power - of which the 12ga. slug has LOADS of - and all to do with accuracy).
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Old September 4, 2012, 08:12 PM   #8
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I'm leaning toward the Mini right now.
Sounds fair. Assuming it's accurate and you are comfortable and intimately familiar with whatever idiosyncrasies it has... go for it.
Quote:
Keep in mind that the Remington only shoots 2 and 3/4 inch shells
I'm no more a fan of shooting whitetail with slugs than Brian is... but I'm afraid I don't understand the "only" part of this sentence.

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Old September 4, 2012, 08:41 PM   #9
Brian Pfleuger
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Originally Posted by Creeper
I'm no more a fan of shooting whitetail with slugs than Brian is... but I'm afraid I don't understand the "only" part of this sentence.
I agree.

My distaste for 12ga slugs isn't lack of power, it's excess. They are ridiculous overkill for whitetail deer and serve only to bruise shoulders and teach young hunters to flinch.

The guns are bulky and heavy, good shells are more expensive than good rifle rounds, accuracy is marginal beyond rock throwing distance... Need I go on?

Use the 12ga for what it was made for, it's a SHOTgun. Shoot SHOT out of it. Kill deer with a deer gun.
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Old September 4, 2012, 08:50 PM   #10
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The slug gun's capability depend entirely on whether you have a rifled barrel and appropriate sights/scope. With both, it's a 100+ yard gun. With a smoothbore and bead, <50 yds.

A .22 would kill a deer. Poachers like them, nice and quiet. Personally I would not hunt deer with one, given other options. YMMV.
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Old September 4, 2012, 08:57 PM   #11
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What your state laws will allow and what you know you can drop him in 1.
Around here its the 12 gage slug.
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Old September 4, 2012, 09:07 PM   #12
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I've no experience with slugs, and am not well versed in their capabilities, so I can't really speak to that.

My state regs require 900 ft/lbs of energy @100 yards for a rifle to be legal..... so an AR would be iffy , from a legal standpoint, depending upon the load/bullet used, barrel length, etc...... I would advise a controlled expansion bullet (I understand Nosler makes a 60gr Partition) if you go with the AR.... not condoning using an AR on deer, mind you ....... just sayin' .......
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Old September 4, 2012, 09:33 PM   #13
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An inexperienced deer hunter is probably more accurate with a .223 AR than a 12 ga. 1100. But, IMHO, a .223 is a bottom-end marginal for whitetail deer (at least those deer the size of Iowa whitetails). A 12 ga. slug from a smooth bore shotgun does not have to be as accurately placed as a .223 to take the deer. If a center fire rifle is an option, I would recommend a .243 Win. as the minimum. With a 12 ga. shotgun, it is hard (if not impossible) to beat a fully rifled barrel with a cantilever scope and a sabot slug ( such as those made be Remington. I've taken Iowa whitetails at well over 100 yards (standing, walking & running) with a 12 ga. 870 SP with a rifled barrel, Leupold 1 X 4 scope and 2 3/4" Remington Sabot Slugs.

Edit: Center-fire rifles are extremely limited for deer hunting in Iowa and a heart/lung/liver shot with a slug from a 2 3/4" 12 ga. is not over-kill on a mature Iowa whitetail (at least in the opinion of Iowa legislators and the DNR). In my experience (over 40 years of hunting in Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana for pronghorn, whitetail, mule deer, elk, black bear and varmints) a wound from a 12 ga. slug is similar to a wound from a .243, .270, 7mm Rem Mag., 30-06, or .300 Win Mag. (depending, of course, on the range; e.g., 25 yards or 300 yards.)
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Old September 4, 2012, 09:49 PM   #14
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I live in a heavily forrested area so any shot I take will most likely be less than 70 yards or so....
Sounds to me you have the ideal shotgun hunting terrain.

A smoothbore 12ga. shooting 2 3/4 slugs is more then capable of killing deer at distances of 75yds. A few have been taken pushing 100yds.

A rifled bbl has 100yd+- potential if the operator does his/her job.

You didn't say whether your bbl was smooth or rifled but at any rate, see what slug your shotgun prefers and get proficient with it to know the drop of your slug and your capabilities.
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Old September 4, 2012, 10:15 PM   #15
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Either would be fine. At that range through I would go with the slugs. They will have more knock down power. The 223 will do the job but the 12ga will do it with more room for error.
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Old September 5, 2012, 03:01 AM   #16
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Use the 223 rifle that is the most accurate. Probably the AR. Load it with good quality softpoint bullets and hunt with confidence. If you were hunting game larger than deer I'd recommend slugs. But a 223 will easily kill any deer on the planet within reasonable ranges. On typical size deer that means no more than 200 yards. I'd cut that range in half on some of the 300-400 lb monsters that live in some parts of the country and Canada.

As with any chambering, it is the bullet that kills. The 223 is debteable among some because they have only seen it used with varmit bullets and seen it fail on deer. Buy a bullet designed for big game and it will work fine.
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Old September 5, 2012, 06:39 PM   #17
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Sounds to me you have the ideal shotgun hunting terrain.

A smoothbore 12ga. shooting 2 3/4 slugs is more then capable of killing deer at distances of 75yds. A few have been taken pushing 100yds.

A rifled bbl has 100yd+- potential if the operator does his/her job.

You didn't say whether your bbl was smooth or rifled but at any rate, see what slug your shotgun prefers and get proficient with it to know the drop of your slug and your capabilities.


Absolutely-people who don't believe in the accuracy of smooth bores
pushing a Brenneke ought to try it
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Old September 6, 2012, 05:37 AM   #18
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Personally, I can't take the vicious recoil of a 12 gauge slug gun. So I hunt "shotgun only" zones with a modern in-line muzzle loader which is legal within Pennsylvania.

223 can get the job done under ideal circumstances. But how often does that occur?

Photo is from a private fenced hunting preserve. I was invited to their open house couple years back. I didn't book a hunt but had a great time looking at their amazing deer.

Jack

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Old September 6, 2012, 05:17 PM   #19
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223 can get the job done under ideal circumstances. But how often does that occur?
3 times in the last 3 years for me and twice in the last two years for my daughter.
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Old September 6, 2012, 05:24 PM   #20
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack O'Connor
223 can get the job done under ideal circumstances. But how often does that occur?
I can safely say that every deer I've ever killed would have been killed as easily with a 223 as it was with a 12ga. In fact, if I'd had a 223, I'd have probably taken quite a few shots that I passed with the 12ga, including 2 last year alone.

Oh, and I'd take that shot in your picture at that distance with a properly loaded 223, in a heart beat.
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Old September 6, 2012, 05:26 PM   #21
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Either one. A .223 with a well placed shot and a good bullet will drop any deer that ever lived out to at least 200 yards. The 12 gauge slug will do the same thing out to about 100 yards or so (emphasis on 'well placed shot' here). Take your pick.
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Old September 6, 2012, 08:05 PM   #22
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(emphasis on 'well placed shot' here).
And this is why the 223 wins here in my opinion. With the right slugs and barrels they are much better than they used to be, but no where in the same league as any rifle.

Most people don't understand that precision shooting is MORE important in close range brush shooting. Look at Jack O'Connor's photo. That is very typical of my hunting. A high quality scope with a tackdriving, flat shooting rifle allows you to place your bullets through those small openings in the brush. A deer may have a rather large kill zone that is easier to hit out in the open at 400 yards than at 40 yards in brush because only a small portion of it is visible. A rifle with an arched trajectory is less of a problem in the open because you can always aim high and lob it in. In the brush a bullet that does not shoot laser flat will be impossible to thread through those openings.

You gotta also consider a 223 has around 4 ft lbs of recoil vs a 12 slug with around 30 ft lbs of recoil. That and the cost of practice ammo and almost anyone will be a much better shot with the 223.

Either is more than adequate, but precise shot placement is far more likely with the rifle round.
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Old September 6, 2012, 09:06 PM   #23
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Make sure the .223 is legal in your state.
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Old September 7, 2012, 09:58 AM   #24
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I agree.

My distaste for 12ga slugs isn't lack of power, it's excess. They are ridiculous overkill for whitetail deer and serve only to bruise shoulders and teach young hunters to flinch.

The guns are bulky and heavy, good shells are more expensive than good rifle rounds, accuracy is marginal beyond rock throwing distance... Need I go on?

Use the 12ga for what it was made for, it's a SHOTgun. Shoot SHOT out of it. Kill deer with a deer gun.
Not very often I disagree with Brian but as someone who strictly hunts a shotgun only state I've have to make some comments. IMO, 12ga isn't over kill for deer. As a matter of fact I can be amazed at the lack of meat damage and penetration a standard 12ga foster slug can do. I've seen more meat damage to a deer from .357 handguns than I do from slugs. As for the better slugs costing more money that is true. But it doesn't take a fancy expensive slug to kill a deer. I use good old federal 2 3/4" (3" are no no's and painful) 1 oz slugs, $3.50 for 5, and if I do my part the gun and slugs are capable to 100 yards. While I'd prefer to hunt with a good carbine length rifle my shotguns aren't any heavier than most bolt action rifles. A little thicker yes, but not any longer or heavier.

The answer is not a simple "use this" or use that". If the 1100 is just a good ol' bird gun with a long barrel and a bead sight then I wouldn't use it. Short barrels and rifles sights or scopes is where it's at. But then again you can't just grab the Mini and shove any old load in it and go deer hunting either. You're gonna need a "game" bullet in that gun while most of whats on the shelf are military, target or varmint oriented. All 3 of which are very poor choices.

If you have a smoothbore slug barrel for that shotgun it's the best choice IMO. If legal the .223 will work given you get some good game specific ammo to shoot in it and pick you're shots.
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Old September 7, 2012, 01:48 PM   #25
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I only hunted a couple of years with fancy slugs, killing many deer before that with $5/15 Winchesters.

As to meat damage, so far as I can tell, if you shoot meat, you damage it, if you don't you don't. From handguns, rifles, archery equipment and shotguns, I see no appreciable difference in "blood shot" meat if you shoot the meat.

Shotguns certainly have penetration in spades. I've seen a regular 1oz slug hit a full grown deer in the left ham and end up just in side the right front shoulder. That's a solid 2 1/2-3 feet of penetration. Which is about 1 foot and a half more than you need.

As to the weight of the guns, you've either got some heavy freaking rifles or some very light (and horrendously recoiling) shotguns. I've hunted with or used a number of different brands over the years, Savage, Ithaca, Browning, multiple Remington pumps and Autos and probably some I don't remember, most of them, with a sling and scope, weigh very near 10 pounds. I don't think I've had a rifle that weighs over 7.5.

I'm not telling anyone not to use a shotgun. If that's what you like, go for it, but I'd take just about any rifle between 223 to 30-06 before I'd take a 12ga.
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