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Old June 9, 2014, 11:50 AM   #1
Hot Shot
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223 Expertise Needed

I am trying to rid my pond of muskrats. i am shooting a Ruger American 223. w a 3-9x leopold scope. I am grouping 55 grain Remington sure shokt ammo in 1 1/2 -2 1/2" at 100 yds (not great but not bad). The scope is sighted in for 150 yrds. My problem is I cannot kill a swimming muskrat. Average shot is in the 140 yrd range.

I am wondering if when the bullet strikes the water it disintergrates before hitting the rat? Here is why I think that: I took two water filled plastic gallons and put them beside one another, one on land and one almost next to but partially submerged in the pond.

Shooting at the one on land took one shot for a direct hit right where I was aiming and expolded it. Three shots at the submerged gallon making sure i aimed 2 or so inches below water level and there was no indication that it was even scratched. The water would splash in front of it and move the jug but no penetration

Can anyone help with what is going on?
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Old June 9, 2014, 12:28 PM   #2
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You are correct. Most bullets from a 223 will break apart and deflect within about 1.5 to 4 inches of water. The splash is large, but the actual penetration of the fragments at a speed over 200 feet per second is very shallow.

To kill one you'll need to hit what is above the water.
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Old June 9, 2014, 02:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the confirmation. Is there a different shell I could use that would peneatrate the water for example heavier grams?
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Old June 9, 2014, 02:27 PM   #4
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Is it important to you to shoot them? I'd get a few traps. Underwater sets will drown the little rats, or just take a .22 and check your line often. Yes, they will chew their foot off to escape.
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Old June 9, 2014, 02:36 PM   #5
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Unless the angle is over about 15 degrees, you are likely skipping the bullet off the water. 55 FMJs won't "blow up" in water consistently, but varmint style bullets will. A polymer tipped bonded bullet like a TSX will give a little better performance, but you still have the angle to content with. Nothing with an open tip.

.22Magnum 60 grain solids have been my round of choice for what you are doing. Have shot a lot of turtles, snakes, carp, suckers in water and to bullets, water is almost like hitting concrete. I used to shoot into farmer's ponds out of an old bucket truck as high as I could get it. Safer, and much more effective...except the night it malfunctioned and I ended up spending the night 60 feet above the pond surface...did not sleep much that night.
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Old June 9, 2014, 02:48 PM   #6
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Should be possible to get closer and use a .22 or .22 mag.
Long ago, when younger and dumber, a friend & I went to Canada to go bear hunting.
We thought some dead fish would make great bait.
We found a crystal clean stream, saw HUGE suckers in about 4 feet of water.
Buddy had a 30-06 with 180 grain factory ammo and thought he'd shoot some.
All we did was get really wet!
The fish didn't even swim off either. Must be why my slow to learn buddy kept shooting.
Didn't know that was super illegal & Canadian authorities love to arrest
Americans.
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Old June 9, 2014, 03:14 PM   #7
TATER
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At the waterline not under.

Hot Shot,
Unless you are well elevated, you are skipping those shots. At ground level, shooting out that far, your target is his head at the
waterline, (not under it). If you are shooting under, you are skipping over.
I'm hoping you have timber/woods backing your shots.. I grew up shoot'en critters on water.
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Old June 9, 2014, 05:01 PM   #8
Hot Shot
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good comments backed with some experiance.

I am shooting from about 30 feet up and background offers no danger with skipping. The shots average 140 to 150 yds. That in my mind is stretching the 22 mag. The rats are swimming and above water shots are probably no more than two inches above water. Obviously not an easy shot for me.

The bullet suggestions may improve my success but I think the rats can breed faster than I can shoot them out. I think I will have to get my conabair traps out.The water in the pond is high so it will be dificult to find the entrances but based on all of your feedback it offers me the greatest odds.

thanks to all
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Old June 9, 2014, 05:34 PM   #9
TATER
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It sounds like a couple of afternoons of fun, hate you have to go with traps.
You can make some quick Bags if it would help.
If you can run to the store, get two bags of rice, put them on opposite sides of a towel
and roll each to the center. Just an idea, You can get way more creative.
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Old June 10, 2014, 01:33 AM   #10
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yup

That's what's happening, either the slug is deflecting, or blowing up on the water.

I've had lots of occasion to shoot nutria and beaver, and the head slicing through the water does not leave much of a target. Trying to drive a .22 or .223 slug through the water into the critter won't work.

Getting some elevation for your perch might help, say the back of a pickup. I'd hesitate to suggest a tree stand for muskrat!!!!!!!!!!!

Mostly I'd shoot as the exit or before they enter the water. For that, a scoped, accurate .22 lr, zeroed at 50 yds, has been the very thing.
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Old June 10, 2014, 01:52 PM   #11
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Use a heavy hunting bullet and it will penetrate much more, and the lower the velocity the better here (to a point). Try 64 grain power points or 62 gr FMJs.
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Old June 10, 2014, 05:04 PM   #12
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I'm wondering whether something like a Keith-style .357 or .44 would be the ticket out of a rifle. It would cut the water and not explode on impact. High velocity projectiles are probably not effective unless you hit meat directly.
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Old June 10, 2014, 05:17 PM   #13
Brian Pfleuger
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2-1/2 at 100 when you're trying to hit a muskrat in the water at 140 is worse than terrible. That's you're first problem.
You're looking at shooting up near 4" or worse at 140. I wouldn't accept that kind of accuracy in a deer gun, say nothing of varmints.

I'd be looking for something that groups under 1" consistently for those shots. No reason that shouldn't be easy in a decent, modern bolt gun.

I've shot muskrats in the water. An accurate gun and aim right where head and water meet. Should be easy.
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Old June 10, 2014, 07:12 PM   #14
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Bullets could be skipping or just missing the moving target . I would think if the bullet hit close the concusion would blow the critter up . Also that grouping is not good for even a entry level rifle .
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Old June 10, 2014, 07:32 PM   #15
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You will have better luck if you can move your shooting rest to about 50 yards off the pond. And change the zero to 50 yds as well.
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Old June 10, 2014, 08:44 PM   #16
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A close hit with a 223 should stun the little varmints long enough to make a follow up. Muskrats are a constant threat to farm ponds and are always on the "hit list". A 22lr is the usual gun of choice(mostly cause it's most handy).
Question is-are your sure you're missing them? A direct hit from a 223 should cause enough damage for the little bugger to simply sink w/o a trace. A head shot with a 17 HMR or 22lr leaves a floating carcass.
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Old June 11, 2014, 03:49 PM   #17
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I had the same first thought as Brian, 2 inches at 100 yards from a .223 wouldn't even begin to qualify. Trying to hit a small target with a round that at best at that distance has a group size the same as the whole target doesn't generally work out well. Add in a moving target and its gonna be tough with any bullet. Generally you can tell a hit from the sound, a big splash is generally a miss. A "pop" is a dead rat.
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Old June 11, 2014, 03:58 PM   #18
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I would go with XM193 or XM855. the 855 is penetrator ammo so it should hold up the best. fur hunters use FMJ a lot on muskrat because they are small enough that they still die instantly but they don't explode and ruin the hide.
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Old June 11, 2014, 04:36 PM   #19
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That Ruger American Should be more accurate than that..
Good Ammo and Practice..
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Old June 13, 2014, 08:07 AM   #20
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Tahuna

Can I fire xm555 (5.56) ammo in my Ruger american 223?
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Old June 13, 2014, 01:28 PM   #21
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Hot Shot,

Give it a shot, the action can handle the extra pressure no problem. The worst thing I've ever read from someone shooting 5.56 out of a 223 bolt rifle is that the action locked up on a Savage.

I've shot a bunch of 5.56 through a Ruger M77MkII so I would expect that the RAR can handle it just fine.

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Old June 13, 2014, 01:54 PM   #22
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Quote:
Unless the angle is over about 15 degrees, you are likely skipping the bullet off the water.
Quote:
I am shooting from about 30 feet up and background offers no danger with skipping. The shots average 140 to 150 yds.
Your bullets are skipping off of the water. At 3000 fps, hitting the water is like hitting a rock, the bullet ricochets and won't penetrate the surface to any significant depth. Aim for the head instead of trying to hit their bodies. If you can't hit better than 1" at the range you are attempting (that's about the size of your target with a swimming muskrat), find ammo your rifle likes, or move closer.
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Old June 14, 2014, 11:23 AM   #23
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many of the differences between 5.56 and 223 have become completely overblown and really only came about with the introduction of the internet. I have never once seen a confirmed case of 5.56 destroying a 223 chambered rifle.
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Old June 14, 2014, 12:06 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scorch
Your bullets are skipping off of the water. At 3000 fps, hitting the water is like hitting a rock, the bullet ricochets and won't penetrate the surface to any significant depth. Aim for the head instead of trying to hit their bodies. If you can't hit better than 1" at the range you are attempting (that's about the size of your target with a swimming muskrat), find ammo your rifle likes, or move closer.
I agree that they're skipping. In the Marines I did two MEU(SOC) deployments on a Navy amphibious transport ship. We used to shoot off the helo flight deck into the ocean, and the flight deck was probably more than 30 feet up from the water line. We used to skip bullets off the water all the time; it's pretty easy to tell they're skipping when you're shooting tracers out of a belt-fed machine gun.
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Old June 14, 2014, 03:59 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tahunua001
many of the differences between 5.56 and 223 have become completely overblown and really only came about with the introduction of the internet. I have never once seen a confirmed case of 5.56 destroying a 223 chambered rifle.
While I agree with this statement, I have also seen plenty of evidence that shooting a 5.56 in a .223 barrel can produce higher-than-optimal chamber pressures. So, while it's probably not a big deal and it most likely won't cause a kaboom, shooting lots of 5.56 in a .223 rifle might cause more wear than if you just shot .223.
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