View Full Version : .223 and groundhogs - what's the max range?

Warm Bore
July 19, 2002, 11:17 PM
Just curious on what the maximum practical range for groundhogs would be with .223?



July 19, 2002, 11:50 PM
As far as you can hit them

July 20, 2002, 04:01 PM
Between 200 and 250 yards. A lot will depend on your eyes and the scope. You may not be able to see that far.

July 20, 2002, 06:39 PM
If you can shoot with precision and use a heavier bullet in the 60grain weight range I see no reason why the 223Remington wouldn't be enough for use out to 400 yards granted your rifle and scope were also up to the task.

If the question is whether the 223Remington is lacking at that distance with regards to terminal performance, I don't think so.

July 21, 2002, 02:11 AM
I wasn't suggesting that a heavier bullet was really needed to get out to 400 yards due any huge trajectory advantage over using something like a 50-55grain bullet. Just figured a 60grain bullet would do a better job on target when it impacts, just a little more thump with a bit more penetration I would assume. From what I hear it's not like goin after small prarrie dogs or ground squirrels, groundhogs get some decent heft to them don't they?

Out to 300 yards I'd think it would be possible to almost have a pointblank zero on a groundhog if it was standing, using a 100 yard zero of about 2-3 inches above point of aim I would think that at 300 yards a person would only need to barely hold over on a ground hog to get a solid hit.

July 21, 2002, 02:40 AM
What's YOUR max range with YOUR rifle ?


Warm Bore
July 21, 2002, 08:02 AM
I don't have a rifle yet. Been invited several times to go hog hunting. Been thinking about getting a stripped Bushmaster receiver and having it sent to MetalCraft for a custom job. Just wondering if I'd be better off with a .22-250 (that's what most guys here shoot). I personally don't care for that caliber so If I don't get a .223 I'd probably opt for a .308 bolt gun which may be a bit overkill on a groundhog but would do away with the occasional coyote as well. Only real concern with the .223 is range.


Art Eatman
July 21, 2002, 08:58 AM
Isn't groundhog hunting an "every now and then" sort of shooting? The population densities aren't all that high, compared to prairie dogs. Seems to me a bolt-action rifle would be more practical.

You'd commonly be shooting from a "cold" barrel, so a heavy-weight target-type barrel wouldn't be important. A light sporter should do just fine. The most important factor would be learning the trajectory provided by your combination of rifle and ammo, and then being able to judge range. (Or use a laser rangefinder.)

As far as optics, 9X should be adequate, although 14X would allow a bit more definition. 3x9 or 4-ish x 14 would do...

I'd figure the .223 to be practical out to 300 yards on groundhogs, based on what I've read about them. The .22 Hornet and .218 Bee have killed many a groundhog, out to around 125-150 yards.

The .223 will definitely ruin a coyote's day, out to maybe 200 yards for "clean kill". (Sure, you can hit a coyote farther out, but it might not be good enough that it's an ethical, quick end.)


July 21, 2002, 09:20 AM
I've shot more than a few groundhogs, in Ohio no less. I'd just use what you like.

Most shots I've taken are under 200yds. Groundhogs are pretty alert, but not that hard to sneak up on. Getting within 200 yds of them is no great effort. So .223 would be fine.

Now I used a .308 on them mostly. The vast majority died to a Steyr PII with a 6x Kahles ZF69 scope. Most under 200 yards and many of those under 100yds. They weren't exactly taxing prey to this rig.

It wasn't what you'd call high volume varminting either. About one an hour was a good day. Usually less than that. I wasn't terribly motivated to find them, but that was typical for me.

July 21, 2002, 09:22 AM
Out to 300 yards I'd think it would be possible to almost have a pointblank zero on a groundhog if it was standing, using a 100 yard zero of about 2-3 inches above point of aim I would think that at 300 yards a person would only need to barely hold over on a ground hog to get a solid hit.

I used to live in Ohio and this statement is very accurate. We used to shoot em with my dads AR-15A1 with iron sights. If they are on all fours, you gotta do some moving around (quietly) to get em to notice you and then they will stand up to get a better look. Noise makes em run but movement makes em curious.


July 21, 2002, 12:54 PM
Heavy .30cal slugs probably aren't a real good idea for groundhoggin'.

I used 125gr Noslers loaded to about 3200fps. Not much richochet potential there; they usualy broke up (more like exploded) on impact. Not the cheapest thing to use, but cheaper than a new gun.

The comment on zero is dead on. I generally sighted my PII in about two inches high at 100 and held dead on. Only critter that gave me troubles with this zero was crows.

Ironically, the groundhogs I was used to dealing with would always run if they saw you on foot. Noise would get them to stand up (honk the horn). Even the runners would usually stop just before their hole and stand up to see if you were still there, though that was early season behavior. Didn't tend to see it in the late season, for obvious reasons.

I always wanted a .220 Swift for groundhogging, but for one reason or another never got one. .308s always got the nod, and one season of a .264 magnum.

Warm Bore
July 21, 2002, 05:48 PM
Well, I already have permission and the weapon of choice (whatever that may be) doesn't really matter. I'll be hunting with the land-owner, a friend from work. The range question goes to the terrain. Most shots will be at about the 300 yard mark from a ridge line that overlooks pastureland. The land owner has hit them at up to about 400 yards but he says that's his limit with the 22-250 Ruger he's shooting. Didn't mention the load. As far a population goes, here in central Ohio it's not uncommon to kill upwards of 100 per season without any effort. Coyote and fox populations have been down in the last few years. Not low by any means just down. I've yet to purchase an AR and thought this might be a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. If not then a .308 bolt gun is in my near future. Thanks for the help.


July 21, 2002, 11:01 PM
I have been shooting groundhogs here in central Ohio for the last three years. I am lucky enough to shoot on my own property, and I have shot almost all of them with my Marlin 22 mag.

Now I own several other rifles that I would consider better for hunting ground hogs (such as 22-250 and .223), who are actually kind of tough critters. But due to my trying to keep from iritating the neighbors, the best solution for me has been the Marlin.

Almost all the shots are right at 100 yards, and if you place the shot well you can pretty much be assured of a kill.

Over the last three years my total on my property is 45. Not bad for not even having to leave the porch!


July 22, 2002, 10:09 PM
I shoot the dang things every chance I get. I've shot em with .22lr browning buckmark scoped varmint model -works great if you can stick em in the earhole or up their nose. 12g, .44mag 629 and win leveraction, .223 AR, and .308 M1a all work fine within thier limitations.
But my alltime favorite is an old model 70 in .243
So to answer your question, .223 is adequate to 250yds under most conditions. .243 is more better, maybe even perfect.

July 29, 2002, 12:06 PM
Took one once at 300 yards with a 300 Winchester Magnum. 165gr bullet as I recall. Seemed to do the job. Not recommended if you plan to cook em up or to have taxidermy work done. :D

July 29, 2002, 03:20 PM
Well, when I was in the service, the 5.56mm (223) was considered to have a maximum "effective" range of 500 meters, with a maximum range to around 1000 meters.

The round is definately capable of taking small varmints/critters well beyond that distance in my opinion, if you can hit it in the right spot. The variables are, can you hit one at that distance with the equipment you have, and your own ability?

August 19, 2002, 08:04 PM
In the land of PA the little boogars are like rabbits, I've tried to eliminate them all from our farm for about 2 years now and I havent been successful. I've shot them with 22lr all the way up to 8mm mauser and shotguns, and let me tell you this they are tough little boogars. I remember one occasion where I had a 22lr and shot one through the chest area from about 50yrds away and he went for the brush so I ran up on him and put another shot through his back and chest area again and yet he still kept tickin so the last shot was through the head and that stoped him. Ever since that time I havent taken the LR back out for em, I've just used the 22mag or 6mm.


August 21, 2002, 02:25 AM
Warm Bore,

I shoot woodchucks in North Central Ohio with a .270. I sold my 22-250 when Hornady came out with the V-Max Bullet. They make them right up to 30 cal. They are very accurate, blow up with a hit or miss, and I get trigger time on the gun that I hope to take out west someday.