View Full Version : Have you Killed Whitetail with the 223Cal. rifle?

May 21, 2008, 11:10 AM
Have you ever killed A whitetail deer with A rifle using the 223Caliber Cart. If so can you tell us about it.

May 21, 2008, 11:51 AM
I haven't personally, but I know folks that swear by them. I just feel that you should hunt deer with a larger caliber, at least a 243. It's just more "sportsmanly". There's always a chance that that little 22 caliber bullet, traveling so fast, might explode rather than penetrate - causing a cripple.

I just don't have faith in the small calibers.

May 21, 2008, 11:52 AM
.223 Remington with a 55gr bullet is a very accurate and deadly whitetail round. Here's the deal: you either take good aim or you may be tracking without a decent blood trail for quite a distance. A head or neck shot from 200 yards is perfectly easy if you have a decent scope or decent iron sights and practice a little. Your deer will be dead before the sound gets there. Heart/lung shots usually result in a 3-4 second dash-n-crash, but a whitetail can cover a lot of ground in that time. There may not be any blood trail. Gut shots may take overnight to kill and that deer is not going to be fit to eat, even if you do find it before the coyotes get to it.

EBR with military sights are generally not up to the task because of poor quality sights. Beyond 200 yards, the round does not impart enough energy for a clean kill with a lung shot and the cone of probability is too large to bother with a head shot.

The vast majority of whitetails killed by hunters are taken at a range of 100 yards or less, so mostly I am of the opinion that in a quality rifle capable of 2MOA or better the .223 Remington is adequate. My sons and my dad all shoot .223 or .222 Remingtons and tag out every year without losing wounded animals. I carry a .222 Remington now and then and have never had a deer take a step after I pulled the trigger. But that's not fair because I grew up killing deer with a .218 Bee and iron sights.


JP Sarte
May 21, 2008, 12:49 PM
Michigan doesn't allow it but even if they did the minimum I would use would be the .243 Win.


May 21, 2008, 02:39 PM
Southern deer are smaller than their northern cousins. In Maine I think the .243 Win, using 100 grain bullets is the minimum that should be used, but the .223 Rem is legal.


May 21, 2008, 02:43 PM
I have killed many Texas whitetails with a .223 Remington.
All inside of 200 yards. About half were head shots on does.
The others heart/lung shots. Total, I would estimate around
30 head. None went far. None lost.

Until the Nosler 60 grain Partition in this caliber came out,
I used the Nosler 60 grain Solid Base. Today I would use
the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw.

If you are going to use the 223 Remington on deer I would
only use a Premium bullet. Right now the best bullet in
this caliber available is the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw.
The Nosler Partition is also very good. If you cannot use
a controlled expansion type bullet, FORGET ABOUT THE
.223 Remington for deer, unless it is a chipping wedge distance
head shot on a doe and you are a good shot.

Limit your range to inside of 200 yards. Make a good shot with a
good bullet and the deer will be taken cleanly.


May 21, 2008, 02:57 PM
IMO, it dishonors the animal and the sport to use such a cartridge for deer. The .223 was not designed or meant for deer hunting. There are plenty of other sensible cartridges out there.

May 21, 2008, 03:10 PM
I personally don't or would, but a buddy I went to high school with uses a Mini-14 in .223 to deer hunt with. I know he has taken at least five whitetails with it and never lost a one that I am aware of. He uses 64gr Winchester PowerPoint bullets in it.

May 21, 2008, 05:49 PM
There's always a chance that that little 22 caliber bullet, traveling so fast, might explode rather than penetrate - causing a cripple.

There's not much of a chance it will "explode" if you use the proper bullet for the job.

May 21, 2008, 05:50 PM
.223 bounces off big bodied Iowa Whitetails......(and that's just the fawns) :p;)

May 21, 2008, 06:21 PM
I'm a firm believer in "use enough gun". Having said that, I have killed two does and a 200 # hog W/an AR and did not feel a bit handicapped. All were within 125 yards. The does were shot in spine and the hog behind the ear; as expected, all dropped in their tracks.

Not my preferred whitetail medicine, but under the right conditions, the .223 is ample. Shot placement is primary concern.


May 21, 2008, 06:50 PM
As said, placement is everything. A .22 Mag can drop most anything that we run up against.

Back in '77 we hopped up the rounds enough to crack the reciever on a Mini-14. They were also VERY fatal to local deer (small) and had exit wounds that scattered good meat all over the swamp.

Using factory rounds inside of 100 yds. with good placement should drop any deer. With the very low recoil, placement shouldn't be a problem. Yeah, I pull a shot or two on the range just because I know what's coming with big bores. When hunting, I'm dialed into the animal.

May 21, 2008, 06:51 PM
If it will kill a human it will kill a deer, most calibers used on deer are overkill, you don't need a .300 WM to kill a deer. but I would use a .243 or some 6mm caliber for more room for error in shot placement.

May 21, 2008, 07:01 PM
jp, i used to believe the same thing till i read last years rules. it now reads any centerfire may be used in the rifle zone. don't know if that's good or bad.

44 AMP
May 21, 2008, 10:24 PM
For every sportsman out there willing to take the time to take only a good shot, spend the money to use a bullet built for the game, and do their best to kill cleanly, there are the "slob hunters" who will take any shot offered, use the cheapest ammo, and seldom adhere to the general rules of sport hunting.

For decades, .22 cal rifles (centerfire) were only varmint rounds, and bullets suitable for deer were few and far between. Many states decided that while it could be done well, it was seldom done well with a .22 CF, and people being what they are, if allowed there would be a lot more crippled and wounded deer dying without actually being harvested. So they chose to mandate a larger caliber round for sporting use. Most states have a minimum of .24 caliber for deer.

Game laws have nothing to do with what will actually work to kill the animals, they have everything to do with what is considered "sporting".

I have not personally taken deer with a .22 centerfire, as I have not hunted anywhere it was legal to do so. There is no doubt in my mind that any .22 with the rigfht bullet for the game, and within its effective range will cleanly kill a deer with correct shot placement. If I had to hunt deer with a .22 Hornet, I would, and have no worries about it failing, so long as I did my part. I wouldn't be taking no 300 yds shots with it though!

May 21, 2008, 10:38 PM
Sureshots, some friends and I used nothing but .223 in a range of weaponry from bolt to autos to depredate hogs in FL when I was in hs and college. Since the hide there is tougher than deer, I can only assume better results.;) If we put the bullet where it needed to go, the hog went down. There was the errant snafu once in a while that required a follow up shot or some tracking,:o but those were rare, and we never lost one that was hit.

Its all about knowing your equipment and capabilities. Personally, I carry a .243 or .308 nowadays to have a little more power and insurance when I fall short of delivering my part of the equation, which doesn't happen very often. :D

Pay good attention to cartridge selection. Work toward the heavier bullets, but also ensure you've got a twist rate in the barrel that will stabilize them for accuracy. If you are unsure at all about your ability to be exacting in bullet placement or patience to wait for that shot, I'd suggest going bigger.

May 21, 2008, 10:52 PM
This is an interesting article about bullet penetration
and defeating bones on impact.

There is a section about the 60 grain Nosler Partition


I'm not recommending the use of the .223 Remington for deer
for all, just saying it will do the job. If I did not think it would and
there was any chance of failure, I would not have used it on
all those deer I have shot. When I anticipated any shot longer
than 150 yards, I would take my 6.5x55.

"Killing Power" of firearms is more about accuracy than
caliber and raw velocity. Bullet construction is also primary.

i.e. A .223 Remington loaded with 40 grain varmint bullets
would be a poor choice indeed.

May 21, 2008, 11:17 PM
Personally, I'd rather have at least a 7mm, to give myself room for tree limbs, thick grass, wind, etc. I mostly use a 30 cal. for deer hunting. Here in Mississpi, I usually don't have a "perfect" shot. Too much brush.

Big and slow will win out over fast and light, I also shoot BPCR. The BIG bullets will go 1000 yards + with predictability.

May 21, 2008, 11:34 PM
Michigan doesn't allow it but even if they did
Wrong. Michigan allows ANY centerfire cartridge for deer hunting. Read the regs.

I have killed numerous deer with a .223. I use Win 64gr PP and they do a great job.

The .223 has at least the same KE as the .44 Magnum, a cartridge suggested for deer by many hunters. A .223 (5.56) will kill a 200 pound human as well as a 200 pound deer. You can kill both quickly with a well placed shot.

May 22, 2008, 06:33 AM
I killed 4 deer with mY Ar-15 last year. All head shots, all died right there where they stood. I use Vmaxs, shoot them in the ear, or top of the skull. my other workhorse rifle ( Ar-30) tends to tear up many many tasty pieces of meatses. Know your regs. know your shot. 1300 foot pounds of energy is plenty plenty to kill a deer. A 223 has about 5 times the energy of a bow. Bows have killed deer for millions of years.

May 22, 2008, 08:35 AM
The wounding mechanisms between arrows and bullets differ greatly. When lacerating tissue, you don't need much energy.

JP Sarte
May 22, 2008, 09:34 AM

I am stunned. I guess I need to do some homework.:o


May 22, 2008, 04:10 PM
My CZ 527 in .223 is a sure fire hog killer with M193 military ball. They usually drop as if struck by lightning. Never had one go more than 60 yards after being hit.

May 22, 2008, 04:59 PM
To answer the initial question, yes, my sons and I have all killed several deer with a 223 using 55 gr soft point bullets, and whether they were shot in the shoulder or the neck, none traveled over 20 yards.

**I will clarify that I do not "advocate" the use of 223 on deer because the margin of error is very small, but it can be used successfully in a pinch.**

May 23, 2008, 03:24 AM
Never have used the .223 Remmy, BUT... I have used my .220 Swift and taken numerous deer with it. Loaded up with 60 gr Hornady soft points, I havent had a deer one run on me (yet:rolleyes:), just crumple... But as was said earlier, shot placement is crucial. all of my shots were in the neck. My father used a 22-250 for years for his choice deer round, but that was on our 'small' Texas deer. ;) (Still would like to see how the Partition works on the deer though....)

May 23, 2008, 03:52 PM
I've never been hunting. But I'd imagine you could take a white tail just fine with a .223, provided you get a great shot, and if you dont have a great shot, but still take a shot, then shame on you.

If I ever do get around to hunting one day, I think I'll take the Single shot 45-70 my Grandpa just gave me. He's killed a few deer with it, and he also let a friend borrow it once to hunt with, they both said every deer they shot with it dropped where it stood. Thats what I'm talking about!

Save the .223's for the little critters, and small to medium game. Unless, like I said, your very sure of your shot, and maybe your an experienced hunter who feels like he needs a challenge.

Just think about it, would you like to die from a slow and painfull .38 special shot to the chest? Or be shocked out of your body by a Shotgun slug? Animals have feelings too, just ask your dog!

May 25, 2008, 12:44 PM
Lots of people here saying they work fine are shooting texas or southern swamp deer. they might weigh 125 walking around. In the northern white tail range, you could conceivably get a gut pile bigger than a Texas deer.

The .223 might work ok on small deer, but on big deer, sometimes even a .243 is not the best choice. Sure everybody talks about some guy who has 22 bull elk all shot one shot with a .223/.243 or something, but for the weekend guy, who does no live in a forest or or has his mail delivered to the tree stand, we need bigger rounds to make sure the deer stops here and now.

I also wonder how many deer get "missed" (wounded) by the .223 and the animals minimal reaction and no blood trail lead to deer dying many days later.

Art Eatman
May 28, 2008, 11:01 AM
My first deer kill was a doe. .222 Rem. Close. Patient ol' gal. Shot her in the white spot. DRT.

Contrast situation: A bragging buck jumps and runs, and you want him. The shot will be quartering away. Me, I don't want anything that won't penetrate a good distance through the body to reach the heart/lungs. No centerfire .22s for that shot.

A couple of days ago I was happily clanging the 400-yard antelope at Whittington with my .220 Swift and my .223 bolt action. 30 mph wind. I darned sure would not take either gun on a real hunt, though.

May 28, 2008, 01:15 PM
Nope, and can't imagine that will ever change to yep...

W. C. Quantrill
May 28, 2008, 02:48 PM
It amazes me that this question just keeps popping up. Those who really hunt and shoot discourage the use of the sub calibers for hunting. But, a week later another thread pops up.

Some of you shoot on a regular basis. So do I. Can I kill a deer? Of course. I have seen deer killed with a .22 LR. That doesnt mean that every city boy should go get a sub caliber rifle and go to the woods to wound animals.

Like the other guys said, .22 isnt big enough for game animals. Period. In most states it is not legal. Even if it is, it is only good in the hands of a really good shooter.

May 28, 2008, 05:54 PM
Have you Killed Whitetail with the 223Cal. rifle?No.

May 28, 2008, 06:59 PM
Why does everyone seem to think that the diameter of a bullet has anything to do with its destructive capabilities?
With Tech today, any diameter is easily capable.

The real question is, which bullet for which case.

As always, if you are not comfortable with it, don't do it.
I mean that statement for any caliber.

For this question: No, I have not.
I have with a 204.

May 29, 2008, 06:26 AM
Two of the states I hunt in dropped the .23 caliber requirement this year...
Even though it means I could hunt with my .220 Swift... There is no way in hell I am going to. I am praying they recind the decison, and take up a .23 or .24 caliber requirement again.

I don't want to rehash what has already been said about lethality vs. skilled hunters vs. average Joe vs. shot placement.

I personally feel it isn't enough when in the hands of the average hunter.

...Don't even get me started on the ".22 Hornet for deer" guys.

Art Eatman
May 29, 2008, 09:37 AM
A skilled outdoorsman who's a skilled shooter can do things that a desk jockey who gets out a couple of times a year and who shoots very little shouldn't ever try.

Simple as that, really.

May 30, 2008, 08:49 PM
No, I haven't...

...but the biggest buck off my family's farm (central KY, almost perfectly symmetrical 12 pointer dressed out @ 180lbs) was taken with a single shot H&R .223 Handi-Rifle, shooting factory 55gr V-Max, by a super-skinny 110lb 16 year old son of a family friend at about 50 yards. One shot into the vitals and the deer never took so much as a single step.

It was his first whitetail.

May 30, 2008, 11:20 PM
Let me reitterate about taking deer with my .220 Swift. Most of my shots were within 50 yards. Any farther than than that, I just dont think that the .224" caliber bullets are up to the task. Its knowing your area and the limitations of your choosen weapon that dictate when you make your kill shot. I have passed up deer that I knew would look good on my wall, but I made a choice that my rifle wouldnt suffice for a clean kill at that yardage. And yes, those were the times that I wished I had my .308 with me, but hindsight is always 20/20...;) Now taking deer with a .22 Hornet... I have heard about people doing it, but it makes me cringe everytime I hear it...:barf:

May 31, 2008, 05:43 PM
As long as you use good bullets and have good shot placement, .223 works well on deer and most other mammals up to 100kg or so.

May 31, 2008, 06:15 PM
I am an experienced hunter and I have all the confidence in the world that I can make the kill regardless of the Caliber I choose to carry that day. If I'm hunting in cover where my shots are A shorter range say seventy yards or less A 223 cal. or 22-250 or 30-30 cal. might be my choice. I may have to let the deer turn A little more, move its head A certail way,come A little closer (ect.) or I might just pass up the shot all together if I don't feel comfortable with my shot. I have never went hunting when I felt I had to kill A deer. I can tell you this much, when I do shoot I will have the same success that I would have with A larger Caliber. I found out A long time ago its not so much the gun as it is the man behind it.

May 31, 2008, 11:35 PM
Nope. I have seen in the excitement of the moment that an average hunter will take a less than good shot. All you outdoorsmen that can shoot the wings off of a gnat at 100 paces are assuming quite a bit.
Rule number one of hunting whitetail, DOO DOO OCCURS!
Have enough bullet and speed to overcome some inperfections in shot placement due to wind, movement, obstructions, etc. Practice is a must but experience is earned.
Everything can be perfect. It just usually isn't. You can quote me on that.

BTW- Just because a bullet can kill a man doesn't mean it will kill a whitetail deer so that you can recover it. Bad thinking!

W. C. Quantrill
June 1, 2008, 08:41 AM
Good philosophy, Art.

One more thing. I have taken those desk jockeys out. You know, like the one in the movie SNIPER,,?? Oh, man, you know, the big paycheck, fancy car, limited edition gun toys. Pays the big bucks to shoot tiny holes IN PAPER at the "proper named" gun range. Contributes heavily to the Dallas Safari Club. Uh-huh you have the image on the back of your eyelids right now, dontcha?

They are wearing $1000 worth of designer camos while you are wearing Wranglers and a Carhartt jacket. You get them on the buck and they crap themselves. Buck fever. Hyperventilating, sweating, shaking like a dog crapping razorblades. They go into psychobabble and start talking crap. >>>CUT<<< At this point in the hunt, it wouldnt matter if they had a belt fed 40mm grenade laucher. They are going to miss or wound the animal and it is going to run off.

Let me make something clear. I have no qualms about killing, whether it be human or animal. If it needs it, it needs it. I do have all sorts of objections to pain and suffering. Dont ever, ever let me catch you hurting an animal or a child. You will have no defense.

With that bit of personal logic, and knowing human nature, only in the hands of a skilled outdoorsman would a sub caliber be acceptable. I know that theres a few young men in this thread that fit in that mold, but most forumites do not kill frequently enough to do so with cold nerves. That is the difference. Just as the desk jocky in SNIPER couldnt cut it, many many others cant either because they are not used to killing. Poking holes in paper is not the same as killing. I took this guy out last year, he did kill a deer, but when I took him down there, he got the shakes and when he tried to gut it, he puked. Killing isnt for everyone. Hunting is killing. If it isnt in your makeup to coldly kill, then spend your money on a good camera instead of a gun.

June 2, 2008, 12:14 PM
To be totally honest, what I did was illegal, but I killed one with a single shot from a .22 magnum (with 40 grain FMJ bullets) at about 75 yards. Of course, you can surmise that it was hit right in the head. And before I get flamed, every bit of meat on that deer was consumed. When I hunted with (or for) my family, I wasn't so much a hunter as a grocery shopper in the woods.

Most of the time when I shoot deer, I wait until it's standing still (or going no faster than a walk), I have a good angle at what I'm aiming for, and the great majority of my shots have been within 200 yards. Under those conditions, a .22-250 would probably work just as well. But it wouldn't work for a shot at the northbound end of a southbound deer, nor would it be good for shots at moving deer, or shots at deer beyond 250 yards or so. To kill deer with a .22 rifle would take a rare combination of patience and skill, which is why the majority of hunters should probably avoid it.

June 2, 2008, 08:36 PM
But it wouldn't work for a shot at the northbound end of a southbound deer,

How far is that end going to make it:D

but most forumites do not kill frequently enough to do so with cold nerves.

Never have I took a shot with cold nerves. The day the adrenalin stops flowing during a hunt is the day my rifles will be passed down to the next generation.
After taking 2 bucks 12-15 years ago(that season). I decided i would only take a 10+ point. The party still had 3-4 open tags and we all divided the venison.
The next afternoon I watched a 6 point approach and everything was cool and calm. Then I changed my mind(I think its legal) That second the adrenalin started to flow and it was just like all the rest.
I am not a cold blooded killer.
And I didn't get a shot at that buck either!, he winded me and skedaddled.

June 3, 2008, 01:02 AM
A couple of years ago I was sitting in my stand on a mountain and shot an 8-point buck that was in the valley. He was a little more than 300 meters away and never even knew what hit him. This past year I hit one at about 598 meters from the same spot save that he was on another mountain. I was using 55gr. Remington JHP for the first deer and Horn. 55gr.PSP for the second. The weapon is an Olympic Arms UltraMatch (Old preban model). It was topped with a cheap Simmons scope for the first deer and now sports the Leop. VX2 that was used for the second. I always pray before the shot and it always hits it target.

June 8, 2008, 11:09 PM
Yes, I've killed numerous whitetails and mulies both with a .223. It works fine if you place your shot carefully and use the right bullet.

June 10, 2008, 04:18 PM
In texas, they're perfect. Yes, I got my first whitetail with a sako .223.

Jack O'Conner
June 12, 2008, 01:48 PM
Sure, both my daughter and I have dropped mulies with this Savage heavy barreled .223 rifle. Its a cinch when you hit 'em right with 64 grain Winchester ammo.

We shoot hundreds of prairie dogs during summer with this rifle. If you can hit a dixie cup at 75 yards with this rifle, knocking over a muley is a simple task - bigger target!

Some guys will never comprehend the lethal tissue destruction and penetration caused by the 64 grain Winchester bullet. Some guys insist that 100 grain .243 bullets bounce off big mulies, too. For these hunters, its always 30-06 or nuthin'. So it goes.



June 14, 2008, 07:26 AM
Aside from using this topic to once again shamelessly champion the .257 Roberts for deer hunting, I can give some useful experience.

Back in about 2003, I shot a mule deer and 3 antelope with .223 55gr soft points. I had shot gophers to 300 yards with the gun all summer long, and shot it quite well indeed.

Sadly, only the muley dropped to the shot. All 3 speed goats were hit square in the lungs at less than 200 yards. All required a second shot. One doe was hit 1st in the lungs while running at 75 yards, then slowed to a trot and stood for a second lung shot at about 150. She took the second bullet with little effect for about a minute. Then she looked a bit nauseous, then sort of lay down as though to rest. A 3rd shot caused her to sort of slowly roll over. on her side and (finally) die. There was only one exit wound on this animal, and very little blood. 2 bullets were recovered looking like the perfect mushrooms you see in the magazine advertisements.

Now personally, I like to see medium game bowled over when shot. The .257 does this for my wife and daughter with minimal recoil, and the ol' '06 does it for me. And +1 to Art for #28.