View Full Version : .223 good for deer?

December 15, 2008, 08:38 PM
I've actually never tried hunting in my life, and I'm thinking about trying it. I have been thinking about what caliber I would use if I were to hunt deer. I have been wondering.....Is .223 Remington a good caliber for deer? I'm not aking if there's better calibers out there, but will .223 get the job done ok? Or is it not powerful enough? All info is appreciated!

December 15, 2008, 08:51 PM
If it is legal to use a .223 for deer where you live, then it will work fine.

Others will tell you that they have used standard 55 grain soft point ammo to kill deer and I don't doubt them, but to make sure you reach the vitals I would use a heavier structured bullet.

If you hand load the 55 grain Speer Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, the Speer 70 grain spire point, or the 60 grain Nosler Partition is what I would use. If you don't hand load I believe that Federal loads the 60 grain Nosler Partition.

Shot placement is critical for whatever caliber you are using, but it becomes even more critical with .22s.

So to sum up use a properly structured bullet, practice till you can hit inside an 1.5 inch circle every time at 100 yards and limit your max range to 200-250 yards and you should be fine.

If I was recommending a cartridge for a first time hunter it would be the .243 Winchester or the 6 mm Remington as the minimum, but if you are intent on using the .223, it will work if you follow my advice.

December 15, 2008, 09:10 PM
i have heard of some successfully hunting deer with .22lrs, would i do it? no... i like to stick with a 110 grain bullet or higher (choose your caliber)... my first deer gun was a sks 7.62x39 and worked great...ya gotta have something with a little knockdown power to it, otherwise your chances of just wounding the animal will increase with lesser grains...

December 15, 2008, 10:07 PM
Personally I wouldn't use the .223 or other .22 calibers to hunt deer. I prefer larger calibers/bullets, minimum in my opinion should be the .243 Win or .244/6mm Rem.

December 15, 2008, 10:31 PM
Yea, check legality. I have killed deer with 22rf ... before I knew better. Hot placement!!

December 15, 2008, 10:52 PM
AND you can take and PLACE your shot, the yes but if not don't.

The late Finn Aargaard did an article in early 90's about using a .223.
He felt it was adequate but not for all shots. Though it was best for new hunters to avoid recoil problems or those with medical situation.
Try the Winchester 64gr PP ammo is was specifically made for deer.

December 15, 2008, 11:04 PM
Most of the deer I have killed in the last 2 years was with a 223. I usually head shot them. I would NOT try a vital shot with a 223, and do not use FMJs. I use 55 Gn Vmaxs with very much success. if you can hit a tennis ball at 100 yards, your good for a head shot. All I have killed died before the bullet stopped.

December 15, 2008, 11:16 PM
With .22 cal bullets and deer sized game shot placement is crucial. Head Shots are not recommended with any caliber. All too often, deer are shot in the jaw and left to die a slow and miserable death. For a humane kill, go with a tried and true deer caliber like a 30-30, 308, .270 or even a .243 but nothing smaller and go for the traditional broadside lung/heart dead center mass shot.

December 15, 2008, 11:18 PM
+1 for ATTT. I will say this and it is my opinion so don't jump all over me:

222,223,243, 6mm, small rounds will let you down at some point in time. That is a fact and you have to live with it. The smaller rounds will at sometime let you down. I am not saying a 30-06 is a death ray what I am saying is that the larger rounds for deer hunting will let you live with variables; wind, twiggs, distance, flinch...Buck feaver what ever you want to call it. I have killed Elk with a 243 and deer with a 17 rem but there was no room for error. I think the min I would feel good with is in the range of the 260 REM. That said hunt with what you want to, just remember you are a Sportsman and that means a clean kill. At any range and any profile. When the buck of a lifetime comes around and you don't have head shot what now?

December 15, 2008, 11:36 PM
Id head shot a big buck. No matter how you cook them damn antlers.. they are always tough. I hate chasing shot deer. I saw recently a large buck take a perfect heart shot from a 338 Fed at 80 yards. It ran 100 yards and took quite a bit of time to find it. When we cleaned it, the heart was smashed. (I like making sausage out of it.) When I shoot deer in the head, they fall right there, kick twice and die. They feel nothing, Hard to do with no brain. I dont shoot when the head is sideways. I only do front, or rear shots. You miss a little bit, you pierce their ear, or you hit them in the neck. The pierce ear probably aint a big deal. The neck shot, they are going down.
I do not waste meat. I do not plan on eating grey matter

December 16, 2008, 12:41 AM
This topic has been beaten to death over and over and over. i'm unsure how you could have searched and not stumbled on 50+ threads all over internet land about it. In short why limit yourself to these 'ideal' shots? (head/neck ect) if you want to go small start at a .243 and go up. so you can at least have a rifle that CONSISTENTLY will kill well with a heart/lung shot. this gives a much larger target area and if you are off/deflection ect still produces a kill. not a blown off jaw, a meat shot through the neck ect ect.

December 16, 2008, 12:48 AM
twiggsTesting has shown that the main factors that affect bullet deflection from twigs, brush, etc. have nothing to do with caliber.

Regardless of what caliber you're using, if you attempt to shoot through intervening objects the result will likely be a miss if you're lucky or a wounding shot if you're not.

December 16, 2008, 01:06 AM
To me the .223 is a little small for deer sized game. I always say why use the minimum on the game when other cals are avaliable.

I have shot several goats with a .223 and yes while it is quite capable of the kill, it has to be a perfect kill shot. Yes i know thats the point but somteimes you might be a little off.

When i use my .243 they drop on the spot even if the shot is a little high on the shoulder or a little too far back. I have achieved several Texas heart shots on goats with the .243 with exits around the neck area. All dropped on the spot.

A .223 will kill a deer but its the minimum and you risk losing a fatally wounded animal.

In my state its illegal to use anything under a .243 for the smallest deer.

The .223 is a great varmint rifle with small pigs and goats in there as well.

Only my opinion.:)

December 16, 2008, 01:20 AM
If it is legal in your area then i guess i cant really stop you from doing it. With a .223 there is absolutely no margin of error allowed in your hunting plans, there is always a chance of some error happening. You have to be prepared for something to go at least slightly wrong because it always does.

I consider the .243 to be the minimum safe caliber for deer. anything else and you are pushing the limits too far. I have hunted with a .243 and it is a good little round if you use the right ammunition.

My ideal round for shooting deer in open country is a .270, bush, something a little larger caliber and maybe a little slower if you like.

Art Eatman
December 16, 2008, 10:42 AM
The bulletmakers' R&D, these last dozen or so years, have made the .223 more effective for deer than in the "varmint bullets only" days. Bullets of around 60 to 70 grains in weight do much better than the 50- or 55-grain bullets intended for rabbits and coyotes.

Still, a clean neck shot or a 90-degree cross-body shot will work far better than an angling shot where penetration through a good bit of a deer's body is required to reach a vital area.

December 16, 2008, 12:35 PM
only if you KNOW you can hit the vitals! and use a 55gr soft point as mentioned

You can kill them just as easy as any other rifle, but there is not any room for error in shot placement or yardage misjudgement with the .223. And you will likely get more movement after the shot. It's always nice to have a big gun to put an animal down in its tracks

so, only if you are confident in your shot placement

December 17, 2008, 12:01 AM
Is the brain considered "vital"? or is it "optional"?

December 17, 2008, 04:05 AM
Its a risky shot miss the brain and you blow the animals nose off, or jaw. Go a little high and you can hit the antler area bullet deflects causes injury but not death.

A lot of people here say the .223 is ok with no margin for error. I say why take the risk. All animals should be shot as humane as possible.

A 60gr partition is good for penetration on small pigs and goats, i would not attempt on deer in Australia even if were legal.

December 17, 2008, 09:45 AM
The reason why I am asking is because I already have a Mini 14 in .223 and I want to try to avoid going out and buying a whole new gun, but if I need to then I will. I'm thinking about the Remington 700 in .308 WIN.

December 17, 2008, 09:57 AM
I'm thinking about the Remington 700 in .308 WIN.

Sounds like a good plan.

Don't skimp on quality glass. If you can't afford a quality variable, new and used fixed power scopes are better than cheap variables.

December 17, 2008, 10:31 AM
Under exactly perfect conditions, etc. a .223 will kill any deer, period. But like I mentioned, PERFECT CONDITIONS, (head shots or neck shots preferred). However, perfect condions usually don't occur on most hunting trips.
So, why not use a caliber that we know will do the job, such as:
.30-30, .308. .270 or .30-06. On the lighter end, a 6mm or .243 would be my second choice, but they will do the job alright. Actually, I have taken whitetail deer with all of the above over my years of hunting for venison. I have personally found that my .308 handles most every situation you can run into, (short range, long range, etc). So that would be my choice if you only could choose one caliber. If not, then get a .270 and a .30-30 and you can do any kind of hunting you will ever need to do here in North America, (except Griz). Good luck.

December 17, 2008, 07:30 PM
I wouldnt trust a 30-30 NEAR as far as I would my Ar15. I have a few. They aint even close to as accurate. 200 Yards.. Forget it. If you hit it, itll go down. You jsut have to be patient with your shot.It makes ayou a better hunter. It is much better than putting the sites on fur and pulling the trigger. There is way more too it than that. You have to be precise with a 223. But , that is what they are good for.

Brad Clodfelter
December 17, 2008, 08:11 PM
I'll go ahead and say this, and I myself don't recommend the 223 as a deer cartridge just so anybody doesn't read in to what I'm about to say. A 223 will in fact kill a deer. I think a 223 will in fact kill a big deer as well. I myself if I was to use this cartridge on deer which I won't, but again if I was, I would probably elect to shoot a deer standing still and in the center of the neck in order to produce the deer to drop in its tracks. I'm not a big fan of neck shots on deer due to the fact the neck on a deer can move in a instant as your squeezing the trigger resulting in a poor hit. Again you have to make sure the deer is presenting you with a standing still broadside shot. To me there just is not enough bullet mass to drive the little bullet from this cartridge through both lungs on a deer and hopefully out the other side especially if you shoot through a rib bone. Yes, it probably will mean certain death to any deer, but there is the what if when using a minimum cartridge to do the job on deer when it would be much easier to just use a more appropriate cartridge in the first place.

December 17, 2008, 08:33 PM
Dont take a broadside head shot on a deer!! That is how the "Jaw gets blown off" Always take it from the back of their head where they cannot see you. I didnt really want to post this pic, so Ill warn you..
Nasty graphic deer head.. shot with a 223 55 Grain Vmax at 100 yards.
Ok Seriously, you are squeemish, dont click.

I have warned you twice
This Big spike destroyed my feeder for the last time.
We had 12 Spikes on my 25 acre Super secret hunting spot. We decided to Cull a few of them out. This is the feeder destroyer. He was a pretty big deer. He Never knew what hit him. Yithian as my witness, Non optional parts flew 20 yards. Notice there is only one ear in the pic. I guess that is an "optional" part
This is pic is to defend both my use of the 223, and the 55 Grain Vmax.

Dont whine at me about posting this pic... it aint gonna show if you dont click on it!!

December 17, 2008, 09:37 PM
That is freaking awesome ATTT. I never would have used the V-max until now. I've got a mini that is itching to give a go. I've got to grab a box of 55 gr to load up. All I have is 50's.

December 17, 2008, 09:48 PM
Thanks for the feedback Wpexpert. I expect many :barf: comments, dry heaves perhaps, but I did warn about the Pic. I did a thread years ago.. "Smashedhead syndrome" that was pretty much the same thing, but with a Armalite Ar 30 300 Win mag. It makes as big of a mess. I got lots of nasty comments about that one. That is why i really didnt want to post that pic. I did it to show those that are ok with viewing it, a 223 will do the job. Yes, the 223, with the correct ammunition in it, leaves very devastating holes in game. This aint your grandpas 223 bullet.

December 17, 2008, 10:12 PM
I went and found the thread you said. Insane damage with that 300. I've never taken a head shot. I'm about 95% bow hunter. From WV and never had open country to hunt. I've been stationed in SC and AR. Never any private land to really get on. So me and the bow whack and stack. I have run a 100gr Grim Reaper Broadhead down the ear hole of a doe at 25yds. She yelled/groaned and fell over. I shot a doe in the neck at 125 with a 7mm Mag loaded for Moose (175gr) last year. Went thru the spine. Left a softball sized hole on the other side.

Awesome Brother. There are always going to be folks that don't approve. But I'm usually against the grain in these kind of settings. I've said it before, if you are confident in your equipment and abilities, do it.

For those of you that haven't seen the thread search Smashed Head Syndrome. Graphic Pics

December 17, 2008, 10:23 PM
It took me testing out various bullets, and unsuccessful pig hunts, to determine that the V-MAX was no ordinary varmint bullet. All other ballistic varmint bullets I tested resulted very much as most here have warned against. Wounded animals that ran away and suffered.
I went down a long road to forgive myself (ATTT's family had to come to my work to thank me for killing pigs whether I harvested them or not. BIG varmints)
...and eventually found the perfect surgical bullet.

I call it surgical because I can hunt for animals within the confines of an active ranch and livestock. There is no fear of ricochettes or follow-throughs.
The V-Max does indeed disintegrate within the animal it hits.
But what sets it apart, from even Sierra Blitzkings, is that the projectile does not actually explode until it is inside the animal. Inside by one to two inches.

I have used V-MAXs from the lightest .204 caliber, to the .308, 110 gr.
All performed excellent.

The .308 110gr will actually do far more damage than is needed.
I hit "Egg with Legs", a very large and rotund sow, behind the shoulder and it turned a 9 inch length of her spine into splinters. That was 6 inches of bone and muscle, then spine, and then some of the other side.
I shot a skunk with it and the skunk vaporized. The entire skunk.

So, is the .224 bullet enough for deer?
Is the V-MAX my recommended bullet to use on deer?
Do I recommend head shots with the V-MAX?
Even if you miss the brain, the bullet will still explode on contact and knock the animal down. It will shatter skulls, and remove entire necks.
As you can see from ATTT's pic, if you hit the skull, the skull becomes its own bowl of soup.
If somehow you miss, the animal runs away with either a scratch, or nothing.
And, the bullet still disintegrates on the first thing it hits. Most often, dirt.

I never recommend using any bullet to shoot uphill. Or if livestock is directly behind your target.
Remember, the V-MAX must hit something to explode on, before it reaches valuable property.

December 17, 2008, 10:28 PM
Crap, should have let that thread die. Why did I open my big durn mouth?

December 18, 2008, 02:22 AM
That deer's head is no bigger than a kangaroos head. I shoot roos with my .22 through the eye balls.

December 18, 2008, 06:17 AM
Thats what I did with this one.