The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Hunt

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 27, 1999, 01:21 AM   #1
Join Date: July 15, 1999
Posts: 28
What is this group's opinion of the new loads from Federal and Winchester in .223 that is rated for deer. 68 grain @ 2900 fps muzzle velocity. I'm a new AR owner but am concerned if this is an ethical load for deer.

"This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future."
Adolph Hitler, 1935

stanmanplan is offline  
Old July 27, 1999, 01:07 PM   #2
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 18,896
Not relevant to your inquiry about those new bullets, but rather to the use of .223 for deerhunting.

The last deer my brother harvested (1998) was with his Remington .223 Varminter. He used a Barnes X bullet and took his buck with a chestshot. The bullet travelled through the body, losing a petal along the way, and finally came to rest near the hindquarters. Mind you, it was smaller buck than what my brother wanted, but he also wanted to test the bullet with a chest shot to learn more about its penetration and expansion - so he took it.

Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt

4V50 Gary is offline  
Old July 27, 1999, 02:48 PM   #3
Art Eatman
Staff Lead
Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Terlingua, TX; Thomasville, GA
Posts: 23,821
Not in my deer camp.

My reason is simple: A shot which does not really hit a major vital area is likely to allow the critter to get away. Big no-no.

Now, from a stand where neck shots are quite possible, or for smaller deer at closer ranges, I might not be so hostile. But in open country where running shots are the norm, No Way. Trailing gutshot deer is a miserable deal, and finding a deer by the buzzards means no edible meat.

Now, my first deer was shot with a .222 Rem. It was a neck shot at about 20 yards on a very patient 80-lb doe...I wouldn't do that on a "real" deer at the more likely ranges commonly found.

Art Eatman is offline  
Old July 27, 1999, 03:14 PM   #4
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 18,896
My first deer was with a .22 Hornet. Head shot. Super accurate Thompson Contender pistol which was rested when fired. With handloaded ammunition, it would get a 1" group at 100 yards. Next time, I'd like to try a blackpowder rifle.

Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt

4V50 Gary is offline  
Old July 27, 1999, 07:05 PM   #5
Al Thompson
Staff Alumnus
Join Date: May 2, 1999
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 3,611
I think the problem is "what's a deer?".

Here in SC your lucky to have one push 120 lbs. Up north that would be a fawn.

In the Hill Country of Texas, 120 lbs. is a huge deer.

We have used the .223 for deer, but it requires a lot of discipline and precise shot placement. Art is dead on the money and so is Gary. Different hunting methods, different criteria. The quantity of tissue damage is much less with a .223 than even a .30-30.

Personally, I would, but I would have the pre-set notion that unless I had a perfect shot, the deer walks.


"Shoot low boys, they're riding Shetland ponies..." LG, RIP

Al Thompson is offline  
Old July 27, 1999, 08:22 PM   #6
David Schmidbauer
Retired Screen Name
Join Date: November 17, 2000
Posts: 396

What part of SC ya from. Anywhere near Spartenburg?

Art ;

> A shot which does not really hit a major vital area is likely to allow the critter to get away. Big no-no. <

I couldn't agree with you more. Hence the reason I keep hounding Fernando Coelho and Tom Burczynski to come out with a .223 Quik-Shok. That and a .308 QS.

If you don't know the technology of the Quik-Shok check out Tritron Ammos Web Page. Basically it is a pre-fragmented bullet that breaks into three pieces after about 1" - 3". These three pieces then angle off of the original wound track.

IMO these would be perfect pill of using a .223 on deer.

Schmit, GySgt, USMC(Ret)
NRA Life, Lodge 1201-UOSSS
"Si vis Pacem Para Bellum"

David Schmidbauer is offline  
Old July 27, 1999, 09:17 PM   #7
Long Path
Senior Member
Join Date: May 31, 1999
Location: N. Texas
Posts: 5,895
David: No way. If there's one thing the .223 doesn't need when you're hunting medium game like deer, it's pre-fragmented bullets. One of the main issues with hunting deer, and one of the main shortcomings of many of the existing .223 bullets, is penetration. Super expansion and total energy transfer sometimes makes for some spectacular kills, but if you hit a rib wrong or hit the shoulder just so, you've got one running. I've seen this on an almost tragic occasion where a friend of one of the owners of the ranch I was hunting on shot a north Texas doe (120 lb) with a .220 Swift with 45g varminter bullet moving at about 4000 fps. An *enormous* hole opened on her shoulder, and she took off, hell-bent-for leather. My friend ended up making a very lucky shot at 200yards (offhand) with his '06 to solve the problem.

With a heavily-constructed bullet, at reasonable ranges (sub-150), with a very accurate rifle and by a shooter who knows he pulling a bit of a stunt, I'd say, sure, the .223 will do it. But with all the other rifles out there that will do it better, why would you want to?

Also keep in mind that there are shots that you simply must not take with a .223 on any deer that you would or could do with even a .243. You mustn't take ANY running shots, nor even moving shots. You mustn't take any quartering shots (penetration!). You mustn't take any shots from behind, unless you have a very close (sub-85 yd) head/neck shot (which I don't advocate, but that's another thread... ). And remember that, although you're in an are where a 125 lb deer is big, sure as you take out that little .223, you're going to spy the local record-holder MONSTER 175 lb 150pt B&C at 175 yards. And you're going to wonder if your rifle is enough.

The last thought through your mind as you squeeze the trigger should not be a question of confidence in your gear. This does not contribute to success.

Last year, I was in the Hill country on a high butte, and wanted some range, so I had my Sendero in .300 Win Mag, clearly too much for anything that walks in Texas. My alternative could have been a .243, or a .223, for that matter, for the two doe I'd already shot. Then, right at dusk, just as I was about to quit for the evening, out steps a humongous 200 lb buck at 150 yards. Of course, there was no doubt in my mind that the buck was mine as soon as he cleared the brush. Yes, I was overgunned, but at dusk, when tracking is going to be difficult, you don't want to be marginal.
Long Path is offline  
Old July 28, 1999, 12:14 AM   #8
Join Date: July 15, 1999
Posts: 28
Thanks to all on this subject. I believe that I have come to the conclusion that I will use my AR on selected hunts from a stand in my area (NC/SC). The deer are smallish and I have the patience to take a sure shot of the shorter variety.
Best Regards,

"This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future."
Adolph Hitler, 1935

stanmanplan is offline  
Old November 19, 2008, 08:59 PM   #9
Junior Member
Join Date: February 18, 2007
Posts: 2
Good information ont he subject matter at hand Long dead post but thought I would show it.

I personally use the .223 for Whitetail in Wi and now in MN since I can as of this year. However I am mostly an archery hunter and utilize those same tactics during rifle season when and if I go with a boom stick.
Dolph92 is offline  
Old November 19, 2008, 09:15 PM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
Moderator Emeritus
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Western Colorado, finally.
Posts: 19,100
The last thought through your mind as you squeeze the trigger should not be a question of confidence in your gear. This does not contribute to success.

Ding Ding Ding! I strongly prefer "Is this too much gun for ..."

Generally, if you have to ask if it's enough, it's not.
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
Brian Pfleuger is offline  
Old November 19, 2008, 09:21 PM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: August 22, 2005
Location: Rhome, TX
Posts: 4,641
Sure it can. I never would unless I had nothing better and limited myself to CNS shots with a darn good rest. Trailing a wounded deer is no fun. Loosing a deer is miserable.
la plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas!
fisherman66 is offline  
Old November 19, 2008, 10:09 PM   #12
The Terminator
Senior Member
Join Date: February 3, 2002
Location: Georgia, 35 miles Northwest of the armpit
Posts: 946
A .223 will kill a deer. It will kill an elephant. If pressed for food, I'd use it on a deer. For the life of me, I can't figure out why someone would use it as a first choice for deer, or hog. Why? Just about anything out there in a larger caliber will do the job much better.

Usually, it is someone who just got an AR and wants to hunt with it. If someone can afford an AR, then what is $250 more for a decent 30/30? My .223 is the last thing I'd ever use to hunt deer with. I acknowledge that my niece killed 8 deer with one, before she was 10 years old. A .223 NEF at that.

.223, 22-250, 222, did I miss any? They are all maimers and cripplers on deer. I acknowledge a friend who has killed probably a hundred with the 22-250, but again, why? Why do folks get hung up on a borderline caliber?

If you are going to go on a nice deer hunt, why not just take a well known deer caliber, capable, rifle, and not have to keep wondering about which shot you can take, and which you cannot. I'd bet that there are many hunters who just wouldn't be able to pass up a shot at a trophy buck, if they only were hunting with a 223, and the shot was risky at best.

This is only my humble opinion. Also, Jack O'Connor observed that the 223 was a maimer and a crippler way back when, I haven't found reason to disagree with his words. Best - Ted
The Terminator
John 3:16 (I hope to see You over there.)
The Terminator is offline  
Old November 19, 2008, 10:21 PM   #13
Junior member
Join Date: August 16, 2008
Posts: 919
but again, why? Why do folks get hung up on a borderline caliber?

i know one person who hunts with either a 22-250 or .223 for the simple reason that it allows him to not wear hearing protection and not suffer the consequences of a larger caliber

silly reasoning to some.... but it gets the job done every time he takes a shot, and he still has very good hearing.

more power to him imo
MrNiceGuy is offline  
Old November 19, 2008, 10:30 PM   #14
Senior Member
Join Date: January 28, 2006
Posts: 1,372
Lots of variables there. Florida wher deer are overgrown dogs (right hogdogs?) a .223 would be OK. Bigger deer like the ones I've hunted in WA state or mulies, could be done, but whether or not it would be considered OK would be based on individual ability and discretion in the shot.

I wouldn't recommend it for the baseline hunter.
globemaster3 is offline  
Old November 19, 2008, 10:38 PM   #15
Junior Member
Join Date: April 8, 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 5
dam so many posts that dont make a bit of sense..

shoot the deer behind the shoulder thru the lungs, NEVER IN THE NECK OR ASS OR ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE CHEST CAVITY That goes for ALL calibers, all you deer wounders keep shootn em in the neck and ass and keep giving hunters a bad name..

I havent shot a deer with a gun since 1988, just use archery equipment, and if you use the same philosophy for your rifle and any ETHICAL hunter does with a bow and should with a gun, then the .223 is fine, but you want ballistic tips, of PSP, hollow points in my opinion will blow up on a rib.
submoa is offline  
Old November 20, 2008, 01:14 AM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: October 20, 2008
Location: Fort Yukon, Alaska
Posts: 735
Personally I think the .223 is a little light for deer, but I have used it for Caribou with success. Sound like a contradiction ? Caribou are a lot bigger than deer, no doubt, but the habitat is vastly different. Both caribou and deer (as well as any other animal) will expire with a .223 bullet through lungs. However caribou are usually in open country where if they do not drop immediately or leave a blood trail it is no big deal, you can watch them fall. With deer, it can be a real problem with recovery if they do not go down quickly or leave a blood trail. I use the AR-15 for caribou in wintertime hunting because I do not mind subjecting it to the abuse of hunting on a snowmachine which can really take a toll on rifles. Also,the high mounted scope on carry handle allows use without removing face masks and hoods unlike rifles with low mounted optics. That being said, if you must use the .223 for deer that sounds like a pretty good load for the purpose.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 485299-R1-22-3_023.jpg (145.1 KB, 149 views)
roklok is offline  
Old November 20, 2008, 01:56 AM   #17
Senior Member
Join Date: August 25, 2008
Location: 1B ID
Posts: 9,375
Short answer-

Don't do it, unless you absolutely know for certain that you can make ONE shot drop the animal.
FrankenMauser is online now  
Old November 20, 2008, 05:14 AM   #18
phil mcwilliam
Senior Member
Join Date: July 18, 2007
Posts: 573
Many tens of thousands of red deer(similar in size to white tail) have been culled from New Zealand by profesional shooters, with the 222 being the favoured cartridge for many years. As the meat is harvested comercially, with helicopters flying multiple carcasses out, all deer are head/neck shot to achieve maximum return. Most hunters, however, will aim for a heart/lung shot if it presents itself, in which case your 223 with 68 grain bullets should be ok, with an unobstructed path, but forget angle shots or rear facing shots with a 22 centrefire. A 243 (minimum) works better for body shots on deer.
phil mcwilliam is offline  
Old November 20, 2008, 08:48 AM   #19
Senior Member
Join Date: March 17, 2008
Location: Piedmont,NC
Posts: 464
can of worms

I'm going to open A new can of worms. One PROBLEM with the 68gr. deer loads is that most 223cal. rifles will not stabilize the heavier grain bullets. The standard twist in almost all of the 223 cal. rifles is designed for the lighter grain bullets(40gr to 55gr.) after that the accuracy falls off rapidly.
sureshots is offline  
Old November 20, 2008, 10:10 AM   #20
Junior member
Join Date: February 28, 2006
Location: Southwestern Michigan
Posts: 369
There are bullets that are constructed for use on deer for the .223 caliber rifles. Let me start by saying that it would not be my first choice. With that out of the way I would not feel undergunned with a .223 that I could shoot it well. As mentioned by sureshots, make sure that you can get good accuracy out of the heavier bullets. I have read many posts that advocate the use of a 25-06 or 7mm08 for use on elk. If these cartridges will be OK for elk, that heavier constructed and extra weight bullet in 223 will work on deer. The key is to NOT TAKE BAD SHOTS and use properly constructed bullets. I'd much rather see someone with a 223 and the right bullets, that can shoot, takes good shots, rather than someone with a 30-06 with poorly selected bullets that can't shoot worth a darn and takes risky shots. A gut shot deer is just as gutshot with 30-06 as it is with a 223. A deer with a broken leg is just as broken with a 270 as it is with a 223. All things being equal I would rather see someone with a 270/280/7mm-08/308/30-06 with the properly constructed bullets, that can shoot, and only takes good, ethical shots. The guy pulling the trigger is far more important than the rifle he is shooting. IMHO
Sportdog is offline  
Old November 23, 2008, 09:14 PM   #21
Senior Member
Join Date: January 2, 2005
Location: Where the deer and the antelope roam.
Posts: 1,889
I use my 30-06 with 150 grn Ballistic tips and I have never had to track a wounded deer in ND. I grew up in Michigan and the 150 grn round nose that my dad used left a lot to be desired.
Nanuk is offline  
Old November 24, 2008, 09:09 AM   #22
Senior Member
Join Date: August 15, 2007
Posts: 1,040
Is .223 enough for deer?

Really super-short answer: No
ActivShootr is offline  
Old November 24, 2008, 09:20 AM   #23
Art Eatman
Staff Lead
Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Terlingua, TX; Thomasville, GA
Posts: 23,821
Now, now, submoa, relax. I've always found that if you shoot Bambi in the white spot, you don't have to track him at all. He instantly says, "I quit!" It's even better if he's standing in the jeep trail when you bust his neck. Makes it easy to load him up and haul him back to camp.

I'm lazy...
You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
Art Eatman is offline  
Old November 24, 2008, 03:27 PM   #24
Senior Member
Join Date: June 19, 2008
Location: greenville sc
Posts: 221
.223 is questionable with the small deer in Fla, etc. The bigger northern and midwest deer I think are out of the question. If you love an AR, as I do. Get a 6.8SPC, they will knock it straight down. But the most important part of this is SHOT PLACEMENT. Like other shave said only take good shots, and don't maim or wound the animal, kill it.

I love the AR, but just recently switched to a Savage 30'06 bolt action with the accutrigger and 3x9. The rifle will hit right where I point it and the tracking is down to a minimum.
bigjack59 is offline  
Old November 25, 2008, 01:31 AM   #25
W. C. Quantrill
Senior Member
Join Date: February 11, 2008
Location: No Man's Land
Posts: 354
I can kill a deer with a .22 LR, as far as killing one is concerned. Fortunately, the .223 is not legal for hunting big game in most states. I have no doubt that if I were slipping through the countryside and a shot presented itself that I am skilled enough to take it and kill the animal right there. You as a new hunter? If you have to ask, then I seriously doubt it.

Like everyone else has said, use the proper caliber and make an ethical and humane shot. If I caught you hunting on my property with an AR, you would loose it and never see it again. Depending on how my cousins the sheriff and district judge felt about it, you might not see your vehicle again either.

Our state law says .243 is the least that you will hunt with. Most of us hunt with more. .243 is usually a womans or kids gun. .270 and beyond is the preferred deer calibers.
NRA Life
Whittington Center Life
W. C. Quantrill is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:08 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.10743 seconds with 8 queries