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Joined: 11/20/2009
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.223...Friend or foe?

OK. This is about the 4th forum I have read on the "BIG" debate, will a .223 take down a deer? I am 18 and just started hunting this year. I took a small 8 pointer with my mathews about a month ago. What I am getting at is that I am not an expirienced hunter...at all. But I have a passion for it. When my dad told me I was going to be using a .223 this year I was concerned about it, so i did a lot of research. The facts say a .223 should perform almost as good as any other rifle. Almost. The hunters say.....split decision, some guys say they have been using a .223 for years and the deer drop on the spot, while other guys say you are better off hitting the deer in the head with the gun. This is where I come in, tomorrow 30 min before sun up I will be in my stand for Wisconsin gun opener. My seeing radius is about 160 yards all around me. The barrel is 1-9 twist and I am using Hornady 75 grain hallow points. Sighted in at 100 yards 3 shots in 3 inches. So what better way to find out if it will drop a deer than to go out and use it. So I will come back and post when I have results! Big smile

SoCoKHntr's picture
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Location: Pueblo Colorado
Joined: 12/18/2006
Posts: 1780
Re: .223...Friend or foe?
wannaBhunter14 wrote:
OK. This is about the 4th forum I have read on the "BIG" debate, will a .223 take down a deer? I am 18 and just started hunting this year. I took a small 8 pointer with my mathews about a month ago. What I am getting at is that I am not an expirienced hunter...at all. But I have a passion for it. When my dad told me I was going to be using a .223 this year I was concerned about it, so i did a lot of research. The facts say a .223 should perform almost as good as any other rifle. Almost. The hunters say.....split decision, some guys say they have been using a .223 for years and the deer drop on the spot, while other guys say you are better off hitting the deer in the head with the gun. This is where I come in, tomorrow 30 min before sun up I will be in my stand for Wisconsin gun opener. My seeing radius is about 160 yards all around me. The barrel is 1-9 twist and I am using Hornady 75 grain hallow points. Sighted in at 100 yards 3 shots in 3 inches. So what better way to find out if it will drop a deer than to go out and use it. So I will come back and post when I have results! Big smile

Well, it sounds like you are using the right bullet for the caliber, 75grs, if to be used for deer.

Truth be told young man I am sure that as long as I got to within fifty sixty yards and took my time to sink one right into the heart and or lungs, I could use my Winchester 22 Mag lever action and probably kill deer more often then not. Does that mean If legal I'd go packing my 22 Mag come deer season? No, not at all and the reason being there are a plethora of calibers available that are just more suited to the task of putting down a deer right there and right now provided you hit em right.

If I had that once in a lifetime buck in my sights at 275 yards away giving me the shot I'd much rather have a 270 in my hand then a 223.

Good luck on your hunt and hit em in the boiiler room and you should be fine.

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
Posts: 596
223 rem VS mule deer

First congrats to your daughter on her deer!!!! And to the proud papa who got to be a part of it. I can't wait till my kids are old enough to take hunting.

I think that 223 is certainly capable......the proof is right here in this thread. I think the problem is we have to get away from this pass/fail way of looking at all the different cartridges we have to choose from for hunting. I think we would be much better served grading each cartridge and discussing it's limitations and what bullet weight and types to use. Even in a lot of threads on these forums people discuss and debate whether or not a cartridge is capable citing good and bad experiences they've had without really ever discussing the details of those situations and trying to understand why they did or did not have success.

For me a 223 is a C grade deer catridge. I would only shoot a premium bullet like a partition or a triple shock out of it and keep shots under 200 yds. I'd want the animal broadside and maybe slightly quartering away but never quartering to.

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Joined: 11/20/2009
Posts: 2
223 rem VS mule deer

I HAVE RESULTS!! Ok, all I shot was a buck fawn, under a year old, BUT he was 250 yards and slightly quartered towards me. I shot and he hunched and kind of stumbled before he slowly walked into the woods about 20 yards behind him, where he came from. I thought I made a good hit but the deer didn't bolt or anything. Still having faith I went and looked around about where the deer was standing, seeing nothing I began my Trip back in dismay UNTIL...I saw a nice clump of hair. I got my dad and uncle over and guess what, dead deer 5 yards into the woods. Clean entry wound and a pretty good exit. 75 grain Hornady hollow point did it's job at 250 yards. With any luck from the wind and weather gods I will have a chance at a mature buck tomorrow before Turkey time.

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Joined: 08/04/2009
Posts: 132
223 rem VS mule deer

now that is a hunter taking a gun that everyone thinks is to small for deer and killing a buck at 250 is an extrordanaryevent. i am amazed the hollow point went threw at that yardage, that is the reason for me using a fmj. now i have done a lot of research with the fmj since my daughter killed her deer just the fact i took in a lot of negative comments from some on this. B-bullets said the fmj i used is a full on copper bullet and on impact it will mushroom like the base of any other bullet. however would be better to use a bullet with a hollow point with a plastic tip to help open that bullet up even more. I can see were someone could get mad at u if you used a armor pierc fmj. so any way i went out and shot a apple, watermel,pineapple,and a rabbit using both a copper fmj and then a hollow point, after my test's i could not say which did the worst damage the rabbit was dead with the same amount of damage and the apple and watrmelln both blew up in pcs now with wannaBhunter14 killing his deer at 250 and my little girl killing her deer and both deer not going more that a total combined of 25yds I think it is safe to say a 223 is a good gun for deer. In all honesty i do not know why any one would put a 300win mag or a 7mm or a 30-06 in a 12 or a 14 year olds hands. 3 years ago the UDOW changed a law that any one that passes a hunter safety will be allowed to hunt waterfowl and other small game, due to that a man was killed by letting his kid 12 year old use a 31/2 mag auto, the kid was shooting at a goose and the first shot went off and put him on his a@# and as he went down the trigger was pulled again and hit his dad in the chest! THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPEN. some of us dad's get excited for the day your son or daughter can hunt with you I know i am one of them but i learned a lesson when chad was killed by his own kid using a big gun. so please put your pride to the side so you can enjoy your next fathers day. GOOD WORK wonnaBhunter14 on your buck.

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Joined: 10/30/2013
Posts: 1
.223 for Mulies

Okay, here's the deal: FMJ's are the only rifle round legal in war.  Da guy who came up wid da .223 got around that by making a cartridge so hyper fast that the bullet does something that seems quite unbelievable.  When the bullet hits a solid the front end slows down but the back end of the bullet is still going unbelievably fast and the result is the same as a car skidding on ice.  The bullet starts to skew or tumble creating a much larger wound than its diameter.  It acts like a dum-dum or soft-point, both of which are illegal to use in war.  There is no reason to shoot a soft-point .223 under the mistaken belief that it will mushroom.  It doesn't need to mushroom to do the incredible damage that it inflicts.  It's a little weak at longer ranges (250+ yards) because as it slows down it loses the ability to tumble.  Incredible round.  In Arizona, we can use a 30 round clip for hunting big game if we want.  Only use that if you want venison hamburger.

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Location: Eunice, NM
Joined: 09/23/2008
Posts: 314
here in New Mexico any center

here in New Mexico any center fire rifle is legal for deer and smaller game, the problem with your setup is fmj's are illegal for hunting so you would have to find another round to make the small cal work. In my opinion a 243 would be the smallest I would consider.

buffybr's picture
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Location: Montana, USA
Joined: 11/15/2007
Posts: 317
223 Rem vs mule deer
possum's picture
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Location: SK Canada
Joined: 03/31/2009
Posts: 211
223

I would love another excuse to get a new rifle in 223. But here in SASK the 24 CAL is the smallest caliber allowed for big game.

buffybr's picture
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Location: Montana, USA
Joined: 11/15/2007
Posts: 317
223 on deer

First, congratulations to your daughter on her first deer.

Like you proved and a few others have posted, .22 caliber bullets will certainly kill deer and other big game animals. But there are limitations. The most important is bullet placement.

Next is bullet weight and construction, then is range. I live and do most of my hunting in Montana.

The Montana hunting regulations state "There is no rifle or handgun caliber limitation for the taking of big game animals."

[quote=SoCoKHntr] You might want to consider a quality expanding bullet as well if that's going to be used again like a Nosler or Barnes. With a full metal jacket you run the risk of a pencil hole wound and the animal getting far and away. quote]
I agree 100%. I am not aware of any manufacturer of FMJ bullets that recommend them for big game hunting. Also, many states prohibit them for big game hunting.

Many predator hunters use FMJ bullets because they don't expand and to reduce valuable pelt damage. On two African hunts, I used .30 caliber FMJ bullets on a very small antelope and small cats so the bullets wouldn't ruin their pelts.

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