.223 on deer?

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.223 on deer?

Postby Jimmy82 » Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:52 am

So, a little background first. I grew up in NE which has a caliber restriction for big game. Rifles must be .24 or lager caliber. NY does not have this restriction, a rifle for big game only has to be centerfire. My 7mm Rem Mag will possibly be down for maintenance this coming season which limits me to a .243 and my new .223. I got the .223 for coyotes, it's the Gandermountain Rem 700 package deal. If my wife hunts this year one of us will have to use the .223 or a muzzle loader. My muzzle loaders are all traditional style flint locks or percussion caps and if there in bad weather this will not be the best option.

So, with that, the .223 is a 1/12 twist, which won't handle heavier rounds well. Since I'm new to the whole concept of using a .223 on deer, is there a round that my rifle will handle that will also kill deer? Would a predator round be enough on a deer? Would range be a factor? The average range for where we will be hunting is 100 yds, maybe 200 max, so I don't think the round would suffer in that range.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby blackrock » Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:16 am

This is a bad idea. Fix your 7 mag before deer season or borrow another gun. Or buy a Ruger American or something. Plenty of deer have been poached with 22LR but the .243 is really where deer cartridges begin. Especially if your AR won't handle the heavier, well constructed bullets due to twist. Having your wife shoot a deer with a sub performing caliber may need lead to an unpleasant experience if the deer ends up with a horrible superficial wound and has to be dispatched at close range. Trust me on this one. What's the matter with the 7mm that it can't be readied in months? Or if you insist on using the AR buy a different upper in a larger caliber. Even out here deer season is 3 1/2 months away......
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby Jimmy82 » Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:03 am

The .223 is a Remington 700, not an AR, so getting a new upper is not an option.

I got the 7-mag from an estate auction, and I don't know the history of the gun prior to me getting it. I think it was made in the '80s. I'm afraid it might need a new barrel. It won't hold groups, it's had this problem the entire time I've owned it. I've got a Leupold on it, so I don't believe it's the scope. I should have dealt with it last year, but I put it off. I still have about a month overseas before I come home. I plan on scrubbing the hell out of the barrel and bringing my sniper buddy with me to the range when I get home just to make sure it isn't me. I am usually pretty thorough when cleaning, but there could be a copper build up or it could just be shot out. I don't expect a semi-auto to shoot a 1" group, but a 4" to 5" "group" at 100yds doesn't seem right for a round designed to go out to 300 to 500 yds with ease.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby blackrock » Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:47 am

Sorry, I missed the model on the .223. Easy fix if the 7mm won't group. March it down to a gun shop and trade it for a different used rifle. There is no shortage of reasonably priced used rifles that will shoot tight groups. Most people don't shoot a 7 mag enough to wear it out though, due to the recoil. Good luck getting one dialed in!
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby Jimmy82 » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:22 am

Honestly, that's something I hadn't really thought of... Definitely something to ponder, and I got the time to ponder it lol.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby blackrock » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:10 am

Yep, simple solution. Just take it to a reputable gun shop that deals in used guns and trade it. No explanation is required. Don't get attached to guns that don't fulfill your expectations. I've bought a lot of used S&W revolvers and hunting rifles over the past five years. When the economy is tough it's a buyers market!
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby cbrauly » Sat Aug 16, 2014 1:43 am

Ive killed a lot of deer with my ar15. I used hollow point rounds. It dropped them in their tracks
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby blackrock » Sun Aug 17, 2014 9:48 am

cbrauly wrote:Ive killed a lot of deer with my ar15. I used hollow point rounds. It dropped them in their tracks

That doesn't make it a good idea. Have you ever heard of Jack Oconner? Good reading.......
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby dakotashooter2 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:22 pm

It depends on your hunting style. My first deer, a 90# doe fell to a 223 at about 40 yards. It dropped like a rock. I had a rock solid rest and took out the lungs. BUT......driving deer is a common practice around here and I have seen a lot of hunter wound a lot of game with .22 centerfire rifles. I've seen 170-180 # bucks hit in the vitals and not even flinch...making for a long tracking job.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby :-) » Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:42 pm

.223 is ok if you're only making head or neck shots, but I would never try a heart/lung shot with it.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby waterfowlhunter » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:27 am

I have taken many deer with my AR in 223, it also has the 6 position stock so my daughters and their cousin use one too. not one deer has went more than 30 yds and most have fallen in their tracks. I use Speer bullets in my reloads or Federal Fusion without an issue at all. all shots have been within 100 yds and all have been complete pass thru in the rib cage. one point I will make is that there is little or no blood trail as the holes are tiny and they do not spray out blood like a 12ga slug will do, but the youngsters can handle the rifle better than a shotgun. Every one we have taken with the 223 is complete mush inside more so than my 300WSM. The 223 seems to turn the insides to liquid as it passes thru. I personally will continue to harvest deer with the 223 with the proper bullets and proper shot placement and have no concerns about it at all as I have never had it fail to perform.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby AWall3322 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:04 am

:-) wrote:.223 is ok if you're only making head or neck shots, but I would never try a heart/lung shot with it.


Head shots are quite illegal here.........and a .223 will kill a deer all day long just like a .243 will, did it for years. Sure you arent going to do :censored: with a FMJ bullet but hunting is not what those are for.........well besides hunting people

oh and another thing, look up hydrostatic shock.....bullets dont need to hit vitals to kill
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby kcwellington » Thu Sep 25, 2014 8:20 am

:-) wrote:.223 is ok if you're only making head or neck shots, but I would never try a heart/lung shot with it.

I disagree. If you are hunting whitetail with a 5.56, the heart or lungs is exactly where you want to hit. Just get a bullet that doesnt frag. When a 5.56 round hits soft tissue, it tumbles end over end creating a devastating wound channel. Now with that said , you dont need to try to make 200-300 yd shots.Know the rounds limits. A 5.56 in 62-70 gr is one hell of a whitetail round. If it will kill a man at 500 it will kill a deer DEAD at 100.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby Gj325 » Thu Sep 25, 2014 8:27 am

.223 will work as well as you can shoot in the proper location very deadly.
Miss by 1" you will have a good chance of just wounding the deer.

If you go with this caliber expect to wound and lose a deer. It's going to happen even if you stick with neck shot only. Very small target.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby dakotashooter2 » Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:47 am

Keep in mind that while the .223 may be a 400 yard varmint round it IS NOT a 400 yard big game round. This is often where the problem arises. Some guys think that just because it is accurate to that range it is OK to shoot large game out that far. With a varmint bullet even at that range you will het good (and probably violent) expansion which is adequate for varmints but even with a big game bullet from a 223 the expansion you get at such ranges probably won't exceed what you might get out of an unexpanded 30 or 35 caliber round.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby blackrock » Thu Sep 25, 2014 11:03 am

Can you guys not afford to buy a deer rifle? Hell pick up a used one in an actual big game caliber, or borrow one for a day or two. There is a reason 22 caliber center fires are illegal for big game in most states. Larger projectile = more energy = killing shot even if deflected or you make a poor shot. I figure you owe it to the game animal to use an appropriate cartridge and make a humane one shot kill. Do you hunt geese with your daughters .410?
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby :-) » Thu Sep 25, 2014 11:16 am

kcwellington wrote:
:-) wrote:.223 is ok if you're only making head or neck shots, but I would never try a heart/lung shot with it.

I disagree. If you are hunting whitetail with a 5.56, the heart or lungs is exactly where you want to hit. Just get a bullet that doesnt frag. When a 5.56 round hits soft tissue, it tumbles end over end creating a devastating wound channel. Now with that said , you dont need to try to make 200-300 yd shots.Know the rounds limits. A 5.56 in 62-70 gr is one hell of a whitetail round. If it will kill a man at 500 it will kill a deer DEAD at 100.


I don't disagree with you at all, that's my personal preference. I live in South Texas, and don't want to track a deer thru mesquites, catclaw, cactus etc...that stuff is unforgiving.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby kcwellington » Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:18 pm

:-) wrote:
kcwellington wrote:
:-) wrote:.223 is ok if you're only making head or neck shots, but I would never try a heart/lung shot with it.

I disagree. If you are hunting whitetail with a 5.56, the heart or lungs is exactly where you want to hit. Just get a bullet that doesnt frag. When a 5.56 round hits soft tissue, it tumbles end over end creating a devastating wound channel. Now with that said , you dont need to try to make 200-300 yd shots.Know the rounds limits. A 5.56 in 62-70 gr is one hell of a whitetail round. If it will kill a man at 500 it will kill a deer DEAD at 100.


I don't disagree with you at all, that's my personal preference. I live in South Texas, and don't want to track a deer thru mesquites, catclaw, cactus etc...that stuff is unforgiving.

I understand. If you have to track after the shot, 5.56 is not the easiest to trail. 1). They usually dont go all the way through. 2). Leave a very small entry wound.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby blackduck_killer » Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:28 pm

With modern bullets; Barnes x series, nosler partitions and a few other high end bullets the high velocity .22 center fires are certainly capable deer guns. My preferred load for deer with my .223 exceeds the performance of my .44's pistol or 12" carbine. And shoots considerably more accurately, is it a 200 plus yard deer gun, not in my opinion but inside 170 deer drop like a puppet with the strings cut. The .22 center fires coupled with modern deer specific loads are easily as capable a deer round as the .243 or 6mm was back in their early days.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby bgoldhunter » Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:44 pm

Late to the party, but I agree. 223/TSX combo is a killer...
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby muktuk_bill » Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:47 am

Shoot them in the head.
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby Sammyshonker » Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:17 pm

muktuk_bill wrote:Shoot them in the head.

And when you break thier jaw, and they die a slow miserable death from starvation, you can have something to think about at night the rest of your life, when you can't sleep...Head shots are terrible advice, unless it's a wounded animal at close range-

To the OP:
If I read your post correctly, you have a .243 and a .223 Correct?
A .243 is a deer rifle, a .223 is not. I don't care who says what here or anywhere else, the .223 IS NOT A DEER RIFLE-
Use your .243 or go get a deer rifle if you want to kill deer. Leave the coyote gun for coyotes... Having to curtail your methods and shot selection based on an inferior cartridge for the intended job, only makes sense if you are starving, and your life depends on it. Over gunning is not a problem, under gunning is asking for trouble...Use an efficient cartridge at least, for the right game animal, you will be glad you did. :thumbsup:
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby blackrock » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:02 pm

Sammyshonker wrote:
muktuk_bill wrote:Shoot them in the head.

And when you break thier jaw, and they die a slow miserable death from starvation, you can have something to think about at night the rest of your life, when you can't sleep...Head shots are terrible advice, unless it's a wounded animal at close range-

To the OP:
If I read your post correctly, you have a .243 and a .223 Correct?
A .243 is a deer rifle, a .223 is not. I don't care who says what here or anywhere else, the .223 IS NOT A DEER RIFLE-
Use your .243 or go get a deer rifle if you want to kill deer. Leave the coyote gun for coyotes... Having to curtail your methods and shot selection based on an inferior cartridge for the intended job, only makes sense if you are starving, and your life depends on it. Over gunning is not a problem, under gunning is asking for trouble...Use an efficient cartridge at least, for the right game animal, you will be glad you did. :thumbsup:
blackrock wrote:Can you guys not afford to buy a deer rifle? Hell pick up a used one in an actual big game caliber, or borrow one for a day or two. There is a reason 22 caliber center fires are illegal for big game in most states. Larger projectile = more energy = killing shot even if deflected or you make a poor shot. I figure you owe it to the game animal to use an appropriate cartridge and make a humane one shot kill. Do you hunt geese with your daughters .410?

X2 here! See, the Idaho boys know what a big game cartridge is......thanks sammy
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby POKER1 » Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:27 pm

Try the Nosler .223 64gr. bonded and see how it will pattern in your AR. Some 1/12 barrels will shoot heavier bullets so you won't know until you put a few on target. The Nosler will pole axe them every time but forget the head shots. A good broadside is the way to go. Don't mind the haters. Keep your shots within a reasonable range and you will be fine. Best part is practice ammo is cheap and your wife can get in a lot of shooting with the AR before the season rolls around which will pay off big time with her confidence. :thumbsup:
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Re: .223 on deer?

Postby endofadirtroad » Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:14 pm

Coming from somebody who has shot over 30 deer with .17 and .22 caliber rifles, and my father has shot over 100 deer with .22 caliber rifles it isn't unethical or inhumane.... HOWEVER... I think a little common sense goes a long way.

I also don't think that .223 are really very good for deer hunting. We are shooting .17 Remington, 22-250, and USUALLY .220 swifts with 26" barrels. We are cranking out over 4000 fps w/ a 55 grain bullet. With a .223 you are only going to get about 3200 fps w/ that load and that is out of a hunting rifle. You are probably going to lose at least another 200 fps out of an AR.

Kinetic energy is 1/2 mass x velo^2. IE big difference in kinetic energy. Without a doubt I think that a 220 swift hits harder than most setups for a .243 at reasonable distances (under 200 yards).

Speed kills, hydrostatic shock on them is devastating. We have found that the larger calibers (.270, 7mm, .300's) on Texas size whitetail don't expand (Usually people are shooting factor ammo which is heavier bonds, bullets that are also appropriate for elk, and dont work well on a 160 lb Texas whitetail). These poke holes, like an icepick. The deer die but they may run 100-300 yards. Neck shots drop them in there tracks and the majority of the deer shot behind the shoulder run 30-50 yards.

On deer our size, .243's w/ 100 grain bullets poke holes, rather than do devastating trauma. Again, they work, but deer shot behind the shoulder often run 100-200 yards rather than the 30-50 yards w/ the .220 swift. However, we set our .243's up to shoot 70 grain bullets at 3500 fps, and this has devastating results. The 220 swift holds basically the same amount of powder as the .243 anyways, just shoots a little lighter bullets w/ a little less sectional density, so set up the same way the .243 wins. But if shooting a heavy bullet in the .243, the .243 is not near as flat or doesn't hit as hard until you get to longer distances (over 200 yards). Same goes for why we use .17 rem (.223 down to .17) on deer inside 100 yards (neck shots only). It hits harder than a .223 ( going 4200 fps) at the said distance but does lose energy at further distances, and can't hold up to winddrift.

90% of our shots are neck shots. The majority of our shots are 125-150 yards. Although we have killed deer out at 225 yards. I wouldn't hesitate shooting a deer out to 300 yards, in the neck. A behind the shoulder shot at that distance wouldnt be wise IMO. You have to shoot well with them, you can't shoot through the shoulder, it must be a lung shot behind the shoulder. This is why we shoot in the neck.... Either a clean kill and the deer doesnt run, or a miss.

So anyways, I hate the .22 caliber ban because its basically made specifically to counter deer hunting with an AR which at 2900 fps (which I don't think is adequate) and is nowhere near the same ballpark as our .22 caliber setup @ 4000 fps. But luckily here in Texas we don't have to worry about it.
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