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Thread: Using a .223 for deer hunting

  1. #1
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    Using a .223 for deer hunting

    This is something that's popped up the last few times I've been chatting with my hunting friends/family. That is, using a .223 rifle to hunt the whitetail deer we have down in the southern states (which are generally a lot smaller than western/northern deer btw). This last weekend I heard of a guy who after switching his youngest kid to a .223 from a .243 is claiming that his kid gets more good kills now. I'd personally chock that up to an increase in "accuracy" (of the kid, not the gun) due to less recoil and possibly less flinching, but I admittedly don't have the whole story. This story has a relative who also has a young son thinking about using the Savage 10 I gave him a few months ago for an introductory deer rifle. Now personally I'm against it, I think a 55 grain bullet is way too light and the muzzle energy way too low, but that's me. I know people use 7.62x39 down here, but that's a 123 grain bullet with near .30-30 energy at 100 yards (at least according to my old Cartridges of the World).

    I'd like to hear some of you all's opinions on this issue.
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  2. #2
    Senior Veteran HKILLER's Avatar
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    This debate will go on for ever but its about shot placement a .223 will do the job if u take a head or neck shot, if your going for the heart then yes a larger bullet would help from being deflected like a .223 or similar cal. Would.just my 2 cents.
    Last edited by HKILLER; 10-11-2011 at 08:45 AM.
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    Senior Veteran bladeworks123's Avatar
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    I wouldn't. Too much chance of wounding and not killing. You are right the bullet is too light. Understand this, I have been hunting game since I was five years old. The bigger I got, the bigger the game got. So I am not an anti hunter. But, I do believe that if I want to kill something, I don't want it to unnecessarily suffer or die slow bleeding to death. Most states have minimum caliber requirements for that reason, I would be surprised if any state allows .223 for deer, but I could be wrong. If, you get good shot placement, if you don't hit a twig between you and the deer, if you don't hit a shoulder blade or rib bone too many if's for me.....Think about this,,,, part of the reasoning behind the choice of the 5.56 or .223 round for military use was it's ability to wound rather than kill. That's my .02 worth.
    Last edited by bladeworks123; 10-10-2011 at 11:25 PM.
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    I've killed a few deer with .223. Wouldn't be my first choice, but I would not be afraid to do it again. You have many choices for projectiles if you reload, and it is legal in my state.
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    I wouldnt go anything less than 6.8 SPC for a deer just to ensure a clean kill. A .308 or more preferably though. Growing up in IL we had to use 12ga slugs, no rifles at all, which always did the job.
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  6. #6

    Charlie Don't Surf

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    Too many other options out there to consider .223 in my opinion.
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  7. #7
    Ol'30 Grit jfowl31's Avatar
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    AFAIK 223 is legal in all states that specify center fire calibers. It really does the job just fine. I've killed probably 10 deer and countless hogs with it and 2 guys on my lease with shoulder issues have used it for years with no issues ans killed tons of whitetail. Every shot has an entry and an exit whether it hits bone or not. JMO.
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  8. #8
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    most of the deer in texas are small. hogs plentiful, etc. the .223 will work just fine. there are some deer in west texas that are large. placement is always key. if your not a good shot then practice until you are or just get a cannon, then placement is not so much an issue.

    i have used .223 and .243 for years when i hunted. killed many deer and hogs. 90% of my kills were made at less than 100 yards. most around 50 yards or less. sometimes it pays to wait until you have a good clean shot.
    i have also hunted with 270,30-06, and 308. it take more time to hunt with the smaller round, but when hunting i have time.
    i get a big grin when people talk ( brag) about the 200 to 500+ yard shot they made. my question is why?
    i hate dragging animals that far.

    some parts of the country have larger animals and the .223 may not be a good choice. shots may be longer,etc.

    IMHO
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  9. #9
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    I know with these South Texas white tails, a proper shot out of a .223 will drop them. Of course the shot placement is what counts. But if you can't place a proper shot on the deer then you shouldn't be taking the shot anyway, regardless of the caliber.

    I use a .270 for hunting around here most of the time.
    Last edited by Kyle; 05-28-2013 at 10:40 AM.

  10. #10
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    head shot maybe, otherwise I wouldn't go any smaller than a 22-250.

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