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I am sure it has been asked before....

But is the .223 adequate for deer and out to what distances out of an accurate rifle?

John
 

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I have taken two with an AR15, Both were under 50 yards with 60gr nosler partitions.
Broadside shots and I gave them plenty of time to expire before tracking and recovering them...
 

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free man
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Fwiw..

I've killed 6 deer with an AR15. Most shots were 50-100yrds in S Ga.

I found that commercial SP/HP rounds usually don't exit(also not as fast as the mil stuff) creating a "no blood trail" situation if the deer runs on you, and otherwise expand/dissipate its energy too soon since its such a light fast round. In contrast, and against conventional thinking w larger rds, 5.56 FMJ usually keyholes(turns sideways) at impact and leaves huge wounds/exit holes in comparsion(ymmv). Altho FMJ is illegal for hunting.. :( ..it proved to be a better hunting round back in the day. ..at least for the small fast light 5.56.

Note:This was back in the M193 days(55gr). I had some 70gr SPs made up, but those sometimes didn't feed reliably, so I never got to test them on a deer.
 

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Not an optimal round but in the hands of the well skilled a AR that can shoot heavier bullets accurately will get the job done if need be. Pick and choose your shots and keep the ranges short. I personally wouldnt take a shot beyond 100 yards or so. You will definitely want to use premium bullets such as the 60 gr Nosler Patrition as a minimum.
 

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I am sure it has been asked before....

But is the .223 adequate for deer and out to what distances out of an accurate rifle?

John


Its been asked a thousand times. here is the deal.

In some states its illegal, underpowered!

I killed four deer with a mini 14, one shot quick kills

I have killed maybe 20 with a .243, and seen others use them.

I've gone to a .308 because i dont think a .243 is really adequate.

the .223 is way less effective than a .243. There are a LOT of good deer calibers. the .270, the .30-06.... use an adequate caliber unless you simply have no choice. Lost in the woods with only .22 shorts, say.
 

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is the .223 adequate for deer and out to what distances out of an accurate rifle?
Trick question. You can kill a deer with .22 LR if the shot is well placed and it penetrates the vital organs or central nervous system. But this does not mean it is recommended (not to mention legal) to hunt deer with. In a survival situation you have to use whatever means you have available to feed you and your family, and a .223 would certainly be better than a sharp stick or your bare hands. But if you are planning ahead for a weapon that will be suitable for deer hunting as well as defense you should select something larger, ideally in .30 / 7.62 caliber. An SKS or an AK, or a .30-30 lever action would all be fine choices, but the best choice would be something in .308, either semi-auto or bolt-action. The venerable .30-06 is also a good choice, particularly if you also want to hunt larger game like elk and moose as it yields about 200 ft/lbs more energy than the .308 in most factory loads.
 

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One more thought:

If you do find yourself in a survival situation where you are forced to hunt big game with a small caliber weapon like .223 you should adopt more of a bowhunting approach. This means using either a spot and stalk approach, or hunting from a blind or tree stand. The reasons for this are two fold: you will need to use stealth to get closer to your quarry without alerting it to your presence, and you will need to take a well aimed shot at a stationary broadside target that is not aware of your presence. You will not have the luxury of busting through the brush or timber and flushing out your quarry then shooting at it on the run. In fact, you should also do as bowhunters do and wait at least 30-60 minutes after the shot to recover the animal. This gives the animal plenty of time to expire before you go after it. Like humans, animals can do amazing things when adrenaline and survival instincts take over. I have seen an elk run over a mile across two steep canyons after being fatally shot with a .270. When we finally recovered it and field dressed it we found that the bullet had passed through both lungs but the shot was taken while the bull was already on the run and full of adrenaline while fleeing from us. We were lucky to find it.
 

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Shot placement is what counts. I've seen deer dropped by a .223 where others were never found after being hit by a .308 or .270. The shooter with the .223 placed her shot well, while the guy with the .270 didn't.
 

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last month I saw a guy lose a deer that did not drop because of too light bullet and .223.

I know he can shoot, as he had a hog on the ground with an earhole shot. But a 55gr soft point directly into a doe's shoulder did not knock her down, and did not leave a blood trail. Several hours search did not find her.

I belive its only good for neck or perfect broadside lungs.
 

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I wouldn't use it.
Go with something with a bit more mass. 120 grains or higher.
Unless you're hunting Key Deer...
 

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I use a 45-70 for deer. Yes the thing is a friggin cannon! but my deer don't run if I do my part. In answer to your question If it is all you have and you have to have the meat, It will work just not very well. Be close, Aim Well, and PLEASE don't leave a wounded animal to suffer because the briers are thick. With skill any animal can be tracked blood or not. If you can track a fleeing deer you will discover they only tend to run around 100 to 200 yards if not pressured. BUT they are UBER alert after a scare for the rest of the day. You are working at taking a week or two worth of meat for a famliy, tracking effectivly is a lost art you will need to teach yourself. Bottom line use what you have to but make sure you can do the followup.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thannks guys. I have a 308 and have been considering moving to a 223 and after reading this and considering some other factors, I think I am sticking with the 308. Have plenty of mags and need to just stocking ammo.

John
 

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Yes keep your .308, I don't know why you would want to get rid of it if you had it all set up except for an ammo supply. Go to ammunition to go and buy a good supply of the match FMJ because it's cheaper, then what ever money you have left get you some good hollow points or some thing. .308 will get most any medium sized job done.

What kind of rifle do you have?
 

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Yes keep your .308, I don't know why you would want to get rid of it if you had it all set up except for an ammo supply. Go to ammunition to go and buy a good supply of the match FMJ because it's cheaper, then what ever money you have left get you some good hollow points or some thing. .308 will get most any medium sized job done.

What kind of rifle do you have?
m1a scout... having a bit of trouble getting used to it, was considering the mini 14 target with the houge rubber stock.

John
 

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"Shot placement is what counts" is a good saying.

But, its only half the answer. An inadequate caliber needs much better placement, up to the .22 short for the grizzly bear. It can be done!

I see the problem as largely being one of self discipline and ethics. I shot deer with a .223, but only a clear close range shot at a standing deer in the open.

I have not missed a shot at a deer in over 20 years. Not coz Im such a good shot, its because of my sense of ethics about when to shoot.

I wouldnt risk a questionable shot, or caliber like 223 now, except in an actual survival situation.

I see carcasses with great craters blown out of them. No need for a .300 magnum for deer. But a .223 or even .243 really isnt enough gun.
 

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Deer can be taken with a .223. Shot placement is important. Just this past weekend we dropped a spike where is stood with one at 138 yards. The shot hit hit on the shoulder and contrary to what some think, it dropped in place. When dressing it, I saw that the shoulder had shattered and the spine was severed. I did have to put it down with a lung shot since the bullet did not hit any vitals but rather paralyzed it instead.

Last year I took a doe with one at 128 yards. It hit both lungs and the base of the heart. She ran about 40 yards. The bullet passed straight through. No blood trail at first, but plenty where she laid down. Massive internal bleeding.

Both were taken with a 55 grain ballistic tip .223. In Texas it is legal to hunt deer with any centerfire rifle. I do agree however, that shot placement is critical, but then again, that is true of any bullet.

What I do like about the .223 for deer is that you do not lose as much meat from a shoulder hit like you do with a 30-06 or similar bullet.

Here is a pic of the spike from Saturday:

matthews first deer hunt november 28-30 2008 012.jpg
 

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"Shot placement is what counts" is a good saying.


I see carcasses with great craters blown out of them. No need for a .300 magnum for deer.
Or a 7mm Remington Magnum! I have a friend who shot a buck from 110 yards with the 7mm Remington Magnum, he said there was a hole the size of a 42-ounce soft drink cup ( movie theater big jug things ) and it was all the way through. One word.... overkill!
 

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The .223 willl certainly kill a deer. Humanely?? Not usually. Go a little bigger if you can. But, if a .223 is what you have, and it's legal, go for it. If you are concerned, instead of dropping 500-1000 dollars on a new .308, bring your 12 guage and feed it with slugs. Then you'll have the equivilant of a 45-70, and you won't worry about humane kills!
 

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.223 is fine as long as you use premium ammo, i prefer black hills 60 gr v-max. also i use a leupold mid range 2.5-8x on a larue quick detach mount so i can put my 4xdos back on. w/the larue mounts i retain absolute zero. w/the leupold on i can make head shots out to 200yds. having said this, although i've taken 2 deer with it (190yds & 125yds respectively) i still prefer my rem 700pss .308 using win. 168gr bst.
 
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