Hunting with AR15 and Sidearm


May 6, 2009, 08:22 PM
This is not another ".223 / 5.56 is not enough to kill a deer" or a "it is not humane to shoot a deer with a .45 or .357" or ... :banghead:
Simple fact is that I am going to be able to finally go deer hunting this year and what I have is an AR15 (16" 1/9 twist), a .45, and a 4" nickel plated (not blued) .357, I cannot buy anything else (not even a sight for the AR -so will be going iron sights) because have a new one on the way and all funds "are spoken for"...
I can put 5/5 rounds inside of a 1.5" to 2" circle (end of a coke can) for the following:
AR15: 75 yards
.45: 30 yards
.357: 25 yards

NOW - all that being said, I need some advice...
What round (weight, brand, etc.) is best for the each firearm?
Which is the best handgun to use? Why?
If I have a shot inside of 15-20 yards, is it best to use one of the handguns, or should I use rifle?
Any other advice you call can provide?

I appreciate it.


PS. I also have a Glock 19, but did not think it fit well in this discussion...

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May 6, 2009, 11:17 PM
I do not know anything about Georgia but in Ohio, a handgun for hunting deer has to have a barrel at least 5 inches long and you cannot carry both a long gun and a handgun while hunting deer. It may be different in Georgia.

Deer aren't that tough. Any expanding bullet from 55 grains in the 223 to 200 grains in the 45 Auto should work just fine if you put the bullet in the right spot.

I also don't see a problem with no scope. Scopes aren't really necessary unless the light is poor or the range is over 200 yards or so.

Of the guns you mention, I would pick the AR-15. The .224 caliber bullet I've used to take a variety of varmints with and 3 deer with (2 with a 22-250 and one with a 222) is the Speer 70 gr. Semi-Spitzer. In fact, one of the deer taken with the 22-250 was a bang flop at a GPS measured 360 yards. This bullet is good in that it will stabilize well in even the 1:12 twist barrels my guns have.

Cpt. America
May 6, 2009, 11:36 PM
Use the rifle, the handgun is just a back up.

May 7, 2009, 01:05 AM
I used a Bushmaster m4gery with an eotech, loaded with 69 gr sierra BTHP .223. One shot to the whitetail's lungs took it down at ~70 yards. This deer wasn't a wimpy small southern deer. It was a Montana whitetail. No matter what anyone tells you .223 will do the job if the bullet is placed right.

Art Eatman
May 7, 2009, 10:36 AM
Yeah, go with the rifle. Better probability of a good hit and more Oomph! for a clean kill.

For me, a shot inside of 25 yards or so just means that a neck shot is very, very easy. That makes for instant drop-dead, and much cleaner field dressing.

May 7, 2009, 12:27 PM
use what you are best with. I have found that in Georgia brush that a handgun is nice. You didn't say what type of .45, acp or long colt. a 357 with hardcast or hollowpoint will do fine. just remember keep it closer with a handgun, get your first deer with a rifle to put meat in the freezer and then switch to a handgun for sport. also hunt during doe days so that if anything comes in it's yours. (you can't eat the rack):D

May 7, 2009, 12:52 PM
Yeah - not really hunting for sport - not a big fan of that... it is a .45 acp. I was thinking that a 230 gr +p (~ 1000 fps) round should do well, and in the .357 I would get a 180gr round from Buffalo Bore (~1375 fps)...
another poster said a 70 gr Speer for the AR 15 - which about the heaviest I can do in a 1/9 twist - if I remember correctly....

May 7, 2009, 01:49 PM
Heard good things about the 60 grain Nosler Partition That's what I am going to hunt with.

May 7, 2009, 04:25 PM

Would I use a .223 on deer? NO!!!! It is a varmint cartridge and not a very good one on any thing bigger than a 'yote, IME. There are better cartridges available in the AR15 platform.

Yes, you can kill a deer humanely with a .45 or a .357 with a 4" barrel, IF YOU USE A GOOD HEAVY FOR CALIBER BULLET, ONLY SHOOT WITHIN IT'S EFFECTIVE RANGE AND PUT IT IN THE RIGHT PLACE.

Would I use a .45 or a .357 with a 4" barrel on deer? NO!!!! These 4 barreled pistols are best used on 2 legged varmints. IMO, A .44 Mag with a 6 or 8 inch barrel is a much better pistol for deer.

With your weapons, the keys to humane kills are GOOD BULLETS, EFFECTIVE RANGE AND SHOT PLACEMENT...

May 7, 2009, 05:52 PM
Assuming the 223 is legal in georgia take it with a partition or some kind of bonded or x bullet as heavy as your gun will shoot well. You do need to check local hunting laws as in NC as a 223 was not legal for deer an a barrel of 6" is a minimum along with a 357mag.It could have changed as i don't hunt i state anymore. If one is legal to carry a pistol might want to carry a double action handgun for those times when a deer walks up under or beside you and all you can do is pull the trigger. If you bow hunt also then try the pistol as the hunting ranges would be the same along with setup. Makes for a good challenge to handgun hunt. Both calibers in the handguns would work.

May 7, 2009, 06:53 PM
I do not know anything about Georgia but in Ohio, a handgun for hunting deer has to have a barrel at least 5 inches long and you cannot carry both a long gun and a handgun while hunting deer. It may be different in Georgia.

Sounds like Ohio sux. :D

Go with the rifle. You should be good to 100 yards anyway. Choose a load with a decent bullet, Barnes is an example.

Deer Hunter
May 7, 2009, 07:09 PM

Besides the *, you pretty much just summed up any cartridge choice when it comes to hunting. Doesn't matter if it's a .22 or a .338.

And .44 mag for deer? I wonder how anyone killed anything until smokeless powder hit the scene.

May 7, 2009, 11:53 PM
What part of Georgia? I'm in Columbia County. Byron's in Burke County.

Any sturdy .223 should work. Something like the Federal XMAE223 (, a 63 grain bonded SP should be perfect.

Personally, I find a 4" N frame beautifully balanced, and can use one much more accurately than some longer-barreled pieces. Considering you are in Georgia, you no longer have the power floor or the barrel length restrictions. You also don't have any problem using .223, unlike (say) WA. Folks from other states should be hesitant to discuss legalities in states of which they no knowledge.


May 8, 2009, 06:29 AM
I am in Canton. I plan on heading up past Resaca to do the hunting... thank you for the heads up on the GA Laws. I did not think to check the minimum barrel length on the handgun (still preparing and reading up on laws is part of that) - though it does appear that there is no magazine restriction - which is good - so I can use one of my regular magazines...

May 8, 2009, 10:20 AM
double check that mag restriction law. I thought it changed last year. its easy to alter a 20rd mag to 5rd anyway. :D

May 8, 2009, 10:29 AM
just did my own double check and found thisSpecial Firearm Restrictions:
Plugged Shotguns: Shotguns must be plugged to a maximum capacity of 3 shells (magazine and chamber combined) except for deer, bear & feral hog hunting. For deer, bear & feral hog hunting, shotguns are limited to 5 shells. Plugs must be of one piece and incapable of being removed through the loading end of the magazineif I could find last years hunting regs book I would feel better cause I still think it was changed, O well be safe and good luck (I hunt up in White county):D

May 8, 2009, 01:35 PM
Blackhills has a moly coated heavy hp that shoots well. I know a guy who has a tree farm and has nuisance permits for deer-

thats what he shots and it puts their heads to bed early.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
May 8, 2009, 02:40 PM
There are many many threads on which .223 bullet to use for deer. One of the oft-repeated good choices is the Winchester power point 64 gr. Generally, use a soft point or ballistic tip 55 grains or heavier.

Use the AR15, definitely, of those 3 choices. Shot placement is everything, and a rifle beats a handgun every time (unless you're comparing a Savage Striker to a Mini-14).

May 8, 2009, 08:29 PM
Good luck on finding any ammo in .223, let alone something special for deer hunting. LOL Been to Walmart lately and looked at the ammo shelves? :rolleyes:

May 8, 2009, 11:48 PM
Sounds like Ohio sux.
On this particular subject?

May 9, 2009, 02:15 AM
If you don't have confidence in your rifle load, don't hunt deer with it. Having a handgun won't help.
Work up a load with the right heavy bullet, practice off hand until you can hit a 9" pie plate, every time, at 100 yards and forget the "back up" handgun. Most factory .223 bullets are varmint bullets. Varmint bullets are designed to expand rapidly with little or no penetration. Deer need bullets that penetrate while they expand.

June 13, 2009, 11:39 AM
Thank you to all those who actually read my OP and provided such valuable insight.
Think I am going to try 60 gr Noslers...have to see what shoots best out of my Doublestar...
As for the handguns... 158 for the .357 and 230+p for the .45. - I have heard good things on those.
Next - breaking out the "Bear Whitetail" for archery... that is another discussion :)

.333 Nitro Express
June 15, 2009, 06:16 PM
My rule of thumb is: when hunting big game, use the heavier spectrum of bullets for whatever caliber you use.

The reason is bullet-placement. 'Cause, strictly speaking, the place where you should put the bullet is not the shoulder/neck/chest, etc. It is the heart/lungs/spine, etc. And the higher the sectional density or weight-to-diameter ratio, the easier to place the bullet there even from less-than-forgiving angles, such as quartering-away.

In your case, a 60-plus grainer in the .223, 158-grainer in a .357 Magnum and a 230-plus-grainer in the .45 should be OK for deer, provided you use good judgment in the shots you take.

As for "stopping power," this is not as much of an issue with game, since a deer who runs 50 yards after being lethally hit and dies within 1-2 minutes is OK--unlike a 2-legged predator on crack and with a sawed-off shotgun. So, all other things being equal, I'd rather go for reliable penetration, which comes from weight-to-diameter (and bullet construction, of course).


June 22, 2009, 01:43 PM
If you're deer are like what we have in Troup County GA, I'd go with the nosler partition for the .223, any decent hollowpoint for the .45, and the federal fusion load or hornady leverevolution .357 round. A few years ago i got a good sized doe with my ruger .357 4 3/4" barrel vaquero at about 20 yards. she went down almost immediately. I used a federal hardcast load which punched right through her and turned her chest cavity into goo. next time though i'd use a load that expands more like the ones i listed above. for the ranges you're talking about, if you do your part and make a good shot within reasonable range you'll do fine.

Mr. T
June 22, 2009, 04:54 PM
I have the Patrolman's Carbine from Bushmaster and I have found that Federal 69 grain BTHP's work the best for me. 200 yards and under they're the best round I've been able to find. For the .357 mag, I have a Ruger GP100 and I really like the Hornady 158 grain HP's

June 22, 2009, 10:16 PM
I'm in Florida, but have done a fair amount of hunting in southern GA. I have hunted hogs a BUNCH with an AR-15 using 50gr Remington PSP bullets. I've honestly lost count how many one shot kills on hogs at 100 Yds or less I've taken. Most of the time they drop where they stand, at worst, I've had them go 30 or so Yds and I lost one in a swamp. These hogs range in size from 80-200 lbs.

I've also taken a few southern deer with the same load. Probably 4 or 5 and they were all one shot kills too. The deer here in the south are kinda small so this cartridge combo is enough if you do your part. I will say, my favorite rifle for southern deer is a .243 with 95 Gr Nosler SSTs.

I'd recommend the .357 because I've had experience with it hunting. Never used a .45 ACP for hunting (have shot a hog with a .40 Glock 27 once). When I was younger I carried a S&W Mod 65 4" .357 with 158 Gr lead SWC handloads pushed pretty hard with H110. These rounds really thumped the southern deer and hogs.

So my opinion is, you'll be fine with what you got. Shot placement and keeping range to target in mind and you'll do fine.

June 22, 2009, 10:21 PM
is a human bigger than a "yote"? I dunno.. but I would have no reservation whatsoever with taking a deer with my .223. Do I have more capable rifles, absolutely, but that is completely dependent on the circumstances of the hunt and the likely shots I will be encountering...

June 22, 2009, 10:54 PM

Hot 158-180grain SJHP / FMJ, WC ,or SWC for better penetration


P+ 230grain HP or HPSWC / FMJ or SWC for better penitration


+1 on Winchester power point 64grain or any soft point 55 grains or heavier
On bigger deer you might want to try a Nolser Partition ,Bonded bullet, or something like the Barnes Triple Shock all copper bullet.

For Factory loaded pistol HP's i would probably go with a good bonded bullet like GolDot for better penetration, or Winchester Ranger-Talon for better expansion.

June 22, 2009, 10:58 PM
Yeah, go with the rifle. Better probability of a good hit and more Oomph! for a clean kill.For me, a shot inside of 25 yards or so just means that a neck shot is very, very easy. That makes for instant drop-dead, and much cleaner field dressing.

I couldn't of said it better myself. Except bring the .45 for a sidearm. Never know what could happen.

August 11, 2009, 10:41 PM
anyone use hornady tap in .223 for deer? box says for home defense but wondering if they will take down a deer? (can't find any of the federal ones that i've read about) they're almost if not exactly like the v-max which is more of a varmint round. i'm currently using 55 gr tap but have not got the chance to shoot a deer with it yet. (the vmax is a quick expanding bullet, but wondering if it will penetrate before expanding or if it will expand as it hits cause if it does i don't think the round will be very successful)

August 12, 2009, 06:15 AM
I think the interesting item is that I trust similar rounds to bring down a person - not sure why they would not bring down a deer - given the proper shot placement...
Many others have echoed that point... I just don't want to "learn the hard way"... not fair to the deer.


August 14, 2009, 05:26 PM
Cor-Bon makes a .223 hunting load with a Barnes Triple-Shock bullet specifically for hunting. It doesn't fragment, doesn't lose any projectile weight, and opens into a nice bloom that leaves a very good blood channel. All plenty good enough for a whitetail.

I've used them in the North Woods of Wisconsin, and they kill big deer just fine. The heavy match bullets will work too, and the Nosler Partitions work great. But I'll be using the Triple-Shock from my Remington R-15 VTR this fall.

August 20, 2009, 10:20 PM
A long time ago, but with the .357, I seem to remember something about a minimum amount of foot pounds of energy...I don't remember what is was(sorry)...Check it out, though...

June 1, 2010, 04:40 AM
As long as you use loads that are accurate in the gun, I think any .223 round to the head will drop any deer....I don't know how legal "head shots" are when deer hunting, but if they are allowed, I think a head shot with .223 will definitely net success.

Art Eatman
June 1, 2010, 09:49 AM
Today is not the day for necrothreadia...

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