.223 for Deer?


El Guero
November 3, 2003, 08:53 PM
When I turn 18 in a few months, I want to get a rifle. I was looking for something that I could plink with and hunt deer with, because I want a practical use for it. When I went to the gun store, the guys there said that .223 was legal for deer, and I decided that I'd buy some sort of AR-15.

But I'm still kind of skeptical about it. I know 7.62x39 would be more of a sure thing, but I like the AR-15 and want to know if a .223 will bring down a deer at 25-75 yds. every time, or pretty close. I'm a good enough shot for those ranges, so I'm also pretty sure I'll have a vitals hit. What do you guys think?

BTW I'm looking at Olympic Arms' rifles, and I want to get a 16" barrel carbine with a flattop. Any other suggestions?

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November 3, 2003, 09:09 PM
this is a very controversial topic...

in my own opinion and experiences, the simple answer to your question is no.

as far as the ar goes for hunting... if you decide to go w/ a 223 to hunt w/, be sure to check legality... you will likely need, at the minimum mags w/ reduced capacity.

for a rifle that will be primarily a plinker and sometimes a hunter, look into something like a remington 700 (and the many variations - like vssf, vls, adl, etc etc etc).

for caliber, i'd reccomend something based on the 308, like 243 or, even better, the 7-08....

son of a gun
November 3, 2003, 09:21 PM
Get an AR15 chambered for either one of the 7.62 bullets.

November 3, 2003, 10:29 PM
.223's are legal in several states, and are even popular for deer in Texas. I have heard some impressive stories about the "deer" bullets in .223 (Partition, PowerPoint, TBBC, X), and would strongly recommend one if you insist on shooting at deer with a popgun. However, I recommend that if you like AR's for deer hunting, they (or clones) are available in many calibers. I have seen .50 BMG uppers for AR lowers.....

November 3, 2003, 11:00 PM
Talkin with a guy at the club Sunday .. and he was relating tales on .222 .. seemingly numerous successes! One or more was out to beyond 200 yds!! (he said!!!).

Hmmm ... well ... grain of salt for me i'm afraid .. sorry but even with 80 grainers and good shot placement etc .. Nope ... really do not feel this is enough gun at all. IMO, better overkill than underkill.

MINIMUM I would choose is my .243 Savage with 105 grainers ... now that is beginning to get useful. 270 will cut it too but .... in the end, seems way best to me to use the trusty .308 ...... or 30-06 if you are so inclined ...... even at the shorter ranges we take em round here.

son of a gun
November 3, 2003, 11:06 PM
I think with a well placed shot it's not a problem, but in non optimal conditions will it make a quick humane kill ?

November 3, 2003, 11:29 PM
with a scope
and a steady hand
at a standing deer
sub 100 yards

meat in the freezer

November 3, 2003, 11:42 PM
Welcome to THR, Trippy.

The .223 can definitely do it. So can a .22 LR.

If you're a beginning shooter, especially, though, you would do well to choose something with some margin for error. Deer hunting can be difficult enough without handicapping yourself with a marginal round. I've seen good shots with much more powerful rounds that barely did the trick.

If you like the AR, fine. Get an Olympic Arms in .243 WSSM. No marginallity there!



Art Eatman
November 4, 2003, 12:00 AM
Sure, cartridges like the .222 or .223 will kill a deer. The problem lies in the skill of the shooter.

Many marginal cartridges work well with exact or near-exact shot placement. However, a bad hit from one is more likely to allow a deer to escape and be lost to suffer and then die or be permanently crippled. It is common for a bad hit with a stouter cartridge to anchor a deer long enough to get off a second, killing shot.

Some degree of "buck fever" or one's adrenalin rush can really ruin one's day. It's hard on the ego, as well, as one thinks back to all those tight groups from a benchrest...Experience and self-control play a large part in this deal...

:), Art

November 4, 2003, 01:44 AM
Have you thought about getting a nice lever gun in .30-30 or .44 Mag? Fun to plink with, and much better suited for deer hunting. Cheaper too...

November 4, 2003, 04:08 AM
Get a Mauser in 308..

Some states don't allow .223's..

November 4, 2003, 08:13 AM
I wouldn't hunt with a .223 Too much damage to the meat at that velocity. Save it for the Coyotes and ground hogs.
But look closely at a Rock River Arms. One of the top AR's made today. You can buy the A2 carbine for about $800. Or do as I am doing. Buy the lower from them for $250, or less from Pete in New Hampshire. Then order the upper from Pete for $405. $655 plus S&H and transfer fees. Don't ask me why it is cheaper to buy them seperately, but it is!
Check out www.ar15.com

November 4, 2003, 08:46 AM

The answer is excise tax. That only has to be paid on a complete firearm, as I understand it.

You could take a deer with .223 but I wouldn't. You'd have to have a near perfect shot.

Better a 357, 44 or 45 lever gun. Any of them will take down a deer at 150 yards or less. And they are cheap and cheap to shoot.


November 4, 2003, 09:46 AM
.223's are legal in Michigan. At the ranges you are talking about---25-75 yards, a .223 will take a deer right on down----just be sure to use a good hunting-type cartridge----something like a Trophy Bonded Bear Claw.

While I agree that---if given a range of different rifles/cartridges----something larger would be 'better'----the .223 will get the job done for you. Heck, here in Northern Wisconsin I know of folks who use a .30 Carbine on deer-----and that is anemic compared to the .223

November 4, 2003, 10:37 AM
One must also factor in the size of the deer.

I have effectively used a .223 on many deer. The small "Jack Rabbit" sized deer we have here in Central Texas are fine for smaller calibers.

I wouldn't hunt the larger South Texas white tails. I wouldn't use it on Muleys either.

My $.02


November 4, 2003, 11:35 AM
with a scope
and a steady hand
at a standing deer
sub 100 yards

meat in the freezer

These are my thoughts on the matter.

I've never been a hunter, but I've been thinking about trying to go this year, for the meat. Rather than buy a whole new bolt gun in .308, I think I'm just going to get some optics and decent hunting cartridges for my bushy 20" HBAR A3.

I figure a well placed, preferably head or neck shot inside 200 yards with powerpoints at ~3100 fps will do the trick. And of course, followup shots are going to be quicker with an AR than with anything else.

Carlos Cabeza
November 4, 2003, 12:23 PM
I think it could be done. If the shooter is well practiced and does not compromise on shot placement or shooting conditions. A nice heart/lung shot inside of ~ 100yds. should bring down the animal with minimal tracking effort:p If you like tracking that is ......................Hey, it can be fun. I have never tried it. I have only used .270 & 30-30 in rifle calibers.

November 4, 2003, 12:41 PM
Right now, Dick's Sporting Goods has Savage package guns (scope included, I forget the array of calibers) for ~$320 and Remington 710's (.270 or 30-06) for about $10 more (scope also included). 30-30 Lever actions are around the same price (I wish I had the advert right here).
Wally-mart is about the same.
The stainless Savage package guns are about $450.
They were the same prices last year, with it varying about $10-20, depending the week and which store's ad was better.

Any of these would be fantastic deer guns. And Savages are nice shooters, regardless of the looks.

As for .223 for deer, I'd follow Smoke's advice.

My $0.02.


November 4, 2003, 12:47 PM
"...223 with a scope and a steady hand at a standing deer sub 100 yards meat in the freezer..." If, and only, if you are using bullets designed not to break up on impact like 99% of .223 calibre bullets do. Far more places do not allow .22 calibre centre fire firearms than allow it. Get a .243 Win as a minimum.

Med 10
November 4, 2003, 01:31 PM
7.62x39. similar ballistics to a 30.30. and cheap enough to plink to youre hearts content. I would stay with something in the 30cal. range.

If youre talking about 200 yards or less 7.62x39 is OK.

Me personally, I would get a dedicated deer rifle in 308, and save up youre money for a plinker SHTF type weapon.

November 4, 2003, 01:39 PM
You owe it to the deer to use something more effective. .223 is marginal at best.

7.62X39 is a better choice for deer and a cheaper rifle.

If you really like the AR platform, get an AR10 in .308 or .243.

If you must have a 5.56 AR, get a dedicated deer rifle as well.


November 4, 2003, 02:00 PM
I agree with gun-fucious, however, I'd save up and buy a rifle just for your hunting purposes. I've witnessed a 22-250 take a deer down one shot 400+ yards, but I wouldn't count on that everytime. You can't have too many guns. Save up for a .243 cal. or up.


November 4, 2003, 02:24 PM
I have to agree. On one hand, ARs are fun guns, relatively cheap to shoot, and can be tackdrivers. And in states where you can legally hunt deer with them, you can use them to take one down, assuming it's a good shot.

But on the other hand, what if it's not a good shot? If you flinch and only wound it, it gets away, and you lose its trail. You have to live with the knowledge that you did not provide a clean, mostly painless kill. It suffered, and could still be out there suffering for days or weeks. With a .308 or a .30-06, you have a much better chance of a clean kill. Even a .243 or .270 will work very well. If recoil is a problem, .30-30 is good for shorter ranges. You can also use 7.62x39, but usually that's not terribly accurate. So get a Savage or Remington bolt-action hunting rifle if hunting is your prime purpose, or the AR if plinking is your prime purpose, but don't hunt with it unless you are absolutely sure you can kill the deer quickly.

November 4, 2003, 02:39 PM
Second the AR10 in .243 (or .308), but you're talking beaucoup bucks, even before you mount the glass.:uhoh:

For plinking AND occasional deer, why not a real nice AK klone? Arsenal has the SAM7S or SLR-series with scope mount. You can get a flat-top Weaver mount for it and put any kind of scope you want.

As someone mentioned, the 7.62x39 ballistics are virtually identical to the 30-30. And muy, muy cheap.

Good luck.

p.s. forgot to mention that CZ also has a little bolt-action carbine in 7.62x39. been thinking on one of these meself.:cool:

p.p.s. duh! didn't even realize there's another thread going on the CZ right now.Click here. (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=48073) Guess great minds think alike!;)

4v50 Gary
November 4, 2003, 02:44 PM
My brother took one with his Rem 700 VSS. He did a chest shot while it was facing him. Why chest? He wanted to do a bullet expansion test with a Nosler partition. 3 petals did blossom out like in the pics and the fourth broke off. It went through the chest and through the internal organs before lodging somewhere in the hindquarter (forgot where). He was less than 100 yards away when he made the shot.

El Guero
November 4, 2003, 04:44 PM
Thanks for all the input! I thought it was funny when people suggested the lever-action 30-30s, as we already have 2 of them and I've already had 2 deer with mine!

The consensus seems to be that the .223 is just a little too wimpy for deer, and that's what I expected. What I'm looking for is a done deer with one shot, I don't really like the idea of follow-ups in hunting, or at least picking a weaker gun for that purpose. I might end up getting an AR15 just for fun sometime, since we already have some pretty decent deer guns.

As for the AKs.... I think they're great functionally but I just don't like the look of them, just too utilitarian and menacing to be my fun-gun. SKS is almost passable, and if I found a good cheap one I could get one of those anyways.

November 4, 2003, 05:07 PM
It can work just fine, as noted. I do not subscribe to the theory that you need 3000 ft-lbs to knock down a 100-lb deer, but I don't hunt much, so whatever.
I can say that I live in IL, very near the IL/MO border, and rifle hunting is not legal in IL but is in MO, down to .223.... ...-And most of the stories I have ever heard of IL guys taking .223's deer hunting in MO was people who wanted to try using their Colt/black rifles for deer hunting.
-So now I am wondering when the limit went down to .223; was this after the military went to .223 as a service caliber? Was it set as the lower limit because the cailber was designated as the military service rifle caliber? Or was such a small-caliber minimum always that low? I thought that before the military caliber, there was no .223, just the .222. I am not old enough to remember any of this first-hand. Have large-animal/white/blacktail deer caliber minimums ever been significantly lower in any state?

November 4, 2003, 09:01 PM

I wanted to add that:

#1 Shot placement
#2 Bullet tip type
#3 Bullet type

Buddy used a 308 softpoint, and did take down the deer, but we had to do a little trailing first, and it was a perfect heart shot too.. So use something more effective for hunting, like a Nosler or Bear Claw..

That said, when you see a .223 shot at sub 50 yards, you don't have as much meat left as you'd like..

November 5, 2003, 09:11 AM
IMO .223 is pefectly fine for deer. No problem, as long as you hit it in the lungs/vitals. So it is effective in any situation where you can do that.

November 5, 2003, 11:59 AM
".223 is pefectly fine for deer. "

Yeah .... and who says hunters don't have a use for full auto? Duhhhh :p

Bottom Gun
November 5, 2003, 04:20 PM
My vote is also for the AR10 in .308 if you like the AR platform. An Eagle Arms rifle will only cost you a couple of hundred dollars more than a decent AR15 and then you'll have a rifle you can use on other big game as well as deer.
I took an elk this year with mine.

November 5, 2003, 06:01 PM
Well my point about people using Colt rifles for deer was that they wanted to use that specific rifle, not that they thought that the .223 was that great a caliber choice.
Also I guess depends on where you are hunting; where I live is all wooded areas with fairly short-range shots, and 30-30's with iron sights can do very well. They mightn't work so hot in plains states. A <50-yd 223 shot on a deer should hit well hard enough, a 300+ yd shot maybe not....

November 5, 2003, 06:09 PM
It can be done with a .223 easily enough, but you also have to think about meat damage and bullet fragmentation. You don't want to be tasting .223 fragments in your dear jerky. Your penetration with shots of over 100 yards will probably also be questionable.

My father's favorite deer gun is his Winchester .243. Extremely accurate and it drops em cold. Not a much larger diameter bullet than a .223, but almost twice the bullet weight and alot more powder behind it. He had a 300 yard kill a couple years ago, one shot.

November 5, 2003, 07:27 PM
Inside 100yards, you will get a lot less meat..

That alone would make me want to step up..

November 5, 2003, 08:05 PM

Yes, it will kill them, but I have had small deer run off from even perfectly placed .25 cal bullets out of a .25-06, and take a while to find due to no blood trail.

A former hunting bud used to swear by his .22-250...until you got a few beers in him, then he'd admit to wounding and losing a few. In the end, he went to a .25-06.

.25 cal is the smallest I try on deer, and that only because I have an exceptional .25-06, with which I got my first deer.

November 5, 2003, 10:39 PM
Sure, cartridges like the .222 or .223 will kill a deer. The problem lies in the skill of the shooter. Not just skill, Art. You've got to have situational experiance and the right equipment.

The skilled shooter needs to practice using whatever rest he's going to use in the field so he doesn't get all bewildered when time comes to shoot. (I'm a great fan of using a big oak tree or a walking stick as a standing or kneeling rest; both take a certain amount of practice before one can figure out how best to wrap themselves around them.)

Another thing, I've seen some pretty atrocious triggers on ARs, SKs and AKs. If one is destined to shoot a deer with one of these military style rifles they'd best either learn how to use a heavy creepy trigger or invest in a better one.

November 5, 2003, 11:49 PM
For a good general purpose rifle, a M1A or a M14 clone is a fun plinker and uses the venerable .308. I use my Springfield M1A for hunting. It is a bit heavy (9lb) but I don't mind. Big problem with the Springfield is cost ~$1000. There are cheaper M14 variants available (Polytechs run ~ $600). I'm not in a situation where I can own a lot of firearms so I have tried to pick ones capable of multiple functions.

-- Dizos

November 6, 2003, 12:05 AM
The man says he wants an AR... now anybody who WANTS an AR for plinking is just NOT going to be satisfied with a Remington Mosin NaSavage Lever Action :D

My dear ole Dad has dropped deer using a Savage 24V with a 22" bbl in .223 using 40gr specialty varmint ammo (comes in 10 packs at Walmart), but I do still have to agree that bigger is better. I have an AR, but I won't hunt with it. That's what my new Savage 10FLP is for :cool:

So my vote is still to either get an AR in another caliber (like the Oly Arms 7.62x39, or even 10mm) or buy the AR first, have fun with it, and then when you're ready to hunt, use/buy something else ;)

But I do understand... when you WANT an AR, nothing else will do! :neener:

November 6, 2003, 05:23 AM
If you want one, get one.

Our deer are too big for 223. Minimum caliber is 6mm or larger, use expanding bullets 70gr or larger, and have a rating of 1000ft lbs of energy at 100 yards.

Elk and moose require a minimum 85 grain bullet.

I know it can be done with a 223, I'd just prefer a little more OOMF in my game rifle. Get a 308 if you want an evil black rifle that you can still hunt with... just be aware that you'll need a 5 shot magazine too. Not many states allow you to hunt with a 20-30rd magazine.

November 6, 2003, 05:09 PM
Just from my personal experience I would'nt hunt with an AR... But as far as the .223 caliber that all depends on the rifle the shooter and the experience. Some have mentioned the remington 700 vss that would be a great choice I have one and it's very fun to shoot. I have my own shooting range and on the Remington I have a bausch & lomb 4x16x50 scope and I was very proud of it's ability to shoot 1/2 inch groups with factory ammo and 1/4 inch groups with handloads at 100 yards... until I got a browning A-bolt medallion with a bausch & lomb 6x24 which shoots tacks out at 100 yards every time.. measured the group of 5 at .006. 223 ammo is extremely cheap and will easily take a deer if you place the shot right with the right ammo. Just please take some time to familiarize yourself with the rifle before you take a shot at a deer. Good luck with any choice you make.

November 7, 2003, 09:53 AM
<----- Just being a jerk:

There are many people who hunt deer with bow and arrow. Is the .223 less effective than an arrow?

November 7, 2003, 10:11 AM
There are many people who hunt deer with bow and arrow.
Yeah, but those guys have always been a bit odd.
*covers up the compound bow in the back seat of his car*
Is the .223 less effective than an arrow?
For what?
Ever see someone make a 600 yard shot with an arrow?
Ever see a .223 cut a 1.5 inch clean slice through something?

November 7, 2003, 11:31 AM
I am from the N GA mountains. The 223 is very poplar especially in a Mini 14. I frequented a small gun store in Blue Ridge a lot. In deer season, he sells a lot of the Federal 68 or 69 grain match for deer and has so for several years. The WW 64 grain is poplar. Handloaders swear by the Speer 70 grain semi spitzer. The terrian is mountainous and shots are usually 75 yards and under. Sometime ago on TFL, pictures were shown of a FL hunter having germission to kill deer in Orange groves. The pictures were impressive. He used Military M193 and I belive a 161/2" barrel AR. Byron

son of a gun
November 7, 2003, 12:50 PM
There are many people who hunt deer with bow and arrow.


November 7, 2003, 03:10 PM
I think I'm just going to get some optics and decent hunting cartridges for my bushy 20" HBAR A3.

If you do decide to do any hunting with .223, be sure you get a good round. I took a .223 flattop carbine with me, about three years ago. I was still hunting during the afternoon, and three does walked fairly close by. I was waiting for the perfect low-penetration shot in the neck, and so did not fire before the does bolted. With a better caliber- or, even with a sturdier bullet than the 50-grain HP I was loaded with- I would have taken the shot into the heart I was offered.


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