.223 for small game


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The_Armed_Therapist
March 9, 2012, 09:29 AM
I am a handgun guy as far as ballistics and knowledge is concerned. It's ironic since I view rifles as more important, more useful, and more interesting. Anyways...

Is .223 too big/overkill for small game? I guess it would help to define small game since I'm not 100% what all that entails. I guess it might be more appropriate for some and not for others. So is it OK for...

Squirrels?
Rabbits?
Coyotes?
Foxes?

Then, on the other side of the coin, is it too weak for some game? At which point is it insufficient? Wolves, bears, deer?

I understand that it "depends" upon shot placement, etc. If you all could explain it in as generalized terms as possible, that would be great! Thanks!

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fallout mike
March 9, 2012, 09:33 AM
As long as you shoot head shots it shouldn't matter. Even with a .17hmr you ruin a, squirrel unless its a head shot.

para38super
March 9, 2012, 10:10 AM
I have wondered the same, Maybe someone can clue in.

bhk
March 9, 2012, 10:22 AM
I use a .223 for coyotes and find it the perfect round for them, but would never choose to use my .223 rifles for edible small game unless that was all I had and I was really hungry. You could use it for rabbits and squirrels (using headshots), but there are so many better choices out there for these creatures. A regular .22 long rifle is perfect for small edible game and makes much less noise (important in many hunting situations).

If you handload a .223, you can create reduced power loads that make it more appropriate for the small creatures. You then, of course, have challenges with sight adjustments if you moving back and forth between full-power and reduced loads.

Hunting is a way of life where I live. I fed my kids with my guns. My friends have done the same. No one I know would chose a .223 for edible small game. Can it be done, sure. It is nice to live in this country because we can own multiple rifles and tailor them to the task at hand.

35 Whelen
March 9, 2012, 10:43 AM
Yes, it's way overkill for small game. You can head shoot, but why use a 30 + cartridge for a squirrel when a 3 - 4 22LR is better?

Years ago I hunted deer with a 220 Swift and carried "reduced" loads with me for those times when I ran across wild turkeys. The load was a 55 gr. FMJ downloaded to .223 ballistics. I shot a north-bound turkey in the south end and it destroyed about half the meat. Lesson learned.

In my experience, the .223 is OK for game up to small to medium whitetail out to 150 MAYBE 200 yds with proper bullets (i.e.- Barnes TSX, Nosler Partition, etc.).

35W

Sky
March 9, 2012, 10:44 AM
Squirrels?
Rabbits?
Coyotes?
Foxes?


Personal opinion but what has worked for me.

.22lr for the above critters. Rabbits and squirrels are toast. Shot placement is more important with Coyotes and I have never shot a fox but assume it is the same with them.

Can do 22lr at 50+ yards for the small stuff but better 25 yards or less IMO for head shots on the larger stuff.

.223 will more than likely remove the head of a squirrel or rabbit or make it appear so.

I have shot close to 200+ pound hogs with the 223 and depending on the round used, distance to target, and shot placement the wound channel and surrounding organs/meat turned to mush.

IMO the 223 is not a round you should under estimate with regards to it's shock and aah effect on meat. Have not used the .223 on larger game than hogs but would feel confident using it for the deer in my part of the woods.....but that is just my opinion...Others around here use the 223 for deer all the time as well as the 7.62x39 as well as other calibers.

The_Armed_Therapist
March 9, 2012, 11:45 AM
OK... So my next question would be what are the intermediary rounds between .22LR and .223? There are probably a ton, but if we could just stick with relatively popular rounds, that would be great!

If there was such a thing as an "all-around" round, what would it be? What is the closest to this? Bears are probably out as I'm aware of what it takes with them. But is there a round that can very conceivably work well with deer and also not DESTORY a rabbit? Would that be .223 or would it be something else? Odd question, I know. I'm just interested in what you all have to say. :)

Vern Humphrey
March 9, 2012, 11:46 AM
Squirrels?
Rabbits?

The .223 is overpowered for squirrels and rabbits. Even with an FMJ bullet, you still have a risk of ricochets (on rabbits) and hitting someone on the other side of the county (when shooting at a squirrel in a tree.) Stick with the .22 LR for these critters.
Coyotes?
Foxes?
The .223 is perfect for these critters.

Vern Humphrey
March 9, 2012, 11:53 AM
OK... So my next question would be what are the intermediary rounds between .22LR and .223? There are probably a ton, but if we could just stick with relatively popular rounds, that would be great!
The .22 Hornet would be a candidate here -- especially if you handload. A cast bullet at around 1400-1600 fps would be a very good small game round. And a full charge load is great for groundhogs, coyotes, crows and the like -- I like a 35 grain Hornady V-Max loaded ahead of a case full of Hodgdon's Li'l Gun for around 3,000 fps.

If there was such a thing as an "all-around" round, what would it be? What is the closest to this? Bears are probably out as I'm aware of what it takes with them. But is there a round that can very conceivably work well with deer and also not DESTORY a rabbit? Would that be .223 or would it be something else? Odd question, I know. I'm just interested in what you all have to say.
The all around cartridge is the .30-06. It is adequate for anything on this continent, including the big bears.

For small game, I use a Hammong Game Getter in my pre-64 Model 70. The Game Getter is a cartridge case with an off-center "primer pocket" -- which is actually a chamber for a .22 rimfire. The Game Getter is loaded with a sized buckshot in the case mouth (the sizing die comes with the kit) and a .22 nail-setting blank in the chamber. With low-power (brown) blanks, mine drives a 00 buckshot to around 750 fps, and the shot impacts at the top of the thick part of the vertical crosshair at 25 yards.

Water-Man
March 9, 2012, 01:11 PM
The best 'all around' for all the game you mentioned would be a shotgun rather than a rifle.

The_Armed_Therapist
March 9, 2012, 01:41 PM
A shotgun? On a rabbit? Are you sure? I honestly don't know, but my inclination is to say that's not a good option.

A .30-06? I thought it was already established that the .223 was too big for small game.

I'll check out the .22 Hornet and the Game Getter.

jmr40
March 9, 2012, 03:12 PM
While it can be used for many uses it is a bit too powerful for squirrel and rabbit. About perfect for coyote and fox, especially for longer range work. With proper bullets it is more than adequate for any deer at short to medium range (100 yards or so). On smaller deer I'd have no problem with a 200 yard shot. But deer, or deer size game is about the limit for me.

bhk
March 9, 2012, 06:04 PM
A shotgun? On a rabbit? Are you sure? I honestly don't know, but my inclination is to say that's not a good option.

A .30-06? I thought it was already established that the .223 was too big for small game.

I'll check out the .22 Hornet and the Game Getter.
Ok, I will chip in again because you are 'green' and need some help. Do not feel bad about this. Many of us were there at one time, too. That is the great thing about The High Road.

I will venture a guess that the overwhelming majority of rabbits and squirrels killed in this country each year are shot with shotguns. I will bet 80% or more of the rabbits shot are shot with shotguns. The neat thing about shotguns is that you can tailor them to the game you shoot. Use shot size 7.5, 8, or 9 for quail and doves to 30 or 40 yards; use 4, 5, or 6 shot for rabbits and squirrels to the same distances, use 4, 2, or bb for waterfowl to 50 or 60 yards, use slugs for deer and bear, and use buckshot for self defense. I think the shotgun is actually the firearm you are looking for.

Going back to rifles, there is no way you can do what you want to do in a satisfactory manner with one rifle. It would be easy with two rifles: a .22 and a rifle like a .243 up to a 30-06. Some folks would like three rifles to cover all the bases: a .22, a .223, and a 30-06. Some folks go further and want a rifle for big deer, small deer, rainy weather deer, short range deer, long range deer. Guns are addictive, BTW.

Is there some reason you feel like you must do all this with one rifle? If finances are the reason, be patient and save. Buy a good .22 first and then save for the next rifle. Or just buy a shotgun and be done with it.

Just curious, are you a young fellow just learning the ropes or, perhaps, an adult try to break into the wonderful world of hunting? Either way, welcome to our world!

Swami
March 9, 2012, 06:15 PM
With a very nice 200-yard range close to me, I chose a .223 Remington 700 as a wonderful target rifle. For that purpose I absolutely love it; for small game OR large game, I'd choose something else.

Sergei Mosin
March 9, 2012, 06:22 PM
Plenty of folks have taken deer with a .22LR, but it's not a practice I'd recommend. Illegal in many places, too.

Think about the size difference between a deer and a rabbit. From that you can probably intuit that one size does not fit all when it comes to hunting cartridges, especially at the low end of the scale. On the other hand, there's not much you can't take if you have a .22LR and a .30-06 in your armory.

Loic
March 9, 2012, 06:22 PM
For rabbits my 10-22 is perfect for me, very light to carry arround, not too much noise and chesp ammo.

In Europe, hunting is done with shotgun, you just choose the cartridge vs what your going to hunt that day.

Sent from my EVO 3D using Tapatalk

Kachok
March 9, 2012, 06:24 PM
a 223 would blow up small furry critters no doubt about it, I would much rather have a low speed 22LR for them, but on yotes the 223 is perfect, drops the evil little critters in their tracks. Works well on smaller hogs too, but if you spot a big 300+ pounder make sure to put it behind his ear.

mshootnit
March 9, 2012, 08:30 PM
at 100 yds: 223 took 2 raccoons with one shot.
at 235 yds took a coyote with a neck shot
shot 2 deer at about 50 yds close range and dropped both where they stood.
I knew of an operation that culled buffalo with a point blank shot to the back of the head with a 223.

browningguy
March 9, 2012, 08:39 PM
.22 mag or 5.7x28 work really well as an intermediate round between the .22 lr and .223. I have one of the AR57 uppers and it shoots surprisingly well, the only down side is you are limited to a red dot of some sort as you can't change mags with a scope mounted.

The_Armed_Therapist
March 9, 2012, 09:03 PM
I actually have experience. I own/have owned rifles that shoot .22LR, 7.62x39, .308, 7.62x54, and .30-06. I'm 26 and have never shot any large game. Like I mentioned, I'm much more a handgun guy for whatever reason. I'm familiar with the ballistics of all the handgun rounds, performance, etc... and am even familiar with about every single pistol made. That's just where my experience has been.

My question is much more theoretical than practical. I have a friend with a tight budget looking to get a rifle. I asked him what he wanted it for and he told me home defense, hunting, and something for survival situations. It just got me thinking about performance of varying rounds on varying targets. He has very little experience and wanted to know if a .22 was good for this. I started thinking about my experience hunting with a .22, mostly with rabbits. I remember one occasion very well when it took 8 shots with a .22 to kill the rabbit. The first one was a head shot that didn't kill it and the others were while it was on the run. Certainly this case was rare as one shot usually did the trick. I told him about this experience and he wanted to know what was bigger, but not "bigger." His reasons are his own, I suppose.

So yeah, I was thinking about the .223, wondering if it could get deer effectively (I know it's been done, but wasn't sure how close to ideal it was). Then I thought about the rabbit and wondered if it would just completely demolish it or not. So, I was just asking what else is out there. I know that there is no "one-size-fits-all" caliber. I'm just wondering what could be stretched, and how far, if it was necessary.

I'll take your word for it if you say that certain shotgun loads would take care of a rabbit without spoiling the food, fur, etc. I just wasn't sure. I am not personally a shotgun fan, but I can relay to him the message.

I'd wondered about the .22 mag, too, as I don't know much about it. Also, the 5.7x28 definitely seems like it would be interesting for this purpose...

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
March 9, 2012, 09:42 PM
OK 8 shots fired but how many of those hit? I've never needed more than one shot (that hit) from a .22 even on the big Snowshoe Hares. When I run my dogs I use (and only allow the use of) shotguns. Rabbits are on the EXTREMELY easy side of the scale to kill. You can damn near look at one hard and it will keel over. For every animal you listed, a .22LR would be fine at acceptable ranges. Even yotes a fox. A .223 is extreme overkill for smaller game than those 2. What some don't understand, the .223 bullet yaws upon entry. It's because it's tail heavy. When the "tip" makes contact it makes the bullet pitch. There are many showings of this in slow motion. It is why it does such explosive damage.

jim243
March 10, 2012, 12:50 AM
what are the intermediary rounds between .22LR and .223?

22 Mag and .204. For small game the 22 Mag would be fine and gives you a little more range. Also cheaper than the 204. The 204 might be a little lite for deer but would be fine for Yotes.

Jim

hang fire
March 10, 2012, 01:01 AM
Cast boolits, couple grains of Bullseye, and good to go. I use low velocity cast boolit loads in every rifle caliber I have with great results out to 50 yards, even in the 7.62x54.

Jeff F
March 10, 2012, 01:29 AM
I have hunted small game with a .22 WMR and a .22 Hornet. Head shots on a rabbit worked well when they hit the head. A body shot and it would turn them inside out at close range. Nice thing about a bolt action rifle in .22 WMR is that you can also shoot .22 WRF rounds out of it. A 45 grain Lead Flat Nose Bullet at around 1300 fps is just about perfect for small game, and you can move up to the magnums for coyotes or larger. With the Hornet a reloader can download a bit and get good small game performance.

tranders
March 10, 2012, 07:41 AM
A 20 gauge with 7/8 ounce of #6 shot is about all I ever use for squirrels and rabbits.

303tom
March 10, 2012, 09:42 AM
I use a .410 with #2`s on Squirrel & Rabbit, I don`t shoot Coyotes or Fox. I use .223 on White-tail & paper...........

blindhari
March 10, 2012, 10:01 AM
As I no longer live in pheasant country, I have created a short barrel,20", single shot, 20 guage into a jeep gun. I have a 6 chill in the barrel, two 4 chill, 2 #2 buck, and a buck hammer slug in the stock shell holder. So far it has covered every situation out to 75 yds. Beyond 75 yds I have other things to use, within 75 yds though this set up will take anything and provide defense with a total weight under 5lbs.

blindhari

tranders
March 10, 2012, 08:42 PM
What the heck is 6 chill or 4 chill?

Am I missing something?

Jeff F
March 10, 2012, 09:13 PM
What the heck is 6 chill or 4 chill?

Am I missing something?
Hes talking about cold chilled shot, when shot is made its done by dropping drips of molten lead, I believe cold chilled means they dropped it into ice water. It makes for harder shot.

blindhari
March 10, 2012, 10:57 PM
Oops, sorry trandor.
I grew up hunting pheasant in Calif. delta country. Shot is generally sized from 00 buck out to about 10 shot (think size of pellet, bigger the pellet smaller the #). Chilled shot has antimony added to lead giving the pellets a harder consistency and slightly lighter weight per volume. I grew up using chilled shot, #8 for quail, #6 for pheasant, #4 for duck/geese, #2 buck for coyote and feral dog. I have always liked this shot and bought a bunch of each when there started to be pressure to shift away from lead shot.

blindhari

Lee D
March 10, 2012, 11:17 PM
the only critter on that list id hunt with a .223 IS the 'yote. i dont hunt fox, so the rest would be hunted with the 10/22.

Sniper66
March 11, 2012, 11:33 PM
Wow!!! I have hunted for about 60 years and have never heard of anyone hunting rabbits and squirrels with a .223. I have killed 1,000s of p-dogs with a .223 and certainly wouldn't want to try to salvage the meat from one after a center hit with a V-max bullet, though the buzzards like 'em. And why would you want to shoot rabbits and squirrels with an expensive and noisy cartridge when a cheap quiet one (.22) does the job. Back when you could buy them, I used to shoot squirrels and rabbits with .22 shorts because they were the cheapest cartridge i could find. After a snow, I would climb to the top of huge brush piles made by a tree trimming company and wait for the rabbits below to get nervous, then shoot them in the top of the head with the .22 short. Killed them dead without a wiggle. I have seen deer killed easily with a .223, but many states outlaw shooting deer with anything under .243 cal. The .223 is a varmint round and I would not recommend it for anything else.

Art Eatman
March 12, 2012, 06:17 AM
Yeah, the .22 rimfire for squirrels and rabbits, or a shotgun. With a shotgun, a .410 is plenty good.

Or, for a handloader, an '06 with about five grains weight of pistol powder and a double-ought ball is a good squirrel load. :)

A .223 is a fine coyote cartridge. For all that modern bullets make it okay for deer hunting, I still feel that it's sorta marginal. Okay for neck shots or cross-body heart/lung shots, but not the thing for an angling shot on larger deer.

tranders
March 12, 2012, 11:54 AM
I grew up hunting pheasant in Calif. delta country. Shot is generally sized from 00 buck out to about 10 shot (think size of pellet, bigger the pellet smaller the #). Chilled shot has antimony added to lead giving the pellets a harder consistency and slightly lighter weight per volume. I grew up using chilled shot, #8 for quail, #6 for pheasant, #4 for duck/geese, #2 buck for coyote and feral dog. I have always liked this shot and bought a bunch of each when there started to be pressure to shift away from lead shot.

blindhari

Ok... gotcha.

Thanks

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