What 223 bullet for deer hunting?

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May 4, 2009
Recently started working at a store selling reloading equipment and ammunition. I get asked about once week what 223 bullet I would reccommend for deer hunting. Up until now I have always told the customer that I wouldn't shoot a deer with anything smaller than a 6mm bullet (I huntbmostly with 30.06 or 270) . Howeved, f that was the only gun I owned I would probably use a hollow point. One of the other employees stated that he had taken several does using ballistic tips. If you hunt deer with a 223, which bullet do you reccomend? And why? Thanks!
The heaviest Nosler Partiotion or Barnes TSX my barrel would stabilize. The issue with 223s is the lackluster penetration of such small bullets so any bullet with an A+ reputation for deep penetration is the only choice.
Those 2 would probably be the best choices. But really any 60 gr+ softpoint/plastic tipped bullet should be adequate. Just avoid the lighter than 55 gr bullets and FMJ ammo.

I have no issue with using 223 with the right ammo for deer, but would also offer a reminder to shooters that it is a limited range round. With most chamberings you still have the abilty to kill game as long as your bullet has the trajectory to hit it. The 223 has the trajectory to easily hit game farther away than it has the ability to kill.
Nosler partition 60gr or Barnes TSX

Federal Power Shok 64 gr. SP
Federal Vital Shok 60 gr. Partition or Barnes 55 gr. TSX
Federal Fusion 62 gr.
Winchester PP
Barnes Vi-Tor TSX factory ammo

I handloaded the 60 gr. Partition, no problem. I loaded it to an average of 2,807 fps out of a 16'' barrel.
My son used my .223 Partition handload to shoot his first deer and it worked great; entry and exit holes were small, but internal damage was significant.

The Barnes TSX was such a PITA to try and handload that I would just buy factory ammo rather than attempt it again; it kept going deeper than what I wanted when I tried to apply a factory crimp no matter what I did. Most frustration I've experienced attempting to handload since 1990.
I've shot 2 different deer in the chest with .224 caliber bullets both with complete pass throughs and one shot kills. One was at 360 yards with a 22-250 and the other at about 80 yards with a 222. The bullet; the Speer 70 grain Semi Spitzer.
Bullet makers' R&D over the last dozen or so years have made a big difference in the utility of the .223. There is a fair number of bullets which will perform well on deer.

As said above, avoid the lighter-weight varmint bullets, since they are designed to blow up and aren't built for good penetration.
Bullet placement is the up most importance no matter what caliber used. This buck was taken by my grandson using a Remington 700 .223 modified to a youth model at 125 yds, with a 60 grain Nosler bullet. One shot to the chest dropped him in his tracks. This gun and caliber is great giving younger hunters the chance to take big game.
By the way, this was my grandson's, on left, first deer. What a thrill for all of us! Beginner's luck? :)
Rod van Pelt
Shot a 10 point buck with a Bushmaster AR-15 at 150 yards with a 55 grain spitzer hand load. 17.5" wide and 155 Lbs. I agree with some of the folks who say "It's not the best hunting round" but I'm here to say that it can be done with the right shot placement.
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I don't recommend the .223 if there's any alternative. That said, I've seen quite a few deer killed with the round. I've also seen some that didn't get recovered that would have had they been hit in the same place with a more adequate bullet.
The bullets that have done best in my experience are:Nosler 60 gr partition, Hornady 60gr SP, Sierra 63 gr, Speer 70 gr, and Hornady 60 gr "barrier buster"(this bullet was loaded in some LEO over run I got several years ago). I have killed numerous deer under depredation permits using .224 bullets but this was not under "hunting conditions" and none were large bodied deer. You simply can't go wrong with the Nosler partition.
My other grandson, pictured in the above photo post #14, also has taken several deer with the 223 caliber. He also shot a really nice buck that was at 350+ yards. The big buck walked about 10 feet and fell over. He has shot several white tailed deer and several mule deer and has never had to track any of them. The velocity of the little .224 bullet in the 223 practically explodes once it gets inside the rib cage. Velocity is what kills, more then the size of the bullet.
Thanks, :)
Rod van Pelt
^350yd!! Dang that little fella can shoot! I do not recommend 223 cal bullets at that kind of range due to their piss poor external ballistics but they can do the trick with a little luck, anything past 300yds I reach for one of my 6.5mm, 270s or a 30 cal with poly tipped bullets (or SGKs)
Out of curiosity why have match bullets be hallow points.

It has to do with how they're made.

FMJ bullets aren't really fmj. The jacket is folded over the bullet base leaving part of the lead core exposed. This tends to be much less accurate since the bullet base is the last thing to touch the rifle.

A HP turns this around and is typically more accurate since the bullet point is much less critical to accuracy. Match HP bullets are made with one thing in mind ACCURACY. Their makers simply don't care or account for any terminal ballistics in their design

Remember The jacket has to be open somewhere to get the core in.

In other words just knowing the difference betwixt HP, SP and FMJ isn't good enough. You must know what your particular bullet is designed to do. A Barnes tsx, sierra matchking and a speer tnt are all HP's after all. The important thing is to know what they're designed to do.

posted via that mobile app with the sig lines everyone complaints about
I have had excellent performance with 55 gr soft points. You need an expanding bullet with the high velocity of the .223 or it will just pass through. A few grains weight or a tenth of a mm is not going to make much difference. As always proper bullet, soft point, and placement, heart lungs, is what counts.
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