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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Please understand I'm not trying to open the debate on 223 for deer. All I want to know is what factory hunting ammo have you successfully used, or what hand load combination have you used? I've been a reloader for years and I'm very much out of the loop on the options for factory ammo.

I have never hunted deer with a 223/5.56. This fall I might. I understand shot placement is everything, and knowing your limitations is everything. If I take my AR, I'd keep the shot at 100 yards or less.

Right now I'm looking at the Winchester 64 gr factory ammo, and the 70gr barnes triple shock in either handloaded or factory ammo.

The reason I'm even thinking about this is that I recently fell in love with my AR-15 again. Last trip to the range, I probably shot the best I've ever shot with it hitting steel at 600 with my aimpoint with a buddy spotting me for my hold overs. Obviously that was for giggles and not for any kind of a serious hunting shot. I've been shooting long range out to 1,000 yards since Jan 2008. I'm not trying to convince anyone I'm the best shot in the world, all I'm saying is that for those of you whose blood will boil at the thought of a 223 on deer, I understand and will make every effort to get the perfect shot or I will completely pass on the shot. This would be the first time I've hunted deer with anything besides a single shot, or lever action.
 

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I've used the Nosler Partition in 70 gr. with success. One was a pass through taking out the lungs, the other got the heart and was just under the skin on the off side. Both were clean kills.

Ben
 

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Shot one deer with a .223 using the Winchester 64 grain PP load. It did the job on a broadside lung shot. The Nosler PT, Barnes X bullet would also seem good choices. Just avoid Varmint bullets that blow up too soon, or FMJ that pass thru with little immediate damage. I like more gun on deer, but I can't deny the .223 is effective with the right load.

Larry
 

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I have used factory hornady 75gr match with great success. Put a few deer in the freezer. Two were bucks. All shots taken were broadside heart and lung. Keep your shots close. Under a 100 yards. You will not always get a good blood trail so watch where they go. Wait for the right shot, take it and go recover your deer.
 

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mechanic said:
I've used the Nosler Partition in 70 gr. with success. One was a pass through taking out the lungs, the other got the heart and was just under the skin on the off side. Both were clean kills.

Ben



Ben, I was not aware nosler partition came in 70 gr weight. But I've been shooting the factory federal loaded with the partition 60 gr bullet and it works fine on hogs. I plan to try it on deer this year.
The hornady 55 gr soft point works great too, as loaded by hornady.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I did some looking into this and the Sierra 65gr game king seems to have a pile of reviews from people using it for deer. I have some loads worked up, and all I've got to do is some pressure testing then it's time to make a pile of the ammo. Taking the colt 6920 with me and hopefully it'll be my game getter.
 

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pastorp said:
mechanic said:
I've used the Nosler Partition in 70 gr. with success. One was a pass through taking out the lungs, the other got the heart and was just under the skin on the off side. Both were clean kills.

Ben



Ben, I was not aware nosler partition came in 70 gr weight. But I've been shooting the factory federal loaded with the partition 60 gr bullet and it works fine on hogs. I plan to try it on deer this year.
The hornady 55 gr soft point works great too, as loaded by hornady.

You are correct, the ones I loaded were 60 gr. Feeble mind these days.
 

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Another Nosler for reloading is the 64 grain bonded bullet. I use 23.3 grains of VV N135 - try it, I think you'll like it.
 

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teddy12b said:
Please understand I'm not trying to open the debate on 223 for deer. All I want to know is what factory hunting ammo have you successfully used, or what hand load combination have you used? I've been a reloader for years and I'm very much out of the loop on the options for factory ammo.
In handloads with component bullets, I've used the Sierra 63 gr. Semi-Point and 65 gr. GameKing, the various Barnes TSX, and the 60 gr. Nosler Partition. In factory ammo, I used the 64 gr. Winchester Power Point to the exlusion of all else for a good long while. The only other factory load I've used to any meaningful degree is the Federal 60 grain Partition.

In terms of terminal performance on deer under 120 pounds and shot at 150 yards or less, I don't think there's much meaningful terminal ballistics difference between them. Hit a deer in the proper spot with any of them, and you'll be tagging it.

To me, the choice between them boils down more toward which a given rifle shoots best, because they've all worked well enough for me to just pick one and keep on using it. The nth degree accuracy matters to me not so much for terminal ballistics "margin for error" but for threading the bullet through branches and twigs.
 

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teddy12b said:
I did some looking into this and the Sierra 65gr game king seems to have a pile of reviews from people using it for deer. I have some loads worked up, and all I've got to do is some pressure testing then it's time to make a pile of the ammo. Taking the colt 6920 with me and hopefully it'll be my game getter.
While this season will be far from my first one using a .223 as a deer whacker, it will be my first time using an AR-15 as a deer rifle. I'll be using the DPMS Oracle 5.56 I bought back in April. It is wearing a 2-7X, 32mm Weaver in UTG quick detach ring mounts and I've got a Timney trigger in the lower. I swapped the overly-bulbous "Glacier Guards" for a set of CAR-15 handguards, to which I added the Harris Bi-Pod adapter so I would have a civilian-style Q.D. sling stud to attach a Butler Creek Mountain Sling to. On the DPMS Pardus butt, I swapped out the military style sling loop for a piece with a civilian style Q.D. stud on the end. A five-round magazine and a UTG slip on rubber butt pad completes the package. It's about 7 pounds, ready to hunt.

I'll be using the 65 grain Sierra GameKing in Winchester brass over BL-(C) 2 . It hovers around M.O.A. with that load.

I already know the round will have all the terminal power and range I need for my local whitetails on the terrain I hunt them on. I already know that, with the exception of dedicated target rifles like the Tubb 2000, the AR is the thing I shoot the best with from field positions. Add in the light carry weight, compact diminsions, weatherproofness, and I already know it's going to be my local whitetail whacker going forward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Timing is excellent on these last couple posts. Last night I loaded up a bunch of 65gr sierra gamekings. My plans on taking the colt were changed because I've got a more accuracy driven AR setup just because I'd prefer my scoped rifle. The rifle has an 18" white oak armament upper, with a Nikon m223 3-12x, a geiselle SSA trigger and magpul furniture. It's a rig I built for suppressed precision, but I can't take my can with me so I had to throw on an A2 flash hider last night. Currently it's dialed in for 69gr match handloads, so I'm hoping the 65gr pills shoot just as well.
 

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Bullet weights already mentioned will perform satisfactorily. Shoot them in the neck. They don't take it well in the neck with ANYTHING in a modern sporting rifle or AR platform (not 22 LR).
 

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teddy12b said:
Currently it's dialed in for 69gr match handloads, so I'm hoping the 65gr pills shoot just as well.
They do out my DPMS Oracle 5.56. It shoots its best groups with Hornady 68 HPBT Match bullets; with the 69 grain Sierra MatchKing and 65 grain GameKing (SGK) pretty much tied for second place. Here, being in "second place" would only matter in benchrest shooting that I'm not personally interested in. The diffrence is in tenths of inches in c.t.c. spread. It's speculation on my part, but the Hornady 68 gr. has a slightly higher ballistic coefficent on the order of .355 v. .303 for the 65 gr. SGK and I figure the ever so slightly tighter average group size I see from the former is down their being ever so slightly more resistant to wind drift. And the wind is always blowing on the range I shoot on. Always. And hardly ever consistently.

One of the reasons I like the 65 gr. SGK so much is that its .303 ballistic coeffecient is higher than most other .224" bullets marketed for light big game hunting. That translates in to carrying more velocity and therefore energy downrange. Essentially, with the load I shoot, the 65 gr. SGK is delivering the same energy at 100 and 200 yards that a 2100 fps m.v. 170 gr. flat point load from my .30-30 would. On smaller animals up to about 120 pounds live weight, the terminal effect of the 65 gr. SGK load is pretty much the same as the 170 gr. load I used to shoot out of my .30-30. The ballistic coefficient of the 65 gr. SGK basically gives me a load that is more effective than I need it to be for the terrain I hunt on, in the sense that I wouldn't hestate to use it out to 200 yards or so if the places I hunt locally allowed for that kind of "long range" shooting. Locally, even a 100 yard shot is going to be a mighty long poke. I've never had any complaints over my .30-30's ability to kill deer instantly dead out to 200 yards with standard blunt-nosed .30-30 bullets and I can't tell the difference between the results from that over what I've seen from the 65 grain SGK load I use. The main difference is in exterior ballistics, with the 65 gr SGK load being easier to precisely place owing to its significantly flatter trajectory v. flat-point 170's out of my .30-30. On smaller deer, I prefer the 65 gr. SGK load over the traditional .30-30 loads because it is easier to precisely place, does essentially the same internal trauma, but makes smaller impact and exit wounds.

I'm not neck shooting or head-shooting with these 65 grain SGK's, either, though I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with shooting in the neck as Land_Owner mentioned. Just plain ol' heart / lung shots work for me, though, with complete pass-through penetration, every time so far, so I'm sticking with what works for me.
 

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Re: UPDATE: Success Achieved

Well, opening weekend of modern gun deer season has come and gone for me. Two shots on two consecutive days. I antlered tag filled, one antlerless tag filled, one freezer without a whole lot of room left in it for more meat, one very worn out dude from spending most of yesterday rendering my two whitetails in to packaged meat.

I couldn't really ask for better terminal performance from the 65 grain Sierra GameKing. I shot the buck opening morning, nearly 175 yards across a food plot clearing. It took two bounding leaps upon taking the bullet, expiring about 20 yards from where it took the hit. There wasn't much of it's heart muscle left. The buck was probably around 120 pounds live weight. The following day, I went to a different area, shooting a small doe at about 25 yards. She dropped at the shot.

I was already pretty much sold on the load. I've used it before on game in the same size class with total satisfaction. What I am really sold on, though, is how well my little DPMS Oracle 5.56 served me as a "deer rifle." I spoted that buck while I was moving from one spot to another to get a different view. I heard some brush rustling and twig snapping, and the source of the sound was my buck stepping out from the treeline on the far side of the clearing. With the AR, I had confidence in my ability to place the bullet where it needed to go while shooting from an unsupported, standing position. A shot that would have been a difficult one for me with a "more traditional" hunting rifle wasn't a high-order challenge with the AR, because I shoot it so well without the aid of a rest. And were I was standing at the time, there wasn't anything around to rest the carbine on.

My Oracle 5.56 is going to get a bit more of a workout once the deer season is over and I'll have the woods to myself to chase pigs around in. I suspect the die will be cast after I whack a few pigs with it, and that it will be very tough to go back to hunting with a "traditional rifle". The AR platform seems to have a whole lot going for it as a hunting rifle, with the main thing for me being how easy it is to shoot well from field positions without the aid of a rest.
 

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Land_Owner said:
JP, with you on the ground, moving around, you have the hearing of a Bat if you heard "brush rustling and twig snapping...nearly 175 yards" away from your buck. Sensational hearing!

I don't have "bat-like" superhuman hearing and none would have been required to hear what I heard that alerted me to the presence of my buck. Any hunter with normal aural acuity in that same place at the same time would have heard the same sounds and most I know would have directed their visual attention toward the apparent source just as I did. Twigs and branches generally don't make snapping sounds of their own accord and neither does dead, dry underbrush make much noise by itself. But something moving through it will. During the hunting season, that "something" might be an animal or it might be another hunter, but one wants to know, either way.


I might have been on the move, but I wasn't actually moving when I heard the sounds alerting me to the presence of my buck. In moving from where I had been to where I wanted to go, I'd take five of six careful, deliberate steps, then glass my surroundings with binoculars in a thorough, methodical fashion, with the plan being to keep doing that in a repetitive cycle until my ultimate destination was reached. Think "still hunting in microcosm" and perhaps that will paint the picture. In "moving about," I was doing far more looking than moving, and I wasn't in a huge hurry to get anywhere. I was more focused on getting there quietly than quickly and I had no motivation to rush the process because our local deer have been active throughout the day for over a week now.


This detail of my "moving about" doesn't just speak to my movements, it speaks to those of my buck, too. Had he been unstressed and traversing the side of the finger-ridge across the meadow from me, I should think that I would have seen him in spite of how over-vegetated that slope is. Seeing him traverse wouldn't have effected the outcome, because there isn't much opportunity to get a clear, unobstructed shot on any deer moving through that dense plant matter with the ordinary stealth of their kind. I might not have superhuman hearing, but I do have a substantial amount of curiosity, and I was pretty bothered by the fact that I didn't see my buck until I saw him, and I wanted to know why.


After tagging him and skinning him, it was a simple matter to trace his track up and slightly over the ridge, and the tracks said that he came over the ridge as fast as his hooves would carry him, and he continued down to the meadow in "B-line" fashion, busting through whatever he didn't leap over, coming to an abrupt halt about where he stood when I poked a hole in his heart. At the speed he was going, it would have taken him mere seconds to get from the ridge crest to the meadow below, and he couldn't have gone through what he did without making a heck of a racket. His tracks indicated that he was in a heck of a hurry to get somewhere or get away from something, and since it was the opening day of the modern gun deer season, my vote goes for the latter. It isn't the kind of behavior I would expect deer to exhibit as a matter of common practice, but they don't spend all year getting shot at with firearms, either.


I'd point out that what I expect is probably obvious, but how well sound travels is a function of things like terrain, and climate and altitude can influence this, too.


Where I was hunting on opening day, it is a large meadow, roughly kidney-shaped, and rimmed with a very steep and high for Ozark Foothills ridgeline which, if viewed from the air, looks like a skewed or bent horseshoe, with the open end being about twice as wide as the tractor the wildlife department uses when turning the meadow in to a food plot. The two-track path made by the tractor extends from the meadow about fifty yards through the gap to a graveled dirt road. Game generally enters the meadow the same way the wildlife department does -through the gap. I couldn't see this from the "where I was" in my prior post but can see it well from the "where I was headed." And the "where I was headed" was the ultimate destination arrived at during the planning of the hunt. No matter where one sets up on the edge of this meadow, if the air is still, one can hear the crunch of rock and gravel under vehicle tires as vehicles pass the gap on the road beyond it. If one can hear that, hearing a deer crashing its way through a tangled mess of dead, dry brush, twiggy deadfalls, and low-hanging, dry limbs isn't exactly inaudible to the average ear. As with the sounds from the road, there is nothing in the meadow to attenuate the sounds coming from its borders. The was no wind to mask sound on opening morning and there wasn't any on any morning I went out scouting the area in the off season. In the afternoon, it is a vastly different story. Most afternoons, a prevailing wind blows through the gap and across the meadow, usually strong enough so that about all one would hear in rustling leaves in the trees nearest him and maybe the wind iteself howling in his ears.


I don't have superhuman hearing, but what I do have is some pretty extensive experience "still hunting" so I can "move about" and use my ears at the same time. That "moving about" includes far more looking through binoculars than actual moving, generally. For my buck's part, this was not a deer trying to sneak on by me. It appeared from the tracks it left to have bounded over the ridge and headed "hot and straight" for the meadow floor, and it did this in a tangled mass of mostly dead, dried up vegetation -stuff prone to snapping rather than bending, and stuff that makes noise when whacked with antlers.


I short, hearing the kind of racket my buck made prior to my shooting it isn't something that anyone else in the same place at the same time with a normal level or aural acuity wouldn't have also heard. Perhaps they would have done a better job of putting it in to words, but they'd have heard something, and no doubt would have focused their vision toward the apparent source of the sounds.


That's not abnormal. That's hunting.
 

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I have to admit, you're hearing as described is more than adequate. You have my apology for questioning it in the first place. I am hard of hearing to be certain. You have my respect for your hunting prowess too, which if I may characterize, sounds like mine and is grounded in many thousands of hours of Dirt Time hunting for whitetailed deer. Well done. Nicely described. Your prose thoroughly describe the circumstances. I feel as if I can "see" that place. I get it now. No Safety in that buck. Running from something or someone - more than likely.
 
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