What can't .223 kill?

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by jdouglasj, May 13, 2010.

  1. jdouglasj

    jdouglasj Member

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    I posted over this in hog hunting, but then realized I should have posted it here:

    I had a conversation with some guides on Sunday and the upshot was this: the guides love hunting with their .223s, everything from hogs to buffalo.

    I was on a long trip and had six rifles with me. I was there to hunt razorbacks and I had intended on using my new Marlin .44 1894, but I was shooting Hornady Leverevolution for the first time and I wasn't satisfied with my accuracy.

    I had a Browning .308, a 1873 .357, and a Steyr .223. When I said .223, all the guides smiled and said "use the .223!" I had thought that .223 didn't have the stopping power for a big hog, but these fellows say they hunt buffalo with them and they only use .223 on hogs.

    I was shooting 150 yards on the range. I shot my .44 into some steel plates that were 1/4-inch thick. the .44 put a serious dent in the plates, but did not penetrate (same at 75 yards). The .223 didn't dent the plates at all, but just put clean holes through it.

    I understand the stopping power of bigger caliber bullets. I understand that the bullet will do a lot more damage to the animal when it deforms. But that said, the .223 is going to penetrate anything (right?), and when I examined the hole on my 400 lbs razorback...I mean cripes, it was a big hole with an exit wound.

    And yet .223 is called a varmit round. What am I missing? Does anyone have examples of shooting .223 and failing to drop an animal? Any animal?
     
  2. The .223 can kill any north american game animal with a responsible shot. There are hits that won't kill, but that goes with any round. A marksman with a .223 will perform more clean kills on big game than the average guy with a .300 winmag.

    It's not politically correct, or even legal, in many areas to hunt big game with the .223 - that doesn't mean, however, that it's not a great little killer in the right hands.

    That being said - it's not 'ideal' for bigger animals, but it's certainly capable.
     

  3. 436

    436 Well-Known Member

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    [SIZE=+1]I've seen older hunting videos of the American Inuit hunting Polar Bear on the ice with a .222 Remington along with their slid dogs. It seems they would let the dogs harass the bear and stand him up right; then walk up and dump it with one or two rounds to the head. When .223 Rem came out, they changed their rifles over and started using M193 ball'..., to them the new cartridge was like a lighting bolt compared to the .222 Rem; the 223 Rem ammo was like gold up there for awhile... You could almost name your price for a'....., Mil 440 rounds ammo can of it. Those were some very good trading days back them; the gun shops would move the ammo North like a cartel king pins.

    So will the .223 Rem handle large game? Sure it will; like the man said' it's all about bullet placement'..., as with any cartridge used by hunters. Get it were it needs to go '..., it will do the rest.
    Would I hunt large game with one? No. There are too many other ones that would service me better.

    Have I hunted large game with a .223 Rem?.... yep... when I lived in Idaho... and for a few years in Washington before they made it illegal to do so. It killed quite well within it range, when the round(s) were placed correctly on the target. Never had an animal get away, but then I wasn't trying to shoot them across canyon or off hill tops, it was usually under 250 yards.

    Today with bullets like Barnes and Berger and better barrel twist; the distance could be stretched out quite a bit. Right now my favorite long range paper puncher in the 1k game is my .222 Remington Magnum with a 80gr Berger VLD's.. It was originally in a .223 Rem that I re-chambered'..., it wasn't that the .223 Rem with the same bullet couldn't perform out at 1k'..., I wanted a little more powder pop to keep it over 3000 fps day in and day out. Now and then the .223 Rem would drop vel's on me, going just under the speed of sound before it got there, problem solved.
    Just my .02
    436
    [/SIZE]
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
  4. jdouglasj

    jdouglasj Member

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    436: Great answer. Thanks.
     
  5. 436

    436 Well-Known Member

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    jdouglasj,
    In the end'...., it's all about making the shot....gun)
    Good luck.
    436
     
  6. jrsolocam

    jrsolocam Well-Known Member

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    My guess is that under controlled conditions you could also kill an elephant.

    Just because you can doesn't always mean you should.....
     
  7. 436

    436 Well-Known Member

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    jrsolocam,

    Your point is well taken, and ethical; here's a guy that didn't get memo. :D

    Walter D.M. Bell has become a legend among elephant hunters due to his great success in the ivory trade during the golden age of hunting in East Africa. He is known as “Karamojo” Bell because of his safaris through this remote wilderness area in North Eastern Uganda. He is famous for perfecting the brain shot on elephants, dissecting their skulls and making a careful study of the anatomy of the skull so he could predict paths of bullet travel from a shot at any angle in order to reach the brain. Using mostly 6.5mm and 7mm caliber rifles, he was an advocate of shot placement over big bore power for killing efficiently.
    Modern writers on the internet and in magazine articles have tended to refer to him and his tally of elephants in this vein, “He shot most of his 1000 elephants with a 7x57mm rifle” or words to that effect. In fact, Walter Bell killed 1011 elephants with a 7x57 in the course of his career. Since most people refer to him for his small caliber prowess and his elephant tally I thought I would try and break it down, because there are a great number of people quoting what “Karamojo Bell” did or didn’t do and I have noted a common tendency in the last few years to play down what he did with small caliber rifles. Perhaps this is in direct relation to the resurgence in popularity of magnums and the larger safari rifles. Craig Boddington is quite apt to mention the "few hundred elephants" that Bell took. (Mr. Boddington, I believe, is an erstwhile heavy rifle enthusiast.)
    Bell recorded all of his kills and shots fired. It was a business to him, not pleasure, and he needed to record expenditures.


    • [*]He shot exactly 1,011 elephants with a series of six Rigby-made 7x57mm (.275 Rigby) rifles with 173 grain military ammo.
      [*]He shot 300 elephants with a Mannlicher-Schoenauer 6.5x54mm carbine using the long 159 grain FMJ bullets.
      [*]He shot 200 odd with the .303 and the 215 grain army bullet.
      [*]He went to a .318 Westley Richards for a while, which is a cartridge firing a 250 grain bullet at about 2400 fps, but found the ammunition unreliable and returned to the 7mm.
      [*] He also recorded that one of the reasons why he favored the 7x57 was that the ammunition was more reliable and he could not recall ever having a fault with it. Whereas British sporting ammunition, apart from the .303 military ammo, gave him endless trouble with splitting cases.
      [*]The balance of his elephants were shot with this .318 and his .450/400 Jeffrey double rifle.
      [*] He wrote about being able to drop an elephant with a light caliber rifle if he shot it in the same place that he would have shot it with a heavy rifle.
      [*]It was unmentioned, but understood, that 7x57 ammunition cost a tenth the price of large caliber .450/400 Jeffrey cartridges and money is always a factor in business.
    Just out of interest, I will mention that to judge ammunition expenditure and his own shooting, he calculated an average. He discovered that with the .275 (7x57mm) he fired an average of 1.5 shots per kill. This means that half the time he only needed one shot. That is a fair performance for such a large number of elephants killed and considering that it is common today to fire an insurance shot, anyway.

    436
     
  8. LouBoyd

    LouBoyd Well-Known Member

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    Why would anyone shoot 1500+ elephants? Why would anyone shoot one elephant? Maybe if you're really hungry...
     
  9. 436

    436 Well-Known Member

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    Well, to venture a guess I’d say “Ivory” which equals money; it was a different time with little or no conservation programs in Africa. The lesson just show that small caliber can kill outside there ballistic foot print. I’m sure Lt. Col. Craig Boddington , as a modern day hunter has clouned more then one elephant in his life time as an African hunter, but that’s really beside the point of small calibers killing. Even Roy Weatherby believed his favorite cartridge {and one of mine} the; .257 Weatherby Magnum kill far outside it ballistic foot print... and as killed some very large African {big five} game with it.

    I’…, like yourself’.., can’t find one really good reason to kill that beautiful animal today. But… I sure understand why a hunter might want too try; it’s in our DNA as hunters.
    436

     
  10. jrsolocam

    jrsolocam Well-Known Member

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    436,

    That is some interesting reading, and interesting statistics. Notice that the 6.5 and 7mm bullets were relatively heavy for caliber, high SD FMJ's. A sign of the times...And you are right, bullet placement really is important!

    I'm not trying to put anyone down for their choice of caliber, but I would guess if you polled every member of this site no one would opt to take a .223 on a big game hunt. It is probably fine for culling does and fawns at less than 200 yards, but in my opinion it is considered a varmint cartridge for a reason.
     
  11. azsugarbear

    azsugarbear Well-Known Member

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    Anyone that has shot for any length of time has learned that so many little things can go wrong when you squeeze the trigger. An inadvertant flinch; a last second drop in your sight picture due to an inadequate rest; that one round of ammo that becomes a flier; a sudden gust of wind; the unexpected movement of the target; yada-yada-yada. You name it - and if you shoot long enough - you will experience it for yourself. That's why we practice. We learn from our mistakes.

    To me, there was little in this world more satisfying than taking large game with a small caliber. My prowess as a marksman was made manifest by the animals I took. Likewise, I learned there was nothing more sickening or heart-wrenching to me than shooting large game with a small caliber and hitting the quarry but missing the vitals. All the deer and other game that I have successfully shot with a small caliber cannot erase the memory of the one doe that I hit, but failed to kill. She ran into dense cover and balled and squeeled for the next 15 minutes. When I crossed the canyon to finish her off, she would struggle downhill and I could not get off another shot. This went on for another 10-15 minutes as she proclaimed loudly to the entire world what I had just done to her. While I was probably the only one in the forest that could hear her, I felt my shortcommings had been laid bare to the entire world. The good news is - I learned from that experience. I now take enough gun into the woods to humanely take down the animal I am hunting, even when things don't go right.
     
  12. jimmym40a2

    jimmym40a2 Well-Known Member

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    Full size elephants have been taken with a single shot from a 22lr. It's just like realestate...... Location, location, location.
     
  13. 436

    436 Well-Known Member

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    Its true larger calibers help a little better in poorly placed shots; some times. I've heard animals cry when hit with large game cartridges as well as small ones... not saying smaller is better. The question simple is; "can they kill large game"... YES. Should you use them? That's what the ethical hunter has to decide. At one time the .22 Savage High Power was considered big medicine for the big cats, like the Bengal Tiger... I guess they, the PH's didn't know any better...??? but that didn't stop them from killing those cats with one, it worked for them... Oh yeah, a few didn't get a second chance to discuss the merits of using small calibers, but that's part of the experience of the wild....

    As for killing an Elephant with a .22 long rifle... tell me more... that's got to be some kinda trick shooting on the Dark Continent in my book. I've have a good buddy hunting in Africa right now; I'd love to email him that story...

    He {my buddy} has a home in Ennis Montana and one in McKinney Texas... when he’s in Texas all he does is hog hunt... using his AR15's and AR10's he say's; “he doesn’t have a problem killing them with either”. They kill up to 20 plus hogs a night each’…, on their hunts; and they hunt a lot!
    He reloads and uses good bullets... You’d be hard pressed to convince him a .223 Rem {small calibers} doesn't kill. He's also popped his far share of deer with a .223 Rem’…, as I have... Not my choice’…, but they do kill with today’s modern bullet technology. Today Barnes or Bergers .22 caliber bullet coming out of a .223 Rem type cartridge with its velocity is pretty damn tough on bone and muscle. Nothing that the big ones, with the same bullet(s) can’t due better... but never the less the .22 cal has some very kick butt bullets out there these days. There are States where hunting game like deer is legal with a .223 Rem, the hunter just needs to be responsible and place the shot properly to use them humanely for hunting. It also helps to use the right rifle with this cartridge {and other similar cartridges} for a fast follow up shot. For years I hunted { Idaho Whitetail.. although I prefer my M94’s in .44 Mag & .30 30} with a my 1960’s Remington M760 in .223 Rem as well as my H&K M630 & AR15 SP-1 It’s all about a second or third fast follow up for this type of cartridge in the field. Pumps, Semi Auto and Lever rifles… The single shots and bolts are just a little slow if you’re a once a year hunter with very little range time. Lastly, it’s not a JDAM’ keep the range inside its ballistical foot print.
    Back to the point, it can and does “kill” big game.
    Just my .02
    436
     
  14. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    +1

    I feel the same way. To me it shows lack of respect for the animal not to Carry enough rifle to
    make quick humane kills EVERY TIME.

    Also one should not carry a rifle that is to big or has to much recoil to make a well placed shot.

    J E CUSTOM