Best deer bullet for 223

sendero72

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Feb 9, 2010
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NC
Take a look at the 55 gr / 223. My surgeon shoots an AR-15 using the 55 gr DRT. His shots are 120yds max or less with most in the 75 yd range. His autospies show that a deer can not survive a hit from the DRT. He has killed over 20 and never had a deer run over 50 yds. Instead of a lead core, the DRT has a compressed iron ore powder core. Somewhat like pressing an organ thru a tea strainer, just mush.
 

phorwath

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Alaska
The following information, and more, is available at this web site: .223 Remington

They do a fair amount of medium sized large game hunting in New Zealand, and have lots of experience using smaller diameter bullets to harvest deer up to ~130lbs in weight. None of the following information is mine. It's a copy and paste of a portion of the above linked article on the .223 Remington.

"
Hand Loading

The .223 is generally easy to hand load for. Fast burning powders in the 4198 range produce the highest velocities without load compression. From 22” sporting length barrels, maximum safe working velocities include 3750fps with 40 grain varmint bullets, 3450fps with 50 grain bullets, 3300fps with the 53 grain Barnes, 3250fps with 55 grain bullets and 3100fps with 60 grain bullets. Readers will note that the velocity of 3250fps for the 55 grain bullet is 50fps below Norinco factory ammunition, nevertheless, in many rifles, case life is short when continually loading to 3300fps or higher.

Bullet choice for the .223 can be divided into two categories, explosive projectiles which require care with shot placement to avoid major bones and premium projectiles capable of breaking major bones on lighter medium game but should also be utilized carefully to ensure that wounding occurs in the forwards and largest portion of the lungs. In recent years, several manufacturers have produced 60 to 63 grain bullets which produce adequate penetration with shoulder shots but should never be regarded as fast killers.

Hornady projectiles include the 50 grain Super Explosive SP, a standard 50 grain soft point flat base bullet, the 50 grain V-Max, 52 grain A-Max, the 55 grain V-Max, 55 grain soft point flat base, 60 grain hollow point flat base, 60 grain soft point flat base, 60 grain V-Max, 75 grain A-Max and finally, the 80 grain A-Max.

When studying the performance of Hornady’s 55 grain bullets, there really isn’t a great deal of difference in penetration between the standard soft points, V-Max and the 52 grain A-Max. The major differences, are that the A-Max and V-Max produce much wider wounds than the standard bullets. On 60kg (130lb animals), the V-Max and A-Max normally produce a .224” entry wound, then immediately expand to produce a 2 to3” wound channel through onside muscle and bone. The wound extends to the vitals but usually goes no further, the remaining fragments arrest in vital organs with very few making it to the offside chest wall.

As bullet weight is increased, performance improves slightly and where twist weight allows, it is worth utilizing Hornady’s heavier bullets. The 60 grain projectiles, like their 52-55 grain counterparts are all prone to total disintegration however the reduction in muzzle velocity and slight increase in SD slow this process down, enabling deeper wounding. The 60 grain V-Max gives a good compromise between velocity and terminal performance while also being suitable for standard twist rate barrels.

Of the Hornady range, the heavy weight A-Max bullets are the best performers on lighter medium game but require fast twist rates of either 1:8 or 1:7. Although these start out slower than their lighter counterparts (around 2900fps), the heavy A-Max bullets have incredibly high BC’s. In the .224” caliber, most traditional soft point 55 grain projectiles have a BC of around .230. The 75 grain A-Max on the other hand has nearly double this at .435 while the 80 grain A-Max boasts a BC of .473. Retained energy at 300 yards is vastly superior to other .224” loads. Some 1:9 twist barrels produce acceptable accuracy with the heavy A-Max but results are difficult to predict.

Sierra produce a 50 grain flat base soft point, a second FBSP but with a thin “Blitz” varmint style jacket, a 50 grain semi point soft point and the BTSP BlitzKing. The more typical .223 Rem projectile weights include the 55 grain Blitz (flat based), the 55 grain BlitzKing BTSP, 55 grain HPBT, 55 grain flat base soft point and 55 grain semi point. Heavy bullets include the 60 grain HP, 63 grain semi point and the very popular 65 grain BTSP GameKing. Sierra also produce a range of match bullets from 55 to 80 grains however these do not produce reliable expansion on game.

The Sierra line of projectiles are rather generic. On light bodied medium game, performance of the 55-60 grain bullets is fair; wounds tend to be wide but shallow as with all soft point .224 bullets. The one Sierra projectile that stands alone is the 65 grain GameKing. This bullet has been used by hunters around the world to take countless light weight deer species. Again, as with all .224” projectiles, penetration is limited however, the 65 grain GK produces uniform wounds through vitals.

Speer make a wide range of .224 bullets from 30 to 70 grains. The Speer TNT bullets (30-55 grains) are extremely frangible and in no way suitable for use on lighter medium game. The TNT should be used as intended - on varmints Medium weight bullets include the traditional 50 grain soft point, 50 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, 55 grain soft point, 55 grain soft point with cannelure (for slightly greater controlled expansion), the once popular 70 grain semi pointed soft point and lastly, the 75 grain BTSP.

Of the Speer range, the 50 grain TBBC is the toughest. This bullet (like the Barnes bullets) is capable of relatively deep penetration and will almost always exit lighter framed deer species. Penetration from raking shots can sometimes be quite impressive however, due to both the nature of this bullet design and limitations of the caliber, wound channels are not tremendously wide. For this reason, the TBBC does its best work inside 150 yards, steadily losing the ability to produce wide wounding thereafter.

The 70 grain Speer semi pointed soft point (SMP) was once one of the only readily available projectiles for hunters targeting medium game with .22 center fires. Furthermore not all rifles were capable of shooting such a heavy bullet due to the twist rates adopted in early days. The Speer was and still is, a relatively effective lighter medium game bullet. Like all .224” soft points, the 70 grain Speer is forced to dump its energy immediately. Wounds through vitals tend to be very broad, penetration is adequate for cross body or lightly quartering shots while exit wounding is rare. The BC of the 70 grain Speer is low at .219 however this bullet is adequate for chest shooting lighter medium game out to ranges exceeding 200 yards.

The Nosler 50 and 55 grain Ballistic Tip projectiles perform in much the same way as regular soft point .224” projectiles, wide wounding with shallow penetration. The 60 grain Nosler Partition on the other hand, is one of the most reliable .224” light medium game projectiles available. Like all .224” projectiles, penetration is limited and on light bodied animals exit wounds are rare, nevertheless this bullet penetrates vitals through relatively stout bone, produces wide lung wounds and ruptures off side chest cavities. Those who hunt light bodied deer with the .223 should never be without a box of 60 grain Partition projectiles.

Barnes produce both frangible varmint bullets (30-50 grains) and stout TSX projectiles. The TSX is available in the weights 53, 55, 62 and 70 grains. For ordinary chest shots on light medium game, the 53 grain Barnes TSX produce far superior performance in comparison to all other bullet designs.

Unfortunately very few .224” fans appreciate the effectiveness of a stout bullet. Often if a slow kill is witnessed, the hand loader goes back to the bench, determined to find the most frangible bullet available in order to effect fast killing. Although frangible bullets are useful on medium game with heavy calibers, the same cannot be said for the .224”. Where bullets like the 80 grain A-Max can create quite a deep, wide wound, there is always an element of uncertainty towards the reliability of such a load across varying body weights. This is the reason why experienced .224” shooters tend to opt for neck and head shots. The 53 grain Barnes TSX is different in this regard and results are quite predictable. On game weighing between 60 and 80kg (up to 130lb), chest shots with the 53 grain Barnes are still within the realms of David versus Goliath however the Barnes renders a deep, adequately broad wound. The heavier Barnes TSX projectiles are even more effective, ensuring free bleeding exit wounds.

In recent years, Berger bullets have put a lot of research towards producing optimum BC .224” projectiles. Berger offer a wide range of bullet weights ranging from 30 to 90 grains. Berger do not recommend any of their .224” bullets as being suitable for use on lighter medium game and are instead offered as either match or varmint options.

Lastly, for those who are able to find a source, Norinco projectiles do appear on the market from time to time. These projectiles are often sold off, after the original load has been pulled and a new soft point projectile has been seated by an aftermarket manufacturer. The Norinco projectile is simply the most effective .224” bullet available for hunting lighter medium game and hunters should have absolutely no hesitation in trusting it beyond all other .224” offerings."
 

Waynard

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Mar 21, 2014
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Phorwath, thanks, real good info.. Anybody reloading and hunting with the 223 should read that article. That Barnes bullet in 55 to 62gr. is sounding real good. Not ruling out Sierra or Nosler though. This is good, got a lot of bullet selection here. :D

I like one shot kills where possible and prefer to do all my hunting before I shoot. Elmer Keith
 

phorwath

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After having read that article and others, I purchased the Hornady 60gr Vmax for plinking with my AR15. I'm getting really good accuracy with that bullet.

I purchased the 60gr Nosler Partitions and the 62gr Barnes TTSX for smaller large game or defense against a bear, should all I happen to be carrying is my AR15. I hardly shoot these much more expensive bullets. Just enough to confirm POI and function through my AR.
 

lloydsmale

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Feb 5, 2012
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a few years back my buddy and i did a bunch of testing of 22 projectiles looking for the best deer bullet for an ar15. We tested into wet print and also into bone followed by wet print. What we found is many of the 60plus grain bullets did worse then the 55s and even the 50s. Most all of the coventional 55-65 grain bullets did miserably in the print test and completely failed the bone test. The barnes bullet gave the best penetration but didnt expand reliably even in the bone test. We found some of the bullets that looked like they could have been loaded again. I think its just to small to expand reliably and even when it did it didnt give great wound channels. The hands down star of the show was the 60 grain partition. It always went deap enough even after hitting bone and allways gave a good wound channel. I havent yet shot a deer with that bullet but the buddy and i have accounted for 4 hogs with it and its performed well.
 

Gray R

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Sep 12, 2013
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And brainfart on my part I just remembered that 2 of my deer last year were with the federal fusion MSR 62 grain and they worked beautifully but again we're talking under 200 yards so it's another option
 

Jayhawk

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Mar 15, 2009
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Hornady 75 grain BTHP worked just fine on deer out to 260 yards last year. Hit them right with this smaller caliber and they drop on the spot, but blast them with a 300 wm in the wrong location and you can track them all day. Also, believe it or not, 223 do come in boltguns, not just ARs
 

Greg Duerr

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Mar 25, 2011
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Reno, Nevada
Ive used a Calhoon 46gr on two big Mule Deer Bucks, but realize that they were both at or under 100yds...............both were Lung shots.
A good friend of mine used the old Speer 70gr out of his 22-250 for years and took 19 bucks. They were Black Tails. He never felt that he needed a larger bullet. However, he was a crack shot.
 

dogbuster0006

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Dec 6, 2011
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Western KY
I prefer 243win or better for my deer hunting however the 60gr partition inside 200yd will kill deer just fine with correct shot placement. Aim to hit the offside shoulder and let them have it they'll run a short distance and pile up. I've killed a three or four like that I prefer to ear hole them no tracking involved, that being said my gun and I are more than capable of those shots from a solid rest. Is a 223 rem the best choice for deer hunting no, but it'll work with good shot placement and propper bullet selection.
 

4xforfun

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Oct 1, 2007
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This is simple. First, find the cheapest .224 bullet you can find for your 223. Powder charge...I say use sand..perferably the heavy zircon sand that we use for sand bags. Or, for you guys who also swage their own bullets....fill entire case with molten lead. Bullet seating depth is not that important, nor is primer brand. I would crimp the bullets. Now develope a 50 BMG sabbot that will fit the entire 223 round in. Use the proper powder/seating depth/charger weight...ect.. for your 50 BMG bbl...remember.....they are not all the same. Fine tune the load and... POOF....

You now have the perfect way to shoot deer with the 223!!! :D

Seriously though...my 6 year old jr PETA members began their hunting careers shooting BIG northern does at 200 yards with my Swift and 55 grn balistic tips. I think you cut that to 100 yards with proper shot placement and the little 223 would do just fine.

Again, as always..just MY .02,
Tod
 

Waynard

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Mar 21, 2014
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195
What I read here about the 223 leads me to belive that its a **** good round for all varmints, deer and hog with the right bullet. Anybody got a favorite load for the Nosler 60 gr. Partition or Barnes 55, 62 gr. bullet. Powder, primers, cases ect..gun)


I like one shot kills where possible and prefer to do all my hunting before I shoot.

Elmer Keith
 
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