Deer hunting rifle opinions are one of the most favored talked about conversations in the hunting community. And honestly it should be as choosing the right caliber is incredibly important when going after a whitetail.

A lot of hunters prefer larger calibers like the .30/30, the .30/06 or the 7mm; however, there are some out there that favor something a bit smaller. As a result, the .223 rifle has become an increasingly popular choice for deer hunting in recent years.

So if you're asking if you can kill a deer with a .223, the answer is yes!

In this blog, I'm going to discuss the reasons why hunters choose to use a .223 rifle for deer hunting, as well as some tips for getting the most out of this versatile firearm. Let us know what caliber you're going to use this year in the comments section below.

A Little Bit About The .223 Cartridge

The .223 cartridge, also known as the 5.56x45mm NATO, is a small-caliber, high-velocity round that was first introduced in the 1960s. While originally designed for military use, the .223 cartridge has since become popular with hunters due to its light recoil, flat trajectory, and high velocity. The .223 cartridge typically fires a 55-grain bullet at velocities of around 3,000 feet per second, making it an excellent choice for long-range shooting.

.223 Bullet Weight and Velocity Chart

Bullet Weight (grains) Velocity (feet per second)
40 3,800
45 3,500
50 3,400
55 3,200
60 3,100
62 3,000
69 2,900
77 2,750

Pros Of Using A .223 Rifle For Deer Hunting

While some hunters prefer larger caliber rifles, there are several advantages to using a .223 rifle for deer hunting. One of the main advantages is that the .223 rifle is lightweight and easy to carry, making it an excellent choice for hunters who need to cover a lot of ground during a hunt. Additionally, the .223 cartridge has a flat trajectory, which means that it retains its velocity over long distances and is less affected by wind drift than other cartridges.

Another advantage of using a .223 rifle for deer hunting is that the light recoil of the cartridge makes it easier to shoot deer accurately, especially for younger or less experienced hunters. This can be a major factor in improving a hunter's success rate when hunting deer.

223 Rifle Bullet Comparison


Tips For Deer Hunting With A .223

When using a .223 rifle for deer hunting, there are several important tips to keep in mind to ensure success. First and foremost, it's important to select the right bullet for the job. While the .223 cartridge is capable of taking down a deer, it's important to use a bullet that is designed for hunting, such as a soft point or hollow point bullet. These types of bullets are designed to expand upon impact, delivering maximum energy to the target and ensuring a clean, ethical kill.

Another important consideration when using a .223 rifle for deer hunting is shot placement. The .223 cartridge is capable of delivering a lethal shot, but it's important to aim for vital organs such as the heart and lungs to ensure a clean kill. This requires practice and precision, so it's important to spend time at the shooting range to improve accuracy before heading out on a hunt.

Finally, it's important to be patient when using a .223 rifle for deer hunting. While the cartridge is capable of taking down a deer, it may require more careful stalking and positioning to get into the optimal shooting position. This means taking the time to scout out the area, look for signs of deer activity, and wait for the right moment to take a shot.

What .223 Rifle Should You Pick For Deer Hunting

When selecting a .223 rifle for deer hunting, there are several excellent options to choose from. One popular choice is the Ruger American Ranch Rifle, which features a lightweight synthetic stock and a 16.1-inch barrel for easy maneuverability in the field. Another excellent option is the Savage Axis II XP, which comes with a mounted scope and an adjustable trigger for enhanced accuracy.

What's The Difference Between A .308 vs .223 For Deer Hunting?

The main difference between a .308 and a .223 cartridge for deer hunting is their power and performance characteristics.

The .308 cartridge is a larger and more powerful round, typically firing a bullet in the 150-180 grain range at velocities of around 2,800-3,000 feet per second. The .308 has a higher bullet energy, greater bullet weight, and is capable of delivering more kinetic energy to the target than the .223. This makes the .308 a better choice for hunting larger game, including deer at longer distances, as it has greater stopping power and is more capable of taking down game quickly and humanely.

On the other hand, the .223 cartridge is a smaller and lighter round, typically firing a bullet in the 50-77 grain range at velocities of around 2,900-3,800 feet per second. The .223 has a lower bullet energy and lighter bullet weight, and is typically used for varmint hunting or target shooting. While the .223 can be used for deer hunting with appropriate shot placement and bullet selection, it is not recommended for larger game or longer distances due to its lower bullet energy and lighter weight.

In terms of recoil, the .308 generates more recoil than the .223 due to its larger cartridge size and more powerful load. This can make the .308 harder to shoot accurately for some shooters, particularly those with smaller frames or less experience with high-powered rifles.

Ultimately, the choice between a .308 and a .223 for deer hunting depends on a variety of factors, including the hunter's experience and preference, the terrain and distance of the hunt, and the hunting regulations in the specific area. It is important to choose a cartridge that is appropriate for the size of game being hunted, and to select a bullet that is designed for hunting and will deliver effective and ethical results.

Most Important Things To Know About The .223

First, not every state allows you to deer hunt with a .223 rifle. According to StagArms, the following states have outlawed this:

Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, Washington, and West Virginia 

Additionally, when deer hunting with a .223 rifle, it is crucial that an appropriate bullet and shot placement is chosen to ensure an ethical and humane harvest.

While the .223 cartridge is capable of taking down deer-sized game with proper shot placement and bullet selection, it is important to choose a bullet that is designed for hunting, such as a soft point or hollow point, which will expand upon impact and transfer energy to the animal. It is also important to consider the distance of the shot, as the .223 cartridge is not recommended for long-range shots on deer.

Final Thoughts On Hunting With A .223 Rifle

And that pretty much wraps up all you need to know about the infamous .223. While the .223 rifle may not be the first choice for all hunters, it is a versatile and capable firearm that can be an excellent option for deer hunting in the right circumstances.

By understanding the capabilities of the .223 cartridge, selecting the right rifle and ammunition, and practicing good shot placement and patience in the field, hunters can increase their chances of success when using a .223 rifle for deer hunting. As with any hunting pursuit, it's important to always follow local laws and regulations, prioritize safety, and respect the animal being hunted.

Do you know How Much Wind Is Too Much For Deer Hunting? Well we have found the answer!