Does the small and speedy .223 Remington have what it takes to put meat on the table? With the right bullet, you bet.
- With the proper bullet the .223 Remington is more than adequate for deer.
- The bullets used must be tough, as they move at such high velocities.
- Contrary to popular belief, the .223 is a legal big-game cartridge in most states.
Some hunters think the .223 Remington is too small of a caliber, without enough bullet weight, for deer. I’d classify those folks as fools. Some hunters think the .223 Remington is only legal for deer hunting in a few states. Those folks are just wrong. Dozens of deer I’ve taken or seen cleanly killed with a .223 Remington stand as evidence of its capabilities, and the hunting regulations of all 50 states prove its lawfulness.
When proper bullets are used, the .223 Remington is more than adequate for any whitetail or mule deer out to the other side of 100 yards. What type bullets are we talking about? With the .223 Remington, the tough bullets come into their own because the cartridge pushes them fast. Remington’s new HTP Copper load for the .223 Remington pushes a 62-grain Barnes Triple Shock bullet to 3,100 fps. Similarly, the Barnes VOR-TX 52-grain load can leave the muzzle 100 fps faster.
Mono-metal bullets such as the Triple Shock work very well at high speeds like this because their energy dump is increased. The downside to the .223 Remington is that these bullets have low ballistic coefficients, so they slow down quickly, limiting the effective range of the cartridge.
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As far as legality, a few years back I took the time to research the hunting regulations for all 50 states in order to determine the minimum caliber allowed for big-game hunting. I found 35 states that permitted its use. That’s 70 percent, which qualifies as most in my book.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.