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Genius in Training
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Went out this last weekend for late rifle season and ended up with some interesting bullet performance that I thought you guys might be interested in. I was using some cheap 223 hollow point, don't remember the brand.

So the deer was at 150ish yards and facing almost straight towards me. There were a few deer and they all seemed skittish so I didn't exactly take my time with the shot but it still felt good, I could tell by how she jumped that I made contact. I get over to her and I see blood coming out right behind her front shoulder. She was facing me and I aimed for a center mass heart shot and so I was very confused how this could be. Upon opening her up I see that the bullet entered almost perfectly in the center of her chest, maybe hit rib bone although I forgot to look, made a left turn and exited right behind the front shoulder. The bullet left the barrel on a path for the heart but after making such a sharp turn it barely got one of the lungs, missing the heart entirely. Judging by the permanent would cavity either the small hollow point did not expand or is still small enough that the permanent cavity was still not very large.

I have always been of the belief that shot placement is by far the most important thing and that bullet weight/velocity/expansion style all just gave you more room for error. I always thought that people who complain about 223 hunting performance just need to suck less and aim better. The deer that I shot this fall with the same ammo had much better results but with this one, considering I put the bullet exactly where it needed to go, I can really only blame the cartridge. I would guess the bullet was going 2700-2800fps upon arrival so my assumption is that the 55gr weight was the issue. She only went about 40yds after being hit but that is the farthest I have ever had one go so the performance was obviously not the best.

Where I normally hunt the deer may be at 200yd or they may be at 20ft (like the one I shot last fall) so that is why I use my 20in barrel AR with a 3-9x optic as opposed to my 308 with a 6-24x as the lowest setting of 6x is still too much when the deer is at pistol ranges. This particular day I was at a different field where 100yd would be the closest possible shot so I had planned on switching out rifles but I forgot to do so until I was already on my way to the field.

Overall I don't think there is any possible way a deer could walk away from a shot with that bullet placement, but the way the bullet deflected and almost missed the vitals entirely does give me some things to think about for my future weapon of choice. Food for thought

I'm sure some of you will be bothered and even say its "unethical" that I would use such a small bullet for deer hunting but this is definitely not the first deer I have taken with a 223. One of them didn't take a step, and the others weren't much better off.
 
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I’ve had deer run 100 yards after being hit with a 240 gn 50 cal sabot with 2 broke front legs and no heart. Some states do not allow 22 cal bullets. The ranch I hunt on requires 100 gn or larger. 20 year’s ago I had a huge buck get up and run into the swamp after the exact same shot you describe and this buck had been head down on the ground for a good 5 min. Since then I have focused on shot placement and accuracy and have never lost another.
 

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Live Free
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Went out this last weekend for late rifle season and ended up with some interesting bullet performance that I thought you guys might be interested in. I was using some cheap 223 hollow point, don't remember the brand.

So the deer was at 150ish yards and facing almost straight towards me. There were a few deer and they all seemed skittish so I didn't exactly take my time with the shot but it still felt good, I could tell by how she jumped that I made contact. I get over to her and I see blood coming out right behind her front shoulder. She was facing me and I aimed for a center mass heart shot and so I was very confused how this could be. Upon opening her up I see that the bullet entered almost perfectly in the center of her chest, maybe hit rib bone although I forgot to look, made a left turn and exited right behind the front shoulder. The bullet left the barrel on a path for the heart but after making such a sharp turn it barely got one of the lungs, missing the heart entirely. Judging by the permanent would cavity either the small hollow point did not expand or is still small enough that the permanent cavity was still not very large.

I have always been of the belief that shot placement is by far the most important thing and that bullet weight/velocity/expansion style all just gave you more room for error. I always thought that people who complain about 223 hunting performance just need to suck less and aim better. The deer that I shot this fall with the same ammo had much better results but with this one, considering I put the bullet exactly where it needed to go, I can really only blame the cartridge. I would guess the bullet was going 2700-2800fps upon arrival so my assumption is that the 55gr weight was the issue. She only went about 40yds after being hit but that is the farthest I have ever had one go so the performance was obviously not the best.

Where I normally hunt the deer may be at 200yd or they may be at 20ft (like the one I shot last fall) so that is why I use my 20in barrel AR with a 3-9x optic as opposed to my 308 with a 6-24x as the lowest setting of 6x is still too much when the deer is at pistol ranges. This particular day I was at a different field where 100yd would be the closest possible shot so I had planned on switching out rifles but I forgot to do so until I was already on my way to the field.

Overall I don't think there is any possible way a deer could walk away from a shot with that bullet placement, but the way the bullet deflected and almost missed the vitals entirely does give me some things to think about for my future weapon of choice. Food for thought

I'm sure some of you will be bothered and even say its "unethical" that I would use such a small bullet for deer hunting but this is definitely not the first deer I have taken with a 223. One of them didn't take a step, and the others weren't much better off.
A few thoughts...
Since I view .223 as minimal performance for deer, I certainly would not choose some cheap 55 grain hollow points. I want performance that I trust out of my hunting ammo, not some off the shelf ammo I cannot even recall the brand.

I agree that shot placement is critical above all else, but I also know the deer sometimes don’t realize how good your shot is and run anyways...they don’t seem to realize they are dead.

Small high velocity bullets tend to do interesting things once they strike, including sudden course changes in the flesh/bones of the target. This precludes me from using a tiny hollow point because I want the energy expended taking out the vitals of the animal and not changing course. If I did choose to hunt with the .223 I would prefer say a 65 grain spitzer...but that is me. There would be a plethora of cartridges I would choose over .223 for deer.

I am not questioning your ethics, you can wrestle with that yourself. I would suggest there are a number of cartridges that might give better performance, or better .223 ammo at least. Your post clearly defines one characteristic of little .223 bullets that might make them a less suitable choice.
 

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Aim true !
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Congrats on the deer. You made a great shot. The poachers around my area shoot them in the head with a 22lr.
 

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AZHerper
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For some reason, this had me thinking way back to the first deer that I shot. I used and old Remington rolling block rifle chambered in 7x57 Mauser that I bought mail order for about 15 bucks. It had a broken extractor so I had to use a "church key" (beer opener) to extract the fired cases. Anyway, I dropped my first deer with a single shot and I doubt if it ran 50 feet.
 

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Bullet performance varies hugely, but in proportion to the animal that is hit....case in point. A friend and I were standing in a rather open field one morning when a very nice whitetail buck ran out of the woods we were watching, immediately turned left and ran at right angles to our position. It was my friend's turn to shoot so he shouldered his 30-06 ( 150 gr bullet, soft nose) and fired, the deer seemed only to stagger a bit but continued to run at full speed. My buddy did not fire again, sayin "I am pretty sure I hit him". The deer turned into the woods after running another 50 yds. We waited the required 20 minutes and paced off the distance to the deer's tracks...120 yds/paces. We entered the woods at the place where we saw the buck enter and saw no blood. ?? So we spread out and carefully started in the direction we thought he had gone....still no blood until I found a bit of a sprinkle on some brush. After about another 50 yds we found the buck but with only a small drainage of blood from the entry wound located right behind and a bit above what I would call the elbow.....this is the exact spot recommended for a heart shot. The exit wound bled a bit more.
Now to the interesting part...I know...I took long enough to get here, but I am a deer hunter telling a story so give me a break. Upon field dressing we found that the heart was completely missing with only the stumps of the connecting large vessels present. This explains the lack of a blood trail...no pump...no circulation. I believe the event was caused by the round striking the heart and producing a huge hydraulic expansion that destroyed the entire heart and shredded it.
Animal behavior is wildly variable upon being hit and the bullet behavior is also rather dependent upon many factors. I would not stress too much. Put the round where you should and by and large the outcome will be as desired.
 

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Not a deer hunter, but I use a Fiocchi 50 grain 223, with a V-Max (soft point) tip. The damage is hard to describe, this round almost explodes, upon impact. Generally, I'm hunting wild dogs, Bobcats, and the like, but the damage is substantial. I would hazard to say you can easily drop a deer with 50 grain V-Max tips.
 

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I have started an experiment with Barnes 62 gn TSX for my .223. Initial load was 26 gn of CFE223. Copper bullets fly very differently and this load seems a bit hot since my grouping was a good 5” to the right. I’m going to back down some on the charge and see what happens. My thought is that this might make a decent deer round because of the excellent expansion from the Barnes TSX.
 
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