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I sold my .308, and a few other rifles last year to pay for classes. I was figuring on dusting off my trusty 12 gauge and buckshot that I shot deer with as a kid. But, I saw some Deer Season XP in 223. I ended up buying three different brands and testing them for penetration and expansion. The test was shooting water jugs at 100 yards to see if they actually penetrated and expanded well. I also shot water jugs sat 10 feet to see if the bullet may fail with a bit more velocity (they all held together). Velocity at the muzzle was about 3000 fps, and 2600 fps at 100 yards, except for the PPU which was closer to 2,900 and 2,500 fps.
I recovered all the bullets for comparison.
784071
I
784072

This one had, in my opinion, the best combination of penetration sand delayed expansion for deer at 100 yards. It also shot the most accurate in my rifle. It grouped right at MOA which is all the better I can shoot. It penetrated 3 water jugs, blowing up the first two and splitting the second one. The bullet held 100 percent intact.

784074

784075

This one is sold for small game, not deer. They sell a very similar one for deer. I suspected this was the same load at a lower price point, Looks like I was right. This isn't a frangible type soft point like Hornady's SP loads in 223. It's a bonded bullet, the same bullet they sell in a load of Federal Premium. It held intact well, leaving a small shard of lead. It expended ever so slightly more than the Winchester and penetrated a smidge less in the water jugs, almost exiting the 3rd jug. It grouped a hair over MOA.

784076

784077

This one was half-price so I tried it. Accuracy wasn't great. It's a 100-yard max load in my opinion. it penetrated well, equal to the Federal. The lead core came out of the jacket but remained completely in one piece. I sat them back together for the picture. This grouped at about 2-1/2 MOA
I think I would feel comfortable using the Winchester or Federal on deer up to 150 yards. Understanding that I'll only take good shots and will aim for the lungs. I got plus or minus 30-inches penetration in the water jugs. seeing as 17 inches will penetrate a mature deer, I feel confident in a clear pass through, or a near pass through in the lungs.
What are your thoughts?
 

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223 is plenty for deer, you just have to use the right ammo and put the bullet in the right spot.

Do you know the twist rate of your rifle's barrel? I'm kind of surprised you are getting MOA accuracy with that heavy of a bullet if you have a slow twist that is common in a lot of 223 barrels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
223 is plenty for deer, you just have to use the right ammo and put the bullet in the right spot.

Do you know the twist rate of your rifle's barrel? I'm kind of surprised you are getting MOA accuracy with that heavy of a bullet if you have a slow twist that is common in a lot of 223 barrels.
My twist is 1:9, which is very common for my style of AR-15. The most common twist for AR-15s in 223 are 1:9, 1:8, or 1:7,. 1:7 is pretty much the new standard for them.
 

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There's a thread on Rokslide about guys shooting deer and other medium game. The preferred bullet seems to be a 77gr sierra tipped matching as fast as you can push it. The pics of wounds is very impressive.

 

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I've killed and my rifles have killed a busload of deer (30+) with 223. I've found that a 60+gr bonded bullets kill deer very well easily out to 200 yards and just beyond..

Good shot selection and placement being key.. Most deer have had pass thru bullet performance even when contacting leg bones and the thinner parts of the scapula. I have killed even relatively large whitetail bucks with these rounds. (170 lbs field dressed) with complete penetration.

My go to bullet is the Speer Gold Dot in 62 gr loaded with AA 2520 @3000fps+/-.. This load has proven itself as potent whitetail medicine for the last 7-8 years I have been using it..
 

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My AR is 1:9 and wish it was 1:8.. I have a Ruger M77 that wont group Nosler Partitions (60 gr) worth beans. I suspect it is a length problem.

Any one else find that true. Ill have to try some of these rounds. I wonder how the length compares to Nosler Partitions??
 

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My AR is 1:9 and wish it was 1:8.. I have a Ruger M77 that wont group Nosler Partitions (60 gr) worth beans. I suspect it is a length problem.

Any one else find that true. Ill have to try some of these rounds. I wonder how the length compares to Nosler Partitions??
Try heavier bullets. I have a 1/8 twist barrel and it wont group anything under 62 grains. I get the best with 68grains and higher.

Personally i like solid copper bullets for deer with the .223. They expand, hold together, and exit the animal without exploding on bone.

My experience with winchester “deer season” ammo was not pleasant. Wife shot a doe with her .243 and clipped the leg bone on entrance. I pretty much had to throw out the front quarters.


Sent from my iPhone using Michigan Sportsman
 

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I sold my .308, and a few other rifles last year to pay for classes. I was figuring on dusting off my trusty 12 gauge and buckshot that I shot deer with as a kid. But, I saw some Deer Season XP in 223. I ended up buying three different brands and testing them for penetration and expansion. The test was shooting water jugs at 100 yards to see if they actually penetrated and expanded well. I also shot water jugs sat 10 feet to see if the bullet may fail with a bit more velocity (they all held together). Velocity at the muzzle was about 3000 fps, and 2600 fps at 100 yards, except for the PPU which was closer to 2,900 and 2,500 fps.
I recovered all the bullets for comparison.
View attachment 784071 I View attachment 784072
This one had, in my opinion, the best combination of penetration sand delayed expansion for deer at 100 yards. It also shot the most accurate in my rifle. It grouped right at MOA which is all the better I can shoot. It penetrated 3 water jugs, blowing up the first two and splitting the second one. The bullet held 100 percent intact.

View attachment 784074
View attachment 784075
This one is sold for small game, not deer. They sell a very similar one for deer. I suspected this was the same load at a lower price point, Looks like I was right. This isn't a frangible type soft point like Hornady's SP loads in 223. It's a bonded bullet, the same bullet they sell in a load of Federal Premium. It held intact well, leaving a small shard of lead. It expended ever so slightly more than the Winchester and penetrated a smidge less in the water jugs, almost exiting the 3rd jug. It grouped a hair over MOA.

View attachment 784076
View attachment 784077
This one was half-price so I tried it. Accuracy wasn't great. It's a 100-yard max load in my opinion. it penetrated well, equal to the Federal. The lead core came out of the jacket but remained completely in one piece. I sat them back together for the picture. This grouped at about 2-1/2 MOA
I think I would feel comfortable using the Winchester or Federal on deer up to 150 yards. Understanding that I'll only take good shots and will aim for the lungs. I got plus or minus 30-inches penetration in the water jugs. seeing as 17 inches will penetrate a mature deer, I feel confident in a clear pass through, or a near pass through in the lungs.
What are your thoughts?
My thoughts are....Great review. Maybe someone will use your reviewed deer round in their 223 and comment on their success. Hopefully not a failure but things happen no matter what bullet is used. Thanks for the review. If I had a younger grandchild youth hunting still and was recoil sensitive, I'd use that round and set up in a heartbeat. Thanks again. John
 

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My only response to those that can't get anything lighter than the 60 grain ammo to shoot thru their 8 twist barrels is, keep trying different bullets. My 22-250AI with an 8 twist barrel shoots 40s thru 90s great. 40-55s spin pretty fast so those high RPMs can get you in trouble sometimes but I don't shoot those real light bullets in that particular barrel often. I've had some puffs at around 40-50yards after leaving the barrel from bullet disintegration. They group fine if they make it to paper. Truly the 53 VMAX up are excellent in accuracy and performance in that barrel. Takes some experimenting with various bullets to see which shoot the best. My 9 twist 223/223AI's do well with all weights up to 70 grains. No bullet explosions.
 

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My AR is 1:9 and wish it was 1:8.. I have a Ruger M77 that wont group Nosler Partitions (60 gr) worth beans. I suspect it is a length problem.

Any one else find that true. Ill have to try some of these rounds. I wonder how the length compares to Nosler Partitions??
The 60 gr Nosler partition just doesn't shoot well out of several 223s that I own. Bolt or gas guns either one. Minute of deer perhaps but certainly not any kind of groups that I would accept..

I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with the length of the bullet either. As a couple of my rifles are tack driver's with bullets longer and shorter than the Partition. Also with very similar configurations externally. It seems as though there is something about the Partition in this cartridge that just isn't great.. ymmv but this was just my experience and I have shot several hundred partitions through half a dozen different rifles with a plethora of reloaded combinations..
 

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The 60 gr Nosler partition just doesn't shoot well out of several 223s that I own. Bolt or gas guns either one. Minute of deer perhaps but certainly not any kind of groups that I would accept..

I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with the length of the bullet either. As a couple of my rifles are tack driver's with bullets longer and shorter than the Partition. Also with very similar configurations externally. It seems as though there is something about the Partition in this cartridge that just isn't great.. ymmv but this was just my experience and I have shot several hundred partitions through half a dozen different rifles with a plethora of reloaded combinations..
I hear that alot. I've never shot any in .224 but have in .308/.264/.284/.338 and they do excellent in all those bigger calibers for me...luckily. These are not factory barrels.
 

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Try heavier bullets. I have a 1/8 twist barrel and it wont group anything under 62 grains. I get the best with 68grains and higher.

Personally i like solid copper bullets for deer with the .223. They expand, hold together, and exit the animal without exploding on bone.

My experience with winchester “deer season” ammo was not pleasant. Wife shot a doe with her .243 and clipped the leg bone on entrance. I pretty much had to throw out the front quarters.


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I've not had the same experience with Barnes or other copper solid bullets. Perhaps because I intentionally stay off from shoulder shots with this cartridge. I have used the 55 and 62 gr Ttsx and Tsx respectively and been underwhelmed with terminal performance on deer.

However, these were not shot into heavier bone or muscle around the shoulder but through the ribs and lungs. Poor blood and longer trails happened every time with these combinations. Perhaps if I had put it on the shoulder my experience would have been different. It's just that I have always been trained for the double lung shots as being where to aim..
 

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I hear that alot. I've never shot any in .224 but have in .308/.264/.284/.338 and they do excellent in all those bigger calibers for me...luckily. These are not factory barrels.
Actually I have the same experience with Partitions in the larger calibers. .243, 270, 308, 25-06 and such.. I just couldn't get anything better than 1.5-2 moa out of any of my 223 rifles with them.. I have around 500 of them collecting dust on my reloading bench shelf as a result..
 

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Actually I have the same experience with Partitions in the larger calibers. .243, 270, 308, 25-06 and such.. I just couldn't get anything better than 1.5-2 moa out of any of my 223 rifles with them.. I have around 500 of them collecting dust on my reloading bench shelf as a result..
If your interested in selling any of the .257 bullets, I'd be interested in them. Building a 25-284 right now and just finishing the barrel chamber. Should be together by the weekend. Love to shoot some thru it. It's a 7.5 twist barrel but I'm pretty sure I can get accuracy with them. Let me know if you want to part with maybe 100 of them. Are they the 120 grain bullets ?
 

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I sold my .308, and a few other rifles last year to pay for classes. I was figuring on dusting off my trusty 12 gauge and buckshot that I shot deer with as a kid. But, I saw some Deer Season XP in 223. I ended up buying three different brands and testing them for penetration and expansion. The test was shooting water jugs at 100 yards to see if they actually penetrated and expanded well. I also shot water jugs sat 10 feet to see if the bullet may fail with a bit more velocity (they all held together). Velocity at the muzzle was about 3000 fps, and 2600 fps at 100 yards, except for the PPU which was closer to 2,900 and 2,500 fps.
I recovered all the bullets for comparison.
View attachment 784071 I View attachment 784072
This one had, in my opinion, the best combination of penetration sand delayed expansion for deer at 100 yards. It also shot the most accurate in my rifle. It grouped right at MOA which is all the better I can shoot. It penetrated 3 water jugs, blowing up the first two and splitting the second one. The bullet held 100 percent intact.

View attachment 784074
View attachment 784075
This one is sold for small game, not deer. They sell a very similar one for deer. I suspected this was the same load at a lower price point, Looks like I was right. This isn't a frangible type soft point like Hornady's SP loads in 223. It's a bonded bullet, the same bullet they sell in a load of Federal Premium. It held intact well, leaving a small shard of lead. It expended ever so slightly more than the Winchester and penetrated a smidge less in the water jugs, almost exiting the 3rd jug. It grouped a hair over MOA.

View attachment 784076
View attachment 784077
This one was half-price so I tried it. Accuracy wasn't great. It's a 100-yard max load in my opinion. it penetrated well, equal to the Federal. The lead core came out of the jacket but remained completely in one piece. I sat them back together for the picture. This grouped at about 2-1/2 MOA
I think I would feel comfortable using the Winchester or Federal on deer up to 150 yards. Understanding that I'll only take good shots and will aim for the lungs. I got plus or minus 30-inches penetration in the water jugs. seeing as 17 inches will penetrate a mature deer, I feel confident in a clear pass through, or a near pass through in the lungs.
What are your thoughts?
While I appreciate you taking the time and energy to shoot these rounds in the manner that you have, I would caution you in this. Water jugs don't fairly represent the shooting of game with said bullets. Bones, hide and tissue respond in much different manners than water in thin plastic containers..

BTW none of the rounds you shot used bonded bullets. Trust me in the medium of live animals it will show.

Why do I say this. Because I have a decent amount of experience with this cartridge being used on deer. It's a very marginal round for the job. With this in mind you should use the very best selection of ammo for that job you can get your hands on. If factory ammo was all I could use I would be using Federal fusion or Nosler bonded 64 gr. I believe that these offer much more performance coming to the proverbial table..
 

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If your interested in selling any of the .257 bullets, I'd be interested in them. Building a 25-284 right now and just finishing the barrel chamber. Should be together by the weekend. Love to shoot some thru it. It's a 7.5 twist barrel but I'm pretty sure I can get accuracy with them. Let me know if you want to part with maybe 100 of them. Are they the 120 grain bullets ?
Actually John I sold my 25-06 ( which I have not stopped kicking my self over) a couple years ago and I was then pilfered by my brother last fall of all my 25-06 components including said bullets. If I still had them I would just have given them to you.. Actually I believe that they were the 115 gr variety. I'd have to ask my brother because I am not sure..
 

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I'm glad to see runs with fire is taking this seriously and testing these loads before heading afield with them. The 223 isn't on my list of choices, but if he can make it work then more power to him.
 
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That looks like some fine testing, looks very workable. As one gets to smaller cartridges, bullet type & placement becomes more important.

I know a guy who wanted a new ‘elk gun’, stepping up from his 300WSM. At 1st I thought there was a joke hidden within, asked him the story. He shot an elk in the butt with a 150 grain ballistic tip, his buddies found the animal days after he went home.
 
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