.223 for bear, deer, elk and moose.

ElPollo

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There are certainly people following that, but that’s a pretty broad brush. You make it sound as though the folks in the “small bore” (used for lack of a better collective term) threads are the only people using bullets like the tmk, Eldm, various bergers etc for hunting. This has been proliferating for quite some time now, following the growing popularity of long range shooting, even among those who don’t shoot long range. Many of the converts to smaller cartridges were likely already shooting those bullets. The industry has also been trumpeting the CM cartridges for a long time now as hunting rifles because of their shoot-ability compared to larger cartridges.


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My intent wasn’t to represent everyone shooting small bores. But if you’re a 300 RUM aficionado considering switching over, you aren’t going to be happy with a 223 or 6 mm with monos or other controlled expansion bullets. You can get comparable wound channels with small bores, but only with fragmenting bullets like those you mentioned. That said, even to controlled expansion bullets and monos can kill in the small bores. You just have less margin for error on accuracy because the wound channels are smaller, less range due to higher minimum upset velocities, and the animals you shoot are likely to travel further before they die.
 

Anschutz

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You can get comparable wound channels with small bores, but only with fragmenting bullets like those you mentioned. That said, even to controlled expansion bullets and monos can kill in the small bores. You just have less margin for error on accuracy because the wound channels are smaller, less range due to higher minimum upset velocities, and the animals you shoot are likely to travel further before they die.

I'm going to add "likely with a less reliable blood trail." The TMK, ELD-M, etc. cause massive damage because they're sending little, sharp pieces of copper and lead through a lot of tissue. I've seen similar from the ELD-X at higher impact velocities (in larger cartridges) as well. I wish my current area allowed something other than SG/MZ without going onto state land because I shoot a few thousand 75gr ELD-M a year and wouldn't mind giving this a try myself.

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Why gas gun over a bolt gun and what makes your gas gun different than the standard (I assume AR) AR? Trigger? Stock? Barrel?
I like the ergonomics and versatility of my AR better. I’ll also say that I’ve been carrying an AR for just over 25 years for work and it feels better for me. My gas gun is a proprietary build, which can have its own issues, but so far I’ve not experienced any.
 

Luke S

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After going through this thread there is no doubt a 223 would be great for the kids I take hunting in Alaska.
I really want to build a lightweight AR15 for Alaska hunts. It looks really practical. Hunt your caribou or whatever. Add a tactical light if you're carrying meat out in bear country. Take it apart and stick it in the pack for gnarly bushwacking. Rapid fire if you do have a face off with a grizzly. Adjust the stock for different shooters.
My big hang up is the lack of blood trails that i see in reports. On our black bear hunts we've never had a bear travel more then about 50 yards after a solid hit with a 308, 358 or 30/06. So blood trails aren't really necessary but they are there and they would be nice if a bear ever goes a bit farther.
Now when I look at the pictures I'm sure a 223 could have killed all our bears. But if they ran 50 to 100 yards without a blood trail that could get really frustrating. I don't like tracking jobs with multiple unwounded bears in the area (bear baits).
Thoughts? Is less blood just the trade off for all the other advantages of a 223? The suppressed 308 still works fine on baits. For mountain spot and stalk the AR 15 has a lot of appeal but a 100 yard run into thick alders would be miserable to find without blood. Please don't say "pick shots" where we hunt its hard to see a bear that is not close to an alder filled gully.
 

Squincher

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Just spent a week reading through this thread in my spare time. What an education!

It occurs to me that this is like the scientific method. You have a question, you research existing data, you form a hypothesis, you design an experiment to test your hypothesis, the experimental results prove or disprove your hypothesis, you continue on your way better at life because of what you learned.

Now let's go through this as the typical Magnum-Fudd:

Question: What cartridge will allow me to recover the highest percentage of game animals?

Research:
*Bullets kill animals with magic energy. *The more magic energy, the quicker the kill.
*Bigger & faster bullets contain more magic energy than smaller or slower bullets, +20% bonus for "Mag" "RM" "WM" or "Wby" on the head stamp.
*If you make a poor shot, extra magic energy from a magnum will spill out from the bullet and flow toward the vitals.
*Shoulders can stop bullets, consuming at least half of the magic energy of any bullet that makes it through, so you need to choose a round with double the energy and use a controlled expansion bullet if there's any possibility of hitting a shoulder.


Experiment: (note, the Magnum-Fudd has no reason actually to test his hypothesis, because everyone in the cabelas ammo aisle already confirmed.)
*Read hundreds of first hand accounts and necropsy photos from the lowly 223.
*Learn that it is the disruption of heart & lung tissue within the wound channel that kills the animal by depriving the brain of oxygen.
*Learn that a heavy match style bullet in a baby cartridge like 223 creates as large or larger wound channel than a tough controlled expansion bullet from a big magnum.
*Learn that you can likely make more accurate hits with a 223 than a 338 and you can absolutely afford to practice more with 223 than 338.
*Observe that 223 TMK death runs are equal or shorter than magnum death runs.


Conclusion:
*223 allows you to place shots more accurately both because it is easier to shoot and it is cheaper and funner to practice with.

*With bullets such as the 77 TMK, 223 actually gives a GREATER margin of error because the wound channel is larger than a controlled expansion bullet from a magnum.
*Conclude that a small round like 223 may actually result in more animals successfully recovered than a more powerfull cartridge.
*Reject all of the irrefutable photographic evidence and instead continue to cling to your original fuddlore hypothesis.
*Tell stories about how the Viet Cong could use 556 ammo in their AKs because their bore size was larger than ours and 50bmg can kill without contact because of its shockwave instead of practicing shooting from field positions with your $4/round 338wm.

*Continue hunting with big guns you have not practiced with, topped with a scope that doesn't hold zero, wounding and losing more animals than the 223 guys.


I like big cartridges as much as the next guy. Of the last three deer I shot, two were with 375h&h and the other was 300wsm. I'm all for people using whatever cartridge makes them happy.

BUT what people seem to be doing is rejecting actual evidence that's clearly laid out in front of them and continuing to say a big cartridge gives them more "margin for error" or "shorter tracking job" or is "more ethical." These things are demonstrably false.

Back to the scientific method, it's like the experimental results have disproven the hypothesis, but the fudds decide to reject the results and cling to the hypothesis instead.

It isn't the scientific method when there is no way to track and prove failure of the hypothesis. If a wounded animal escapes there is no way to definitively prove whether it was due to bullet failure or a bad shot, only conjecture. But I suppose drawing conclusions with only evidence the researcher wants passes for science these days. Not to say anecdotal evidence can't be persuasive, but it isn't scientific method.
 

robtattoo

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51573.jpeg

A great friend of mine got another data point last night (he's not a member here)
89yd broadside shot, Henry Long Ranger 1:9 with a 62gr Federal Fusion. Hit a little farther back than ideal, but caught a rib on the way in with a maybe ½" entrance. Passed between 2 ribs on the way out but left a 2" tear through the flank & hide. Both lungs were completely obliterated (I'd guess around a 3" permanent cavity, if I jigsawed them back together)
30yd death run, but very little bloodtrail.

He said that he was shocked at how quickly it dropped with a not ideal shot.

I think he's a convert......
 

KHNC

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Remember, the topic and context of the thread is on the .223 (and .223-adjacent) rounds. SMK in .308/168gr is not really the same as SMK in .223/77gr; the people who have advised against SMKs for hunting in this thread have pretty specifically mentioned the .223 varieties.
Yes, i wasnt referring to just this thread regarding SMK's. I have read many posts regarding not using SMK's for a variety of calibers. I was relating to my only experience with SMK's in relation to this thread.
 
Joined
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"if it goes 50 yards or more without a blood trail...."

If stuff is that thick shots can't be very long. Why not just brain shoot it?

I've tracked bow shot elk several hundred yards on soft needle covered forest floors with little more than a droplet of blood here and there and I'm not the world's best tracker by far. Sure, bears are harder but it's not uncommon for their fat to plug the hole(s).

I'm not implying that you guys don't know there's an art to tracking, I just think you may be forgetting it for the sake of conversation.
 

Devin

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Is that the MDT field stock? How do you like it?

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It is the MDT field stock. The ergos are great and a huge improvement over stock. Only downside is that it is a little on the heavy side for what I like to pack around.
 

wyosam

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"if it goes 50 yards or more without a blood trail...."

If stuff is that thick shots can't be very long. Why not just brain shoot it?

.

Bears are frequently seen on the edge of, or in small openings in very thick cover here. Shot may be longer, because you can see them in that small opening. Brain shot bear skulls look lousy on the mantle.

I thought I spent time in some pretty thick, miserable brush to travel, track or pack meat through before moving to AK. I had not as it turns out. I’ve always been a minimalist in what’s in my pack. I carried long handled, geared pruners in my pack (and frequently in my hands) on a moose hunt this fall for getting through alder walls, and it seemed like an entirely reasonable thing to carry. Hearing how fast bears travel through that crap makes the idea of tracking one in there seem like a miserable experience.


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Thegman

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Bears are frequently seen on the edge of, or in small openings in very thick cover here. Shot may be longer, because you can see them in that small opening. Brain shot bear skulls look lousy on the mantle.

I thought I spent time in some pretty thick, miserable brush to travel, track or pack meat through before moving to AK. I had not as it turns out. I’ve always been a minimalist in what’s in my pack. I carried long handled, geared pruners in my pack (and frequently in my hands) on a moose hunt this fall for getting through alder walls, and it seemed like an entirely reasonable thing to carry. Hearing how fast bears travel through that crap makes the idea of tracking one in there seem like a miserable experience.


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And the part that's worse is having to pack them back out through that shit... 😅
 
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Everyone should have the 223/Tikka rifle- so if you don’t have that, that is where I would start. As for maximizing range, the large .224 and 6mm are where that is. 22 cm and larger fast twist .224’s, and the large 6mm’s starting at 6cm and especially something like the 6UM is where maximum terminal range comes in.
Form, not to beat the dead horse here, and apologize in advance if i missed this specific answer already... but assuming we already have the tikka 223rem setup covered for 400 yards and in... when you personally head out for the hills and have to grab one "do it all" rifle, are you taking a 223rem tikka with 77tmks, a 22creed with 77tmks, a 6xc (6creed) with 108eldms, or a 6um with ??? Or some other combo? And why?
 
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For those who have have access to a chronograph; with Stand1 77tmk, I've been getting about 2900fps out of a factory length tikka 223, and 2750 from a 16 inch tikka. How does the Blackhills 5.56 tmk or 223 tmk factory loads compare?

If I wanted to handload the tmk, will I be able to match the stand1 velocity, or do they use a special unicorn powder to get that velocity?

What brass/powder/primer/seating depth combo works best in a 16 inch cut tikka barrel to get into that 2750fps range (or even more)?

What accuracy can be expected from the several factory 77tmk options out there? Any better than others? With the stand1 stuff, when I do a 10 round group, I usually get 8 inside an inch with 1 or 2 that bring the total group to 1.2-1.4moa. Is that a common theme for other brands, does the handloading tighten that up? Or is that just my shooting ability?
 

fwafwow

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For those who have have access to a chronograph; with Stand1 77tmk, I've been getting about 2900fps out of a factory length tikka 223, and 2750 from a 16 inch tikka. How does the Blackhills 5.56 tmk or 223 tmk factory loads compare?
Going to the range is on my to do list, which I hope to do this week. I have a brand new Xero I need to test, and I have Stand 1 and Black Hills ammo to shoot out of my 16.5” - but with a suppressor. I can report back the results.
 

Formidilosus

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Form, not to beat the dead horse here, and apologize in advance if i missed this specific answer already... but assuming we already have the tikka 223rem setup covered for 400 yards and in... when you personally head out for the hills and have to grab one "do it all" rifle, are you taking a 223rem tikka with 77tmks, a 22creed with 77tmks, a 6xc (6creed) with 108eldms, or a 6um with ??? Or some other combo? And why?


Depends on the situation and expected range of shots on animals. Generally if shots will be inside of 600 yards and wind isn’t crazy, the 223/77gr TMK. If shots are over 600 yards frequently, and/or the wind will be difficult, 22CM/6XC/6cm/etc. If shots will frequently be past 800 yards (I don’t suggest doing so) then that is where the 6UM comes in.
 

sveltri

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For those who have have access to a chronograph; with Stand1 77tmk, I've been getting about 2900fps out of a factory length tikka 223, and 2750 from a 16 inch tikka. How does the Blackhills 5.56 tmk or 223 tmk factory loads compare?

If I wanted to handload the tmk, will I be able to match the stand1 velocity, or do they use a special unicorn powder to get that velocity?

What brass/powder/primer/seating depth combo works best in a 16 inch cut tikka barrel to get into that 2750fps range (or even more)?

What accuracy can be expected from the several factory 77tmk options out there? Any better than others? With the stand1 stuff, when I do a 10 round group, I usually get 8 inside an inch with 1 or 2 that bring the total group to 1.2-1.4moa. Is that a common theme for other brands, does the handloading tighten that up? Or is that just my shooting ability?
I was almost touching 3k fps with 77TMK, N540, CCI#41, virgin starline brass, no visual pressure signs on brass, POSSIBLY very little stiff bolt lift, 24" Tikka Varmint .223. I'm still a group size chaser (working on it, but some habits are hard to break) and accuracy/precision just weren't there for me running that hot. I am going to revisit things with some different primers and see how it runs.
 
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Got a hundred rounds of black hills 77tmk to test out. Going to be trying it today in a savage 223 wylde with an 8 twist 16" barrel. Curious how theyll perform accuracywise compared to my 64tgk. Not sure exactly what ill do with the tmk bullets though. Big game here requires 6mm, except cougar, and it sounds like cougar is likely going to a minimum 6mm starting next year.
Im going to go back and look through pics in this thread but i dont recall seeing any coyotes or bobcats shot with the 77tmk. Kinda have a hunch theyd be rough on fur.

Edit. First 5 shots with the black hills 77tmk. Not bad but not great either. Plenty good enough for the ranges i hunt at though. Im sure i can do better. Just really not digging the horseshoe ad dot reticle. Going to put a scope with normal crosshair on the rifle soon. Has a sig sauer 1-10× scope right now. Feel i can do better with a 1-6 with a more traditional reticle over a 1-10 with a horseshoe.20231211_111906_copy_600x800.jpg
 
Last edited:
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So i wasnt letting the gun cool between shots, but after the first group i let the gun cool for a while. Second 5 round group here. Im thinking the one flyer was probably operator error. Seems to be good ammo, and negligible poi shift from my 64tgk ammo. Was a little concerned that my 8 twist short barrel might not like this stuff, but seems to be doing just fine. Ill be interested to see if my groups shrink up when i swap my scope out for one with a better reticle. So what do you guys think, bad idea to use these bullets on coyotes and bobcats? 20231211_120544_copy_600x800_1.jpg
 
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Just putting up one more and ill stop. I know this thread is about performace on game, but figured some guys might appreciate seeing results on paper from the black hills factory ammo. Ill call myself a very average shooter. Went out and shot a 5 round group at 200, aiming at the orange square sticker. Honestly better than i expected, as i was struggling to really aim at that orange spot on the yellow background with my horseshoe dot reticle. Either way, i feel comfortable switching to this ammo from my 64tgk, just to see what it does to a coyote. Once again, no cool down time between shots.20231211_134434_copy_600x800.jpg
 
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