22 Centerfires and Deer

Thought I would share this e-mail I received from a reader concerning the use of .22 centerfire rifles for deer. My two sons and I have used them a good bit for deer and I took a bushbuck with a .223 Remington and the 60 grain Nosler Partition during my second African hunt. During that same hunt, a PH’s son used the same rifle and load on a medium-sized warthog.

Cull warthog taken with .223 Remington and 60 gr. Nosler Partition by PH's nine year old son.

Bushbuck taken with New Ultra Light Arms model 20 Short in .223 Remington.

“Let me just start out by saying, this is only the second time in 35 years I have felt the need to take the time to track down somebody in response to an article they have written.  This particular article is your review of the 223 (more so the 60 gr. partition bullet in deer hunting) in the Nosler reloading manual.

I look over cartridges, bullets and ballistics literally everyday.  Due to the fact that my deer rifle is a 220 swift, I never was too interested in looking at slower 22 caliber ballistics or reading articles on them until I stumbled across your’s today.

Your first paragraph about the best hunting bullet being the 60 gr. Partition “Had me at hello”. This is exactly what I shoot out of my swift and couldn’t agree with you more.  Why people don’t do more deer hunting with this bullet in this caliber amazes me.  Light recoil, watching the shot through the scope and extreme accuracy all in a bullet that drops deer as quick as any 270 (if not quicker). I have shot over 40 deer with this bullet out of the swift and none have run over 75 yards with about 80% DRT.  That’s from 40 yards to a lasered 455 yards and everything in between.

Why people feel the need to buy all of these Magnums, Super Magnums and the such to hunt deer that the majority won’t shoot beyond 200 yards is crazy.  Guess what people, deer are not hard to kill! To find a writer that feels the some way is, for some reason, a relief.  But the best part is after I read the article and looked down at the author and seen you where a fellow West Virginian was AWESOME. Finally.. somebody gets it and he’s from West by God too.

West Virginian Carl Blaylock with his son and his son's first deer taken with a 60 gr. Nosler Partition fired from a .220 Swift.

P.S.  The other article I wrote to the author about was why shot placement in hunting is more important than bullet energy.  As I tell my buddies, if a deer can’t breathe it can’t live.  attached is a pic of me and my son with his first deer at the age of six with “our” swift with 60 gr. Partitions.

Thanks for the article,” 

Carl Blaylock from Sprinfield WV

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  1. Michael B. Saari

    Iv’e also said it before and am saying it again: I only use my AR-15 platform rifle for deer hunting with either 60gr soft core or 60gr DRT ammunition.
    I also own 125 acres in Cadilac Michigan and 20 acres in Milan Michigan. I’ve shot and killed well over 50 deer with this rifle and none of them ever went more than 25 yards before collapsing.
    In my opinion nothing drops deer faster than the 223 60gr soft core… or 60gr DRT.


  2. Jim Dodd

    The biggest drawback to .22 cal rifles for deer is the legal requirement to use something larger…jim ;)

    • gunwriter

      In some states that is the case. Interestingly, I did some research on that a few years back and most of our 50 states permit .22 caliber cartridges for deer. (WV is one of those states.) There were more states that had magazine capacity restrictions than caliber restrictions.