223 In Africa

Carter123

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I’m a hunter from South Africa , born here and been hunting for about 3 years . First hunt was a hunt in A remote town in the Eastern Cape , Real cold . Blesbok was the game , and after only shooting my 223 twice , I went to hunt . Shot my very first buck , blesbok , about 120 m , in the neck , and it dropped on the spot . Most of my shots were neck and a few shoulders and none walked further than 20m with shots being close to 300 occasionally. As an amateur hunter I have no expertise on hunting as a whole but I’ve been very confused as why people don’t suggest 223 for anything other than varmint . 223 has done the job for me with warthogs and bushpigs and several blesbok , with clean humane kills . I still recall using a 270 on a duiker , very small animal , bad shot in humane kill . It’s all about shot placement . I know of many people in Southern Africa that use a 223 for hunting and culling as a go to Calibre . If your shot placement is good , even an amateur hunter can make a good kill with a 223 .
 

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The 223 is one of my favorite rifles but there are a lot of reasons it’s not suggested for hunting larger animals. This seems to be a sensitive topic here, but number 1 to me is a 223 has limited energy to transfer with light bullets, potentially resulting in a less clean kill/less tissue damage along wound channel. Number 2 would be you are correct when you say it’s about shot placement but it’s equally about your bullet choice, many expanding 223 bullets are designed for rapid expansion not penetration, so this could result in wounding instead of killing larger game especially if you hit bone. Both these are reasons a paying hunter isn’t going to risk his hunt to a 223. I will shoot my 223 or 243 if I want to shoot a deer at home for meat, but I will only take a perfect shot and I will pass on less than perfect shots. Any hunt where I’m hunting for a trophy I will take a rifle that is more forgiving because you may only have one shot opportunity during course of your hunt and it may not be perfect. There may be brush in way, no rest, less than second to shoot, not perfect broadside, etc.
 

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I’m a hunter from South Africa , born here and been hunting for about 3 years . First hunt was a hunt in A remote town in the Eastern Cape , Real cold . Blesbok was the game , and after only shooting my 223 twice , I went to hunt . Shot my very first buck , blesbok , about 120 m , in the neck , and it dropped on the spot . Most of my shots were neck and a few shoulders and none walked further than 20m with shots being close to 300 occasionally. As an amateur hunter I have no expertise on hunting as a whole but I’ve been very confused as why people don’t suggest 223 for anything other than varmint . 223 has done the job for me with warthogs and bushpigs and several blesbok , with clean humane kills . I still recall using a 270 on a duiker , very small animal , bad shot in humane kill . It’s all about shot placement . I know of many people in Southern Africa that use a 223 for hunting and culling as a go to Calibre . If your shot placement is good , even an amateur hunter can make a good kill with a 223 .
I’ve used my .223 (5.56) with 70g Barnes with good success on 100yd shots (or less) on many animals. I’m sitting in a deer blind at my ranch right now with it!
The trouble is when one is hunting at home for free it is much different than traveling across the globe for a possibly once in a lifetime hunt. If you have the Blesbuck get away there is no real issue. You will get another chance. You and I are are basically culling at the moment and that is much different than trophy hunting.
 

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The 223 is one of my favorite rifles but there are a lot of reasons it’s not suggested for hunting larger animals. This seems to be a sensitive topic here, but number 1 to me is a 223 has limited energy to transfer with light bullets, potentially resulting in a less clean kill/less tissue damage along wound channel. Number 2 would be you are correct when you say it’s about shot placement but it’s equally about your bullet choice, many expanding 223 bullets are designed for rapid expansion not penetration, so this could result in wounding instead of killing larger game especially if you hit bone. Both these are reasons a paying hunter isn’t going to risk his hunt to a 223. I will shoot my 223 or 243 if I want to shoot a deer at home for meat, but I will only take a perfect shot and I will pass on less than perfect shots. Any hunt where I’m hunting for a trophy I will take a rifle that is more forgiving because you may only have one shot opportunity during course of your hunt and it may not be perfect. There may be brush in way, no rest, less than second to shoot, not perfect broadside, etc.
Exactly!
 

Eduard_Venter

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A 223 will kill warthog, impala and blesbuck just fine with good bullets and shot placement, but it should definitely be considered marginal.

While hunting for warthog your dream kudu bull shows up. If you had your 270 you'd be fine. Now you'll watch it walk away into the sunset.

Personally I hunt with smaller calibers quite regularly as it's heaps of fun and I don't mind missing opportunities as the above one. I'll come back tomorrow with a bigger gun. But someone on safari have limited time and by next season that kudu bull already died of old age.
 

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As an amateur hunter I have no expertise on hunting as a whole but I’ve been very confused as why people don’t suggest 223 for anything other than varmint .

I have used 223 in Africa, shot warthog. No issue.
There is also a court records when a poacher was convicted and found guilty for poaching elephant with 22 cal rifle. (case proved and closed)
So, all bullets kill, everything is possible.

But the question that you have posted is basically the question that is debated since beggining of last century.
Bullet, light and fast, or bullet heavy and slow? Which is best?

With small, light and fast, you have to be accurate: exclusively neck, and head shots, margin of error is very small, from kill to wounding, and wounding is something that has to be avoided. With bigger and more powerfull calibers, it is established that marginal shots to vital area are more effective, whether thorugh bleeding, or damage to organs. That is logic behind. Bigger animal, bigger bullet - bigger hole.

The margin between clear kill in head shot, and wounding to jaw, is very small. few inches.

Can you make accurate neck shot at 300 meters, every time, 100%, in all hunting conditions?
Are you able to decide not to shoot, at 300 meters, if conditions are not good, and there is a chance to miss or wound?

For majority of average hunters with modest trigger time experience, and with average shooting skill, the answer to both question is often - NO. In such circumstances, wounding happens.

In last hundred years or so, in everlasting debate, small and fast, or big and slow bullet, the best industry practise, and ethics was established, where bigger caliber is considered more effective for larger animals. It is hunting comunitiy collective experience.

This industry practise is finally defined in each country hunting regulations, and is very similar.
Bigger bullet - bigger animal.

Generally, there are three categories of calibers, for hunting:
- small - for smaller game
- medium - for larger game
- large - for largest animals and DG.
They will be defined by law or regulation, by their minumum energy required, to be used for animals up to certain body mass. As simple as that.
 

shark_za

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Wounding an animal and it running away to die a painful death is "No real issue" ?
Some people need some hunting ethics.
 

Country

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.223 is not a bush rifle! For bush hunting get a rifle which shoots a big and relatively slow moving bullet. On the other hand, over the years, I have taken quite a few impalas with the 223 (not to mention the fallow deer). I bought the .223 to hunt springbuck but no sooner I realized that with proper bullets and very mild recoil (read - improved accuracy), I can kill a bit bigger game. I regret I sold it. My young son would have enjoyed the very light recoil. This year (or next), I will buy another one :) . Most people which say the .223 can not kill game up to 50-60kg, have not used one extensively. On small game, the Sierra 65 grain Game King bullet is just as deadly as the 130gr bullets fired from my .270. OK, the .270's bullets come out the other side of the buck and do not transfer all the energy into the animal but dead is dead either way. If you have a 223 with a 1:9 twist, try the 69gr HpBt. It is not even meant for hunting and some of the armchair forumites will grill me for 40 days and 40 nights just by mention this :D but fact of the matter is, that bullet flares-up very nicely with the back part holding together for decent penetration. If you miss the shoulder bone by aiming slightly behind it, it is instant dead for the impala (or anything else up to about that body size). The nose part of the bullet practically explodes on impact and pulverises most of the lungs and heart. The bullet will get logged into the far shoulder. I am talking from practice and not papers or google :D I have turned heads on more then one occasion with instant drops (head shot like kills). Contrary to some general wisdom, the impala is not a "thought" animal. Although it is almost twice as big as a springbuck it dies just as easy/quickly. Further, impalas like to heard. If you use a big gun and you are not careful, you might kill the one impala you shoot at and unintentionally hurt (or even kill) the one behind it. Been there done that. And lastly, please read again the first sentence of this post. I hope this helps.
 

shark_za

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"thought" = Tough?

Meat damage is the main reason for not using the .223, that and wind drift when shooting springbuck.
Stick with your .270 for plains and get a 9.3 for the bush.
 

Foxi

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Wounding an animal and it running away to die a painful death is "No real issue" ?
Some people need some hunting ethics.
I have shot hundreds of roes with it over the years (live weight round 25 KG) and it taught me discipline and I love the calibre.
When it goes wrong it is about the worst thing you can hold in your hands.
Sensitive to even small obstructions, no exit or hardly any, low bullet weight to cause violent sudden injuries if the shot sits far back. Also not necessarily friendly to meat quality due to the speed.
A wonderful precise calibre without any reserves !!
My question is always ;how it works in the body, when the bullet goes wrong.
It seems to me that the thread starter, a beginner as he says himself, only wants to hear how well he shoots.
If I am called to a wound search with the dog and know that it was shot with a .222/223, I also know how small my chances are of finding it.
You don't always have to try everything, every bullet is almost always fatal, the only question is when and an animal should die the way we also wish it for ourselves.

just my 2 cents
Foxi
 
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Most people who shoot their first game sucessfully think that whatever calibre they have used is the best and no-one will change their minds untill later when expereince kicks in.

The 223 kills quickly but also wounds quickly when shot placement is not proper.
With smaller calibres everything needs to be perfect wind, distance and your animal stading perfectly.
I also use a small caliber actually smaller than the 223 a 204 Ruger and with headshots it's devastating.
But I know my limits and stick to them I have wounded a blesbuck and an impala with it before. One was bad shot from me the other a bullet that fragmented too quickly changed bullets and things are much better.
 

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Many good points here.
Knowing your limits is right up there.
Shot placement is often mentioned, and it's important.

As for the .223 it's well used in Australia. Professional Kangaroo shooters use it for head shooting Roos.
Plenty of pigs are taken opportunistically .
I head shot a few Fallow Deer and with quick clean kills.

I wouldn't take it for a Hunting rifle of I were going on a hunt. Someone else said something like if they were going to travel that far and spend that amount of money they would take the right rifle.

Culling light framed animals or head shooting for meat the .223 will go in Africa but I don't consider it a hunting cartridge.
 

375Fox

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Meat damage is the main reason for not using the .223, that and wind drift when shooting springbuck.
Stick with your .270 for plains and get a 9.3 for the bush.
If you are getting severe meat damage using a 223, it’s the bullet choice not the cartridge. Most 223 Remington factory ammo is FMJ or designed to rapidly expand for varmits. There are however a few good hunting bullets that have bullet characteristics that we discuss with larger calibers, Barnes TSX being an example.
 

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I don't want to change the topic, but may I ask if the .22-250 would be better, rather than .223? Up to Impala size game. Or would the .243 be the better "one step up" of the .223? I live in Namibia and am trying to decide on a dedicated Warthog, Springbok and Impala rifle and those 3 are what I'm looking at.

Sent from my SM-A205F using AfricaHunting mobile app
 

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Hi Carter123

I also own a 223 and honestly enjoy shooting it. My personal take on it, is that it has its time and place. I enjoy taking it to the range and shooting it as it is affordable to "play" around with, on days that the wind isn't a problem you can do some fun distance shooting as well.

I have used it on various species successfully and as you say, with good shot placement, it will get the job done.

Also for younger kids starting off, it is a good caliber to "learn the basics" and even take down small game if they are comfortable with it.

From a hunting perspective and especially trophy hunting( I say this because culling is a different game and .223 has it's place there) I think you have to consider what you are willing to expose yourself to, risking to wound an animal, have the discipline to know that you might be under gunned when you bump into a bigger animal or even when conditions change for instance, the wind is howling and you might end up not getting your trophy because of different variables.

The 223 is fun, it accurate, it's deadly but did you bring enough gun?
 

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I don't want to change the topic, but may I ask if the .22-250 would be better, rather than .223? Up to Impala size game. Or would the .243 be the better "one step up" of the .223? I live in Namibia and am trying to decide on a dedicated Warthog, Springbok and Impala rifle and those 3 are what I'm looking at.

Sent from my SM-A205F using AfricaHunting mobile app
.243 might be the better "Hunting Rifle" of those 3 choices.

My guess is .308 would not be any more expensive if ammo is available.

I am a fan of 7mm-08 but it is a little less common in Australia.

The latter 2 might be better hunting choices, still shot placement is important and the larger calibre is a Little insurance
 

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I don't want to change the topic, but may I ask if the .22-250 would be better, rather than .223? Up to Impala size game. Or would the .243 be the better "one step up" of the .223? I live in Namibia and am trying to decide on a dedicated Warthog, Springbok and Impala rifle and those 3 are what I'm looking at.

Sent from my SM-A205F using AfricaHunting mobile app
The answer really depends on your bullet choice again. Most of the 22-250 ammo is loaded with bullets designed for very rapid expansion. The added velocity of 22-250 over a 223 will just make these bullets more explosive and penetrate less if you should hit bone. You’d be better with the 243. Heavier bullets at slower velocity will generally work better for hunting than very fast and light 22 caliber bullets. Are you culling with headshots or hunting with heart/lung shots?
 

MerKuryM8

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The answer really depends on your bullet choice again. Most of the 22-250 ammo is loaded with bullets designed for very rapid expansion. The added velocity of 22-250 over a 223 will just make these bullets more explosive and penetrate less if you should hit bone. You’d be better with the 243. Heavier bullets at slower velocity will generally work better for hunting than very fast and light 22 caliber bullets. Are you culling with headshots or hunting with heart/lung shots?

.243 might be the better "Hunting Rifle" of those 3 choices.

My guess is .308 would not be any more expensive if ammo is available.

I just recently bought a .308 and have had good luck with it so far on a Warthog, but the recoil is a bit high for me without a silencer, when just going for the smaller game.

I never thought about the .22-250 being even more explosive due to the velocity, but that makes a lot of sense. I would guess .243 has more ammo available as well. Thank you for the answers.
 
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Frederik

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I don't want to change the topic, but may I ask if the .22-250 would be better, rather than .223? Up to Impala size game. Or would the .243 be the better "one step up" of the .223? I live in Namibia and am trying to decide on a dedicated Warthog, Springbok and Impala rifle and those 3 are what I'm looking at.
Check with your laws you have certain minimum energy and caliber requirements for species.

From NAPHA website

Firearms

As per the Nature Conservation Ordinance No 4 of 1975:

No person shall use a revolver, pistol or automatic firearm when hunting game or use a firearm of which the bullet has an energy at the muzzle of the barrel which is lower than the following when hunting a species of game indicated there under:

Small Game:
(e.g. Dik-Dik; Steenbok; Duiker; Springbok)
Minimum caliber: .243 (or equivalent caliber in mm)
Energy: 1350 Joule

Copied from the NAPHA website so seems that 243 is the minimum there is your answer.
 
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