Best Deer Hunting Bullets: An Ultimate Guide for 2023

deer hunting bullets

Walking on a deer hunting expedition requires more than a skilled aim and a steady hand. One crucial aspect that often determines the success of your hunt is the choice of bullets. With an array of bullet types available in the market, each boasting unique characteristics, it’s essential to delve into the intricacies of bullet selection.

 This comprehensive guide aims to equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions when choosing the perfect bullets for deer hunting. From understanding the nuances of bullet varieties to ensuring optimal performance in the field, this guide will empower you to approach deer hunting with expertise that promises both effectiveness and ethical hunting practices.

By the time we reach the end, you’ll be equipped with the wisdom to navigate the bullet landscape like a seasoned professional, ensuring your deer hunting endeavors are marked by precision, confidence, and expert decision-making.

By exploring these different types of deer hunting bullets, you can make informed choices to enhance your hunting experience and increase your chances of success.

Exploring Different Types of Deer Hunting Bullets

deer hunting bullets review

Soft Point Bullets

  • Lead-tipped projectile with a copper jacket.
  • Reliable expansion on soft targets.
  • Slower expansion compared to hollow point bullets.
  • Efficient choice for deer hunting.

Hollow Point Bullets

  • Designed for rapid expansion and high stopping power.
  • Challenging to handle and feed into firearms.
  • Susceptible to damage during transportation.
  • Famous for deer hunting due to rapid expansion.

Ballistic Tip Bullets

  • Efficient with uniform expansion and accuracy.
  • Polymer-tipped bullets for uniform flight.
  • High popularity for achieving the best deer hunting results.
  • Provide accuracy, uniform flight, and rapid expansion.

Partition Bullets

  • Nosler’s quality bullet with dual-core and copper jacket.
  • Copper alloy jacket resists deformation under pressure.
  • Soft tip for quicker expansion and deep penetration.
  • Excellent choice for deer hunting with deeper penetration.

Accubond Bullets

  • Bonded lead core with white polymer tip.
  • Copper alloy jacket and boat tail design for accuracy.
  • Deeper penetration, accurate flight, and weight retention.
  • Ideal for deer hunting with reliable results.

SST Bullets

  • Polymer-tipped for higher ballistic coefficient.
  • Controlled expansion and boat tail design.
  • Superb flight and expansion characteristics.
  • Thicker jacket material for optimal deer hunting performance.

Grand Slam Bullets

  • Suitable for larger game hunting.
  • Protected soft nose and bonded lead core.
  • Good weight retention and accuracy.
  • Ideal for big game hunting with reliable performance.

Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullets

  • Copper bullets with deep penetration and expansion.
  • 100% weight retention for maximum accuracy.
  • Well-suited for hunting due to reliable performance.

1. The .35 Remington

.35 Remington

The .35 Remington has established itself as a fervently embraced choice among deer hunters, driven by historical significance, ballistics performance, and unwavering passion. Originating in 1906 for Remington’s Model 8 semi-automatic rifle, this cartridge was acclaimed through the iconic Marlin 336 lever gun. Its ballistics are well-balanced, propelling a 200-grain bullet at approximately 2000 fps, a performance that triggers an enduring debate over its rival, the .30-30 Winchester, as the superior lever-gun cartridge for deer hunting.

However, the allure of the .35 Remington extends beyond statistics. In the hearts of Appalachian and North Country hunters, it holds a cherished legacy and deep-rooted tradition, often instilling more confidence than its alternatives in deer hunting. Yet, despite its reputation, the .35 Remington grapples with a limitation – a relatively modest selection of factory loads compared to its counterparts.

.35 Remington review

Nonetheless, the existing factory loads for the .35 Remington have stood the test of time, demonstrating their suitability for deer hunting despite the constraint on options. This proven performance is reinforced by the firm convictions of enthusiasts who ardently believe in its efficacy, even when empirical evidence may be lacking. Such passionate belief is a testament to the cartridge’s impact on the hunting community.

Looking ahead, the .35 Remington carries the innovation potential. Enthusiasts and hunters alike can’t help but anticipate the prospect of a new semi-auto .35 Remington rifle, akin to the revered Ruger Deer Stalker carbine, which could usher in a new era of enhanced deer hunting experiences. The impact is undeniable for those who have experienced hunting in dense deer thickets with the .35 Remington. This cartridge can leave an indelible mark on one’s hunting approach, transforming how they navigate these challenging hunting environments.

The .35 Remington’s journey through time is marked by its historical roots, ballistic prowess, and unwavering devotion among hunters. It encapsulates what makes hunting more than just a sport – it’s a connection to tradition, a catalyst for belief and innovation.

2. The .45-70 Government

.45-70 Government review

The .45-70 is like a timeless relic, debuting in the same era as Colt’s legendary Single Action Revolver in 1873. It’s as if this cartridge has woven itself into the fabric of hunting history, maintaining its allure across generations.

I can’t help but share my experience with the .45-70’s remarkable journey. It faced a near-extinction in the 1970s, but a second life was breathed into it, thanks to Marlin’s revival of the Model 1895. This wasn’t just a revival of a cartridge – it was a renaissance, sparking newfound interest and igniting a passion for the .45-70.

One of the things that makes the .45-70 truly special is its three-tiered power system. Something is mesmerizing about the original loads, propelling a hefty 405-grain bullet at a steady 1200 fps. Then there’s the mid-range magic, where the 300-grain bullet defies expectations, speeding past 1800 fps. And let’s remember the top-tier powerhouse, matching that velocity with a substantial 430-grain bullet. This versatility allows me to switch up my game and adapt to various hunting scenarios with one cartridge.

.45-70 Government

But let’s talk deer hunting – my personal favorite. The .45-70 hits its stride here. The recoil is manageable with mid-level loads, making it a comfortable choice for long days in the field. And oh, the results! The wound channels are impressive, and the takedowns are effective. In my experience, deer taken down by the .45-70 rarely take more than a few steps.

When that bullet hits, the effect is profound. From my encounters, I’ve seen it firsthand – a substantial entry wound, a larger-than-life exit wound, and deer dropping as if the earth itself beckoned them. It’s not just a cartridge; it’s an experience, a decisive moment etched in memory.

Here’s something else to consider: the .45-70 is a straight wall cartridge, a feature that offers practical ease in regions with such requirements. And the array of rifles chambered in .45-70 is a playground for enthusiasts like me. Each rifle promises a memorable hunt, a connection to the past, and a glimpse of the future.

The .45-70 Government cartridge isn’t just about hunting – it’s about legacy, revival, and the pure exhilaration of the hunt. My experience has taught me that when I choose the.45-70, I’m not just selecting a tool; I’m embracing a piece of history that continues to shape my hunting adventures.

3. Hornady ELD-X

Hornady ELD-X

The Hornady ELD-X is in a league of its own for outstanding performance and unmatched versatility. Its ultra-modern design isn’t just a fancy feature – it’s a game-changer. By minimizing air friction, this bullet maintains an impressive velocity. It holds onto its energy, ensuring that it does so when it hits its target with the force needed for optimal expansion.

The ballistic coefficient (BC) is a magic spell for long-range shots. With a high BC, the ELD-X holds onto its velocity even when distances stretch, making those challenging long-range shots more achievable. And believe me; I’ve seen it in action – hitting targets at extended distances with confidence and precision.

One thing that truly sets the ELD-X apart is its unwavering accuracy. In my experience, it consistently hits the mark with exceptional precision, regardless of the rifle or cartridge I use. That’s a level of reliability every hunter dreams of having in their arsenal.

But here’s where the magic truly happens: impact expansion. When the ELD-X makes contact, it’s like unleashing controlled chaos. The expansion is consistent and massive, creating havoc in vital areas and ensuring a swift takedown. I believe it’s not just a bullet – a symphony of destruction that leaves no room for doubt.

Hornady ELD-X review

The ELD-X is designed with a purpose – its caliber-appropriate weight gives it the mass and momentum needed to place shots exactly where they need to be. This translates to effective shot placement and, ultimately, successful hunts.

Speaking of versatility, the ELD-X is like a chameleon in the hunting world. It’s revered as one of the most adaptable deer bullets, fitting seamlessly into various hunting scenarios and catering to different deer calibers. It’s a bullet that can rise to any challenge.

And let’s not forget about options – the ELD-X comes in a range of versions, making sure there’s a perfect match for every deer caliber you can think of. Plus, thanks to Hornady and the Black Hills, factory ammo loaded with the ELD-X is readily available, making it a convenient and dependable choice for hunters seeking top-tier performance.

The Hornady ELD-X isn’t just a bullet; it’s a masterpiece of modern design and innovation. In my experience, it’s a force to be reckoned with, combining accuracy, expansion, and versatility to create a truly remarkable hunting experience. When I suggest the Hornady ELD-X for deer hunting, it’s not just a suggestion – it’s a recommendation backed by my firsthand encounters with its extraordinary capabilities.

4. Nosler Ballistic Tip

Nosler Ballistic Tip review

 The Nosler Ballistic Tip is more than a bullet – it’s a mark of unparalleled accuracy and results that indeed count. It’s like the ultimate stamp of approval from those in the know: if your deer rifle can’t nail a shot with a Ballistic Tip, it might be time to reconsider your gear. This bullet’s accuracy isn’t just good; it’s a gold standard that sets the bar high for every hunting endeavor.

Let’s talk design – the Ballistic Tip was a pioneer in the world of modern hunting bullets. It’s like the trailblazer of polymer-tipped, boat-tailed innovation that still holds its ground as one of the best options. From my experience, it’s not just a bullet; it’s a legacy of excellence that stands the test of time.

Now, about accuracy – this bullet practically does the aiming for you. It’s renowned for its ease of accuracy, ensuring that your shots consistently find their mark. In my book, that’s more than just a feature – it’s a game-changer that boosts confidence and ups your hunting success.

The impact of the Ballistic Tip is something to marvel at. Each hit creates wound channels that are nothing short of impressive. Trust me; I’ve witnessed it firsthand – the damage it inflicts is significant, enhancing the overall effectiveness of your shots.

Nosler Ballistic Tip

What truly sets the Ballistic Tip apart is its versatility. It’s like having two bullets in one. You can go for the light-for-caliber version, pushing the limits of hydrostatic shock with high speeds. Or, opt for the heavy-for-caliber variant, ensuring substantial wound channels with full-penetration power. It’s like having a tailored solution for every hunting scenario.

Here’s something that seals the deal – Nosler doesn’t just offer bullets; they offer exceptional factory ammunition featuring the Ballistic Tip. This means you’re not just getting a bullet; you’re getting a complete package of consistent performance straight out of the box.

But that’s not all – there’s an enhanced version. Winchester loads the Combined Technologies version of the Ballistic Tip, opening up more avenues to experience the pinnacle of performance.

In my hunting journey, the Nosler Ballistic Tip isn’t just a bullet I use – it’s a bullet I trust. Its accuracy, impact, and versatility make it a force to be reckoned with, a partner that elevates my hunting game to new heights. So, if you ask me for a suggestion, it’s simple: let the Ballistic Tip be your ally on the hunt, and watch as your results speak for themselves.

5. Nosler Partition

Nosler Partition review

The Nosler Partition is like a force of nature, delivering an impact that hits with the ferocity of a charging freight train. No wonder it’s hailed as the originator of controlled-expansion bullets – a true game-changer on impact.

Picture this: the bullet’s unique “H”-shaped jacket, designed to control expansion, creates an expansion arrest that transforms into a mammoth mushroom upon impact. Trust me, I’ve seen it firsthand – this mushroom drives deep into the target, leaving behind a wake of substantial trauma that’s hard to ignore.

But the magic happens here: the soft lead front core teams up with the jacket’s design to create a spectacle of spiraling particles upon impact. This effect adds to the trauma and damage inflicted, leaving no doubt about the bullet’s incapacitating power.

Now, about versatility – the Partition is a dual-purpose marvel. It’s not just about hitting hard; it’s about penetrating deep. In my experience, it’s a choice that stands strong across a broad spectrum of hunting scenarios, offering unwavering performance.

Nosler Partition

The Partition isn’t just a bullet; it’s a legacy. It’s like the trailblazer that set the standard for combining hard-hitting impact with controlled penetration. Its reputation isn’t just handed out; it’s been earned through countless hunting tales that attest to its undeniable effectiveness.

The beauty of the Partition lies in its accessibility. Whether you’re a Nosler fan or looking for options, this bullet’s excellence is within reach. With Nosler factory ammunition, Federal Premium, and Weatherby ammo all loaded with the Partition, you’re spoiled for choice when unleashing its power.

The Nosler Partition isn’t just a bullet – it’s an experience. It’s about delivering a punch that leaves an indelible mark, transforming controlled expansion into potent trauma, and setting the bar for bullets that deliver on impact and penetration. My suggestion? Don’t just choose a bullet; choose the Nosler Partition for an experience that’s nothing short of extraordinary.

6. Barnes TTSX

Barnes TTSX

 The Barnes TTSX is like a precision tool that packs a punch. If you aim for accuracy and deep penetration, consider this bullet your secret weapon for taking on the likes of black bears and majestic elk.

Let’s talk adaptability – if you’re stepping up to a bigger game, the TTSX has your back. It’s like the ideal companion for angled shot presentations, showcasing its versatility in the hunting arena.

Crafted from pure copper, the TTSX bullet is a masterpiece in itself. Picture this: upon impact, it transforms into an X-shaped mushroom, delivering a consistent and reliable performance that’s hard to beat.

But here’s where the magic lies – even without heavy bone encounters, the TTSX bullet usually holds onto its entire weight upon impact. Trust me, that’s a game-changer. It’s the key to unlocking exceptional penetration capabilities that few other bullets can match.

Barnes TTSX review

Regarding selection, here’s a tip from my experience – go for a lighter version of your caliber. Why? Because it translates to optimal impact velocity within the typical ranges for deer hunting. And that often means complete pass-throughs that can’t be ignored.

Now, let’s talk about those wound cavities. They’re substantial and compelling without being overly shocking. For hunters who care about preserving the meat, the TTSX bullet is a perfect match – delivering the impact you need without causing unnecessary destruction.

Here’s the cherry on top – the TTSX bullet is non-toxic and lead-compliant. This is a significant advantage, especially in areas with lead restrictions, allowing you to hunt with confidence and peace of mind.

And if you’re wondering about accessibility, rest assured – the Barnes TTSX isn’t elusive. It’s available in various options, including Barnes, Federal, and Black Hills offerings. It’s like having the power of choice at your fingertips.

The Barnes TTSX stands as a true gem in a world of hunting bullets, combining precision, power, and practicality. So, whether you’re tracking black bears or aiming for elk, I suggest letting the TTSX elevate your hunting game to new heights.

7. Federal Edge TLR

Federal Edge TLR

The Federal Edge TLR is the game’s name regarding incredible penetration and unmatched versatility. Let’s talk sheer power – the Edge TLR is like the heavyweight champion of penetration. Imagine needing to take down a 300-pound mule deer that’s making a swift escape through the sage with a challenging angle. This bullet is your secret weapon for such scenarios.

Here it gets impressive – the Edge TLR boasts a solid copper rear half and a bonded lead front core. This combo is like a match made in bullet heaven, resulting in an awe-inspiring blend of expansive mushrooming and profound penetration.

Performance is non-negotiable with the Edge TLR. It’s meticulously engineered to ensure that it expands dramatically upon impact and penetrates like a depth charge. In my experience, this bullet delivers precisely what it promises – ultimate effectiveness.

Federal Edge TLR review

Now, let’s talk about long-range precision. The Edge TLR doesn’t just stop at penetration; it’s a master of accuracy too. Sporting an exceptional Ballistic Coefficient (BC), it’s designed to excel at long-range shots, complete with a finely tuned boat tail, composite tip, and sleek profile.

But the Edge TLR isn’t just about power; it’s about adaptability too. For hunters seeking a bullet that guarantees full penetration and can seamlessly transition to elk hunting, this bullet shines like a beacon of versatility.

Here’s the cherry on top – Federal’s Edge TLR long-range hunting ammo is your gateway to experiencing the bullet’s unparalleled performance firsthand.

Suppose you’re looking for a bullet that can penetrate like a champion and adapt like a chameleon. In that case, my suggestion is clear – embrace the Federal Edge TLR and unleash a new level of hunting excellence.

8. Berger Elite Hunter

Berger Elite Hunter

 The Berger Elite Hunter isn’t just a bullet – it’s an embodiment of precision, shock, and cutting-edge design that sets a new standard. When we talk accuracy, the Elite Hunter takes the crown. Rooted in match bullets, it’s like a marksman’s dream come true, consistently hitting the mark and leaving no room for doubt.

Let’s delve into the design – the hybrid secant/tangent ogive isn’t just a fancy term; it’s the secret to maximizing the Ballistic Coefficient (BC) while keeping rifling engagement in check. This means pinpoint accuracy, shot after shot.

Now, let’s talk about impact. Picture this: a thin copper jacket houses a soft lead core within the Elite Hunter. The bullet’s nose gracefully collapses backward when it meets its target, setting off a chain reaction of escalating pressure. The result? A symphony of the explosion, as the sides burst outward, creating a wound cavity that’s nothing short of colossal.

But here’s the beauty – the Elite Hunter isn’t about penetration but shock. This bullet has earned its reputation for delivering shockwaves that leave an impact far beyond mere surface-level penetration. It’s like turning up the volume on the stopping power.

Berger Elite Hunter review

Calling all long-range enthusiasts and meticulous hand loaders – the Elite Hunter is your muse. Its exceptional precision and accuracy make it a favorite among those who seek perfection in every shot.

Here’s a tip from my experience – go for the heaviest version that suits your cartridge. Why? Because it’s a strategic move that guarantees substantial trauma and the right amount of penetration, ensuring you get the best of both worlds.

And for those who appreciate the convenience of factory-loaded ammunition, Federal’s Hybrid Hunter line brings the Elite Hunter to your fingertips, delivering cutting-edge design and performance straight to your hunt.

The Berger Elite Hunter isn’t just a bullet; it’s a masterpiece that combines precision and impact in a way that truly transforms your hunting game.

9. The 308 Winchester

308 Winchester

The 308 Winchester might not come with all the bells and whistles, but trust me; it’s got what it takes to take down deer effectively. It’s all about finding that spot between velocity, energy, trajectory, and recoil.

What’s truly remarkable about the 308 Winchester is the array of factory loads available. You’ve got everything from different bullet weights to various types and ballistic coefficients. Whether you’re introducing a young hunter to the field or aiming for precision, the 308 has you sorted.

And when it comes to rifles, you’ve got choices galore. There’s no shortage of options chambered in .308, catering to your preferences and style.

Ammunition selection? Don’t sweat it. The .308 Winchester is the kind of cartridge that takes whatever you throw at it. Soft-point, round-nose, bonded, mono-metal, light, heavy – it doesn’t matter. This cartridge knows how to keep its cool and perform consistently.

Precision? Oh yeah, the .308’s got that rep. It’s the go-to for hunters who want to ensure their shots are spot-on.

The.308 Winchester is familiar with the scene. In the 50s, it made a statement by dethroning the .30/06 as America’s military cartridge. Fast forward, and it’s still a big deal among America’s deer hunters – a status I’ve seen confirmed repeatedly.

Let me tell you about one of my own experiences. Picture this: a West Virginia whitetail, close range, and a 180-grain Remington round-nose Core-Lokt from a .308 Winchester. Result? Success.

It’s not about fancy frills with the .308 Winchester. It’s about getting the job done, plain and simple. So, don’t let its unassuming exterior fool you – this cartridge knows how to deliver excellence in deer hunting.

10. The 30-06 Springfield

30-06 Springfield REVIEW

The 30-06 Springfield – a name that echoes through the annals of American firearms history. Let me share my opinion on why this cartridge continues to hold its ground even after a century of advancements. It’s not just a relic; it’s a testament to enduring performance and timeless versatility.

In my experience, the 30-06 Springfield proudly wore the mantle of America’s combat rifle cartridge before the 308 entered the scene. A legacy like that isn’t quickly overshadowed. It’s like the veteran warrior who might have aged but still stands tall with an aura of respect.

I’m not saying the 30-06 is miles apart from the 308. But in my experience, this more significant case gives it a subtle edge – like a seasoned sprinter who inches ahead at the finish line. The result? Bullets that zoom faster, trajectories that remain as straight as an arrow, and shots that hit the mark.

From my experience, the 30-06’s more significant case is for more than just show. It’s like having a more extensive toolbox – you can handle heavier bullets with finesse. Its versatility allows you to switch scenarios like a chameleon in the woods.

30-06 Springfield

Let me tell you, I’ve taken shots at distances that would make your head spin – around 400 yards, to be precise. And the 30-06 Springfield didn’t break a sweat. It’s like having a trusty steed that gallops without stumbling, even in the long race.

No one wants to feel like they’re wrestling a grizzly bear every time they pull the trigger. Trust me; the 30-06 gets this. In my experience, the recoil is balanced – like a firm handshake that doesn’t turn into a bone-crushing grip. It’s the comfort you need for those extended hunts without bruising your shoulder.

The 30-06 Springfield isn’t just a cartridge. It’s a living testament to the marriage of classic design and enduring performance. My experience tells me it’s not just for nostalgia; it’s a reliable choice for anyone seeking that timeless balance of power, range, and comfort. So, whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a curious newcomer, I suggest giving this old-timer a shot – you might find yourself falling in love with its charm all over again.

11. The .243 Winchester

The .243 Winchester

The .243 Winchester isn’t just a cartridge; it’s a statement. It silenced skeptics and flaunted its prowess. Consider standing tall even when faced with the mighty .30/06s, proving doubters wrong, and etching its name in the Hall of Fame.

Oh, let me tell you about the .243’s precision. My best deer, taken right in the heart of West Virginia, owes its success to this cartridge. It’s like an old friend who never lets you down – consistent, accurate, and unforgettable.

History has a way of shaping greatness, and the .243 Winchester is no exception. I’ve seen it handle deer and varmints alike with finesse. The kind of versatility keeps you armed for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

A little history lesson: the .243 didn’t just arrive on the scene; it conquered it. It’s like watching an underdog rise to fame. Similar to how the 6.5 Creedmoor stole the spotlight, the .243 took the reins from the Remington 6mm. Heavier bullets? No problem – that’s where it shines.

The .243 Winchester REVIEW

The .243 isn’t afraid to embrace the future. Modernity suits it just fine. Picture this: an 80-grain all-copper bullet tearing through the air, turning the hunt into an electrifying spectacle. Deer don’t stand a chance – they’re practically begging for mercy.

Here’s a fun fact: the .243 Winchester is an international sensation. It traveled with hunters to Africa, proving its worth with gemsboks, wildebeests, and impalas. It’s like a globetrotting superstar that never misses a beat.

Let’s put doubts to rest, shall we? The .243 has been a freezer’s best friend. I’ve tested it, my friends have tested it – and guess what? The game stays put. No escaping acts, just delicious meals waiting for a grand feast.

The .243 Winchester isn’t just a cartridge; it’s a force to be reckoned with. It thrives on precision, laughs in the face of skeptics, and delivers results beyond expectations. Whether you’re after deer, creatures, or game across the oceans, I suggest you give this powerhouse a shot – you won’t be disappointed.

12. The .270 Winchester

.270 Winchester REVIEW

The 270 WIN’s prowess truly shines when compared to the 243. While its initial velocity might be slightly lower, its heavier bullet translates into remarkable downrange momentum. This sets the stage for exceptional accuracy, extending even to 500 yards.

The 270 WIN doesn’t just settle for good; it excels. With a superior kinetic energy punch, this cartridge becomes the go-to choice for tackling more giant games like Bear and Elk. Its forceful impact ensures a decisive takedown, leaving no room for doubt.

.270 Winchester

Size does matter, especially when it comes to wound cavities. The 270 WIN’s wider bullet capitalizes on its increased energy, translating into a broader wound cavity upon impact. This advantage becomes the key to swift and efficient quarry takedowns.

The 270 WIN isn’t just a rifle cartridge; it’s a well-calibrated blend of precision and power. When placed side by side with the 243, its downrange accuracy, formidable kinetic energy, and expanded impact zone make it the ultimate choice for those seeking a combination of accuracy and effectiveness.

13. The .223 Remington

The .223 Remington

Contrary to common belief, the .223 Remington is more widely accepted for deer hunting than assumed. Of the 50 states, 36 allow its use, debunking the misconception that it’s universally restricted. Misunderstandings about the .223’s effectiveness on deer stem from a lack of grasp on terminal ballistics. Those who doubt its power haven’t experienced a .223 Remington with the right bullet. The combination matters more than they think.

Not all .223 factory loads are indeed cut out for big-game hunting, but there are exceptions. With the suitable loads, the .223 proves its worth for deer hunting, particularly within a 200-yard range. Beyond that, it needs help to maintain impact force.

Drawing from personal experience, various .223 bullets – PowerPoint, Partition, Triple Shock, and Fusion – have shown their capability in taking down whitetails. This diverse selection underlines the versatility of the cartridge.

.223 Remington

From its modest beginnings in the 1960s, the .223 has transformed remarkably. Initially equipped with a 55-grain bullet and a slow-twist barrel, it was an unlikely deer rifle. Thanks to modern ammunition and improved rifles, the .223’s image has undergone a complete makeover.

One of its standout features is its gentle recoil, making it an accessible choice for shooters of all ages and skill levels. The .223’s light kick allows for accurate shooting, whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a newcomer.

Gone are the days when the .223 was dismissed as a deer rifle. With advancements in bullet design, barrel technology, and ammunition, it has carved a niche as a formidable deer killer. It’s a transformation that’s become one of the finest whitetail cartridges.

The .223 Remington defies misconceptions, proving its worth as a deer hunting option. Legal in many states, suitable with the proper loads, and endowed with improved performance, it’s a cartridge that challenges assumptions and showcases its potential as a reliable choice for whitetail hunting.

14. The .257 Roberts

.257 Roberts

The .257 Roberts, conceived a century ago by Ned Roberts, was initially tailored for long-range varmint shooting. Its inception marked the birth of a caliber that would stand the test of time. Remington recognized the potential of the .257 Roberts and introduced it in 1934. Its design, featuring a stubby appearance, was engineered to fit short-action rifles while maintaining the lineage of the 7X57 Mauser case.

While the .257 Roberts started as a varmint round, Remington’s vision saw beyond. Recognizing its potential as a deer cartridge, they offered it with a 117-grain bullet, tapping into its latent power.

Early constraints, rooted in concerns about action strength, kept the .257 Roberts at modest pressure levels. However, today’s modern +P 257 Roberts ammunition pushes boundaries with pressures reaching 58,000 psi, elevating its performance.

The .257 Roberts

Despite facing competition from the likes of the .25-06, the .257 Roberts has stood its ground and is fondly known as the “Bob,” it has garnered a reputation as the quintessential deer cartridge, a testament to its sustained relevancy.

In my experience, the .257 Roberts has proven worth with many loads, both +P and standard pressure. Deer taken down by this cartridge exhibited results comparable to the .25-06, all while delivering a more manageable recoil.

The .257 Roberts defies expectations of obsolescence. It’s a caliber that has shown remarkable resilience, persisting through generations and cementing its place in the world of firearms.

The .257 Roberts is more than just a caliber; it’s a testament to timeless design and unwavering performance. Born from a varmint shooter’s vision, it’s evolved into a deer-hunting classic. With modern adaptations and a legacy that refuses to fade, the “Bob” stands tall, showcasing its enduring vitality.

15. The 6.5 Creedmoor

The 6.5 Creedmoor

The 6.5 Creedmoor stands alone in its ability to evoke love and disdain from shooters. Modern enthusiasts are captivated by its flat trajectory and gentle recoil. On the flip side, traditionalists are put off for the same reason – it challenges the idea that exceptional performance demands significant recoil.

What sets the 6.5 Creedmoor apart is its ability to deliver precision without punishing recoil. It boasts about 40 percent less kick than the .30/06, making it a comfortable choice for shooters. This attribute is highly valued by those seeking accuracy without the jarring aftermath of each shot.

The 6.5 Creedmoor’s popularity has given birth to a plethora of options. With a range of rifles and loads available, enthusiasts can tailor their Creedmoor experience to their preferences and needs.

The 6.5 Creedmoor’s reach knows no bounds. Its prowess has been proven in Africa, Mexico, and Canada, making it a versatile companion for hunters across continents. It’s proven its mettle in various games, from Coues deer to mighty moose.

The 6.5 Creedmoor REVIEW

The 6.5 Creedmoor is in its element when taking on a game weighing under 500 pounds. This puts it perfectly in the range of most deer species. Within 400 yards, bullet choice isn’t overly critical, and its performance is on par with its .260 Remington rival.

To maximize the 6.5 Creedmoor’s potential beyond 400 yards, you’ll need a bullet with a ballistic coefficient (BC) exceeding 0.500. The Creedmoor’s inherent accuracy is enhanced by its rifles’ proper twist rate, which stabilizes long, sleek 6.5mm bullets.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is a cartridge that stirs up emotions. Its appeal lies in its harmonious fusion of accuracy and mild recoil, captivating modern shooters. Meanwhile, it challenges traditional notions of performance and recoil, sparking debates among the old guard. Yet, its global conquests and versatility in hunting scenarios continue to cement its position as a formidable contender in the world of firearms.

16. Remington Core-Lokt

Remington Core-Lokt

Remington’s Core-Lokt may lack modern aerodynamics, composite tips, and boat tails, but its classic design has made it a standout among deer bullets. Within the ranges typical for whitetail deer hunting, it’s a superior choice that consistently delivers.

At moderate distances where whitetails are often engaged, the Core-Lokt’s exposed soft core initiates expansion, forming an ideal mushroom shape. This expansion is effectively managed by the jacket’s thickening taper and the trademark “Core-Lokt” section, ensuring controlled and reliable performance.

The Core-Lokt shines brightest in traditional non-magnum cartridges. Excessive velocity and bone impact can occasionally lead to bullet fragmentation, making it a prime choice for moderate-power cartridges.

The Core-Lokt strikes a perfect equilibrium between creating a sizeable wound cavity and achieving sufficient penetration—this balance, coupled with its reliable expansion, results in effective and humane takedowns.

In terms of affordability, the Core-Lokt takes the lead. Despite its budget-friendly price point, it offers remarkable performance that far outweighs its cost. Remington’s backing and availability at Walmart provide an accessible option for hunters seeking reliable deer ammunition.

The Remington Core-Lokt stands as a testament to classic design’s enduring excellence. While it may lack modern frills, its proven performance in controlled expansion, managed mushrooming, and balanced penetration places it among the best deer bullets available. Tailored for traditional cartridges and available at an unbeatable value, it’s a choice that combines reliability and affordability seamlessly.

Choosing the Best Whitetail Cartridge: Factors That Matter

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Caliber vs. Deformed Bullet Diameter

When selecting the best whitetail cartridge, it’s crucial to understand that the caliber (bullet diameter) isn’t the sole determinant. What truly counts is the diameter of the bullet after deformation, which creates the vital wound channel. The focus shifts from unfired caliber to effective terminal performance.

Bullet Weight

The notion that heavy bullets are superior stems from their historical ability to withstand impact velocities. However, bullet weight’s significance diminishes once adequate penetration is achieved. The key is to have a bullet weight that ensures sufficient penetration for a clean kill.

Velocity’s Dual Role

Velocity holds a pivotal role in cartridge selection. It must be high enough to enable total bullet deformation upon impact and carry the bullet deep into the target. However, excessive velocity can lead to meat damage at close ranges, showcasing the dual nature of this factor.

Energy’s Complex Equation

The common belief of needing 1,000 foot-pounds of energy to kill a deer is challenged by reality. Energy alone doesn’t guarantee success; its transfer to the target matters. While more energy can be advantageous, its efficacy hinges on bullet performance, ensuring it’s not squandered in terrain beyond the deer.


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What type of bullet is best for deer hunting? 

The ideal bullet for deer hunting should offer effective terminal performance, ensuring a clean and humane kill. Factors like bullet weight, design, and construction play a crucial role. Look for bullets that provide controlled expansion, sufficient penetration, and reliable mushrooming to create a vital wound channel.

Is .308 overkill for deer? 

The suitability of .308 for deer hunting depends on various factors, including shot placement, bullet type, and the shooter’s skill. While the .308 Winchester is a powerful cartridge, it’s not necessarily overkill if paired with the right bullet and used responsibly. Proper shot placement and bullet selection can result in ethical and effective deer hunting.

What bullet has killed the most deer? 

The bullet that has effectively taken down the most deer varies depending on individual preferences, historical trends, and advancements in bullet technology. Bullets like Remington Core-Lokt, Nosler Partition, and Hornady InterLock have gained popularity for their consistent performance in deer hunting scenarios. However, the success of a bullet also depends on factors such as shot placement, bullet weight, and the shooter’s skills.

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