Recently I blogged about whether the .223 Rem./5.56 NATO cartridge is an adequate deer round. A few weeks before, I wrote a piece on the top five all-around sporting cartridges. As we assumed, both of these generated a lot of feedback—we hunters and shooters hold some very strong beliefs in regards to our favorite cartridges. Most of that feedback was generally civil, even though we hold tenaciously to our positions, and of course, a few folks strayed a bit from the reservation, using profanity and name calling to support their position, but we are fairly good at self-policing, and these folks either calmed their vitriol or abandoned the discussion all together.
Whether you like such discussions or not—and I would assume most gunners do—it surprised me to be accused by a couple of folks of fomenting a ridiculous debate. Ridiculous, how so? I think there are newbies out there that would appreciate some information regarding what they should aspire to be using; and us veteran shooters love to pontificate and tell stories, so I’d say calling this debate “ridiculous,” is downright ridiculous.
Regarding the difference in viewpoints; some support their positions based upon their experience in the field; others rapturously quote ballistic tables and peripherally cite field experience. But regardless of your individual position—smaller calibers at high velocity vis-à-vis larger calibers at moderate to high velocity—and how you choose to support it, the simple reality is that we exercise our prerogative to use a particular firearm and chambering. And we should all be okay with that.
Our American heritage of firearms ownership has blessed us with the capability of making our own choices in such matters. I know one gunner who is about my age and claims he has never fired a single round propelled by smokeless powder. Several others hunt with AR-like semi-autos and dress as if they were an operator in the sandbox. Talk about diversity! We should celebrate these opportunities to choose whatever gun and cartridge we want.
During this debate there were some who launched baseless accusations painting the picture of a multitude of wounded deer running around and dying slow, painful deaths. Others accused the small-bore enthusiasts of lacking masculinity or being flat-out unethical hunters. Baseless accusations add nothing to an intelligent discussion, and the excuse of “Well, it just stands to reason” doesn’t fly.
There are too many deer occupying freezer space via the .223 Rem. (or the .243 or one of several .25 calibers, for that matter) to deny that it is a fully capable deer cartridge. Those who use the aforementioned cartridges—at least from my experience—seem to know their chosen cartridge’s limitations and are willing to work within them. Folks who accuse others of being unethical or lacking manhood for not mindlessly agree with them—that the only suitable cartridge is one that shoots thumb-sized bullets at three times the speed of sound—have problems I am not prepared or care to discuss here.
As far as I am concerned, the best way to handle the folks making these accusations comes from my good friend and fellow writer, Jim Wilson. Jim, whose demeanor and sense of humor is dryer than any Brit’s, says, “Sometimes you just have to hang a sprig of mistletoe off the back of your belt and head on down the road.”