Some argue that .223 Rem. is not adequate for deer. They say the bullet is too small and the cartridge lacks power. They also claim it is not legal in most states. Factually speaking, they are wrong on all accounts. With the right bullet, .223 Rem. can drive to 20-plus inches and expand to double diameter. And, in the states that allow rifles for deer hunting, only eight do not permit the use of the .223 Rem.
As far as the “right bullet” goes, one of the best .223 Rem. loads for deer is the 62-grain Federal Fusion. It has a muzzle velocity of 2750 fps, muzzle energy of more than 1000 foot-pounds and will expand to almost a half inch in diameter when it hits a deer, wild hog or any other critter. I’ve also found the Fusion load to be one of the most accurate big game loads for the .223 Rem.
With the Fusion loads Federal’s goal was to offer an affordable, but still high performance, line of ammunition, utilizing a bullet that would expand wide, drive deep and hold together. Fusion ammunition sort of bridges the gap between standard and premium hunting ammunition. I’ve taken several whitetails with the Federal Fusion load and the results have always been the same: complete penetration with massive tissue destruction and a deer that drops within 50 yards of where it was hit.
The beauty of this Fusion/.223 Rem. combination is that it gives young and recoil sensitive shooters an easy shooting and reliable deer taking tool. The bullets work the way they do because their gilding metal jacket and lead alloy core are inseparable due to electrochemical bonding. They are essentially fused together and the skived tip provides long-range expansion and short-range toughness. The boat tail also increases the bullet’s ability to fly flat and resist wind.
But the Fusion line of ammunition is about a lot more than just the .223 Rem. load. Fusion loads are offered for all of the popular big game cartridges. One of the best might be the .45-70 load. This cartridge has traditionally been downloaded due to the continued availability of old, weak rifles. But, the Fusion .45-70 load is a beast. It drives a 300 grain bullet at almost 1900 fps and upon impact it will expand to almost an inch in diameter.
I’ll continue to deer hunt with the .223 Rem. Fusion load and someday I’ll poke a big critter with the 300-grain .45-70 Fusion bullet. When I do, that critter won’t be happy—but the end of my hunt will be.