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eblake Offline OP
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My nephew's 10 years old son is interested in hunting deer this year and was fortunate to draw an antlerless tag in Maine. They have not been a hunting family so I'm trying to set the boy up with an appropriate rifle. I have a TC Contender carbine with a .223 barrel and also a .357 Max barrel. The Max barrel will also shoot .357 mag. Recoil is definitely an issue to consider. I had a bad experience with another kid shooting a .223 (poor shot, no pass through so no blood trail) so am not enthused about the .223. Would the .357 mag be preferable to the .223? I'm assuming the Max would offer more penetration than the .223 but what about overall effectiveness on deer? Shots will be kept to 50 yards or less. A .22 lr barrel is available for practice. Advice appreciated!

Last edited by eblake; 09/01/22.
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my 10 year old grandson will be using a 223/556 AR-15 with a 1- 6 x24 Burris scope on this rifle with very little recoil and has a adjustable length stock too . the 223 for your Nephew is the best choice its a heck of a easy ,accurate , no recoil cartridge for a kid for deer hunting .good luck,Pete53


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My 10 y/o son used a 357 Max rifle last year to harvest his first deer. The handload was light, a 200gr LHP at 1160fps. This year he is able to shoot a 180gr Fury JFP at 2000fps. If your nephew is on the small side or recoil sensitive I would lean towards a jacketed 140gr or 158gr bullet designed for and shot at 38 Spec or 357 Mag velocities. Keep in mind the velocity will be faster from the longer barrel and could push pistol bullets beyond their design capability. The 357 Max gets my vote.


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Both are capable and I am a speed kills guy, but in this case I'm with Dinny. I started my youngest daughter out with a Marlin 1894CP in .357 at eight years old. She was reasonable petite and it was not an issue with recoil and we limited shots to ~50 yards. She shot her first 3 deer with it and all were pretty much bang/flop. I would say fit and weight might be the final deciding factor. I had a second stock and cut it shorter for her to handle and for the oldest had a youth stocked Model 7 in .243 (but she was a bit bigger and stronger at the same age). Good luck to you with the nephew.

Last edited by DBrink; 09/01/22.
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The 357 Mag or Max is the better choice for an inexperienced shooter. A 357 mag 158 gr soft point will shoot clear through even a big deer. A bonus to the near zero recoil is the low noise. The Max is even better due to higher velocities.

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I used to start out all of my nieces and nephews with my little T/C Contender Carbine in .223 with the 16” bbl. I bought an extra buttstock for it so I could cut it down for them on the LOP.

Loaded with the old 60 gr Nosler Partitions or with the Factory Winchester 62 gr PSP, it’s always been a deer killing machine. Every one of them took their first deer, hog and Turkey with it.
Virtually no recoil with it either. It’s got one of the old Leupold Compact 1.75 X 6 VariX III’s mounted on it.

Used it quit a bit when I first got it in the early 80’s to shoot coyotes out of my tractor when plowing our big fields. Perfect size for the tractor, as it was short enough to flip around and shoot out of either window.
Coyotes get dumb and get close to a tractor when your plowing up stubble with lots of mice and rabbits in it. 🤠

Last edited by chlinstructor; 09/01/22.

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I think either will work . I’ve had both calibers. My max was a 12 inch pistol. Never had a worry taking deer sized game. With the 223 bullet selection is the key. Hasbeen


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The recoil will be a little lighter with the .223 but muzzle blast will be a bit more. I started my kids hunting with a 21" light contour .223(AI) and it worked well with the bullets I used. They wore ear protection. If you use the .223 consider your bullets well.

.357 Max will be a little more recoil but it's still light in a carbine barrel. Muzzle blast seems noticeably less to me. Range will be a bit less with the Max if that makes a difference.

Penetration will vary with each of them depending on the bullet used. A soft 158 pushed hard by the Max at close range will likely penetrate less than a 50 tsx pushed at any speed by the .223.

Either will work. Let him shoot both in practice and see if he has a big preference one way or the other.

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At 50-100 yards either will work...223 gets my vote


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.223 with the proper bullets without a doubt!


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The 357 gets my vote

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Originally Posted by JCMCUBIC
If you use the .223 consider your bullets well.
This.

Which in my opinion means no railroad spike tough monos. The 223 isn't fast enough to stress a decent soft point, no need for a mono.

A 55 grain Ganeking or any other soft point will kill very fast.

A Partition would be the "toughest" bullet I would use and even then the front end of a Partition is softer than most soft point bullets.

Last edited by 10gaugemag; 09/01/22.

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Originally Posted by 10gaugemag
Originally Posted by JCMCUBIC
If you use the .223 consider your bullets well.
This.

Which in my opinion means no railroad spike tough monos. The 223 isn't fast enough to stress a decent soft point, no need for a mono.

A 55 grain Ganeking or any other soft point will kill very fast.

A Partition would be the "toughest" bullet I would use and even then the front end of a Partition is softer than most soft point bullets.

Partition works fine out of my T/C Carbine and my AR-15’s. Never lost a deer with either.
So does the Barnes TSX 62 gr bullet.
I used it almost exclusively on the large ranch I managed in San Saba County 5 years ago. Had to cull a ton of does and scrub bucks and seriously thin out the feral hog population.
The Ranch owner bought me 4 or 5 cases of the Remington Factory Hog Hammer Ammo to use in my AR’s. That’s the bullet Remington uses in that loading.


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Don’t have a Max, but with any luck I’ll gather some data on the other two in the coming season. Have a new Henry SS .357, a S&W 620 wearing a FF3, and a couple or three .223s. Might not get all of them out, but we’ll see. Goal is to have them all ready to hunt so I can just grab the one that suits me best that day.

Not really expecting any surprises. Other folks have been making meat with these for a long time.


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another thing about the AR-15 223/556 rifle this type rifle has a very good strong safety and no hammer to cock or let down . grandson is very accurate with this AR-15 too.

Last edited by pete53; 09/01/22.

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It doesn't matter. Personally, I'd prefer a .223 with a good bullet (my favorite being 65 grain SGK.)

The most important thing is to get the kid shooting regularly on a life-size deer target so he gets used to putting the bullet where it belongs. Also, that gives you an idea of how far away you should let him shoot at a deer.

The example in the OP wasn't a failure due to using a .223, it was a bad hit...period. The longest goat rodeo I ever was involved with was when a friend's kid shot a small buck badly with a .30-06. Almost no blood trail and we eventually got the deer only because I had a pretty good idea where it was going. The lack of a blood trail wasn't because of "no pass through" it was because it was hit too high in a non-vital area. The best first deer experience I was ever party to was another friend's 12 year old daughter. I set her up with an original 92 Winchester SRC in .44-40 with mild 200 grain cast RNFP's that were barely moving. I don't remember the specific load, but they were only going 1000 or 1100 fps. She shot her deer at about 50 yards (with the original open sights on the 92. The deer took about two steps and dropped dead.

Don't overthink it.
It doesn't matter what the kid uses, just make sure he can shoot it well and knows where to put the bullet on a deer.


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eblake Offline OP
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Thanks for all the replies. Lots to think about here!

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I've taken deer and bear with a 223 using Nosler and TSX bullets. The 357 maximum rides on the heels of a 30-30 with hand loads and the 357 lever action I take that out to 125 yards max with 180 grain xtp or 158 grain xtp.


Not advise but I've seen some guys loading their 357 Mags to 357 maximum loads in they're rifles.

Last edited by huntersdog; 09/01/22.
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Originally Posted by cra1948
.................

Don't overthink it.
It doesn't matter what the kid uses, just make sure he can shoot it well and knows where to put the bullet on a deer.

Yep. I'll recommend again.....let him shoot both, one after the other, as much as possible with each rifle, to see which rifle/round he prefers and which he shoots best. The "better" round doesn't matter if he doesn't shoot it as well....and it's just good practice.

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Both my boys killed there first few deer with a 357 Mag Handi-Rifle. I loaded some 158gr JHPs and was very impressed with the performance on deer out to 60ish yds. That said, if I had the option of using a 223 I would likely have went that direction. I have full faith in either, but feel that the 223 offers greater range with little/no penalty.

Unless the kiddo is already versed in using a scope, I'd strongly recommend a red dot. So very intuitive for the kids. No eye relief/paralax issues. My youngest head shot a groundhog a 90yds with the thing!

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