Shooting the .223 Rem is a very calm and understated affair. When moderated, there really is very little fuss, and I have never had any trouble getting factory ammo to shoot well.
It is probably fair to say that the .223 Rem wouldn’t be as popular as it is today without it being a military calibre. Like the .308 Win, the availability of cheap ammunition and rifles certainly helped establish the calibre in the sporting world.
There is no doubt that the .223 Rem is very popular as a foxing calibre. As you would expect, there is a vast selection of rifles chambered in .223. Off the shelf ammunition selection is good, and, of course, you can obtain very cheap military surplus ammo as well. Being non-expanding, it can’t be used for hunting, however it does provide a cheap way of getting a lot of practice in. Having said that, of the mil spec ammo I have fired, I have never found any to group particularly well in a hunting rifle. This is most likely due to the clash between rifle twist rate and the loaded bullet weight.
Shooting the .223 Rem is a very calm and understated affair. When moderated, there really is very little fuss, and I have never had any trouble getting factory ammo to shoot well. Shooting with a very modest muzzle velocity, barrel life is generous. It’s unlikely most hunters will ever shoot out a rifle in their lifetime, unless doing a serious amount of range work. The same cannot be said for some of the other calibres. It’s not the flattest shooter, and a 55-grain bullet will need a full inch and a half at 100 yards to drop on target at 200 yards. Once you’re comfortable with that, it becomes second nature. At night, most shots will be up to 200 yards, with a much smaller proportion past this, so the drop beyond isn’t too much of an issue as long as you’re aware.
Possibly one of the most convenient points of this smaller calibre is that you can get away with having a much shorter barrel than, say, a .22-250. Cut a .22-250 down to 18in and you will be wasting a lot of performance. You can get away with it when it comes to the .223 Rem, and that makes shooting in and out of a vehicle much more convenient.
I would say finally that, although the calibre kills the vast majority of foxes outright, every now and then you will get them running on a way. Obviously this could happen with any calibre, but it is more noticeable with the .223 Rem than a .243 Win or .22-250 Rem.
Phil Chapman, grouse keeper