Can a .223 Kill a Bear?

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It’s normal for people to go out camping especially on holidays. People need to enjoy nature too. However, you could get unlucky and encounter a bear in the woods. Most bears would just ignore you if you intimidate them. If the bear goes aggressive, you need to protect yourself. If you have a .223 you should wonder, can a .223 kill a bear?

Can a .223 Kill a Bear?

While a .223 caliber can kill a bear, you need to hit the bear at the right spot. Bears have thick skin so it’s hard to penetrate it. In order to kill a bear with a .223, you should aim for the head to get a critical hit. You need to hit a bear’s weak spot if you want to kill it. Otherwise, you end up being a meal for the bear.

Three opened boxes of .233 bullets

Most people know some calibers can’t kill a bear like the following:

  • 22 LR
  • 32 Long
  • 38 S&W
  • 38 Special
  • 41 Colt
  • 44 Special
  • 44-40
  • 38-40
  • 45 Colt
  • 44 Black Powder

However, some bears have been killed by these calibers known to not kill bears. Killing a bear depends on your marksmanship skills. That’s why you should practice shooting whenever you can.

That being said, you should only kill a bear when you’ve got no choice left to defend yourself. Bears generally avoid humans except when they get really hungry and see you as food.

Why Is .223 So Deadly?

.223 bullet’s design relies on its high velocity and long spear-like form to deal damage. However, .223 bullets only deal a lot of damage when fired in short distances.

Because of this design, .223 bullets aren’t as deadly as other rifle rounds. The design of .223 bullets makes them larger and heavier than other rifle rounds. Although it might equate to more power, it’s ineffective for longer distances.

How Far From the Bear Can a .233 Kill?

You need to be at least 200 yards from the bear to land a critical hit. You’ll most likely encounter bears at close range so this would rarely happen.

Various kinds of ammo placed on a table

While some people push their .233 bullets further than 200 yards yet it requires excellent marksmanship skills to hit your target.

If you fire a .233 to a bear at close range, it should shock the bear for a while. It would be better to hit a fatal spot to incapacitate a bear.

What Is a .223 Good For?

Most people use .223 bullets to do varmint hunting and for self-defense. With the help of modern technology, .223 bullets became a high velocity round. It has enough power and accuracy that some people use them for hunting deer-sized game.

AR 15 use .223 bullets and a lot of Americans own them. They make good weapons for self-defense.

Can a AR 15 Kill a Bear?

Even with a AR 15, you need excellent shot placement in order to kill a bear. One shot may not be enough to scare off a bear or make it aggressive.

So you need to remain calm and properly aim your AR 15 to defend yourself from a bear. If you’re lucky or expert enough, both you and the bear can make it out of the situation alive.

What Does a .223 Bullet Do to the Body?

.223 bullets from a AR 15 passes through the body at maximum speed. Cavitation happens where the tissues next to the bullet move away from the bullet just like when ripples of water and returns back to its position. However, the tissues become damaged.

Man sighting an AR 15 and testing if a .233 can kill a bear

The high-velocity bullet causes numerous tissue damage that may extend several inches from its path point. It can even cause catastrophic bleeding even if doesn’t hit an artery. The exit wounds can sometimes go the size of an orange.

A shot to the liver causes severe damage compared to that of a handgun. You won’t likely ever get to a hospital alive as the bleeding may be too severe.

Is a .223 More Powerful Than a 9mm?

First, I need to define what “powerful” means. If I define it as how hard the ballistic hits then clearly the .223 wins. .223 is heavier than a 9mm and I calculate momentum by weight multiplied by speed.

However, in terms of the actual application, a 9mm can kill more than a .223. A study in Vietnam War showed that the side who shot more bullets tend to win a firefight. That’s why modern military prefers using lighter weapons and rounds so they can carry more ammunition.

.223 does do more damage than a 9mm but for survival, you should bring lighter weapons. However, if talking about self-defense if a bear attacks, you would naturally go for .223 bullets to quickly incapacitate the bear.

Specifications of a .223

Specifications Description
Parent Case .222 Remington
Case Type Rimless, bottleneck
Bullet Diameter 0.224 inches
Neck Diameter 0.253 inches
Shoulder Diameter 0.354 inches
Base Diameter 0.376 inches
Rim Diameter 0.378 inches
Rim Thickness 0.045 inches
Case Length 1.76 inches
Overall Length 2.26 inches
Case Capacity 28.8 grain H2O
Rifling Twist 1 in 12 inch
Primer Type Small rifle

Related Questions

How Lethal Is a 223 Round?

A 223 round is more lethal compared to a .30-caliber bullet. It can tear organs and can even enter the ankle and exit through the shoulder.

What Can a 223 Kill?

The 223 can kill dogs, pigs, goats, and even small deer. However, you should also choose quality ammo for the best results.

How Powerful Is .223 Caliber?

A .223 caliber can have a power of about 55,000 psi. It can fly at more than 3,200 feet per second at the exit of the barrel gun and gradually decrease to 1,660 feet per second after traveling 500 yards.


Given the right distance and marksmanship, you can kill a bear with a .223. However, it doesn’t mean that you should. If you can, try to avoid getting into situations where a bear might go aggressive on you.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.