The .220 REDLINE As A Deer Slayer?

The .220 Redline, part 3, by Fred R.

The .220 Redline, Part 3, By Fred R.

Back Up To Speed

My, how time flies!!! Almost two full years since Part 2 of the Saga of the .220Redline. In this time, the Redline hasn’t gotten much more varmint action…maybe hip-tossin’n a stray ‘chuck here or there. And, although I’ve been predator hunting quite a bit at night, I’ve opted to cary my GreTan rifle, chambered in Dan Clements’ brainchild, the .17Predator. That choice was mostly in part to keep noise & fur damage to a minimum…ya know ‘the right tool for the job’ sorta logic…

But, I did carry the .220Redline along during the past two deer seasons, in hopes of realizing success as a meat gitter. And, successful it has been! Want to point out that ‘any centerfire’ is legal to hunt big game in my state, so a .224″ caliber is not an issue, as it might be in other states. Here in Part 3, we’ll get into a bit more detail on deer killin’ with a hyper-speed .22 hotrod, starting first with a with a quick rifle-refresher…

.220 Redline ready for action

Might have touched upon this earlier, but feel it bears repeating. Over the years, I’ve kinda-sorta grown toward building rifles that have a ‘familiarity’ about them. Namely, in how they handle & balance. There is a certain harmony to be found when barrel length & contour, stock profile & ergos, and scope size & position all combine to achieve a rifle that just feels ‘right’ in hand. The picture above shows how that rifle will balance at rest upon a slender sand bag, without tipping fore, or aft. Similarly, that same balance point is where that rifle would rest, if shot from a tripod… a tactic I use often. Anyhoo, there’s the .220Redline, perched & ready to prove itself during deer season!

A Proper Big Game Bullet

L to R, 70 gr. Barnes TSX, 69 gr. Sierra TMK, 75 gr. Swampworks JLK

While the various Amaxes, JLKs, and TMKs I’ve tested have all been sufficiently devastating on the chucks they’ve taken, choosing a bullet to survive at .220Redline impact velocity AND penetrate into the vitals of a northern whitetail, requires a stout design. Enter, the 70gr Barnes TSX!

During the last decade or so, I’d used these very same solid copper pills to take several deer via .22-243, and later .22-243AI. At ~3500fps MV, the 70TSX proved to be quite a little deer schwacker! But, the question had now become: “would a 70TSX still perform when pushed ~500fps FASTER from the Redline???” Happy to answer: So far, SO GOOD!

Drawing from previous RL33 data, along with some tweaking in Quickload, found a good shooting load for the 70TSX that didn’t seem to be pushing case pressure. Kinda funny, given the powder charge is well over 60 grains, LOL!

Contrary to some who insist that Barnes bullets need ‘a mile’ head start to the lands, a meager .020″ jump length shot very well. And the Magnetspeed v3 said the little copper pills were zippin’ along at a hair under 3900fps. A hair being 6fps, on average, as real time drop on targets to 650yds later proved 3894 fps to work well in my Ballistic AE calculator… GRIN!!! That was enough to get a small batch worked up on freshly built Redline brass…

Batch of 70 TSX Redline ammo in fresh brass!

Deer #1

Before gettin’ into the nitty gritty, wanna make clear that I’m a proponent of shooting deer with a rifle the same way I would using my archery tackle. IE, broadside @ VITALS, trying best to avoid heavy bone, and without directly impacting any digestive organs. I won’t go into the finer points of this logic, but will simply note that nice broadside shot keeps meat loss to an absolute minimum, and the overall chore of field dressing and butchering is a more pleasant experience for this meat hunter…

I’m blessed to have a wonderful friends to hunt deer with every fall! Granted, the farm we hunt is not an area where trophy sized big bucks are common, but there are always a few decent racked bucks around. Therefore, we do try to adhere to a ‘2yr old’ minimum for antlered deer on that farm. I actually went the entire first season with the .220Redline, without shooting an antlered deer. But, I did fill two antlerless tags…and the Redline worked like a charm! First deer was a mature doe. Waited until a good broaside shot presented at about 180 yds, and inserted a 70TSX in the bread basket. The deer seemingly reacted more to the sound of the shot, than bullet impact! It hopped down the slope about 60yds, then stood….wobbled and tipped over. Nearly exactly as a deer would react to a sharp broadhead zippin’ thru both lungs…

Naturally, I wanted to see if/what the bloodtrail looked like. The skiff of snow made it easy to see the wide red spatter the whole way. Upon reaching the downed deer, was more than tickled to see that the little 70TSX had zipped clear on thru both lungs, exiting with a nickel sized hole in it’s wake:

70 gr. Barnes TSX @ 3894 fps exit hole

Best part? NO meat loss (beyond the traumatized rib/brisket muscle), and a clean & tidy field dressing. Nearly identical to what a clean bow kill allows… me likey!!!

Deer #2

So, with a big doe packed away in the freezer and the .220Redline’s first campaign successful, hopes turned back to seeing a good buck. Alas, it was not to be! So, on the last day of rifle season, I decided to fill another antlerless tag. The afternoon hunt had a big fat doe come strolling out at about 210yds. The Redline barked again, sending a 70TSX along at warp speed. Another broadside double lunger resulted in the same reaction, a few hops…then DROP! Man, I love it when the deer bleed themselves out before field dressing! Funny thing is, this ‘doe’ turned out to be a buck that had just shed its spikes, LOL. I’d passed this particular spike on multiple occasions, in hopes of seeing a 2yr old buck. But, without those pencil spikes, he just looked like another big doe in the group. Just as well, and its more corn fed vension for the freezer…

Here’s a pic of Redlined deer #2. Same tiny entrance, and nickel sized exit holes… surgical precison and no wasted meat!

Deer #2 with .220 Redline and 70 TSX

Finally, A Nice Buck!

Fast forward to last year’s rifle season. It only took a few hours on opening morning of rifle season to get a crack at a nice 8pt! Had already passed on two smaller bucks, and saw what looked like a real good buck, minutes before legal shooting time…

A few hours later, saw what looked like a nice buck emerge from the brushy woodline! Got the vid-cam rolling and went to studying him in the binos. As he got nearer the next patch of cover, the ‘now or never’ moment came to pass. So, off comes the safety, and out from the Brux pipe goes a 70TSX! Distance was 165yds, impact was right where it was posta be…broadside boiler room. The buck humped up, then tiptoed down into the golderod covered creek valley. After a short wait, followed a decent blood trail for maybe 50yds, to see a nice 8pt at peace, laying beside the creek. Another beautiful, clean kill for the .220Redline!

A nice 8 pt taken with the .220 Redline

Here’s a close up of the entrance hole, via Barnes 70grTSX at ~3300fps impact velocity (~3900 fps MV). As Dr. Evil, from the Austin Powers movie might exclaim: “it’s like a friggin’ laser beam!”

Close up of entrance hole with .220 Redline and 70 TSX

And, here’s an internal view of the exit, another nickel-quarter sized hole. True to form (so far), it takes alot more than a deer rib to stop a TSX…

Rib is no drama for Barnes 70 gr. TSX

Closing Thoughts…

If they showed anything different, I’d have posted more terminal pics of each deer. But, all three kills were nearly identical: a .224″ entrance, Jell-O-lungs, and a modest exit hole. The dressed weight of these deer ranged between 130-170lbs, about average for the area. All things considered, I honestly couldn’t be more pleased with the clean deer killing ability of this hyper-speed .22 caliber hotrod!

So, that about wraps ‘er up from my end. Hope to continue enjoying the amazing ballistic performace of this .220Redline again over the summer clover fields. If any chucks wanna stand around thinking they’re safe all the waaaay out there, the ol’ Redline might make ’em famous! If I can hold my mouth right, that is…

Also, for those interested in brass & barrel life, I’ve culled all test brass and have been loading with two fresh batches, to keeps tabs on that. When considering the future, even if I only end up with a paltry 500rds of usable life… at the rate I shoot the .220Redline, that’ll be years of happy service! And Brux still makes barrels, everyday…

Beyond that, if I get a hankering for more material to warrant adding a ‘Part 4’ to the saga of the .220Redline, mebbe could lay up the .17Predator & slap my thermal scope on the Redline next winter for coyote calling??? We shall see!!! Until then, it’ll be ‘chuck tossin’ in the next few months. And, God willing, another nice whitetail or two, next fall…

Best regards & good shooting!!!

Fred R.

The .220 REDLINE As A Deer Slayer?
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The .220 REDLINE As A Deer Slayer?
Using the .220 Redline to harvest eastern whitetail.
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6 thoughts on “The .220 REDLINE As A Deer Slayer?”

  1. Happy to share the fun with fellow rifle junkies, Dave!
    I’m honored and humbled for the opportunity to be included on Coyote Stuff, a most excellent resource for knowledge and outdoors entertainment…

  2. Excellent update on the Redline. Thanks for that. Miss your input and experience on accurate shooter. Hope to see you posting again on that forum.

  3. Fred,

    Thanks for sharing your great adventures and photos. You’ve clearly designed an impressive wildcat! As mentioned above, we certainly miss your posts on the other site.


  4. Fred,

    Sure have missed your write-ups man! I really like what you designed, and I like your style! Overbore to the MAX. Hopefully you will keep writing and tinkering. Hope everything is going good…

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