We get a ton of questions in our call center. The usual ones involve concerns over how to buy a gun on our website or something of that nature. However, with the rise of the AR-15′s popularity, we get a number of people asking about taking their black rifle out hunting. Not for squirrels, coyotes or prairie dogs, but hogs! Big aggressive invasive feral hogs. Wild hogs are a menace in the southern regions that reached epidemic proportions. It is difficult to put an exact dollar amount on the damage these critters have done to the local farmland, but some estimates reach as high as $1.5 billion annually. If the real world dollar amount sits close to that, our mission as responsible hunters is to load up and help out.
The rise in the hog population started over 300 years ago when Spanish explorers brought them from Europe. As their numbers increased, they provided an important source of cured meat and lard for settlers. In the 1930s, ranchers and sportsmen introduced a subspecies of hog to Texas called the Russian boar. They intended to hunt them for sport. However, most of these eventually escaped from game ranches and began free ranging and breeding with feral hogs. Because of this crossbreeding there are very few, if any, true European hogs remaining in the Southern regions. In Texas, feral hogs are unprotected, exotic, non-game animals. Therefore, hunters may take them by any means or methods at any time of year. You can hog hunt in the day or night and there are no magazine capacity regulations. You can also hunt pigs from a car, truck, or helicopter! It’s a great way to keep your skills sharp in the off season, or practice an easy way to obtain food in a SHTF scenario. There are no seasons or bag limits; however, a hunting license and landowner permission are required to hunt them.
Is the .223 Remington powerful enough to drop a wild hog in his tracks? Why don’t we examine some ballistics to find out? Winchester just happens to have a round specifically designed for hogs. The Razorback XT in .223 has a 64-grain projectile that screams through the air at 3020 fps. At the muzzle, the projectile hits with 1,296 ft-lbs. For comparison, a 154-grain 7.62x39mm cartridge, a type of round for the AK platform, hits with about 1,516-ft lbs. When ranchers and farmers dispatch hogs in traps, they often use a .22 LR at point-blank range. These projectiles have widely varying velocities, but their energy delivered equals anywhere between 104 to 191 ft-lbs. Granted, this is a point-blank shot in the sweet spot, but they still penetrate that thick hide and drop them in their tracks with few problems. The bottom line is this, as long as you engage the pig inside a reasonable distance, have decent shot placement and the proper ammunition, hog hunting with a .223 is perfectly acceptable.
Are there better options for hogs? Absolutely! The .30-30, .308, .243 Winchester, and the 7.62x54R are just a few of the many rifle calibers that hit with more kinetic energy than the most powerful .223 projectiles. However, make no mistake that the .223 is more than capable of dropping a hog where it stands. If you’re hunting with an AR-15, you might even get some shots at the other pigs trying to run away!