Which 5.56mm Ammo Is Best For Hog Hunting?

Feral hogs are becoming a major environmental catastrophe for a large portion of the United States. From destroying pastureland and ravaging crops to devastating the habitats of endangered species, feral hogs are a blight on the landscape of the southern areas of our country. This has led to greatly increased opportunities for hunters to harvest as many pigs as possible to keep the number of feral hogs at a manageable level. At its core, a hog hunt is an expedition to remove an invasive species. In doing so, hunters also get to harvest free-range, organic, non-GMO pork products. Because that connection to helping the environment is so strong, and the results of the hunt can quickly and easily be turned into dinner (or given away to help the less fortunate), hogs are a great way to introduce new people to hunting.  Getting people out hunting is one thing. Getting them ready to hunt is another. There are a variety of ways to go out and harvest a feral hog (including hunting them from a hot air balloon), but the firearm of choice for many hunters is America’s most popular rifle, the AR-15

Hog Hunting With A 5.56mm AR-15

It's always a good idea to test your ammo before the hunt.

Zeroing and grouping a firearm with a 1x red dot can be a challenge at 100 yards.

The AR-15 has some distinct advantages for hunting hogs. It’s lightweight and accurate, and with its semi-automatic action and magazine capacity of 30 rounds or more, its very easy to make quick follow-up shots on a hog or quickly clean out a pack of porkers.  The vast majority of AR-15s are chambered in .223/5.56mm NATO. While that round has proven to be effective on the battlefield, it was not designed with hog hunting in mind. This doesn’t mean, though, that it’s not suitable for hogs. It just means you need to take care to select the best 5.56mm ammo for hogs and make sure your shot placement game is where it needs to be. 

What Do The Experts Say About Using 5.56mm Ammo For Hog Hunting?

Eric Asbell, a guide with the Black Creek Plantation in Georgia, explains it well: “Shot placement always matters in hunting, but with .223 and hogs, it matters a bit more. 5.56mm is a military round designed to incapacitate, but it will definitely do the job on a hog if the shooter makes the shot. When it comes to deciding which 5.56mm hog hunting ammo works best, stay away from full metal jacket ammunition. Look for something that’s designed to expand and deliver as much punch on-target as possible. With hogs and .223, the right bullet is important, but more importantly, right shot placement and a shooter who can make the shot on-demand is more important. The 5.56mm is a fast, lightweight round, so your best options with that round is to go for a headshot or spine shot if at all possible.”  My own history with guns leans more towards self-defense and competition, but I also enjoy getting out into nature and ridding the countryside of a tasty invasive species. Thus, hog hunting has become a regular staple of my shooting experience. I recently had a hunt with Clay Gully Outfitters, a private hunting ranch here in central Florida.  Before I went I set out to select the best .223 ammo for hogs and pair it with my firearm of choice.  The results are below.

Selecting The Best 5.56mm Ammo For Hogs

The gun I chose for my hunt is the exact same gun I used on my recent training in close quarters combat: An AR-15 pistol chambered in 5.56mm/.223. It has a piston upper from Primary Weapons, an Anderson lower, a CQB brace from Maxim Defense, a 1x Cyclops optic from Primary Arms, and it is capped with a Sig Sauer suppressor. The ammunition I tested for my hunt was: 

5.56mm ammo for hog hunting

Ammo for testing

Black Hills Ammunition 62 Grain TSX
Average Group Size (100 yards, from a rest): 2.78 inches
Average Velocity (10 feet from muzzle): 2883 FPS

Federal Premium 62 Grain Fusion

Average Group Size (100 yards, from a rest): 2.45 inches
Average Velocity (10 feet from muzzle): 2543 FPS

Winchester 64 Grain Super-X
Average Group Size (100 yards, from a rest): 2.65 inches
Average Velocity (10 feet from muzzle): 2628 FPS

Federal 64 Grain PowerShok
Average Group Size (100 yards, from a rest): 3.31 inches
Average Velocity (10 feet from muzzle): 2664 FPS

Admittedly, those are not sharpshooter groups, but then again, I’m not a sharpshooter. Plus, the gun I was using is not a precision rifle. These groups are good enough for my purposes.  Based on these results, I selected Black Hills 62 Grain TSX as the ammo for my hunt. My decision was partly influenced by the fact that this round uses the proven 62 grain Barnes TSX bullet. 

How Did The 5.56mm Round Perform On A Hog Hunt?

Hog hunting in Central Florida

There’s at least one hog out there somewhere, I think.

Very well, actually. The day came for the hunt, and we could not have asked for a nicer day. The skies were clear, although the ground was very damp from a mid-summer Florida rain shower. With our guides leading the way, we skirted the edges of the Clay Gully preserve until we located a hog. We then had to flush her from a dense thicket of palmetto before I could take my shot. As my guide drove the hog towards me, I had a brief moment when she was in the clear. I raised my rifle and put one bullet right through the spine, dropping the 80 pound sow right on that spot. My friend and fellow hunter, Adrian, was also shooting .223 ammunition that day. He took his hog with a well placed shot right between the pig’s eyes.  The 5.56mm round proved again that it is capable of taking down a hog in just one shot with proper shot placement. What is the best 5.56mm for hogs? For me, the hams, pork chops, and sausage meat in my freezer tell me that the Black Hills 62 Grain TSX will do the job, and do it well.