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204 Ruger vs 223 Remington

Ballistics Performance Comparison of 204 Ruger vs 223 Rem. Cartridges

The .204 Ruger and .223 Remington are both popular cartridges for hunting varmint and predators, but there are key differences between them. The .204 Ruger has a very flat trajectory and high velocity, making it a great choice for smaller animals. However, the larger .223 Remington can pack a better punch for larger predators such as coyotes, and can even do well with larger game at close ranges. The .223 is also an ideal home defense cartridge. In this guide, we will compare the .204 Ruger and the .223 Remington across a variety of important factors so you can decide which is the best caliber for your unique hunting needs.

204 Ruger vs 223 Remington

The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the 204 Ruger vs 223 Remingont based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.

204 Ruger 40 gr vs 223 Rem 62 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.

204 Ruger 223 Remington
Bullet Velocity (Muzzle) 3,900 ft/s 3,100 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds 3,482 ft/s 2,751 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds 3,104 ft/s 2,428 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds 2,757 ft/s 2,127 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds 2,435 ft/s 1,849 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds 2,136 ft/s 1,597 ft/s
Bullet Energy (Muzzle) 1,351 ft⋅lb 1,323 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 100 yds 1,077 ft⋅lb 1,042 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 200 yds 855 ft⋅lb 811 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 300 yds 675 ft⋅lb 623 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 400 yds 527 ft⋅lb 471 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 500 yds 405 ft⋅lb 351 ft⋅lb
Hunting Usage @ 0 yds Medium Game Medium Game
Hunting Usage @ 100 yds Medium Game Medium Game
Hunting Usage @ 200 yds Small Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 300 yds Small Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 400 yds Small Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 500 yds Small Game Small Game
Recoil Energy 2.6 (33gr) 3.9
Recoil Velocity 4.4 6
Recoil Score* 1.38 1.57
*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures takend from Sportsman's Warehouse rifle ballistics and rifle recoil tables. Recoil score based on weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity normalized between 1 and 10.

Velocity

The .204 Ruger is particularly well-known for its high velocity and flat trajectory. Right out of the muzzle, the lighter .204 Ruger has an incredible 800 ft/s advantage over the .223 Remington. At 300 yards, the .204 Ruger is still hanging onto its lead, now moving 630 ft/s faster than the .223 Remington. At 500 yards, the .204 Ruger is flying 539 ft/s than the .223 Remington.

Energy

Despite its smaller bullet, the .204 Ruger holds its own with energy against the .223 Remington. Comparing a 40 grain .204 against a 62 grain .223, we see the .204 has an advantage of 28 ft-lbs right out of the muzzle. By 300 yards, this lead has grown to 52 ft-lbs, and by 500 yards, it maintains at 54 ft-lbs ahead. Remember, energy increases with bullet weight, and the .223 Remington is able to be chambered in much heavier bullets than the .204 Ruger. If you are planning on shooting larger game such as coyotes, this difference might be meaningful for you even though the Ruger takes the lead in this comparison.

The wider range of bullet weights for .223 Remington mean that the individual loading can be tailored more than .204 Ruger. Heavier or more optimized projectiles will retain more energy at greater distances using the right .223 projectile while still exerting more energy than the heaviest .204 load.

Trajectory

Both the .204 Ruger and the .223 Remington are considered flat-shooting cartridges, but the .204 Ruger really excels in this arena. Let’s compare a 32 grain .204 Ruger against a 55 grain .223 Remington, both zeroed at 200 yards. At 300 yards, we can expect the .204 Ruger to drop 4.1”, while the .223 Remington will drop 7.0”. At 500 yards, the .204 Ruger will drop 28.9”, while the .223 Remington will drop 45.8”. This is a significant difference that can really impact your ability to hit your target well. While heavier bullets will increase the energy of your shot, they’ll also increase the bullet drop if you were to pick up a heavier .223 Remington.

Wind drift is also a helpful metric of trajectory, and measures the impact of a 10mph crosswind on a bullet’s path. Here, the .204 Ruger once again has an advantage. It will drift 4.1” at 200 yards compared to the .223’s 4.”; by 500 yards, the .204 Ruger will drift just 31.6””, while the .223 Remington will drift 35.0”.

Recoil

The .223 Remington has a good deal more recoil than the .204 Ruger. Since both will be used in smaller varmint rifles, felt recoil is a consideration, as recoil is typically more difficult to manage in a smaller rifle. While the .204 Ruger has the advantage here, both cartridges offer a very mild recoil that essentially all shooters should be able to handle and still shoot well.

Versatility

While the .204 Ruger has a flat trajectory and high velocity, its small bullets make it most suitable for small pests and varmints. While hunters have certainly taken coyotes using this cartridge, many shooters prefer moving up to the .223 Remington for more mid-sized predator hunting. Since the .223 Remington can be chambered in semi-automatic rifles as well as bolt action, many people find it more applicable for home defense, though this is a matter of personal preference.

Price & Availability

Both the .204 Ruger and the .223 Remington are popular varmint and predator hunting cartridges that are readily available from most manufacturers. However, the .223 Remington is certainly more popular, meaning you will have more choices of ammunition and rifles from the major manufacturers. Both rounds are available fairly inexpensively, but the .223 Remington is certainly cheaper. If you’re looking for a round for plinking or target shooting and will thus be spending quite a bit on ammunition, the lower cost and accessibility of the .223 Remington might make it a great choice.

If you are interested in reloading, .223 Remington is going to be the best option. A wider variety of projectiles are available in addition to easily acquired reloading components, like cases and primers, for a lower price than .204 Ruger.

Size Comparison

The .204 Ruger and .223 Remington are centerfire small bore rifle cartridges. The sizes of the bullets are quite different, with the .204 Ruger using .204” bullets and the .223 Remington using .224” bullets. The Ruger’s bullets are also lighter, typically weighing 24-45 grains, while the .223 Remington shoots bullets from 35-90 grains. Rifles chambered in the Remington have a wider variety of twist rates that can handle these larger bullets. Both the .204 Ruger and .223 Remington have a maximum overall length of 2.26” and a .378” rim diameter. The .204’s slightly longer case length and steeper shoulder give it a larger capacity over the .223.

Rife Type

Because of the greater popularity of the .223 Remington, you will likely find a wider range of rifles chambered in .233 than you will in rifles chambered in the .204 Ruger. However, you will be able to find quality rifles chambered in both of these cartridges. They will primarily be shot in varmint rifles, usually using bolt actions. Many semi-automatic rifles are chambered in .223 Remington, while it is very difficult or perhaps impossible to find a semi-automatic rifle chambered in .204 Ruger. This might make the .223 Remington a better choice for home defense scenarios.

Which Caliber is Best?

The .204 Ruger has an extremely flat trajectory and high energy, and an impressively low recoil that almost any shooter should be able to handle. The .223 Remington can be used with heavier bullets that provide more stopping power for larger game such as coyotes, and its popularity means it can be purchased in a wider variety of ammunition and rifles, including semi-automatic rifles.

Disclaimer: Sportsman's Warehouse assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information on this page. Although we strive to provide the most accurate information as we can the information contained in this page is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.