Indiana HB1415: Setting Right What Once Went Wrong

"Day 18: Ammo Run" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by ThreeIfByBike

Deer rifle cartridges may be changing. Again.  With HB1415, the legislature is trying to settle the problems created last year when they addressed the issue of deer rifles.

After much gnashing of teeth and renting of garments, the bill was passed in 2016 that allowed the use of commonly found centerfire rifle cartridges for deer hunting, but only on private land and only in certain calibers.

The bill only served to create more confusion on what was legal and what wasn’t.

For years rifle cartridges, such as the .35 Remington, could be used during deer season as long as they were used in pistols. Pistol cartridges such as the .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum could be used in pistols or rifles. Adding to more confusion were the slightly modified rifle cartridges, usually shorten versions of commonly found cartridges such as the .45-70 and .35 Remington, and wildcat cartridges such as the .35 Hoosier and .35 WSSM, all to get the case length at or under the mandated 1.80” maximum.

Last year’s bill legalized cartridges that were .243/6mm in caliber and .300/.308 in caliber, so popular rounds like the .243 Winchester, .308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, and even the .300 RUM could be used. But, equally powerful and popular rounds like the 7mm-08, 7mm Remington Magnum, .270 Winchester, and countless others were not legal.

This year the legislature is trying to correct some of the issues it created last year with HB1415 by opening deer hunting up to any cartridge .243” and larger, with a case length of 1.16” and longer.

The ten-round possession limit stays in place as does the private land provision.

Love it or hate it, the new requirements hopefully will clear up confusion and frustration for hunters and Indiana Conservation Officers alike.

The wording of HB1415 (as of today) follows:

SECTION 6. IC 14-22-2-8, AS ADDED BY P.L.110-2016, SECTION 1, IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2017]: Sec. 8. (a) This section applies to a hunting season beginning after June 30, 2016, and ending before January 1, 2020.

(b) A hunter may use a rifle during the firearms season to hunt deer subject to the following:

(1) The use of a rifle is permitted only on privately owned land.

(2) The rifle must have a barrel length of at least sixteen (16) inches.

(3) The rifle must be chambered for a cartridge that is two hundred forty-three thousandths (.243) of an inch in diameter or larger. one (1) of the following cartridges:

(A) .243.

(B) .30-30.

(C) .300.

(D) .30-06.

(E) .308.

(4) The rifle must fire a cartridge that has a minimum case length of one and sixteen-hundredths (1.16) inches.

(4) (5) A hunter may not possess more than ten (10) cartridges for the rifle while hunting deer under this section.

(5) (6) The rifle must meet any other requirements established by the department.

(c) The use of a full metal jacketed bullet to hunt deer is unlawful.

(d) The department shall report on the impact of the use of rifles to hunt deer under this section to the governor and, in an electronic format under IC 5-14-6, the general assembly before February 15, 2020.

(e) This section expires June 30, 2020

Bold designates new wording. Struck out indicates wording to be removed.


If this year’s legislation follows the same path as last year, it may change on a daily basis, making things worse, but hopefully making things better.

The full text of Indiana HB1415 in its current form can be read at

Alan Garbers Sponsored by the Outdoorsman Sport Shop
Alan James Garbers – Alan is passionate for the outdoors. He enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, photography, writing, woodworking, and more. He loves exploring the BWCAW in northern Minnesota, roaming the deserts of Arizona, or hiking the mountains of Colorado. He has lived in Minnesota, Hawaii, Mississippi, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, and Indiana. From hunting rattlesnakes to black bear and fishing for catfish to muskie, he loves it all. Since 1989 his writing credits have included Indiana Outdoor News, Indiana Game & Fish, Muzzle Blasts, Outdoor Guide Magazine, Fur-Fish-Game, Boundary Waters Journal, Boys’ Quest, Fun For Kidz, Mother Earth News, Cricket, Small Farm Today, American Careers, Arizona Hunter & Angler, Old West, and others. Fiction credits include StarTrek Strange New Worlds Anthologies IV, V, and 08. Alan recently complied an anthology of his popular column, Behind The Badge: True Stories of Indiana’s Conservation Officers. It is available in e-reader format and found at Amazon and other on-line book retailers. Alan is a member of AGLOW and HOW.


  1. AWESOME!!! CAN’T wait to actually get to use my .270 Win. LEGALLY!!! (IF I had one) I WILL do like I did before the 2016 Deer season opened, I WILL go get me a New .270 Win., it was & IS “MY” Preferred Choice of Deer Rifle. I went and bought my .308 Win. as soon as the Law was passed and I KNEW we were gonna be allowed to use RIFLES for Deer.

  2. Someone please explain to me why the law was blatantly written to exclude.223 rounds. (Other than it fired from “that scarry AR-15”) I can’t use my AR, but I can use an AK47?

    • Most rifle laws are written based on a formula of minimum kinetic energy at 100 yards….though we’re not sure of the rational behind Indiana’s particular law we assume it was copied from another state. Ultimately, the .223 round is good for many things but a large body of hunters and ballistic experts consider it (especially the common 55 grain bullet) “barely adequate” for big game especially when compared against some of the other cartridges available. In the few states (Missouri for one, we believe) where it is legal, not too many folks use it. It’s a great varmint round and yes, it can and has killed deer (especially 100 yards and under), but there are better options. If you want an AR-platform for deer hunting, consider either saving your nickles for an AR10 or for much less money, re-barrel your gun to 300 Blackout (of course, keep in mind that the 300BLK has 10% less kinetic energy than grand-pap’s dusty old 30-30). We love us some AR’s and have piled up enough .223 brass to build a water line to Panama but we don’t plan on hunting deer with it, even if would become legal.

    • .223 is marginal on Whitetails. Even on Reh (Roe Deer) which rarely grow over maybe 80 pounds it is not as good as a .243. A 6mm or even 6.5mm minimum is a good rule.

  3. This law is completely absurd. As a hunter, we do not need these rifles. We have muzzleloaders that are 300 yd capeable, the 358 cartridge is a 400 yd cartridge in the right hands. This is the bottom line of the Insurance companies pushing their way into the hunting industry. If we cannot use them on state owned property then we don’t need them at all!!! Better question, why did the hunters put this down when the dnr suggested it but legislators whom clearly have no clue what they are doing bring it in? I have e mailed numerous elected officials and have yet to get their return communication on this matter.

    • In Germany only “high powered rifles” are allowed for big game. Shotgun slugs can be used on pigs under ranges of 35 meters on drive hunts. Bow hunting is forbidden. Germany is at least as densely populated as Indiana but no one gets shot. The anti-rifle crowd are merely assuming they know what will happen. I think that the cries of “the sky is falling” will prove wrong. Anyone who has been through a hunter safety course should know that they should not shoot unless they have a backstop beyond the deer they are shooting. The idea the we “don’t need these rifles” is nothing but snobbery. A bow hunting purist might say “we don’t need training wheels or crossbows”. Well, maybe you don’t, but other people have other opinions. Maybe some Army vet with a Jagdschein would like to hunt with the drilling he brought home from Germany? Why should he not be allowed to do so? As far as I know that will still be illegal but it shouldn’t be.

  4. The way I read this, I can use a .357 pistol on state property but not a .357 rifle, is that correct? As hunters are getting older and also wanting to introduce younger and female hunters to the sport, being able to use .357 in a rifle expands your range a safe limit. I believe less property would be damaged and people hurt in car wrecks if more hunters were out there and allowing .357 and .44 rifles on public land would do that with no sacrifice to safety

  5. John,
    The new regulation have no affect on the existing public land rifle regulations. A .357 Magnum rifle has been and is still legal on public or private ground. The new changes only pertain to private ground. You can read more at

    “Rifles chambered for cartridges that fire a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger, have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches, and have a maximum case length of 1.8 inches are legal to use only during the deer firearms, youth, reduction zones (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), and special antlerless seasons. These rifle cartridges can be used on public and private land.”

    “Some cartridges legal for deer hunting include the .357 Magnum, .38-.40 Winchester, .41 Magnum, .41 Special, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .44-.40 Winchester, .45 Colt, .454 Casull, .458 SOCOM, .475 Linebaugh, .480 Ruger, .50 Action Express, .500 S&W, .460 Smith & Wesson, .450 Bushmaster, and .50 Beowulf. Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal.”