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.”

    • No that’s what they have changed. “Public” was a typo. The changed it to jist private and added 2 more calibers. Per what the DNR at the Hoosier nat forest office to me today

    • This is not the way the DNR has read the ruling. The updated deer regs says that no rifles are permitted on public land. Can we get some pressure to reinstate the old legal rifles for public land?

  6. This off the website:

    House Enrolled Act 1415 that was passed earlier this year by the Indiana General Assembly (state legislators) and signed by the Governor allows some additional rifle cartridges to be used on private land during the deer firearms season, but removed the ability for any rifle to be used on public land for deer hunting.

  7. IN DNR DISTRICT 8 has put out on Facebook messenger that pistol caliber rifles are not allowed to be used on public land under 1415.

  8. Here is directly from the Indiana Regulations as they read today:

    Centerfire Rifles

    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 from Nov. 18-Jan. 31 (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.

  9. Alan, earlier this year I bought a Ruger Deerfield, to be able to hunt deer on Indiana public land. But last night I read where Indiana law has been changed and no rifles are permitted on public land for deer hunting.

    From the above link:

    A state law passed in 2016 that allowed certain rifle cartridges to be used for deer hunting on private land was amended earlier this year to allow additional cartridges. This law also prohibits the use of rifles on public land for deer hunting. During the firearms, reduction zone from Nov. 18-Jan. 31 (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of firearms) and youth seasons, rifles with a minimum 16-inch barrel that fire cartridges meeting the following requirements may be used to hunt deer on private land only:

    The cartridge must have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches and a maximum case length of 3 inches
    The cartridge must fire a bullet with a minimum diameter of .243 inches (same as 6 mm)
    A hunter must not possess more than 10 of these cartridges while hunting deer
    Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal
    Rifles that had been legal to use on public land in years past can now only be used on private land.”

  10. Here is what the IDNR put out yesterday:

    “Important corrections to Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide

    Indiana deer and waterfowl hunters need to be aware of two important changes in the print version of the 2017-2018 Hunting & Trapping Guide.

    Due to recent legislation passed this year by the Indiana General Assembly, hunters can no longer use rifles when hunting deer on public land. “Public land” includes both state and federal property. Before the change, the use of rifles on public land had been legal.

    It remains legal to use a muzzleloader, shotgun or handgun when hunting deer on public land in accordance with deer hunting regulations.

    The waterfowl correction is that the daily bag limit for black ducks is two. The printed Hunting and Trapping Guide mistakenly states the bag limit as one.

    The online Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide has been updated with these corrections. You can view the updated guide at

    For more information on rifle requirements for deer hunting on private land, visit and click on “Equipment.”

    For up to date information on waterfowl seasons, visit:”

    So, everyone that has rifles that they used on public land in the past are left in the cold because of an error by the lawmakers. Hopefully it is corrected in 2018. I do not know if the governor or some other high ranking official can say not to enforce it until then. I recommend that you call every legislator and the governor’s office and complain right now.

  11. Yup, these rulings should be left to our DNR. Others should stay out of it. Now, unless changed, we have lost the ability to use our rifles, chambered in pistol cartridges on pubic ground. Our DNR, was having meetings on it each year. Would have made a decision on it, without messing up current regulations. So cofusing its hard to be sure you are following the law.