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The only restriction as of now, is that the cartridge be center fire, no caliber restriction. They are currently discussing changing that. See this thread:

 

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Smallest commonly available centerfire (in terms of caliber) I can think of is 17WSM... would be perfectly "legal" for use on deer...
But by the letter of the law, you could chamber a rifle in 25ACP or 32ACP and be just as "legal" despite the completely inappropriately low muzzle energy of those rounds...
This is why a lot of states set their arms/ammunition regs based on a minimum energy level... some at muzzle, some at 100 yards.
There's no perfect solution though, as holes can be poked in either method of regulating arms/ammo use. Both can exclude/include borderline or completely effective options.
 

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The 17wsm is rimfire, not centerfire, so thats legally out in pa. Afaik, 5.7x28mm (which is a 22 cal., centerfire, bottleneck round @ about 22 mag velocities) or 22 tcm are prob the weakest semi-common rounds out there. As mentioned 25 acp would technically be weaker, but larger diameter bullet, if chambered for rifle. 17 hornet would be in there on least energy in a rifle round also.
 

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The Pa Game Commissioners voted unanimously on July 25 against any minimum caliber restriction (i.e. 24 caliber) for deer and bear. Article was on PennLive last night. They cited the reason was all the public feedback they received against setting 24 caliber as a minimum. For what it's worth, I emailed against the 24 caliber minimum because my kids are just starting to hunt and my oldest daughter will use a .223. So... currently, you must use a centerfire rifle for deer and bear no minimum caliber.
 

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The 17wsm is rimfire, not centerfire, so thats legally out in pa. Afaik, 5.7x28mm (which is a 22 cal., centerfire, bottleneck round @ about 22 mag velocities) or 22 tcm are prob the weakest semi-common rounds out there. As mentioned 25 acp would technically be weaker, but larger diameter bullet, if chambered for rifle. 17 hornet would be in there on least energy in a rifle round also.
Yeah... was too many "claws" deep with my original post... meant Fireball or Hornet...
 

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If they'd separate the bear and deer - i could get behind a minimum caliber for bear. Just my opinion, but I just don't believe that a 223 or 22-250 or whatever is sufficient for bear for anything less than an ideal shot.
 

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Smallest commonly available centerfire (in terms of caliber) I can think of is 17WSM... would be perfectly "legal" for use on deer...
But by the letter of the law, you could chamber a rifle in 25ACP or 32ACP and be just as "legal" despite the completely inappropriately low muzzle energy of those rounds...
This is why a lot of states set their arms/ammunition regs based on a minimum energy level... some at muzzle, some at 100 yards.
There's no perfect solution though, as holes can be poked in either method of regulating arms/ammo use. Both can exclude/include borderline or completely effective options.
Sure you " could" chamber a rifle in .25acp, but that's a very big stretch, on the other hand I dropped a 1200 pound steer with one shot from a .22 magnum, the indigenous people on the northern edge of the Hudson Bay routinely hunt Polar Bears with a .222, it always has been, and always will be bullet placement.
Smallest commonly available centerfire (in terms of caliber) I can think of is 17WSM... would be perfectly "legal" for use on deer...
But by the letter of the law, you could chamber a rifle in 25ACP or 32ACP and be just as "legal" despite the completely inappropriately low muzzle energy of those rounds...
This is why a lot of states set their arms/ammunition regs based on a minimum energy level... some at muzzle, some at 100 yards.
There's no perfect solution though, as holes can be poked in either method of regulating arms/ammo use. Both can exclude/include borderline or completely effective options.
Yes I suppose you could chamber a rifle in 25acp but nobody is going to spend that kind of money to do that. The indigenous people who live on the north side of the Hudson Bay hunt Polar Bears with a .222, There is a hunter out there by the name of Vincent Dougherty who has killed everything from a groundhog to an African elephant with a .220 Swift, including lions, Elands and cape buffalo. It always has been, and always will be shot placement, shot placement, shot placement
 

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I would hate to know how many deer have been killed by a 222, 22-250, 223 etc in Pa. Then there are others that also think a 243 is too small. These calibers are all very effective deer killers with proper shot placement. It would be a shame to take compact rifles in these calibers away from youth, women and small framed shooters as optioms to hunt with.
 

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I would hate to know how many deer have been killed by a 222, 22-250, 223 etc in Pa. Then there are others that also think a 243 is too small. These calibers are all very effective deer killers with proper shot placement. It would be a shame to take compact rifles in these calibers away from youth, women and small framed shooters as optioms to hunt with .
I agree. My kids will start either a 223 or 243. There's no reason for kids to start out like me with a 12 featherweight slug gun that was miserable to shoot. Just because I hunt with a 300 win mag doesn't mean it's for everyone. I'd prefer people shoot what they are comfortable with versus an arbitrary minimum.
 

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The PGC could regulate minimum caliber but just as important is the bullet being fired. Technology has improved so much with bullets that you can have smaller caliber bullets that consistently out penetrate and perform bullets of higher caliber at distances at which Pa. deer are typically taken. There is no good way to regulate the caliber AND bullet combination.
 
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