White tail deer

In recent years, Iowa has changed its regulations on straight-wall cartridge rifles for deer hunting, providing hunters with new, effective options for their hunts. This guide will cover the regulations and where and when straight-wall cartridge hunting is permitted in Iowa, as well as provide information on legal cartridges and rifles.

What is a Straight-Walled Cartridge?

A straight-walled cartridge is a type of firearm ammunition where the sides of the cartridge case do not taper or neck down. This means that the entire length of the case is of a uniform diameter, matching the diameter of the bullet. Historically, straight-walled cartridges were among the first types of metallic cartridges used in firearms. They are known for their simplicity in design and ease of manufacturing. 

Regulations for Straight-Wall Cartridge Hunting

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) allows the use of straight-wall cartridge rifles during specific deer hunting seasons. Here are the key regulations:

  1. Permitted Seasons: Straight-wall cartridges can be used during the youth season, disabled hunter season, and both shotgun seasons.
  2. Legal Cartridges: Only certain straight-wall cartridges are allowed. These include center-fired straight-walled rimless and rimmed cartridges designed for handgun use, with bullets from 0.357″ to 0.500″ diameter and a case length from 0.850″ to 1.800″. See below for a non-comprehensive list of popular legal hunting cartridges.
  3. Legal Rifles: Only rifles capable of shooting the approved straight-wall cartridges are allowed. Hunters must ensure their rifles are compliant with the state’s specifications. Non-compliant rifles can lead to penalties, namely a two-year suspension of hunting privileges and a $250 fine.
  4. Expanding Bullets: Hunters must use expanding-type bullets, which are designed to expand upon impact, causing greater internal damage and ensuring a quicker, more humane kill.

Where and When Should These Cartridges 

Straight-wall cartridge hunting is permitted statewide in Iowa during the designated seasons. Hunters can take advantage of this regulation in various types of terrain, from dense woodlands to open fields.

Legal Straight-Wall Cartridges and Rifles

Here are some examples of legal straight-wall cartridges that can be used in Iowa:


With the right equipment and knowledge of regulations, hunters can enjoy a safe and successful hunting season. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or new to the sport, understanding Iowa’s regulations is a must when preparing for hunting season. Always ensure you are up-to-date with the latest regulations from the Iowa DNR and enjoy your time in the great outdoors. Happy hunting!

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