Need caliber suggestions


January 4, 2007, 11:59 AM
I'm going to get my first centerfire rifle - been a pistol shooter for a long time. It looks like a Stevens model 200 will be my choice, but I need some suggestions on what caliber to get. I love to reload \ work up loads. I like to tinker with my guns (built a 10/22 target rifle - that was fun). Most of what I'll do will be target / fun shooting - I value accuracy over power. I do not want to rule out being able to hunt with it (I live in Missouri).

From what I've found searching the forum, it sounds like a .243 might be a good caliber for me. My only concern is that I've read a couple posts about .243s wearing out the chamber / barrel sooner than other calibers. I might go to the range 6 - 8 times a year. Do I need to be concerned about the .243 and durability?

Any other considerations or suggestions?

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January 4, 2007, 12:01 PM
look at cartridge costs before you decide on caliber. That may make a difference also.

Art Eatman
January 4, 2007, 12:09 PM
It seems pretty easy to make a .243 a real tack-driver. It's a good all-around varmint and deer cartridge, if you are really picky about your shots on deer. I've killed some 20+ bucks with mine, but they were mostly neck shots or cross-body shots.

I've probably run about a thousand or so rounds through my .243. It still shoots well inside of one MOA.

And, you don't have to load every round to the max. If you don't shoot so fast the barrel burns your hand, but shoot a group and wait a bit, you don't really have to worry about burning the leade.

2,000 or 3,000 rounds down the road, if your accuracy begins to degrade, just have a competent smith turn a few threads onto the barrel, recut it and set it back. Just like new.


January 4, 2007, 12:11 PM
how about .308 Win.(7.62 NATO)

a lot of cheap brass etc.

surplus ammo is usually cheap when you can find it.

great hunting round to boot.

just my $.02


January 4, 2007, 03:27 PM
As always, Art gives good advice. I like the .243 caliber also, but prefere to shoot .243 bullets in a 6mmRem cartridge, an ideal choice if you reload.

Could you clear up a curious point????

If you reload, and this is your first centerfire rifle, and you have enjoyed working up loads for your rifles??? What in the bleep are those rifles you have you been loading for?????????????????????????

January 4, 2007, 03:55 PM
"If you reload, and this is your first centerfire rifle, and you have enjoyed working up loads for your rifles??? What in the bleep are those rifles you have you been loading for?????????????????????????"

I just said I like to work up loads, not loads for "my rifles". I have worked up loads for my pistols. (And a Hi-Point carbine.)

Could you explain to me what you mean by shooting ".243 bullets in a 6mmRem cartridge, an ideal choice if you reload."?

January 4, 2007, 04:29 PM
For cheap accurate shooting/small game- .223

For not so cheap but accurate shooting/reloading/hunting big/medium game- .243 or .270

Best all around "in my opinion" - fairly cheap/accurate/can hunt big game/ also there is tons of reloading data I'd go with .308

January 4, 2007, 11:42 PM
Thanks for the suggestions!

January 5, 2007, 12:00 AM
If you like to load, maybe a little something different than the everyday round. I've got a 6.5-06 and its a great round. You can get the dies from
RCBS, the brass is now being made and its fun at the range to have the other guys get a blank look and ask just what it is.

You can use .25-06 brass (open the neck) or .30-06 brass (necking it down). Its a flat shooter, I read its used out west, and is a real tack driver with 140g. Hornady SST's. It also is easy on the shoulder.

The .308 Win is another excellent round. Load 'em light for varmits load 'em heavier for big game or stick in a match grade bullet for target shooting!

Look through your reloading books, and when you settle on one have fun!!!:D


January 5, 2007, 12:13 AM
6mm Remington shoots the same bullets as the .243 Winchester. The difference is the 6mm was based on a necked down .257 Roberts and the .243 is a necked down .308. The advantage of the 6mm is that you can load it a bit faster than the .243, and all else being equal shouldn't burn out a barrel quite as fast due to the different cartridge design.

Personally, one of these days I'll get me a Ruger #1B in 6mm. Not .243, 6mm. Why? Because. That's why. I know the .243 will perform just as well, but I want the 6mm. I'm still kicking my self for passing on 2 that were at a gun show a couple years ago for only $450 (one looked almost unfired).

If you want a bolt action rifle that'll be about as good as any out there look into the CZ 550. I've yet to meet someone that was unhappy with a 550 (or any CZ for that matter). They're about the best value and they use a Mauser style action, which some, like me, prefer though for your purposes action type probably shouldn't be a driver. However, they'll beat the pants off other Mauser actions like a Ruger M77, or the Charles Daly's (now Remington 798 IIRC) for a similar price, and will equal Winchester M70's but at a considerably lower price.

I have one in 6.5x55mm. I can load it with a sedate 120gr load for extended range sessions, or smallish game (small white-tails, javelina) hunting. Or I can stoke it with full power 140gr Barnes X-bullets or 160gr conventional bullets and confidently hunt elk with it. Or anything in between for anything in between. I haven't, but I know one can get 95gr varminting bullets for it too.

January 5, 2007, 12:29 AM
If you are looking for the best all around target/plinking/hunting/varmint the .308win is going to be hard to beat in a short action. reloading components and data are almost unlimited and it can be a forgiving cartridge for working up fun and effective loads. It is also a very efficent cartridge that has better long range stability, penetration, and knock down power than smaller calibers based on the same case like 22-250, 7mm-08, .243, but has a fairly light recoil. you can load them with 100gr fmj over bullseye for a quiet plinking load to 175 gr hpbt over varget for 800 yard tack driving 150gr 30-30 fp over h4895 for hunting in heavy brush, basically the possibilities are endless

January 5, 2007, 01:03 AM
Refering to your original post- I'm not in the know about the available calibers offered in the stevens model 200. Shooting the combo of paper and deer leaves every round ( within the .308 bore and under spectrum) a viable option. I don't imagine you would want to informally spend range time with a magnum, but you might. I have a 7mm-08 that I've been thinking of shooting someday, but every trip to the range I grab my 22 caliber C.F. rifles and 243/6mm stuff. I'm don't consider myself recoil sensitive, but those calibers are real easy on the shoulder and wallet. Now considering the fact that you want to possibly deer hunt sorta'/ kinda' rules out the 223/22-250 stuff. I have shot plenty of deer with a 22-250- it works ok, but not excellent. A 25-06 is a great paper/deer round as is the 243, 7mm-08 and the 260. Personally, I'd get a 260. Just because I don't have one:neener: A caliber that is a little off the beaten path seems to add more joy in getting the loads just right. My year long debacle with a 7mm RUM and STW ended so sweet after I got the holes touchhing at the hundred yard mark.

January 5, 2007, 09:09 PM
308[you won't regrett it

January 5, 2007, 11:33 PM
out of your modern rounds, that are not wildcats, the 243 is pretty hot, and very spikey. you could allways ream it out to shoot 6mm remmy which is not only faster round, by about 2to 300 fps, but is much milder on the throat and bbl, because of it's extra long neck. otherwise , Id go 6.5 swede or 270 or less for calibers. the 308 by the way is a very mild , and energy efficient round.

January 6, 2007, 12:17 AM
Since the Stevens does not come in a 6mm Remington, having a 243 reamed to shoot the 6mm Rem. sounds like a good idea. I like the versatility of the 243 being able to shoot a wide variety of bullet weights, and if the same bullets are available for a 6mm Rem cartridge that might be the way to go.

Maybe I'm wrong (it's been known to happen), but from what I've read, it seems like the 6mm platform offers more options for target / varmint / deer hunting than does the .308.

January 6, 2007, 12:27 AM
Buy a basic Savage or Remington ADL and put a custom 6BR barrel on it. The 6BR will give you unsurpassed accuracy from 100-700 yards with low recoil, superb brass, easy load development. About the only thing that can beat it at 100-200 yards is a full-tilt 6ppc benchrest run, but a 1:10 or 1:8 6BR will be much more versatile for small game and will be superior for target shooting from 200 out to 700 yards.

My Savage 6BR will easily shoot in the twos at 100 yards.

6BRs and 6BR improveds have been the cartridge to beat in 300m competition, 500 yard varmint shoots, and 600-yard benchrest. You have an excellent selection of match bullets from 45 to 115 grains.

Everything you need to know is found here:

Jim Watson
January 6, 2007, 12:27 AM
You get the strangest things on the Internet.
You cannot ream a .243 Win to take 6mm Rem, it will not "clean up" the old chamber.
I like the 6mm, used to have a good one, a friend has a great one, but in current factory rifles, the choice just isn't there. .243 isn't bad and it is very common in guns, ammunition, and load data.

I think either .223 or .308 would be a good choice but not for the usual stated reason that you can shoot cheap surplus crap ammunition. Not in MY rifle I don't. But because they are highly developed, with a lot of good ammunition and load data available.

January 6, 2007, 04:32 AM

Mr. Watson is semi-correct. You indeed cannot just ream a .243 chamber & get a 6mm Remington. The difference in body taper on the two cases precludes doing it. Attempting to do it will result in ruptured brass.

The only way it can be done is to cut enough off the breech end of the barrel to enable the 6mm reamer to cut a fully supported chamber. And that depends on whether or not the barrel in question can safely have it done. If you're dealing with a lightweight barrel without enough meat in the chamber area, it's distinctly not advisable to try it.


January 6, 2007, 07:19 AM
Being an old fashioned guy that enjoys reloading I'd say a 30-06. That is, if you just like reloading for the sake of doing it. There are so many different bullets and powders for that caliber that you'll never run out of combinations to fool around with.

January 6, 2007, 08:34 AM

30-30 is a keeper! Recoil is moderate and ammo is available anywhere. Accurasy is quite good for shots at deer out to about 175 yards or so. The new Leverution ammo by Hornady has taken deer well beyond the 200 yard mark.

Lever action carbines are not for everyone; that's why so many action types are produced. My older .243 slide action has taken dozens of antelope at long distances. I've tried many ammo brands but 95 grain Ballistic Tip by Black Hills Ammo is TOPS for accurasy and performance for those shots WAY OUT THERE.

Good hunting to you.

January 6, 2007, 09:44 AM
I'll chime in and agree with Jim Watson on why I am choosing a .223 for my target rifle. The load data is out there, the components are out there and I figure I can make match level ammo for not much more than the cheapest, dirtiest Wolf ammo on the market on my lowly Lee Anniversary kit.

I think .243 would make a fine reloaders rifle.

Looking in the Lyman 48th edition manual I count 16 different bullets (weight and style) for the .223 Remington, each with say 10-12 different powders (min and max), from 40gr. to 80gr. For the .243 there are 11 different bullets (weight and style), again with 10-12 powders listed for each one, going from 58gr. to 105gr.

I would say that somewhere in those 120+ different loads (from just one manual) for the .243 you could easily find loads for plinking, target shooting, varmint and medium game without a problem and have a "blast" working up some different loads!

January 6, 2007, 10:18 AM
Because you're going to most likely reload, I'd go with a 300 Winchester Magnum, and reload to .308 or .30-06 specs; reloading will allow to go as light or as heavy as is safely possible.

As far as the specific make and model of rifle, select something from any of the major manufacturers (avoid the Remington 710), and you'll be just fine.

January 6, 2007, 12:35 PM
.308 Winchester. Great all around hunting caliber, easy to reload and cheap to reload, intrensically accurate. Lots of cheap surplus brass and ball powders are efficient to load and meter well from powder metering devices. I have a variety of calibers including a belted magnum, but the .308 is my favorite. There's nothing I can't hunt with it, it's awesomely accurate, and it's powerful and easy to reload. I also love the little M7 Stainless Remington I have in the caliber, a 1MOA gun that's light, rugged, and handy. Even as light as the gun is, recoil in .308 is light on the shoulder. You won't need no stinkin' Caldwell Lead Sled to shoot it. :D

January 6, 2007, 12:40 PM
I'm a little new to all of this so take what I say in that context. From my experience the .308 is a great cartridge. It's easily available and on the cheaper end of the price scale and will take any game in North America. Your original post said you wanted to target shoot and possibly hunt. You really don't want to use a .308 for target shooting mostly because of the price of the ammo.

Why not buy a fairly good rifle in .308 for hunting, even if it's used and also buy a .22 for plinking and paper. Savage's Mark II will run you around $129 and it's very accurate. (I have one) Don't forget to read about the AccuTrigger, you will be impressed. Savage makes great centerfire rifles to and so does Remington for a fair price.

Good luck on your choices and be safe.

Old Time Hunter
January 6, 2007, 12:58 PM
It should be against the law in the United States to not have .30-30 as your first centerfire! By the way, I do not believe there is anything in the state of Missouri that can withstand a .30-30 or NEED to go to a .308 or even a .243 for distance.

January 6, 2007, 12:58 PM
Maybe I'm wrong (it's been known to happen), but from what I've read, it seems like the 6mm platform offers more options for target / varmint / deer hunting than does the .308.

Maybe you're wrong...:D While the .308 is a little much for prairie dogs, it can do the job. The .243 is a little much, too, frankly. This is the relm of the .22 centerfire, but they're not much on deer. The .243 is a fine whitetail deer rifle, but the .308 can take anything in the lower 48 from moose to elk to whitetail to large hogs much more efficiently than a 6mm. I'll take the .308, thanks. :D Also, the .308 is by FAR the more popular target round. Perhaps that's because of the military rifles in some of the competition, but it is a very accurate round and easy to reload for.

No, I don't shoot surplus stuff in my rifle either, not no, but HELL no! I've never fired a factory .308 round, tell you the truth of it. I can reload this gun with premium ammo for probably cheaper than corrosive primed junk ammo. I haven't run the math, but powder goes a long ways in this caliber and bullets are about 12 bucks a hundred for Nosler. Primers about 2.25 a hundred. Brass is everywhere and dirt cheap and even at max loads, it can be reloaded more times than any full power belted magnum case. Military brass is TOUGH and that's what I get for reloading. It's also cheap.:D

I've taken several head of hogs, several deer, and several coyotes with my .308 so far. I took one of those coyotes at nearly 400 yards. Bullet drop way I had it sighted in with the load I was using, was about 8". Nailed that song doggy. :D My confidence in that little gun really elevated after that one, LOL.

Brian Smith
January 7, 2007, 09:24 AM
Since everyone has a different opinion about the perfect calibre I will not enter into that discussion . My expierence with the 243 on deer sized game (after hunting several years with someone who used one) is that you load your 243 with different bullet weights for different puropses. My friend liked to brag about how fast and flat his 243 shot with light bullets, but; after skinning several deer with him he should have been using the 100 grain bullets as his deer were noticably more blood shot that those I used a 308 Win. with 180 grain bullets on. Good cartridge, light recoil, flat shooter, capable of multiple usages with a good veriety of bullet choices.

January 7, 2007, 10:24 AM

Please tell me where you're getting Nosler bullets from for $12.00 per hundred.
I'm sure that there's several of us who wish to know.


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