223 or 243 or 204


Anthony B.
September 18, 2007, 09:46 PM
im wondering if i should get a 223, 243, 204 i cant really decide i was thinking the 223 becuz the ammo is cheap i will mainly be using the gun just to shoot i haven't done alot of shooting and need to get some practice in as me and my father hope to move to Idaho and theres alot of varmint there. 204 ammo seems to be a little pricey and i think that 243 might be a little to big for like prarie dogs and suqirrels and stufff. any

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Ala Dan
September 18, 2007, 09:51 PM
Have you thought about another varmint round; the 17 Remington Fireball~? :scrutiny:

Ammo for this is scarce right now, as only Remington loads it in their
Accu-Tip design; but its a smoker for sure~! ;):D

September 18, 2007, 10:02 PM
If you are serious about varmit hunting and want to get a 223 cal. because the ammo is cheap, any good 223 cal varmit rifle will not use military surplus because like 7.62NATO is not always interchangeable with 308, in addition the surplus stuff does not have the accuracy that commerical or handload does. In regards to 223 cal being too much for varmits, it is great for any varmit but any ammunition catolouge states that it is not enough for large game like a white tail, or the Taliban or NVA etc. Think of a 222 Rem, great accuracy, a classic in it's day and a winner at numerous benchrest matches in it's day before short and fat. 17 Rem just doesn't have the versitility that you may want. A 243 is little too large and too much recoil for a long day of varmit shooting for most varmits and somewhat lite for big game i.e. a few hundred pound deer type animal. If not get a good brand of 223 and forget military surplus in it.

September 18, 2007, 10:03 PM
I'd say .223. Its cheap and easily available.

Bazooka Joe71
September 18, 2007, 10:22 PM
Definately .223...Obviously its cheaper and way more available, so you can practice more...When trying to kill the little critters, you can't put a price tag on practice.

Mr White
September 18, 2007, 10:41 PM
One misconception you have is that .243 is too big for p-dogs. You can buy or load 55 gr ammo for it that'll scream out to them dogs at about 3700 fps.

Ammo isn't as cheap as .223 but its widely available and its definitely ballistically superior and has a wider range of bullet weights. I don't know that I'd trust a .243 on bigger western deer, but it works prett well on the small to meduim sized deer around here.

September 18, 2007, 11:12 PM
243 will heat up even a bull barrel extremely fast.

September 18, 2007, 11:47 PM
Have a friend that would argue for .220 swift :) Almost bought one, but the got smart and realized i didn't have the cash at the time. (good thing, bills don't seem to like the excuse "but i had to have this gun" hehe)


September 19, 2007, 02:54 AM
All three cartriges will work just fine for varmits and general plinking. The .243 has the advantage when looking to stretch the cartridge for use on mid size game like white tail deer, and with the heavier bullets, does a very good job on them.

The .223 has that price advantage and is a great mid power varmit round. I have yet to hear a good explaination of why people believe the .223 Remington and the 5.56 Nato rounds are not interchangable , the same goes for the .308 Win. and the 7.62 Nato. They may have differnt loading specs, but they do not have different SAMI specs as far as I know, and so I ask what specificaly makes them non-interchangable ? I shoot mil surplus 5.56 out of my handi-rifle and get excellant results.

The relatively new .204 Ruger is strictly a varmit caliber and from what I hear does an excellant job as long as the days aren't too windy.

My Choice : .223 Rem

September 19, 2007, 04:38 AM
mnrivrat....they do have different SAAMI specs. The 5.56 NATO and the .308 Win are both loaded to much higher pressures than their counterparts (on the order of 10,000 or so psi). While it is rare, it is possible for catastrophic failure to occur when firing hot .308 loads in a 7.62x51 gun and firing 5.56x45 loads in a .223.

Most guns are strong enough, and most loads are so far from maximum, that its usually not a problem. But you do have to be careful with it.

September 19, 2007, 07:53 AM
The 223 being cheap is kind of off. If you are wanting to do varmint hunting with factory ammo then you are going to want to buy premimum ammo which will cost a lot more than the milsurplus junk you can buy by the truck load.

But in a PD town things can get going and stay going for an extended ammount of time. You would want a rifle that will not heat up fast and that is either the 243 or the 223. The 204 will give you about 20 shots one right after the other, the 223 you might get double that or more. So that is where your big plus is in the 223, when they guys with the 204 and such are stuck pooring water down there barrels to cool them off you are still shooting.

the advantage to the 243 is You can make the long shots better because your bullets can be heavier.

September 19, 2007, 10:37 AM
The key is when you say you want to do a lot of just shooting. Be practical, the .223 is it. You can get cheap ammo that is perfect for just shooting.

September 19, 2007, 11:51 AM
Get .223/556. Cheap to plink, great for varmits.

September 19, 2007, 12:02 PM
I think both the 223 and 243 are probably a little big for squirrels. I would go with the 223 if price is an issue and you will be shooting massive amounts of rounds. 243 though would be a better choice for an all around gun and I have seen 40 round value packs from Remington. It is probably one of the most economical factory rounds out there.

September 19, 2007, 12:10 PM
There is no actual, appreciable difference in pressure between the 223 and 5.56 nor between the 308 and 7.62x51. This is another stupid urban myth caused by people who don't begin to understand SAAMI or MIL SPEC pressure rules.

Current SAAMI pressure is done with transducer equipment and the military still uses copper crusher pressure so you are confusing pounds per square inch with CUP or Copper Units of Pressure. They are absolutely not interchangeable. It is like saying a car that is going 100 kph is faster than one going 62mph when in fact they are going the same speed.

September 19, 2007, 12:18 PM
Do you need centerfire? You can still go with the 17HMR. Great shooting rifles and not to expensive to shoot. I have seen many factory models that will put most rounds under a quarter at 100yds. If you have not done a lot of shooting, then you will love this round. Just another thought...

September 19, 2007, 12:20 PM
Not to further confound the issue, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned 22-250 or 6mm Remington.

September 19, 2007, 12:21 PM
The straight dope on the 5.56x45 vs. .223 issue. (http://www.ammo-oracle.com/body.htm#diff)

September 19, 2007, 12:41 PM
First of all, shooting mil-spec 5.56 in a .223 chambered rifle is not safe.
Here is a good run-down on the reasons why.

Second, for general purpose varmint hunting, the .223 is hard to beat:
1. Low recoil means you can often spot you own shots through the rifle scope. Impossible to do with the greater recoil of the .243.

2. Barrel life is several times greater with the .223 then with the .243.
I have seen .243 barrels shot out in one day on a Prairie dog town because the shooter wouldn't stop long enough to let them cool down.
It's not much of an issue with the .223.

3. .223 & .204 ammo cost is much less then the 243. Price of .204 is about the same as .223.

4. The 223 will go longer between cleanings, with less copper fouling then the .204.

5. Normal .22 caliber cleaning rods & brushes fit the .223. The .204 requires special smaller cleaning equipment.

6. The super light-weight 55 grain bullet .243 loads have very poor wind bucking ability, compared to even medium weight .223 bullets, which have a higher Ballistic Coefficient.

In short, the .243 makes an excellent coyote rifle, and a real good antelope & small deer cartridge. But it is far from being the best all-around small varmint cartridge.

The .204 makes an excellent small varmint cartridge (P-Dogs & G-Squirrels), but is becoming marginal on larger varmints such as coyotes or anything bigger.


September 19, 2007, 12:53 PM
of the 3 that you have it nailed down to, i would go .223 remington. you can just do so much more shooting for the same price. .243 is too much gun for a full day of p-dog shooting. there is such a wonderful selection of .224 bullets out there that it is hard to shy away from this one. the only "problem" with the .204 right now is that you have to buy special rods/jags, and that there is not a very wide selection of bullets available...YET.

September 19, 2007, 03:24 PM
I have all three and use them to varm/predator hunt. Absolutely love the .243, shoots like it is on a shelf. If you are worried about recoil, build or buy and AR upper in .243 wssm. Less recoil on the semi action and all the punch, some say even more than a standard .243.

If I am shooting p.dogs, I go with the .223/5.56 AR. You can shoot it all day long and not feel it the next day.

I just got the .204, I hear good things and I am excited to see how it handles.

If it were up to me, split the difference and get the .223

September 19, 2007, 03:51 PM
I like the 223 myself and buy lots of ammo , it just keeps going up

September 19, 2007, 04:22 PM
.223 for me here as well. Some of the other selections might have an edge here or there (a little speed, ballistics, etc.) but the .223 is the best "all around" and ammo can be had pretty cheap if you shop around. I recently bought Lake City 5.56 for $180 per/k and Federal Powershok .223 for $440 per/K. I'll burn up the mil-surp in my AR's and use the Federal in my bolt rifles.

September 19, 2007, 07:40 PM
204, if you talking about mostly shooting prairie dogs, the pro's easily outweigh the con's?

September 19, 2007, 08:04 PM
mnrivrat....they do have different SAAMI specs.

I'm not going to highjack the thread on this, but if you can send me information regarding the saami specs on the 7.62 Nato I would appreciate it. It's my understanding that the issue regarding interchangability of these is a gun issue - military weapons in some cases running a larger headspace which is not effected with Nato rounds, but since they are loaded to 50,000PSI and .308 Win. can go to 62,000 psi the commercial loadings in some military guns with larger headspace could cause head seperation. I am un-aware that saami has different specs for the 2 cartridges and can't find reference in their charts that say they are different. There is a lot of chatter over this issue and a lot of info availabe so I will drop it from this thread conversation. You can PM me with the saami specs for the 7.62 Nato along with the source please.

Sharps Shooter
September 19, 2007, 09:35 PM
"me and my father hope to move to Idaho"

"204, if you talking about mostly shooting prairie dogs"

Good luck shooting prairie dogs in Idaho.
I've lived here for 55 years - I'm 59, but I spent 4 years away while I was in the service. The only prairie dogs I've seen in Idaho were in zoos.:D
You heard right other than about the prairie dogs though Anthony B. - there are quite a few varmints in Idaho. Mostly you're talking rockchucks (the western version of groundhogs) and ground squirrels in the spring. Then there's always coyote hunting.
Personally I like my .223 for varmints. I load my own, so it's 6's as far as the cost of ammo goes between a .223 and a .204.
There's a lot to be said for the .243 though when you concider you can shoot rockchucks with it in the spring, deer in the fall, and coyotes in the winter. A .243 is plenty even for Idaho's big mule deer. You could use a .243 for the little ground squirrels that dot the fields around here by the thousands in the spring. But I prefer to shoot them with something that makes less racket and has less recoil. Even my .223 seems a bit much when I'm sitting next to other hunters picking off those gopher sized varmints with .22LRs, .22 Magnums and .22 Hornets.

September 19, 2007, 10:00 PM
jessl said:
And this is the issue with .308 vs 7.62 Nato this link leads to the other two articles in the series.

September 20, 2007, 12:33 AM
204 for blazing, longe range accuracy, 223, for lots of shooting, reliably on varmints, out to 300yds. the 243, is good for varmints, after all you are going to kill them, not eat them. plus if a deer, wolf, coyote, black bear,etc., happens to cross your path, the 243 will knock them down and out, the others wont.
the 243, and the 204 are also both excellent for reloading purposes as well, put a 75 grian bullet in the 243, and shoot lasers out to 500 yds.

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