.243 or 6.5 Swede for deer rifle?


December 27, 2008, 10:48 AM
I can't decide between these two calibers. This will be my primary deer rifle. Both have pros and cons. I mainly want a mild caliber that doesn't beat the crap out of me at the range like a .30-06.

My gut tells me a .243 is slightly light for *all* situations on deer, especially at longer ranges. But, I've seen lots of deer (including big ones) go down like a box of rocks to the .243. I've never shot a deer with a .243 personally.

There's a ton of factory ammo available in .243. There's also a surprising amount available in the Swede (including premium stuff from Norma, RWS, Lapua and Stars and Stripes), but I'd be special ordering it. Standard factory fare in the Swede is pretty mild but at least gets out to 250 yards flat. The other question is: how good (accurate) is the standard, mild factory ammo in 6.5 Swede from the likes of Hornady, Federal, Remington, and Winchester?

Which caliber would you choose and why?

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December 27, 2008, 11:16 AM
For pure all around ballistics and penetration, I think the 6.5 Swede has it all over the 243, but like everything, there is a downside.
If you somehow forget your 243 ammo, most any mom and pop place is going to have something useful on the shelf. Not so with the 6.5.
The 243 is a dependable, capable performer on deer out to a few hundred yards, and for the careful hunter who knows his capabilities and that of his rifle, a lot farther.
I like short actions in general. While the cartridge length is not great, the feel of the bolt is certainly different. When I go from my 308 to my 270, it feels like I'm pulling the bolt back twice as far, but thats just me.
If youre reloading for either, I'd again go with the 6.5 and would recommend it for cost reasons, and if you're purchasing a modern strength action, for performance as well. Because of a lot of the older Mauser 96 actions out there, the 6.5 is seriously underloaded. Easily and safely fixed at the reloading bench. The 243 is also easy to load, and components easier to find.

Art Eatman
December 27, 2008, 11:19 AM
:D Already have a .243, and I've done in some 20+ little buck-type deer critters with it. And jackrabbits, coyotes and prairie dogs.

Unless you're hunting in really wide open country, some 90+ percent of all deer are shot inside of 200 yards.

Hey, go with whichever cartridge looks prettiest to you. :D

December 27, 2008, 11:20 AM
,243 is my pick which I do have one right now in Rem Youth model. I heard good things about the Hornady Light Magnum. That should give enough energy to put a game down.

Technical Information

Muzzle Velocity: 3100 fps
Muzzle Energy: 2133 ft. lbs.


Some of the reviews

Average Customer Rating:

Mark Thompson of Sheffield lake, OH
Date Posted: 12/28/2005I've used this on 3 antelopes in Wyoming ranging from 220 yards to 330 yards...all dropped where they stood!
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51 found it helpful | 4 did not

Tim H. of Concord, NH
Date Posted: 9/6/2005This shoots very accurately out of my Ruger M77 MkII Sporter - 1" groups or better at 100 yards. Out of all of the ammo. I have tried out of this rifel (I have tried several premium brands), this is the most consistantly accurate. This is my choice to take into the feild for non-varmint game when hunting with a .243.
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43 found it helpful | 2 did not

Reid Dorland of Nine Mile Falls, WA
Date Posted: 3/2/2005I use this round in my browning A-bolt when hunting within agricultural areas or the Snake River Breaks where shots are seldom inside 200 yards. It is highly accurate and retains enough energy at long range to anchor large mule deer with a single shot. Almost every deer I have taken with this load found me examining a perfectly mushroomed out slug just under the skin on the opposite shoulder. I will not go afield with anything else.
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86 found it helpful | 5 did not

Note: The views expressed above are those of each review author. They do not necessarily reflect the position of MidwayUSA.

December 27, 2008, 11:24 AM
For me it would be the 243.
1. Very capable of taking deer at ranges that most shooters are capable of
2. Ammo can be bought almost any where
3. Lots of reloading options if your into reloading
4. Can also double as a great varmint round
5. Very low recoil

The swede is a good cartridge also but I believe that the 243 has a few more advantages. I used a 243 for many years for deer and then switched to a 270. I've now come full circle and rediscovered the 243.

December 27, 2008, 11:57 AM
Both the .243 and the 6.5 Swede are fine deer calibers.

If you aren't planning to reload, the obvious choice would be the .243.

But since they are both superior deer calibers , you are in the happy situation of being able to go out and find the make/model of rifle that you really like using. That's the rifle you really want to buy. If it happens to be a .243 - great! If it happens to chambered for the Swede - that's great too!

Four super "huntable" deer rifles that come in .243 (but not the Swede) are the Ruger #1 RSI single-shot, the Browning BLR lever-action, the Remington Model Seven bolt-action, and the Ruger M77 RSI bolt-action.

Good Luck !

December 27, 2008, 12:23 PM
Why on earth would you overlook the .260 Rem, the best of both?

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
December 27, 2008, 12:33 PM
I think it's the right *question*. :) Either/or. I'd say the 6.5x55 if (1) you might realistically shoot past 275 yards, and (2) if above the 45 deg N parallel latitude (Maine/Mich/Wisc/Minn/S. Dakota/Mont/Idaho/Wash and points northward) where the deer have huge bodies. Otherwise, whichever one floats your boat.

December 27, 2008, 12:40 PM
I can only vouch for the 243 Win. It is my main caliber for Antelope & Doe Mule Deer. For Buck Mulies, Cow Elk etc. I start at the 270 Win, 7mm-08 and bigger calibers.

December 27, 2008, 12:56 PM
Come on guys ............ use what is available and works. You're hunting deer for cryin out loud. You only need 1 bullet a trip right?:evil:

December 27, 2008, 01:58 PM
I would go with the 6.5 Mauser over the .243 for where I hunt at. Need longer range and a heavier bullet for the size of the deer.

Also consider the .260 as 6.5x55 ammo can be scarce.

December 27, 2008, 02:23 PM
I own and really like the 6.5x55 round. I have a WINCHESTER model 70 Featherweight and it is such a mild kicker I can go through 2 boxes from the bench without suffering. Try that with a lightweigt .30-06!

Also, the 6.5 has over 100 years of service. It has downed everything from deer to moose.
It can penetrate deeply, does not destroy meat, is easy on the shoulder and ears. What more could you want.

I have never owned a .243 WINCHESTER. It is too big for my target shooting.

The .243 may or may not be a good deer round, depending on who you ask, but the 6.5X55 is legal for moose in Europe and I have never heard anyone say it is not adequate for deer.

My only advice on the 6.5x55 is to try several brands of ammo. In my rifle, WINCHESTER will group 1.5 inches versus 3.0 inches for REMINGTON at 100 yards.

Good luck with your choice.


December 27, 2008, 02:36 PM
For medium to large deer (not texas desert rats) you need penetration and a high sectional density. The 6.5 fills that bill to a "T" and the 243 and other 6MMs don't quite make the cut. If on the other hand you want to do small deer and varmint like prairie dogs and such then the 243/6MM remmy get the nod. In any case, pick a rifle you like and go for it.

December 27, 2008, 02:38 PM
Thats such a hard choice.. both are excellent cartridges.. both are offered in lapua brass for relatively cheap although the amount of firearms offered for 6.5x55 are limited ... 243 is everywhere..:confused:

Float Pilot
December 27, 2008, 04:41 PM
I only started shooting 6.5 Swedes a few years ago. Now I wish I had learned about that wonderful cartridge 40 years ago. Ammo is available as military surplus, Federal and Hornady factory loads, Norma Factory Loads and a couple other off the wall brands. Handloading is the best way to go for a modern rifle firing any cartridge and the 6.5 Swede really shines with loads between 100 grain bullets up to 160s. So anything from Coyotes to Moose.

Tikka makes a 6.5x55 Mauser that has a good rifling twist for the whole range of bullt weights, so does CZ and Sako. There are also some M-700 Remingtons out there as well as some old Winchesters. A limited run of Ruger M77s.....
And of course the real Swede Mauser Rifles.....

The 260 Remington is a 308 case necked down to 6.5mm. It basically duplicates the ballistics of the 115 year-old 6.5mm Swede. However the shorter neck does not do as well with heavy bullets.

December 27, 2008, 04:53 PM
To me if you want to shoot heavier bullets you go to a 7mm-08. I see no advantage to the 6.5x55 over the .260 apart from the passing "chic" it has right now. The 7x57 also went through a period of such popularity but now it is waning. I salute both those venerable old cartridges but I think the .308 family will hold sway over their competitors over the years. Sizes 6-9, with half sizes.

December 27, 2008, 05:08 PM
.243 of the choices there,you could also get a 30/06 and just shoot some "reduced recoil" loads.

December 27, 2008, 05:16 PM
I find managed recoil ammo to be very accurate and perhaps better performing on the deer than full power loads at around 100 yards and under. The .308, 7mm-08 and .260 are all available in managed recoil.

December 27, 2008, 06:04 PM
I have both, think highly of both, but for deer, I'd definately go with the 6.5x55. I use the .243 for Pronghorn, where it shines. (Also coyotes sometimes). I don't use the 6.5x55 for deer, but it would shine. I use mine for sheep, but also have shot caribou and Mtn. goat with it. The 6.5x55 would be about as perfect for deer as one could get, with a good safety allowance for some bigger opportunities if they came along, like sheep or caribou. Be realistic--virtually no one buys ammo, and reloading for the 6.5x55 is as easy and component available as the .243. Everyone knows that the .243 has killed many deer and much bigger, but it's "perfect" fit is Pronghorn, deer just a skosh above it's perfect use--but certainnly plenty adequate for deer. I dare say one will never regret having a 6.5x55. It would definitely not be ideal, but if an elk opportunity came along, the 6.5x55 would suffice. The .243 wouldn't be right at all--though of course they have killed many elk. The 6.5x55 would just blow the .243 out of the water if an elk opportunity developed. The 6.5x55 is much more versatile--and it would be great for Pronghorn, too.

December 27, 2008, 07:25 PM
The 6.5x55 is a great round.

I probably won't be too interested in one, at least in a new rifle, since American companies don't make actions for mid-length Mauser rounds. If you get one, it's probably a .30-06 length action.

WRT being beaten up at the range, don't shoot sitting at the bench. What does that teach you about what you can expect while hunting anyway, at least once you've established the trajectory? It's important to know what you can hit, and how far, when using the rifle, not what the rifle can hit when fired from sandbags.

Anyway, if it's really just for deer, what about a .260 Remington in an action and magazine that are designed for it? Or a .270 Winchester with a good recoil pad?

Then there are deer, and there are deer. A friend and I were scouting in the desert Southwest and he literally mistook a fleeing jackrabbit for a fleeing mule deer. OTOH I just stumbled on a deer herd here while pheasant hunting the other day, and even the small ones were big.

Just some thoughts.

December 27, 2008, 11:39 PM
I have never owned or shot a 6.5 Swede rifle but I have killed several deer with my 243 with 100gr Rem Core-Lok's and it is plenty big enough for deer in my opinion.

December 28, 2008, 12:08 AM
What is a Texas desert rat?I live in Texas and we have some very large Mulies here as well as whitetails.

December 28, 2008, 12:25 AM
wow!!! this is a toughy! yes, the 243 is more available. but man, the 6.5 is one heck of a versatile round, and very accurate, and the rifles are super accurate, including the swiss milsurp rifles, and also the milsurp ammo itself is darn accurate. You can also get 6.5 milsurp from almost any website, like ammunitiontogo.com
not only is penetration very good on a 6.5 because of it's great ballistics, but it also has great expansion as well.
I would have to say, that if I were going to pick one cart, as a do it all round, or closest to it, I would have to go the swede. Also , it is a hanloader's dream cart.

December 28, 2008, 12:26 AM
I would prefer the .243, but only because i can use the same bullets for it as i would use for a 6mmBR. (the next rifle on my list)

December 28, 2008, 07:01 AM
As "Woof" has mentioned, anyone who likes The Swede would do well to take a sharp look at the .260 Remington. It is a modern short-action caliber available in several very "huntable" rifles (esp. the Rem. Model Seven) and it is quite close to The Swede in ballisitics.

While mil-surps may be fine shooting targets from a bench, carrying one around all day in the hunting venue is not such a great idea - especially when there are so many rifles designed for hunting to be had.

Good Luck!

December 28, 2008, 08:05 AM
Shawnee, Have you read all of Eckert's books?

December 28, 2008, 09:03 AM
Only three.


Float Pilot
December 28, 2008, 03:50 PM
take a sharp look at the .260 Remington. It is a modern short-action caliber available in several very "huntable" rifles (esp. the Rem. Model Seven) and it is quite close to The Swede in ballisitics.

What is not huntable about a Tikka T3 http://www.gunsamerica.com/977547554/Guns/Rifles/Tikka-Rifles/Tikka_T3_Lite_Stainless_6_5_X_55_Swed_Ne.htm

Or maybe one in wood:

or a CZ-550? http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=119251468

Or a M-700 Remington?

Or Ruger M-77 Mannlicher ? http://www.gunsamerica.com/961311646/Guns/Rifles/Ruger-Rifles/Model-77/Ruger_77_Manlicher_6_5x55mm_New.htm

Or Ruger All Weather Stainless http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=119136160

And then there are all those sporterized Mausers in 6.5x55mm that Kimber marketed.

Or even better yet, my favorite for classic sporting arms, how about a nice Husqvarna 1600 sporter from the late 50s in 6.5x55mm
Like those at Allans Armory.

Yeap, nothing huntable about any of those...

December 28, 2008, 06:35 PM
Well Float Pilot.... I didn't know naming a rifle I consider to be especially "huntable" would light the fuse on your Tampax. If you think those others are very "huntable" - by all means - sing out! I hope it mends your wittle heart to know I happen to agree with you on most of them.
Your Civil Rights really haven't been violated - Honest - I promise!


rust collector
December 28, 2008, 07:42 PM
A 6mm works on deer just fine, but the comfort margin diminishes considerably if you don't have a good angle. I've shot a dozen or so with my old 6mm Rem, and never had to track one down afterwards. I did pass up shots, though.

A 6.5, whether it's in a 55mm or 51mm case, is equally pleasant to shoot, penetrates better and has a slight advantage in downrange trajectory.

My vote goes to the 6.5/260, but much depends on your choice in rifles. I couldn't get a T3 in 6.5x55 years ago when I bought one, so I "settled" for a 308. I understand that Tikka has fixed that problem, although supply can be spotty now and then.

.38 Special
December 28, 2008, 10:05 PM
There are a lot of choices in .243. None of them are especially good, IMO. Obviously they can work, but I'd choose my shots very carefully.

The 6.5 is essentially the "standard" caliber in Scandinavia, much like our .30-06. With proper bullets it is adequate for everything up through elk -- but it is a lot less available.

As a handloader, I would absolutely choose the 6.5. For non-handloaders, I would not choose either cartridge.

Float Pilot
December 28, 2008, 11:07 PM
As a handloader, I would absolutely choose the 6.5. For non-handloaders, I would not choose either cartridge.

That's a big "Ten Roger".

A guy could buy a Ruger or Remington (or whatever) rifle in 308 and find all sorts of factory ammo just about anywhere. Without going broke buying it.
Or for that matter get a nice 30-30 and find that ammo just about everywhere too. Including that new fangled ammo...

If there is such a thing as inexpensive factory ammo anymore...

December 28, 2008, 11:50 PM
Either will do just fine; I prefer the Swede simply because I enjoy shooting both my Swedish rifle and My Swedish carbine. The carbine I would take into the woods in a New York minute, the rifle... well, maybe if I ever hunt from a stand.
Now, that's just my opinion based on the fact that I have two nice Mausers that I very much enjoy shooting. There isn't any ballistic data or research behind it other than me knowing that the 6.5 is plenty for deerz. It's basically just a personal opinion based on an established bias.

December 29, 2008, 01:08 AM
If the 260 choice was ammo not costing an arm and a leg, which it does, and I don't understand why, then i would do the 260 over the swiss. But a box of swiss, new mfgr, or milsurp, can be had for 10 bucks or less for the milsurp, 260 ammo, last I checked, was about 25 bucks a box. No thanks...

April 17, 2009, 06:06 AM
For smaller deer, like the fallow and chital, or whitetail and mule like you have over there the .243 would serve you well. But for anything bigger id say the 6.5, but if your a good shot either would be fine, its what you like best and what feels the best for you.

Lloyd Smale
April 17, 2009, 06:27 AM
ive shot a pile of deer with the various 6mms and .25s up to the 2506 and never saw a differnce from one to the other with a good hit. I never killed anything with a 6.5 but im sure it does fine too. Ive never seen even a large deer run off after being hit with a .243. If it runs off its not the guns fault its yours. Warren Page shot a truckload of elk with the 243 and 6mm and swore by it for that purpose.

April 17, 2009, 07:16 AM
When stationed in Germany in the 80's I took probably 6-7 Roe deer with the 243 and it was a death ray. Then the guy who owned the land I was hunting asked if I wanted to shoot any Boar I saw; of course I said yes......the catch was that by German law you had to hunt large game with a 6.5 mm or larger.

I had a Swedish Mauser turned into a nice hunting rifle and it did a fine job on both.

I guess my long winded point is if you have only one big game rifle go with the 6.5, if you have multiple, like the 30.06 you spoke of, you can specialize and I would go with the 243 for whitetail and bump up to the 06 for larger game.

April 17, 2009, 08:22 AM
.243. I have never seen a box of swedish ammo.

April 17, 2009, 10:14 AM
I would take the 6.5X55 any day of the week. It is a great deer round. And as for coyotes and the like, it is fine too. In reality, it is not that much wider of a bullet, even though there are much longer bullets available (which may or may not mean anything to you).

Also, keep in mind that the ballistic coefficiency of the 6.5 is much better. That is the reason it is such a popular long-range target round in Europe. Again, 6.5.

Just my $.02.

April 17, 2009, 11:50 AM
deacon8 is absolutely correct. The 6.5 mm rd. because of the BC it fly's like a bat out of hell and because of the sectional density it has tremendous penetrating power. To start to get to anything close to the sectional density of a 6.5 mm in a .30 caliber you got to go with at least 190 gr.

April 17, 2009, 12:09 PM
I use the 6.5x55 in a sporter Swede for antelope, and would not hesitate to use it for deer. Its a great caliber, and I've found that the Privi Partisan SP ammo is very effective on those speed goats. Winchester still puts out factory 6.5x55, and it also has been very accurate in my rifle.

April 17, 2009, 12:12 PM
I've heard a lot of great things about the Swede, but far more about the .243

April 17, 2009, 01:38 PM
Buy both, and you will have the best of ether

April 17, 2009, 02:23 PM
6.5 is what I would pick. It has such a huge range of bullets you can shoot and it has a better BC. A nice rifle should be able to make the 6.5 a great deer/elk/moose/rabbit/rockchuck/etc. gun. But you would probably want to reload for it because that is where you will get all your performance.

April 17, 2009, 05:27 PM
243 will be satisfactory for all deer needs

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