Who has actually used .243 Win for deer


July 17, 2009, 12:29 AM
I know some of you have various opinions on the 243 Win. Who of you has actually used and taken antelope, whitetail and mule deer. I am curious of your honest opinion of its effectiveness on deer and antelope. Any input on your favorite bullets loads and brand of scopes also appreciated.

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July 17, 2009, 12:46 AM
I've killed some white tail with some handloaded 243 rounds. Honestly I think its a good little caliber for deer sized game.

All my deer I shot with it ran, 110yd double lung was the longest, about 30 being the shortest.

Scope, I'd get a 3x9 for it unless you're going to be shooting varmints as well, then maybe a 3x12 or 4x12 or 4.5x14

July 17, 2009, 12:49 AM
My 11 now 12 year old went on his first deer hunt last Oct. in NW Oklahoma I bought him a Howa 1500 youth 243, we used 80gr Winchester Power Points. He shot a 260lb White Tail(live weight) 200 field dressed. It piled up within 50 yards from where he shot him. I was told the 243 was designed to shoot an 80gr. round, now if this is true or not I know. The man that told me at the time was the President of the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation, I do know he knows more about such things then I do. Anyway the 243 is not my round of choice, it will surely do the job on White Tail. BTW...I grounded my son for the next 5 years. I'll teach him for shooting a deer that big. I've never seen a deer that big before.

July 17, 2009, 04:22 AM
I don't use a 243 for deer, but allow me to quote a couple of very experienced hunters who have:

Rick Jamison (Shooting Times) has a oft repeated story about a big buck he nailed twice with a 243 that went on to be shot and claimed by other hunters. Page 59 "Rifleman's Handbook":

"I couldn't help feeling that a cartridge with more punch would have anchored the buck sooner."

Jamison is a big fan of the 243 *for varmints*, in fact he considers it the ultimate coyote cartridge.

Finn Aargard (NRA Field Editor)

Aargard wrote an excellent article called "The 243 for Big Game".
Page 101 "Hunting Rifles and Cartridges.

"[If you need a varmint / deer rifle] ..trying to make a varmint cartridge work on big game is going at it the wrong way around. It would be far better to choose a cartridge for the largest game he intended to hunt with it, the develop a load for it that would work on varmints."

"...the 6mms are essentially varmint cartridges. With the right bullets and careful shooting, they can be made to perform fairly satisfactorily on big game up to perhaps 200 lbs liveweight. But why choose a cartridge that is only 'fairly satisfactory' when other cartriges are readily available in rifles that are just as light and have no more kick than those for the 243?"

If you must use a 100 grain premium bullet. 6mms are hard on bullets and you do not want it to blow up.

July 17, 2009, 05:31 AM
If Caribou are factored in as about the same as Mule Deer, Id have to say .243W is a MOST EXCELLENT round to get 'er done out to 300 yards.
The range restriction is sorta self imposed, but some fellas do well way beyond that.
Here in the Arctic its consitterd an all around cartridge.Muskox, Caribou, Wolves, Moose, Black Bears and in a pinch, a Brown or Polar with little difficulty.
The .243W's (and the .22-250) are the favorites of Seal hunters, because its extreamly hard to judge range on ice, and its flat shooing qualitys are a big help there.

My wife has a Ruger M77 with a fixed 6 Luopold, and its been doing the job for 15 years now.
Formerly I used a Remington M700 ADL with the stock shaped to my use, sans cheek and comb, with a shortend pull and a slimmed front end. On the open sites, I removed the front bead and made it a blade, and then leved the rear site into a straight across plain with a notch....
Open sites and a carry all day weight, I plyed my trade on hundreds of Caribou, a few Moose, a dozen or more Black Bears and some Muskox ,in the 5-6 years I had it.

I used Remington 100 grain Coreloks, exclusivly, and the performance was Awsome!

I still miss that rifle.....:uhoh:

July 17, 2009, 05:59 AM
I killed an Antelope in New Mexico last year with a .243

Wind created lots of problems.

Poor choice of bullets for handloads created more problems...5 shots, 5 hits...found one jacket on far side with COMPLETE core separation.

So, I would say that if you want to use .243, plan it's use for shorter ranges where wind may not be a factor, get the best bullets that you can find, and practice, practice, practice!

Good shooting!


July 17, 2009, 07:46 AM
i've used the 243 for deer. while i feel the 243 is the minimum chambering one should use for deer, i am not a fan of it on deer. every deer hit w/ it ran, so i have retired it from big game hunting... haven't tried it on antelope, and after my whitetail experiences i didn't want to try it on mulies.

the 243 is the rifle that shaped my philosophy of using the biggest rifle i could accurately and comfortably shoot for big game. while i don't cling as tightly to that philosophy now as i used to, it is part of the reason why i shoot the chamberings i do for big game.

if you want a scope reccomendation for a 243 for big game hunting, i'd just look for as much quality as you want to afford in a fixed-6 and call 'er good. a leupold 6x42 on a full size rifle, a leupold 6x36 on compacts may not be the best there is, but won't be far off, either...

July 17, 2009, 08:06 AM
I don't normally, but have in the past. Now for my wife, cousin, father in law, nephew, and brother in law, .243 is the cartidge of choice for deer. They are all pretty successful too.

July 17, 2009, 08:32 AM
I have been using a 243 since 1989. I get two deer a season from 20 to 300 yards and all but one has been one shot and flop. Tracked the only one that went about 60 yards and it was my fault bad placement of shot. I'm using a 85 gr. bullet.

July 17, 2009, 09:12 AM
I have shot a nice South Dakota whitetail with my 243. It is a Remington 700ADL with a Redfield 3-9x40 scope. Range was just a bit over 300 yards. I was shooting 90 grain ballastic tips. The bullet did not exit, but the damage inside was pretty extensive. I would say that is the practical limit that I would want to use a 243 for, but it is very effective on deer under that range, and I would use bullets of 90 grain or better.

July 17, 2009, 09:47 AM
I have killed many whitetails here in Alabama with a 243. I never had a problem. Some dropped at the shot and some ran 40 to 50 yards before hitting the ground which is a perfectly normal thing for even a well hit deer to do. There is this weird and basically wrong perception among many that if an animal doesn't fold up and go straight down on impact that something went wrong. That's horse pucky. I've seen a deer shot through the lungs with a 300 win mag run nearly a 100 yards before. Is a 300 win mag too light for Alabama deer? LOL! If you can shoot a 243 is enough. If you can't shoot a 375 H&H magnum won't help you.

The 243 gets a bad rap for several reasons.

First, it is very often the gun used by a child, a woman or any recoil shy individual because of it's mild kick. These are often the people that are the least skilled shooters out there. They shoot and lose deer and the caliber gets blamed when actually poor marksmanship was the real culprit. I've been on a lot of blood trails with people who just "KNEW" they made a good hit on a deer only to be proven wrong when we finally discovered the gut shot animal; often the next day and 500 yards away.

Second, the 243 being a duel purpose varmit/deer round means there are bullets out there on the shelves for both purposes. Sadly some people use the light weight, high velocity, easily fragmenting, varmit rounds on deer. Predictably they eventually lose a deer due to lack of penetration and return to the world to loudly proclaim that the 243 sucks as a deer caliber. What truely sucked however was their choice of bullets.

There is nothing wrong with a 243 for deer. Stick to bullets intended for deer sized game; take good shots and you will be fine. That's the same advice that I'd give you with a 30-06. Go back and read Caribous post. That guy hunts for a living not just for sport. He probably kills more animals in a single year than some people kill in a lifetime. I'd put more stock in his assessment of a 243 than any of the TV, book or magazine self ordained gurus quoted above.

July 17, 2009, 10:02 AM
Great responses, Thank you.

July 17, 2009, 10:43 AM
I was told the 243 was designed to shoot an 80gr. round, now if this is true or not I know.

Not the .243 to my knowledge. Now, I've heard this of the .244 Remington. It's a necked down .257 Roberts which is a necked down 7x57 (the parent case). Remington originally graced the the gun with a 1:12" twist which was inadequate to stabilize the 100 grain bullets. Remington later went to a 1:9" which worked great, but the rifle didn't sell, so they renamed it the 6mm Remington. It was in direct competition, of course, with the .243 Winchester which was sold in the much prettier M70 and had a head start on popularity not being hampered with twist rate problems with the heavier bullets. The old 722 (I own one) remington is a plain rifle by comparison and, well, the rep for lack of heavy bullet accuracy didn't totally go away with a name change.

The 6mm Remington is a good round, but it never achieve the popularity of the .243. I think maybe your source was a little confused on the 6mm caliber thing. .243, AFAIK, has always been a good shooter with the 100 grain pills. It was the .244 Remington that had the twist rate problems in its original form.

Sav .250
July 17, 2009, 10:57 AM
My savage 110 in .243 is nearly 45 years old and has taken many a deer.
It`s got an old Redfield scope on top and to this day still hits the mark.
Contrary to what other folks say/think/, good or bad, I`ve never doubted
the out come of my .243 when I put the trigger. :)

July 17, 2009, 11:07 AM

What type of bullet do you use, and what is your max range you will take a shot?

July 17, 2009, 11:12 AM
i use a .243 win on deer..... sometimes. I have shot quite a lot of roe, fallow and reds with the round using various bullets from 80 gr prohunter up to 105 gr speer hot cor. the favourite for me is hornadies 100 gr soft point (catalogue number 2450). it is nice and accurate and i would take deer to about 230 yards

I have a 7mm08 now and that has become my first choice round. The .243 relegated to vermin and occassional use on roe with 85 gr bullets. I was getting quite a lot of runners compared to my 7mm08.

If you are buying one get one with a long barrell to make the most of heavier bullets and slower powder.

oh yes and i use bushnell trophy 3-9 x 40 scopes


July 17, 2009, 11:22 AM

My Rem. M700 ADL in 243 Win came from the factory with an unusual 24" #2 barrel. The only factory specs I could find on a ADL in 243 with a 24" barrel was a "varminter" model with a much thicker barrel. Any idea how much more velocity I will get out of the longer barrel.

July 17, 2009, 12:59 PM
My old winchester M70 has taken quite a few antelope and some whitetails. It has always done very well with 100gr softpoints but I don't recall shooting any medium game past 200 yards. It does very well within its reasonable limitations. its probably not the best choice for mulies at 300 yards.

July 17, 2009, 02:32 PM
+1 Todd1700
I've shot two mule deer with a .243 (150 and 275 yards). Neither took another step.

Todd has it right. Choose the wrong ammo and expect bad results. Isn't that true of all calibers?

I've been out of hunting for many years and just getting back to it. Got another .243 (I also shoot varmints and paper). Unless deer have started wearing body armor in the last 20 years I'm not expecting any problems.

I can't figure out where it gets this "kids/chicks rifle" reputation. Okay so it doesn't leave a bruise. I've got enough chest hair already, I don't have anything to prove. It's a flat shooting rifle with good energy.

A matching rifle in .338 and I've got North America covered.

July 17, 2009, 02:40 PM
Well, i love my .243 and am quite confident that its a great rifle. But my deer shooting experience was less than ideal.
Last year was my first season with that rifle. Hadn't seen any large bucks during the regular season so it came down to doe season to get some sausage. Luckily, it was 4 degrees and snowing when I got my shot!
I stood up after a nice 3 hour sit and turned around to find a doe standing 80 yards behind me. There was some brush in the way, but none that I could see in my immediate lane, so I took aim and fired. I gave it a few minutes, walked up and found tons of blood. Paper plate sized patches for about 30 yards, with the snow melted in the center of the pools. Then some smaller pools and more of a dripping trail. Then the trail just stopped!
My dad and I searched for 3 hours but found no deer or any significant amount of blood. I was really distraught at this.
I have killed 2 deer with a 30-30, but the shots were much closer and there was no brush whatsoever in the way. I shoot very well, so I have 3 conclusions...

Either the bullet nicked a stick and was thrown off target making a non-fatal yet bloody wound.:confused:

The deer simply ran further than I antictapted it would and ran onto neighbors land without bleeding...:banghead:

The bullet failed :rolleyes:

Yeah, its like that :D


July 17, 2009, 03:59 PM
I have a youth model .243 that has probably accounted for 30-35 deer by numerous youngsters. I killed 8 with it myself when I was a kid. Most of the deer killed with this gun were killed with 87 gr Hornady handloads or Remington Express 100 gr Core-Lokts.

41 Mag
July 17, 2009, 11:23 PM
I used a Winchester M-70 from 69 through the mid 80's as it was my only deer rifle. I got my limit every year and had no issues dropping what I shot out to 400yds. Granted the majority of them were in the 100yd or less range, but it still did what I asked on the longer shot as well.

I used factory loads up until around the late 70's when I decided to start shooting more. Don't get me wrong, I was just hitting my early teens then and ol pop decided he wasn't liking me shooting up all of his pocket change on random shots of paper. I started out loading the Nosler 85gr Solid base, then went to the 100gr, and then to the 95gr Ballistic Tip later on. Now I am back to the 100gr SB for 99% of my shooting with this caliber.

I know that it isn't eh latest wiz bang magnum and it isn't packing mega tons of energy, but with a good expanding bullet put through the chest and lungs of just about anything up to Black Bear, you almost guaranteed, meat in the freezer. I say almost because nothing is perfect, and generally the loose trigger nut is the end cause every time.

Load it, Shoot it, and Enjoy it.

Good Luck.

July 18, 2009, 12:29 AM
A great gun for whitetail, can't speak to mulies. Use a premium bullet (Barnes, A-Frame, etc.) and all the better.

July 18, 2009, 11:56 AM
my .243, a savage 110 is all i hunt deer with. and they are mulies. it has taken countless deer over the years. it works great. it is a very fast and accurate round. so i use the stuff that will mushroom the best at the cheaper price, so i go for the federal power shok 100 grain soft point.
wow i sound like a commercial

Art Eatman
July 18, 2009, 12:40 PM
I guess I've tagged twenty-some-odd bucks with my .243. A little Sako Forester carbine. I load the Sierra 85-grain HPBT, but I limit my shots to neck or cross-body heart shots. DRT. Most of the kills were inside of 100 to 150 yards. Deer to field-dressed weights of 110-120 pounds or thereabouts.

July 18, 2009, 01:45 PM
I've taken 3 or 4 mulies with my .243. It's a tackdriver and puts them down just fine. All my kills have been inside 100 yards so that helps, but it tears a good hole out the other side in every case. I shoot handloaded 100gr hornady softpoints. I have zero desire to use a bigger gun for deer.

July 18, 2009, 02:11 PM
My .243 has killed more Whitetail deer than every other hunting gun I own, combined. I have also killed an Antelope with one. I can remember hitting one deer with it that I never found (shot in the rain so no blood, found a little long white hair which leads me to believe I hit way low) If their hit right it'll kill'em just as clean as my 7 mag. Most of the deer I have harvested were in the 100-200 yard range but some were 300+

I have found several bullets while cleaning and almost always right inside the hide on the exiting side of the deer. If the deer is pretty close or fairly small it will exit. But, in my experience, if it is a larger deer or very far away it will not exit. That is fine with me but it is the total reason my brother will not use the round, "no blood to trail" he says.

I shoot reloaded 85 gr boat tail hollow point and think the round is entirely sufficient for your whitetail and antelope, I don't know anything about mule deer. In short it is all about shot placement.

July 18, 2009, 10:55 PM

Any chance you live near Soda Springs, Idaho. I have always wanted to hunt in that part of Idaho.

July 18, 2009, 11:10 PM
My son and daughter both started with the .243 and we have taken over a dozen Mule deer and antelope with it with excellent results. 100 gr Remington Cor-Lokt with Burris 3x9.
Not 1 animal has gone more than 25 yards.
I took 1 javelina in Arizona with it using a 95gr ballistic tip also.

July 18, 2009, 11:14 PM

What did you think of the 95grain ballistic tip i.e accuracy and performance on game?

July 18, 2009, 11:30 PM
I can't figure out where it gets this "kids/chicks rifle" reputation. Okay so it doesn't leave a bruise. I've got enough chest hair already, I don't have anything to prove. It's a flat shooting rifle with good energy.

I recently bought an H&R .243 for my kid as his first center-fire rifle specifically because it is all that is needed on central Texas whitetail, and because it is very easy on my young shooters shoulder. Nothing wrong with either objective--

Sav .250
July 19, 2009, 07:24 AM
BeneLLImonte ::I use 100 gr Winchester/Remington shells and due to the type of terrain I hunt, I`d say most of my shots are 100 yds or less.

July 19, 2009, 02:23 PM
I've shot 2 whitetails with my 243. Both using 100 gr nosler partitions. One buck dressed out at 225 pounds; The big boy almost did a back flip when I hit him. The other, normal sized buck when about 20 yards and dropped.

July 19, 2009, 03:06 PM
I've known quite a few people in my area that have used or are still using the .243 Win as their main deer rifle.

1) These people like a smaller, compact rifle that isn't as gawdy or heavy as some rifles chambered in larger calibers.
2) Low recoil = more comfort when taking shots.
3) Some of these hunters started out with a .243 Win, liked it, and are still using it many years later.
4) Shot placement is key...these hunters are extremely skilled with their rifle, they tend to use it for anything from groundhog to deer. I have witnessed a turkey loosing it's head to a .243 projectile from a considerable distance.

July 19, 2009, 03:38 PM
A great many times, I started with a .243 and used into my 20's. I've never had a deer I shot with it go more than 10 yards, most just fell right there. I always aimed for a heart lungs vital shot. I have no idea how many deer I killed with it but it was a lot. All of them were MT muleys. For ammo I shot Core-lokt 100gr for everything.

I wish I still had that rifle but I stupidly traded in on a .22-250 I hardly ever use.

July 19, 2009, 05:34 PM
I've asked six regular hunters here and, here at least, the concensus is universal: they all believe the minimum caliber for deer is .270. Their opinions, which I do respect, are that that's the minimum caliber because with good shot placement the thing is less likely to run off. They don't like to go looking for dead deer. My personal choice for deer of any size is 7mm-08.

July 19, 2009, 06:46 PM
I probably killed 15 whitetails with a .243 back in the 70's. I used both 85 and 100 grain bullets.They will work with good shot placement.I just prefer something a little bigger(30-06).

July 19, 2009, 08:29 PM
I've asked six regular hunters here and, here at least, the concensus is universal: they all believe the minimum caliber for deer is .270.

I guess they've never talked to the hundreds of thousands of deer that have been killed with the .243.

July 19, 2009, 08:32 PM
I started out with a .243. I've killed whitetail, antelope, and mule deer with it. I'm trying to remember, the counts... i'm thinking 3 whitetail, 2 antelope, and 2 mulies. I've never shot at an animal with it and not recovered that animal. All were recovered within reasonable distances (a deer can run fairly far even after a vital shot).

It is absolutely enough gun for these animals. I've since switched to a .270. As always, it's all about shot placement. A well-aimed .243 is much better than a misplaced .270.

As for load, I just used Remington Core-Lokt 100 gr. Any hunting load should do, just find one that's accurate and you're good to go.

July 19, 2009, 08:36 PM
Magnumitis is incurable it seems. A large caliber cannot make-up for poor marksmanship.

July 19, 2009, 10:18 PM
I probably killed 15 whitetails with a .243 back in the 70's. I used both 85 and 100 grain bullets.They will work with good shot placement.I just prefer something a little bigger(30-06).

But deer are bigger and tougher now... duh :)

July 19, 2009, 10:26 PM
243 works well on NV antelope. I used to own a Ruger #1 RSI in 243 - great gun, LOVED a Sierra 85BTHP - would give me .75" groups and did a great job with that and a Speer 105

Dallas Jack
July 20, 2009, 12:50 AM
I shot a nice doe last season with a .243 Vanguard shooting Federal Vital Shok 100 grain Nosler Partitions. Very effective round. I plan to use my .243 this season to take another doe but I may use my handloads for this one. I'm loading 95 grain Nosler ballistic tips with H4831sc.

I wouldn't hesitate to use a .243 to take any deer including mule deer.
Dallas Jack

July 22, 2009, 06:40 PM
Started using a ruger M77 with it in the early 80's. It has taken many deer through the years. Originally I bought it for the the kids when they were young and more recoil sensitive. Then I stated using it also.

I have had more bang flops with it than with any other round from the 308 to the 8mm Mauser. One deer in was a small 4 point facing me at just over 100 yards. It was hit at in the chest and I found the bullet under the skin just to the right of the tail. Needless to say the deer dropped immediately. That bullet, a hornady 100 gr, went though well over 3 feet of deer. As with any hunting, you do your part, the bullet will do its part. I have the utmost confidence in the round.

July 23, 2009, 07:55 PM
I grew up in eastern MT hunting mule, whitetail, and antelope with a .243. So did my brother. .243 is a great round for all manner of deer size critters. oh - and the deer in MT are much bigger than the 'dog size' variety found elsewhere in the country.

We used mostly handloads - either a 85gr hollow point, or 100 soft point. Both work fine. But off the shelf loads work just as well.

.243 is a very capable cartridge that many people under estimate. I carried it elk hunting as well (although I never shot an elk with it). As with any cartridge, it's more about the shooter and proper shot placement.

July 25, 2009, 04:30 PM

Any chance you live near Soda Springs, Idaho. I have always wanted to hunt in that part of Idaho.

no, i live in the Nampa-Boise area. i hunt in unit 40 for deer and i can't remember what unit but it is the Salmon River canyon for elk.(the Main salmon river)

July 25, 2009, 06:25 PM
I have taken a few with my Ruger 77 .243 but it is far from my favorite. She shoots well with 100 grain bullets. I dropped this one in its tracks with a neck shot at 100 yards.

July 25, 2009, 07:06 PM
I got my first deer with a 22 short so I would guess a 243 would be more then enough gun in most cases. Since I have seen a deer shot with a 375HH and still move any thing could be to small in the wrong hands.

July 26, 2009, 11:58 AM
I've shot at least 25 deer with my Sako 243. Ranging from big Mule Bucks to the lowly whitetail doe. Almost every one of those deer dropped dead or walked 10 feet and fell over hard. Usually neck or heart shots. These are North Dakota badlands deer too. Not little southern bambies.

Anyone who says it's not enough rifle has never shot one or is a bad shot.

100 Grain Power Points usually.

Art Eatman
July 26, 2009, 05:41 PM
A .244 Remington is about the same as the .243. I know that it will drop a 220-pound live-weight man at 420 yards. I heard the impact. The hit was in the right shirt pocket. The bullet deflected downwards. DOA. Austin, Texas, August, 1966.

July 28, 2009, 04:52 PM
Several of my kids got into deer hunting (whitetail) using a Remington Model Seven Youth in .243. It has taken its share of whitetail, none of which required a follow-up shot. And since the kids are familiar with it, they also use it for groundhogs ... which helps with accuracy and shot placement come big game season. They shoot 100 grain Remington CoreLokts for everything.

July 29, 2009, 10:53 PM
I've shot 3 with my 6mm Rem which outperforms the 243 by 100 fps if you are a handloader. 2 of the deer it blew them up like they were hit by lightning. One took a couple shots.

July 29, 2009, 11:16 PM
My sons have each taken a mulie with a Remington 78 Sportsman in .243. I have killed 2 or 3 with a model 788 in that caliber. I don't own either of those rifles now, but I think I will get the 78 back from the kid that now owns it. It will be a good starter rifle for some other hunter.

July 30, 2009, 11:46 PM
Deer and antelope taken here. 42grs of 4831 behind a 100gr Hornaday BTSP.
Shooting a Tikka .243 w/ cheap Simmons scope and Tikka rings.
Now the kicker. This is a 1970s version Tikka marketed by Ithaca. 1/2MOA at 100yds.

July 30, 2009, 11:53 PM
I have killed a couple of whitetail and a mule deer with a .243, A-Bolt Medalion. It did the job but I started grandkids on 6.5x55, CZ550 with 120 grain bullets. I won't recommend the .243 for an inexperienced hunter.

July 31, 2009, 11:42 PM
Use heavy, tough bullets and keep the shot off the shoulder and it'll kill you deer DRT.

Use a varmint bullet and take a shoulder shot and you're tracking it yourself, I'm going back to the truck.

Faster Daddy!
August 6, 2009, 12:05 AM
I have killed a Cow Elk, one Antelope, 3 Mule Deer, more than a dozen Coues Whitetail and more than a dozen Javelina with my 243 ( I live in Arizona). All were one shot kills except the Elk (two shots) and I would not reccomend a 243 for Elk. I use handloads that consist of 43.5 grains of IMR 4350 behind a Sierra 85 gr. HPBT. This round was discovered in a magazine article (and verified in reloading manuels) as a recomended load for deer sized game in 243 cal. I have had outstanding results with this round just as the author of the article did (sorry can't remember who that was). No matter what your selected caliber is, practice and shot placement, on an un-spooked animal is key.

August 7, 2009, 01:19 AM
I've shot a few deer with the .243, works fine, but generally it is my Pronghorn rifle because I have another that I consider my deer rifle. I use 85 gr Barnes X bullets. I personally think the .243 is an ideal Pronhorn caliber, a perfect fit. My mom used a Sav. Mod 99 in .243 for all her hunting for many years, mostly deer and Pronghorn, I beleive 1 elk (not recommended, though she did fine). She liked it because of the recoil thing, and it worked great for her. That was before Barnes, I beleive we used mostly Nosler Partitions, 80-90 gr. If you poke the hole in the correct place, it's game over. If not, a little bigger hole ain't going to help!

August 7, 2009, 10:45 AM
In the last three years I have shot five whitetail deer. Two with a .243, two with a 7mm rem mag, and one with a .357 mag. Both shot with the .243 ran less than 20 yards from where they were shot. That is about the same as the 7mm without the gaping exit wound. The .357 did just as well from a 6 inch GP-100 at 35 yards with good ammo.

Shot placement is key so long as the caliber is adequate. The .243 is more than adequate. I think it is just about ideal for deer.

I had a several year break from deer hunting before that, but I shot a few before that and all were with the .243.

August 7, 2009, 07:56 PM
Never personally hunted with the .243. (Shot them a number of times, but that's the extent of it.) I have seen many deer taken with the cartridge. One general thing I've noticed about the deer killed, the closer they are the further they've ran. (Again just a general rule I've noticed.) The only conclusion that I can come up with is that the premium bullets are moving too fast at the close ranges to give the bullet enough time to mushroom and transfer more energy. Where at longer ranges (150-200 yards), the bullet has slowed enough to give a better energy transfer, and a fully mushroomed bullet.

I might be wrong with my conclusion, but nobody, as of yet, has come up with a better one to describe the phenomenon.


August 7, 2009, 08:07 PM
Since I started hunting four years ago, the .243 was what I started out with and has the caliber of choice of the "younger" farm folk (while the 30.06 is a holdout with the older farmers) that have taught and taken me out to hunt. I don't shoot more than 200 yard shots, which I feel is stretching the bullets capabilities and my personal comfort as far as skills go. I've taken numerous MO whitetails with Federal Barnes Triple Shock 85gr (yes, 85gr but I think it's a devastating bullet). The longest was about 150 yards on a ~120lb doe who had practically done a death somersault and DRT, had many other running shots that were DRT's, and the longest one had ran was 50 yards. I'll be bumping up to a 308 this year, but have no qualms with using the 243 as a backup gun.

August 7, 2009, 08:21 PM
I've been deer hunting for 20years. Last year I used a 243 for the first time. A Tikka T3 stainless. It worked perfectly. I shot a doe quartering away around 75 to 100yds. THe shot was just behind the shoulder and exited just in front of the far shoulder. She ran about 30yds. Bullet was a 95grain Partition loaded hot.

August 9, 2009, 01:38 PM
With the right bullet and shooter it is fine. I have taken 70-80 deer with the .243 win out to 280 yards or so as memory serves. I like the 95-100gr bullets with the 95gr SST and 95gr Partition, and the 100gr Speer SP being the best choices. I have also had some factory bullets blow up after penetrating 2" and recovered the deer days later stone dead and a 1/2 mile away. Shot one once that the bullet never expanded. The entry/exit wounds were identical. So, once again, bullet+shooter=deer rifle.

Honestly though, you can load a .308, 7mm-08, .270, .30-06 or any other "deer" round to lower felt recoil, which kind of lessens the need for the .243. If I were buying a gun for a kid or someone recoil shy it would be one of the "deer" rounds that they can grow into.


Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 10, 2009, 01:21 PM
I have also had some factory bullets blow up after penetrating 2" and recovered the deer days later stone dead and a 1/2 mile away

And which factory bullets were those, please?

August 10, 2009, 10:21 PM
Specifically, the 95gr Winchester Ballistic Silvertip, which has worked well in the .308 and 30-06 on deer at the same ranges.


Joe Demko
August 10, 2009, 10:38 PM
My first centerfire rifle was a .243. I still have it, 36 years later. I killed a good many PA whitetails with it and none needed shot twice.
Of course, none of those deer were like the deer y'all hunt today that are all hopped up on goofballs and ****.

Fred Fuller
August 12, 2009, 12:20 PM
Choosing the right bullet, picking your shots and hitting where you shoot at are important with most any caliber. It's no less true for the .243. My first CF rifle was a Ruger M77 in 6mm Rem, back in the mid '70s. It's pretty much a ballistic twin to the .243. Still have it, and it still does just fine, it's taken several whitetails cleanly with 100 grain bullets.

DW got her Winchester Model 70 Youth model in .243 as one of her wedding presents from me, and the next season (we got married in Dec) she collected her first deer with it. Not ideal shot placement, she hit too far back (later she said something about too many people insisting she shoot center of mass for too long) but the little spike only went a few yards before bleeding out. She swears she'll do better with placement next time, but so far there hasn't been a 'next time.' She loves shooting the little rifle, too, and that doesn't hurt anything.

Best answer I can give is, pick good bullets, and from there on, it will do if you will do.


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