.243 lowest cost, best all around round?


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andrewshogun
October 10, 2009, 09:44 PM
I'm new to the hunting world, and deciding on a good versatile rifle. .243 seems to fit the bill, as it can knock down varmints without destroying to a bloody mess, and also powerful enough to hunt deer with at a later time. I will primariy be hunting varmints with the rifle to begin with, but could venture into pig/boar later as well. Cost of the ammo is a big concern for me. Any other alternatives to .243 I should consider for the stated purpose? Thanks.

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solvability
October 10, 2009, 09:46 PM
The only hesitation I have on 243 is the short barrel life - I like to practice and a 243 barrel may not last even a thousand rounds. Consider a 260 rem. and everyone should have a 223.

bchris2146
October 10, 2009, 10:17 PM
From personal experience I can say that my .243 is the most reliable deer rifle I've ever owned. I got it when I was a young boy, killed many whitetail with it. I still use today as a back up gun (only because its a youth model). A well placed clear shot (no brush) and deer wont go far, I guarantee it!

viking499
October 10, 2009, 10:42 PM
My wife and son both hunt with a 243. My daughter will use a 243 next year. I used one for many years before switching to a 7 mag for a few years. My deer gun now and for the long term is a 6.5x55. A 243 and a 100 grain bullet will work fine on deer with good placement.

jbkebert
October 10, 2009, 10:46 PM
Pick yourself up a little savage bolt or a H&R handi rifle in .243. I would not worry to much about barrel life in a hunting rifle. I have only shot two barrels out in my life and I shoot alot. One was a .17 rem and the other a 22-250 rem. We would shoot hundreds of rounds in a course of a weekend shooting pasture poodles. Anyway back to a .243 great little rifle and it can handle what you are asking it to do. Ammo will run anywhere from $10.75 a box for Rem core loks to $35+ for premium stuff. Graf and Sons is a great place to order afforable ammo from. A box of Hornady Custom 95 grain SST at Dicks sporting goods runs $32.95, Graf's sells the same box for 23.87. If you are looking for a good little rifle for not a lot of money check out the above.

Redneck with a 40
October 10, 2009, 10:53 PM
I would argue the .308 is about as good as it gets, you can load 110's for varmint's. A .308 barrel will typically go well over 8000 rounds and it can take any North American big game short of a grizz or brown bear.

Handloading my .308 ammo with 168 gr HPBT's = 45 cents/round. Factory junk runs around $1/round.

blackops
October 10, 2009, 11:17 PM
A 243 is a solid choice.

Will Fennell
October 11, 2009, 08:53 AM
If varmints, low recoil and low cost are a concern, get a .223 bolt gun first. You will get more shooting done, and enjoy it more. Later, when you are ready for big game hunting, get a similar rifle, in a big game cartridge.

Sometimes do-all cartridges are not best at any of the assigned task.

bpl
October 11, 2009, 12:46 PM
I'll 2nd the .223!

nathan
October 11, 2009, 01:01 PM
I have one in Youth model. It hasnt made a deer kill yet. I have no doubt it will do the job.

Arkansas Paul
October 11, 2009, 01:10 PM
For varmints and deer, the .243 will do. For hogs, I would personally prefer something a little larger. If he doesn't go down on the first shot, I would want a little more gun if I had to go after him in the brush. A .270 would do great. Not as many choices in ammo for varmints though. This is just my opinion. As far as a rifle, take a look at the Weatherby Vangaurds. $400 and MOA out of the box. You can look at a target to check. One comes with every rifle.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
October 11, 2009, 01:37 PM
Absolutely, .243 is the best choice, if yotes and beavers and small pigs and such are considered on your "varmints" list. .243 winchester is one extremely versatile and outstanding all-around cartridge.

If you're talking about pdogs and such as varmints, then I'd go lighter, with a .223 rem or other round.

ECVMatt
October 11, 2009, 01:39 PM
Go for the .243. I have killed a ton of deer and hogs with the 6mm Remington. It is very similar.

The .243 will work great if you take you time and learn how to shoot. Low recoil helps with this.

The .223 is also a good choice to begin with, but then you will have to buy another rifle at some point. I have seen many hogs taken with the .223, but it was by a gentleman who shoots everyday and whose ranch was overrun with hogs.

The .308 is a good choice as well, but finding ammo to start out with is difficult. The specialty rounds are not available at many places.

Stick with your original idea and get a .243. You might also look into reloading your brass. It is really simple and you can start reloading with very simple tools.

Good Luck,

Matt

ArmedBear
October 11, 2009, 01:43 PM
There's no such thing as an "all-around round" for beaver to boar. Just get what works for your purposes, and save your pennies.

I'd lean towards a .223 for varmints (much cheaper ammo, better barrel life, etc.), and something in the .27 to .30 caliber range for bigger game later. You may well find that the rifle you want for one purpose isn't ideal for the other, caliber notwithstanding.

Either way, I think you'd have a lot of fun with the .223 right now, while considering what you want in a big game rifle down the road.

Kernel
October 11, 2009, 02:07 PM
Winchester introduced the .243 in 1955 specifically as a dual-purpose cartridge. It’s as good today as it was fifty years ago.

In 1955 they could of brought out a 8mm (7-08), or a 6.5 (260), a .257, .277, or anything else. They could of done nothing and just left it .308. They didn’t. They made it a 6mm because that’s the one best compromise that works for both varmints and, with heavy bullets - deer sized animals up to 400 lbs.

The .223 is a good varmint round, but it runs out of “oomph” on animals over 100 lbs. Making it a very poor choice for a "do all" rifle. It just can't cut it on antelope or deer sized game, no matter how much some hunters would like it too.

The .308 is better for deer, but it makes for a less than ideal varmint round. The lighter bullets have poor ballistic coefficients, and are still to heavy for smaller animals if pelts are desired. The same can be said for the .260 Rem the 7-08 Win.

ArmedBear
October 11, 2009, 02:13 PM
Winchester introduced the .243 in 1955 specifically as a dual-purpose cartridge. It’s as good today as it was fifty years ago.


You're suggesting that Winchester's introduction of a round equates to it being a good caliber choice?

LOL

They made it a 6mm because that’s the one best compromise that works for both varmints and deer sized animals up to 400 lbs.


Maybe, but the rifle and scope combo you might want to use for coyotes isn't the same as a good pig rifle in California. So why compromise, if you're going to end up with two rifles anyway?

Why not get a .223, which is a cheaper, lower-recoil round, and a .308, which is a significantly better pig round than .243? I'd want the .308 in a sporter-weight carbine, with a light, lower-powered scope, and the .223 in a full-length, heavier rifle, with a varmint scope on it. IMO a compromise would be what compromises usually are: poor performers for any particular purpose.

Besides, pigs may be deer-sized, but deer aren't exactly pig tough.:) .243 isn't exactly a popular round for pigs in California, AFAIK.

Leaky Waders
October 11, 2009, 05:13 PM
If you don't have a 22 long rifle get an accurate 22.

You can use it for practice and it will be much cheaper than any centerfire.

You can site dead on at 90 yards for varmints.

You'll use the gun your whole life.

Later, get a deer round that you feel comfortable with - low recoil includes:

243 - kind of controversial if you're a man, praised if you're a youth or girl...go figure.
22-250 and 223 - both controversial
30-30, 7-mm08, 6x55, 260, or 284 all highly praised

ArmedBear
October 11, 2009, 07:44 PM
He said "pig/boar", not just deer.

And...

California pig hunting is almost exclusively done in the lead-free Condor zone. Any California hunter would do well to make sure that a variety of good lead-free bullets are available in the caliber of choice, before buying a rifle.

How many 6mm lead-free bullets are there out there? Two, both from Barnes? You want to shoot a big pig with an 85 grain bullet? An 80 grain bullet?

And then, are you willing to buy a rifle that might or might not work with Barnes copper? You can't buy a 6mm bullet made of gilding metal. Hornady doesn't make a 6mm GMX. Nosler doesn't make a 6mm e-Tip.

With regulations on lead, your .243 might turn out to be nearly useless for anything you want to do with it. You need to do more research.

Like I said, there's no such thing as an "all around" rifle or round that does everything, ESPECIALLY when your bullet options may be severely limited.

bpl
October 11, 2009, 08:52 PM
Get a .223 now, and a larger caliber for big game later. I'd suggest 7mm-08, 308, 270 or 30-06 for deer and pigs later. For now, the .223 will be your best option for varmints/predators at a reasonable ammo cost. .223 ammo is a lot cheaper than .243 ammo, by the way.

jbkebert
October 11, 2009, 08:57 PM
Alot of people are really fond of the .223 I however am not one of them. If you want a varmit rifle not a dual purpose rifle .22-250 all the way baby.;)

T.R.
October 11, 2009, 09:31 PM
PMP ammo from South Africa is accurate and reliable. We've taken many mulies with their affordable 100 grain ammo.

TR

bpl
October 11, 2009, 09:32 PM
.22-250 makes a great varmint/predator round as well. However, ammo is more expensive and barrel life is much shorter than .223.

jbkebert
October 11, 2009, 09:35 PM
True but nothing in the varmit caliber world has the splat factor of the .22-250. I own and have taken praire dogs with a .223 not nearly as cool:D

ArmedBear
October 11, 2009, 10:00 PM
.22-250 is a great varmint round. Perhaps it's THE great varmint round.

"Lowest-cost" per the OP's question? No.

Is 100 grain .243 a pig round? I don't think so. Is South African ammo lead-free for California pig hunting? No. You can't use it, so it's not relevant.

ECVMatt
October 11, 2009, 10:25 PM
Nosler does make an E-Tip:

http://www.nosler.com/index.php?p=11&b=5&s=140

and I am sure a 6mm GMX is not far behind.

There is no rule that states you can't practice with PMP and then hunt with E-Tips or X Bullets.

I regularly practice with lead bullets and then use the lead free just for hunting. I like to shoot a lot, so that works the best for me.

I have used the 85 grain Speer SP with great effect on hogs.

Here is one of the pics. I can't find the one with all the critters, but I will keep looking.

http://i338.photobucket.com/albums/n431/ECVMatt/yotedeer.jpg

I am trying to dig up an old photo from my Texas days. I shot two coyotes, and nice buck and a 175 lb. pig all in one day and all with the my 6mm Remington. Not one animal required a second shot.

Stick with the .243 it will do the job and do it well.

win71
October 11, 2009, 11:14 PM
It is true that 50-60 % of pigs reported taken came from the lead free area. And most of those came out of Monterrey County. Most of California is not in the lead free zone. Pigs are killed almost everywhere. I've killed them in Humboldt, Shasta, and Tehama counties with Tehema the most.
However, if you intend to primarily hunt in a lead free area it may be of concern.
I bought a Rem mod. 600 in 243 in 1964 mainly for my smallish wife to hunt with. 80 and 100 gr. were the only store bought ammo around then. I started loading for it in 1972 and have since owned several. Currently I have three. A 700 varminter bought in 1977, a pre 64 win. and a L579 Sako. I use 60 gr. HP or 70 gr. bthp match for varmints and 100 gr. spitzers for deer. I have used 100 gr. round nose for pigs.
Hand loading will bring out almost anything you want in a 243.

JASmith
October 12, 2009, 12:05 AM
The .223 & .260 Remington are really hard to beat!

.223 fine for varmints + plinking. Ammo low cost

.260 Rem works about as well as .270 on most classes of game.

rangerruck
October 12, 2009, 12:36 AM
if deer is you biggest game, then I agree, if going any bigger, then the good ol 30.06 fits your above statement.

jbech123
October 12, 2009, 12:56 AM
Why is the 243 such a barrel burner? I keep hearing this but it is not apparent to me why a 223 is not known as one but the 243 is?

blackops
October 12, 2009, 01:16 AM
I will take a 22-250 or a 243 before I put my hands on a 223 any day of the week.

mboylan
October 12, 2009, 07:56 AM
The .243 is not really a barrel burner. A barrel will certainly last 5000 rounds or more depending on the load and the barrel. Just don't expect the barrel life of a .30-30.

The .22-250 is a barrel burner. You can still get up to 3000 rounds out of a barrel.

natman
October 12, 2009, 08:46 AM
Why is the 243 such a barrel burner? I keep hearing this but it is not apparent to me why a 223 is not known as one but the 243 is?

The 243 uses a 308 Winchester case with only a 6mm bullet. The combination of a large case / small bore is hard on barrels. The 223 has a small bore but a small case. The 22-250 has a small bore and a large case and it too is hard on barrels.

Art Eatman
October 12, 2009, 10:07 AM
Looking only at hunting and leaving prairie dogs out of the equation: There is no way a deer/coyote/hog hunter can wear out a barrel in any meaningfully short period. It's gonna take years and years of hunting.

Very few people ever have a chance for more than a few days a year to hunt. Maybe a few weeks. I'm not talking about those few. Most hunters don't shoot often enough in any one year to burn out a barrel in a lifetime.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
October 12, 2009, 10:34 AM
Art speaks wisely on the overbore / barrel life issue - not something to worry about at all for the vast majority of folks!

Water-Man
October 12, 2009, 10:53 AM
6.5x55 Swede!

jbech123
October 12, 2009, 10:59 AM
Thanks for the barrel life responses, it seems over the last few months people have been putting the 243 in a worse light. I knew a 308 was good to 8-10K barrel life, and had heard a 243 is about half that..seemed reasonable. Then someone said 3k. Then a few weeks ago someone said 2k. Then there was this in the current thread...

The only hesitation I have on 243 is the short barrel life - I like to practice and a 243 barrel may not last even a thousand rounds.

That seems like BS...

Legionnaire
October 12, 2009, 01:06 PM
I like the .243. In fact, just sold my .223 bolt gun to acquire a nice .243, to use as my primary varmint gun. I prefer .308 for deer-sized game, even though the .243 would do the trick. I just never took to the .223, preferring a bit more down-range oomph. I think you'll be happy with the cartridge.

DAdams
October 12, 2009, 10:51 PM
I'd want the .308 in a sporter-weight carbine, with a light, lower-powered scope,

Give me some examples of your favorites or recommends.

Thanks.

millertyme
October 13, 2009, 12:40 AM
Even with everything everyone else has said, I'd stick with a Handi Rifle in .223 or .243 for the small stuff and get a second barrel mated in something more substantial, preferably .308. The .243 will be great for deer on down (as everyone has previously proclaimed), but once you get into anything bigger you better do the same. I know a guy here in Arizona who hunts elk with a .243 and in 9 draws he's taken 9 bulls on 10 shots (claims the wind kicked up jst as he was squeezing the trigger). None of the shots were more than 150m, but each one went down without traveling too far. Not something I'd recommend, especially since cost is a concern and his rifle is a $1500 Sako with a $500 Leupold. But a Handi Rifle with a couple barrels will save you tons of money and will fill both roles with a simple switch.

Art Eatman
October 13, 2009, 11:57 AM
While my .243 is not my only hunting rifle, I guess I've put a thousand rounds through it over the last thirty or so years. I tested some loads not long back and got 1/2 MOA. Went prairie dog shooting, maybe a hundred rounds that day. Rough on pariirie dogs. However, I didn't shoot long strings in rapid fashion...

ArmedBear
October 13, 2009, 12:10 PM
Give me some examples of your favorites or recommends.

Take your pick. A common bolt gun, 20-24" barrel, in .308, .270 or .30-06, with a 3-9x40mm scope that isn't overweight makes a great all-around hunting rifle. Lead-free bullets are readily available. Some are heavier or lighter than others. These are the most common rifles you will see; you have to decide what you like.

IMO Savage has a really good combo of price, accuracy, light weight, features and trigger, but I don't own one. The new Winchester 70 Featherweight is a great rifle, but not exactly cheap. Personally, I would avoid Remington; their low-end stuff is junk and their decent stuff is too expensive for what it is. I have a Weatherby Vanguard Sporter in .30-06. It's a great gun, but on the heavy side. CZ is definitely worth a look, though also heavy. People like Tikkas, as well.

That's a whole big can of worms to open. Search for threads, or open a new one. :)

Warhawk83
October 13, 2009, 12:19 PM
Arkansas Paul said: As far as a rifle, take a look at the Weatherby Vangaurds. $400 and MOA out of the box. You can look at a target to check. One comes with every rifle.

Mine straight out of the box was 15/16'' group at 100 yards with spire points.
Out the door with scope and tax $600. It's.243 btw, I'll be deer hunting with it in a month.

ECVMatt
October 13, 2009, 08:01 PM
I just got an email from Hornady and 6mm GMX is coming soon!

That makes four lead free bullets if you need to use them.

Redneck with a 40
October 13, 2009, 08:44 PM
I shoot about 1000 rounds/year out of my .308, so barrel life is an issue for me, part of the reason I went with a heavy barrel .308.:) I really enjoy medium range target shooting, 300 yards.:) My rifle is a remmy 700 sps tac, 20" bull barrel.

Bluenote
October 13, 2009, 11:08 PM
The only hesitation I have on 243 is the short barrel life - I like to practice and a 243 barrel may not last even a thousand rounds. Consider a 260 rem. and everyone should have a 223.


I disagree , I've got probably 6000 rounds through the Shilen barrel on my Savage based varmint rig and it;s not anywhere near 'worn out' , probably pit 2500 through to stock barrel prior to the change , it's still sitting here waiting to be use on another Savage action at some point.

You're not going to wear out a .243 barrel in a thousand rounds , not even with upper end handloads.

Bluenote
October 13, 2009, 11:15 PM
It is true that 50-60 % of pigs reported taken came from the lead free area. And most of those came out of Monterrey County. Most of California is not in the lead free zone. Pigs are killed almost everywhere. I've killed them in Humboldt, Shasta, and Tehama counties with Tehema the most.
However, if you intend to primarily hunt in a lead free area it may be of concern.
I bought a Rem mod. 600 in 243 in 1964 mainly for my smallish wife to hunt with. 80 and 100 gr. were the only store bought ammo around then. I started loading for it in 1972 and have since owned several. Currently I have three. A 700 varminter bought in 1977, a pre 64 win. and a L579 Sako. I use 60 gr. HP or 70 gr. bthp match for varmints and 100 gr. spitzers for deer. I have used 100 gr. round nose for pigs.
Hand loading will bring out almost anything you want in a 243.


It's actually TehAma , and we've got a bumper crop this year , but the mexican dope growing cartels out behind Paskenta , up into the Mendocino and the Yolla Bolly are especially bad this year too.

More hogs up here than when I lived down in SLO county and they were real bad down there and all the way up into San Benito and Monterey counties.

Shoot me a line if you come up this way.

Bluenote
October 13, 2009, 11:30 PM
Looking only at hunting and leaving prairie dogs out of the equation: There is no way a deer/coyote/hog hunter can wear out a barrel in any meaningfully short period. It's gonna take years and years of hunting.

Very few people ever have a chance for more than a few days a year to hunt. Maybe a few weeks. I'm not talking about those few. Most hunters don't shoot often enough in any one year to burn out a barrel in a lifetime.
Yup , I shoot .243 a lot , have for years , and while I've had accuracy degrade it's never been until well past the 7500-8000 round mark and sometimes not then , I've heard these stories for years and all those same years have been at times shooting as much as 500 rounds in a weekend through a given rifle at various varmints from crows to ground squirrels , prairie dogs ,coyotes etc.

You're absolutely correct in that the average guy who shoots a few weekends a year will effectively *never* wear out a .243 barrel. And over the years I've shot deer , antelope , quite a few hogs and two elk with the caliber ,including the first elk I ever shot decades ago in the early '70s as a teenager in wyo. 1 round heart/lung shot , dropped with 20 yards.

It's not quite optimum for larger or dangerous but it's quite certainly usable ,easy to shoot , economical and quite accurate.

Bluenote
October 13, 2009, 11:42 PM
.22-250 is a great varmint round. Perhaps it's THE great varmint round.

"Lowest-cost" per the OP's question? No.

Is 100 grain .243 a pig round? I don't think so. Is South African ammo lead-free for California pig hunting? No. You can't use it, so it's not relevant.



I'm not going to get into a protracted arguement with you about it , I'll just point out that you're in error , this is a BBIIIIGGG state ,it's not all a 'lead free' zone and I live right in the middle of some of the best hoghunting in the state , which is NOT a lead free zone. And I'd be surprised if half the hogs in this state were in the 'Condor zone'.

As for the .243 not being a hog gun , seems like every hog I shot with a .243 expired , same with quite a lot of others utilisng the round. But then I've had folks tell me I couldn't kill 'em in brush country with a handgun or a .30-30 too , and that's equally untrue.

And I've seen folks shoot 'em badly with large magnums and have them run off. It comes back to bullet placement and how good you are with whatever it is that you're carrying.

andrewshogun
October 19, 2009, 03:39 PM
thanks for all the feedback folks. this has been very helpful. so the verdict for me is: buy a .223 for now for my plinking/varmint shooting, and a .308 in the future for bigger game hunts. Looks like two rifles for intended purpose is the way to go. Any other viewpoints, just let me know! Thanks. P.s. Looking at the Howa1500 package gun in 223, which comes with the sterling nikko scope.

Owlnmole
October 19, 2009, 05:46 PM
If cost is a factor, I would +1 on the suggestion that the H&R Handi Rifle with the option of adding an extra barrel or two would be an excellent choice. I remember that in the past H&R would also lighten the trigger pull somewhat when you send it in for a new barrel, if you ask them to do so. I don't know that they still do so under the new management. Personally, I am partial to their pretty CR-45LC carbine in .45 Long Colt, but that's neither here nor there.

ECVMatt
October 19, 2009, 08:04 PM
Andrew...I would look for a .223 that has a 1/9 rate of twist in the bbl. If you do hunt in the lead free zone, those bullets tend to shoot better with a slower twist.

I like Howa rifles, but I think they are 1/12. This is fine for standard 55 grain bullets, but the heavier bullets and the lead free stuff won't shoot so well.

I believe Ruger and Savage use 1/9. Savages are great guns for the money. I really like Rugers as well, but they are a bit more money. The Stevens 200 also has a 1/9 if I remember correctly and they can be had for about 300 bucks.

Good Choice with the .223. It is a fun round and great for learning how to shoot accurately.

Have Fun,

Matt

andrewshogun
October 19, 2009, 09:04 PM
thanks for the feedback matt. i didn't even know i had to look at the twist rate of the bbl, that is helpful. i was giving good consideration the the savage model 10 rifle also, which also comes with a packaged scope.

i see that you're from the south bay as well. good too see a fellow CA guy on here :)

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