204 vs 223 vs 22-250 vs 243


February 10, 2011, 08:23 PM
I'm looking for a caliber that can reach out to 500 yards when needed and touch a varmint. I would also be using the rifle for target shooting form 100-500 yards. I want something with low recoil and good performance. I threw in the 243 because i'm not sure how bad the recoil is. I will also be reloading my rounds with perfibly hornady's v-max's. I have shotten my Dad's 308 a lot, but i'm not fond of the recoil. I'm saving up for a rem sps-v and will probably swap out the crappy stock with a H-S. I'v heard a lot of good things about the 204 but i just don't know if it has enough power. Tell me what you guys think, Thanks


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February 10, 2011, 09:42 PM
.243 would be best for that distance. It recoils quite a bit less than a .308, maybe half or so, especially with lighter weight varmint bullets of between 55 and 85gr. For up to 500 yards, you'd probably want the "heavier" varmint bullets with higher ballistic coefficients to better buck the wind.

February 10, 2011, 09:46 PM
Of those listed, +1 for the .243 Win. It is a good blend of both worlds: remaining energy at 500 yards, and mild recoil.


February 10, 2011, 10:22 PM
IMO the .243Win. is the best amongst those listed, but I would (and did) choose the slightly higher velocity 6mmRem. instead (which is basically a .243cal. bullet in a 7x57mmMauser case). Recoil isn't bad amongst all listed, particularly when compared to the .308Win.


February 10, 2011, 10:46 PM
I used to own a ruger varmint rifle in 22-250. And out of the rounds listed, is the only one I have ever shot. Using hand loads with 50 grain nosler ballistic tips, I consistently shot less then 1/2 moa at 200 yds. I know this round is very versatile, inherently accurate, and inexpensive to re-load. I have heard of it being used as a 500 yd coyote gun, and as we all know, shot placement is key. I think if you were to get this caliber, you wouldn't be dissapointed. Not to say that any of the other calibers won't work either.....just saying the 22-250 is MORE then capable of meeting your requirements. (By the way, my best group ever at 100 yards was 5/16", and at 200 was 3/4". I used to shoot the grasshoppers of the top of the target holder at 200 with about an 80% hit rate. Now thats accuracy)

February 11, 2011, 01:51 AM
The 22-250 I have not had time with. However, I went though this same thought process many years back and decided on the .243. I love that caliber as it has a good range of bullets. It is hard on brass, however. I reload everything I shoot so this is something I consider. I used mine for ground hogs back in Ohio/Indiana and at the range. Fine caliber for those long shots. The local ground hogs feared the mighty .243.

You do know that a .243 is just a .308 that was necked down to 6mm size? It does make some noise and does recoil more than a "little" .223 but it can reach out and touch someone (some varmint) way better than the .223.

February 11, 2011, 04:37 AM
likely to get more barrel life from 223

February 11, 2011, 05:37 AM
Of the 4 cartridges you listed my choice would be the .243 Win.

I once owned a .17 Rem for a short while. The only thing this cartridge taught me was not to own anything under .22 cal. Depending on temp, humidity and wind you never knew what kind of a group this gun was going to shoot. For that reason I wouldn't even consider a .204.

The .223 is a cartridge I have no use for. I works for our Armed Forces and will incapacitate a man to 300 yards. I owned one of these in a Savage 10 fp. Very accurate for target shooting at 100 yards. However, I bought it for varmint hunting not target shooting. It was a poor choice for small targets beyond 250 yards. Luckily it sold fast as people love this cartridge. Why, I'll never know.

After selling the .223 my next rifle was .22-250. This is my third one. For varmint hunting this is a good cartridge. It's flat shooting and shoots a long way. Never used any of my rifles chambered in this cartridge for target shooting but I suspect it might do OK but wouldn't be my first choice.

Never owned a .243 but this would be my choice. After buying my latest varmint rifle in .22-250 I'm asking myself why I did that. My reason for wanting this cartridge is an interesting one.

A long time ago when I started varmint hunting I purchased a Rem 700 VS in .25-06. In all the years I've owned it this cartridge has become my favorite. It has low recoil, a flat trajectory, very accurate and resists wind deflection well. You can load light bullets for varmint hunting or heavy for larger game.

The .243 comes close to offering what the .25-06 has to offer and that is why I would choose it. In all my years of shooting one thing I have learned is the larger calibers resist wind better then a smaller one.

451 Detonics
February 11, 2011, 06:01 AM
In what you listed the .243 would be the best bet.

However, as you plan on reloading I would suggest searching out one of the Remington 700 Mountain Guns in .260 Remington. This is a 6.5 and is probably one of the top 3 favorites for long range work among target shooters. The VDL bullets have outstanding ballistic coefficients and some actually provide better ballistic (but lower energy) than the .300 Win Mag. It is a low recoil round and pleasant to shoot.

You can read a good review of it here...


here is what you would want to look for...


February 11, 2011, 06:19 AM
I've had a .223 Rem for a couple of years and really enjoy shooting it at the range, but for varmint hunting out to even 350 yards, it feels too weak.

I'd had a .22-250 Rem for over 30 years, and it's a great caliber under 400 yards when the wind doesn't blow much.

I had a 6mm Rem in a 700 Varmint, but it was too heavy to carry around much, but it was fantastic at the longest ranges encountered, even in moderate wind.

Recently, I had my .22-250 re-barreled to .243 Win and I love it!!! It's got much more capability to handle anything from crows to coyotes and deer, but can be downloaded for accurate, lower noise and recoil for range shooting. It's also exceedingly accurate with Sierra 85 grain HPs. With 100 grain bullets, it hits very hard!!!

I still have the .223 Rem for range use. The beauty is that the barrel doesn't heat up as quickly as the hotter cartridges and recoil is nil.

February 11, 2011, 07:39 AM
.243 is a pussycat to shoot even with 100 grain bullets in a lightweight sporter. Of all mentioned it has the best long range ballistics with the right bullets, and there are a great variety of factory loads for it if you decide to go that way for any purpose.


Je Suis Prest

February 11, 2011, 10:01 AM
The 22 calibers you are considering will do surprisingly well at the longer ranges as long as your rifle is set up to use heavier bullets. By heavier I mean 65 gr. or heavier. They will have a high BC and will buck the wind better than you would think.
If you plan on using 50 or 55 gr. bullets in the 223 or 22 250 the 243 with heavy bullets will out perform the 22's.
The advertising for the 204 claims it will out perform the 22 250. I owned a 204 for a while and found that if there was no wind it was indeed an impressive performer. Add a little wind (very little wind) and the 22 250 was the superior cartridge.
My 223 was a fun and accurate rifle out to about 350 yards. Farther than that bullet drop became a real issue when trying to shoot ground squirrels or rock chucks.
I have owned rifles in all of the cartridges you mention. With the experience gained with using these rifles, I would go with the 243 first, then the 22 250.
Opinions are like belly buttons- everbody has one.

February 11, 2011, 11:09 AM
1+ for the 243

It has quite a few advantages over all other listed calibers. You can use the set up you described and shoot very accurately at the distances you listed. however since you hand load you can also switch some 105 gr Berger vld's and easily achieve 1000+ plus yrds. It has been well documented by John Burns alone and he has had great success with this cartridge. I I'm currently getting sub half moa groups from a recent custom AR build in 243. It is my all time favorite cartridge. If my 300 wby mag, 308, 45-70, 223 all had to go I would always keep my 243. loaded with Barnes 85 gr tsx I have anchored some nice size deer where they stood. it is truly one of the most versatile cartridges available. As to the 260 and 6mm there are some ballistic advantages to be had. personally like the 243 just for the commonality or the brass and ammo. if you are shooting these long ranges you'll want the heavy for caliber pills, so I would not run anything slower than a 1:9 twist and preferably a 1:8. My AR has a 1:9 ss WOA 20" and I really wish I had gotten a 1:8. But as for recoil in my semi auto it's about like a 22lr. I sold my bolt gun to my buddy when the AR was built and his 2 year old son will shoot 100 rnds non stop with it if we would let him.. I truly don't believe recoil to be a factor. this is my .02

February 11, 2011, 02:36 PM
"If my 300 wby mag, 308, 45-70, 223 all had to go I would always keep my 243.'

Sacriledge, I say!!!!:) You sell your horse and your boots before you sell your .45-70!!!

I've got a 6mm Remington, which is a .243 on 'roids. It is pleasant to shoot.
Of all your listed choices, I agree that the .243 is the best for your purposes. But as 451 Detonics said, if I were you I'd investigate a .260 Remington a little. It's the cat's meow for long range work.

February 11, 2011, 02:46 PM
...vs 220 Swift. It's been my experience that the Swift is a superbly accurate cartridge and will do everything a 22-250 will-and just a little bit more. Barrel life should be the same. I'll concede though, if you don't reload, factory .22-250 ammunition will be easier to come by.

February 11, 2011, 05:48 PM
Ya i'v done a lot of research on the 243....its a pretty awesome round.

February 11, 2011, 06:03 PM
Thanks for the info everyone....i'm new to this forum and its been awesome so far.
As the caliber's go, i was never a real big fan on the swift, i'v heard to much about barrel burning. So far i'm getting a lot of 243 hits, it seems like the way to go...has anyone had any barrel problems with the 243? I know its an over boar, but i wouldn't be shooting super hot rounds or anything. I have heard of the 260, but i just want something with a little less recoil "243 and down." I also like the idea of 22-250. I'v pretty much have thrown the idea of a 204 away...its just to small of a bullet.

Also any ideas on a heavy barrel varmint gun... the price range is $500-$600 i was planing on getting a rem sps-v but any other ideas would be great. Thanks,


February 11, 2011, 06:19 PM
I owned a 204 for a while and found that if there was no wind it was indeed an impressive performer. Add a little wind (very little wind) and the 22 250 was the superior cartridge.

And that was the problem I found with the .17 Remington. Wind, humidity and temp all effected it which was why I sold it and will not go smaller then a .22 cal.

Art Eatman
February 11, 2011, 06:48 PM
The only reason for a heavy barrel on a varmint gun would be when set up at a prairie dog town with the resulting long strings of fairly steady fire. For anything else, a sporter-weight barrel will do just fine.

I have a Ruger 77 Mk II in .223. It's reliably half-MOA, and I've done in a fair amount of prairie dogs with it, out to 300 yards. (Laser range finder.) But I don't shoot so steadily that I let the barrel get so hot I can't hold it. Most any old 50- to 55-grain bullet will do.

My little Sako carbine in .243 is another tack-driver. I use the Sierra 85-grain HPBT for both deer and coyotes. A 55-grain bullets is nasty for prairie dogs to 300 yards.

I guess that if I were specifically thinking about 500- and 600-yard shots, I'd likely go with a .243 medium sporter with a 24" barrel and work up a load for it--probably starting with that Sierra bullet.

Next choice would likely be a Swift or a .22-250. Sorta six of one, half-dozen of the other. I gotta admit I've had generally tighter groups from a Swift, but that's the luck of the draw.

February 11, 2011, 07:03 PM
Art Eatman,

I know that a sporter barrel would be just fine, but i just have a good taste for those heavy varmint barrels...I'm not worried about lugging around a rifle so i want a heavier gun to reduce recoil and work on the terrible flinch...Thanks for the Info man


Art Eatman
February 11, 2011, 07:11 PM
My Sako is 7 pounds, total, and the recoil with the 85-grain bullet is trivial. Not at all a problem with 100-grain bullets, either. The low recoil is one of the major reasons for the popularity of the .243. The pain and agony are at the front end. :D

February 11, 2011, 07:12 PM
Sacriledge, I say!!!! You sell your horse and your boots before you sell your .45-70!!!

sorry I do LOVE 45-70 though! but man 243 gets me going;)

February 12, 2011, 12:07 AM
I would stay away from current Remington products (as QC has declined sharply in the past decade or so), perhaps a Winchester M-70 Super Shadow would fit the bill for little, if any, additional cost (should be sub-$600). FWIW it is available in .243Win.


February 12, 2011, 09:07 AM
check out the savage model 12 with the accutrigger

February 12, 2011, 12:23 PM
+1 for the savage. everything I have owned in 243 has seemed a little more accurate than any other calibers in the same rifle... not a factual statement just experience.... my savage was very accurate as good as our older 700(from the good years) but it wasn't as accurate as this:http://i243.photobucket.com/albums/ff98/suzukisam967m/ar/SAM_0008.jpg:eek:

February 12, 2011, 01:27 PM
I know ya can't always believe ballistics tables...but a 204 with a 39 or 40gr bullet has less drop AND drift up to 500m and 10mph crosswind than a 22-250 does.

I love my 22-250, but the 204 is sweet to shoot, about the same cost to reload, and its quite nice to see hits through the scope with no recoil whatsoever.

That said, I've never set mine up on a windy great plains dogtown and had a string of misses due to breezy conditions while 22-250s and 243s were scoring hits...so I'll defer to those who have.

February 12, 2011, 10:52 PM
Get a 243 if you want to shoot critters at 500 yards. It will also double as an effective deer rifle.

February 12, 2011, 11:14 PM
I vote for the 243 due to heavier bullets. 500 yd shots are still pretty darn far. The 243 will flat out splatter a coyote. Also you can use the same rifle for deer hunting. I consider the 243/6mm the lowest power caliber for deer hunting but many will dissagree with me on this.

Under 250 yds, I prefer the 223. But the 204 is certainly interesting for smaller varmints.

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