.243 ballistic advantages vs .223 cost?


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srawl
November 30, 2012, 10:09 PM
I like to shoot steel at ranges from 300-500 yrds when I can and I have a mosin nagant and an ar15 (16.5") that are both capible but while I am in the midst of a debate with myself over whether to get the 243 or 260 (1st) I want to know if I buy a cheap rifle like a handi rifle or something to have as a backup hunter/long range plinker.

The .223 is cheap and an good hunter out to 250-300, targets out to 500...

The .243 is more expensive but better at both...

What to you think? Both have several pros and random opinions help with decisions...

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rcmodel
November 30, 2012, 10:14 PM
If I wanted to buy a 500 yard rifle in any caliber?

It sure would not be a "cheap rifle like a handi rifle" or something.

While the single-shot break-open rifles are certainly handy?
They are not, and will never be 500 yard accurate rifles.

One comes along every once and a while that shoots like a house afire.

But they are few & far between in my experience.

For strictly target shooting?
I'd go with the .260 or something similiar in a bolt-action myself.

.243's are great at burning varmints and small hoofed game at long range.

But the bigger caliber bullets with higher BC will handle long range wind better.


rc

stolivar
November 30, 2012, 10:26 PM
You would be better off with a bolt rifle. There are quite a few that cost around the same price as the handi rifle but alas on a better platform

steven, savage, marlin, mossberg as examples. more accurate etc.


steve

chad1043
November 30, 2012, 10:34 PM
I would listen to thee guys on here. I have had a handi rifle in .243... I think you'd be better off with a savage or a stevens... Whatever ammo you go with, get a lee hand loader and start loading slowly. You'll save money and develop another skill.

srawl
November 30, 2012, 10:38 PM
i was also looking at a used stevens 200

i already reload, though only for 9mm currently

NWcityguy2
November 30, 2012, 10:39 PM
If the cost of 243 isn't going to keep you from shooting then it isn't really that big of a detractor. As you said, you've already got an AR so if you want to go cheap you can just use that.

On the handi rifle, I picked up a used Rossi 223 heavy barrel for cheap. Good rifle, 1.5moa without even trying to work up a load for it. But if you are paying new I'd recommend spending a few extra $$$ and getting something like a Savage Axis. I think they are more gun for the price, you can load more than one round at a time and it will probably be more accurate. Both are good though.

Steel Horse Rider
November 30, 2012, 10:40 PM
Look for a Remington 788 in 6mm Remington. .243 bullet with a larger case.

Ar180shooter
December 1, 2012, 01:36 AM
What do I think? For 500 yard target shooting, get a .308 bolt action.

chaser_2332
December 1, 2012, 01:44 AM
What do I think? For 500 yard target shooting, get a .308 bolt action.
why 308? the 243 beats it in every aspect of targert shooting

Kachok
December 1, 2012, 01:57 AM
260 or any good 6.5mm romps the 243 at range easily. The only advantage the 243 has is slinging super light bullets at 4000 fps for small furry critters.
I would invest in a quality bolt gun over a cheap break action ANYDAY! Savage, Tikka, Weatherby/Howa, Ruger, and T/C all make a very highly quality rifle that can be had under $500.
6.5x55, 6.5 Creedmore, and 260 are all fantastic but I would not pass up a deal on a 25-06 either it is a real performer despite not carrying a "magnum" name on it, 100gr bulets @ 3200fps (3400+fps if you handload) makes a great dual purpose cartrage.

Ar180shooter
December 1, 2012, 02:02 AM
why 308? the 243 beats it in every aspect of targert shooting
Except for bullet selection and availability of factory ammo, plus there's surplus/Russian 7.62 NATO that is far cheaper than .243. Really, the .243 Winchester is not a great target cartridge. Varminting and small deer, yes, serious target shooting, no. Many of the fancier 6mm/6.5mm suggestions are fantastic long range suggestions, but remember, OP wants to shoot cheaply.

But I digress, what aspects does it beat the .308 in?

chaser_2332
December 1, 2012, 02:18 AM
the 243 will smoke a 308 at any distance in wind drift and drop. Drop has little to nothing to do with it but the ability to have some leadway in a wind call is worth its weight in gold. There is a reason why the 308 isnt seen much in precision field matches. I shoot a 260 for matches but take a look at the PRS series final shooter list. There is more 6mm shooters than all the rest, and they can shoot whatever they want. My 260 barrel is about shot out for the year and im seriously concidering going to .243

RhinoDefense
December 1, 2012, 02:37 AM
That thread title is a great question. I'll hold back my opinion for a bit while others post.

Kachok
December 1, 2012, 02:41 AM
If you want to shoot cheap RELOAD your brass, that is the best way to shoot on the cheap and get the best performance. As far as performance goes the 308 150gr and 243 100gr can both be loaded to about 3000fps and both can get around .430BC with regular over the counter bullets so the performance is darn near a even. The 7mm-08 and 260 rem both can out perform their larger and smaller counterparts with .450-.480BC bullets at the same 3000fps range. I load 120gr Ballistic Tips (.458BC) in the 6.5x55 (the 260s ballistic twin) to just over 3000fps with good accuracy and devastating deer thumping results. If you use match bullets the 123gr LS (.552BC) gives the 6.5mm a large advantage over all others at range.
The 223 is great and cheap to shoot inside 300yd but it's lackluster BC bullets limit it's potential. How far do you really want to shoot?

chaser_2332
December 1, 2012, 03:18 AM
what about the 105 hybrids and the 115 bergers and dtacs? arnt those BC's around 545-550 and can be pushed faster than the 6.5 rounds

Kachok
December 1, 2012, 03:26 AM
what about the 105 hybrids and the 115 bergers and dtacs? arnt those BC's around 545-550 and can be pushed faster than the 6.5 rounds
They require custom barrels with 1:7 twist. Yes the 243 can push 2900fps with those custom 30" tubes but give the 6.5x55 the same length barrel and it can push .614BC 140gr VLDs to 2950fps (some even claim 3000+). No contest the 6.5s trump the 6mm on an even playing field.
BTW for those of you who can use a ballistics calculator .600+BC at those speeds is every bit as good as a 300 Win mag can do.

chaser_2332
December 1, 2012, 03:38 AM
a 30" barrel isnt even close to required to push the bullets that fast. I shoot 140 berger hybrids that have been pointed out of a bartlein 26" barrel about fast i as you can push with a temp stable powder and i have been to many matches seeing guys with 243's make the same hits with less wind calls and flatter elevations. Im not knocking the 6.5 i love the caliber, but im just saying

meanmrmustard
December 1, 2012, 09:42 AM
.260 Remington. Great long range cartridge.

heavydluxe
December 1, 2012, 09:59 AM
Ugh... As an over-analytical nerd, I can see how this decision (or, decisions) is fraught with complications.

First off, as the OP notes, the straight our ballistics questions is clear. For longer range applications, the .243 is ballistically superior. It's unclear whether the OP reloads or is interested in starting, so there is a substantial potential cost delta between .243 and .223

I guess at the bottom is a question of priorities... If the real goal is to extend effective range and terminal ballistics at that range, then buying the .243 is a clear choice. For comparison, you could consider the cost of very special purpose, long range loads for the .223 (things tipped with heavy Sierra MatchKings or Berger VLD bullets) and you'd notice that the cost difference between the two calibers - when you're focused on performance - is not that different.

If you handload, you can certainly manage the cost of the .243 quite well. But, if you don't, adding the up-front cost to start might make you just decide to stick with .223 for a while.

As far as the .260 goes, I'm not as familiar with that cartridge. But, the fundamental argument would seem to be the same.

And, I agree with other posters that it seems a bolt gun might be a better choice based on what your intended application seems to be. But, you didn't actually ask, so forget I said it. ;-)

MCgunner
December 1, 2012, 10:09 AM
Get the 243 (or bigger) and reloading equipment. You'll hunt deer successfully for a lifetime and shoot cheaper than .223 with better ammo and be legal in all states that allow rifles (I think). Some states don't allow pop guns....22 caliber. Personally, I prefer my .308 or my 7mm Remington Magnum or my .257 Roberts.

That said, I got a 9 pointer yesterday with my SKS.....:D

Kachok
December 1, 2012, 10:15 AM
a 30" barrel isnt even close to required to push the bullets that fast. I shoot 140 berger hybrids that have been pointed out of a bartlein 26" barrel about fast i as you can push with a temp stable powder and i have been to many matches seeing guys with 243's make the same hits with less wind calls and flatter elevations. Im not knocking the 6.5 i love the caliber, but im just saying
Try RL-22 sometime, I don't have a 30+ inch tube on mine, but I have several friends who do a few of which shoot benchrest, trust me the Sweed can be pushed that fast with the VLD and the 142gr SMK
I'll PM you a load sent to me by one of my benchrest buddies, the Sweed is a hot little round in a modern action.

chaser_2332
December 1, 2012, 12:44 PM
Rl-22 is a temp sensitive powder and not worth it for me to reload with.

Kachok
December 1, 2012, 01:09 PM
Rl-22 is a temp sensitive powder and not worth it for me to reload with.
Funny I have used it plenty with no issues, as have my friends who shoot benchrest. You can also use H1000 for some high power 6.5x55 if temp sensitivity is an issue. 123gr LS and 140gr VLD trump any 243 load I can dream up, and can be shot through normal factory barrels where as the 243 needs a custom 1:7" that nobody puts on their rifles.
Clear winner there, throw the 6.5-284 in the mix and you beat any 243 AI setup.

Jackal
December 1, 2012, 01:26 PM
The 6mm is and has always been a superior caliber, no matter the cartridge its chambered for. Its my opinion that the .243 should have been in military service for the last 50 years. Would have solved the armed forces problems with .308 recoil and still maintain hard hitting, long range accuracy.

Is it worth the cost though? No, no its not. Not when .308 is actually less expensive.

chaser_2332
December 1, 2012, 01:33 PM
Benchrest can used temp sensitive power because they don't have to hit what they aim at, only shoot small groups. It doesn't matter if there 1000 dope is off .2-.3 mils they can adjust with sighters and shoot a group. All it has to be is on paper doesnt matter where u hit.

Redlg155
December 1, 2012, 02:00 PM
The .243 is a great caliber that will do everything you want provided that you do your part and use a platform that will get the most accuracy out of the caliber that you choose.

I would definitely look at the Savage guns. I used to own a Savage 10 FP, short acton .308/16 inch barrel with Accutrigger that was a great shooter.

A lot depends on if you reload or not. If you don't, then a .308 will get you the most bang for your buck. I've been ordering a lot of Privi 168gr Match at $13.50 a box lately from Palmetto State Armory.

stubbicatt
December 2, 2012, 10:52 AM
223 is a fine varmint rifle, I've used one extensively to shoot prairie dogs to distances of up to 600 yards. Holdover becomes a serious issue as those distances increase. To my way of seeing it, I can shoot 2 or 3 of the little 223 cartridges and generate about the same heat in the barrel as 1 of the 243 cartridges. So for the application of prairie dog shooting, I would give the nod to the 223.

For coyotes or anything else up to and including elk, I would choose the 243. In fact, when shooting for recreation, I nearly always prefer the 243.

I have shot 243 at prairie dogs, and with lighter bullets the downrange performance is spectacular. It does shoot a bit flatter as well. The cost of bullets is a bit more for the 243 than the 223 for some reason, even in the same weight, $18.29 for 55 vmax in 223, versus $20.49 for 58 grain Vmax in 6mm at MidwayUSA this morning.

Good luck in your choice!

Ar180shooter
December 3, 2012, 10:14 AM
the 243 will smoke a 308 at any distance in wind drift and drop. Drop has little to nothing to do with it but the ability to have some leadway in a wind call is worth its weight in gold. There is a reason why the 308 isnt seen much in precision field matches. I shoot a 260 for matches but take a look at the PRS series final shooter list. There is more 6mm shooters than all the rest, and they can shoot whatever they want. My 260 barrel is about shot out for the year and im seriously concidering going to .243
Take a look at some of the .30 cal VLD's. They're very close in performance to the 6mm's. But this isn't really the point I raised. .308 win is cheaper and has a more plentiful variety of factory ammo available. OP also said that he wanted it to be a backup hunting rifle/cheap longer range plinker. He didn't say he'd be shooting matches, so I don't see why you're raising that point. Also, the rate of twist on some factory rifles may be too slow to properly stabilize the long, heavy .243 VLD's, which you usually have to hand load anyways.

chaser_2332
December 3, 2012, 11:38 AM
30cal doesn't come close until u get in to magnum's which is a whole different game. The 308 case is unable to push the heavy .30 fast enough to be in the same ballpark as the 6mm.

mljdeckard
December 3, 2012, 11:44 AM
I agree about looking for something other than the handi-rifle. I would cruise the pawn shops for a used bolt rifle in whatever cartridge.

Sav .250
December 3, 2012, 11:47 AM
Going "cheap" is fine if your cheap. There are times you have to buy quality to get a positive return for your money. Cheap has a different meaning then lets say....inexpensive. J s/n.

mnhntr
December 3, 2012, 09:15 PM
cheap rifle that shoots = Stevens 200
243 will do anything the 223 will do but the opposite is not true

tactikel
December 3, 2012, 10:40 PM
IMHO if you are really serious about 500 yard shots look at the .260. It is a great round for long range targets. This summer at the range a guy was tuning his .260 ( Krieger barrel) for a 300 yard match. At 100 yards his 5 shot groups were 0.1-0.2" :what: Recoil was light. You really need a bolt action with a good scope and lots of practice. Good luck!

helotaxi
December 4, 2012, 09:44 AM
There is no appreciable difference between the .260 and the .243 (except that the .243 drops a bit less) at 500yds. It's not until you get out into the 1k plus range that the long, heavy 6.5mm pills start to demonstrate a real advantage. At any range, the .243 has less recoil.

People that actually go through and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the various cartridges when deciding on a competition rifle cartridge fled the .30 cals long ago for the 6.5mms. In the last few years, they've moved from the 6.5's to the 6's. The difference in BC between the best bullets in both isn't insurmountable as soon as you consider that the .243 shoots its high BC bullet 300fps faster than the .260. It takes a goodly amount of range to make up that velocity difference.

Comparing the .243 to the .308...no comparison. The .308 is a joke at long range. Using published loads and factory barrels (most .243s come with 1:9.25 twist barrels these days which will stabilize the 105 Hornadys except on a really cold day at sea level) the .243 shooting a 105 Amax holds a wind drift advantage all the way to 800yds compared to a .308 shooting a 208 Amax (which is the best balance of BC and velocity going in the .30 bullets). At 1000yds the .308 holds a 0.1MOA advantage. The .243 has a 10MOA advantage in drop at 1k. Not a big deal if you're shooting known distance, but at unknown distance, flat is good as it reduces the effects of range estimation error. It also reduces the effects of variations in muzzle velocity. If you move to a faster twist barrel it opens the door to better bullets in the .243. That's pretty much as good as it gets for the .308.

heavydluxe
December 4, 2012, 12:50 PM
I'd be interested to hear the OP chime in again. Maybe with little more rigid set of parameters for evaluation?

I always chuckle when someone asks "Thing One or Thing Two" questions and the thread turns into a "Thing 3!" or "Thing Eleventy" deal. :)

taliv
December 4, 2012, 01:44 PM
i agree with chaser. i like 260, but for most applications, 243 is better. yes you need a faster twist barrel (7.7 or 8) that you won't find off the shelf at walmart.

many of the numbers above are misleading because in the 6XC, 6Creedmoor, 6SLR etc you can easily push 105 bergers over 3200 fps. and that's out of 26" bbl.

i'm shooting about 7 mil to 1000 against people with 6mm that are shooting about 6 mil to 1000. the downside is you have less energy on target, and worse barrel life


re: 223 vs 243, if informal targets only, 223 is very cheap to shoot and plenty accurate. don't shoot animals with it at distance though

helotaxi
December 4, 2012, 06:18 PM
Punching paper and ringing steel, energy on target means squat. A hit's a hit. The barrel life is worse but you're still talking about spending more on ammo (even reloads) than the cost of a new barrel. You pay to play, no way around it. A new barrel every competition season or so is simply one of the prices of being competitive. If you want to compete with a barrel that will last for years, shoot F/TR but understand that you're shooting in a handicap match at that point.

For the OP, decide exactly what you want to gain. Do you want cheap shooting with bulk ammo, happy if you get one hit in 5? Do you want to shoot high quality ammo expecting to see good results? Are you trying to improve your overall shooting ability, including wind reading? A "yes" with each of those points to a different cartridge. The first is pure .223. The second is a tossup, since match quality factory ammo for either runs over $1 per round on average with the .243 being slightly more expensive and slightly harder to come by. The latter actually points to the .223 as well since its inferior ballistic performance amplifies all your mistakes with regard to loading the ammo, estimating range and adjusting for wind. I have a pretty good .223 bolt rifle and a tack driving .243. The .243 gets shot a lot more simply because I like shooting "reactive" targets like gourds and soda bottles full of water and it doesn't get interesting trying to get a hit on a 2-3" target until you're out past 300yds. At that range the .223 simply doesn't provide the crowd pleasing *smack* and explosive effects like the .243.

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