Choosing a new caliber: .243, ,270, or .308?


December 29, 2012, 08:58 AM
I'm going to pick up a new T/C Icon rifle for whitetail deer hunting in Wisconsin. I want to be able to confidently take a single kill shot out to 300 yards (I understand the marksmanship is the key there). I've used several different calibers to hunt deer, but I've never used .243, .270, or .308.

My inclination is to go with .308 because it is 30-caliber, has ballistics not too much less than .30-06 with about 30% less recoil. I've heard that .270 is flatter, and I know that .243 is a good "youth/woman" round.

I like to do a lot of practice shooting, and I used to have a Tikka T3 Lite in .30-06, and after about a dozen rounds with a t-shirt I was quite sore (whereas I could do 20 rounds from .50 BMG bolt gun and not be in pain). I'd like something I can shoot all day without developing a flinch.

My criteria:

-- Has to be commonly available ammunition that is easy and cheap to buy with lots of reloading options
-- Has to be able to kill a whitetail deer at 300 yards with one shot
-- Has to shoot "flat enough" out to 300 yards
-- Has to be comfortable enough to shoot many shots in one sitting

I'm leaning hard toward .308 because it is so popular and there is such a ready supply of ammo because it is a military cartridge.

What do you recommend?

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December 29, 2012, 09:10 AM
Both 308 or 270win. will do the job but IMO 7mm Rem. will do it better and give you the option of shooting farther if you practice and the oportunity prsents itself.

December 29, 2012, 09:24 AM
I know a few guys that use a 243/6mm for deer.

December 29, 2012, 09:46 AM
7mm Mag wouldn't really fit the availability and affordability criteria, would it?

December 29, 2012, 09:50 AM
.308 will work just fine

Steel Horse Rider
December 29, 2012, 10:02 AM
It is another form of the .243 but I think the 6mm Remington is a superior midwest deer cartridge. It is definitely not a womens/youth" round, has a very flat trajectory, and has good range. The problem might be in finding a new firearm chambered for it. I have a Remington 788 chambered for the 6mm Remington that I bought new in 1973 and is a great hunting weapon.

December 29, 2012, 10:08 AM
I do not think that 308 will show 30% less recoil than 30-06, assuming the same bullet weight in both. If recoil is the only issue, why not use the Remington reduced recoil 30-06 loads?

I think well of 270 as a do-it-all chambering; 90gr for varmints, 115gr for itty bitty deer and range work, 130gr for deer, and 150gr for bigger stuff. Then again, I use 125gr loads in 30-06 for the small stuff and range work, 150gr as my general purpose load, and 165gr-180gr for the big stuff.

December 29, 2012, 10:23 AM
Another vote for the .308.

December 29, 2012, 10:27 AM
The 308 winchester is pretty much a 30-06 minus 10%. Out of the 3 calibers you are choosing to compare, the 308 is probably going to be the least expensive when buying ammuniton. At least around here, when wallyworld puts their fall sales on ammo, its usually centered around the 30-06 and 308. The 270 is a fine cartridge too, with a bit less drop as the distance gets longer. The 243 is okay for deer, but at longer ranges youre describing, I dont know how they perform at distance.

December 29, 2012, 10:28 AM
For 300 yards, go 308.

December 29, 2012, 10:29 AM
308 if you hunt in the woods, 270 if you hunt in the wide open, and 243 if you are a little recoil shy or just love a good sissy kicker.
Just pick which one fits you best, I usualy prefer the 308 myself and have extensive experence with all of the above.

R H Clark
December 29, 2012, 10:46 AM
Any you listed will work fine.The 243 will have much less recoil and still do a fine job with good bullets.

December 29, 2012, 10:51 AM
.308 of the choices you suggest...

December 29, 2012, 10:51 AM
Another .308 fan.

I am not despairing the other calibers at all. There are lots of good calibers that will get the job done. I just like the .308. Recoil is mild, ammo is anywhere that sells it, cheap surplus to shoot for fun (Well, used to be anyway), components for days, etc., etc.

December 29, 2012, 10:52 AM
The 308 will recoil less than a 30-06, but not 30% less. Given your criteria I'd five a close decision to the 270. Less recoil, plenty of power for deer, flat shooting.

The 243 is a distant third, especially given the 300 yard requirement.

December 29, 2012, 11:04 AM
My 308 is certainly not 30% less recoil then my 06 is, mabey 15-20% at best. The difference is noticable but neither one of them is painful to shoot, I have put more then a hundred rounds of 308/30-06 downrange in a day with no bruising, but I am a VERY experenced shooter so your milage may vary.

December 29, 2012, 11:27 AM
I'll say .270, it's really great for everything but recoil may be an issue for long shooting sessions but really no worse than the .308. Ill toss another option out though how about the 22-250? It'll lay deer down fine at 300 yds with proper shot placement .224 Ida bullets can be had in a variety of weights and ranges of design and the best part, little recoil!

December 29, 2012, 11:51 AM
It doesn't realy matter what caliber you pick, you just need accuracy. People often take white tail from tree stands using handguns after all.

There was a time when I was younger and thought the 243 was a kid round. I went out and bought a m70 in 7mm mag
Used it once. The deer did that exact same thing that they do with the 243.... It jumped then Stumbled afew feet then feel over and died. The only difference was the ammo costs a lot more,the gun is heavier,made my ears ring a lot longer and it kicked harder.

December 29, 2012, 12:21 PM
Save yourself some money and put a limbsaver pad on the 30-06. It will get recoil levels down to near 243 levels. Between 308, 30-06 and 270 there isn't a nickles worth of difference in performace on game. Since the others are so close, and you already have a 30-06 I'll suggest a 243 if you just want another gun. With todays better bullets it is a 300 yard deer killer and offers something different than what you already have.

December 29, 2012, 12:28 PM
I don't see any advantage to the .270 Win, then.

So the .308 has a grand history behind it and more knock-down energy for those over 300-yard shots I won't be taking. The .243 seems to be commonly available ammunition, and it actually has a flatter trajectory out to 300 yards. Hunting ammo is cheaper and reloading is probably a bit cheaper in materials. Add in the light recoil and paper performance out to 1000 yards just for kicks... I think I might get the girly gun.

BTW... does the .243 use large rifle primers?

December 29, 2012, 12:30 PM
.308 and .270 recoil are about identical, which isn't quite 30% less than .30-06. I don't actually notice much real difference between them all. The .243 has the best trajectory with the .270 VERY close behind. The .308 is down a ways, but within 300 yards, there is little difference between the 3. All will take whitetail in 1 shot at that distance.

Which is your priority?

1.) Recoil... Like I said, the .308 and .270 are very close to the .30-06 in recoil. If this is your priority, then .243 is the clear choice.

2.) Cost... .308 is slightly cheaper than the other two.

3.) Longer distance... I know I said the .243 has a better trajectory, but past 300 yards, it loses the energy for cleanly taking down white tail deer. If you want to try past 300, go with the .270.

December 29, 2012, 12:33 PM
243 uses large rifle primers.

December 29, 2012, 12:43 PM
So the .308 has a grand history behind it and more knock-down energy for those over 300-yard shots I won't be taking

Actually... Without having the exact information in front of me, the .308 has more energy at the muzzle, and out to a few hundred yards. Past around 300 yards, the .270 actually passes the .308 in energy/momentum due to BC. In other words, it loses energy and velocity at a slower rate than the .308, meaning that they "cross" each other at a certain distance, basically close to 300 yards. Obviously, this is very general. A minority of rounds are probably the exception. 180-grain .308s will hold higher energy levels further than 300 yards, but the trajectory would be far less beneficial than the .270's.

Admittedly, the differences are very slim regardless.

December 29, 2012, 12:43 PM
Excellent. Thanks for the advice everyone! I just picked up a new T/C Icon in .243 for $550 + $25 shipping on Gunbroker. :D

December 29, 2012, 12:50 PM
Congrats! You won't be disappointed. The "girly round" reputation is odd. It's perfectly effective for what you want.

R H Clark
December 29, 2012, 12:56 PM
The 243 is a great round as long as you use bullets designed for big game.

December 29, 2012, 12:57 PM
All three are very good whitetail rounds, and will do a good job for your stated purpose. That being that though, there are many more superior bc bullits available in 308, than the other two.

December 29, 2012, 01:06 PM
I currently own all three calibers, 2-.270 Winchester 70 and a Ruger 77 round top never had a second shot with the .270 Winchester ballistic silvertip, 130 grain on Pa deer, .243 100 grain Remington PSP had to have follow up shots even with proper heart lung bullet placement, just got a .308 Ruger 77 compact, ballistic silvertip, 150 grain wife got a six point with it, and shot went a little low.
I think the .270 best for the 100 to 300 yard open shots, and I have got a nice 7 point with the .270 in woods, flat shooting, modest recoil, Jack O’Connor was right.

December 29, 2012, 01:17 PM
I agree with jmr
Having said that, I personally would buy the 308 bc I don't have one and if ammo gets scarce I want something I can get ammo for if it is available.

December 29, 2012, 01:21 PM
Well I guess I won't have to tell you to get a 243 (LOL).

The progression goes as this, the 308 is a modified 30-06 case, the 243 is a modified 308 case. The 243 by the way is a 1,000 yard round if you want to load them that way.

While you will get accuracy from a 308 for about 5,000 rounds, I should warn you that the 243 will only get accuracy (sub-MOA) for about 800 to 1,500 rounds if you use hot loads (3,600 fps to 4,000 fps).

Bullets for the 243 come from 55 grain to 107 grain weights. What you want for deer is anywhere from 85 grain to 107 grain bullets (there are a ton available).

PS: your shoulder will thank you since the 243 is a mild recoiling rifle (you can shoot it all day long).

With proper shot placement the 243 will drop a deer in it's tracks. The shinning thing about it is the Hydrostatic Shock it produces because of the speed at which it travels. It is flat shooting, soft recoil, easy to reload, super fast (just don't use slow commercial ammo) and has a ton of options (varmint as well as big game).

Congrats on your choice, you will be very happy. (or so I think)

December 29, 2012, 01:34 PM
Believe it or not (I was surprised), my wife was a voice of reason in the decision. She knows me well enough to know that I'm not a trophy hunter... in fact, I really don't enjoy deer hunting at all (except for the time spent with dad). I hunt for meat because we need it. On the other hand, I'm an avid shooter, and I really enjoy long distance shooting. She thought the .243 would provide me with a lot more enjoyment target shooting and still let me get the family deer.

BTW... I see that the Nosler Balistic Tip 95gr are really well liked on Midway. I'll be loading my own, and these don't seem so pricey.

December 29, 2012, 02:17 PM
Simple choice--however not listed--7mm-08!

December 29, 2012, 04:27 PM
My vote goes for the .308 Win first and with the 270 Win a close second. The 308 or 270 ammo is generally reasonable in price and can be found in most remote locations.

Dr T
December 29, 2012, 04:36 PM
My 243 Icon is a tack driver. And, with its ballistic twin, the 6mm Remington, I have killed deer out to 325 yards with one shot.

Your wife, however, may have an ulterior motive for suggesting the 243. Has she shot it yet? If so, good luck on getting it back...:-)

December 29, 2012, 04:53 PM
I have a .270 and a .308, of thev two I've killed more deer with the .270, but the .308 is a very close second. Flip a coin!!!

December 29, 2012, 05:29 PM
Don't make the decision based on caliber, the .270 will do everything the .308 can do on deer; both calibers are excellent. Find a rifle that you really like and if it is in either caliber, you're golden.

December 29, 2012, 05:40 PM
He already bought the .243


December 29, 2012, 05:47 PM
2.) Cost... .308 is slightly cheaper than the other two. For like bullet types in factory ammo, the ammo pretty much costs the same. Cheap Federal is about $16 a box for all three. Premium ammo with big game bullets is closer to $45 for all three. If you reload, the .243 is the budget round with cheaper bullets and a smaller appetite for powder.

December 29, 2012, 06:16 PM
For like bullet types in factory ammo, the ammo pretty much costs the same. Cheap Federal is about $16 a box for all three. Premium ammo with big game bullets is closer to $45 for all three.

That's absolutely true. However, I was writing more towards his desire to shoot at targets as well. The last time I bought .308 (2 months ago), I found Wolf for about $7.50/box online. That can't be done with .243 or .270. Prvi Partizan for about $12.00/box, still better than the others for range time.

December 29, 2012, 06:33 PM
Which model 243 are you going with?

December 29, 2012, 06:35 PM
.308 vote here.

December 29, 2012, 07:14 PM
That's absolutely true. However, I was writing more towards his desire to shoot at targets as well. The last time I bought .308 (2 months ago), I found Wolf for about $7.50/box online. That can't be done with .243 or .270. Prvi Partizan for about $12.00/box, still better than the others for range time.
Depends on what range you're shooting at. Sure for cheap, short range blasting at "area targets" the .308 will do, but for that purpose I'd just as soon use a .22. When you start actually target shooting rather than just plinking, and the range is such that things are actually interesting, reloading is the only way to go and the .243 is considerably cheaper.

December 29, 2012, 08:05 PM
I ended up getting the Icon with "field grade" walnut version in .243 Win. $550 + $25 shipping seems like a steal for a rifle of that quality. I had thought about the Weathershield version, but was turned off by the face that it really wasn't stainless -- just coated regular steal. Besides, there is something more romantic and aesthetically pleasing about a nice wood stock.

December 29, 2012, 08:11 PM
I like 30-30 for anything out to 250 yds, 30-06 for all the rest. 308 would probably be my choice of the ones you have listed.

December 29, 2012, 08:18 PM
I have a .270 and several .308s, and I got to agree with adkwoodsman...the 7mm-08 may be the best all around caliber with less recoil and good for anything in the lower 48.

December 30, 2012, 03:00 PM
7mm-08 is a good one sure, but mine sits between my 6.5x55 and my 308 and that is some TOUGH competition. It has yet to take any game, but I hope to get it broken in this season.

December 30, 2012, 03:12 PM
I you are concerned about taking deer at 300+ with a 243 watch this.

With todays new modern bullets we need to forget all the old rules about what will work and what will not.

December 30, 2012, 03:23 PM
Thanks, JMR40! That was amazing!

December 30, 2012, 03:35 PM
I hear the trigger on the icon is really good, please follow up with a range report!
The .243 will kill deer just fine, and the good thing about the soft recoil is that you can keep the target in scope view after pulling the trigger.

December 31, 2012, 11:26 AM
I've had very good luck with my .308 carbine for deer, antelope, elk, moose, and wild boar. Ammo is still affordable. Several Premium bullets are offered within factory ammo.

.308 has been popular for over 50 years!


December 31, 2012, 11:41 AM
In defense of the .308 for future readers, it is a more efficient cartridge than the 30-06, and will equal, or out-perform, the '06 until you get up into the heavier bullets (which are not really needed for whitetail). Look through a reloading manual and you can see for yourself.

December 31, 2012, 06:50 PM
The .308 is best all around. Has the highest BC bullets, competition proven accuracy and maximum killing power. .243 is as accurate but having owned 2 rifles in .243 I am not impressed with the killing power. .270 has a reputation of not able to compete in accuracy due to lower B.C. And bullets too long and fast to stabilize without other issues. Chuckhawks had a good article rating hunting bullets and the .308 was tops in it's class beating the .270 by several positions. But all three are popular and for normal hunting all do well and have a strong following. Only a bean field shooter would notice any difference and he would likely use a mag anyway or 30-06. So good hunting with the .243. If they didn't work they wouldn't be popular.

December 31, 2012, 09:57 PM
I just picked up a Rem CDL in 270. for my (DEER, ANTELOPE, AN HOG) gun. 30.06 tc Encore is my everything rifle.

Your choice of a 243. would not have been my choice for a dedicated deer rifle but IMO is a dang good choice, I just prefer a little more knockdown power at longer distances.

BTW 243 will be my next cartridge. as it is an excellent 200 yard deer, pronghorn cartridge and its an incredible varmint cartidge.

I think you did good but would have suggested the 270.

January 1, 2013, 05:01 AM
The Icon is a nice rifle, and the .243 is a fun round. When I take mine to the range, I shoot it till I'm out of time or out of ammo - it's never a question of out of shoulder endurance, as it is with heavier rounds.

It's rewarding to shoot, rewarding to load for, and I can't think of a single reason not to have one.

January 1, 2013, 09:58 AM
I think you will thoroughly enjoy that .243. I inherited a pre-64 model 70 featherweight in .243 from my dad and it puts down deer with an authority that is clearly beyond it paper ballistic limits. (I recently picked up a Ruger Youth model .243 for my 10 yr old grnddtr.)

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