First centerfire cartridge?


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Hotshot10
January 29, 2013, 01:16 AM
I’m on the verge of purchasing my first centerfire rifle, after two years of owning a rimfire bolt action. Although it’s a great deal of fun to shoot, I find myself wanting to shoot at longer distances—200 to 300 yards—than the .22 LR handles well.

I initially was leaning toward a .308, but I think the cartridge would be overkill for punching paper and possibly hunting small game (I do not currently hunt larger game, and that’s also unlikely in the future). I’m now leaning toward something a little smaller, and I have been reading on the subject here and over at 6mmbr.com.

Here are my criteria.

• Decent accuracy
• Decent retained energy
• Relatively low recoil
• Flat trajectory
• Little wind drift
• Relatively economical and available
• Doesn’t erode barrels quickly

Four rounds that I have found seem to fit my criteria. I have tried to research each to the best of my ability and to synthesize here what I have read.

• .204 Ruger (advantages: flat trajectory, low recoil, relatively little wind drift; disadvantages: not as versatile in bullet weights, relatively less common than the others)
• .22-250 (advantages: flat trajectory, relatively little wind drift, relatively versatile bullet weights, common components; disadvantages: burns barrels more quickly (?), more recoil than .204)
• .223 (advantages: low recoil, really common components, relatively versatile bullet weights, relatively easy to reload; disadvantages: more wind drift than the others, tends to vanish during panic-induced buying)
• .243 (advantages: flat trajectory, less wind drift than the others, much more versatile bullet weights than the others, common components; disadvantages: burns barrels more quickly (?), might be less comfortable for shooting at the range)

Right now, the .204 and .243 have the edge, the former because of its negligible recoil and the latter because it can handle many weights of bullet (I do reload, although currently only for revolvers).

I’d like to know 1.) if my summaries of each cartridge are accurate, since many here have more knowledge and experience with this than I will probably every have, and 2.) which cartridge you think would be suitable for my purposes (shooting at the range and hunting small game).

Thank you in advance.

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kludge
January 29, 2013, 01:45 AM
Define "hunting small game". The cartridges you list will vaporize small game... there will be nothing left to eat. If you mean that you'll be shooting varmints, then carry on.

For 200-300 yard paper punching and hunting, the .223 Rem will do it.

Hotshot10
January 29, 2013, 07:30 AM
Define "hunting small game".

Ooops. I should have mentioned what. A friend of mine hunts 'yotes on his father's property and has invited me along. That's as big as it will get. I think I'd like to try hunting prairie dogs sometime in the future.

Inebriated
January 29, 2013, 07:50 AM
For game as large as Coyotes, and anything smaller?

.243 Winchester get's my vote. You have a range from 55grn to 107grn bullets for anything from ground hogs to deer, and very low recoil. No, it's not as low as .223, but it's incredibly pleasant. Also, with the heavier bullets, you've got a great long range shooter. It's got a higher sectional density of any other cartridge in your list (by a wide margin), and I do believe a higher ballistic coefficient, but I'd have to check. Basically, if you can see the coyote, you can kill that coyote. Also, I've found .243 on EVERY shelf I've walked by during this scare. Can't say the same for the others.

jim243
January 29, 2013, 08:05 AM
No question the 243 for what you want to do. Very easy to reload. If you have trouble finding cases, just resize a 308 case (easy).

Jim

targetshooter22
January 29, 2013, 08:33 AM
For the ranges and missions listed either 223 or 243 would be fine. Barrel life in a bolt gun for the 223 is functional forever. For the 243, it's not as long, but still thousands of rounds. Be realistic about the volume you have time and money to shoot. Wind drift will be trivial in either until you go out past 500 yards.

If you ever want to reload, skip the 204.

The_Armed_Therapist
January 29, 2013, 09:06 AM
In my opinion, it would be difficult to argue against the .223. The low cost (then again, what is real in this current market of chaos?), low recoil, and performance is hard to beat. It will have no problem at all taking a coyote. In many places, people use them to take deer without much of a problem. It's also accurate with good trajectory well past the distances you mentioned.

I might also mention the .22 Hornet, as it might fit your needs fairly well. It'll take coyotes at close ranges fairly easily, and take smaller animals at ranges 2-3X further than the .22 LR. It's not as powerful as the 4 you listed, though. If you want more power, I'd just say get the .223. In fact, if I had to have 3 varmint calibers, I'd go with .22LR, .22 Hornet, and .223 Rem.

cal30_sniper
January 29, 2013, 10:04 AM
I like the .22-250 and .243 a lot. Either one would do a great job for what you want, and the .243 will do anything as long as you don't plan on hunting anything larger than deer.

Sure, .223 used to be easier and cheaper than the others to get ammo for, but that might not always be the case (nor is it the case currently). Imagine the impact some kind of military ammunition (or imported ammunition) ban would have on .223 sales price. Not saying it's an immediate concern, but it could always happen.

You didn't include them, but if you plan on reloading, I feel there are two very nice chamberings that are not on your list. The first is .222 Remington. It is easily the most accurate and fun to shoot caliber I've ever picked up. If you can find an old Savage chambered in it, you just might have a tack driver for real cheap. The second is the .220 swift. The .22-250 has surpassed it in modern times, but the .220 does everything the .22-250 will and then some. It is quite capable of taking anything up to deer size. Don't forget the .244 Remington either. Ballistic twin of the .243, but supposedly more forgiving in reloading, especially for a beginner.

303tom
January 29, 2013, 10:36 AM
From one Statesman to another, just get a Axis from Savage in .308 & forgo all the hoopla..............

Hotshot10
January 29, 2013, 09:23 PM
I might also mention the .22 Hornet, as it might fit your needs fairly well.

I saw one of those recently and read good reports of it, but the components aren't as plentiful as the others.

For the ranges and missions listed either 223 or 243 would be fine. Barrel life in a bolt gun for the 223 is functional forever. For the 243, it's not as long, but still thousands of rounds. Be realistic about the volume you have time and money to shoot

I've seen numbers from 1,500 (sounds kind of low to me, actually) to 2,500 rounds on the .243 barrel. I would estimate that I would shoot about 30 to 50 rounds a trip (nothing substantial), so I would imagine that would last me a long time.

The first is .222 Remington. It is easily the most accurate and fun to shoot caliber I've ever picked up.

You know, a longtime reloader suggested the same to me. I'm wondering if it handles wind well, though, relative to the others. My understanding is that it is primarily suited for 150 to 200 yards. Have you shot it at that distance or longer?

Axis from Savage in .308

I'm a CZ guy, actually. :D

Thanks for the feedback so far. It's helping me.

cal30_sniper
January 29, 2013, 09:40 PM
You know, a longtime reloader suggested the same to me. I'm wondering if it handles wind well, though, relative to the others. My understanding is that it is primarily suited for 150 to 200 yards. Have you shot it at that distance or longer?

Never shot the .222 over 200 yards, it was set up for shooting varmints, mostly at dusk and at night when a shot further than that would be impossible. That being said, the .222 only gives up at the most 200 fps compared to the .223 with the same weight bullets. Most practical loadings are much closer, practically identical. Given that the .223 is quite capable out to 500 meters or more, I'd say you'd be good to go with the .222 well beyond the 300yds you want to shoot at. It will handle wind just about as well as the .223, because they use the same bullets. The difference in a sub-300 yard shot will be unnoticeable. However, the accuracy potential of the .222 is quite noticeable. I don't know why, but for some reason they seem to be natural tack drivers.

witchhunter
January 29, 2013, 10:01 PM
I think the logical progression is the .223. Infinite barrel life if kept clean and cool. Low recoil, this cartridge is a great varmint round. Since you already reload, all you need is the dies. Remember though in rifles, don't mix brass brands, it make a difference. If you buy factory ammo to get started, make sure it is all the same brand so when you reload, it will be more consistant. That said, you will love any of the calibers mentioned, but you can shoot more rounds with the .223 before your barrel heats up than any of the others, either at the range or on a prairie dog town. All of them will hammer a coyote at 300 yards, the .243 85 gr. will drop one as far as you can hit it. There is nothing wrong with getting them all, one at a time!

303tom
January 29, 2013, 10:09 PM
I saw one of those recently and read good reports of it, but the components aren't as plentiful as the others.



I've seen numbers from 1,500 (sounds kind of low to me, actually) to 2,500 rounds on the .243 barrel. I would estimate that I would shoot about 30 to 50 rounds a trip (nothing substantial), so I would imagine that would last me a long time.



You know, a longtime reloader suggested the same to me. I'm wondering if it handles wind well, though, relative to the others. My understanding is that it is primarily suited for 150 to 200 yards. Have you shot it at that distance or longer?



I'm a CZ guy, actually. :D

Thanks for the feedback so far. It's helping me.
What CZ guns do you have ?

Hotshot10
January 30, 2013, 12:04 AM
I think the logical progression is the .223. Infinite barrel life if kept clean and cool.

Yeah, I am definitely not planning to shoot tons in one sitting. I usually take my sweet time when shooting rifles.

What CZ guns do you have ?

Only a 452 American, which is an absolute blast to shoot. My shooting buddy has a similar one, maybe about ten years older, and his experience has been the same. I like the looks of CZ's other rifles (although the wood quality tends to vary, I've seen some nice stocks) and have yet to hear someone complain about their accuracy.

I'm not knocking the Savage at all. I just have no personal experience whatsoever with their rifles.

kBob
January 30, 2013, 10:01 AM
Of the listed calibers in a bolt action I think the .243 gives you the most options, especially if you are reloading.

If you are reloading remember you do not have to go with full power loads to shoot to the ranges you meantion. Midrange loads are likely to extend that barrel life and squib loads will bounce cans and break dirt clods under 100 yards when plinking as well as factory full power.

SOme states won't let you take deer with a .223 and you might live or hunt in one some day.

Something to think about.

-kBob

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