Smallest .243 bullet for whitetails?


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J_McLeod
January 31, 2014, 10:49 PM
I'm going to start loading with the Hornady 100gr BTSP, but while reading my manual tonight I noticed that smaller bullets would allow the use of more powders that I have. So what's the smallest bullet you'd hunt with?

I have H414, Varget, 8208 XBR, IMR 4320, H322 and limited H335 and CFE 223. I'll probably do all my .243 loading with the first two, but like to have options.

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rcmodel
January 31, 2014, 11:13 PM
The lighter bullets in any caliber are always lightly constructed Varmint bullets designed to blow up explosively on small pesky critters.

They are NOT designed to hold together and penetrate deeply enough for use on deer or larger game.

In .243, the lightest bullet I would consider for deer would be in the 85-87 grain range.
And even then, read up on them and insure they are intended for big game and not varmint hunting.

rc

Art Eatman
January 31, 2014, 11:15 PM
My pet .243 load is the Sierra 85-grain HPBT ahead of 37.5 grains of 3031. :)

I only take neck shots or cross-body chest shots. It's a blow-up bullet. So far, two-dozen one-shot no-move tagged bucks.

Arkansas Paul
January 31, 2014, 11:23 PM
I'll tell you, I got a .243 for the wife because the .308 kicked her a little too hard. I was looking for a good whitetail bullet and asked for suggestions here. Art and a few other guys sang the praises of the SGK HPBT in 85 grain so I bought a box.
35 grains of Varget and 38 grains of IMR 4350 both produced very good accuracy.
And let me tell you, they hit like Thor's hammer. The wife shot a small doe at 157 steps on her very first hunting trip and it was DRT. The wound channel was just as big as my '06 makes.
I'm a believer.

Like rc said though, there are a lot of bullets for the .243 designed for varmints so choose wisely.

jmr40
February 1, 2014, 09:42 AM
The lighter bullets in any caliber are always lightly constructed Varmint bullets designed to blow up explosively on small pesky critters.


Usually, but not always. I'd be looking at one of the Barnes in a 75-85 gr bullets at around 3100-3300 fps. They won't blow up. At those speeds I'd expect a very large exit hole every time.

3212
February 1, 2014, 09:59 AM
Lately,I've been taking Whitetails up to 150 lbs.with 100 grain Sierra Spitzers in front of 36 grains of 4320.Longest shot was 140 yds.Sometimes they exit and sometimes they blow up in the chest cavity.Every deer has died quickly.I used to use Remington core-lockts in 100 grain.No problem with them either.These spitzers have a little flatter trajectory.

Patocazador
February 1, 2014, 10:28 AM
The lightest deer hunting bullet I would use in .243/6mm would be an 85 gr. Nosler partition. My handload is 42.0 gr. of H-380 with a CCI 250 primer.

J_McLeod
February 1, 2014, 12:49 PM
Lately,I've been taking Whitetails up to 150 lbs.with 100 grain Sierra Spitzers in front of 36 grains of 4320.Longest shot was 140 yds.Sometimes they exit and sometimes they blow up in the chest cavity.Every deer has died quickly.I used to use Remington core-lockts in 100 grain.No problem with them either.These spitzers have a little flatter trajectory.
Where did you get that load data? I have Lyman and Hodgdon and neither has data for bullets larger than 90 in 4320.

Hanshi
February 1, 2014, 02:53 PM
While I prefer 100 grain bullets and have taken many deer with this and 105 grain bullets, I've also had excellent results on deer firing 90 grain sptzr.

3212
February 1, 2014, 03:24 PM
J McLeod,The 4320 load came from a buddy who's been loading that way for years.May be a homebrew.

Kingcreek
February 3, 2014, 09:52 AM
I've shot enough deer and pronghorn with 100gr projectiles and excellent results that I never bothered to look further. How much practical difference do you expect under normal hunting conditions? If you are absolutely determined to go lighter I would go with a Barnes.

shaggy430
February 3, 2014, 10:33 AM
I really like the 87 grain Hornady Interlock and the 85 grain Nosler Partition.

41 Mag
February 4, 2014, 05:47 PM
The lightest I used on a regular basis was the discontinued 85gr Nosler Solid Base. Skipping along around 3150fps it was pure lightning striking deer. When I ran out of those I switched to the 95grBT for one season, way too much destruction for my taste. Then the 95gr Partition, and some similar weight of the Barnes X. I quite using this rifle for years, but have started to gain interest in it once again.

I now load the 100gr Solid Base for my grandson to use in his Sako, great bullets sure wished they were still around.

For my Win 70, I now use the Hornady 100gr in both FB and BT. Either one will shoot a nice dime sized group at 100yds and put the smack down on anything I decide to settle the cross hairs on. They might not be quite as fast or as fancy as some of the others I used to shoot, but they haven't failed once since I brought it back out of the safe.

Lloyd Smale
February 5, 2014, 08:04 AM
I shot quite a few deer with 80-90 grain bullets in the 6mm and if placed right they were devestating. I was young then and started accumulating more guns and the 6mm sat for a while. then it somehow kind of became the camp gun and everyone was using it. I ened up doing some pretty long tracking session wtih very little blood to follow due to some pour shooting. I worked up a load for a 100 grain speer for it and it did much better. At least it about allways leaves an exit wound to bleed out of and it seems to knock the cork out of deer just as well as the lighter bullets did. Anymore i just cant see any advantage to not using a 100 grain bullet. A good cup and core 100 grain bullet will kill any deer its placed well into.

theblakester
February 6, 2014, 10:01 AM
The lighter bullets in any caliber are always lightly constructed Varmint bullets designed to blow up explosively on small pesky critters.

They are NOT designed to hold together and penetrate deeply enough for use on deer or larger game.

In .243, the lightest bullet I would consider for deer would be in the 85-87 grain range.
And even then, read up on them and insure they are intended for big game and not varmint hunting.

rc

That is misinformation. Bullet construction and bullet weight are not directly correlated.. Until u get on the very extreme ends)

Typical .308 fmj rounds are 150 grains (no expansion. Extra deep penetration. Bullet may tumble/keyhole after penetrating a few inches/walls). A lot of frangible .308 rounds are 168 or 180 grains.
In the 6.8 ammo line they make 85 and 95 grain tsx and ttsx bullets which are great at expanding, penetrating, and not fragmenting, and hornady makes a 110 grain varmint round. Hornady also makes a 120 grain sst in 6.8.

A lighter bullet, regardless of the type (frangible, expanding, or non expanding) will usually shoot at a higher velocity and have a flatter trajectory. I believe (and I'm not quite 100% certain, but) that the slower, heavier bullets maintain a higher energy at longer distances, and will have more bullet drop at longer distances. Alternately, the lighter bullets start out with a lot of energy, but slow down faster affecting the bullets terminal performance (the bullet won't open up, expand and create a nasty wound cavity properly if it slows down too much. And if it does somewhat start expanding at slower speeds, a lighter bullet might not penetrate enough).

theblakester
February 6, 2014, 10:04 AM
I'm going to start loading with the Hornady 100gr BTSP, but while reading my manual tonight I noticed that smaller bullets would allow the use of more powders that I have. So what's the smallest bullet you'd hunt with?


What are you going to be hunting?

Patocazador
February 6, 2014, 10:18 AM
What are you going to be hunting?
OP says "whitetails."

theblakester
February 6, 2014, 05:23 PM
My bad.

85 grain Barnes TSX.

41 Mag
February 6, 2014, 06:59 PM
Well to be honest on the lighter bullets....

I picked up a little Ruger for grandson #2 to learn with and use on a few feral hogs on the farm. Since he is a bit on the light farmed side I went with some Hornady 85gr Interbond's, and some H-4895 so as to keep the recoil down some. The lighter loads shoot pretty darned well to be honest as we were only going to allow him to shoot 50yds I wanted to make darned sure they would do what I wanted done. Still the velocity was in the ballpark of around 2700'ish fps give or take.

So I took the loads and the rifle over to a friends place with me while I was helping them out with some work. That next morning I sat a deer stand overlooking some grown over creek bottom in an effort to try them out on a nice fat hog. Well I heard them but they were around a hundred yards over from the stand, so that evening after the work was done I headed back over to try again. This time I set up under a big willow tree which with the limbs drooped down made a great hide out. My bud had also told me if I saw one of a couple of big mature 6 points to go ahead and take them out as he didn't really want them out there.

So just about a half hour left of shooting light here comes ol big 6 strutting right by me less than 50yds, so I took aim on the dimple behind his shoulder and let one of the little pills fly. I could easily tell he was hit solidly by the way he was stumbling across the 75yds or so of pasture to the edge of the wood line. Just inside he piled up rear over ears. I gave him 15 or so minuted while I gathered up my things, and texted my bud I had shot. Then I eased over to find the buck in what I thought were the last throws. Well the way he was laying all I had was a up the rear end shot and I know that isn't a finisher, so I held on him and sat tight, and with one motion he was up on his front end at which point I put another one through his shoulder. He made a skidding run never really regaining his front end and piled up again and was still. It was right at dark and my bud called me to let me know his wife had shot at a big buck with her bow and he wanted me to come help them. I knew I couldn't load the deer by myself so I got up to head their way and I heard the miserable sound of the buck leaving town.

So I went to help them giving him more time, and then after an hour search to find nothing of her deer what so ever we went to the house and changed to go back for mine. When we got back it was very clear the buck was hit good as there was blood everywhere. Not in little drops but in pools. It wa clear right where he hit the edge of the woods, where he piled up the first and second times, and the route he took when he left. We shined up through the thick underbrush and could easily see eyes watching right back at us. I eased around to as good of a clearing as I could get on him and finished him with my 454.

While I fully admit this was a tough ol tush hog of a buck, the fact remains that both of the bullets went in just behind his shoulder less than 2" apart, transected his onside lung a portion of his heart and took the front portion of his offside lung apart. His tenaciousness was really something to behold, but either of the two shots should have taken him down, and with a bigger bullet might have done so a LOT quicker. I found one bullet lodged just under the skin on his offside shoulder where it had come to a stop after going through the scapula and breaking the leg. The other was found up in the back strap when my wife was slicing it up, and I have no idea how it wound up there.

So while there might be a lot to be desired for using a lighter bullet, and while they do in some cases drop deer like the Hammer of Thor, I personally have decided that if the caliber is less than 25, then the bullets will be 100grs no less.

And I might get flamed for saying so, but I have also been there done that with the 85's for quite a few years with no issues. I've also watched as my bud slipped the tiny little pill from his Rem 17 in behind the ears and shoulders of numerous hogs out to 200 or so yards and they simply folded up the landing gear and didn't even kick. That said, I say keep the light weights for the critters, and use a heavier one for the game.

splattergun
February 6, 2014, 07:18 PM
For coyotes I use 80 gr Varminters. For deer within 300 yds I use 100 gr.

gibble888
February 6, 2014, 07:35 PM
+1 on the sierra 85gr hpbt with varget for me...shooting .412"@100 last week and i am no sniper.

gamestalker
February 12, 2014, 04:01 PM
Our WT's out here are very small, 60-90 lbs., but we do have some large mule deer. I don't personally like to go with less than 90 grs. for either specie.

GS

anothernewb
February 12, 2014, 04:19 PM
80 gr barnes solid copper sure seems to do a heck of a job.

Savage99
February 12, 2014, 08:00 PM
If the 243 is the best you have ask what the best bullet is for it!

WTBguns10kOK
February 13, 2014, 01:15 AM
In .243, the lightest bullet I would consider for deer would be in the 85-87 grain range.
And even then, read up on them and insure they are intended for big game and not varmint hunting.

I wouldn't recommend worrying about advice such as this on specific grains. Last bear I shot was with an 80 gr. The varmint part is kind of obvious, methinks...

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