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.243 or 6.5 Swede for deer rifle?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by greg788, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. greg788

    greg788 Active Member

    I can't decide between these two calibers. This will be my primary deer rifle. Both have pros and cons. I mainly want a mild caliber that doesn't beat the crap out of me at the range like a .30-06.

    My gut tells me a .243 is slightly light for *all* situations on deer, especially at longer ranges. But, I've seen lots of deer (including big ones) go down like a box of rocks to the .243. I've never shot a deer with a .243 personally.

    There's a ton of factory ammo available in .243. There's also a surprising amount available in the Swede (including premium stuff from Norma, RWS, Lapua and Stars and Stripes), but I'd be special ordering it. Standard factory fare in the Swede is pretty mild but at least gets out to 250 yards flat. The other question is: how good (accurate) is the standard, mild factory ammo in 6.5 Swede from the likes of Hornady, Federal, Remington, and Winchester?

    Which caliber would you choose and why?
  2. Delmar

    Delmar Well-Known Member

    For pure all around ballistics and penetration, I think the 6.5 Swede has it all over the 243, but like everything, there is a downside.
    If you somehow forget your 243 ammo, most any mom and pop place is going to have something useful on the shelf. Not so with the 6.5.
    The 243 is a dependable, capable performer on deer out to a few hundred yards, and for the careful hunter who knows his capabilities and that of his rifle, a lot farther.
    I like short actions in general. While the cartridge length is not great, the feel of the bolt is certainly different. When I go from my 308 to my 270, it feels like I'm pulling the bolt back twice as far, but thats just me.
    If youre reloading for either, I'd again go with the 6.5 and would recommend it for cost reasons, and if you're purchasing a modern strength action, for performance as well. Because of a lot of the older Mauser 96 actions out there, the 6.5 is seriously underloaded. Easily and safely fixed at the reloading bench. The 243 is also easy to load, and components easier to find.
  3. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    :D Already have a .243, and I've done in some 20+ little buck-type deer critters with it. And jackrabbits, coyotes and prairie dogs.

    Unless you're hunting in really wide open country, some 90+ percent of all deer are shot inside of 200 yards.

    Hey, go with whichever cartridge looks prettiest to you. :D
  4. nathan

    nathan Well-Known Member

    ,243 is my pick which I do have one right now in Rem Youth model. I heard good things about the Hornady Light Magnum. That should give enough energy to put a game down.

    Technical Information

    Muzzle Velocity: 3100 fps
    Muzzle Energy: 2133 ft. lbs.


    Some of the reviews

    Average Customer Rating:

    Mark Thompson of Sheffield lake, OH
    Date Posted: 12/28/2005I've used this on 3 antelopes in Wyoming ranging from 220 yards to 330 yards...all dropped where they stood!
    Was this review helpful? Yes | No
    51 found it helpful | 4 did not

    Tim H. of Concord, NH
    Date Posted: 9/6/2005This shoots very accurately out of my Ruger M77 MkII Sporter - 1" groups or better at 100 yards. Out of all of the ammo. I have tried out of this rifel (I have tried several premium brands), this is the most consistantly accurate. This is my choice to take into the feild for non-varmint game when hunting with a .243.
    Was this review helpful? Yes | No
    43 found it helpful | 2 did not

    Reid Dorland of Nine Mile Falls, WA
    Date Posted: 3/2/2005I use this round in my browning A-bolt when hunting within agricultural areas or the Snake River Breaks where shots are seldom inside 200 yards. It is highly accurate and retains enough energy at long range to anchor large mule deer with a single shot. Almost every deer I have taken with this load found me examining a perfectly mushroomed out slug just under the skin on the opposite shoulder. I will not go afield with anything else.
    Was this review helpful? Yes | No
    86 found it helpful | 5 did not

    Note: The views expressed above are those of each review author. They do not necessarily reflect the position of MidwayUSA.
  5. hlq

    hlq Well-Known Member

    For me it would be the 243.
    1. Very capable of taking deer at ranges that most shooters are capable of
    2. Ammo can be bought almost any where
    3. Lots of reloading options if your into reloading
    4. Can also double as a great varmint round
    5. Very low recoil

    The swede is a good cartridge also but I believe that the 243 has a few more advantages. I used a 243 for many years for deer and then switched to a 270. I've now come full circle and rediscovered the 243.
  6. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    Both the .243 and the 6.5 Swede are fine deer calibers.

    If you aren't planning to reload, the obvious choice would be the .243.

    But since they are both superior deer calibers , you are in the happy situation of being able to go out and find the make/model of rifle that you really like using. That's the rifle you really want to buy. If it happens to be a .243 - great! If it happens to chambered for the Swede - that's great too!

    Four super "huntable" deer rifles that come in .243 (but not the Swede) are the Ruger #1 RSI single-shot, the Browning BLR lever-action, the Remington Model Seven bolt-action, and the Ruger M77 RSI bolt-action.

    Good Luck !
  7. woof

    woof Well-Known Member

    Why on earth would you overlook the .260 Rem, the best of both?
  8. I think it's the right *question*. :) Either/or. I'd say the 6.5x55 if (1) you might realistically shoot past 275 yards, and (2) if above the 45 deg N parallel latitude (Maine/Mich/Wisc/Minn/S. Dakota/Mont/Idaho/Wash and points northward) where the deer have huge bodies. Otherwise, whichever one floats your boat.


    I can only vouch for the 243 Win. It is my main caliber for Antelope & Doe Mule Deer. For Buck Mulies, Cow Elk etc. I start at the 270 Win, 7mm-08 and bigger calibers.
  10. lencac

    lencac Well-Known Member

    Come on guys ............ use what is available and works. You're hunting deer for cryin out loud. You only need 1 bullet a trip right?:evil:
  11. hawmanai

    hawmanai Well-Known Member

    I would go with the 6.5 Mauser over the .243 for where I hunt at. Need longer range and a heavier bullet for the size of the deer.

    Also consider the .260 as 6.5x55 ammo can be scarce.
  12. golden

    golden Well-Known Member

    6.5 for me

    I own and really like the 6.5x55 round. I have a WINCHESTER model 70 Featherweight and it is such a mild kicker I can go through 2 boxes from the bench without suffering. Try that with a lightweigt .30-06!

    Also, the 6.5 has over 100 years of service. It has downed everything from deer to moose.
    It can penetrate deeply, does not destroy meat, is easy on the shoulder and ears. What more could you want.

    I have never owned a .243 WINCHESTER. It is too big for my target shooting.

    The .243 may or may not be a good deer round, depending on who you ask, but the 6.5X55 is legal for moose in Europe and I have never heard anyone say it is not adequate for deer.

    My only advice on the 6.5x55 is to try several brands of ammo. In my rifle, WINCHESTER will group 1.5 inches versus 3.0 inches for REMINGTON at 100 yards.

    Good luck with your choice.

  13. mpmarty

    mpmarty Well-Known Member

    For medium to large deer (not texas desert rats) you need penetration and a high sectional density. The 6.5 fills that bill to a "T" and the 243 and other 6MMs don't quite make the cut. If on the other hand you want to do small deer and varmint like prairie dogs and such then the 243/6MM remmy get the nod. In any case, pick a rifle you like and go for it.
  14. JimmAr

    JimmAr Well-Known Member

    Thats such a hard choice.. both are excellent cartridges.. both are offered in lapua brass for relatively cheap although the amount of firearms offered for 6.5x55 are limited ... 243 is everywhere..:confused:
  15. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Well-Known Member

    I only started shooting 6.5 Swedes a few years ago. Now I wish I had learned about that wonderful cartridge 40 years ago. Ammo is available as military surplus, Federal and Hornady factory loads, Norma Factory Loads and a couple other off the wall brands. Handloading is the best way to go for a modern rifle firing any cartridge and the 6.5 Swede really shines with loads between 100 grain bullets up to 160s. So anything from Coyotes to Moose.

    Tikka makes a 6.5x55 Mauser that has a good rifling twist for the whole range of bullt weights, so does CZ and Sako. There are also some M-700 Remingtons out there as well as some old Winchesters. A limited run of Ruger M77s.....
    And of course the real Swede Mauser Rifles.....

    The 260 Remington is a 308 case necked down to 6.5mm. It basically duplicates the ballistics of the 115 year-old 6.5mm Swede. However the shorter neck does not do as well with heavy bullets.
  16. woof

    woof Well-Known Member

    To me if you want to shoot heavier bullets you go to a 7mm-08. I see no advantage to the 6.5x55 over the .260 apart from the passing "chic" it has right now. The 7x57 also went through a period of such popularity but now it is waning. I salute both those venerable old cartridges but I think the .308 family will hold sway over their competitors over the years. Sizes 6-9, with half sizes.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  17. Loggerlee

    Loggerlee Well-Known Member

    .243 of the choices there,you could also get a 30/06 and just shoot some "reduced recoil" loads.
  18. woof

    woof Well-Known Member

    I find managed recoil ammo to be very accurate and perhaps better performing on the deer than full power loads at around 100 yards and under. The .308, 7mm-08 and .260 are all available in managed recoil.
  19. moosehunt

    moosehunt Well-Known Member

    I have both, think highly of both, but for deer, I'd definately go with the 6.5x55. I use the .243 for Pronghorn, where it shines. (Also coyotes sometimes). I don't use the 6.5x55 for deer, but it would shine. I use mine for sheep, but also have shot caribou and Mtn. goat with it. The 6.5x55 would be about as perfect for deer as one could get, with a good safety allowance for some bigger opportunities if they came along, like sheep or caribou. Be realistic--virtually no one buys ammo, and reloading for the 6.5x55 is as easy and component available as the .243. Everyone knows that the .243 has killed many deer and much bigger, but it's "perfect" fit is Pronghorn, deer just a skosh above it's perfect use--but certainnly plenty adequate for deer. I dare say one will never regret having a 6.5x55. It would definitely not be ideal, but if an elk opportunity came along, the 6.5x55 would suffice. The .243 wouldn't be right at all--though of course they have killed many elk. The 6.5x55 would just blow the .243 out of the water if an elk opportunity developed. The 6.5x55 is much more versatile--and it would be great for Pronghorn, too.
  20. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Well-Known Member

    The 6.5x55 is a great round.

    I probably won't be too interested in one, at least in a new rifle, since American companies don't make actions for mid-length Mauser rounds. If you get one, it's probably a .30-06 length action.

    WRT being beaten up at the range, don't shoot sitting at the bench. What does that teach you about what you can expect while hunting anyway, at least once you've established the trajectory? It's important to know what you can hit, and how far, when using the rifle, not what the rifle can hit when fired from sandbags.

    Anyway, if it's really just for deer, what about a .260 Remington in an action and magazine that are designed for it? Or a .270 Winchester with a good recoil pad?

    Then there are deer, and there are deer. A friend and I were scouting in the desert Southwest and he literally mistook a fleeing jackrabbit for a fleeing mule deer. OTOH I just stumbled on a deer herd here while pheasant hunting the other day, and even the small ones were big.

    Just some thoughts.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008

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