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.243 vs .308

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by ndh87, Feb 24, 2009.


.243 or .308

Poll closed Mar 16, 2009.
  1. .243

    17 vote(s)
  2. .308

    54 vote(s)
  1. ndh87

    ndh87 Well-Known Member

    Im looking at getting a Remington 700 SPS Varmint. Im set on the gun, Im just trying to decide on the caliber.
    I want the rifle for long range precision shooting. Around here i probably wont find many occasions to shoot more than 500 yards. Mostly I'll be shooting at paper. Possibly some small to medium sized game and more than likely deer will also be on the receiving end of this rifle.
    I'll be reloading for whichever round I decide on.

    So what are the Pros and Cons of each round out of this rifle?

    p.s. the local shop has the .308 version in stock at the moment.
  2. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Assuming they are stock factory rifles of approximately the same quality and accuracy: the .308 will come with a twist rate appropriate for "all" long-range bullets you might want to use; the .243 will almost certainly not come with a twist rate appropriate for the best long-range bullets. The .243 will also have considerably less "accurate" barrel life than the .308.
  3. B.A.M.F

    B.A.M.F Well-Known Member

    I would definitely go with the .308. Just because the extra power for hunting and it isn't as over-bored as the 243. So longer barrel life. I have a kimber .243 and love it however if it was a target rifle I would go for .308. Heres a review of the rifle in 308. http://www.snipercentral.com/remspsv.htm
  4. mordechaianiliewicz

    mordechaianiliewicz Well-Known Member

    .308 gives you a more common ammo, more power (if you needed it), and you get roughly similar range (though the .243 is greater).
  5. ndh87

    ndh87 Well-Known Member

    What do you mean by over bored?

    For a bolt gun I've got a feeling the barrel life is going to be longer than my life though.
  6. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Overbore means it has "more" case volume to bore area ratio than something else. I usually use .308 as a baseline.

    Accurate barrel life depends on your accuracy requirements and how often you shoot.
  7. 45B@cav

    45B@cav Well-Known Member

    I'm a .308 guy, It however is not the do all end all some people think it is. I just picked up a .308 Remington 770 today. The reason I voted .308 is because it is very versatile. Ammo is relatively cheap and you can get milsurp to go plinking with really cheap. You can also reload cheap. Also I think that there is alot of info on ballistics for it. I can say for sure that a a#$ load of game have fallen to the .308. Plus the Snipers of the world have already gathered all the bullet dope on it and this info is readily available. There is alot of bullets available in every imaginable wieght also it's in stock like you said. Before I upset any .243 lovers I would like to say that .243 is a great caliber and has also taken alot of game and is great for people that are a little recoil sensative like my wife for instance who uses it for deer. I'm not saying it's a girls cartridge but she loves it and has taken 3 deer with it in the past 2 years.
  8. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member

  9. desidog

    desidog Well-Known Member

    I have both, and love em. a Montana M99 (LH) in .243, and an M1A loaded in .308

    I don't know about reloading, but i can say that if you're the type to pull the trigger a lot, go .308; the ammo is more plentiful.

    That being said, the .243 has very little recoil, carries further (although more susceptible to a cross draft), and if you hit whatever it is you're aiming at in the right place, it just doesn't matter between the two....a would channel .00-something different doesn't matter if it's not shooting back at you; that's just the difference between a lot of fur and a little gettign carried throuh the hole. With the .243, if you have a fast-twist barrel, say 1:8, the light varmint ammo will not be accurate, and if you have a slower barrel, say 1:12, the heavy stuff will not group well either. So you need to think about your use of the rifle a bit more.

    .308 is a good all-rounder, .243 takes some barrel length and twist consideration...but if you know what you're about, and what the gun is for, go .243

    Now that i think about it, it's a toss up...you'll just have to get one of each...that's the only way around it. Cheers, D
  10. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member

    I am not sure what your technical definition of "carries further" is, but if we take an example .243 load that works in common-twist 243 barrels (a 70gr NBT at 3400 fps), it is going slower at 500 yards and beyond that a good 308 load:
    _Bullet_           _BC_ _MV_         0     250     500     750    1000    1250 | YARDS
    308 155 LAP       0.508 2900 >    0.00    3.53   15.20   37.03   71.70  121.76 | wind (inches)
    243 70 NBT        0.310 3400 >    0.00    4.85   21.81   56.16  114.69  198.56 | wind (inches)
    308 155 LAP       0.508 2900 >    0.00    0.70    2.50    4.90    8.00   12.00 | drop (Qt mil)
    243 70 NBT        0.310 3400 >    0.00    0.40    2.00    4.50    8.20   13.90 | drop (Qt mil)
    308 155 LAP       0.508 2900 >    2900    2499    2133    1802    1509    1272 | velocity (fps)
    243 70 NBT        0.310 3400 >    3400    2692    2082    1567    1191     993 | velocity (fps)
    Long-range ballistics are (almost) all about BC. You don't start getting good BC values until you get over 110gr, which requires special fast-twist barrels in 243.

    If he's not going with a factory twist 243, he might as well get a .260 Remington.
  11. rangerruck

    rangerruck Well-Known Member

    how many rounds a year do you think you are going to shoot, seriously? If you don't think you are going to shoot over 2000 rounds over it's life span, then personally, Overbore, and bbl life are not that big a worry anymore.
    If you are not going to shoot rounds faster than 1 per minute, then the above shrinks in worry even more. I used to say 308 for everyting, but I don't anymore. Matter of fact, got rid of all 308's, and for all game, and long range shots, I have an old remmy 788 in 308, that is lights out baby!
    Now then, the rifle is not going to be any lighter, matter of fact, it is usually heavier, but the rounds are lighter if going to be carrying a lot;, recoil is a bunch less, and nowadays with the cost of factory ammo, there just isn't that much of an advantage with 308, even with milsurp. But since you will be handloading , that really isn't a factor either. And you certainly can get a ton of variety of diff types of bullets, with either you choose. If you can get a 100 grainer or bigger, in 6mm, to move out at over 3000 fps, you are going to have both a very serious varmint/coyote/deer rig, plus a 1000 yd shooter, if you can get it accurate at that speed as well.
    I vote for a hoggingly fast 243. Oh yeah, a 100 grain softpoint 243 bullet,
    makes the piggies get real sick, real fast.
    Find out what the twist is in the 243, if 1/10 I would do it. If 1/9.5 I would be all over it, that
    is their normal special run remmy's, but I don't know if they ever do the 243 in the 1/9.5,
    I know they do the 308's, as a special, and that is a sub moa all day long rifle, if you can
    find one. I think it has a suffix on the name of the rifle, like sps; but ends in 5-r, which means
    it is a 5 land and groove combo, not the usual 4, and it is the 1/9.5 twist.
  12. ndh87

    ndh87 Well-Known Member

    I will definately be shooting more than 2000 rounds through the life of this rifle. How much does it cost to have a rifle re barreled?
  13. Schleprok62

    Schleprok62 Well-Known Member

    This is completely subjective. How much money do you want to pour into your rifle? What kind of quality do you want? Geez... this can easily get expensive. There are many GOOD barrel makers, and there are some to avoid, like anything else. I'm not an expert, but my advice would be to go to a few matches as a spectator and ask what those guys are using... and then shop around with your needs/wants/requirements....

  14. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    If "varmints" doesn't include prairie dogs, the edge might go to the .308. 110-grain Hornady Spire Points work quite well on coyotes. But if prairie dogs are in the deal, you gotta figure on the accumulation of recoil over a whole bunch of shots--where the .243 with 55-grain bullets is a winner.
  15. SN13

    SN13 Well-Known Member


    Your data is flawed. If you use Lapua Scenar .308 155gr w/ .508 BC, shouldn't you compare to Lap. Scenar .243 105gr w/ .503 BC?

    I'd use those two to compare. If you compare the standard factory loadings in a 100gr .243 and a 150gr .308 you get very similar MVs. Thus with similar MVs and Similar BCs the two will be similar out to long distances.

    If you're going to compare the 70gr .243 to the .308 you need to use a 100gr .308 or similar BC projectile to determine which has the advantage using lighter bullets.

    The .308 will shoot heavier bullets, with better BCs out farther than the .243 is capable. But if it's a Varmint gun (500yrds and in) against small targets, the ability to shoot large projectiles isn't a key issue.

    If you're not shooting anything larger than a white-tail, and you want the ability to shoot smaller, faster projectiles at small targets within 500yrds, I'd go with the .243.

    You get speed without all the recoil.

  16. taliv

    taliv Moderator


    Zak's point is that most FACTORY 243s are twisted for varmint bullets and won't stabilize the 105g scenar or berger or 107g SMK or 115 DTAC or any of the high BC bullets that get shot in the cool 6mm cartridges (6mmXC, 6mmBR, 6mmAR, 6x47 L, etc)

    reread his post #2
  17. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member


    taliv is exactly on the money. My point in this thread is about the twist rates available in factory rifles and what they mean for long-range loads.

    243 is actually a very good long-range cartridge if you have a fast-twist barrel for those high BC 110+ gr bullets. A 115gr DTAC at 3050 fps stomps all over the .308 (and slightly beats a .260).

  18. SN13

    SN13 Well-Known Member

    Ah, I missed the point. Yes, I'd agree that to stabilize the higher BC .243's you'd need a faster twist than normal factory.

    BUT, the .500 BC bullets are really advantageous mostly beyond the 500yrd shooting the OP was referring to.

    Don't get me wrong, I have a .308 and no .243, but, if I were going to shoot .400 BC bullets all day at 100-500yrds and really cared about High-Velocity and Lower drop rates, I'd pick the .243.

    But since I got the .308 to shoot deer with and the occasional steel target for fun out at 575 using Kentucky windage, the advantages of a .243 would be lost on me.

    BUT, I'd never get a .308 for shooting Groundhogs, Crow, and Coyotes when a FAST, light, Varmint bullet is best.

    Bigger game: .308
    Varmints: .243

    100-500: .243

    Depends on your uses.
  19. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Per the chart, at 500 yards, the 308 load has 30% less wind drift than the 243. At 250, it's 27% less.

    At 500 yards, 243's drop rate is 0.22 inches per yard; the .308's is 0.24 inches per yard. At 750, the 155 308 has 0.47"/y, while the 70gr 243 has 0.48"/y.

    If you look at the maximum point-blank range (for the POI +/- 2" from LOS), the 243 gets you about 40 more yards (max PBR about 285 vs 245 yards). After that, you have to dial/hold over anyway.
  20. SN13

    SN13 Well-Known Member

    Yes, but then again, just using Federal Premium's Ballistic tables:

    55gr Nosler Ballistic Tip: BC .276, MV=3850. 300yV=2721. 500yV=2105. DROP (200yrd Zero) 300y = -4.4 500y = -28.9

    70gr Nosler Ballistic Tip: BC .310, MV=3450, 300yV=2511. 500yV=1983. DROP (200yrd Zero) 300y = -5.5 500y = -34.6


    150gr Nosler Ballistic Tip: BC .435, MV=2820, 300yV=2219, 500yV=1863. DROP (200yrd Zero) 300y = -7.8 500y = -45.8

    If Your Point-Blank is a 9" target (+4.5, -4.5) The best PB distance you can get with the Above three loads are:

    55gr - 380yrds (8.36" top to bottom) (325yrd Zero)
    70gr - 350yrds (8.64" top to bottom) (300yrd Zero)
    150gr - 300yrds (8.26" top to bottom) (250yrd Zero)

    Now, Wind drift. 10mph 90* Cross wind @ 500yrds will result in:

    55gr - 24.77"
    70gr - 24.71"
    150gr - 21.56"

    If 80 yards of PB range is insignificant, than 3" of drift at 500yrds is insignificant.

    These are factory loadings from Federal. Calculations were done using: http://www.handloads.org/calc/

    All I'm saying is that under 500yrds, other than Energy, the .308 doesn't have the chance to out perform the .243. And, we're not so much concerned with energy as we are with velocity when it comes to those ballistic tip bullets performing. Kaboom.

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