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.243 Win wound track on deer - am I crazy?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by the naked prophet, Dec 25, 2007.

  1. the naked prophet

    the naked prophet Well-Known Member

    A few weeks ago, during MO antlerless season, I shot a doe. It was extremely cold in Northern MO so I was wearing so many clothes my rifle was somewhat awkward to shoulder, and the deer was 75 yards away and trotting from my left to my right. I ended up hitting about 2 inches to the rear of where I was aiming, and the bullet went through the back edge of the lungs and through the stomach. I did have to track her about 150 yards into heavy brush.

    What amazed me is that the hole in the stomach was huge. I've hunted before, killed several deer with calibers including (if I remember them all) 7.5x55 Swiss, 7.62x39 Soviet, .40 S&W, and .30-06 Spfd. I remember the .40 JHP leaving a hole about the same size as the bullet. The 7.62x39 was a bit better, with maybe a half inch hole through the lungs and heart. 7.5 and .30-06 were a bit larger, maybe 0.6 inches or so. The 7.5 and 06 both had quicker "stops" with identical hits to the heart.

    Now, I know my shot placement wasn't the best, so I didn't expect the deer to drop in its tracks.

    My question is, why was there a TWO INCH HOLE through the deer? The holes in the skin were what I had expected - what looked like a .22 hole going in and a half inch hole going out. But the holes in the stomach and lungs and muscle tissue were ridiculous! Is this normal for a high velocity cartridge like the .243 Win? I had only used fairly heavy bullets except for the x39 which isn't particularly fast.

    Oh, and I was using 100 grain Win super-x power point.
  2. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    Hi TNP....

    Have you ever seen a plastic jug full of water shot and then examined the jug afterwards ? The jug won't have two nice, neat .243" holes in it - it will likely exhibit the same ripping you've witnessed with the stomach of your recent deer kill.

    Internal organs, especially the stomach, often rupture badly in the type of situation you describe. Thanks to the initial perforation by the bullet and some hydrostatic pressure, it was likely burst and may also have continued tearing further with every jump during that 150-yd. flight.

    Back in the early 70s I shot a couple deer with .243 100gr. bullets but then, when I shot a couple with the wonderful Hornady 87gr. BTHP I swore off 100 grainers and never looked back. Fuddy-Duddy that I am, I will sue Hornady if they discontinue that bullet.
    But your experience sure shows how much improvement has been made in the .243 100gr. bullet designs and that's good news for sure.

    Last edited: Dec 25, 2007
  3. Neurosis

    Neurosis Member

    Which only goes to show that the 243 is a more than adequate deer round, as long as you know your's and the bullet's capabilities (that could be said with any round).

    I don't use the Win SuperX (doesn't group well out of my rifle), but I switch between Federal's Sierra BTHP and Barnes TSX. Both are 85 grainers with the same POI, but I was using the TSX this last season and keep the Sierras around in case I run out of TSX. The 2" wound channels that you saw aren't out of the ordinary, because both the Federal rounds will do the same for me. One deer I shot with the TSX pretty much liquidfied the lungs and heart like someone took a blender to it. Took a big bodied doe at 180 yards, she did a sommersault and dropped on the spot.

    But to help answer your question, if you've seen Fackler's ballistic gelatin tests, consider cavitation, the SuperX is essentially a nosler, and the fact that the "lighter" 243 bullets will expand on contact that could help explain.

    BTW, where in MO do you hunt? I hunt up in Carroll and Livingston counties.
  4. cracked butt

    cracked butt Well-Known Member

    The .243 bullet is going about 200-400 fps faster than any of the others on your list- speed=rapid expansion. This is part of hte reason why the .243 is far more effective than the ballistics on paper suggest so long as you make a good shot.
  5. rangerruck

    rangerruck Well-Known Member

    yes , I agree, with the high speed bullet of the 243, the hydoroshok on it must be considerable, especially since most of these bullets do better than what it says on the box. Most 100 grainers are leaving the muzzle over 3000 fps, and since the 243 has good b.c. qualities, it is maintaining that speed very far downrange.
  6. jaholder1971

    jaholder1971 Well-Known Member

    You hit the deer in soft tissue. Soft tissue will cause these wounds with these bullets. Had you hit the deer in a bony area, like the shoulder or hit a rib, the bullet would have deformed enough to prevent such massive damage.
  7. the naked prophet

    the naked prophet Well-Known Member

    I had wondered about that, whether the jumping and running would cause a tear. But it was a nice circular hole, it didn't look like it tore, just punched through. It did have a very full stomach though.

    Anyway, I've got a Remington 710 and when I shoot it from a rest, the Winchester super-X do about 1 1/4 inches at 100 yards. Federal premium stuff does about 3/4 inch, and Remington Express core-lokt only does 4 inches or so. Haven't tried Hornady yet.

    I'm definitely planning to keep using the .243 for deer! And get a better set of gloves. The gloves I had kept my finger from getting into the trigger guard. Something I found out while the deer was walking by. One more reason to train in the same conditions in which you'll be doing the activity.
  8. Oohrah

    Oohrah Well-Known Member

    Hydro effect going through a full wet medium will cause a faster and
    larger expansion. It passed through vitals before the damage, but
    may not had the same effect through a non vital or bone hits causing
    a large painful but non lethal pathway. Hits in the vital areas cause
    death no matter what the bullet action is. Tissue distruction rapidly
    in a vital area= mostly quicker end to termination.
  9. jcord

    jcord Well-Known Member

    I have always used Win superX 100 grain. I decided to handload for it this year and tried the 85 grain Speer bullet.

    I was disappointed. The load would not group better than 4-5 inches. I tried out the old standby Win load and had 1 inch groups. Guess which load I hunted with.
  10. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    jcord, your rifle might have a relatively fast twist. My .243 is just the opposite; good with 55-grain, great with 70- and 85-grain.

    My description of the results of the Sierra 85-grain HPBT is "double handful of mush".
  11. SA Friday

    SA Friday Active Member

    The deer's liver is right there too. I would suspect there was enough damage to the liver for deer to have died even if you missed the lungs. Hydrostatic shock caused all the damage. The bullet worked like it was meant to.
  12. btucker1947

    btucker1947 Well-Known Member

    I shot a deer about 70 yards one day. Deer was quarted away from me . I hit him behind shoulder 87gr bullet & exited center of chest. It went through the heart and it looked like a knife wound in the chest, not a hole. Like the bullet flattened out and pancaked sideways on the exit. The Deer ran 50 yards, still.
    One of my friends swares by his 22-250 but the 243 is as light as I want to go, but he says the 22-250, it drops deer. ??? I guess alot of it has to do with the bullet and bullet placement.
  13. jpwilly

    jpwilly Well-Known Member

    .243 has long been a good deer rifle! Still a nice shot for a trotting deer. The newer expanding bullets really make the .243 shine.
  14. T.R.

    T.R. Well-Known Member

    .243 is a keeper. I've been knocking over big mulies and long distance antelope with this cartridge since the early 1970's. Winchester Power Points always seem to make wider wound channels than other bullet types.

    I really like 95 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip for shots beyond 300 yards.

    100 grain Remington core-lockt ammo has not gone up in price much in past 25 years which is a mystery to me. But it is plenty accurate for typical forest and woodlands shots which rarely exceed 125 yards. Performance is legendary.

    At one time I felt that 25-06 was a better cartridge than .243 for mulies. But this feeling went away after another great season with 95 grain Ballistic Tips!

  15. btucker1947

    btucker1947 Well-Known Member


    I'm leaning toward getting my grandson a 243 for his first deer rifle, instead of a 22-250.
  16. TexAg

    TexAg Well-Known Member

    I highly recomend .243/.244/6mm rifles, especially 6mm. Two days ago I shot a doe at 160 yds with my 6 using 95gr Hornady SST. She was quartering toward me, the bullet entered in front of her shoulder shattered a couple ribs, clipped the top of her heart, her esophogus, went through a small portion of lung, went through an inch of liver, went through her last two ribs on the other side and I found it perfectly mushroomed under the skin. She dropped right where she was shot. There was a large amount of hydrostatic damage at the point of impact, and there were tons of tiny bone particles from the shattered ribs. A definite Dead Right There shot.
  17. langenc

    langenc Well-Known Member

    Would be interesting to measure and weigh the recovered bullet.

    My son shot a rather small deer with 300 WSM downloaded to about 30-30 velocity with 150 gr corelokt-Remiongton.

    Recovered bullet weighed 144 gr and had a large sharp portion of the copperjacket sticking out.

    He hit it low frontal shot. Bullet was recovered in the same side ham.
  18. Smokehouse69

    Smokehouse69 Member

    I've used .50 Hawken Muzzle loader,.30-06, 8x57, .308, .243 and .22-250 for shooting deer. With every round except the .22-250, I've had the deer run after being shot. True some of them didn't run too far, but the last 7 seven deer I've shot with the .22-250 dropped like they were pole axed. Of course every one of them was shot in the neck from 70 to 150 yards away.
    I think the difference is that with my heavy barreled Model 700 .22-250, I knew that I could put the bullet exactly where I was aiming, with the other rifles I just hoped and aimed for the shoulder.
    I think alot of if has to do with shot placement and how much faith you have in the rifle you are shooting.
  19. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I've shot deer with high powered rifles and totally disintegrated the lungs, I mean VANISHED. It's amazing what that pressure wave will do to tissue, but don't tell the facklerites.....:uhoh:
  20. Sunray

    Sunray Well-Known Member

    "...why was there a TWO INCH HOLE through the deer?..." That's not really a bad thing, but it's because the bullet hit only soft tissue and the bullet did what it was designed to do. Penetrate and expand. The same bullet used on a ground hog will practically turn it inside out.
    "...would not group better than 4-5 inches..." Your rifle just doesn't like that load. Try some Speer 105 grain SP's with IMR4350.
    "...She dropped right where she was shot..." Can't imagine why after a high speed trip through the vitals.

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