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Old April 6, 2016, 04:22 PM   #1
FL-NC
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243 for white tail- fans and detractors

I have been using the 243 as my "go-to" for white tail for about 15 years. My 30-30 has been collecting dust, my 308 is still around for black bear or anything bigger than a white tail, should I need it. The mini 30 was eliminated from the armory. Truth be told, I've even had excellent results with 223 inside 100 yards with the right bullet and a well placed shot. I've had 100% success with my 243- instant kills or a dead deer within 100 yards (usually less) from where it was hit. Light rifle, very accurate, minimum recoil. These are some arguments I've heard against it: 1) not enough power (I disagree- the 243 has much more power over a much longer distance than an arrow, for starters) 2) "Starter" gun- suitable for women and kids (as if only "women and kid sized" deer are the only deer that wander in sight of the stands that our children, wives, etc. occupy). I dismiss this talk as so much nonsense, maybe the "he man" attitude that a more powerful rifle = more perceived proficiency, or whatever. Would love to hear some opinions on this.
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Old April 6, 2016, 04:53 PM   #2
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I guess you just answered your own question.

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Old April 6, 2016, 05:00 PM   #3
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I consider it the minimum practical caliber for whitetail hunting by the average hunter.
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Old April 6, 2016, 05:08 PM   #4
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In 2016 with todays bullets a 243 is just about ideal for deer, whitetail or mule deer, out to reasonable ranges of 300-400 yards. It can be used for larger game or at longer distances, but there are better options for those uses.

And like you said even a 223 is a viable option, but not for anything larger than deer and at reduced ranges.

I wouldn't recommend one as an all around cartridge if game larger than deer were commonly hunted. But if a 243 was what I had, and I had a chance to hunt bigger game I'd not stay home either.

Sounds like you have a good plan.
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Old April 6, 2016, 05:10 PM   #5
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When the right bullet hits in the right place a 243 always kills quickly. My beef with the 243 is when it is handed to someone who is unfamiliar with deer anatomy and/ or lacks basic marksmanship skills. Any gun will become a "wounder" under these conditions, but the 243 is usually the gun given to an inexperienced hunter, so consequently you often hear of how the 243 does not have enough power for deer.
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Old April 6, 2016, 05:52 PM   #6
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IMHO it is a better gun than some of those 300 Mangle 'ums and up here is why I don't worry about somebody flinching when I hand them a 243 Yes proper placement counts but that should be paramount in all calibers
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Old April 6, 2016, 05:53 PM   #7
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Birdshot- very good point regarding the inexperienced hunter. And we all know that shot placement is king, no matter what you're using. When shot placement becomes irrelevant, the tool is probably illegal to hunt with!
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Old April 6, 2016, 05:57 PM   #8
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My wife has been using using a 250 Savage for years . A bit slower, a bit larger in diameter, and a bullet of about the same weight. Probably shot 30 deer and a hog with it. Nothing has walked away so far.She didmflat out miss once . Deer aren't that hard to put down with a good hit. I agree that most complaints center around poor shooting. Had a guy tell me he hit a deer five times and the 243 is so inadequate that it didn't even flinch! Hmmm,
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Old April 6, 2016, 07:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
...I disagree- the 243 has much more power over a much longer distance than an arrow, for starters...
I'm a big fan of the .243 for many reasons, and have not been without one since 1972, but comments like the one above are inappropriate and show a total lack of understanding about the completely different killing characteristics of bullets and arrows.
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Old April 6, 2016, 08:39 PM   #10
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Back in the early days of the .243, one was taken to Africa on safari. The professional hunter's comment after seeing how effective it was on plains antelope was, "It shoots bigger than it looks."

I don't recall any of my two dozen tagged bucks being much over 150 yards, but one of the guys on our lease had a one-shot kill at some 400 yards--in front of a witness. IMO, no flies on the .243.

I guess the main reason it's used as a "starter" for youths and ladies is the low recoil, more than any other reason. And, commonly, newbies are commonly told to not try for long shots.

FWIW, I stepped off the distance for one of Charles Whitman's murders: 420 yards. 6mm Remington. 220 pound man.
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Old April 6, 2016, 09:10 PM   #11
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Well, you know a 100 gr. Sierra gameking or Nosler partion whizzing along at 3100 fps. is going to leave a mark.
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Old April 6, 2016, 09:59 PM   #12
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It was interesting that on the ranch we hunted in South Dakota this year, everyone who lived and worked on the ranch used .243's...pronghorn, whitetail and mule deer. Oh, and lots and lots of coyotes.
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Old April 6, 2016, 10:03 PM   #13
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Impressed.

I too believed that the 243 was a little light for deer. It might be for BIG northern whitetails or mulies, but for these small Arkansas deer it works well. Over the last few seasons I have taken 14 and all were one shot kills. Two were DRT and the rest ran a little ways, but none made it over 100 yards. Autopsies showed extreme trauma with jello lungs and chunks of heart. Nasty!
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Old April 7, 2016, 10:04 AM   #14
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Stiab- I hope you don't think I was trying to insult bow hunters. My point is that a projectile in the 100 grain weight class moving in the neighborhood of 3000 FPS at the muzzle will not only do the job at 30 yards, it can also be counted on to put that animal down at 10x the distance, or even further, even with the loss of energy over that distance assuming the hunter does his/her part.
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Old April 7, 2016, 12:39 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by FL-NC View Post
Stiab- I hope you don't think I was trying to insult bow hunters.
I don't think Stiab was insulted, I think he was only referencing that comparing a bullet to an arrow, is not a realistic comparison. No one in their right mind would consider shooting a deer with a bullet moving 350FPS, even at 30 yards, but that is considered more than enough with an arrow.
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Old April 7, 2016, 01:22 PM   #16
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I was a detractor.

Then I killed a deer with one and watched my wife kill another with it.

I will say that I bought into the negativity without personally seeing what they did. My deer ran 30 yds and piled up dead with a wound channel just as large as my .30-06 makes. Bullet was a plain ol' blue box Federal 100 grain soft point.

My wife's was DRT with a high shoulder shot and a 85 grain SGK BTHP.

Now I know we've only killed 2 deer with it, but I'm not a detractor any more.
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Old April 7, 2016, 02:28 PM   #17
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I had one for years. It was a bit rugged on coyotes. Out where I live I prefer one of the 6.5 MM's for a light recoiling longer range rifle, but there is nothing I wouldn't hunt in Colorado with a .243 and good bullets. While I wouldn't consider it to be an ideal elk rifle, plenty of elk are killed with them every year. I watched a guy kill a mature bull with a .243 using an 85gr Winchester factory soft point at about 300 + or- yards. If you hit them in the soft part behind the shoulder it will kill them just fine.

It's a pretty fair deer killer too and it kills pronghorn with aplomb. I like the 6.5's better for their wind bucking and energy carrying advantage. A .260 or a 6.5-06 has about the same recoil but much more capability in my estimation.
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Old April 7, 2016, 04:18 PM   #18
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i have taken 3 deer with my 243 all dead where they they stood. my gotos were 3006 or 7 mm mag until shoulder surgery made it impossible to shoot them. just got rem 700 in 7-08 to try and build recoil tolerance gor bigger cals again.
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Old April 7, 2016, 05:41 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H&Hhunter View Post
I had one for years. It was a bit rugged on coyotes. Out where I live I prefer one of the 6.5 MM's for a light recoiling longer range rifle, but there is nothing I wouldn't hunt in Colorado with a .243 and good bullets. While I wouldn't consider it to be an ideal elk rifle, plenty of elk are killed with them every year. I watched a guy kill a mature bull with a .243 using an 85gr Winchester factory soft point at about 300 + or- yards. If you hit them in the soft part behind the shoulder it will kill them just fine.

It's a pretty fair deer killer too and it kills pronghorn with aplomb. I like the 6.5's better for their wind bucking and energy carrying advantage. A .260 or a 6.5-06 has about the same recoil but much more capability in my estimation.
That's the reason I got the 6.5x55 instead, about the same blast and recoil, but hits like a .308.

I will say I shot one animal with a .243, a hog that was DRT.
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Old April 7, 2016, 06:23 PM   #20
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I don't even use the "fancy bullets", or premiums, or whatever they are called. I'm sure they are nice bullets, but my $300 wally world 700 groups fine (about 1.5" at 100, minute of copenhagen can at 200, and more than adequate at 300 ) with the 100 grain winchester power points (also conveniently sold at wally world) and since they work so good on the deer that get shot with them, I never saw a reason to try anything else.
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Old April 7, 2016, 06:43 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by FL-NC View Post
I don't even use the "fancy bullets", or premiums, or whatever they are called. I'm sure they are nice bullets, but my $300 wally world 700 groups fine (about 1.5" at 100, minute of copenhagen can at 200, and more than adequate at 300 ) with the 100 grain winchester power points (also conveniently sold at wally world) and since they work so good on the deer that get shot with them, I never saw a reason to try anything else.
+1, factory rounds good enough for me also.
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Old April 7, 2016, 06:54 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdshot8's View Post
When the right bullet hits in the right place a 243 always kills quickly. My beef with the 243 is when it is handed to someone who is unfamiliar with deer anatomy and/ or lacks basic marksmanship skills. Any gun will become a "wounder" under these conditions, but the 243 is usually the gun given to an inexperienced hunter, so consequently you often hear of how the 243 does not have enough power for deer.
This.
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Old April 7, 2016, 07:13 PM   #23
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My big brother has killed dozens of white tailed deer and his favor rifle is a Ruger#1 .243. Being a single shot it is necessary to place the bullet where it will drop him with one shot. It does every time. My brother has hunted all over the world, including Africa and owns many high powered rifles from .204 to 300 Weatherby mag. Even with all that experience with many rifles, he still prefers his Ruger #1 .243. So is the .243 enough for deer? You bet it is!
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Old April 7, 2016, 09:15 PM   #24
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Sniper- many moons ago (1990s) when I was at Ft Campbell, I had the opportunity to buy a nice #1 in 243 with a good scope for $250. Unfortunately for me at the time an extra $250 may as well have been $2500. Probably just as well, I would have ended up selling it to pay my divorce lawyer in '95.
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Old April 8, 2016, 08:23 AM   #25
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Big .243 fan here.Many PA whitetails taken with one.Some DRT and some run because I try for a double lung shot with a run to bleed out.Don't like dried blood in the meat if possible.No runs past 80 yards.
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