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Old May 1, 2016, 09:01 PM   #1
Join Date: February 4, 2008
Location: Little Rock AFB
Posts: 322
243 win

I can't understand why people say it's marginal for deer. I just bought my son his first rifle, a savage axis 2 xp in 243. I am very impressed with this budget rifle. After doing some reading I am stunned to see so many people hating on such a fantastic cartridge. Let's have a chat. Tell me why I'm wrong.

I cut my teeth on a 250 savage and never ever felt under gunned on whitetail deer. I have no experience with the 243.
I live in the Big tent! From Bullets to Broadheads I like too hunt.
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Old May 1, 2016, 09:10 PM   #2
Join Date: September 12, 2010
Location: Il
Posts: 1,796
1955, baked on 308. I remember the ads, 500 ft lb at 400 yards. I have one. Works from chucks to bucks. Pick the right bullet,it works. Period.
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Old May 1, 2016, 09:26 PM   #3
Join Date: May 26, 2007
Posts: 9,225
The 243 was designed and marketed originally as a varmint round. Hunters found that it was a better deer gun than expected but many never got over the original design concept.

With todays better bullets a 243 will pretty much do the same damage as a 30-06 shooting old school 150 gr bullets and is darn near the ideal deer cartridge. I think it is marginal on game larger than deer and prefer something a little bigger for the versatility. Where I live and hunt black bear and deer seasons run together and many places where I hunt actually have more bear than deer. But for deer only I can't think of a better option in 2016. Dead is dead and a 30-06 won't kill a deer any deader than a 243.
Most people don't really want the truth.

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Old May 1, 2016, 10:04 PM   #4
Join Date: February 22, 2011
Posts: 930
Choosing the right bullet is important, especially in a 243.

Regular cup and core bullets tend to underperform if they impact at more than about 2800 FPS. With a 243, it's very easy to get a light bullet going a lot faster than that.

Rockchucks? Light, fast, cheap bullet, no problem.

Deer? Use a 100 grain Partition or similar performer, at maybe 2950 FPS, and Mr. Deer becomes lunch.

I think a lot of the angst about the 243 comes from mismatching the bullet to the task.
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Old May 1, 2016, 10:10 PM   #5
Join Date: March 21, 2007
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Posts: 1,136
Originally Posted by txcookie View Post
I can't understand why people say it's marginal for deer.

After doing some reading I am stunned to see so many people hating on such a fantastic cartridge. Let's have a chat. Tell me why I'm wrong.
Because calling a caliber marginal, substandard or whatever implies both that there's something better and confers some authority to whoever is bashing it.

They also require heavy artillery because in their mind it's going to be some monster buck, rather than the Great Dane sized whitetail that they're actually going for.
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Old May 1, 2016, 10:16 PM   #6
Taurus 617 CCW
Join Date: May 25, 2003
Location: Northern Idaho
Posts: 1,422
My hunting partner has used a .243 for about thirty years and has taken a deer every year with it. I use a .30-06 and have taken a deer for the last three years. I chose the '06 because if I could only have one hunting rifle to get the job done across the board, that would do it. After seeing how well the .243 puts deer down I have wanted to get a lighter "deer only" rifle in that chambering. It really does a number inside of 200 yards with 100 grain soft points.
If it's not broke, don't fix it!!!
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Old May 1, 2016, 10:42 PM   #7
Join Date: October 2, 2014
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 50
The bashing is typically from people who either have never owned one or people who insist on over compensating for their shooting abilities with a larger caliber.

I grew up shooting nothing but a .243 at large mule deer in Nevada, at far greater distances than most midwest or Eastern states could offer, without ever really needing to track an animal. Bottom line: The .243 is a darn fine deer cartridge in the hands of a capable shooter.
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Old May 1, 2016, 10:51 PM   #8
Join Date: February 4, 2007
Posts: 1,795
I have heard of two different guys losing large bucks using 87 gr. HP. Even those work most of the time, but to play it safe I would stay away from the hollow points.
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Old May 1, 2016, 10:52 PM   #9
Join Date: February 9, 2007
Posts: 3,295
I would guess some don't like it because it doesn't end with "super duper extra super short ackley improved limited edition magnum" .......or something like that.......
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Old May 1, 2016, 11:24 PM   #10
Dr T
Join Date: February 28, 2010
Posts: 853
While I have not killed a deer yet with a 243 (and I have two VERY accurate ones), I fed myself and my roommates with its ballistic twin, the 6 mm Remington, when I was in college in the 70s. Almost all were 1 shot kills, with distances ranging from about 40 yards to 315 yards. My estimate is that it accounted for about 30 deer.

There is nothing that the 6 mm Rem can do that the 243 cannot. They use the same bullets, it is just that the 6 mm Rem is based on the metric *x57 case and the 243 is based on the the 308 case (which is a shortened 30-06 case),

The critical component is the bullet. I have had great luck with Nosler 6 mm bullets designed for deer, and horrible luck with the Remington Core Lokt. The Core Lokts were at least consistant: Every one of the 100 gr bullets I used on deer ended up with the core separated from the jacket and lodged just under the skin on the off side of the deer.

I suspect that those that cuss the 243 performance on deer are using something like the Remington 80 gr hollow points, which are varmint bullets.
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Old May 1, 2016, 11:36 PM   #11
Join Date: December 9, 2007
Posts: 498
I can't understand why people say it's marginal for deer.
I believe most who say that are speaking from their own personal experience, but I have not seen the "hate" you speak of. I prefer a slower, larger bullet, that is more likely to leave two holes in 170+ pound deer.
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Old May 1, 2016, 11:54 PM   #12
Don McDowell
Join Date: April 23, 2013
Location: east central Wy.
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My family got started using the 243 in the 50's, and until the late 70's when I got the magnum bug, we used those 243's to kill everything from antelope to elk. The only time I lost an animal was when I decided to try some of those super duty 80gr bullets some gun writer was going on about. The thing blew up on a bucks shoulder and I never did catch back up to him.. Dad and I shot the Hornady 100 gr bullet, and never had a problem. Mom's rifle preferred the 95 gr nosler partition.
It's more about a proper bullet for the job going where it is supposed to.
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Old May 2, 2016, 01:56 AM   #13
Join Date: January 1, 2009
Posts: 543
With the.243 you are driving a smallish bullet rather fast. Use a premium bullet and you will be fine.
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Old May 2, 2016, 03:40 AM   #14
Join Date: February 10, 2016
Location: NC
Posts: 552
I started an interesting thread on this in the hunting forum a few weeks back. I've been using a 243 almost exclusively for deer in Tn, Ky, and NC. for about 15 years. My rifle is a Wal Mart 700 with the internal blind mag, in a laminate stock. It shoots +- 1.5 MOA with winchester 100 grain power points. Every deer I've shot out to in the neighborhood of 200 yards was either DRT or D real darn close- with very impressive exit holes leaking like a faucet wide open. I never even ALMOST lost a deer with this getup. There may be a more accurate 243 round, or one that will expand better or whatever, but I have this habit of leaving things that aren't broke alone. I've heard people poo-poo the 243, but they put the brakes on that after I come back with a bigger deer than they got with their "man's guns". Here's my favorite 243 statement: "That caliber is only good for kids and women to use". Does this imply that only smaller, weaker deer venture within range of the stands occupied by our ladies and children, while the "monster bucks" are restricted to the "experienced men" using the calibers from 270 up? Like the signs at the carnivals that say must be this tall to ride?
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Old May 2, 2016, 09:19 AM   #15
Join Date: December 9, 2007
Posts: 498
I started an interesting thread on this in the hunting forum a few weeks back.
That was a good thread, which is why I was surprised to see this one so soon with the same topic. There were various opinions of course, people make their own choices, but I don't recall any .243 "hate" in your thread.

Another reason I moved away from the .243 was I thought I was getting too much blood shot meat.
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Old May 2, 2016, 09:45 AM   #16
old heeler
Join Date: April 16, 2016
Location: Colorado
Posts: 18
Couple years after I got married I got my wife Browning Safari 243 on Sako action and was pretty rifles and she hunted with it and I hunted with it couple times. I shot couple coastal bucks in Ca with it and when we started hunting northern part of Ca my wife decided on 270.

When we moved to Co, I'd been shooting 7mag which I used on my first bull tag and 270 on first buck tag. I'd got private land tag for antelope that year also and planned on using 243. Opening day we had high winds out eastern part and I took along 7mag as wanted to shoot some PD on that ranch, I used 7mag fill that antelope tag.

We still have 243 and been rebarrel few times now has Kreiger barrel and use for coyote or shooting paper and I also have 243AI with Hart barrel which is my walking around rifle for coyote.

I'm not going to say 243 is marginal but it does have limits and it's not something I would use here for hunting.
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Old May 2, 2016, 09:59 AM   #17
Join Date: February 22, 2005
Posts: 61
The 243 is a great deer cartridge and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
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Old May 2, 2016, 01:53 PM   #18
Art Eatman
Join Date: December 22, 2002
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I've tagged two-dozen bucks with my .243. All were DRT; no tracking needed.
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Old May 2, 2016, 03:44 PM   #19
Join Date: September 28, 2008
Posts: 1,118
Purchased a Howa .243 for future distance shooting, though I never took a deer with it...but, judging by this ballistics gel test I'm pretty sure it will get the job done
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Old May 2, 2016, 06:50 PM   #20
smithman 10
Join Date: November 20, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 95
.243 looking better all the time

As my age creeps up, my shoulder seems to get more sensitive and the old .30-06 seems more punishing.

Shot a buddy's .243 deer rifle the other day. First time I'd ever fired that caliber! Sure felt a lot softer than the old -06. If I go deer hunting any more I think I'll borrow his gun!!
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Old May 2, 2016, 07:59 PM   #21
Join Date: July 8, 2014
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 320
I have seen a bunch of deer and antelope shot with .243s
Most all I saw killed them pretty quick. The farthest one I
saw shot was a legal doe at 300 yds. and she fell in her

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Old May 2, 2016, 08:46 PM   #22
Join Date: March 6, 2015
Posts: 23
I haven't taken all that many deer during my life, but over half of them were taken with a .243. Half of those dropped dead where they stood, and the other half only managed a few steps. These were all California mulies. I have always appreciated the .243's wallop coupled with mild recoil.
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Old May 3, 2016, 01:50 AM   #23
Join Date: November 24, 2007
Posts: 3,454
No problem with .243 Win here.

But maybe I can help enlighten with just a tiny story.

Many years ago my Dad and I got off late one morning, dawn was already breaking when we drove up the dirt road to the spring we wanted to hunt. We could see a pickup already parked up there, so we stopped short and waited at the stream below the spring. After 2 hours a deer walked across my position, only about 20 yards away. I killed him with a single shot across the chest. Close shot, but right through the chest and lungs. Dropped dead.

Upon inspection we immediately noticed an entry wound and exit wound in the gut area. As I started to open up to field dress, another hunter approached and said it was his deer, shot with a 243 at the spring. Sorry, I said, I killed the buck. He's mine.

He showed me the empty brass he picked up after his shot, a 243 Win case with Winchester head stamp. He shot the buck at close range, just like my shot. But his went so cleanly through the gut, the bullet didn't have a chance to open up in soft tissue at high velocity. A very close shot and such velocity it didn't open up, it penetrated a 6mm hole straight through. Buck hardly bled at all!!! A few spots of blood and nothing more. He ran into the brush and hid. Two hours later he moved downhill. To my position.

Now, we all agree that a bullet that mushrooms open and penetrates is best! If it dumps its energy and still penetrates straight through all the best!! But that hunter's bullet didn't get a chance to open up. It penetrated straight through without opening. I bet it hurt the deer, but no way a 6mm hole through the gut would kill. My shot across the chest killed.

Morale of the story: Some folks say "Marginal for deer" because they read it on the internet and never actually hunted the gun. But in truth... ANY caliber you shoot must be placed correctly or it won't kill. A .243/6mm must be placed carefully and accurately. Then it kills.

I don't think I'm wrong. I think I'm right. 243 certainly kills, just learn to hit the right spot and discipline yourself to shot placement.

Sorry for the long hunting story, I think it is good for all of us. You need to shoot well if you want a clean kill. 243 to 45/70, you still need to shoot well.

Thank you, brothers.
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Old May 3, 2016, 07:59 AM   #24
Join Date: July 24, 2014
Location: East Texas
Posts: 172
I purchased a Rem 700 .234 over 50 years ago, as I remember it was the second year of the 700 production. I took lots of deer with it, my daughter hunted deer with it several years and I have 2 grandsons who both took their first white tails with it. In that time, one white tail buck has walked away from it. Not bad for a "varmit" caliber.

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Old May 3, 2016, 08:54 AM   #25
Join Date: July 14, 2008
Posts: 3,261
My first deer at age 12 was with a 243. Then I started getting old enough that all my friends were shooting bigger guns and the 243 was for "kids", so I climbed the caliber ladder for years and was shooting the 7mm Mag at age 17 and weighing only 165lbs. In the past 5 years, I have started climbing back down the caliber ladder to the point where I'm back using the 243. Last fall, I took a nice 8pt with my Ruger No. 1 in 243. Buck ran about 25 yards and piled up in a little ditch.

I reload my 243 and I use Hornady 95gr SST bullets which have always given great results in other calibers. I would also recommend the 100gr Sierra Gameking bullets as they seem to be tried and trued.

The 243 is a sweet little shooter. It's easy recoiling, generally pretty light, and generally shorter in overall length which I happen to prefer.
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