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.243 as a "do it all" caliber?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by wickedsprint, Jun 11, 2009.

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  1. wickedsprint

    wickedsprint Member

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    Short of charging bears, if care is taken for proper shot placement, is there really anything one couldn't hunt ethically with a .243 in the lower 48?
     
  2. bigione

    bigione Member

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    I believe some states require a biggerm soug then you can get into a 243 when hunting elk. I love my 243. Great caliber.
     
  3. edelbrock

    edelbrock Member

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    I would want something a little bigger for buffalo.
     
  4. dubbleA

    dubbleA Member

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    Nilgai come to mind, nawh I would want something bigger and heavier than the 243 Win.
     
  5. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    I'd be really, really picky about my shot on an elk, and maybe on larger mule deer, but the .243 would work. I've killed some 20+ whitetail bucks with mine, and it's a great varmint gun.

    I guess my deal for elk would be to use a 100-grain premium bullet, and limit my distance to where I was very sure of a brain or neck shot. I dunno; maybe a couple of hundred yards. Last choice would be a cross-body heart shot. I wouldn't take an angling shot into the body. Just a "general principles" sort of thought process, maybe. Being conservative doesn't hurt anything.
     
  6. wickedsprint

    wickedsprint Member

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    I had to google that. I'm pretty sure we don't have those in the USA...
     
  7. saturno_v

    saturno_v Member

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    I think it would be on the light side for the largest animals...the major handicap, I think, more than power level (after all energy wise is on par with the 30-30) is the light bullet weight and the fact that probably do not exist premium tough bullets for it....any partition in 243????
     
  8. wickedsprint

    wickedsprint Member

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    Which largest non-bear animals specifically? My Niece and Nephew took their first Elks last yr with their .243s. Why does Uncle need a bigger rifle? :)
     
  9. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    Fella's;

    And I'll strongly second the objection to trying to use the .243 on the American bison, or buffalo. Although I've had no personal experience with some of the larger exotics imported into this country, I have heard from sources that I believe to be reliable, that you don't want to use a true lightweight caliber there either.

    If it t'were me, and it is, I'd go to the 6.5 Swede as the smallest cartridge that you could ethically hunt all but bears with in the lower 48. And it still wouldn't be my first choice for buffalo. Check the B/C's & S/D's and you'll see why it's such a keeper & kills all out of proportion to it's bullet diameter.

    900F
     
  10. dubbleA

    dubbleA Member

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    Here's a hint, try " nilgai hunting in South Texas"
     
  11. benzy2

    benzy2 Member

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    I think from an ethical point of view a .30 caliber allows for less ideal presentations that still result in an ethical shot on the big game. While I don't doubt that the .243 with good placement at a proper angle will be more than enough for most everything I think there is advantage on the larger game to use a larger round. If .243 was the only thing I had I would use it and not feel bad but if there was a more powerful option I would rather take it with me.

    Since elk don't live around me I figure I am out on a dedicated elk hunt to have them show up anywhere near the crosshairs. As such I wouldn't have endless time to wait on a perfect shot and would rather a larger caliber to leave me with a larger range of ethical hunting.

    The .243 is a great round. If we could hunt deer in Ohio with centerfire rifles it would be about perfect for this state. Drop groundhogs with the light bullets and deer with the heavier. It certainly would put everything legal to hunt here down without question. But I can't hunt deer with it here and at the distances we get to groundhogs it has little practical benefit over a .223 or .22-250.

    If I am paying for an elk hunt I want as much advantage as I can get. To me that means stepping up calibers allowing for less optimal angles to still be ethical shots.
     
  12. ricebasher302

    ricebasher302 Member

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    I shot my first elk with a .243. Granted, she was a cow, but it worked fine. I believe one limitation would be range. That 100 grainer doesn't carry enough authority past 250 yds or so for elk. Also, a good bullet would be worth the money, and good shot presentation and placement would be necessary.

    Moose often aren't as tough as elk, but naturally, the same rules would apply.

    So to recap, I'd say good bullet, close range and no "shoulder shootin" or any bones larger than ribs would be a no no.
     
  13. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    If you live in the southwest, south, and central midwest, the .243 is an excellent all around cartridge.
    I wouldn't choose it for Moose in Maine, bears or Elk the western states, or a Musk Ox in Alaska but from Alligator to Whitetail it does a dandy job.
     
  14. woof

    woof Member

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    If there's no difference between barely adequate and optimal, then the .243 is fine. IMO, it is marginal for whitetails. And in my further O: the whole idea of one round to do everything in north america is silly. Hunting most of the larger game in america mean travel and a large investment. Anyone who can't afford an assortment of correct tools can't afford it period. If there were a thread on which 2 or which 3, that might make sense. But no, we get this thread once or twice every single week.
     
  15. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I personally think the .243 is a tad light for a general purpose caliber in the lower 48. The 243 is a great caliber with proven preformance and accuracy from many rifles. I still wish I had kept my 243 (my first centerfire rifle), but the need passed and I didn't see it changing within 10-15 year time period. I would choose something like the 270 win, 30-06, or 308 win. I consider them a bit light for elk and moose, but they work. The true do it all caliber are the 338 and 375 or similar calibers, but what a pain in the shoulder to hunt deer with one. So the better way to think about things is a three or four gun battery that encompasses hunting scenarios you are more likely to particpate in. As woof said, I think the 243 is marginal for large whitetail deer, but they work and are a fantastic varmint gun. I would not hunt black bear with a 243, period. So it doesn't cut a "do it all caliber" consideration.
     
  16. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    Yeah, 'Harry, you got your .375 Mag with ya? We need to drop that hog and we need to drop it now!':D

    That .338-.375 all around gun is as big a myth as they get.
    If you keep you shots to under 200 yards and reload, I would venture the old, tried and true, .45/70 is a serious contender as an all around caliber.
    From shot loads for small game to shoulder bruising 400-550 grain powerball loads that can and have taken the largest species of North American bear, the .45/70 really will do it all.
    But like everything else in the one perfect caliber debate, it falls short in many areas of overlap.
     
  17. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    That's funny! I agree the 45/70 is a reasonable choice. I don't own a 375 as I have no use for it other than to bruise my shoulder a couple times a year.

    I basically agree with Elmer Keith on the all around caliber and lean toward 35 caliber.
     
  18. saturno_v

    saturno_v Member

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    I think that the high intensity .30 cal cartridges (the Magnums and the 30-06) are good all around caliber in North America except for coyotes and smaller where they would be an overkill and waste of ammo/brass.

    For the little stuff I would use a good .223 which is a capable varmint round even at considerable distance...A 243 would be a bit of an overkill for that....

    So I would say, 2 all around North America rifles...a 223 and a 300 Win Mag.
     
  19. wickedsprint

    wickedsprint Member

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    I didn't ask the question in terms of "optimum"..I asked in terms of "ethically" if you can get a proper shot.

    I did not have "buffalo" in my thoughts however when initially asking the question. I'm thinking Elk and smaller. My bust.

    Does a Bow and Arrow put large game down more ethically than a rifle? Somehow it's still ok to hunt with a Bow...but how is that a more ethical and effective stopper than a .243?

    People hunt with handguns and at that point a .44 Mag or .45 Colt is ok..but those pale in comparison to a .243 in terms of pure energy.
     
  20. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    Interesting points wicked spirit and notice your number of posts.

    Arrows kill by esanguination, bullets by shock.
    A clean hit with an arrow will produce fatal results as will a clean hit with any bullet, .22 LR included.

    If you feel your capabilities are up the the challenge of using a smaller than normally recommended cartridge for elk size game, I say take on the task!

    If you feel the cartridge coupled with your capabilities may not produce fatal results when hunting the game of choice, everytime, then consider a larger caliber.

    My personal feeling is the .243 Winchester can not be considered an ethical selection for elk and larger game animals under all hunting conditions.
     
  21. wickedsprint

    wickedsprint Member

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    What does my post count have to do with anything?

    No rifle cartridge under all conditions will be 100% certain of a fatal shot.
     
  22. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    Ok, your post count was at 243 and now I think you want to argue more than you want to gain any insight.
     
  23. wickedsprint

    wickedsprint Member

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    I know the .243 is not "optimum". I just wanted feedback on why would anyone question the ethics of using one if they had the maturity to only take good shots.

    If you don't have the maturity to train and wait for good shots and resist the marginal ones, caliber choice will probably not make the difference.

    I was running some thoughts through my head on whether I could ethically keep my .243 as my only hunting rifle.

    The valued insight I have been getting, both in this thread and others is likely going to lead me to pick up something else to augment it though. I'm kind of looking for an excuse to get something that hits heavier.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2009
  24. Arkel23

    Arkel23 Member

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    I wouldn't hunt boar or mountain lion with it, even though SC doesn't have mountain lion season. Hey, I really wouldn't hunt deer with one.
     
  25. natman

    natman Member

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    Yes, and I'd highly recommend them for any big game. The 243 has high velocity and tiny bullets, which makes weight retention critical. The 243 is OK for deer although it's not one of my favorites, decidedly suboptimal on elk and out of the question on bison or big bears.

    Yes, you can kill lots of things with a bow, but you have to be prepared to hunt like an archer; short range, turn down less than ideal shots, and BE ABLE TO HUNT DURING ARCHERY SEASON. Archers usually get the best weeks of the season, riflemen get the leftovers when game is harder to approach.

    There are lots of things that can go wrong on a hunt. Out of these dozens of variables there is one that the hunter has complete control over; using the proper rifle and cartridge to match the game. Use enough gun.
     
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