Realistic barrel life of .243 Winchester?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Scout21, May 31, 2022.

  1. Scout21

    Scout21 Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2019
    Messages:
    506
    Location:
    99 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
    I'd like to build a nice CRF bolt gun in .243 with a 22" to 26" featherweight barrel for deer hunting. It'll likely be a forever rifle so I'd like to get everything right the first time.

    I'm concerned about barrel life with the .243. I'm finding all kinds of different figures, anywhere from 800 rounds to 5,000 rounds. If I'm only getting about a thousand out of it I'll be looking at another chambering.

    I'm really only looking for an inch or so accuracy at 100 yards, although I could put up with one and a half.

    I'd likely be using 100 grain soft points or, more likely, 80 grain TTSX. I'd probably be loading some middle of the road to fairly warm loads, nothing too hot.

    The fastest I'd likely be shooting is 3 shot groups in a minute or so at the range, maybe a few quick shots at a fleeing animal.

    I'm split between stainless and chrome moly. I've heard mixed opinions on which lasts longer.

    If anyone could chime in with their experience it'd be appreciated.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2022
    Frostbite and LoonWulf like this.
  2. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2004
    Messages:
    28,592
    for fast twist, heavy bullets, PRS shooters were getting about 1500 rounds back in the day but they'd expect a bit better accuracy with the match bullets. I don't know, but I'd expect less than 1500 shooting lighter bullets faster, but then, you're shooting slower and you have a slower twist. who knows?

    barrel steel is a factor as well and rumor has it the steel going to barrel makers isn't as good as normal. no real way to know, but...
     
  3. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    Messages:
    5,390
    If you plan to shoot prairie dogs and dozens of shots using 75gr or lighter slugs, yeah, barrel life is a consideration.
    However, if using 100gr bullets to shoot deer and other mid sized game, you’ll likely never have an issue.
    Light bullets with larger volume of faster burning powder at higher velocities is what burns out barrels. I had a coworker who burned out a barrel in one morning on a p-dog town. 55gr ballistic tips over max load of Varget took out first 1.5” of rifling in about 2hrs shooting 500rds of ammo.
    Wiped out a p-dog town though!!!

    My choice in a crf.243 would be a new Model 70 FW. As a deer rifle, it’ll last several lifetimes.
     
  4. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2013
    Messages:
    2,306
    Location:
    W. PA
    For purposes of this discussion, lets say it's 1000 rounds before you notice a decrease in accuracy. That's when a hard holding match shooter would consider the barrel shot out.

    The point where the accuracy degraded to 1 1/2" would be more than 1000 rounds assuming your rifle shot to 1 MOA or less from the getgo. So at 50 rounds per year (more than 99% of hunting rifles are ever shot) it would be 24 years if you kept it on til 1200 rounds. Its not the end of the world to rebarrel a rifle and you'll have a lot of years to enjoy the .243.

    I've always heard that stainless has a longer life than chrome moly.
     
  5. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2007
    Messages:
    4,873
    As long as you're not shooting high round count strings, heating up the barrel considerably... it'll last a long time.

    A few 3 round groups, letting the barrel cool then a shot here and there on game... it'll be a lifetime or two to wear it out.
     
  6. d2wing

    d2wing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    5,532
    2 years ago I bought a Remington 700 ADL 243 that shot sub MOA at 100 yards out of the box. For deer hunting and occasional sight in it will last my lifetime and probably of my grandson who has it now. I posted pictures of my targets. I do recommend the rifle I shoot, A Tikka T3 stainless steel in 7-08. That would be doing it right in my opinion. If you keep it clean and take care of it a hunting rifle should last a lifetime. Target rifles are a very different story. But I do recommend Stainless Steel. It is just not wear but corrosion from powder and weather. But it any case they all have to be kept clean and oiled.
     
  7. LoonWulf
    • Contributing Member

    LoonWulf Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    16,286
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Just a thought, but I'd probably start with a Kimber hunter, just to test the concept...... Build from scratch later if it leaves anything to be desired.

    Anyway, I've shot over 1000 ends from a 243 and not noticed any loss in accuracy. Infact the only barrel I've shot out was my old 7mag and it got to around 1700rnds before opening up past 1.5"......

    And I'm not nice to my barrels

    I'm currently working on a 28 nosler that if it gets to 1,000 rounds I probably got more barrel life out of it than expected..... Still cost of a barrel isn't really all that much.
     
  8. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2015
    Messages:
    7,138
    Location:
    Minnesota
    For what its worth I have a Tikka 25-06, which is supposed to be even more of a barrel burner than a 243, that has around 1500 rounds down the tube and still shoots 0.6 moa. I have been watching the rifling lead wear away with an RCBS gauge but it is still unbothered. I never let it get real hot when shooting. Depending on how much off season practice you do, a 243 deer rifle could very well be a lifetime item. I have had a replacement 30-06 barrel for it for several years now but I'm still waiting for the accuracy of the old one to deteriorate.
     
  9. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2016
    Messages:
    3,133
    Location:
    Wyobraska
    The 90 gr etip would get you better barrel life especially if using something like 4166 if you're going mono, comes down to how much powder you burning
     
    wbm, LoonWulf and stillquietvoice like this.
  10. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2016
    Messages:
    8,228
    Location:
    Fl panhandle
    I have a 22" 700 in 243 of the type sold at wally world. Mods are a scope and a Boyd's laminate stock and a steel trigger guard to replace the plastic garbage that came with the gun. I've had it over 20 years and I have no idea how many deer I have dropped with it, and it does about 1- 1,5" @ 100 for me using factory 100 grain rounds (power points). I guess I have several hundred rounds through it- only because I used to burn up a box or so of ammo before every season practicing with it, and check zero a time or 2 during season, plus of course a few fired into actual deer. Since its a deer rifle, by its nature it will never build up a high round count- even less the last few years due to cost of ammo. We're talking a group or 2 pre-season, and the rest at actual deer. Also, I have mostly used other guns the last couple of seasons just because. Mrs Fl-NC will use the 243 in the future.
     
  11. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Messages:
    12,136
    The 243win was my favorite long range cartridge for almost 20 years - 800 to 5,000 are all correct, based on their respective demands… well, maybe the 5,000 guy is full of it - that’s a few more than I’d believe reasonable for 1.5moa precision, especially from any factory rifle barrel…

    I’ve burned a couple dozen 243win and AI barrels. For what you’re describing, a hunting rifle, you’ll easily be able to hang onto your needed precision for 2500 rounds, maybe more if you start with an exceptionally good shooting barrel and truly live on this 1.5moa tolerance standard. A guy can keep shooting, and you’d certainly hit SOMETHING at 5,000rnds, and it might even be hanging onto 1.5moa (I’d doubt it, but maybe). But getting to 2500+ rounds takes more than twice the cost of a new barrel in ammo cost, so rebarreling really shouldn’t be considered prohibitively expensive. The guys talking about 800 rounds of usable barrel life also aren’t lying - I used to expect somewhere between 750-900 rounds of stable life before my barrels would start changing, at which point, the barrel could no longer be trusted to compete, so I swapped. My hunting and plinking rifles, I’d often take to 2000-3000 rounds, occasionally retiring a competition barrel onto another action for practice and hunting, spending more rounds in that “second life” than it did in its first.

    Also, you’re not going to find salvation in other cartridges which do what the 243win can do. Yes, shooting a 7-08 or 308win can hang onto better barrel life, as can 6.5 Creedmoor, but you give up performance and swallow a big pill of recoil. Alternatively, a guy can step down to things like 6 BR and gain barrel life as well, with less recoil, but again, you’re giving up performance.

    You won’t see a significant influence of stainless vs. Chromoly… buy whichever you prefer. I tend to buy stainless barrels, because that’s of what the barrels I want are made, and because I have a bit lower total cost by not requiring any finish/coating/bluing. Buy whichever you prefer.
     
  12. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2018
    Messages:
    3,299
    Location:
    The Great American Prairie
    My 243 is a R700 varmint special from 1979. I shoot 75gr hpbt in front of 42+ grains of IMR 4831. They are pretty hot. But ive maybe put 50 rounds through it since 2003 or so. Its my deer rifle so it doesnt get much of a workout. No clue how many rounds it has shot but it still will make a single ragged hole at 100 yards.
     
    LoonWulf and WisBorn like this.
  13. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    Messages:
    14,541
    Location:
    DFW (formerly Brazos County), Texas
    As above, it's down to what use do you want out of this.
    For deer, for over a century, somewhere from 3-4 MOA was perfectly good.
    Now, woodchucks, picket pins, and the like, you need minute-of-prairie dog, not MOA.

    Taking down an entire colony of prairie dogs is a box or two of ammo in a day. Shooting deer is more typically one-and-done for the day.

    So, pretty much your mileage will vary.
     
    BigBlue 94 and LoonWulf like this.
  14. PapaG

    PapaG Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,561
    Location:
    Il
    Factory 100 grain loads, 3752 rounds. Mild handloads, 6819 rounds, hot varmint loads, 2100. All LOL
    No one can predict how many rounds a barrel will "survive" with good accuracy.
    Keep it sane, clean and avoid harsh brushed and chemicals, and you will be surprised. Probably wouldn't hurt to break in and fire lap it when new.
     
  15. Sniper66

    Sniper66 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    3,266
    Location:
    NE Kansas
    You would have to really torture a deer rifle to wear it out in a lifetime. I have a Rem 700 CDL .243 and I load Sierra 60gr HPs. They are pretty speedy I suppose...never measured the speed, but do not load them "hot".. But, every deer I've killed in the last 4-5 years has been between the eyes, behind the ear, or under the chin. (I'm not really that good, I shoot with a BOG Death Grip tripod, which helps a great deal). I load for accuracy. I shoot a few rounds before deer season and maybe a coyote or two the rest of the year. How can you possibly wear out a barrel?
     
    stillquietvoice and LoonWulf like this.
  16. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Messages:
    12,136
    By shooting.

    If a guy isn’t shooting, barrels last forever in years. If a guy is shooting, they don’t.
     
  17. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2022
    Messages:
    1,055
    I enjoy the hell out of my 99 in 243, How many rounds from the 1960's when it was made to now no tellin. But your requirement of an inch at 100, and that is a good mark for a deer rifle IMHO, lungs and such are well inside that range.

    I would bet in the time I have had it, guessing easy a couple hundred rounds. Bought several boxes of factory and ran that through the gun to see what weights it liked.

    Willow and I both did not like Federal.

    upload_2022-6-2_6-9-13.png
     
  18. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2019
    Messages:
    4,075
    Location:
    Montana Gold Fields
    The throat wears out not the riflings, if all I guy wants is 1.5 inches at 100 yards you’ll probably not notice the end until one day “a long time from now” it just won’t hit the barn door.
     
    LoonWulf likes this.
  19. valnar

    valnar Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2003
    Messages:
    1,668
    Location:
    Ohio
    .243 is a slightly overbore cartridge so it's going to burn a bit hotter than some other calibers, with factory ammo. Obviously if you roll your own and tame it a bit, but that takes away some of the punch too. If you aren't completely sold on .243 and longevity is a concern, there are other options.

    This is all theoretical unless you do a lot of shooting with the gun outside of hunting.
     
  20. ACES&8S

    ACES&8S Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2017
    Messages:
    1,096
    Location:
    Virginia
    WISHING !
    I just came across about 300 of the 243 cases I had forgot about, less than 8 hours ago.
    Can't remember which deal I got them with but believe me I have NEVER owned a 243.
    In all the calibers I have now or have ever owned. I have loaded for it quite a bit but not mine and
    I do admire it, yet it never crossed my desk as an option.
    I can reload it to 1" at 100 yards when the stars align and only for a couple of young women that
    use them for deer hunting.
    The idea that they can be worn out for deer hunting is unlikely, but if I were to set one up for
    the light bullets, or every week at the range, it would probably show some signs of wear but as
    long as it would run 1.5" it would still be a good rifle.
     
    shootbrownelk and LoonWulf like this.
  21. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    32,683
    Location:
    Florence, Alabama
    There was a trick by some target shooters who loaded a powder so slow that a .243 case full would not maximize chamber pressure. Accuracy and barrel life reported good. But then velocity was not much better than 6BR or 6mm Int.
     
    LoonWulf and stillquietvoice like this.
  22. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Messages:
    12,136
    I tried this with Retumbo and H1000 in 243win case (as well as with 6 creed in one of my barrels, using H1000). Barrel life was a LITTLE better, but I’m not terribly convinced it was beyond the statistical noise between any individual barrel and a Mean. I made it maybe 500 rounds farther before velocity slipped on 243AI, and my 6 creed didn’t last a single round longer (nor did the “slow load” barrel I tried before that, only pushing bullets to ~400fps below max).

    Nobody buys sports cars for the gas mileage… the only way to save barrels in high performing cartridges is to not shoot, and that’s just not a viable option for some of us.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2022
  23. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    9,176
    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO, USA.
    1200 rounds or so

    less than one match season
     
  24. Scout21

    Scout21 Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2019
    Messages:
    506
    Location:
    99 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
    Is 1200 rounds using it as a match rifle? I won't be using it for match purposes.
     
  25. Fooey

    Fooey Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2021
    Messages:
    117
    Well, lets do the math. If you are just deer hunting with it you may shoot 10 rnds a season with it, including making sure scope is still on. And two or three MOA is plenty accurate for deer, IMHO. Most states only allow one deer. So, If you are 20 yrs old and plan on shooting deer until you are 70 you will need 500 rounds for it. You don't need to worry about what bbl will last the longest. You need to figure out how you are going to live to be 200 yrs old to outlive the life of any bbl. And by then they will have figured out how to take all our guns away anyway. Have a nice day Sir.
     
    usaral63 likes this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice