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Old September 24, 2005, 10:39 AM   #1
togliat
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Deer hunting and the .243 Winchester

[please forgive any misconceptions from this rookie hunter! I'm still learning about hunting/rifles/cartridges, and probably will be for life, right?]



I have read much about the .243 Winchester being an excellent, flat-shooting varmint round and also a good, low-recoil deer round "at long ranges" with the proper bullet weight (and placement, of course). Is there something about close range, velocity and expansion that would make the .243 less than adequate for deer hunting at ~ 100 yards using premium factory ammo?

The reason I ask is that this will be my first deer hunting (whitetail) season. I'll be hunting mostly in lightly wooded areas, from blinds and stands, in NC and SC farm country. I'm guessing that I'll be no exception to the usual ranges of <150 yard shots.

I'm in the market for a deer rifle chambered for something that won't cause me to flinch each time I fire it. I hear that some of the bigger magnum rounds can do this with some folks, although others can handle them just fine. I figure I'll start with something capable and save the big stuff for future gun purchases...



I'm considering .243, .25-06 and .25 WSSM but I am open to advice. I've also recently learned that some rifles (Browning, Weatherby) come with recoil reduction system options that might let a shooter step up to a larger cartridge. Then of course, there are the low-recoil cartridges...


It's too much information for a newbie to decide! Help!

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Old September 24, 2005, 10:53 AM   #2
308LAW
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The 243 is an ok deer cartridge if you hit them right and use good bullets, use something that controlls expansion like a nosler partition, swift a-frame or something similar, there is very little recoil to an average size male from a 243, I wouldn't really see a reason to expose yourself to the excessive muzzle blast that the muzzle brakes put out for the little recoil reduction you would get from a 243 with one on it. The 25-06 is another excellent deer cartridge that has very little recoil, again though I like to use a controlled expansion bullet in this caliber too, the 115grn federal partition or the 115 trophy bonded bear claw or a 100grn barnes triple shock. While I like balistic tips in heavier calibers I dont care for them in the lighter calibers, they don't get the penetration that I want. My 25-06 with Federal premium 115grn Nosler Partition's will shoot completly thru a whitetail even at close ranges, in fact last year I shot thru one end ways, bullet entered the quartering away deer in the rear quarter and exited thru the breast bone. Controlled expansion bullets will save a lot more meat too, they dont blow up and do a lot of damage to the meat. Remember a well placed 243 will kill better than a poorly placed 7mm Remington magnum or a 30-06
emb
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Old September 24, 2005, 11:32 AM   #3
impact
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Yah to what 308 said

I started hunting with a small cal gun. as time went on I moved to a bigger gun. Because thats what everyone else had. Now that I'm older I'm going back to the smaller guns. My 243 and 25-06 looks better and better all the time.
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Old September 24, 2005, 02:03 PM   #4
Jack O'Conner
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I'm a big fan of the .243 for long shots at mulies and 'lopes. The advent of Premium bullets has upped the killing power of the .243 considerably. As loaded by FEDERAL, the 100 grain Nosler Partition will shoot completly through the animal leaving a wide and messy blood trail. This would be my 1st choice for hunting deer at forest distances.

I typically shoot 'lopes at distances of 275 to approx. 325 yards. Nosler's 95 grain Ballistic Tip is un-equalled in accurasy and knock down power. Hornady's SST bullet is also quite good but not quite as accurate as the Ballistic Tip.
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Old September 24, 2005, 02:42 PM   #5
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I agree with the comments above. My 243 is 25+ yrs old and has killed more deer for me than any of my other rifles. I like the nosler ballistic tip, it is better further out say beyond 100 yds, below that it expands too rapidly not giving the penetration, very accurate and reliable. The partition is superb for close in as well as further out, I have also had a lot of succes in woodland hunting with the hornady 100gr round nose, good penetration and controlled expansion. I like the 243 a lot, you can shoot all day and not have sore shoulder, meat damage is low with the bullets above too.
Damm can't wait to get it back from a having a new barrel fitted!
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Old September 24, 2005, 02:55 PM   #6
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Look at the 6.5x55, the ultimate all around cartridge

Low recoil, unbeleivable accuracy and from what I hear, exemplary performance on all North American game (will be finding out shortly)

WildswedefreakAlaska
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Old September 24, 2005, 03:21 PM   #7
Art Eatman
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Inside of 200 yards, the .243 with a 100-grain bullet oughta do just fine on most any whitetail. Better penetration for cross-body or angling shots than would be had with the 85-grain bullets that I've always used.

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Old September 24, 2005, 04:57 PM   #8
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I had a .243 and my wife used a 6mm Remington but

I had a .243 and my wife used a 6mm Remington as combination varmint guns but we tended to use .30-'06 and such for deer up. I would be much happier with a .257 Roberts up - .260 - 6.5 Swede - .270 for a dedicated deer gun. I'd not hesitate to hunt with the smaller bore but I've always thought that if I used it long enough I'd see a disappointment compared to the larger bores.
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Old September 24, 2005, 10:00 PM   #9
Jack O'Conner
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.243 is a super popular cartridge in Europe and Africa. I'm told there is no debating its value as a hunting cartridge over there. I find it amazing that many North Americans who have never tried it are often the most vocal against it's use for deer sized animals.
Jack
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Old September 24, 2005, 10:31 PM   #10
Toney
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I read in an early deer hunting book the 243 was the best
brush gun . Not because you can shot through brush no rifle
will . But because not having to worry about getting hammered
and being able to pick a path through the brush without hitting
any
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Old September 25, 2005, 08:24 AM   #11
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I use both a 243 mostly for my grandson and personally a 257 Roberts which I consider the best of both worlds for deer, bear, coyote and with the right bullet and shot placement moose. I do not advocate it for moose but it will do. I have arthritus and a bad disc in my neck so recoil is a problem and I use nothing larger than a 308 and tend to use a 270 for moose and the 257 for all else including black bear which can run to 400 lbs around here. I like the 243 for deer and small bear but hesitate for larger game due to most bullet selection. The 243 is a reloaders cartridge for larger game as most factory ammo is not loaded with the premium bullets such as Barnes, and partititions.
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Old September 25, 2005, 09:53 AM   #12
mete
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I love my 6.5x55 but I use the older loads, I'm not happy with the lower velocity new factory loads. I would suggest for an accurate , effective,low recoil deer cartridge the 7mm08 and the 260.They are better choices than the 243.
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Old September 25, 2005, 10:48 AM   #13
Art Eatman
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Generalizing: The smaller-diameter bullets, being lighter, require a bit more precision in shot placement. You can miss your intended point of aim by a very few inches with a .30 and still have a deer go down and have time to get in a second shot. With a 6mm or such, the deer might not go down, and might get away in the brush. "There ain't no always."

Hunting from a stand, I try the neck shot when I use my .243. Walking hunting, I'm judicious as to whether or not to even take the shot unless I'm quite confident about my shot placement.

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Old September 25, 2005, 12:20 PM   #14
Harley Quinn
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Sure Jack

The 6.5x55 is good one. 243 on muleys at 300 yds sure...
What stories, but someone has done it so it must be the rifle and cartridge of choice. NOT on muleys.

If you have read much about the 270 you would know who made that one popular.

Ok, now I would shoot the 6mm over the 243, just from a handloaders
viewpoint it is a better round.

Smaller deer and lope's is ok with this round but muleys NOT. Its energy is right around 2000 with a 100 grain at the muzzle, not at 300 yds LOL.

If you are shooting Muley's you need at least 2000 at point of impact. IMHO

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Old September 25, 2005, 02:39 PM   #15
maximuss
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My wife has Rem 700 in .243 and I used to shoot BAR Stalker .243.

I used to/my wife uses Winchester Silvertip Ballistic bullets in 95 gr.
It kills just like that.
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Old September 26, 2005, 08:13 AM   #16
Jack O'Conner
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Harley:

You'd be amazed how many big mulies have fallen to that old pump action Remington .243 of ours. When that high speed .243 bullet strikes the chest, it quickly forms a mushroom and transfers significant energy to the path of destruction. In general terms, any well constructed bullet which gets inside the chest and does significant damage to the lungs and major vessels will kill quickly. The weight of the animal is insignificant. The diameter of the bullet prior to impact is also insignificant.

Mule deer are not tough at all. I've seen them topple over from a single 64 grain bullet fired from a .223 and that is a fact. This bullet is allowed in S. Dakota for deer hunting. But winds affect its flight and many areas of the West are quite windy indeed. I'd not plan to hunt mulies with this varmint cartridge.

Actually my favorite cartridge for the foothills and breaks is the 30-30 with 170 or 150 grain bullets. I also like the 35 Remington. Out to about 150 yards or so, they do the job for me.

I share your admiration of the 6.5mm Swede. My wife hunts with a custom BLR in this caliber. She hunts mulies, 'lopes, and elk with it. Nosler Partitions and Trophy Bonded are great with this cartridge.

In USA, our corner of the world is filled with great deer hunting combinations of equipment and good cartridges.

Good hunting to you.
Jack
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Old September 26, 2005, 10:06 AM   #17
Harley Quinn
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Hi Jack

Good placement is the key I guess.

I think I still would like a little more power at longer ranges... I too have read lots of the stories.

220 Swift was hailed as a anything killer. Shot placement I figure. But over time it was not as good as they thought. I have a friend that was its biggest supporter. He was great shot and cool as ice.

I know exactly what you mean and I agree some to what you are saying.
In my hands the 22-250 or the 223 or even the small under powered 30 cal Carbine is suitable. But you need to not exceed the distance.

Under Ideal conditions I can put the 22-250 exactly where I want it. Same with most good 1 moa at 100 yds. but not with some of the stuff we are talking about when it goes out there like 300 yds. Good shot placement is the key I think.

But I said that. I was just reading about some of the newer heavy hitters out in front of the barrel and behind the gun.

Why do you think they make different Cals. Because a resonable and prudent individual will shoot what is best for the condition. Sure lots of animals have been killed by lightbullets and died in their tracks.
But wound them and let them run and get that adrenilin in them and it is a different story.

Oh well, if in rome do as the romans do I guess. S. Dakota does some funny things. Isn't that where all the bikers go and destroy the town for a week and everyone loves it.

Harley
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Old September 26, 2005, 10:32 AM   #18
mtnbkr
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6.5 Swede. Mild recoil, mild muzzleblast, kills deer dead if you can shoot. I can shoot mine all day from the bench without developing a recoil induced flinch (140gr@2500fps is mild). I use mine for hunting in the mountains of Virginia. A long shot here is 150yds. With a low magnification scope and a light rifle, it's great for still or stand hunting.

The biggest negative is lack of ammo at places like Wal-Mart, but most gunshops carry it. If you handload, it's not an issue...

Chris
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Old September 26, 2005, 05:23 PM   #19
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I dont have a 234 but I do have a 6mm rem

The 6mm has a different twist and its normaly for smaller bullets but I wanted to see what somthing in 100 gr would do.
This is a gun that can hold one inch groups at 100 yards all day long with 60 or 70 gran bullets but with 100 it diddnt do very well at all, in fact a shotgun at 10 paces would hit better.
Make sure the twist you get is made to shoot larger bullets, if memmory serves me mine is around 14 to 1 and for heaver bullets somthing more like 12 to one is better.
I would go with somthing in 25-06 like others have said here.
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Old September 27, 2005, 07:37 AM   #20
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I used my scoped Remington Model Seven 243 on whitetail with total success. Ranges from 50-125 yards. My ammo of choice was Federal 100 grain Sierra Gameking BTSP (P243C). Personally, I like the 243 because I've used it on groundhogs and medium size deer.
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Old September 29, 2005, 11:02 AM   #21
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togliat,

The .243 is a fine Whitetail caliber out to 200 yds. I have a Mossberg 1500 and my daughter and son use a H&R Handie-Rifle youth model in .243. It does require more effort in shot placement. Your not going to break down a deer by shooting in it the shoulder like some hunter tend to do.

An other caliber you might consider is the 7mm-08, this like the .243 is a necked down .308 case. It uses a little larger and heavier bullet, the recoil will be a little heaver but not much. I do not own one but the ballistic look interesting.
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Old September 29, 2005, 12:05 PM   #22
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Low Recoil Deer Rifle

I've taken two Wyoming Muley's with a 243. One field dressed at 175# which probably means 240# live weight shot at about 175 yards,and the other field dressed at 142 # which should be about 200# live weight shot at 40 FEET. Couldn't see anything but hair in the scope. Worked great. Granted neither of these were the fabled BIG MULEY'S.
Having said that, at the ranges you are stating (to 150 yards), I think today I'd choose a 257 Roberts, perhaps a 260 Remington if I wanted to stay with a bolt action. Just a little more insurance with bullet weight but still low recoil. At those ranges you could even throw in the 30/30 and 35 Remington as low recoil cartridges. A 30/30 with a 150 grain bullet has low recoil and good hunting qualities at the range you are expecting in a lever action rifle which would with practice give you a quicker second shot.
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Old September 29, 2005, 12:18 PM   #23
Harley Quinn
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Ozzie 244 was the wrong twist for heavy bullets 6mm

Has a better (faster) twist for the heavier bullet. The reason the Remington Co. went to the 6mm to compete better with the 243.

243 is nothing but a necked down 308 so they had the cartridge already.
Even though I think the 6mm is a better cartridge I will keep with the 243. Just because so much brass is avaliable. The ackley improved is a great cartridge but it is not that great in comparing the two. I think the 243 is the way to go or the 6mm. Your choice and what turns you on.

I have a 243 Ruger 77 with a bull barrel and a 22-250 Howa synthetic stock with a weaver 10 power, I am going to sell the 22-250. This year around the middle of Nov it goes on the block. I will probably keep the scope.

Harley
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Old September 30, 2005, 11:10 PM   #24
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150 yards is just dandy for a .243. While the .243 is used regularly for antelope at 300 yards, but it's not something a new shooter wants to do. Practice, off hand at 100 yards, shooting at a 9" pie plate. When you can hit it every time, your ready to hunt.
For deer, the right bullet is essential. However, you don't need premium bullets or ammo. Not that there's anything wrong with them, other than the price. You just don't need it.
Any 90 grain or heavier soft point from any maker will do nicely. Most lighter bullets are made for varmints and are unsuitable for deer.
You do need to consider what rate of rifling twist you buy too. 1 in 9 works well. Most regular weight hunting rifle barrels will do just fine for deer. A heavy varmint barrel may not.
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Old October 3, 2005, 08:14 PM   #25
togliat
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Thanks for all your replies, guys.

I appreciate all the information you have shared with me, fellas.
I looked at both .25-06 Rem and .243 Win and I'm pretty confident I'll start out with the .243, although both calibers are certainly excellent beginner choices (as are many others). I guess I looked at these two calibers as they represented viable choices in the "low felt recoil" genre and are easily found on store shelves.

My next agonizing decision...which rifle?

Tony
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