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Old December 27, 2008, 10:47 AM   #1
greg788
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.243 or 6.5 Swede for deer rifle?

I can't decide between these two calibers. This will be my primary deer rifle. Both have pros and cons. I mainly want a mild caliber that doesn't beat the crap out of me at the range like a .30-06.

My gut tells me a .243 is slightly light for *all* situations on deer, especially at longer ranges. But, I've seen lots of deer (including big ones) go down like a box of rocks to the .243. I've never shot a deer with a .243 personally.

There's a ton of factory ammo available in .243. There's also a surprising amount available in the Swede (including premium stuff from Norma, RWS, Lapua and Stars and Stripes), but I'd be special ordering it. Standard factory fare in the Swede is pretty mild but at least gets out to 250 yards flat. The other question is: how good (accurate) is the standard, mild factory ammo in 6.5 Swede from the likes of Hornady, Federal, Remington, and Winchester?

Which caliber would you choose and why?
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Old December 27, 2008, 11:13 AM   #2
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I have never had a .243, but I have had several Swede Mausers, they are invariably very accurate guns. No big deal to reload if you can find a dealer that carries the bullets. I only pretty much shoot the 140's but there are apparently some longer 160 grainers and they use those quite alot on game in Europe. I was thinking about getting a US sporter in the caliber, generally though they are limited production items and I have seen few in person. Lot of expensive Euro sporters in that cal. are available if you want a braggin rifle to show off. I like the 6.5 just from familiarity and good accuracy results along with not much slam to me in the heavy mil. rifles.
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Old December 27, 2008, 11:43 AM   #3
Savage99
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greg788,

In my view the 243 is borderline for deer hunting. I feel that a man should hunt game with the most powerful round that he can as long as the recoil is not a take back.

Also the old 6.5-55 is not the only other round out there.
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Old December 27, 2008, 12:45 PM   #4
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I just killed another deer on Christmas day with my CZ550 243.I reload for it and the deer went down one shot one kill.The 243 is fine for whitetails shot placement is the key.My Savage 22-250 has killed deer the same way one shot one kill.The Swede is a great cartridge similar to the 260 remington.My old Remmy 06 works great but less meat damage with the smaller caliber.Dead is dead.
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Old December 27, 2008, 12:50 PM   #5
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Both are good calibers but you should look at the 7mm-08 also. Minimal recoil and better ballistics.
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Old December 27, 2008, 02:02 PM   #6
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+1 on the 7-08. If you reload , the swede would be fine too. The 243 definitely has the most AFFORDABLE factory ammo. I vote 7-08.
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Old December 27, 2008, 02:16 PM   #7
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The 6.5 Swede is a great Caliber. I would choose it over the 243 for deer. The 260 Remington is a modern version of the 6.5mm and the 7mm-08 is another great choice for a low recoil cartridge. All in all if I was to choose among them for a low recoiling accurate deer hunting cartridge I would go with them in this order:

260 Rem
7mm-08 Rem
6.5 Swede
275 Rbts
243 Win
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Old December 27, 2008, 06:01 PM   #8
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another vote here for the 7/08 awesome calibre,works on everything up to elk and moose.
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Old December 27, 2008, 06:23 PM   #9
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6.5 Swede. The older round is still classified as a low pressure round so commercial ammo has less recoil than a high pressure round like the 7mm-08 from same weight rifles.

The high BC and SD of the 6.5 bore makes it a deep penetrator even with modest initial velocities.

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Old December 27, 2008, 07:04 PM   #10
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Having killed deer with both calibers, I vote for the 6.5x55 hands down. Both calibers will do the job, but the 6.5 is better for more situations.
Here is the buck I killed with my Blaser R-93 Professional in 6.5x55.
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Old December 27, 2008, 08:15 PM   #11
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I'd choose the 6.5 Swede based on the bullets that are available.

I'd also consider the .260 Remington, a modern version of the ol' Swede that also shoots 6.5mm bullets.
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Old December 27, 2008, 08:26 PM   #12
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Very nice buck, Retrieverman.

Either calibers will kill whitetails. The .243 is less likely to exit however, and bullet selection is more important with it to minimize meat damage. When a .243 hollow-point hits bone, it can cause a fair amount of meat damage. A friend used one in Missouri (a .243 BTHP Sierra Matchking) and I watched as he dressed it out.... Alot more wasted meat than I would have thought. Here in the People's Republic of Illinois, we can't use rifles for deer.

Life is full of decisions... and SOME of them are actually fun. Good luck with your choice.
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Old December 27, 2008, 11:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
In my view the 243 is borderline for deer hunting. I feel that a man should hunt game with the most powerful round that he can as long as the recoil is not a take back.
Why? I have everything from 17's through 458’s; do you think I should use a 458 for my deer hunting?

I just had another great hunt with one of my 243's for whitetail. On the last drive of the season I shot a deer at less than 15 yards with over 18" of penetration and one at just over 75 yards with a quartering through and through. Both of these were shot with Federals 80gr Speer Hot-Cor factory load. The bullet held together at near muzzle velocity to cleanly take out the vitals of the first deer and penetrated through and through on a quartering shot at 75 yards on the second.

I have also taken deer with this same load out to just over 300 yards, with broadside through and through out to 275 yards.

I would never consider the 243 a borderline cartridge.

Quote:
Either caliber will kill whitetails. The .243 is less likely to exit however, and bullet selection is more important with it to minimize meat damage. When a .243 hollow-point hits bone, it can cause a fair amount of meat damage. A friend used one in Missouri (a .243 BTHP Sierra Matchking) and I watched as he dressed it out.... Alot more wasted meat than I would have thought.
That’s why you are not supposed to use the Matchking as a hunting bullet.

As far as your question goes I have both and love them both. I reload for my 6.5 but have shot both Hornady and Federal factory loads in 140gr with excellent results. Both easily shoot MOA from both of my 6.5's. I like to load heavy for caliber bullets at medium velocities in my 6.5. There is far less damage to game and the performance is way beyond paper ballistics.

If you may find yourself using the rifle for more than deer sized game I'd go with the 6.5, if you will be hunting deer and under 243, both will fill the bill.

J.
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Old December 27, 2008, 11:59 PM   #14
Jseime
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Both are excellent calibers.

There are more ballistically efficient bullets available in 6.5mm than 6mm...

I think 6.5 are some of the highest BC bullets you can get.

On the other hand, if a .243 isnt flat enough, you may be shooting way further than me.
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Old December 28, 2008, 03:18 AM   #15
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I was looking for the perfect (for me) antelope rifle and I chose the 6.5x55 Swedish. I'm very glad I did. I can also use it for cougar, bear, deer, sheep, pigs and even elk (if I choose my shots carefully and use the proper bullets). If I was going to be mostly predator/varmint hunting and some deer/antelope then I might prefer the .243. I don't have experience with that round, but I have read mostly very good things about it.

You should try to shoot both in the types of rifle you think you'd be interested in getting and see how you like the different recoil. The 6.5x55SE was my first centerfire rifle and I find the recoil very comfortable. I enjoy shooting it from the bench very much and my shoulder never takes a beating, even when I fire hot loads.
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Old December 28, 2008, 03:39 PM   #16
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I say .243 just because it's SOOOOOOOOOOOOO common. I read an article a few years back called scaling down for elk. basically it said that it's better to use a light caliber that you can shoot well then one that looks better on paper but is more than you can really handle.

if you're a good enough shot you'd be surprised with what you can drop with a single .243 round
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Old December 29, 2008, 08:20 PM   #17
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the 243 and the 6.5 are both great, that said I would go with the 6.5 for the better penetration and minimal recoil difference. I have shot the 243 quite a bit and like it, but if it is primarily for deer i dont think you'll be disappointed with the 6.5
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Old December 29, 2008, 09:19 PM   #18
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I like the Swedish round a lot and they have no problems shooting moose with it in Scandinavia.

Another plug for the 7mm/08. Soft shooting with excellent ballistics/results.
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Old December 29, 2008, 09:29 PM   #19
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I do not own a .243 but do own a 6.5x55 Swede from CZ and I also own a 7mm-08 in Remington CDL. I hunted with the 6.5x55 this year and killed the biggest buck I have ever killed with it along with a doe and two hogs. One of the hogs was upward of 200 lbs and it dropped it in its tracks. I have yet to hunt with the 7mm-08 but I am sure it will perform well too. BUT if I had to choose between these three rifles...it is the 6.5x55 Swede PERIOD! I have done a lot of reading on it and believe that when I do finally get the chance to go Elk hunting in the next couple of years it will be one of the rifles I take depending on where I will be hunting. It simply performed as well as any rifle I have ever used! I have hunted with Rem. 30-06, Browning 7Mag, Rem. 300 Mag, 30-30 as well and it performed every bit as well and did not kick the crap out of me. In fact it was after I shot my doe, I have already shot two hogs that it occurred to me that I had not even felt a kick from it.

Nough said.
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Old December 29, 2008, 09:38 PM   #20
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Old December 29, 2008, 09:50 PM   #21
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I've used both the .243 and the 6.5 X 55 and consider them both adequate for the task

I use bonded bullets in both but that's not at all necessary!

The advantage of the .243 over the 6.5 X 55 is that after the deer season it'll squirt those 55 grain Btips at over 4,000 FPS at coyotes.....helluvadeal!

The advantage of the 6.5 X 55 over the .243 is that it will be a bit better if you have to shoot at a very large deer and all you have is a quartering shot.

You'll like the heavier bullet in that case.....

Now it's up to you.
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Old December 29, 2008, 09:54 PM   #22
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I have read where some have said that if you are going to hunt varmits that perhaps the 243 is the one...You can get 95grain bullets for the 6.5x55 Swede and it will take varmits as well. I reload and would not have a problem loading up some and taking it varmit hunting too.
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Old December 30, 2008, 12:14 AM   #23
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I own two rifles in .243 ........ I like them a lot ......

But for a better balanced round (if you handload) ...... I would go 6.5!!!

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Old December 30, 2008, 12:38 AM   #24
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Another bonus of the 6.5x55SE is the availability of the good quality military surplus ammo for plinking. I got a 200 rd battle pack of it and it's very accurate.
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Old December 30, 2008, 09:36 AM   #25
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Given the choice of only the two, I would opt for the 6.5
but there are many choices.
The .243 has been a great caliber for deer for a long time.
I agree with one of the replies above. I don't believe you have to use the largest caliber available to take an animal.
Many Elk have been taken with the .243
Ethically, I owe it to the animal to wait for the right shot to make the cleanest kill.
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