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Old August 25, 2012, 04:05 PM   #1
WIN1886
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243 Win. barrel life question ?

I've been thinking of going with a 243 Win. for varmint and target shooting but have heard that barrel life is relatively short ( about 1500 rounds I've read on one source ) ! I was originally thinking of going with a 223 Rem. for the same purpose but thought maybe the 243 Win. would be better for larger varmints and some medium game hunting as well ! Is the 243 cartridge really that hard on barrels or would it keep you from choosing it for varmint shooting over the 223 ? Thanks!
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Old August 25, 2012, 05:27 PM   #2
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I dunno, that seems like a mighty low number to me. My Rem 700 varmint rig is in that ballpark and it hasn't shown any signs at all of groups opening up. A lot of wear that is imparted on the life of a bbl depends on it's diet. If you load light and fast with faster(?) powders, then that might tend to speed things up. But then again, I launch 55 & 58gr bullets just under 3800fps with Ramshot Big Game powder- if your sources are correct, my bbl should have been toast many moons ago.

I really like my .243's and my loads, they really let me reach out there on p-dog towns to ranges my .223's couldn't dream of. I've never loaded rounds heavier than the Speer 70gr TNT's (and not many of those), so I couldn't speculate on the heavier bullets, but I've heard a guy can't go wrong on med size game with the 95's which some say perform better than the 105's. But, that's just what I've read and heard.

It's hard to go wrong with the .243, it's just a really good all-around cartridge. Plus, if you fall in love with it and do manage to wear out a bbl, Lilja and Hart both are making stainless steel 3-groove barrels that is supposed to increase barrel life a lot. One of those is what's going on my 1903A3 project.
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Old August 25, 2012, 05:51 PM   #3
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I understand that some folks use lighter bullets in the .243 and that's fine, but I've never found a load that works, but I admit that I didn't try real hard to nail down a light bullet load in that rifle.

I use 100-105 grain bullets for our smallish whitetail deer I push them to about 3100 fps with Reloder 22 and get very good accuracy the load. They put down our little deer with authority. I like the way they fly. I admit I'm not a varmint shooter, and if I was shooting small varmints like you fellows in your prairie dog towns, I'd probably find something lighter. I haven't shot the barrel out yet, but it's only got about 1000 rounds through it. I've been toying with the notion of yanking that barrel out and putting in a faster twist heavier contour barrel and see if it will shoot those lovely 107 grain Matchkings. My 9.25-twist Savage won't stabilize them, they're starting to keyhole at 100 yards and Sierra recommends a 7 or 8 twist.

There's a lot to like about the .243 Winchester, only it doesn't have the grace, charm, and allure of the newer cartridges. It's been around since 1955, but before that it's credited to Warren Page, who looked at a .308 Win cartridge and wondered what might happen if he necked it to 6mm. It's a solid, steady performer and one I enjoy working with.

It's a great little all-round cartridge if you realize it's limitations. With good bullets it is capable of most of the medium game on the continent. With good, premium bullets like Barnes, or some of the newer bonded bullets it might be capable of larger game if the marksman knows how to use the rifle.

Go see 6mmbr and look at their .243 page. Lots of good information there. LINKY!
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Last edited by PawPaw; August 25, 2012 at 05:58 PM.
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Old August 25, 2012, 05:51 PM   #4
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Have a Winchester in 243 that my father hunted with from at lest the mid 50's, now I have it and hunt and just shoot for fun with it and have not had any problems. Between us we have to have at lest 2500 rounds through it.
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Old August 25, 2012, 05:55 PM   #5
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Depends on your view of barrels.
The .243 isn't a real throat burner, but more so than the .308...
Pushing heavy bullets fast sure accelerates the process.

But if you look at rifle barrels as tires on a car, just figure you're going to replace it after "X" rounds. That's why I prefer Savage- being able to change out the barrel yourself, without the cost of a gunsmith and perhaps more importantly- the downtime of not having the rifle.

Good read from Lilja, it's worth nothing that SS resists heat erosion better than CM:

http://www.riflebarrels.com/faq_lilj...rrels.htm#Life
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Old August 25, 2012, 11:19 PM   #6
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Worst 243 story I know was a guy who was cranking 55gr bullets up to 4000fps and then plugging and soaking the barrel overnight to get the copper out. 500 rounds later he had a pitted throat, poor groups, and was trash talking the barrel company at the range....

My "photon torpedo" stage was brief. I'm happy with 85's in the 3200-3300 range...... nice balance of trajectory and xwind resistance, a good ratio of shooting fun to copper removal.
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Old August 26, 2012, 01:55 AM   #7
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I figure most short life barrels were abused. Either they weren't cleaned or were over cleaned with harsh metal eating cleaners and not rinsed out. Any cartridge will "burn out" a barrel if you help it along with a little abuse. If you take good care of it, you should get plenty of use out of your barrel. I purchased both of my 243's used, both have had a lot of rounds through them, and are still under moa. Don't let a few stories scare you away from an excellent cartridge
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Old August 26, 2012, 02:00 AM   #8
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I have a mod 70 in 243 and it has been fired ALOT. Not sure of the round count but it has been fired several hundred times a year since 1965 when my uncle bought it. My current favorite varmint load consists of a dose of IMR4350 and 87grn V-MAX. very accurate and will take woodchucks as far as conditions will allow. I'm sure you wouldnt go wrong with a quality rifle.
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Old August 26, 2012, 08:20 AM   #9
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Barrel life numbers depends on one thing; when the owner notices accuracy dropping off to an unacceptable level.

When the .243 Win was first used in high power match rifle competition, David Tubb and others shooting top scores with it got about 1400 rounds down range before they noticed accuracy dropping off too much. Others who didn't shoot good scores claimed 3000 to 4000 rounds. Go figure....

Barrel life tracks close to the following; 1 grain of powder for each square millimeter of bore cross sectional area gets about 3000 rounds of barrel life shooting 1/4 MOA at 100 yards. At 1.4 grains per square millimeter, barrel life's cut in half; 1500 rounds Double that amount of powder and barrel life gets cut to 1/4th as many rounds. Benchresters shooting 22 and 24 caliber bullets at short range from PPC cases typically rebarrel around 3000 rounds. Sierra Bullet's 30 caliber test barrels chambered for the .308 Win. are also replaced at around 3000 rounds; their 1/4 MOA groups with match bullets start to open up. These cartridges are all burning about 1 grain of powder for each square millimeter of bore area.

If you and your stuff (rifle and ammo) start out with 1/2 MOA at a hundred, you may get twice as many rounds. If it's 1 MOA at 100, you may get 3 to 4 times as many rounds. For example, folks shooting the .308 Win. or 7.62 NATO in Palma rifles producing the best scores rebarrel at around 3000 rounds. Same ammo in a service rifle barrel and it'll last 10,000 rounds with the accuracy it gets.

Last edited by Bart B.; August 26, 2012 at 08:26 AM.
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Old August 26, 2012, 08:37 AM   #10
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.243 barrel life is as long as any other popular rifle (30-06, .270, etc).

Barrel life won't get short until you get over 3100 fps mv or so. I've had my .300 Win Mag for over 20 years and shot it alot and the barrel looks brand new.

Some rounds are notorious for barrel throat erosion (.264 Win Mag) due to the huge amount of powder and small diameter bore.

Bart B. seems to know his stuff but that's all too technical for me!
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Old August 26, 2012, 09:49 AM   #11
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I've always figured to load my hunting loads to max pressure with acceptable accuracy. Target loads? A good bit downward in pressure to avoid burning the leade at some minimum amount.

I have over a thousand rounds through my .243 and am still putting three behind a dime at 100 yards. So far, so good.
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Old August 26, 2012, 10:22 AM   #12
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I was thinking somebody you talked to was referring to the 243 wssm. That would be a barrel burner.
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Old August 26, 2012, 10:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
.243 barrel life is as long as any other popular rifle (30-06, .270, etc).
Nope, you missed his point.

In the example I mentioned, the .243 uses a necked-down .308 case...
Same case, but bore cross-section of the .243 barrel is obviously much smaller than the .308.

Just as he said, refer to the second paragraph in the link I posted. Smaller bore dia. for a given volume of powder equals shorter barrel life.
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Old August 27, 2012, 12:43 PM   #14
Bart B.
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Warbirdlover claims:
Quote:
Barrel life won't get short until you get over 3100 fps mv or so.
Here's what folks winning the matches and setting the records got with different cartridges in high power rifle competition:

.223 Rem./5.56 NATO, 2400 to 2800 rounds.

.243 Win., 1300 to 1500 rounds.

.260 Rem., 1800 to 2000 rounds.

6.5x.284 Win., 700 to 1000 rounds.

.264 Win. Mag., 600 to 700 rounds.

7mm-08 Rem., 2300 to 2500 rounds.

7mm Rem. Mag., 700 to 800 rounds.

.308 Win., 2800 to 3000 rounds.

.30-06 Spfld., 2400 to 2600 rounds.

.300 H&H Mag., 1600 to 1800 rounds.

.300 Win. Mag., 1000 to 1100 rounds.

.308 Norma Mag., 1200 to 1300 rounds.

Hunters' typically get suitable accuracy from these bullet pusher-outers for two to four times as many rounds depending on the qualities of the rifle, ammo and shooter.
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Old August 27, 2012, 01:49 PM   #15
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That's looks pessimistic Bart B.

Maybe match barrels heat up more and wear faster.
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Old August 27, 2012, 02:24 PM   #16
Bart B.
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coyota1, I know those numbers look low (and therefore pessimistic) to lots of folks. But to top-ranked competitors whose rifles shoot test groups into 1/4 MOA at 100 and 200 yards, 1/3 at 300 1/2 at 600 and 3/4 MOA at 1000 and they are able to see when accuracy opens up to a fourth to a third larger when they compete with them, that's not good 'cause they know their scores will suffer if they don't rebarrel right away.

And match barrels heat up the same way as all the others. Match barrel throats wear out the same amount dimensionally per shot as hunting, sporter or plinker barrels. They're all made with the same steel.

I think I explained the differences folks get for accuracy in their barrels with different cartridges earlier. It's a fact of life; all us humans don't have the same marksmanship skills nor the same accuracy objectives for our specific shooting disciplines.
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Old August 27, 2012, 02:30 PM   #17
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If you plan to use it for game such as antelope or deer, the 243 is the minimum legal in many states. That might affect your choice.
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Old August 27, 2012, 02:41 PM   #18
Major Dave (retired)
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General rule of thumb...

"The higher the velocity, the shorter the barrel life."

Shooting factory ammo, which is never "hot" loads, results in very long barrel life.

Conversely, shooting Max hand loads will burn out your barrel with something like half the rounds as factory ammo.

Some cartridges are extreme examples - for instance, 7X57 Mauser. Factory loads are only 46,000 CUP, 2,660 fps MV, with 139/140 grain bullets. Low recoil, long barrel life.

But, handload it to about 60,000 psi (same as 7mm Rem Mag), and you get 2,950 fps MV, noticeable recoil, and about half the barrel life.
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Old August 27, 2012, 02:47 PM   #19
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George Gardner said he had 2,300rds down the tube of his 6mm creedmoore in a GAP 10 it's still shooting lights out on the hide. I imagine 3000 on a regular basis maybe more with modifications.

There is also salt bath nitriding, which increases barrel life, velocity, and corrosion resistance. It's similar to melonite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiegZyhd5l0

http://www.snipershide.com/forum/ubb...94#Post2686494

http://www.snipershide.com/forum/ubb...56#Post2653056
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Old August 27, 2012, 04:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
And match barrels heat up the same way as all the others. Match barrel throats wear out the same amount dimensionally per shot as hunting, sporter or plinker barrels. They're all made with the same steel.
Yes I understand this, but the nature in which you use a gun in a match would be more strenuous on a barrel (heat) than a hunting rifle sighting in scenario.

Quote:
"The higher the velocity, the shorter the barrel life."
This is true, but the throat will get washed out before the rest of the barrel.
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Old August 27, 2012, 04:17 PM   #21
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Bart B.

So my statement was pretty much correct?
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Old August 27, 2012, 04:28 PM   #22
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Quote:
So my statement was pretty much correct?
Sorry warbirdlover, I nitpick my way off topic sometimes.
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Old August 27, 2012, 09:55 PM   #23
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Warbirdlover, your statement about the .264 Win. Mag.'s barrel life is exactly correct. Mine lasted 640 rounds in long range matches. If I'd been better doping the wind back then, I would have shot more good scores with it.

Regarding your comment about barrel life won't get short until you get over 3100 fps mv or so, I don't think so. 6.5x284's don't shoot 140-gr. bullets out near that fast and they get 700 to 800 or so rounds of barrel life. Double rifles in 45, 47, 50, 57 and 60 caliber usually got a new set of barrels after a thousand or so rounds. They shot heavy bullets out at 2000 fps or so, but the Cordite they used was probably the main cause.
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Old August 27, 2012, 10:22 PM   #24
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Varmint shooting and competitive target shooting are very different in the their effects on barrel life. Even if you are camped on a prairie dog town, you are very unlikely to shoot as many rounds as fast as in target competition. Among my many rifle buddies (including a few who have replaced barrels on bolt action rifles) none have done so because the barrel was "shot out" at varmints.
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Old August 28, 2012, 07:24 AM   #25
Bart B.
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lefteye claims:
Quote:
Varmint shooting and competitive target shooting are very different in the their effects on barrel life.
I disagree. So do other top classified competitive shooters. Especially those who are also avid varmint shooters who have their hunting rifles built to the same accuracy level as their match rifles.

Years ago I also thought there was a difference. Then I learned that Sierra Bullets' ballistic tech got the same barrel life in his personal match rifle barrels as the barrels he used to test bullets for accuracy. Both barrel types were from the same company and made to the same specs. Testing for accuracy at Sierra's indoor range, he would grab 10 bullets as they came out of the pointing machine (at about 80 per minute), seat them in full length sized, primed and charged cases, then shoot them 10 to 15 seconds apart (sometimes faster) in their benchrest type rail gun. Then back to the pointing machine, get 10 more bullets then load and test them for the entire production run of bullets lasting a couple of hours or thereabouts. Those .308 Win. test barrels fired 4 to 8 times a minute got the same barrel life as his match rifles in .308 Win. fired 1 shot per minute; about 3000 rounds.

It's not the rate rounds are fired in bolt action rifles, but the amount of powder burned through the chamber's throat per shot that wears out barrels. Hot, over max loads wear out thoats faster than normal max pressure loads. This aside, 30 caliber machine gun barrels firing 8 shots a second (or more) do wear out a lot faster per shot. Hence, the quick-change feature their barrels have. But they're not capable of 1/3 MOA maximum groups at 300 yards, either.
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