View Full Version : What do you mean not enough gun?

July 26, 2005, 12:04 PM
I do not understand the .243 debate. I assume it has gotten a bad rap because it is often put in the hands of a younger, inexperienced shooter, who inturn may not make a clean shot resulting in lost or wounded game. It is not an underpowered round for deer, assuming it is used properly. It is not a 300yd deer gun. Let me point out that I am not a one rifle guy jealous of others who think my gun is wimpy.
I shoot a few mag rifles, but only feel they are necessary for the long ranges shooting (we are talking about deer, not elk, bear, monsters, etc). I no longer own a .243, however I have shot 5 or 6 with the gun before selling it. I have also shot several with a .222 and countless hogs with .222, 22 Hornet, and 22-250. Can someone tell me why the .243 has such a bad rep.

July 26, 2005, 01:15 PM
:confused: I'm with you zeisloft, my dad always uses his mod 7 243 because it's so light & easy to carry. He's killed a pile of deer with it & I can not recall tracking one more than 50 yds. This question has always puzzled me & I jump to the .243's defense everytime, I like 'em. :)

July 26, 2005, 01:58 PM
Cheap ammo is responsible for at least part of the bad rap. Too many 'hunters' head down to the sporting goods store and buy whatever is on sale to use on their 'hunt'. Bullet failure is not uncommon using this approach and wounded animals are the result. It isn't a fault of the cartridge, but you know the type of guy that would do something like that isn't going to fess up and aknowledge that he is a hinderpipe.

Art Eatman
July 26, 2005, 02:10 PM
I've killed near two dozen smaller whitetails with my .243. But, I was really picky about the shots (mostly neck shots), and generally didn't shoot much beyond 150 yards.

I'll take a shot at a running deer with a .30-'06 that I would pass with the .243. I've always felt that if I don't hit where I really want, the '06 creates more tissue damage and blood trail, or penetrates further on a quartering shot than the .243 could do. Same deal for longer shots, in this really wide open country in SW Texas.

I guess I'd say that the .243 is plenty enough gun, most of the time. The '06 is enough gun, all the time.

:), Art

July 26, 2005, 02:34 PM
Good to see some agree. I just assume use a rifle as a scalpel rather than a broad sword provided the outcome is the same.

July 26, 2005, 03:33 PM
The .243 will kill deer if the hunter does his or her part. I really like the light weight of the .243 rifles, and the light recoil generated by the round.

I do think Art Eatman's comments concerning tissue damage, blood trail, and penetration are accurate. But I've just about given up on those running shots, Art! I've missed 'em with the .30-06 and with the .243.

Many people who don't like the .243 want a heavier bullet -- 100 grains seems to be the maximum weight for this caliber.

July 26, 2005, 04:09 PM
I think the .243 is blamed for the problems coming with being put in the hands of novices. If they haven't shot enough that they can comfortably handle a .270 or .308, then they haven't shot enough, period, and stand a good chance of coming to grief with any caliber.

I think that the .243, thanks to the advances in bullet technology, can safely be said to be a deer cartridge. My brother has taken some very nice large bodied bucks, but I must admit that his largest bodied (230 pounds) was also his longest shot 9250-300 yards), and his bullet had run out of gas, not making it through broadside, and leaving the deer with a broken shoulder, but plenty alive. Might have been a different story with premium bullets like a Nosler Partition.

Anyhow, I wouldn't bat an eye if handed a .243 or 6mm Remington to finish out my deer hunting days. I am more finicky about the scope than caliber.

bill k
July 26, 2005, 05:09 PM
Question: If someone is being picky on the type of shot they're taking, why take a neck shot?
There are times when it becomes necessary, but as a first choice? Or did I misunderstand the statement.
As a 150 yard or so deer cartridge, the 243 will do its job.

Art Eatman
July 26, 2005, 05:28 PM
bill k, in all seriousness, I first look to a neck shot because some 55 years back my uncle told me to "Shoot her in the white spot!" Sure enough, that doe folded up her legs and was DRT.

My father expounded on the idea that with a neck shot, you most likely either kill or miss.

I was gonna argue with the grownups? No way, Jose!

I usually tweak and mess with pet rifles until they're always inside one MOA. This gives confidence. If I have a rest of some sort, I'll take a neck shot out to maybeso 150 yards. Beyond that, or offhand, I go for the lower chest for a heart/lung shot. Since the great majority of my deer have been one-shot kills, I'll stay with what works.

As far as a running deer, I just guesstimate the number of hundreds of yards and the rough angle and figure about three feet or so of lead per hundred yards for a crossing shot. My outer limit has been about 175 yards. I haven't shot all that many running deer, but I haven't mssed any. Yet. The whole deal is a lot like shooting crossing doves. Set your lead, touch it off and folllow through.

:), Art

July 26, 2005, 06:16 PM
Marksmanship skills are most important in my view for any hunting activity.

I like the 243 with respect to game and as noted above..... use the right bullet for task at hand....

A few of my buddies have nice 243's that they have set up for the wives. The wives do real well. They are in many ways more careful about shots taken because they don't want to track the wounded deer through the thick stuff. If my wife would hunt with me I would suggest a 243 to her. If my daughter decides to hunt in a few years, same holds true....

July 26, 2005, 07:49 PM
A buddy of mine hunts with a 6mm Remington ( same thing as the 243 ) and does pretty good! He never let a deer get away. He always makes lung shots on a walking or standing deer. The deer never get more than 50 yards from where he shot them.

The first deer I ever shot was with a 222 in the lungs. From where It was shot to where the deer laid was 60 paces. The bullet made a "peck" sound when it hit the side of the deer.

July 26, 2005, 09:51 PM
243/6mm is just fine for whitetail deer with a 100gr or larger bullet. I consider it at or near the bottom of the power range for effective deer hunting. My first deer rifle was a 243 and I did fine. It was also a great long range wood chuck rifle which kept me in practice. I lost a deer shot with the 243, but it was not the caliber's fault... it was the darn tree's fault that I shot through to get to the deer.

I did not know there was a debate about the caliber. Most agree that it is an okay caliber for whitetail hunting. I prefer a tad larger caliber like the 270, 308, 30-06 or similar calibers.

July 26, 2005, 10:11 PM
I have a 243 and have taken a couple of bob cats and a few coyotes with it. My wife took a deer with it last year and all kills were DRT. I use 80 grain bullets. I think it is a bit small for elk though, unless you are close and make a good shot. I have a friend that says he is going to get his elk this year with a 22-250. I have no doubt but that he will do it.


Dave Haven
July 26, 2005, 11:00 PM
Originally posted by Fremmer:The .243 will kill deer if the hunter does his or her part.My thoughts, exactly. My Dad has a nice Muley mount on his wall that he took at 440 yards with a .243. He was familiar with the area he was hunting, and had spent considerable time practicing.(and developing loads) The buck took a few steps and dropped.

bill k
July 26, 2005, 11:30 PM
22-250 for elk, if not illigal should be. A 243 at 400 yards for deer is way beyond it's effective range. A great shooter can do it though, most everyone else can't.
The trouble I see with the statement is now it will become fact, some one who's a poor shot will pop off a 500 yard shot with his little 243. Maybe one in ten will go down. The rest will wander off for bear and coyotye meat.
The 243 is a deer, antilope, and varmit round. A great round mind you, but not more.

Smokey Joe
July 27, 2005, 02:36 AM
Some of the "problem" w/the .243Win stems from people who went down to the sptg gds sto, bought ".243 ammo," didn't say they were going deer hunting, and got varmint bullet loaded rounds. Of course those rounds didn't penetrate well, even in a little "big game" animal like a deer. Those who didn't understand the difference in the ammo blamed it on the cartridge.

IMHO the .243 is a good deer round, PROVIDED: 1. First and foremost, that the user is a good enough shooter--and anatomist--to carefully place his shots. 2. That a proper bullet is used--loaded my #1 son's first deer rifle w/100 gr. Nosler Partitions and he never had a problem. But boy did we practice with that rifle. 3. That the user is sportsman enough to pass up on the marginal shot, either because of distance or intervening brush.

Frankly my preference is for a slightly larger caliber/more potent round for deer.

July 27, 2005, 11:09 PM
243 factory loads are usually in two levels, a 80 grainer loaded with varmint bullets, and a 100 grainer loaded with a Dual purpose bullet.
There in lies the most significant problem with 243's for deer.

With the advent of premium bullets, the use of a 243 for deer is more reliable. The problem is that many people do not use premium bullets when they need them. There is also a significant difference between a texas deer and a manitoba or northern minnesota deer. We routinely see deer in the 250 pound class in minnesota, and three hundred pounders are not uncommon and I have seen a few that went over four hundred on the hoof, ( a field dressed deer that has had the head removed for taxidermy and still weighs over 340 pounds is more than likely a 400 pound deer on the hoof.)

July 28, 2005, 04:00 AM
I would suggest that all this has come about because of the fact that the .243 is a dual-purpose cartridge: light big game - and varmints. And that many "failures" attributed to the .243 are in fact cases of people using bullets intended for varmints on larger game animals.

July 30, 2005, 12:17 AM
Although the 243 is a necked down 308, and the 308 will do at longer ranges anything the 243 can do inside of 225 yards...
The 243Win is quite possibly one of the best all around guns ever made for Pennsylvania purposes. My dad uses a Ruger M77 chamber in that and has anchored every whitetail he's ever shot at, running or not. It's ballistics are most forgiving inside of 225 yards and high velocity enough to shorten leads on moving targets. I would think it's plently a gun to take down black bear when using 100 grain ammo, but besides that it also doubles as a groundhog gun.

July 31, 2005, 09:06 AM
I like the .243. I've shot many, but don't own one. You're right, it gets the bad rap because it is often put into the hands of the most inexperienced shooters, or shooters who won't pass up marginal shots.

In the hands of experienced hunters, it is a great whitetail gun. In the hands of first timers, it is good at the range and good on the hunt, up until they take a marginal shot you or I wouldn't take.

July 31, 2005, 08:42 PM
Judging by what's in the ballistics tables, anyway, I'd expect the .243 with a 100gr bullet would be good out to 300 yards+ for deer. It's not a weak rifle, and carries it's momentum very efficiently over distance. At the muzzle, it carries about as much energy as the .30-30, but it has more energy remaining at 300 yards than the .30-30 has at 200 yards. 200 yards is normally considered the effective range of the .30-30 on deer.

From the Remington Online Catalog:

.30-30/170gr Soft Point Core Lokt
@muzzle 1827ft-lb
@200 yards 989 ft-lb

.243/100gr Core Lokt Ultra Bonded
@muzzle 1945ft-lb
@300 yards 1120 ft-lb

Lawyer Daggit
July 31, 2005, 11:25 PM
Carbine caleb you are going off energy tables - these do not make due allowance for the effect of bullet weight and they tend to distort things somwhat.

I agree that the .243 is no -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED-, but IMHO it is not such a good killer as a 170 gr .30-30.

I used to own a nice Mannlicher Schoenauer in .243 and the reason I got rid of it was I found it an indifferent killer on wild pig. With 100 gr loads some would go down as if Thor had wacked them and others would appear to get away uninjured even when hit hard. A big factor seemed to be whether the projectile hit bone.

Having said this I have a preference for heavy bullets (I own a .35 whelen and a .350 Rem Mag) am only to aware of the .243 debate and respect those who hold a contrary view.

If you have confidence in a calibre it will often work for you.

July 31, 2005, 11:30 PM
a rifle as a scalpel rather than a broad sword
i like that line, mind if i make it my signature?

Smokey Joe
July 31, 2005, 11:58 PM
Lawyer Daggit--Re the .243 on the hogs-- +1 here! IMHO it is TOO little to penetrate from many angles--and those big hogs have that heavy scar/cartilage collar--pigs have been called walking bullet traps and I agree. Sure, a .243 will put them down SOMETIMES, but the same could be said for using a .243 on a grizzly bear.

You have to respect what you are hunting, enough to use a gun that will get you a quick, humane kill under any reasonable circumstances (given always that you do YOUR part!) You owe this to your quarry. You owe it to your gun. Most of all you owe it to yourself.

And there is such a thing as overdoing it (.375 H&H on cottontail rabbits comes to mind--doesn't leave enough to eat.)

But the old cliche' is true for all its mossy age: Use Enough Gun!

October 16, 2005, 12:26 PM
the 243 is a good dear gun and is not under powerd its all about placing your shots i shot a black bear at 60 yards with it and it droped then i went to it and it got back up. The next day my dad shot another black bear at 80 yards and he it it right between the eyes and it didnt make a sound and droped like a rock.

October 26, 2005, 06:09 AM
There is also a significant difference between a texas deer and a manitoba or northern minnesota deer. We routinely see deer in the 250 pound class in minnesota, and three hundred pounders are not uncommon and I have seen a few that went over four hundred on the hoof, ( a field dressed deer that has had the head removed for taxidermy and still weighs over 340 pounds is more than likely a 400 pound deer on the hoof.)

+1 ......

October 26, 2005, 01:01 PM
A 150 pound white tail is a big deer in my neck of the woods.

October 26, 2005, 06:39 PM
I don't know how to feel about this. Personally I love my 243. I shoot it with varmint loads (50 and 70gr NBT) and it shoots great. I have taken little ground critters out to 700ish yrds. FUN FUN!:cool:
My problem is that you may top out at 100gr loads that may give you 1100 ft/lbs at 300 yds under ideal circumstances. If you keep it under 200yds I guess it is fine. When I used to live in N Wis(BIG DEER, (:cool: fast corn fed cows)), no problem since I didn't see much area that I could take shots over 100ydrs much less 200. Now out in the great state of Colorado(Which doesn't have the tribal gaming problems Wis has:D ) Shots can be much further out. And the game out here require larger caliber. My minimum big game caliber out here is 30-06.
My 2 cents

Jack O'Conner
October 28, 2005, 04:58 PM
The debate was started half century ago by the same writers who wanted the 250 Savage and 257 Roberts to go away. These guys felt it was 30-06 or nothing for all big game hunting.

These writers could not conceive the idea of a rifle for long shots at pronghorned antelope and yet another rifle for elk. Still another short carbine for timber and foothill country. It was one rifle for all or nothing.

As a .243 owner for nearly 40 years, I'm certain the long shots I've successfully made actually killed these animals. My bullets did not bounce off or wound these critters.

The advent of Premium bullets a few years ago has truely upped the lethality of this cartridge. No muley can stand up to a well placed 95 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip or a 100 grain Nosler Partition. Yes, even a 300 pound buck will topple over quickly after this high speed and tissue destroying bullet enters his chest.

I'm certain that the 30-06 or nothing guys will never agree with me and that is their option. I'd rather seek subjects that unit us as hunters instead of dividing us.

October 28, 2005, 05:04 PM
Guess I have to add my 270 in there also.
Yes I agree that a 243 at less then 200 yrds for whitetail or smaller animal(this caliber would be great for antelope). But at anything over 150-200 yrds I go bigger.
243 with a 50 gr load for ground critters and varm's can't be beat though!:D

October 29, 2005, 02:08 PM
JOC +1 , Buuuuut any excuse to buy another gun is good enough for me Lol

T. O'Heir
October 29, 2005, 08:30 PM
"...that he is a hinderpipe..." Who doesn't shoot regularly. High priced premium bullets aren't required. Shot placement with any calibre is essential. Premium bullets do squat if they're not placed correctly.
"...going to get his elk this year with a 22-250..." He's nuts and will lose the elk. Even with the best premium bullet there is. The .22-250 isn't made for the deep penetration required on a 600 to 1,000 pound animal. Mind you, he may find that using a .22 cal on elk is illegal anyway.
"...I went to it and it got back up..." Wait the 30 minutes or just run to the beast? In any case, it's not unusual for a shot animal to get up again after being shot with any calibre. Even with a very well placed shot.
.243? Wouldn't think twice about using mine with regular 105 grain SP's for anything up to black bears. Too light for moose or elk though.

Jack O'Conner
November 4, 2005, 08:02 AM
I'm certain that many guys look at the rather small-ish 95 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet and say, "That is too small for deer hunting". For some reason, many guys do not realize that the wound channel caused by this high speed bullet is much larger than the bullet diameter would suggest.

The bullet is .243 diameter as it zooms toward its destination. But once it strikes, the diameter of the wound channel is far larger. This is why we continue to kill even big 300 lb mulies with ease. FACT: No deer can remain on its feet very long after this deadly bullet tears through its chest.

November 5, 2005, 01:03 AM
Jack I guess I can't fault your logic as I agree that shot placement is the key to every clean kill but as we all know, sometimes :( people take shots that some might call questionable. You have to admit that a heavier caliber at longer ranges would be preferable. Yes?

Jack O'Conner
November 5, 2005, 06:28 AM
Shot 24:
Actually, we own several hunting rifles. I use our .243 primarily for antelope but my eldest daughter and nephews have toppled many mulies with it as well. Even a really big muley is not armor-plated. His hide and ribs are no match for a good bullet. I feel that the .243 is an excellent deer cartridge that has become even more lethal with the advent of Premium bullets. Black Hills Ammo offers a box of super accurate 95 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip cartridges for about $20.00.

I have no quarrel with a mule deer hunter who chooses a heavier cartridge. My Dad always hunted with his 300 Savage.

My longest shot ever with our .243 rifle was about 340 yards or so. The buck was unaware and calm when my 80 grain Sierra Pro Hunter bullet slammed into his ribs. This antelope toppled over right there on the spot. The bullet broke a rib going in and tore a wide channel across the top of the heart. Both lungs were deflated and damaged. Bullet performance was noteworthy. I'm certain a 257 Weatherby magnum would not perform any better under these conditions. After all, dead-in-its-tracks is about as good as it gets.

Elk and red stag are different animals altogether. Most hunters would agree a heavier bullet is needed. My wife has done well with her custom 6.5mm Swede and 140 grain Nosler Partitions. I prefer .308 and 180's. My brother has had great success with his 30-06; his wife has killed many elk with her 7mm-08. Our Dad (deceased 2004) killed dozens of elk with his 300 Savage lever action rifle. Grandad (deceased 1973) hunted and killed even more elk with his Winchester 95 in 30-40 Krag. In summary, our family has put many Wyoming elk down with a variety of rifles and cartridges. Within our family, elk meat is cherished.

I'm of the opinion that our world has many great hunting cartridges. Within their limitations a person can be quite successfull in the field. It still comes down to placing a good bullet into the chest so that both lungs and (or) major blood carrying arteries are damaged.

November 5, 2005, 12:21 PM
2 points Jack.:)

November 7, 2005, 01:30 AM
.243 debate??????I thought that question got answered by the .260 Rem.:D

November 8, 2005, 02:17 AM
It is the shooter that makes the shot connect.

Guns and Ballistics can't make magic out of a bad shot.

Better to shot a brick of .22 a week than expect Magic from a Weatherby super Magnum.

November 8, 2005, 02:29 AM
...assuming it is used properly. It is not a 300yd deer gun.

How about a very good shooter...

At 100 yards...

5 rounds of .243 in the "boileroom"...

In about a "pie-plate" group...

Last 4 of those rounds at a now running buck...

Buck travels at least 200 yards...

True Story

Woman shooter...

Several witnesses. ;)

Is that "used properly"??

If it ain't a 300 yard deer cartridge... Why use it? :D

Art Eatman
November 8, 2005, 10:26 AM
Because, Pointer, probably 90% of all deer made into supper are killed inside of 100 yards. :D


November 8, 2005, 01:57 PM


But probably 90% of the really big trophy's are taken at well over 150 yards... :p

And, the average .243 shooter is NOT going to hold off and watch that once-in-a-lifetime-buck slip back into the brush 250 yards out! :eek:

November 8, 2005, 05:38 PM
First I like the 243. Heck, I killed two deer Friday (11-04-05) with one. The problem I am haveing with it is they are not being anchored with it. The first deer (a small Doe) was shot at 15 yards with Winchester 95 gr. Ballistic Silver Tips, the shot was placed just behind the shoulder. This deer ran over 100 yards thru the woods and jumped a creek. When found part of lung was hanging out of the exit hole. The Second deer (spiked Buck) was shot at 45 yards with 100 gr. Horandy light mags BTSP. This deer shot in the same place, just behind the shoulder, dropped right there. Also on friday, I shot a Third deer (Doe) at 120 yards with the Hornady round, hit this one behind shoulder, she jumped when hit and ran off to not be found. After losing this deer after a good hit I went to a 308. I hear people talking about shot placement which is important, but with good shot placement I have had two out of three run off.

Art Eatman
November 8, 2005, 06:06 PM
Pointer, you shoot him in the white spot, and a .243 is plenty good. That's why God put a neck on a deer: To give me something to break. :D


November 8, 2005, 06:27 PM
I used a .243 for years before I went on to the 7mag and the 7STW (for better ballistics in long range shooting). The .243 is not underpowered. With the correct bullets, it will punch through the shoulder out to at least 300 yards from my experience. I've shot approximately 40 deer and helped claim twice more of that. I've actually seen deer gut shot with the .243 fold up due to the use of the lighter more expansive bullets that have fragmented into vital areas. I've seen A LOT more deer run away from a bad shot using heavier calibers and/or premium bullets.

I can't remember the time I saw a whitetail lost due to lack of penetration (.243 on up) I've seen a lot lost due to poor shot placement and several lost due to marginal shots made with bonded or solid bullets. In my experience stronger bullet design penetrates perfectly, but hasn't been able to cause the amount of vital tissue damage that conventional bullets have been capable of. The purpose of the bullet is to disrupt vital tissue. A good shot will do this despite the bullet design. An explosive bullet will maximize the effect in most cases, but waste meat. Pick your application wisely based on your game and level of skill (which will not always result in a "premium" loading).

November 9, 2005, 01:12 AM

You're an uncommon shooter... :p :)

Art Eatman
November 9, 2005, 07:02 PM
Pointer, if there's anything I hated as a kid, it was any lack of respect from my father and my uncle, about shooting.

I was riding in with my uncle in his jeep, one day, and he locked up and slid to a stop, grabbed his rifle, and shot a buck as it jumped the fence some 100 yards or so in front of us. Broke the buck's neck in mid-jump. I hadn't even spotted the buck. I still remember a comment about the "old days" and iron sighted 03s: "When I was your age, anything inside of 300 yards, I owned it."

My father was a guy whose attitude was, "Aw, I'll break his neck, from here." and often proceeded to do so, offhand, in front of witnesses. Me for one; I watched him nail the white spot at 250 yards. Others reported distances out to 400 or more, at one time or another.

You think that won't make you learn to concentrate? To practice? To study and think about shooting? I maybe wasn't a natural, but I danged sure worked at it.

:), Art

November 9, 2005, 08:15 PM
if you dont shoot it in the a** it isnt going to run

November 9, 2005, 09:25 PM
Well Kirby, do me a favor and kindly inform these Nebraska deer that they aren't ever supposed to run after a non-hindquarter shot. :p

I guess that the reason I want to shoot a larger caliber than the .243 has to do with those times that I pull the shot or screw up in some other manner. A deer that is gut-shot with, say, a .30-06 seems to, in general, drop a lot more quickly than a deer that is gut-shot with a .243.

Not that I've ever screwed up and gut-shot a deer....:rolleyes:

November 10, 2005, 01:31 AM

I watched him nail the white spot at 250 yards. Others reported distances out to 400 or more, at one time or another.

I don't doubt this for a minute!

I have seen some shooting most wouldn't believe to be within the realm of human possiblity! I would be accused of BS if I were to tell the stories on this thread... so I don't.

White-spot shooters are "uncommon" shooters...
Only uncommon shooters have my permission to use a .243... :p :D

Very pleased to know that you know better... 03, 06, etc. :)

Art Eatman
November 10, 2005, 09:28 AM
Fremmer, I've pretty much always used my '06 when walking-hunting, doing the cross-country thing. High odds of jumping a buck and having to shoot him on the run. Like you, I've always figured that I could probably cure a bad hit with an '06 easier than with a lesser cartridge.

I've generally been lucky on running deer. I did hit one buck's spine just back of the shoulders, though, and had to use a second shot. Weird deal: When I walked up to him, he was up on his front legs. Made a sort of bellowing or roaring sound, and really threatened me with his horns. Didn't do him any good, of course.

But, just meddling around where I figured more on up close and personal, or just sitting and staring at an area where calm deer and shorter ranges were likely, the .243 works just fine.

"Situational choice", I reckon. :)

Heck, the last year or two before we lost our old deer lease near Uvalde, I got where I was walking up on sleeping bucks at mid-day. Ten, fifteen yards. Figured I oughta switch to a pistol. The last mule deer I killed, I walked up out of a rocky creek bottom and saw him at maybe 25 or 30 yards. I about halfway apologized to him for using a rifle. Shameful. :)