View Full Version : The 243 Anyone?

The Terminator
March 18, 2007, 08:22 PM
I just struck a deal to get a NEF 243, bull barrel. I want a longer range deer rifle than I currently have, a 45-70 Guide Gun. I have never owned a 243, but, I've always heard that they are good for most whitetails to about 300 yards. Anyone have experience with one?

Best - Ted

March 18, 2007, 09:06 PM
I've got one that I bought for my wife. I also use it for my open country gun. I love it. It's a fast powerful round. we have taken them out at 300-350 yds no problem....with remington corelokt at that.

Plus they are easy shooters w/minimal recoil

March 19, 2007, 01:41 AM
Had one...

they shoot flat and hit more than hard enough to take down white-tail I only ever took down mulies with mine and out to about 150 yards but it worked quite well.

I traded up to the .270 for a little more oooomph and i love it too. The .243 is also a great coyote gun.

March 19, 2007, 07:07 AM
I too had the NEF heavy barrel in 243. I didn't like the rifle for carrying around, the heavy barrel made it ummm, too heavy.:) It was a good shooter though.

March 19, 2007, 08:06 AM
the .243 win is a great performing whitetail round.

I use Remington Accutips ( 95 gr ) and they really open up inside a deer, but still give enough penetration. I have yet to recover a bullet fron a deer shot through the ribs at any range. typical exit holes are over a half an inch in diameter - so I know that they have expanded fully. I used to use the Winchester/ combined technologies ballistic silver tip ( 95 gr ) and they worked very well too.

I would hesitate to use it on any raking shot or a texas heart shot but the .243 is great for broadside shots.

No recoil, all the ones I have shot have been very accurate and it is a nice flat shooting cartridge.

Plus, you can go for coyotes or other varmints with it.

Have fun!!

March 19, 2007, 10:46 AM
I took down a huge South Texas whitetail this year with my new 6mm rem. Same bullet. 1 shot kill through the shoulder. Dead in his tracks with a Nosler partition 100 grainer.

March 19, 2007, 12:01 PM
It sure does shoot flat, and recoil is really mild.

March 19, 2007, 05:45 PM
+1 on this being a good caliber for deer, as long as you use the proper bullets. My State requires 70 grain or heavier for Deer and 85 or heavier for Elk. I've never used lighter than 95 grains for Deer or Pronghorn. I save the lighter bullets for coyotes. I like my .243 and will never sell it but it was downgraded to a varmint gun for me as soon as I bought my .270 Win, but I wouldn't be afraid to use it again on deer.

March 19, 2007, 06:01 PM
I love the .243 win. I have 2 rifles in this round, and am considering more. Big enough to take whitetails cleanly, very flat trajectory; small enough to have not much recoil and be useful for varmints at long range too. I just ordered 3 boxes of lost river 80 grain hunting bullets with a BC of .444. After I load some up, I'll post on how they perform in each of my rifles. Plan to shoot some deer this fall with them.

I had the NEF in .243, in the "medium" or regular contour barrel (which is a heavy, semi-bull anyway). But I gave it to my half-brother because I wanted a "light rifle", and the NEF is a heavy dude.

March 19, 2007, 06:37 PM
Where are you going to hunt. I have taken TX whitetail with a 243 and felt fine about it. Also, SoCal muleys. But these are relatively small deer though the TX WT can have nice racks. In Alberta I shot WT that it took two of us to drag out after field dressing. Those guys (the Canadian hunters) would laugh at a 243 except for coyotes ... then they use 22-250s. However, I will not sell my S&W Model C (say Carl Gustaf)! It's too pretty.

March 19, 2007, 10:57 PM
I switched to .243 this year and hammered two Hill Country whitetails at ~140 yards. Both were heart lung shots resulting in bang flops using the Hornaday Light Magnum SST 95gr bullet. It looked like the deer were struck by lightning through the scope! You won't be disappointed as long as you use premium ammo.

March 19, 2007, 11:51 PM
Those guys (the Canadian hunters) would laugh at a 243 except for coyotes

Haha, almost I know a few guys that do but if you can shoot the .243 is a great deer round.

Our coyotes do get about as big as a southern White-tailed deer though. Sorry guys we just know how to grow em.

March 20, 2007, 09:11 AM
The best thing I've found about a .243 is that you won't mind practicing with it so you'll be a better shooter than carrying something you don't want to take to the range as much.

Art Eatman
March 20, 2007, 10:34 AM
I don't know what it is about the .243: Bullet design? Velocity? Anyhow, from conversation and personal experience, both, "It kills bigger than it oughta."

For instance: I've mostly used the Sierra 85-grain HPBT. In a deer's chest cavity, it makes a double-handful of mush. A six-inch sphere of "used to be". Neck shots are a DRT deal. And it spreads coyote innards all over the countryside.

But, ya gotta be picky about where you hit. I wouldn't use it on a running deer, particularly one of any size.


March 20, 2007, 10:56 AM
I belive it was mentioned in Jack O Conner's book ' The Complete Book of Rifles and Shotguns " that he referenced a statement by Col. Crossman that a 100 gr .25 caliber bullet going 3000 FPS at the muzzle was just about the perfect whitetail/ antelope/ sheep round.

The .243 is darn near this ' ideal ' size, so are several other mild cartridges like the .257 roberts, the .250 savage, the .260 rem. the 6.5 X 55 swede.

All of these, like Art mentioned above "It kills bigger than it oughta."

March 20, 2007, 11:20 AM
I have two NEF rifles (no .243 barrels unfortunately) and I love 'em both. As for the .243, I use a 6mm Rem for almost everything I hunt. 6mm is the same bullet in a slightly larger casing, and by all the numbers I've seen and personal accounts, they perform neck-to-neck in almost every way. A NEF in .243 is a winning combination for a deer rifle, no matter how you look at it.

And +1 again for Art---"It kills bigger than it oughta."

Jack O'Conner
March 22, 2007, 07:10 PM
This is truly one of the most popular cartridges of the World. Every major manufacturer builds at least one rifle in this chambering.

I've had very good luck with our older Remington slide action rifle in this chambering. One shot topple-'em-in-their-tracks performance is quite common, indeed. Even big 275 lb mulies can not stand up to well placed 95 grain Ballistic Tips.

The only gripe I have is that the popular .243 displaced the most excellent 250 Savage cartridge. Unfair but true. But just about any .243 can be easily bored to 250 Savage by a competant smith. I doubt if any advantage is gained but it can be done for those who want a 250 in the worst way and can't find one anywhere.


Arizona Fusilier
April 8, 2007, 12:47 AM
I've used my Weatherby Vanguard in .243 on some long range praire dog shots. Ideal caliber for varminting in general.

It's a little to heavy to tote for deer compared to my synthetic .270, so it doesn't see much service. However I do plan on using it when I get drawn for antelope (someday;) . I suspect it could be the single most popular cartridge for antelope here in Arizona, at least if the trophy photograph boards are of any scientific survey value.

April 8, 2007, 01:03 AM
I used the Nosler partition 105gr bullets and the 95gr ballistic tips. Both worked well with excellent shot placement. Blood trail was minimal at times.

April 8, 2007, 01:13 AM
I'm going to put in my 2 cents.
The 243 is ok for some.
But I like to hit them hard,with a lot of lead.
Hunting in deep East Texas,you need a good one shot kill.

Art Eatman
April 8, 2007, 04:54 PM
Well, roger, I'm in full accord about the good one-shot kill. Out of twenty-some-odd bucks I've killed with my .243, I recall two that needed a coup de grace. But they hadn't gone anywhere. :D


April 8, 2007, 08:51 PM
I don't know what it is about the .243: Bullet design? Velocity? Anyhow, from conversation and personal experience, both, "It kills bigger than it oughta."

Confident or experienced shooters, and a guy knows he needs to shoot well, and so does. He is not counting on the latest greatest magnificent magnum.
Kinda like the kid with the single shot 22 will shoot much better and become a better hunter than the kid with the 10/22, same idea IMO.

April 8, 2007, 08:59 PM
People say that the 6.5x55 swede "kills bigger than it oughta". Yeah, I guess I'd buy that the .243 is in the same category, from anecdotes. But good point, rem- most likely has everything to do with the confidence of the user, not the caliber. But I may get to try .243 out on whitetails this fall, since I traded my .25-'06. But I dunno.... I have so many rifles I want to try out on deer, espec. some Zumbo-scorned EBRs - we'll see. But I got my most recent .243 for the main purpose of neck shots at close & medium range on whitetails. If it works for Art, it'll work for me. Gonna use 80 grainers - either soft points or Lost Rivers. Going 3200 fps, don't think it'll matter. But on the .243, if you zero it at 250 yards with 80-90 gr spire bullets, then you've got a PBR to roughly 270-275. It'll drop an *additional* 2 or 3" from 275 to 300 though, so be careful. I just figure that I can't hit anything ethically beyond 275 anyway, so no point in trying for anything past my PBRs. And zeroing at 250 puts the bullet rise early on almost exactly that of the fall at 275 - plus or minus about 2.25" to 2.5"; whereas trying to zero to make 300 your PBR (zeroing at 280 or so) starts to become problematic - puts your early-on "rise" too high - over 3 inches - too much for my preference. So I like the 250 zero/275 PBR combo for high-vel zinger rounds like .243, .25-06, and 7mm remmag - now if I could just learn to range the game by eye...

April 8, 2007, 09:51 PM
Deer are no longer my game but the last four point Muley I took was with a .243... Flat shootin, fast and plenty of knock down for a Whitetail... Now if you want to shoot a deer on the other side of a tree, the .264 will do... If you can still find the ammo???

April 8, 2007, 10:01 PM
WOW FF ya gots me thurrely confused. I don't want or need to be trying to figger all that out especially in the field.
I guess thats one reason I shoot em in the bread basket and destroy their lungs or heart. Works good for me several dozen times over. I have a circle the diameter of all you spoke of above to hit. I have killed deer I doubt I would have had I taken time to get that picture perfect shot in it's neck but I know if I hit em right behind that shoulder it works and I have 3 or 4 inche radius in any direction, from perfect.
It is a great idea to know all that info, all hunter/shooters should know what their rifle will do at what distance but to me it's not for in the field unless your taking very long shots, lots of practice, range finders etc.

My '06 is 1 1/2-2 inches high at 100 yards and I am good with that as far as I should be shooting without an extremely steady rest and then crosshairs level with the back works good to well over 300 and that is far enough for me or I don't shoot.

Not bashing you here all that is good knowledge we should all know I have read and reread that stuff many times.

April 8, 2007, 10:29 PM
now if I could just learn to range the game by eye...

FF>> Sounds like we need to be hunting together... That IS how I got my nickname, after all... ;) And you're firing all my favorite calibers and cartriges. :D

April 8, 2007, 11:21 PM
hee hee, nice - you've got skillz. I don't really need to know how far they are within the PBR - I only need to know if they are beyond 275 - a simple yes or no. If yes, then I'll pass entirely. If no, then a simple dead-on hold will work with a zinger round like .243 - no need to hold over the back. Only need to account for the wind. Maybe hold toward top of vitals, but never over the vitals - not without more range time than I have under my belt at present.

Only problem you might have rem33, is if you hold at top of back, but they're not as far as you thought (say 200 and you think they're 300), and you shoot under the spine but over the lungs. Then they are injured - not good.

April 8, 2007, 11:43 PM
Only problem you might have rem33, is if you hold at top of back, but they're not as far as you thought (say 200 and you think they're 300), and you shoot under the spine but over the lungs. Then they are injured - not good

I agree, and figure 300 or less I don't hold over at all. Distances are hard to judge that far fast in a hunting situation. In fact I doubt I would shoot much over 200 without a good rest. Sitting with rifle on my knees or I have taken deer from a prone position when that was All I had and the flora would allow it. I use fence posts, limbs, rocks, anything handy.
I have only leveled with the back once. That was after a 6 hour or longer stalk, the last hour was spent laying behind rocks to far away to shoot. I could get no closer so just waited till he luckily drifted my way. If I would have let him go any farther there would be no shot as he would have walked behind a mountain side. I had plenty of time to guess distances and so leveled with his back and fired. Bullet hit him 8 to 10 inches below my point of aim. made for a memorable hunt.