View Full Version : 243 BULLET for cow elk?

June 11, 2009, 12:07 PM
yes i know shoot a larger caliber...that is null and void as far as this is concerned so please if you dont have anything positive to add dont post.

my female friend and i both were awarded cow elk tags for this fall.woohoo

i plan to limit her shots to the 100 yard range so i know it will be placed properly. she has been shooting this 243 winny youth ranger for years and can put 3 in a group of an inch or so at 100. i figure a nice heart/lung shot will do the trick broadside. no fancy stuff.

what i am planning to do is buy some premium ammo with either a 100 grn nosler partition or sierra game king.

ANY thoughts or advice on bullet choice would be great. as i want to aero the rifle with that ammo obviously and need her to shoot a few boxes at the range to get confident with it.

THANKS in advance

June 11, 2009, 12:32 PM
As far as commercial ammo, I've had success with Remington Corelokt. Of the two you mention I'd go with the Sierra because I've heard some good first hand stories by folk that use Gamekings. I haven't heard anything bad about the Nosler though.

If your friend can reliably put shots into a 1" square, she won't have any problem. That's much better than I do off hand.

June 11, 2009, 12:47 PM
im talking from a seated knee rested position...she can out shoot me. reloads would be nice but i dont have much time to work up a load and get her shooting.

June 11, 2009, 12:51 PM
Been there done that. My father-in-law's girlfriend used a 243 for elk in Wyoming. After we got her over the buck fever thing, she and the rifle did just fine. We wouldn't let her take any iffy or bad shots.

I couldn't tell you what the load was. The FIL would just go to the Big R store and get what was on hand.


Nosler Partitions are always a good choice in my book.

June 11, 2009, 12:52 PM
I hunted western oregon for years with my 6mm, and while I always switched to a heavier gun when elk hunting, I know it would do the job. I handload 95gr nosler partitions at over 3200fps, and seeing what they do to a deer makes me think you shouldn't have any problems. Especially considering most cow elk shot are between 300 and 400 pounds. Hornady lists their 243 light mag loads with a 100gr partition at 3100fps, you might check them out.

June 11, 2009, 12:54 PM
i was looking at the light mags actually...probly what i will go with unless someone convinces me otherwise.

thanks guys

June 11, 2009, 02:48 PM
Cabelas shows a Federal Premium with a 100 grain Nosler Partition. That bullet has a proven track record although there are a lot of good bullets available today. It would be a good choice.

June 11, 2009, 03:01 PM
Will the 243 work? Sure. But, personally, I'd be using a caliber I don't have questions about. I'd bump up to the 270, 7mm-08 or 30-06 if only because of larger projectile mass. The 270 can be commercially gotten in 130 gr and maybe 150 gr where the 243 commonly only comes in 100 gr. The 270 and mm-08 don't have much more noticeable recoil than the 243 if you ask me. But, yes, I get it. You already own the 243.

June 11, 2009, 03:22 PM
In my wife's rifle what we found was that the Game Kings shoot more consistant groups than do the Noslers and work just fine for our FL deer and hogs.

Having said that I'd sure give the Noslers a try first. That little bit of extra hold together might be nice to have should a rib get in the way.

June 11, 2009, 03:56 PM
Water Eng:

i own many rifles but this one fits her. she is only 5'2" and has a pull lenth of about 11 3/8th inches. so my standard 13 1/2" 270 is just too uncomfortable for her to shoot.

i will be backing her up should the need arise with either my 300 or my 375.
and as i stated only an optimal shot will be taken.

June 11, 2009, 04:20 PM
Congrats on the tags, sounds like a great hunt, enjoy!
Federal premium, nosler partition, thats what I like in my 243.

Not trying to talk you out of the 243, but here's something to think about. Remington sells a "reduced recoil" load in 30-06, ft-lbs of recoil is identical to a 243.

Thats what my young sons shoot. (The reduced recoil 30-06.) That way we have the option of practicing with the recoil of a 243, and hunting with full size loads - if we want to. Having observed over the years that rifles dont recoil when I shoot an animal, I like having that option for the boys.

Brian Pfleuger
June 11, 2009, 05:20 PM
People shoot elk with .243s every year. It's plenty, especially for a lady that can group 1" @ 100.

June 11, 2009, 05:43 PM
I think you'll be fine with any premium ammo, which ever groups the best. I have complete trust in Noslers.

Sounds like you have covered all the bases on thinking this through

:rolleyes:but you got to go buy her a .338 Mag and drop it in a youth stock:rolleyes:

June 11, 2009, 05:58 PM
but you got to go buy her a .338 Mag and drop it in a youth stock

Ain't that the truth Dave! I'm surprised ANYONE continues hunting after shooting some of these youth/ladies guns. I think the hardest kicking shotgun I've ever shot was a youth sized 870 20 gauge. The poor 11 year old who's dad told him to shoot it flatly refused to shoot it a second time. I have as much desire to shoot a 5 pound magnum rifle as I do to shoot the 2inch barreled snubbie 357 that gunshops try to foist on women.

Sorry for my offtopic rant, enjoy the hunt. And you didn't tell us what state you drew the tags in?

June 11, 2009, 06:42 PM
Dont know how many people who have answered this thread have actually seen an elk let alone shot one. I was a big game guide for nine years speciallizing in elk. I have shot 33 myself, not counting the ones I finished off for clients. I have seen at least 100 shot with about every caliber and bullet. I have came to some conclusions based on experence rather than theory. First off a 243 is too small for CONSISTANT elk hunting. I have seen sucess and failure with it. Go ahead and use it IF you can wait for the perfect broadside shot under 200 yards. Lastly I STRONGLY advise against Remington Core-lock and Sierra gameking bullets. I have seen horrible failures with them. These two completely come apart on the slightest hint of encounter with bone. I have never had a failure with a Nosler partition. It is the only bullet I ever load for any game from coyote to big game. There are other bullets that have a good reputation for deep penatration and good weight retention. Dont worry about them not being as accurate as other bullets, you are hunting a LARGE animal not prairie dogs, 1" bigger groups count for nothing on elk sized game.

June 11, 2009, 06:43 PM
A .243 through the lungs beats a .338 through the guts every time.:p jd

June 11, 2009, 06:45 PM
I've read good user reports about Barnes TSX bullets. You might want check those out.

June 11, 2009, 07:04 PM
thanks for the candid replies. we can afford to wait for the perfect shot. we have a month long split season. plenty of cows to go around and no NEED to harvest an animal if the shot is not there.

as i had expected NOSLER partition sounds like the only way to go.

June 11, 2009, 07:07 PM
My family has taken many elk here in Colorado. Both of my kids started with the .243 and have done well with it on deer. They are both very good shots but things do go wrong. We have had very bad results with the remington corlokt as mentioned before. If you have to use the .243 I would say for sure the Partition or the barnes TSX. The TSX has become my preferred bullet for all hunting calibers.

My daughter has been using a 30-06 since 17 years old and my 16 year old son uses a .270.

June 11, 2009, 07:28 PM
The favorite .243 load my sons used when growing up was Remington 100 grain PSP/CL (Core-Loc) over 37 grains of IMR4064, CCI-200 primer. Never used it for elk though. Normal caveats apply about reloading and using this data. Was surprised to read the negatives posted above about this bullet.

Today in addition to Nosler and Sierra 100gr pills, I'd take a look at the Hornaday 105gr A-Max if handloading.

June 11, 2009, 07:38 PM
I know people who use a .243 on elk every year as well and most are successful. I wouldn't recommend it for elk but if you are backing her up and that is what she is comfortable with then that is the best chance she has for success. Use at least a premium bullet like Barnes TSX, Swift Scirocco, or Nosler Partiton.

My recommendation is if you can afford it and I know it isn't what you wanted to hear. Look for a new/used rifle in 7mm-08 or .308, even a 6.5X55 or .260 would be a better choice than .243 Win for elk. Have the stock cut down to fit her properly there is time before elk season begins. Using 140 to 180 grain bullets will greatly increase your chances of a successful elk hunt.

June 11, 2009, 07:44 PM
there is time before elk season begins

Yep. You and sweet thing might be busted up and you will have Bertha toting a 460 WBY by then.:)

James R. Burke
June 11, 2009, 08:34 PM
I reload for my wifes .243 for whitetail. I use the Nosler 100 grain partition, that would be the one if you are stuck on the .243. To bad you could not move her up to a .270 or something with not much recoil. It will work but placement is key. Good luck, and have fun!

June 11, 2009, 08:54 PM
An old friend of mine used to live in Alaska, He was out fishing with some Eskimo friends when they saw a cow moose, about 400 yards away. They needed some winter meat so they let my friend, the "White Boy" shoot it with his .243, He shot her and they all had a big laugh when the moose continued to act as if nothing happened, after a few minutes she fell over, dead. My friend had the last laugh.
I wouldn't shoot unless conditions were perfect but I guess a .243 will do the job.

June 12, 2009, 10:18 AM
I am not a fan of the .243 since shooting a small whitetail with one.The deer was standing broadside at about 20 yds. the shot was placed right in the crease of the shoulder.At the shot the deer fell down,jumped up and ran away stumbling and plowing through the snow.I was confident all I needed to do was follow up the trail and find my deer.I waited a few minutes for insurance and started to follow the track.After about 50 yds I see the deer standing about 70 yds away on it's feet looking at me.There was no safe shot since the deer was standing in such a way there were houses in the background about 1/4 mile away so I tried to move a little farther up the valley to change the shot angle in a safe direction.The deer runs away and crosses the road where upon following the trail it crossed a very deep creek and I never recovered the deer.I am not one of those people who gives up on a deer I've shot and this was VERY upsetting to lose this deer.I will NEVER shoot another animal with a light rifle for ANY reason.I shoot a 7mm mag now and have had very good results and haven't lost another animal since.I can tell you from the elk I killed this past fall that elk are VERY TOUGH animals and will absorb shots from heavy rifles very well.I would strongly suggest as others have to shoot a bigger caliber with reduced recoil loads.YOU OWE IT TO THE ELK TO KILL THEM CLEANLY AND QUICKLY.

June 12, 2009, 10:33 AM
4406 - that was a failure of the bullet not the caliber.

June 12, 2009, 10:48 AM
Yes I agree it was bullet failure and this is my point.I was using 100 grain bullets and had a failure on a small deer.I am not bashing the .243 as being "no good" I just did not have good results and would not use it again.I would also strongly recommend a bigger caliber if someone asks my opinion.I would simply state my experience for my reasoning.
I know lots of people who swear by the .243 and I'm sure lots of animals have been killed cleanly with them.My experience was bad (for the deer) and as a hunter who realizes it's my RESPONSIBILITY to use the best caliber and bullet for the job.My opinion is the .243 is too light for elk.

June 12, 2009, 11:04 AM
I'll throw this in FWIW. I shot an average doe straight through the rib cage broadside with a 300 WBY Mag 150 grain factory load and the deer ran 300 yards before she stopped.I was fortunate to find her. Only a couple of drops of blood, exit wound same size as entrance and sealed back with fat. An inch either way hitting a rib on entry would have been a body slam. It happens.

June 12, 2009, 11:13 AM
No way would I attempt to do that. Why? Because they (Elk) are a lot bigger than a deer. A lot bigger, even the cows are bigger! As such, I personally just believe you owe it to the Elk (to use a larger caliber bullet).

Things change on hunting trips. What you can shoot at your range may be a completey different scenario than when you are in an actual hunting situation, Ex: winds, terrain, movement, etc. Things change and conditions change in the real world and you may not be able to make "the perfect shot", (and the .243 will lose its effectiveness if not a perfect shot).

Why is it null and void to shoot a larger caliber rifle? At any rate, PLEASE use a Nosler Partition bullet. They work great, (have shot them for years with zero problems).

Jack O'Conner
June 12, 2009, 03:15 PM


This photo shows location of chest vitals. Plan to shoot for top of heart. It takes self discipline and high ethics to pass up shots that are less than perfect.

I suggest ask around your friends and family and try to borrow a 270 for her. The 150 grain bullet is 50% heavier than .243's BEST weight yet recoil is not much more. 243 is too light for taking elk unless all conditions and angle is perfect. Murphy's Law tells me that perfect conditions will not occur for you this year.

How do you plan to get the dead animal from forest to your vehicle? You won't be dragging it.

Good hunting to you.

June 14, 2009, 12:48 AM
"How do you plan to get the dead animal from forest to your vehicle? You won't be dragging it."

Now that's a good question. I'd bet lots of people on their first hunt for sizable game don't take the logistics of getting the animal back to the vehicle into consideration.

June 14, 2009, 12:54 AM
100 grn nosler partition or sierra game king.

Both are good choice you'll be more limited by range and shot placement. The honest truth is there are few people who ever take a 250+ yard shot when hunting. I know some do but percentage wise.. it's pretty rare.

Knowing your gun, being a good shot and not overestimating the capability of your ammo or yourself are the important parts.

No way would I attempt to do that. Why? Because they (Elk) are a lot bigger than a deer. A lot bigger, even the cows are bigger! As such, I personally just believe you owe it to the Elk (to use a larger caliber bullet).

This part i do agree with. While a 243 would certainly kill it you're taking a bigger risk of the animal having a slower or more painful death (or having to track the animal). I do believe Nosler Partition is about the best thing you can find for hunting large game, period. Based on penetration, energy and the amount of damage it will do you have a much better chance of having a clean instant kill with 30-06, 7MM rem mag, 300 win mag, etc.

I might seem like I'm contradicting myself here but nobody wants to have to be a Navy Seal target shooter when hunting. Selling yourself short on caliber and power can cause you to really be limited on shots.

In other news this will be my 200th post!

.300 Weatherby Mag
June 14, 2009, 12:56 AM
I would opt for something bigger with muzzlebreak.... Although a .243 will work, I would want more... At least a .270....


June 14, 2009, 04:48 AM
Even the 25-06 would be a better choice for your recoil sensitive friend. Your range would still be limited tho.

June 14, 2009, 06:41 AM
A .243 would be just fine. When I was in Zambia all I could muster up for a spur of the moment hunt was a .243. Shot a hartebeast (probably similar to a cow elk...about 350lbs and about 180 yds. Dropped in tracks), an impala (essentially a white tail) and a duiker (baby whitetail). Was using handloaded 100gr Hornady SP. Like others have said...it's all about placement.

June 14, 2009, 08:10 AM
The Sierra GameKing is not a bullet that I would use on an elk even in a much heavier caliber. These bullets are pretty "soft" and do not hold together well enough for deep penetration. I had a bad experience with a Game King 130 grain in my .270 on a small whitetail doe. The doe, which weighed about 60-70 pounds on the hoof, was quartering slightly towards me. I placed the bullet in the forward shoulder at about 50 yards, and watched in amazement as the deer whirled and bounded away. After a long and difficult tracking job, I located the doe 150 yards from where I shot it. Upon skinning and butchering the deer, I discovered that the bullet blew apart in the muscle of shoulder (did NOT hit any bone) and only a small fragment entered the chest cavity. I have no doubt that the .243 will work on an elk, but there are much better bullets for this purpose than the GameKing.

June 14, 2009, 12:16 PM
100 partition

June 15, 2009, 10:02 AM
so i took the 243 out this weekend and put a box of nosler 100 through it. wow what a crappy group. this gun does NOT like them. tried 100 grn hornady interlocks and they grouped very well. dont know much about them so i will have to do some research.

my 375H&H however put 3 in an inch at 200 :-)

the gun thing is not a matter of i dont have a bigger gun for her or the recoil, as i do own a 270 winny. the problem is the stock length. and im not going to cut off my stock for a 1 time hunt. and dont feel the need to buy a 500$ gun for a 1 time deal either...it will be atleast 9 years before we can hunt elk in south dakota again!

June 15, 2009, 03:47 PM
InterLock bullets are the standard hunting bullet from Hornady, they are a good bullet and will probably work for you. I’d prefer the Partitions but if they don’t shoot they don’t shoot. I still think a lager caliber heavier bullet is the way to go.

If you got a .270 Win find a different stock for it and cut it down to fit her. If it is a common rifle action such as a M700, M70, Mauser 98, or a Savage 110 can be found used all the time on forums such as this an auction sites. Most can be have for pennies on the dollar compared to the price of a new stock. No one said that you personally had to buy a new rifle for your “female friend”; if she is into this hunt as much as you are then she should be willing to help with the costs.

June 15, 2009, 04:45 PM
1st choice: barnes (any flavor will do) and no, not because of the no lead crap either

2nd: nosler partition, proven track record in my books. much experience with it out of a .270

June 15, 2009, 06:38 PM
SOOO does anyone have a donor winchester model 70 rhand .270 long action? actually a featherweight model????

June 15, 2009, 08:09 PM
Look around but here is one that you could get. http://cgi.ebay.com/All-Checkered-Rifle-stock-by-Winchester-Model-70-L_W0QQitemZ350212778367QQcmdZViewItemQQptZVintage_Hunting?hash=item518a4ee97f&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=65%3A12%7C66%3A2%7C39%3A1%7C72%3A1205%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50

Here is a good fixer upper: http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=131188019

Here is another: http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=131193194

and another: http://www.auctionarms.com/search/displayitem.cfm?itemnum=5119888

Don't worry so much about it being a feather weight barrel channel or not. As long as the forearm is stiff enough that it will not flex it will not effect the way it shoots. You can full length bed the barrel if you really don't like the gap in the barrel channel.

Measure your friends length of pull on her rifle, take the pad off of the stock you buy. Cut down the stock to match the length of pull of the other stock, make sure you allow for the recoil pad. Re-attach the old pad and grind down to fit the stock, or go buy a smaller pad in the size you need. Or a real cheap way to go is to just buy a slip on pad in the size you need.

June 15, 2009, 09:38 PM
Okay, I do own a 243 and I do hunt elk and my oppinon on this is DONT DO IT. My dad hunted elk with a 243 for most of his life, but that's because he's a head shooter(its just his thing, ask him) A 243 will not cause good enough penitration(especially with a winter coat) to cause a quick deat. I hate to see animale wounded and die slow or are mamed.

I did see one guy try and use a 243 once, we were walking up a draw and this elk came over the ridge and my dad shot him(30-06 at the time, not a head shot) and droped him. Well, on further inspection the elk had been shot to hell. We counted 6 shots(all body shot) and then this guy came running over to use and said "hey you got my elk, he just would not stop running so I kept shooting:eek:" We gladly let him have it since it was shot up. Now that guy was a crapy shot and only 3 were kill shot, but the 80gr bullet just did not do enough damage to make a quick kill.

Unless you are going to head shoot, which works on cow's, I would say use something bigger for body shot's. I use a 444 marlin(love it:D) and my dad now use's a 30-06, AND my uncle uses a 7mm. I do know a guy that uses a 375H&H but I think that over kill. If you really insist on using it, head shot, or get a heavy bullet what will give great, no, out standing penatration. I do think they make 110 or 108gr bullet for 243 Ill have to check. AND IT MUST BE A DAMB GOOD SHOT, you dont want to be like the fool we came across. And honestly being able to shoot tite groups from a bench does not mean a hole lot when hunting, it just means your gun shoots strait, but you must do the reast. And sometimes you dont have time to get a reast, many times I have had to make a quick shot off hand and sometimes moving, but never if I was not totally confident that I could make the shot. Remember you do own it to the animal, dont be "one of those guys"

I hunt in AZ and the elk hear in the southwest can get fricken hug. Skydiver is right, my cow I got last year was 430 dressed out and a good friend of mine got a bull thet what was 6 something dressed out, biggest bull I ever seen. I dont know were you are but I would advise aganst 243, unless you head shoot, I do sometime(not with the 444) I can give you more info on Elk and 243 and stuff if you want it I do reload for it, just PM me, im pritty knowledgable on both. And I really like the 243 so dont think its just because I dont like the round. Thats my 2 cents....or more like 4 or 5 cents

June 16, 2009, 03:17 AM
The partition is a good bullet but highly priced. I have used the partition in my .243 with good results on different game.

I would suggest the 100gr hornady interlock as well, i currently use them with great success.

June 16, 2009, 03:30 AM
Ok, first off, yes, if you can find or borrow a bigger caliber, I would do that.

A .260 rem, 7 08 or 308 will do nicely, and the recoil will be unnoticable with winter clothing on.

If you have to use the .243, use nothing other than the partition or a barnes triple shock. You need to drill a deep hole, and they will do it.

My daughter shot her one and only with a 6.5 swede. It walked about 20 yards in obvious distress and fell over. Shot placement is the key, you want to slip the bullet in the spot where the elbow covers when standing still or just behind that. Use the elbow as the aiming guide.

Make sure you have the wherewithall to get that animal gutted and moved out. Either horse back, four wheeler or even a dirt bike, to pull that carcass out of the woods.

June 18, 2009, 12:10 PM
found a nice stock for my 270 so i will cut it off and let her shoot it. to see what she thinks. may still use the 243

June 18, 2009, 02:06 PM
I do feel that is the right way to go, I think once you get the stock to fit her she will be able to handle the recoil of that .270 Win. Try a couple of boxes of Remington managed recoil .270 Win ammo to get her used to the rifle and then start progressing up in bullet weights until you find her limits. Make sure to use at least a 130 grain premium bullet on the hunt. 150's will recoil harder but I still prefer them even for cow elk, all the elk I've killed with the .270 has been with 150 grain Nosler Partitions either Federal Premium ammo or my own handloads.

June 18, 2009, 02:17 PM
Glad you decided to try and use the 270. It's without a doubt better for this job.