View Full Version : .243 for Black Bear?

July 12, 2009, 11:16 PM
Would you even try it?

My one hunting rifle is a .243. I am using 105-gr Hornady A-Max bullets at ~2800 fps. Range will be less than 200 yards, probably a lot less. I have a 300-400 pounder I'm after around the place.

I will be getting a .308 in a few months, but bear season starts in a few weeks (1-Aug).

What do you think? Wait for the .308 or go ahead with the .243 in the mean time?


Dallas Jack
July 13, 2009, 12:11 AM
.243 is fine for black bear but I would pick a different bullet.
Dallas Jack

July 13, 2009, 12:39 AM
my 12 year old sis killed two with a 243 2weeks ago and our friend (kenny hughs for those in alaska, youve probly heard his name) who she was with has killed i think 24 blacks and 3 grizz with his AR in 223. and countless bears with his 243. we way over power rifles in the USA when i was hunting in africa last year my ph had killed a cape with his 308 just a few weeks earlier

July 13, 2009, 01:47 AM
Thanks, guys.

I remember reading P. O. Ackley (?) talking about military cartridge development and killing power. He thought it was a shame the smaller, faster centerfires were discounted. He favored energy dump to just punching holes.

Anyway, what 6mm bullet would you recommend? The barrel is 1:9 twist.


July 13, 2009, 07:46 AM
I shoot 100 gr Speer SPBT's in my .243, and I'd have no hesitation in shooting a black bear with them.


July 13, 2009, 08:10 AM
.243 is fine for black bear but I would pick a different bullet.

Why do people bother posting like this? Folks if you have a recommendation like "use a different bullet" then at least have the decency to say what bullet you WOULD use. Sheesh! :rolleyes:

I've never shot a black bear myself but I have seen a couple that were taken down cleanly with a .243 Winchester. It's all about shot placement (http://www.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/index.cfm?adfg=huntalaska.shot). If you aren't confident of the shot then don't take it because a .243 isn't going to leave you a lot of "margin for error".

The larger of the two (probably about 260-300 lbs) was shot at roughly 85 yards using 100gr Winchester SUPER-X "Power-Point" ammo and was (if memory serves) one good double lungs shot with a followup "just to be sure" when the hunter closed on the bear.

July 13, 2009, 08:59 AM
Its not the best idea, but what the heck, its your life, not mine. I dont think bungee jumping is a great idea either.

July 13, 2009, 09:55 AM
Oh geez, .243, no I wouldn't. Unless of course that's all I had and a bear was charging. But I don't own any .243 rifles anymore, so its a moot point. By faint chance I'd miss the vitals or he was a superbear, even with a 30-06, I sure would like to see a blood trail. Last time I hunted over bait, I used a 45-70 Guide gun, so there you go..

Brian Pfleuger
July 13, 2009, 10:33 AM
Black bear are not generally aggressive and not very big. 243 is enough, if you do your part.... just like any other gun.

Unless it's one of these new fangled animals that require magnum this or WSM that.... in which case, you need at least a 416 Rigby, but such critters are a new invention.

People kill elephants and cape buffalo with a bow and arrows. Is 243 enough for black bear?

July 13, 2009, 10:34 AM
I've never used my 6mm on bear, but I've shot deer with it and a 95gr nosler partition and it worked great. RL powders will push it to almost 3200fps and the partition holds up even when hitting bone. Plenty of blackies fall to the 243/6mm.

July 13, 2009, 10:59 AM
Black bears range from 70lbs to 700lbs. Most that hunters take here are less than 200 so I would have no problem with average sized bears. If I had to take a shot at one of the 500+ pounders that are also around I would prefer something a little bigger. If it was all I had I would look at the Barnes TSX bullets. They have a reputation for penetration and expansion that is out of proportion to their caliber.

July 13, 2009, 11:05 AM
Alaskaman94 you're right we worry about power so much...I've seen post here asking if .243 is enough for white tail deer in fact I'll admit I was one of them. But once I got my first deer using a .243 I had not doubt the knockdown power of a .243.

July 13, 2009, 11:20 AM
I'll make one of those posts, different bullet- Nosler Partition, barnes-X.

July 13, 2009, 08:48 PM
One more vote for the partition.

July 13, 2009, 10:02 PM
Since I'm a big fan of the .243 Winchester I felt compelled to post on this topic. I'm a far cry from an "expert" on black bears and ballistics but I would not use one on blacky. There is no doubt in my mind that if your choice of bullet was good, or even not so good, you can kill one. The problem comes in when/if you have to blood trail the bear. Thick hide and lots of fat will plug up the hole or holes quickly and you may find yourself on your hands and knees searching for tiny drops of blood like happened to me last year. With both entrance and exit holes we still only managed to find seven or nine (my memory faulters) tiny drops of blood with a double lung shot, 180 grain Speer Mag Tip out of my 30-06. So, IMHO, the question is not will a .243 kill the bear but will it lead to a difficult tracking job? The next time I hunt black bear I think that I see a 338/06, 338 Federal, 35 Whelen, 358 Winchester, 350 Remington Magnum, or maybe a 12 Gauge slug or .50cal. Muzzle Loader. Give me a bigger hole and a shot angle that gets the boiler room plus one of the shoulders.

July 14, 2009, 12:13 AM
3 grizz with his AR in 223
If this is true it is stupid, IMO.

The .243 win should do o.k. for Black Bear (marginal) with a good bullet, partition etc. in the over 100 gr. weights.

July 14, 2009, 01:33 AM
.243 wouldn't be my first choice...........but if its all I had, I would use it. I would probably keep the shot to 150 yards or less, not really for the bullet performance (although I too, would use a partition), but to be sure I was able to place the bullet in the sweet spot, and make a clean kill. I don't really have much room to talk about calibers being too small for the game........I am still wanting to take my .22 Hornet elk hunting.

July 14, 2009, 04:29 AM
Update your life insurance-and go for it.

July 14, 2009, 10:32 AM
I am still wanting to take my .22 Hornet elk hunting.

I don't know about Utah but that would be illegal as Hell in Wyoming. .243 minimum for any big game.

July 14, 2009, 10:47 AM
Black bear are not generally aggressive and not very big. 243 is enough, if you do your part.... just like any other gun.

Some of them get big, even in California. This one didn't fall to a 243. It was a 6-71, in a Kenworth hauling logs.


July 14, 2009, 11:04 AM
I don't know about Utah but that would be illegal as Hell in Wyoming. .243 minimum for any big game.

Actually, Wyoming is a minimun of .230 caliber, and 2" min cartdridge length for rifles while hunting big game. In Utah, the Hornet is legal to hunt big game with. For rifles, Utah allows any centerfire cartridge using an expanding bullet; no caliber, cartridge length, or energy requirements. That said, it will probably never happen. In order for me to use my .22 Hornet on an elk, it would need to be standing broadside, 25 yards from camp, just waiting on me to put a 50 grain soft point in its skull. The odds of the elk walking up to my camp while I happen to be there, then waiting for me to get the Hornet out, then standing perfectly still while broadside.........not real good :) Untill I can get that 1 in a million shot..........I stick with my .270 and .358 Win.

July 14, 2009, 12:04 PM
This one didn't fall to a 243. It was a 6-71, in a Kenworth hauling logs. I can't carry one of those in the state I'm in. :D

243 will kil a black bear just fine. While I am sure there are some monsters out there, most black bears are not very big. I read that the average weight of black bears harvested was around 200 lbs, so about the same size as a large deer or a large pig (he only black bear I ever shot weighed about 220 lbs and was 4 years old), so you don't need a cannon. A good friend of mine took a 600 lbs sow with a 38 Special, so they're not bulletproof. Use a good bullet (I prefer Nosler Partitions for big game) and place it well.

July 14, 2009, 12:05 PM
O.K, .230 cal it is, still leaves out 22 hornet, 223 etc. So to most people this means .243 - esp. for ethical reasons.

July 14, 2009, 12:14 PM
Sure. Just take a really long pry bar with you to get that seat cushion out with after the shot.:eek:


July 14, 2009, 08:27 PM
Good point about the tracking.

Maybe it's time for a 12-ga slug gun. The 308 will be a precision job anyway.


July 14, 2009, 11:37 PM
Sure, the 243 will work fine. Like others say, it wouldn't be my first choice when I walked over to my closet, but if it's the only choice it sure wouldn't keep me from hunting that day! I don't know if it's sound science or not but for some reason, black bears remind me of hogs like I saw on a job in south Texas. Sure, down there I would rather have a 45-70 or a 30-30 but those Texans were routinely shooting 300 lb hogs with 223 rifles or anything they had handy. So yeah, a 243 will do good. Black bear hunting is different than grizzly bears. It's not life threatening so your main concern is a good humane kill.

T. O'Heir
July 15, 2009, 08:23 AM
"...to 700lbs..." That'd be a World record bear. 135 kilos(297 lbs) is average. A 600 pound bear is unusual.
A 105 grain A-Max is a target bullet. Not made for hunting anything but varmints. Use a 105 grain SP or SST for Yogi.

July 15, 2009, 08:35 AM
Sure it will take a black bear.

However; I would definitely use a different bullet (like the Nosler Partition) for your .243. I have to confess (if it were me) I would go with a .308 instead, for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is: What happens if the bear turns or moves just as you are taking the shot with a 100 grain bullet? Not all hunting situations work out exactly as planned, (no matter how good a shot someone is). With that said, my biggest whitetail deer (225 lbs.) was taken with a .243 many years ago, (perfect broadside/still shot). The .243 will work. For me, I would probably go with a larger caliber to give you better all around performance and odds on making a cleaner kill. Just my opinion.
Good luck.

July 15, 2009, 10:15 AM
So yeah, a 243 will do good. Black bear hunting is different than grizzly bears. It's not life threatening so your main concern is a good humane kill.

It may become "life-threatening" when a less-than-perfect shot is taken with that pea-shooter .243, resulting in a wounded bear running off into the brush. Good luck!

July 15, 2009, 10:19 AM
that pea-shooter .243
I'm going to agree that although it can most certainly do the job, the .243 is probably not the ideal choice for taking a black bear.

However, the .243 is hardly a "pea shooter". Anyone who thinks it is hasn't seen what a well handled .243 with appropriate ammo/bullet choice is capable of doing to a meat target. My own experience is that the damage it can do is way out of proportion to anything a ballistics table comparison would lead you to believe.

Brian Pfleuger
July 15, 2009, 10:39 AM
When was the last time somebody was attacked by a black bear, besides a mother with cubs?

tighty whitey
July 15, 2009, 11:21 AM
I happened upon the website, www.internetarmory.com and they have a handy chart for just this type of question. The .243 isn't recommended for black bear using less than a 100 grain bullet, but it is recognized as a suitable cartridge with a 100 grain bullet.

Here is the line to the chart:


July 15, 2009, 02:37 PM
Would you even try it?

No, I would not even try it. Personally I would not recommend anything smaller then a 270 or a 280 with 150 grain pointed soft point. And I dont know if the PSP would be good, or if you would want something with better penetration before expansion.

After the 270 and 280, my next choices would be a 308 or 30-06.

But I own a 280 / 7mm express. So I recommended something that I have first hand knowledge of - but not on bear. I have onyl used it on whitetail deer.

July 15, 2009, 02:59 PM
I decided a shotgun would be a better deal.

My area is forested, often brushy. It is unlikely for me to get a shot over 100 yards.

My .243 is set up as a varmint/long range gun. It weighs like 15 lbs. It's great for shooting long distances, works fine for positions (sitting, kneeling, etc.), but is plain lousy for short range.

There are too many mismatches between that rifle and this job. I could use the .243 if I had to. But I don't have to, so I won't. Mostly I don't want to lose an animal.

Last night I picked up a Rem 870 Tactical 12-ga and a bunch of slug shells. With a red dot sight it should be a pretty good brush gun.


July 15, 2009, 03:05 PM
beezaur - keep in mind that some red dot scopes are only accurate out to about 20 - 30 yards, especially the cheap ones. Be sure to read the reviews before you buy.

July 15, 2009, 03:09 PM
I already found out that the hard way about cheap red dots. Note to self: never buy anything with a name like "Buckmaster."

I'm looking at the little Aimpoint T-1 Micro. Off season it'll go on my .22 pistol.


Brian Pfleuger
July 15, 2009, 03:28 PM
Well, yes, given that option I'd go with a 12ga. At close range it's pretty hard to beat the power of a 12ga deer slug. Plenty enough gun for any animal, probably in the world, certainly in North America.

July 15, 2009, 03:38 PM
For use in a smoothbore shotgun, I'd recommend the Remington Buckhammer or Brenneke slugs. The Buckhammers do hammer pretty good at both ends tho...lol.:eek:

July 15, 2009, 05:12 PM
Brenneke Black magic magnums would be my 1st choice if I were using a 12 ga. I'd take a ghost ring sight over a red dot any day. I've had both red dot and holographic sights on shotguns, pistols and rifles. I ended up getting rid of them and going back to traditional sighting systems for several reasons.
1-Most of these sights are mounted pretty high so it's impossible to get a good/consistant cheek weld.
2-You have two choices; either leave it on all the time and burn through batteries or turn it on/adjust the brightness before the shot (extra movement and time).
3-A 4+ moa dot means the best accuracy you can ever expect is 4+ moa from any gun regardless of how accurate it is. This, IMO, means that a smoothbore shotgun that only shoots 4 moa with a scope and competent shooter will not be able to print the same groups if 1/2 the target is completely obscured behind a dot.

To me, electronic sights are either for door kicker military/SWAT types who anly shoot things at close range or for mall ninja types.

my .02 anyway.

July 15, 2009, 05:53 PM
electronic sights are either for door kicker military/SWAT types who anly shoot things at close range or for mall ninja types.

That's Mr. Mall Ninja to you.

Just placed an order for the Aimpoint T-1.

It has a 4-MOA dot and 50,000-hr battery life (yes, that's fifty-thousand hours!) from a CR 2032 coin cell. So basically you leave it on all the time and keep a keychian flashlight as a spare carrier.

The first red dot I tried was a Bushnell Buckmaster (?). It has a [edit: 6-MOA] dot, kind of dazzly too. I got it as a temporary sight for my carbine while I am waiting (and waiting and waiting and waiting) for US Optics to churn out my order. If you cover the target with the dot it does OK. Lots of parallax. Being a bow shooter helps -- you get used to minding your sight allignment and making do with just a front sight. And it flickers. Kind of a piece of junk, but hey, you can still see the irons through the thing if it turns turtle.

I like irons too, but I have gotten to like shooting both eyes open with a red dot. Very fast, works a lot better under pressure (for me).


July 15, 2009, 06:17 PM
I think that your choice of a 12 gauge is a good one. Try lots of different slugs and see which one shoots the best in your shotgun and when the magic time comes, get a good rest and squeeze that trigger and make the best shot you are capable of. Be sure to plan ahead on how to get the bear out of the woods. Dragging is difficult without a lot of help and you really don't want to damage the pelt. Don't forget to start saving your nickles for that bear mount or rug like I got. Be sure that you contact your taxidermist before leaving on your hunt and discuss proper skinning technique for the type of trophy mount or rug that you want. Best of luck and enjoy the hunt. Just sitting here typing about bear hunting has my blood pumping!:)

July 15, 2009, 11:43 PM
The red dot scopes work great. You aren't trying to cut holes at 100 yards, you want to shoot a bear. I use a red dot on my muzzleloader and had one on a 30-30 for a long time. The red dot scope will keep the bullets inside the dot if you do your thing.

The Remington all copper slugs are great and work as advertised.

All you have to do with the bear is stay calm and make a good shot. Post up a photo when you get him.

July 16, 2009, 11:13 AM
That's Mr. Mall Ninja to you.
now that's funny, I love it when somebody imbraces a name that would normally be considered an insult, kinda turns the whole thing around.

50,000 hour battery life? Is that right? fifty thousand hours? That's over five years! That is awesome, I'd never bother turning it off unless the battery costs big $.

So, to each his own and good hunting to you. Post pics when you get your bear.

July 16, 2009, 05:04 PM
minimun of .230 caliber, and 2" min cartdridge
Is there something between .223 and .243 readily available?

July 17, 2009, 10:06 AM
Nothing common enough to be in the Hodgdon reloading data I use. Calibers jump from .223 right up to 6mm (.243). So, assuming .230 is legal, you'd have to want to use it really bad, or just be smart and go with a 6mm/.243:rolleyes: When I took my hunter ed class in middle school I distinctly remember the teacher saying ".243 is the minimum caliber for big game in Wyoming". Either: 1-The rules have changed, 2-He was being practical about it, 3-My memory is a bit fuzzy on the details as that was over 20 years ago and I'm being practical about it.

To me the .243 win is a great varmint cartridge, I may consider it for whitetail but we don't have those here and the only deer I killed in Wyoming were Muleys and yes, .243 will do well enough on Muleys but it wouldn't be my first pick. The .243 would be great on Sitka Blacktail, but at times a gunshot is like a dinner bell on Kodiak and I want to have more than a varmint gun handy when Mr. Ursus Arctos shows up for chow. When my girls are big enough to hunt that's what they'll prolly kill deer with, but you can bet I'll be packin' big and there'll be another adult hunter who is also packin' big.

Somebody said earlier that they know a guy who routinely kills brown bear with a .223, I'd have to see a photo of a bruin with the AR posing on the carcass to believe it... Even then I'd still think he was an... Well, I wouldn't try it and I bet there isn't one single Brown Bear guide who would stand for a hunter going that undergunned. When you go for bear severely undergunned you are not only risking your own life but the lives of all who happen to be in that neck of the woods, I don't think anyone can argue with the fact that these buggers are very tough and extremely dangerous when wounded. Go loaded for bear or stay in fantasy land on the video game machine.

Rant over
My apologies to the O.P. for the partial hijack