John does not like the .243

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

I’ve tried, but I can’t warm to the .243. It’s billed as having three great attributes: it’s death on varmints, it’s adequate for

deer-sized big game and it is a great cartridge for young hunters because of its moderate recoil. I think it is a poor second-choice-if that-for any of these tasks.

More here.

I must say that I agree with the following comment by Ben on the blog post

Well, if everyone had money to dedicate to a varmint rig and a deer rig then yes, going with a .22 and a .25 or 7mm would make perfect sense. However, since this isn’t always affordable some people split the difference and find that the .243 fits the bill. 55-70grns for varmint, and 85-100grns for deer.

As for the .243 being too big for varmints – a .222 is too big for most varmints, realisticly a .22lr is all you need to kill most varmints – people just like the high powered .22’s because they reach out considerably farther – so too does the .243. And if you’re looking to save coyote pelts it can expend energy in a hurry, unlike the heavier .25’s.

At the end of the day though, if you’re hunting armored deer or Wile E. Coyote then yes, by all means you certainly need more than the little 6mm.

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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Join the conversation
  • Alex Alex on Feb 11, 2008

    I have been shooting a .243 for the last 6 years, I have found this cartridge to be very versatile when handloading, and more than capable in hunting situations. I have shot a Red deer spiker that went 185lb on the hook with 87grn projectiles (chest shot) ran 20m then collapsed, a wild boar that went 160lb, collapsed on the spot, another chest shot and countless goats and small game with lighter 55grn bullets. In my experience the .243 is an excellent all round cartridge and with well placed chest shots most medium to big sized game can be put down on the spot easily. I also own and shoot regularily with a 6.5 x 55, 7.62 x 39 (subsonic) and 22mag. I have found that the .243 has the best terminal effects on animals large and small. This is my personal veiw and experience and would never trade my trusty .243 for anything. I am currently in the process of rebuilding my .243 coz I have shot the barrell out!!!!!!!

  • Leo Leo on Feb 13, 2008

    As a long time hunter/shooter (40 years now) and a newly retired Police Officer with 29 years of service... 18 years of those as a Sniper for my Department's SWAT Team, I'm a firm believer that SHOT PLACEMENT is the key to ALL shooting.

    With the proper training, combined with continual practice (good shooting is a "perishable skill"), a shooter could 'drop' almost any North American game animal with a "rat gun caliber" like the .243 Winchester IF the proper SHOT PLACEMENT is executed.

    My 13 year old son has learned the BASIC anatomy of the various game animals in our part of California (Central Coast) and knows where he needs to 'place his shot' for a clean, humane kill. Oh, did I mention that his primary weapon is a Remington Model 700 SPS Youth Rifle in .243 Winchester...

    The misconception of "bigger is better" doesn't always work. You're not only going to ruin the game meat that you've probably worked so hard to get, but you may not even hit your target because of the tendency for some shooters (particular newer ones) to acquire the infamous "flinch" that may come from shooting such a 'mule kicking' high-powered caliber.

    From my training and experience, I could go on and on with information that most uninformed readers would find boring. So, I'll leave this last message to those readers that may only have access to a smaller caliber rifle (even a 'rat gun' caliber)... TEACH YOURSELF the basic anatomy of your chosen game animal and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE your shot placement at your local gun range. You'll be surprised what you can accomplish with this simple advice...