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Thread: The 243 may be fine in some localities, but

  1. #1

    The 243 may be fine in some localities, but

    I won't hunt with anyone using a 243 on the prairies anymore. Here shots generally begin at 200 yards distance. I have seen 4 deer lost in the last two years, all to a .243 at distances greater than 150 yards, and all on large deer. I keep telling these 6mm fanatics that it's a freaking varmint cartridge past 150 yards... at least were mule deer are considered... but, No. I spent way too much time tracking wounded deer this fall. The final nail in the coffin was listening to a recounting of an antelope hunt where the shooter (not the fellow on the phone, but his son) shot an antelope at 250 yards and "...saw blood running down it's side but it just stood there." For better than 5 minutes. When they stood up it ran and they chased it for 3 miles before putting it down. I didn't even have to ask: " A 243, Right??" You bet!

    Woodland shooting or smaller deer, OK.
    Not in my company anymore. No more hunting with anyone who insists on using a varmint cartridge for deer.
    Rant over.~Muir

  2. #2
    Hi Muir, I like my .243 but am not necessarily disputing what you're saying - just wondered what weight bullets your guys are using when they lose deer?

  3. #3
    Over here I would not hesitate to use 243 on any deer. My 243 has dropped Red hinds up to 300 yrds and we would shoot Fallow all day long with it. I hunted stags this year with a guy using 243 and all the stags dropped within 20-30 yards. My son uses nothing but 243 and shoots all spiecies of deer in the UK with it at the moment he is stalking Fallow taking shots out to 200 yrds with no problem. I have not however shot Sika with 243 or actually stalked sika for that matter so cant comment on them.
    Not having a go at you Muir just relating my experience of stalking with a 243. In the UK it is probably the most popular deer stalking rifle.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by BunnyDoom View Post
    Hi Muir, I like my .243 but am not necessarily disputing what you're saying - just wondered what weight bullets your guys are using when they lose deer?

  5. #5
    Interesting muir my stalking buddy changed from 243 many years ago for the same reasons as you mentioned I found it also true but at much shorter distances ie 50/60 yards on the bigger species it drilled a small hole through the animal not expanding and giving the full benefit of its power .he went for 7x64 me 308 although I have a 6.5 which I find a great compromise ,I think the 243 a good round but wouldn't go back to one .

  6. #6
    Nothing wrong with a .243 bullet correctly placed for muntjac and roe, but at the end of the day its having the confidence in your ability and kit. I know a few guides who wont let clients use a .243 on fallow or above, one whom im using soon. Using his 6.5x55 instead!
    Aim Small, Miss Small

  7. #7
    I shot my first Reds with a Sako .243, but didn't stay with the cal for long.............The .243 Winchester is a popular sporting rifle cartridge. Initially designed as a varmint round, it is now more frequently used on varmints such as coyote.
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

  8. #8
    Lets face it, a 243 is only a tiny bit larger than a 22.
    For those large animals I presume one would choose a tough 100gr bullet that often have low bc values
    leading to even less energy at extended ranges combined with little expansion due to lower speed.
    Not a great combination.
    But hey...main thing is, it doesn't hurt the shooters shoulder.....that would be terrible.


  9. #9
    perhaps a lot of those people hunting on the prairie do use a .243, so the statistics will lean towards a greater number of wounded deer - however, that is completely assumptious of me to say of course, and it may be it's not a common chambering at all and what Muir is seeing is in fact that more longer range shot deer of the medium size do not drop fast enough, or at all, when shot with the .243.

    I can only draw a few more potential assumptions and then relate a bit to my own experiences.

    first I'd argue that the .243 is more prone to bullet drift than some bullets with higher BC that can perhaps also be driven with more downrange energy. That, 'may' be partly the reason - ie. the wounded deer are due to poor shot placement when 'if' hit correctly the .243 with a proper bullet would put the deer down just fine. In this scenario the shooter picked the wrong calibre given the conditions for sure, not necessarily the distance of the size of the quarry.

    I say distance and size of quarry - now here in Scotland (and elsewhere) plenty of people shoot big red stags and hinds with the .243 and a normal soft point up to around 300yds. In my opinion based on quite a bit of experience with the .243 and soft points on reds (so a good match), I argue that even with well placed shots at distances from only 100yds, the .243 and the 100g bullet does NOT put the beast down fast enough. I have seen so many times a deer walk, stagger, run, or just stand there with blood pumping out of it for minutes.

    I have more confidence in my .243 than my 30-06 (as I've shot a lot more with the .243 and it's a better gun); however, the 30-06 puts deer down in similar situations a lot faster and more ethically. it's not about allowing for non-well placed shots, perfect H/L shots I'm talking about, identical size deer, identical/similar distances, and over and over the 30-06 performs more satisfactorily. Yes, the .243 kills the deer, and yes, 'dead is dead',,,but, I'd rather spend less time tracking deer, less time watching deer bleed out and suffer, and more time on a following clean gralloch, picture, a dram, and next stalk if time allows.

    I would also say I have shot a lot of roe deer with the .243, with both SP's and HP's, and both performed admirably at any distance up to 200yds (I don't see the need in shooting further, at least on my grounds); however, I would also like to point out that even with perfectly placed shots, the majority of runners I've had (although not far) have been from shots within 50 yds.

    This leads to bullet choice and speed of course. in the above scenario, clearly the fast .243 bullet whether HP or SP have not expanded heavily and frequently not exited (as confirmed on gralloch in many situations), whereas on longer shots there's been entry and exit with a 1" to 2.5" exit wound. however, push distance too far, or the size of the beasts chest cavity (thus increasing hide thickness and bone structure), and you will probably find that maximum distance for getting a sufficient penetrative effect reducing, as does the 'exit' ability of the bullet (even those with high integrity).

    With a larger calibre, closer shots will be delivered with a bigger bullet at slower speeds, so are more likely to not explode on the shoulder, expand, and also exit. on longer shots you should see, due to the calibre, higher momentum and knockdown power, with momentum to break through bone, penetrate to the vitals, and hopefully still exit.

    I don't want to talk down the .243 as I love mine and use it frequently on roe deer now, it's a beautifully shooting little rifle, and I see it as the mainstay of my portfolio; however, I think Muir is spot on, we'd be ignorant to close our eyes to the obvious.

  10. #10
    Muir, just in case you haven't seen this, he ends by saying (and i couldn't agree more) good marksmanship is what kills Elk, having just extolled the virtues of the .243
    But he is talking about Elk, i wasn't comfortable taking my .243 after Elk when i went to Montana (bull elk more than twice the size of red stag), but just as my 30-06 did the business on the Mule deer i shot, the .243 would have done the same.
    So .243 with the correct bullet weight/makeup/hunter will do the business on any deer in the UK.
    (I bet this thread goes on and on!)

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