Caliber Choice

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Sako Hunter

Well-Known Member
I'm looking to purchase my first Stalking rifle and am torn between the .243 and 6.5 x 55. I have shot the .243 as an estate rifle with good results . However more recently I have been advised that the 6.5 x 55 is the caliber of choice and creates less damage to the carcase.

Your opinions would be most welcome.


Well-Known Member
hi JC
i am not to sure u should be to worried in what u choose as both calibres will do the job u require
i hav never had a 6.5x55 but use a 243 and hav done for most off my stalking i never worry about meat damage , as the most i hav lost is a shouder and not all of that was totally lost.
i do believe the 6.5x55 is smoother shooting but there are pros and cons for all calibres i can recomend tikka and ruger in 243 never been let down by either good luck in whichever way you choose



I have both calibres. Both are excellent choices. The 6.5 is a slightly softer rifle to shoot but the .243 has the advantages of being a short action.

Plus if you are not loading your own, you will find you have a wider choice of bullet weights available to you at any gunshop if you choose the .243.

At the end of the day its all down to bullet placement. A deer shot well with a .243 is just as dead as a deer shot with one of the bigger cannons.


Well-Known Member
hi, I too have both calibres and have to agree with all that's been said.
I reload both calibres and get all the accuracy I need from both. But! When I have to take one rifle it's always the 6.5mm I shoot 140grain Amax for everything from Munters up to the biggest Norfolk stags.
If it's a foxing rifle with an amount of stalking, especially if its smaller deer ie munter CWD or roe and shot from a high seat where you have more time then there's nothing wrong with a .243. Its flat shooting easy to get ammo for and every rifle manufacturer makes one.
If you want an all round rifle suitable for true woodland stalking where you get less time thats capable of taking all species of British deer then it got to be the 6.5mm.
I wouldn't get too concerned over meat damage, worry about a humane dispatch. Meat damage is more about the bullet you use and where you put it.


Well-Known Member
I have a .308 for all deer and whilst I like it, and appreciate its ability to ground anything in the UK (or Europe for that matter) I wish I had got a 6.5x55/57. I had a few shots with a friends Tikka 695 6.5x55, moderated with a good scope, and shot a one hole group at 120 yards, which converted me!

The .308 is a bit barky and punchy, nothing too bad but I think the 6.5 does it all with less fuss.

All the most experienced stalkers I know rave about them, low recoil, superb accuracy, great sectional density and ultimatley all the power you will ever need. My next stalking rifle will be a 6.5.



I have never shot the 6.5 but have two .243s of different weights and a .308 that I use on deer. In the last year I have shot 8 roe deer only so my experience is very limited. But my experience would lead me to the following conclusions. I dont want to home load but I do believe that you will find some rounds that do and do not suit a particular rifle, so large choice is preferable. Only 2 of the deer moved anywhere after impact and both of those were hit by the .308. My limited experience makes me absolutely sure that confidence is hugely important, that you have a rifle that you are comfortable with, that has recoil that after a while you dont notice, that you can practice with enough to 'know' that when you have a live animal in your sight that you can the shot with a steady hand. I have total confidence that within the ranges that I might shoot over, that my rifle/ammunition/scope combination will put the bullet where it needs to go. If you add an unknown into the equation, that would not be the case. So my advice would be work out what you going to shoot most and if you are not going to have several rifles find a combination that works best for you for that type of shooting.


Well-Known Member
our favourite topic!

I started stalking and bought a .30-06. after a little while and a lot of mickey taking from people (who know less than they might let you believe) I bought a .243 win. I have shot quite a few deer with both and the most effective for deer by far is the .30-06 with 150 gr psp bullets. It kills very well and with little meat damage. It is far superior for deer shooting than the 243. I have just bought a 7mm08 to add to the arsenal. it pushes 140gr bullets just below 3000fps. with great sectional density and high ballistic coefficient. I see that it will be my go to deer rifle. The 243 i now load with 80 gr bullets for foxing. the .30-06 will remain in my cabinet becuase it is so damned good. i do load my own ammunition- but most major makers make 7mm08 ammunition in the bullet choice you want, you might have to order it.

I would recomend that a trip to the hodgdon site maybe worth looking at to compare rounds. But don't fall into the faster the better trap..... i just don't think it is true. 6.5 x 55 140 gr bullets are going at 2600fps! they have massive sectional density and penetrate well with conventional soft point bullets.

Look Hard at the 7mm08. it will be a classic as the time goes on.

swampy steve


7-08 is hard to get brass for in uk unless you neck down .308" i should imagine it can be a bugger to get factory fodder for. I have one it is as swampy says a heck of a deer gun! However i should avoid .243" unless for roe and fox, it is not a good big deer gun and it is not kind on meat. However it works well as a light too cary light recoiling gun.
6.5 bullets punch well above thier weight - i think i shall re-barrel my .243" as .260 and shoot 120- 125 grn bullets!

paul k

Well-Known Member
I was about to trade my .243 and .270 for a 6.5 x 55 as I've hardly heard a bad word said about the 6.5 x 55 and it seems a good option for a one rifle solution.

I use my .243 for most quarry including Devon reds and it knocks them down no problem but there is sometimes some meat damage. My main issue is that I want to fit a mod and protect my ears and the .243 is a beautiful Steyr Mannlicher that I would hate to cut and I also would rather pay for one rifle to be cut than two so I would rather go to a one rifle solution.

However I've just been told that there is a new calibre on the block in the form of the 6.5 x 47 which several well known authorities are raving about. The downside is that this calibre is so new that almost no-one makes one yet and ammo is hard to get although that might change very quickly.

I don't know what to do now!


Keep what you have and that you have shot happily with for years and buy some ear defenders. :lol:


Site Staff
There is always a new take on a 6.5 somewhere or other, but, for all the variations the 6.5X55 is the one to stay with. For the little bit of extra reach here or the few extra fps there is it worth it? If it is to be used as a replacement for your normal stalking rifle then I would not bother looking past 6.5X55. If I was forced to have only one stalking / fox rifle then I would keep my 6.5 and lose the rest.


mole trapper

Well-Known Member
JAYB said:
There is always a new take on a 6.5 somewhere or other, but, for all the variations the 6.5X55 is the one to stay with. For the little bit of extra reach here or the few extra fps there is it worth it? If it is to be used as a replacement for your normal stalking rifle then I would not bother looking past 6.5X55. If I was forced to have only one stalking / fox rifle then I would keep my 6.5 and lose the rest.




Distinguished Member
I have, well, a few rifles and have shot a few deer with most of them.

Regardless of what others have said, first and foremost, calibre is unimportant (so long as your cartridge is deer legal).

The first consideration is choose a rifle YOU like and that fits YOU.

Then start thinking about calibres - because not all rifles are available in all calibres (off the shelf)

I started off with 270, have 6.5mm's, 257's and 30 cals - they all kill deer, they all do similar damage if shot in the wrong place.

If you want to buy ammo from a dealer, then go with "standard" calibres - .243, 25-06, 6.5x55, 260 Rem, 270, 308 30-06 etc.

If you intend to load your own, choose something you like shooting. I would argue that if you load your own, you will get more out of your rifle, but thats another discussion...

Personally, I would not go with a 6mm (243 etc) thats my opinion I dont like them for deer)

Great all rounder - 25-06, 260 Rem and of course 6.5x55 all very sweet and light recoiling :lol:

Larger deer - 7mm-08, 308 and 30-06 plus the magnums - slightly heavier on the shoulders :lol: .

One thing to remember with 6.5x55 is they have a different sized bolt face than most calibres (.476" as opposed to .473") Its something to consider should you ever want to rebarrel to a different cartridge.

Hope this isn't confusing,, but it really is YOUR choice.

Good luck ;)


Well-Known Member

Well you are going to hear............. well not something bad :evil: but lets put things In perspective. People will tell you it punches above its weight it shoots laser flat ect. All this is bull. :evil:

It produces a bit more energy that a 243, it is modest in recoil because it produces modest velocities, it drops a 1/3 more than a 270 at hundred yards. All fact.

The great sectional density is wasted on UK game (a 243 100gn will go straight though a Sika or Red stag) you don’t need any more penetration on UK game assuming you are using proper game bullets (not thin jacketed varmint bullets).

The ballistic advantage(and sectional density) of the 6.5 are good when compared to a 30 cal, but put it by a 6.4mm bullet (25cal) or a 6.8mm bullet (270) and then it does not look anything special.
At normal stalking distances you don’t need spectacular BC, good velocity is more important.

Because the 6.5X55 cartridge was designed over hundred years ago (1894) the maximum loading pressure for it are modest so it does not destroy old Mauser rifles ect. People will tell you that you can push the 6.5X55 above the maximum recommended in the reloading manuals if you are reloading for a new modern rifle, well they might be right but if it goes wrong you are on your own and anyway you won’t have that soft shooting rifle any more it will kick and you will get increased muzzle blast.

Keeping to the manual that means a 2600fps for a 140gn bullet (a 270win pushes a 140gn at 3000fps) If you do use 160gn bullets don’t use them in Scotland as they are not deer legal they only make 2300fps.

My mate had used one for a number of years on red stags and in the end got ****ed off with it, as it did not kill as well as he would like, he now has a 270 for big deer and uses the 6.5 on hinds and fallow does roe ect.

IMHO the 6.5X55 is a good small deer calibre which produces a bit more energy than a 243 it will kill large deer if you place your shots but is not as good as the more powerful cartridges (no surprise there).

One thing I do like about the 243 is that if the rifle stock fits correctly I can see the bullet strike when using it, I can’t in the 6.5X55 as all other things being equal it kicks a bit more than a 243. Being able to see the deer’s reaction to the shot is more important than all that ballistic talk to me.

The 243 is a good choice for small deer roe/fallow red hinds and Sika hinds I would not pick it as my calibre of choice for big stags but it will get the job done if it has to. Not for nothing does the home Office allow us two rifles for deer. ;)

The 260 works well with lighter 6.5mm bullets (most are throated for 129gn) but with heavy bullets you have to seat them deep in the case so they will feed from a standard 308/243 length mag’(them long bullets are now working against it) in doing so you are compromising case capacity.

The 6.5X47 looks a good small deer cartridge in the same class as the 243, if I was going to have one rifle then I would in a ideal world look at a 6.5-06 a 25-06 but with better bullet choice.

At the end of the day as Redmist says pretty much any deer legal calibre will get the job done and if I was given a 6.5X55 and told go and shoot deer the last thing I would blame if I came empty handed would be the calibre of rifle.

Best rgds

And waiting income from 6.5X55 and Blaser Owners.



Well-Known Member
As I've said before, I have a 243 and 308 but I still want to go back to my 6.5. Its like I've lost my best friend! :cry: I hope to buy one in T3 Varmint stainless barrel. I'll use the other two in the bank raid to pay for it! :eek: :lol:


Slow heavy bullets knock deer off thier feet better, kill cleaner, penetrate deeper and damage less meat.

The .243" bullets are fast and comparatively light. I disagree with Thar a 100 grn .243" bullet will not reliable go staight through a Red / Sika stag.
Indeed i have shot a number of Fallow does / Roe were bone heavy meat contact has prevented getting a stike through. I have also shot a fallow twice through the heart without knocking it off it's feet.

Fast light bullets are unrelible on penetration, leave deer standing and often turn the oposite shoulder to red jelly

I still own a .243" I have used 95gn B/tip Noslers 95gn Hornady SST 87gn Hornady soft points 100 gn sierra pro-hunter handloads and 100gn Fedral power shock factory- It is a good lightweight easy to shoot fox / roe rifle but will be re- barreled shortly to .260 or 6.5 x 47( the only proviso to this is will plod let me have it as my fox / deer rifle )


Well-Known Member
Now now Kent

Perhaps 10 years ago we could make a statement like that. We have been having quite heated debates about this on the accuratereloading forum.
More depends on bullet construction now rather than bullet weight or SD.
With modern premium bullets you can reduce weight from 180 gn to 123 for 30 cal and have a flatter shooting, deeper penetrating faster bullet with less recoil. Obviously you get what you pay for with cheap ammo but their are choices.
Here is a pic of my 7x64 115 gn KJG with a MV of 3350ft/s against a 150 gn 308 interbond. The little 7mm has proved itself devastating on zebra/wildebeast/warthog with minimal meat damage.


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