Choice of .243 or 6.5 x55... opinions please. I'm having difficulty deciding


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I've just put in for a variation for a FAC shotgun and while applying for that I thought I might as well apply for another calibre at the same time.
I asked for .243 and 6.5x55 with the option of picking one as I couldn't decide.
They called yesterday to say I could have one or the other but would have to make the choice before the application would be taken further which is very fair. They also said if I could ask for a lighter calibre to be considered as well.

Currently I have a very nice .308 which is heavy! I use this on hinds in Scotland and usually carry in a grab bag with rucksack straps so its not so bad.

I'm fortunate enough to be doing some woodland stalking for roe in Cornwall as well. A lot of this is 100m or less range wise and often not long to take the shot.

So I would like a lighter rifle for this. I know both calibres are capable but I cant decide!!

I might also ask them to consider a .22-250 for long range pest control/ target shooting.

Any target shooting at the moment is purely for fun but something I may get into in the future.

So in summary I have a .308 its heavy, Id like a .243 or 6.5x55 in a more normal weight for woodland stalking roe. Assuming I had a .22-250 as well which would you pick and why? and if I didn't get a .22-250 as well which would you pick and why?

Edit - Should have mentioned that I will be learning to re load shortly so ammo hopefully wont be a problem.

Looking forward to your replies.

All the best

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Essex stalker

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I was in a similar position, not sure whether to go 6.5x55 or .243. I ended up going for .243 as I was told that I would find ammunition much more readily available. I haven't regretted that choice but I'm sure others may say different

I. Farticus

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I would say 6.5x55mm as I'm a big fan. With the right ammo - I use 140gr SSTs - you can take everything that the UK has to offer.

Be careful with the .22-250 for target shooting if you are going to head out onto MOD ranges (ie Bisley) as it's too quick... They have a limit of 3,280fps (1,000m/s) and the .22-250 is over it by at least 300fps (50gr ammo can get up to 4,000fps), so I'd go .223 in the smaller calibre as there is plenty of choice of FMJ ammo for target work


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You can load down the 22-250 but I hear brass is expensive compared to others. It uses about 40 grains of powder like a 243 and a 222 uses about 20 so makes more sense for high volume target use, 223 must be somewhere in-between. The hotter loads in 22-250 have been said to cause faster throat wear.


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It depends on what you plan to shoot in the woods, if it is Roe and munties, then the 243 is ideal, if the deer are bigger, go with the 6.5.


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I was faced with a similar choice - went for 6.5 x55 in the end as it seemed better for bigger beasts . I find the PPU ammo suits my rifle (Tikka T3) very well.


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If you had a .22-250 then I'd opt for the 6.5x55.

If you didn't have a .22-250 then I'd opt for a .243.

The reason for this is that the .22-250 and .243 are quite similar (compared with a 6.5x55).

If you want to do pest control, shoot the smaller UK deer species and target shoot then just buy a .243. Good for foxing with lighter rounds, good for the deer with 100gr SP and with A-Max a pretty good medium range target round as well.

The same applies to the 6.5x55 in terms of deer and target shooting. In fact some consider the 6.5mm 140gr target rounds up there with the best.

If you want to cover your three bases then get the .243. You will be able to spend your entire budget on one rifle and one scope as opposed to spreading your budget over four bits of kit. This is assuming that you are keeping your .308 for the larger beasts.
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The deer man

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Well I've owned a few guns and 243 is one of them and a fine calibre but you will find the 6.5x55 will cover far more bases (including Reds in Scotland) hence one in my cabinet which replaced my 243 a few years ago and I can't ever envisage getting another.

If you get a small varmint calibre as well, 223 or 22/250 (preferably 223 as has been said), why would you want another varmint calibre like the 243 and before anybody jumps down my throat yes it is perfectly good for deer too (I shot plenty with mine) but. . . if you are going to reload then there are enough of 6.5 varmint bullets available if you need them and don't get a small calibre.

One last point is I've found the 6.5x55 better than the 243 on smaller deer (all in reality) when it comes to meat damage, they'll both kill perfectly well but one 'cleaner' than the other. Using a 140gr soft point in the 6.5 is perfect and does not cause the bruising that a 243 can. In the 6.5x55 you don't need premium bullets in the UK unless perhaps you go lighter to 120's, say TSX type.

Err. . . I thought of something else! Ammunition, I don't know if gunshops around me are just better than the rest of the country but owning 7mm-08, 6.5x55 and 30/30, not the most popular calibres, but I've never had a problem sourcing ammunition. I reload and you might too so no real problem there anyway. If you can't get it order it - is that difficult?!

Good luck and happy hunting!

shakey jake

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If your keeping the 308 I would say 243 for woodland stalking then get a smaller one for vermin something like a 204 or 17. Just to give you my opinion


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Nothing wrong with 243, but considering you will have a 308 as well, I would go with the Swede. It is small enough for foxes, big enough for Reds (which in Cornwall get big) and covers everything in between.

If you accidentally got your 308 and 243 ammo mixed up - sad story in either rifle, but especially the 243! Much less chance of that with the 6.5x55.

Personally, I like 308, so in your situation I'd just request a second 308 in a lighter "woodland" configuration.


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6.5x55 every time. I've had two .243's and a 6.5x55 now and I hate the .243 for deer. It's rubbish compared to the 6.5. If you wanted a fox/deer gun I might say .243 because of the bullets weights available, but if you're getting a .22 of some sort too I wouldn't touch the .243 with a pole!


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It's easy. Go to your local gun shop and ask the person behind the counter to show you the ammo and reloading components they have in both cartridges, plus the prices.

Then buy the rifle that you can most easily get ammo and components for and that will be the least expensive to feed. This will leave you the maximum time and money for getting out stalking and will, therefore, increase the number of deer you kill. This is probably the only aspect of cartridge choice that will have any impact upon the deer you actually get to shoot.


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Sell your heavy .308 and get a heavy .243 for foxing/varmint/longer range deer then buy a lightweight .308 for stalking? Would be what I would do


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If you plan to reload then once you are set up it doesn't really matter which cartridge you choose.

If you are keeping the .308 and you plan on doing a lot of varmint/small deer hunting with the other rifle, get the .243. Better selection of varmint bullets and equally good on deer.

The 6.5x55mm sits right in the middle, but is much more than just a compromise cartridge. With modern loads it will outperform the .308 in every single category except in bullet diameter (.308 is 1.1mm larger). You can also find very good varmint bullet in the .264 caliber so if you reload it doesn't make a difference in terms of finding off-the-shelf ammo--just stock up.

If it was me I would ditch the two rifles and put the extra money into a nicer one plus reloading components. JMO.


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As you have the .308 for deer I'd choose a .243. Stick with some 75grain SST's and you're deer legal in England/Wales (although not ideal for the larger species unless head/neck shooting:scared: but you've already the .308 for that) and also a very good round for longer range varmints. This is the set up I've got and more than happy with it and covers all I need and really easy to get ammo.


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243 as the amo is so readily available and i didnt seem to have any problem knocking over a fallow with my one

50g for fox and 100g for heart shot and 75grain balistic tip for head shot deer all in 243