In the plinking and precision long range world we all like to talk about which gun or caliber is better than the other. This goes the same in the hunting world as well. Something that hunters and semi-seasoned hunters talk about is the best or versatile deer rifle/caliber. For the non-hunters most will only think of the .30-06 or .308.
All the old favorites are normally there, like the classic Marlin, Remington and Ruger rifles. They go back and forth on what’s better between a .270 Winchester, a 308 Winchester and a 30-06 Springfield. But, some experienced hunters will tell you go with the .243 caliber rifle. This hunting rifle may be smaller than most, but it packs a pretty good punch from varmints to medium-size game. Even if you’re content with whitetail in your area, that is cool as well.
The .243 is light, small and perfect for beginning deer hunters. The .243 Winchester cartridge was initially designed as a target/varmint round, it may be used for animals such as coyotes, black tail deer, whitetail deer, mule deer, pronghorns, and wild hogs.
Hunters from the western states have used the .243 on mule deer and bears. At under 200 yards the .243 may just be the most accurate round. Low recoil attributes to its high accuracy.
Some hunters share the sentiment that the .243 just simple isn’t big enough for a true ethical shot. However, with the added accuracy of this round, shot placement is deadly with practice. Taking a shot from 200 yards is a common thing.
We mentioned the versatility of the .243 caliber. If you handload your own, you can try these loads:
55-grain for varmints
70-80 grain – will retain velocity and resists the wind better and a better choices for coyote, bobcat, and fox
90-100 grain for deer and pronghorn
105-115 grain – Federal Hi-Shok, Remington Corelokts and Winchester Power points are to go with.
Word of caution – the heaviest grain does not mean it will take down the biggest game. .243 is not meant for that.
Here’s a plinker at 500 yards
Bolt or Lever?
When we get into the .243 rifles, a classic bolt action usually leads to better accuracy with a Ruger American. This factor is what hunters base their decisions whether to have one or not.
If you want to factor in the coolness of the rifle of lever action, Savage and Browning make some awesome lever rifles. But if those sounds like a little too much rifle, look at Rossi and Henry. They make single shot 243’s.
These rifles average around $250-$500, so you don’t need to spend too much. The thing to do is shop around which has bundles like a rifle that comes with a scope, recoil pad, maybe a synthetic stock and an adjustable trigger. Its like plug and play right out of the box.
It’s important with all cartridges to match the bullet to the game animal. If you only hunt whitetail, small game and is recoil sensitive, the .243 is for you.
Here is Gridlessness take on the awesome .243 Caliber.
Youtuber Teach a Man to Fish has a great video on the .243 Win.