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Last year I bought my 12 year old a Remington model 7 youth rifle in .243,and he took his first deer with it adoe at about 70 yards. I loaded him some Barnes 90gr. X-bullets for it,he made a great behind the crease of the shoulder shot.The bullet exited the other side but the exit was only the size of a dime,it took us almost an hour to find her because there was hardly any bloodtrail at all to follow.The deer weighted 117lbs. field dressed on certified scales.Now finally to the question,with the 181/2 in. bbl on this gun what do you recomend I load for it this season that will expand because I won't be using the x-bullet out of it .Any idea how much velocity this short barrel is loosing compared to the 24 and 26 inch barrels that are listed in the load manuels. I can use all the help I can get,my son is reved up and ready to hunt and shoot a new load. thanks for any help!!!
 

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Tillman,
      My wife has the 20" barrelled Model 7 and we can get 2800 fps out of it with 100-105gr bullets using both H4831 and Reloder 22. Bullet selection is tough, though. We've had several examples of marginal bullet performance in my opinion; I prefer a sizable exit hole and this generally just isn't going to happen with the .243- again just my experience. It will certainly kill deer, as we have never lost an animal hit with it. But good tracking blood is often hard to come by.
      For bullets, my top pick is the 100 gr partition. Next are Hornady 100 gr and Speer 105. Between my wife and I we have killed 4 deer and 2 pronghorns with the .243 over the years. Not enough to be an expert, but enough to have some opinions!  Good luck,  ID
 

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As IDShooter has covered this completely I will just add that to get what we all want, a quick, clean, great blood trail, big exit wound,and minimal meat damage kill every time, is not possible with any caliber. Sounds like your son did a great job. He made a good shot and you guys worked it out and found the deer.

I,m not satisfied with my .308 or 30.06 performance so far but I am new to this gun hunting game. As a bow hunter I expect tough blood trails and yes even some marginal hits. But not with a gun? Yep, even with a gun.

The hunters I know that have killed many animals and especially deer, hunt with many different calibers and all are confident in what they shoot. To listen to them they never have a bad experience but I think the good just outweighs the bad and you tend to forget the worst. If you pin them down they will tell you their bad hits and bad bullet performance stories too. They have settled on their preference and accept it's performance or they continue to tinker if they are a tinkerer and accept that.

Sounds like your son has made a great start. Nothing wrong with you changing things for him as far as ammo goes. If range is short a round nose may be worth a try. I see Nosler makes a 90 and 95 gr Ballistic tip. If penetration is the thing you want the Partition or that type is the answer. The next one could drop like a rock with your present bullet.

Y'all know all this. Why do I run on this way?
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I don't think that anyone has really touched on bullet placement.  Sounds like in the example in the first posting, the classic lung shot was made.  If a deer has all 4 legs working then it can go quite a distance with no blood supply - hence the desire for a good blood trail.

When I started shooting pigs this really came into focus, as they rarely leave a blood trail no matter what they're shot with.  Much better to drop a pig in it's tracks or within just a few yards, or the odds of finding it go way down, unless you have dogs.

So.... what I'm getting at is, if you want them to drop a little faster and be easier to find, have you considered aiming into the shoulder bone?  Yeah a little more meat gets lost, depending on the bullet, BUT they drop soooo much faster (both deer and pigs) on "average", although there are bound to be exceptions.  Sounds like your son is a good enough shot to put the bullet where he wants it.  When I want something to drop at the shot I line up the vertical crosshair with the leg on a broadside shot.

Anyway from my limited experience with the "x" bullet I'd say it would be more effective hitting the shoulder bone, and it would be unlikely for the bullet to fail.  I've only shot coyotes with 'x' bullets, but dropped 3 of them exactly in their tracks.  Gonna try some on pigs next.

My only other thought is, in the .243 the small bullet may limit the exit hole you can get (and still be confident that the bullet will perform if it does hit a shoulder bone, whether you intend to hit bone or not).  So the other possibility is to go up a little in caliber, provided your son can handle the increased recoil.  

Anyway.... food for thought.
 

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MikeG has touched on an interesting point. If you hit the shoulder the deer often will drop sooner. But if you are going to do this with a .243 PLEASE use a partition or X-bullet! My wife hit an antelope on the shoulder with a 95gr Ballistic tip once, and not so much as a FRAGMENT made it into the chest cavity. I had to chase that bugger (admittedly it was not moving that quickly) for several hundred yards until I got close enough for a neck shot. It had run up and over a ridge out of sight. The shoulder was absolutely obliterated, but as I said, the inside of the ribcage showed not so much as a pinhole. I also shot a mule deer once with a 100 gr Federal factory Hi-Shok bullet which came apart on a rib and only tore up one lung. When the deer got up and ran again I killed it with a shot to the base of the spine.
        Bullet selection is everything with this small a caliber. Sorry to rant so long, but I hate to see wounded or suffering game.    IDShooter
 

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I hunt whitetail deer here in Texas, granted they aren't too big in body but I have yet to have one walk off.  I use a Speer 100 gr boattail at about 2950.  The bullet holds up and has always left a significant exit wound.  Most of the time there is a good spray of blood and lung matter on the off side of the entrance wound.  I have been very satisfied with the Speer bullet in the 243.  I have several other caliber's to choose from but I just enjoy shooting my 243 in Rem 700 bdl.  BTW its bbl length is 22".

Bill
 

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Tillman,

The best way to deal with this lack of performance is to rechamber your son's Model 7 to .260 Remington or 7mm-08, or trade it in for carbines in either cartridge.
I know this will get howls of protest but the .243 and 6mm are not good deer crartridges. They're at their best as long-range woodchuck or coyote guns first with an occasional antelope thrown in. There is a world of difference between the .243/6mm and either the .260 or 7mm-08. I can promise you that a .260/120 or 7mm/140 would've done a much better job of creating a blood trail with that same shot.
 

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Bill Lester,

I don't take offense concerning your comments about the 243 not being a good deer cartridge even though my experience would be certainly contrary to that opinion.  My question is have you ever hunted deer with the 243 or are you just stating personal bias?  The reason I ask is I have found that many people make this type of comment without having experience.

Although, I tend to agree with you if one uses anything other than 100-105 gr bullets.  The others are intended for varmints and should not be used for deer size game.  I could say the same about using 75 gr bullets in the 250 or 87 gr bullets in the 260, etc.

I have found the 243 has been more than adequate for whitetail here in Texas.  As you probably know here in Texas many people consider the 22-250 to be the cats meow for whitetail hunting.  I guess with the proper bullet they might be.  But I have a mental bias against doing so.  But I have never used one on deer so I can only state my bias.

Just a point or two that I take into consideration regarding such issues.

Again no offense taken and certainly none intended in return.  

Good Hunting

Bill
 

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Bill,

Actually I have had some experience seeing what the .243 does/doesn't do but not by my own hand. I would never have chosen one for deer, my first centerfire being a .30-06. For whatever reason the cartridge is popular with several relatives' friends
and that's how I've seen the cartridge in action. I'm really not impressed when the deer are big cornfed whitetails like the ones here in southwestern PA. Live weights above 175 lbs are not uncommon. I understand the deer in many parts of Texas are quite a bit smaller, due to poorer food resoucres. I think that may be one reason why your experiences differ from my own. Also you may be a highly ethical hunter who will pass on anything but a perfect heart/lung shot. Sadly many do not and the questionable deer-killing ballistics of the .243 and 6mm rear their head.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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My .257 Roberts gives .243 ballistics, more or less, with 100 grain bullets.  And so far it's been just fine on small pigs and Texas whitetails.  I've been pleasantly surprised as to how it's worked out.  No doubt they are effective in many circumstances.

But.... most of my hunting is thinning the herd, so to speak, at the invitation of landowners.  I don't seriously deer hunt.  Perhaps this helps me relax (a little) and take my time with shot placement?  There's a whole lot more does and spikes than trophy deer, so it's easier to wait for perfect shot placement.  And warm weather (and warm fingers and 2-3lb trigger pulls) greatly helps precision shot placement in the field!

My view on these cartridges is that they are more suitable for the expert than the beginner.  I'm glad that my first deer fell to a .280 Rem and first pigs to a .30-06.  No worries about cartridge performance there.  Now that I have a little more experience under my belt, I feel confident taking a smaller bullet into the field.  For what it's worth, I have every intention of trying out my .22-250 one of these days, although it will be with the sturdiest bullet I can find, the Barnes "X".  But I would NEVER start a beginner out with this cartridge, even on the very small Texas deer.  Just asking for trouble in my opinion.

For the beginning hunter, there are a jillion things to try to remember in the field.  Need to have a cartridge (bullet) that will get the job done in the field, with any reasonable shot placement, without a lot of extra mental gymnastics.  If recoil is a problem, use reduced loads on the range until comfortable, then just a few "full-power" rounds for sighting-in and hunting.

My two cents....
 

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Hi guys,
      I think the important thing to remember here is getting the performance Tillman wanted from the cartridge! Obviously the .243 will kill deer adequately under certain circumstances. My step father-in-law uses a 22-250 for deer + antelope, my father-in-law has killed elk with a .243. An acquaintence of my father's (who was unemployed) routinely poached deer to feed his family with a .22 and a flashlight! All these things work! But Tillman, like myself, prefers a good blood trail whenever possible, and that is far less likely to happen with a .243 than a larger caliber in my experience and a lot of other peoples'. It's not really a question of "does it work", it's a question of "will it work like I want it to". You can argue til the cows come home about calibers but ultimately the one you use has to please only you and the game department!
                   Have fun and shoot straight!     ID  
 

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Discussion Starter #12
   I think my problem has been solved,I talked my son into trying my Ruger m77 international that has been in the safe a couple of years .The rifle is a 308 and I loaded him up some 150 gr ballistic tips with a starting load that I have found to be accurate in this rifle,over my chronograph they average 2670,about what a 300 Savage will do and he is grouping about 13/4 at 100 yards which is about as good as this rifle is capable of.
    Thanks for the responses.I did not mean to start a debate on the 243,I killed over 30 deer with an old Savage 243 when I started hunting some 30 odd years ago and never lost one.The deer were small and plentiful averaging about90 to 110 pounds live weight,I actually used Sierra 85 grain hollowpoints,but that was back when I could see good and head shot most of them at about 30 to 40 yards.The land I hunted was horribly over populated with does and (gimp) racked bucks,all spikes,3 pointers or 5 and 6 point racks that would litteraly fit in the palm of your hand.
  Tkanks once again,  Bubbadoo,Tillman

(Edited by bubbadoo at 9:17 am on Oct. 19, 2001)


(Edited by bubbadoo at 9:21 am on Oct. 19, 2001)
 

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Tillman,

I think that's an excellent idea and shows one part of the tremendous versatility you can acheive with cartridges like the .308, .30-06, .280, etc. Even using a starting load you still have much greater humane killing
power than the smaller varmint/deer cartridges. Those ballistics combined with a sweet shooting carbine like the M-77 International should serve your boy well.
 

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I used to hunt with a Browning/Sako Safari grade. I found that 39 grains of IMR 4350 behind a Speer 105 grain RN. That combination was pure poison and extremely accurate. I got six deer, all at under 100 yards, neck shots or front of the shoulder angling back to chest. The neck shot deer dropped in their tracks and the shoulder shot deer went down with a few steps.  The exit holes were impressive with plenty of bleeding for a trail to follow.
I'd opt for the Speer 105 RN or Spitzer.
Jim
 

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Tillman;

You have a pretty good start up gun for your son. I've used the 6 rem. and the .257 Rob. quite a bit and they work absolutely great. My favorite bullets in the 6 have been the 105 Speer. My opinion is that they expand a bit more than the Nosler and a bunch more than the "X"

Although the "X" has a great rep as a "penetrator" it seldom opens to more than 1.5 caliber when fired at light game. The Speers have always given me around 2+ calibers of expansion.

BTW, I currently have a 7-08 and a .257 Rob. There does NOT! seem to be a world of difference in the effectiveness on medium sized deer. (Maybe some in favor of the 7 but not much)

My fat headed opinion would be that you are on the right track. Keep the light gun, with light recoil. Train him to place the shot, and load it with a 105 gr. Speer for those light framed deer.
 
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