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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #1
As the title says, I'd like to hear your .243 hunting stories. Include as much detail as you can about bullet selection and performance, blood trails, etc. I want to to hear it all, good and bad.

For the record, I have a .243 now, and I've shot a few deer and pronghorn with it. I'm considering just using it for my main rifle at this point. I have had to thin the stable, and I don't have much to work with any more.

So please, let fly! Thanks guys.
 

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I used a 243 lever for decades with great success. I was fortunate enough to shoot a 156 5/8 buck at 250 yards that was DRT. 100 grain speer btsp.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #3
I used a 243 lever for decades with great success. I was fortunate enough to shoot a 156 5/8 buck at 250 yards that was DRT. 100 grain speer btsp.
Very nice. Broadside lung hit?
 

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First critter I shot with my 243 was a doe antelope. It was a long shot( about 400 yards) I thought I missed as the antelope turned and ran off. It turned turned out I almost did miss but hit the jugular and she ran about 100 yards or so before going down. The load was a 100grain Speer boattail over a near max load of H 4350.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #5
First critter I shot with my 243 was a doe antelope. It was a long shot( about 400 yards) I thought I missed as the antelope turned and ran off. It turned turned out I almost did miss but hit the jugular and she ran about 100 yards or so before going down. The load was a 100grain Speer boattail over a near max load of H 4350.
That's a long shot! Well, to me it is. Nice shooting.
 

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I have loaded for two .243's, and hunted with a group who thought the .243 was the best round ever invented, and have seen probably 3 dozen deer shot with one at one time or another. It is a completely adequate deer round out to at least 350-400 yards, with the right bullet. I have also been present when quite a few coyotes fell to the .243 and/or its twin the 6mm Rem. It was the first round my son wanted for a "big game" rifle. I personally know several moose and one elk have been taken with the cartridge.


It is "light" for big game, and certainly light for moose and elk, but it is adequate when used properly. I loaded only 100 grain Partitions for deer and larger, and 85 grain, as well as 55 grain Ballistic Tips (at just over 4000fps in one rifle) for coyotes and smaller, for some spectacular varminting. If I get time, I would like to experiment with some mono-metal bullets in heavy for caliber weights, because I do think the mono-metals make cartridges "punch over their weight" and increase their effectiveness on game that is large for the caliber. We have had a lot of fun with the cartridge over many years.
 

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In 65 it was my first varmint rifle via a Remington 700 ADL for use on the High Plains of Texas. I settled on Sierra 85 gr BTHP at first but gave them up on coyotes because of their erratic performance. Changed to the 85 gr BTSP and never looked back. We would buy 50 lb kegs of surplus 4831 from L. M. Burneys in Lamesa, TX and split it four ways which cost a whopping 55-60 cents a lb. I loaded about all the case would take which was 47.5 gr if I remember right. Later took it...shot out barrel and all to MS where I did in my first buck with that same load at around 150 yards. Hit through the lights he stumbled two steps and fell on his nose in a heap. Shortly thereafter I traded for 25-06 because of the heavyweight deer I was seeing and I loved the 25 100gr for coyotes when I went back to Texas.

Race forward to 2003. While at the Tulsa Gunshow I found a mint twin sister to my old beat up first 243. It also was born in 1965....I've treated this one with kid gloves and have refrained from hot loads and heating barrels up. Later I've added a 700 ADL carbine circa 1963 in 6mm and a Ruger 77v in 243. Ya gotta love a 6mm or three!
 

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I once worked at and eventually ran a shooting range and one of my employees had a Remington 700 ADL and we worked up a load with the 95 gr. Nosler Partition. It was a MOA load with IMR 4350. The Sierra 85 gr. was even better, but not a deer load.

As with any loads...what works for me, might not work for you. YMMV.

Good luck.

Joel
 

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I was 13 years old, hunting on state land up in Michigan with a bunch of guys in our family. I was shooting a borrowed 30/30, but when dad and I stopped mid-morning to relieve ourselves, I accidentally handed him back the wrong gun. He realized it pretty quickly, but just as I was about to turn around and give back his Model 700 in 243, I saw a flash of movement on the trail ahead of us. I brought the scope up, saw antler and moved the cross hairs down and back so I could place the bullet behind the shoulder. I evidently squeezed too soon because the bullet went through the top of the shoulders and disrupted the CNS -- the deer reared straight up in the air on its hind legs and then fell over backward. Dad wasn't able to see antlers from where he was standing and actually tried to warn me not to shoot because he was sure it was a doe. When we got up to the deer, it had it's antlers buried in the dirt and we were both pretty worried for a little minute. :)

The load was a factory Federal 100 grain bullet, as we didn't load our own back then. Hard to believe that was 35 years ago.
 

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I’ve got too many to list. My every day carry gun is a ar10 in 243 that I built about 6 yrs ago. It’s a 1-9 twist black hole barrel. I shoot 85 gr Sierra game king bthp out of it chronoed about 3200fps with imr4831. It will put 5 shots touching or better at 100 yds. The bullet performance is as follows: 0-~60 yds the bullet won’t exit. ~60-80 the exit wound is baseball to softball size depending on animal. ~80-450yds the bullet leaves a half dollar size exit hole( even both lungs on a 125 lb or so boar). Complete pass through on coyotes past 500yds.
I also load and shoot 95gr tmk with h1000 from a 700 sps and have had them on a 28x36” steel plate at a mile.
I really like the 243.
 

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I bought a 700 in 243 for my stepson when he turned 16, we loaded 100gr. partitions for it, he shot several mule deer with it and when he came home from basic training shot a buck antelope.
We belly crawled into a hard wind to something like 130 yards and he shot him right behind the front shoulder, I seen the bullet hit but amazingly enough he continued to graze like nothing had happened. He thought he missed so shot him again, he calmly walked about 50yards and layed down with his head erect for maybe another 5 minutes. He was about to shoot him again when he finally dropped his head and died. It was less than 6-7 minutes from shot to death but seemed like a long time, that wasn't the first time he had shot an animal perfect and seen no reaction but it was the last.
Before the next season I bought a new 7-08 take-off barrel and swapped it out.
I hear lots of stories about the effectiveness of the cartridge from people who swear by it which makes me believe with the right bullets it's a great medium game caliber albeit very dependent on the right bullet to work well.
I've had a couple since then and tried coyote hunting with one, for me it has a little to much recoil for quick follow-up shots. The ballistics are wonderful, with ballistic tips or V-maxes it's a solid 400yard coyote cartridge.
I have one right now that I bought for the action, the barrel is toast.
No doubt that if I lived where deer are smaller I'd be a 243 enthusiast but I like to see a reaction from animals when hit everytime regardless of bullet used or distance or shot placement, in my experience with the cartridge that's not a given.
If you're an enthusiast more power to you.
I like the 6.5's and 7mm's better especially the 7-08. Currently running field tests on the 6.5prc!
 

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My favorite story of all time has a 243

Dad had (I still have it) a 700 varmint special (80's era) rifle. He told mom he bought it for me, but I rarely got to shoot it. In a moment of weakness, he allowed me to take it out one day groundhog hunting. I went up to Larry Christman's farm and set up in his front yard (around 1989). I see a specimen stand up at round 250 yards and I take a shot. To my suprise, the groundhog disappears. The hay was pretty short, so I should have been able to see it. I thought maybe it fell back down the hole. A few minutes later, it stands up again and we play it out all over again, same hog same hole. And then a third time. I am now pretty disgusted that I keep missing this varmint as I know it's me. Dad never missed anything with this rifle inside of 300 yards. This means I stink! So no more hogs stand up for a while. Larry always wanted them stuffed back down the hole. So as Dad always taught me, I took the rifle with me in case you see one walking the field. I get 50 yards from the hole and the devil stands up again. I squat down to one knee, aim low (sighted for 300 yards), and pop off a shot. This one leaves no doubt.

As I get to the hole, there are 4 half grown groundhogs lying in various states of trauma. 4 shots, 4 pint size hogs.

That rifle has never let me down and has never failed to amaze me how accurate it is. All Dad ever loaded in it was inexpensive Remington bullets. I don't honestly remember as I am still shooting his reloads and he did not do a good job of documenting some things. He just picked a load out of the middle of the Speer reloading manual we had and let er rip. Nice thing about the 2 remington 700 Varmint Specials he had (the other in 22-250), they did not seem to care what he fed them.
 

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243

I bought a .243 Win in a 788 Rem about 50 years ago. With proper bullet, it will kill groundhogs to whitetail. I know one fellow who used the .243 every year on elk(nosler partitions). When my son was 12 he used it for his first whitetail buck kill. When we removed the hide in our butcher shed and saw the great performance of the cartridge had done, he remarked, "Dad, why would anyone need more than a .243 for whitetail?" My reply was that no one does. By the way, of the many deer shot with that .243, none traveled more than 30 yards before collapsing. Key to effective kills: proper bullet and placement.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Those are some great stories. Thanks for sharing.

I suppose I should share a couple of mine, come to think of it!

First off, most of my big game has been shot with either a 308 or 30-06, or a twelve gauge shotgun. Other than that, I've used a 7 Rem Mag on two muleys and a pronghorn, and the .243 on two muleys and maybe two pronghorn - I can't recall for sure.

Anyway, the two mule deer. The first was shot at about 30 yards with a handloaded 100 Hornady BTSP. The bullet took out both lungs, but didn't pass through. In fact, the hide on the far side had caught the bullet, and it appeared to have slid back along the rib cage before stopping. I found the separated cup and core more or less together, just in front of the offside hip. The deer didn't go far, but also didn't bleed much.

The second one was shot with a rifle I hadn't had a chance to handload for, so I was using Federal factory 100 SP. That load was stupid-accurate in that rifle. I managed to place myself in a spot where I could intercept a small herd that were winding their way through a coulee, and it was another close shot - maybe 50 yards. I took a rest against a fence post and shot the biggest doe right behind the shoulder. I could see her react, and she trotted a short distance and lay down. I kept watching her, and after a while I saw her head drop. I walked up to her, and I was pretty close when she suddenly jumped up and ran. I took a quick shot as she was bounding away and hit her in the rear, which totally ruined a ham. She went down, but still required another shot. I think if I'd left her longer, she'd have died where she lay, but I thought she was down for the count. The first shot did not pass though, but damaged the lungs. I didn't find the bullet, just shards.

So, two attempts, two dead critters. The shots didn't provide the pass-through performance I was used to with the 30 calibers, which is my biggest concern, but they did kill pretty quickly.

There are a couple reasons I'm thinking of using the 243 again. Due to life happening, I'm down to a choice of the .243 or an old 35 Rem. I know the 35 is a great woods deer rifle (at least, that's what I hear - I never shot a thing with it besides paper) but this one has some sentimental value so I kind of want to baby it. Plus, ammo is becoming scarcer. Then there is the fact that shoulder pain causes me to be a bit recoil sensitive these days.

Anyway, keep the stories coming, if you have them. I love reading about your adventures.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I had a 6mm Rem for a while, gave it to a friend to start his kid out on. Anyway - basically the same thing.

On pigs, the old 100gr. Rem Core-Lokt was great. And pigs are built pretty tough, compared to a deer. Not sure how many took the dirt-nap but some were in the range of 200 pounds, and that is a solidly-built animal.

Deer - I too, had problems with the old red-box Federal 100gr. loads. One of them fragmented on the shoulder of a not-very-big whitetail doe. She dropped, and I think a fragment got the spine, but I wasn't impressed.

Switched to some 100gr. Hornady Interlocks, and shot one small pig with them, but not enough experience to judge. Think they'll do fine on our small whitetails though.

Anyway it made for a light handy rifle for a new shooter to start out with, and served a purpose. I'm more comfortable with my .257 Roberts, but mostly because I have a lot more time on the trigger, with that gun.

Remember, velocity is the enemy of bullet integrity. If you are handloading, keeping the MV down may improve bullet performance. I know this goes against everything you read in the gun rags.... but it is true.

My tried and true .35 Rem is a rifle I have a huge amount of confidence in, as well. If you don't need long range, it isn't a bad choice. The new 200gr. Hornady 'pointy' bullets shoot GREAT in that gun, with factory ammo. Don't think I've taken a critter with that combination yet, but plenty with other loads.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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In the mid-60's a GS in northern Indiana made a beautiful Sako Forester in .243 for me. Adding a Redfield Accu-range 3x9 scope, it was a real tack driver with the old 85 gr lathe cut Nosler Partition and a case full of IMR4350. Took several antelope and whitetail with the combination. In a moment of stupidity, listed it on Gun Broker in the late 80's and sold it to a gun collector from Missouri. He and others were taken by the beautiful checkering and carving on the fancy grade black walnut stock.
When Nosler stopped making the 85 gr lathe cut bullet and went to the 95 gr Partition, accuracy was never the same. Last animal taken was a small whitetail buck near Uvalde, Tx at a stepped off 295 long paces.
 

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Nothing prejudice about my feeling's on the 243, great varmint cartridge.I seldom ever recommend it for any big game. That said I have two right now, both set up with fragile varmint bullet's. The irony of it is I have killed three deer with the 243 and all three dropped at the shot. Not good for deer? Two of them I used some kind of cup and core 100gr bullet. the third I used a 75gr V-max. Saw a nice doe hunting coyote's during deer season and figured what the heck, it's all about shot placement, right? Well actually choose a bad shot I think, just behind the shoulder into the chest. Bullet destroyed the chest cavity and pretty much everything in it. I think I used a very bad bullet but good shot placement made up for it, not a smart thing to do! At this point in my life i'm liking the 243 more, not much in the way of recoil! I think the thing I need to adjust is bullet weight. 100gr bullet's work fine but I suspect 87/90 gr bullet's will work about as well! So words I don't recall ever saying before, I think a 243 with proper bullet's would make a good rifle for deer ect and as a first rifle for a kid or small woman if recoil might be a problem. There I said it, would not have said that yesterday but how do I deal with three one shot kills? And one of those with a varmint bullet?
 

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I picked up my favorite .243 in a L579 Saco back in the '70s, an estate sale buy. It had a European style English Walnut stock with a high comb, quality skip-line checkering, and a claw mount. But does it shoot--1/2 MOA all day and often better. I took it on a groundhog hunt in central Virginia with a friend's country boy relatives and hunters. They gave me the first shot to test my eye and see if this city boy could shoot his funny looking rifle. It was a 225 plus yard shot and an instant kill. The boys made no comment, but asked me to take the next shot--to see if I could do it again. I did, and at about the same range as the first. A whisperer barely heard from the back said, "This guy can shoot." I did not tell them that half of the shot was the terrific foreign Saco masterpiece, and .243 ammo.

My second .243 is a Remington 1903A3 that had a two grove barrel when I shot a 30 inch 10 point mulie in Idaho. I had an inexpensive .243 barrel installed and then restocked and checkered it myself. This low cost rifle looks great and is amazingly accurate almost shooting with the Saco. My son-in-law has taken several nice deer.

My third was a Ruger 1B ,243 action, I stocked in well-grained English Walnut. It shoots very well.

The loads in these rifles, as I remember, are usually Winchester brass and primers, IMR 4350 moderate loads and Sierra 105 gr. BT

What a pleasure to shoot the great old .243s.
 

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Well, I’ve never shot any game with a .243. However my uncle has hunted his entire life with a .243 that my grandfather gave him when he was 14. “Fear the one gun hunter because he knows his rifle”! He’s been hunting with it for 44 years! I’ve hunted with him a lot. I’ve scene him shoot deer that flopped and I’ve scene him shoot deer that just looked around stupid after getting shot. They all wound up in the freezer. Sometimes strange things happen with bullets of all caliber. Sometimes things just don’t know their dead yet.
 
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