243 caliber for deer hunting

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lurohd
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243 caliber for deer hunting

Thought i should start this topic to defend the 243 caliber rifles for deer hunting. My dad has used a 243 to shoot deer since he started hunting. He has knocked down many deer with one shot. I have also used it to shoot deer with no problem. Dont know why people criticize it so much. If you are good enough at shooting you dont need a big caliber. Just my thoughts.

LOCAL
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My wife has been using a 223 to get her does the last 3 years without any trouble. Just have to make sure she has a good shot and her and the gun take care of the rest. I am looking at getting a 243 or a 22-250 for her cause she wants to get a buck tag next year and I don't want her to have to deal with a lot of recoil.

Bowhuntin
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Joined: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:00am

I couldn't agree more. The problem is there are yahoo's who figure you need a super dooper ultra magnum big caliber gun to hunt deer mainly because they lack the shooting or hunting skills they should have.

Their thought is you need a big gun in case of a bad hit on a deer running across the prairie, tongue hanging out, 30 miles an hour, 300 yards away. Go figure.

LOCAL,
I'd go with the .243 in case she ever decides to hunt caribou. A .22 - 250 isn't legal for caribou, but a .243 works just fine.

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outdoor
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My thought is shoot the biggest caliber you are comfotable shooting. If that is a 243, fine. A good shot is better than a wounded animal from a big caliber. But, I disagree with Bowhunting's thinking as many standing deer have been missed or wounded. I use a 7mm mag most of the time. I don't like to give an animal the chance to get into the thick stuff, I like quick recoveries. Even a lung shot deer can travel a ways.

walleyez97
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Joined: Monday, March 14, 2005 - 1:08pm

i have never used larger than a .243 and my father has only used a .222...no need to use anything bigger

walleyestu
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Joined: Monday, December 24, 2001 - 12:00am

A .243 is a fine "youth" or ladies gun and I have shot many, many deer with a .243. However, if you are hunting trophy deer and need to put a big buck down at 300 plus yards. You certainly don't want to be plinking at the possible buck of a lifetime with a 100 grain bullet that is pretty much "out of gas" at distances greater than 300 yards.

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bobkat
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The .243 kills very well because it is shot well! The ballistics are the same as the bigger magnums but because they are shot more frequently (prairie dogs and targets) than the bigger magnums (people flinch much more than they are aware) they do a better job on deer or antelope sized animals.
Thinking back on deer/antelope kills with my .243, I'm trying to remember a non-one-shot-kill with it, (must have been one or two but honestly can't think of any offhand) which is sure NOT the case with my .300mag and others shots by buddies I've hunted with who have used various magnums.
.243 is a great round! Perfectly adequate, even preferable, for deer and antelope sized stuff. I agree with bowhuntin.

nxs
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Joined: Wednesday, October 3, 2007 - 6:49am

A .243 will just bounce off of deer. Seen it many times. That's why I shoot a 460 Weatherby. ;) That and I enjoy emergency visits to the clinic to have my shoulder sewn back on.

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jtillman
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From NXS on a different thread:

___________
Rem. model 600 in .222 with a fixed 4x Weaver (fine plex) To date I have killed more deer with that rifle than any other I own.
nxs | Dec 9, 2007 8:47AM
____________

????but the .243 will just 'bounce' off a deer?....please explain.

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KurtR
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I think that nxs was joking. All i have ever shot is a 6mm and it has taken a few whitetails and mule deer with no problem

 Adn

nxs
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jtillman,

Sarcasm. It

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slipbobr
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If i remember right isnt the .243 acually a .308 necked down? I know theres about 100 ft-lbs energy between the two at 500 yd.s

boondocks
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Walleyestu said it best. Good gun for the ladies.

Bowhuntin
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boondocks,
No, bobkat said it best. I challenge all those "macho men" who shoot big magnums to a test. Give their gun and some shells to someone, and tell that person to randomly either load or not load the gun, and hand it back. Then Mr. Magnum should aim and squeeze the trigger and hand the gun back. When they aim and squeeze on an empty chamber notice the reaction, commonly called flinching, or jerking.

I'm serious, try it and see what happens. I've done it with some who say they don't flinch and they were surprised by the results. Very few can shoot a large rifle without flinching, if you think you're one of them take this test and prove me wrong.

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Allen
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Bowhuntin,

So far as that goes, many flinch on the smaller calibers as well. Only practice and the lack of fear that comes with it cures the twitch.

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ~ Mark Twain

Bowhuntin
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Allen,
That's very true, there are a lot of people who flinch with smaller guns also. But the thought that a .243 is only a "ladies and kids gun" is so preposterous it hardly warrants discussion.

Regarding the 300 yard shots people talk about, I don't care what kind of gun you shoot, or what caliber, nobody has any business taking offhand shots at running game 300 yards away. I honestly wonder if people who say this realize how far a measured 300 yards is? Very few people could hit a basketball every shot at that distance offhand, heck, most would have trouble hitting a 55 gallon barrel every shot at 300 yards if they were shooting offhand.

But those are the first to criticize someone who uses a smaller caliber and takes only ethical shots. And for the record, I shoot a .270 for most of my big game, but do have a .243 that has killed it's share also.

nxs
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Not sure about off hand but I can hold .5 MOA with my .308 at 300 yards with bipods. It takes me about 2 seconds to pop them out and get in the prone. ;)

nxs
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And yes, I do know how far 300 yards is. At least I believe what my Lecia tells me. As I do 400, 500, 600....

:)

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My dad has hunted for 32 years with the same .243 and has shot lots of Mule bucks in the badlands up to 300 yards. The .243 caliber is good up to 300 yards as long as the person holding it is good up to 300 yards. And they are completely comfortable with the shot.

NATE

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mobber50
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And those are standing shots at 300 yards. And as far as a shot with a .243 bouncing off of a deer i would sure like to see that.

NATE

nxs
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Boy that "bouncing off deer" comment has gotten a lot of attention..... LMFAO! :D

boondocks
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Not sure about off hand but I can hold .5 MOA with my .308 at 300 yards with bipods. It takes me about 2 seconds to pop them out and get in the prone. ;)

I would have to see that to believe it. Not calling you a liar, just that I would have to see it before I would believe it.

6mmfan
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I have been using a .243 for the last 20 years for the deer season and it has been very successful. Very accurate, fast and more than enough knock down for whitetail deer. Shot 3 deer this season, one at 482 yards, one at 367 yards and on at 286 yards. All shots the deer was standing still and was shotting from a bipod. 2 out of the 3 dropped dead in their tracks, the third one ran about 10 yards and dropped. I do have a 300 Win Mag but use .243 about 80% of the time. No regrets here for using a .243. but there are many calibers out there that perform just as well, my personal choices are the 6mm (.243) or the 30 calibers.

nxs
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boondocks where do you live? Fargo area I hope.

0.5 MOA is 1.5" at 300 yards. My SPR A3 G shooting 168 gr SMKs being pushed by 42.5 gr of Varget WILL do that all day long off of a bipod and rear bag. I would love to show you. BUT, you have to come on here and admit it. :) Deal?

nxs
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Just because it's fun, here are a few of my A3:

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Bowhuntin
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nxs,
You are the exception to the rule and I have no doubt about your ability to make the shot you explained using a tripod.

I was talking about the majority of the general public who usually shoot their guns a few days before season to make sure they are still "on." Then they go afield with the gun and start taking 300+ yard shots at running deer. As you know 300 yards is a long ways, the bullseye looks pretty small in a 4X scope, and the crosshairs nearly cover the bullseye. But they hammer away at running targets, hoping one will eventually drop.

Those are the guys I'm talking about, I'd like to see them hit a basketball every time at 300 yards, offhand, with a wind, after walking. Most wouldn't be able to do it, like I said, I'd bet most couldn't hit a 55 gallon barrel every shot at 300 yards offhand in hunting conditions.

nxs
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Bowhuntin,

I would agree with you on that for sure.

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outdoor
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If you rarely shoot your rifle and do a poke and hope shot at a running deer at 300 yards, it don't matter if you have a 243 or a 300 mag, you got a snowballs chance of even hitting it. That senario is is for a different thread. There are as many slob hunters using 243 as 300 mags. Just a question, am I a "Macho Man" for choosing my extremely accurate 7mm mag (which I have not wounded a deer for over 15yrs) over my 243 (which is my wife's)? What do you consider too big for deer?

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Folks posting that a given caliber works are most generally speaking from experience, sometimes vast experience. Conversely quite often folks poo-pooing the use of a given caliber have limited, 2nd hand, "what I read somewhere", or NO experience with that very same caliber.

To make these threads and this whole site much more useful here's what we should do. Those who have 1st person good results with a caliber, bullet, scope, bincos, etc, post you're results. Thorough, yet appropriate post-mortum data to be included please. Entrance point, exit wound, bullet's path, hide/fur/meat damage, etc.

There are also some things that don't work well, so, those with good 1st hand knowledge of poor performance, please report. Again, accurate post-mortum (or lack thereof) data please. Or, reasoning behind some piece of equipment failure/shortcoming.

Now, there'll be a lot of time left over without the, "my buddy said", or, "I heard/read somewhere that" type of thread responses. My advice for using up that extra time, go to the range and shoot more, go hunting, spend more time fishing, scout, get outside!

This moment is a paradox, it's the oldest you've ever been as well as the youngest you'll ever be.



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243Win will whack the snot out of a whitetail LOTS further than 300yds (but don't tell anyone!).

NXS/.5MOA bipod deal, I've seen it, it's true. In fact I've seen him shoot targets @ 400 and 500yds from those same bipods. It was the same day I was making those same shots over my backpack to simulate field positions in preparation for elk hunting.

Funny thing about that practice, I was presented with a coyote this AM @ 425yds. 3MOA of elevation dialing and 1 shot later Mr. Coyote took the Nosler Nap. Not much guessing going on this AM.

This moment is a paradox, it's the oldest you've ever been as well as the youngest you'll ever be.



boondocks
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nxs, I live in Bismarck. I thought .5 MOA was a 1/2 inch at 300 yards. My bad. Shows how much I know. I can believe 1.5 inches. That is some awsome shooting none the less.

sanddunes
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Despite the caliber of choice, I believe the common ground we all share is witnessing a clean, human harvest of any game animal. I do agree with many of the posts that have attempted to defend the .243 (for deer sized game), but nearly every one alluded to standard ethical hunting practices which include: 1. Practicing shots of a typical hunting situation (free handing or off of shooting sticks after physical excursion) 2. Only shoot at game at familiar ranges 3. Only shoot at game that is not running 4. Repeatedly practice dry firing your rifle to eliminate/reduce your flinch....etc.

I would like to establish the other side of the argument. I am a proud owner and user of a .243 and have had also had many experiences in the field and at the range. In my experiences I have found that I have become comfortable taking shots on targets (the size of the area of a deer

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Horsager
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Wind can me made moot. Caldwell Wind Wizard and an accurate, proven data set. Check the wind, dial your dope, and el-smacko, backstraps for dinner. A B&C reticle negates the need for dialing most days. Pick a bowtie, hold as necessary based on the 10mph subtensions, and again, el-smacko, backstraps for dinner.

It's not hard, it's just practice.

This moment is a paradox, it's the oldest you've ever been as well as the youngest you'll ever be.



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Good post sanddunes
LOCAL, you should consider a 7mm-08 for your wife. Great choice for someone who doesn't want the recoil without giving up too much knockdown power.

hunternfisher
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I just started using my .243WSSM this year for deer. it has primarily been my coyote gun but saw 2 trophy bucks taken at more than 300 yards with one shot a piece and that caliber sure did a number on them, neither hardly went more than a couple yards after being shot!! i love the caliber and as long and you take the time to sight in the gun properly it is one heck of a caliber all around!!!

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For what ever it is worth, the .243 w/ 100gr bullet has more kinetic energy than a .30-30 with 150gr. I doubt many would argue agains the old classic .30-30

http://www.remington.com/products/ammunition/ballistics/comparative_ball...

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Shear energy does not kill a deer. Hitting them properly surely will.
I don't like using a 6mm on deer primarily because of such a low KO factor. Even WITH a perfect shot, they are in some cases, able to run a heck of a long was before dropping.

.277 and up for deer hunting... If your THAT recoil shy, get a shoulder pad or stick to 22lrs on the bench, and stay off the field. A 22 cal has 0 place in the field, and 6mms are marginal at best.

I'm the devil's son..... call me young gun.

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sanddunes,

That's a good point about the 223 round and its military purpose. That is in fact why the U.S. military went away from the 30 calibers of yore.

Here's an interesting question that nobody has ever been able to answer for me. Why do people think if a bullet doesn't leave an exit hole that it's not a quality shot, or quality ammo?

IMHO, any exiting bullet carries energy with it that would have been better spent putting the animal down. I kind of prefer to NOT have exit wounds on my game. That way I know that all the energy of my bullet was put into bringing home the bacon.

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ~ Mark Twain

nxs
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Allen, interesting you point that out. In most cases this is what I've found to happen to deer shot with .22 centerfire rounds. The body cavity of said deer is usually turned into mush. Won't live too long like that. I know this is a hard concept for some though. :)

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Horsager
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Allen, two definate schools of thought in that area, neither is really wrong either.

My choice, I want a bullet that will get to the vitals regardless of angle. When I've decided to pull the trigger on antlers, meat is a secondary concern. I want a bullet that'll go through whatever is in its way, get to the vitals and cause damage. Yes I would shoot a deer facing striaght away if I wanted the set of antlers he was sporting. So, I shoot a bullet that on all but the lengthwise shots will normally exit.

I have shot bullets that expend all their energy inside the target. Inserted properly they kill like lighting. Inserted poorly they make a mess and don't get to the vitals. Ballistic tips kill quite well and I think when they're kept to 3000fps or less they no longer "detonate" as the early versions did. If you're in that 3200fps or more range, I think the Ballistic tip becomes much less predictable and can still be prone to detonation.

This moment is a paradox, it's the oldest you've ever been as well as the youngest you'll ever be.



gooseslayr
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I shot a .243 for many years out deer hunting. I started with a .243 as just a kid and i killed plenty of deer with it, even when i took a shot that wasn't "ethical" it still hit them hard enough to slow them down to put a kill shot into them. I've seen just as many deer wounded with the big magnums as i did with my .243. I knew my .243 really well because i shot it for everything, sparrows, pigeons, prairie dogs, coyotes, rabbits, and deer. I switched a couple of times to the 30-06 i have because i thought bigger gun better kills, well that didn't work out so i went back to what i knew. then this year i switched to my .300 wsm i bought. i finally got drawn for a buck tag and wanted something incase i needed the extra range, didn't get to know the gun and missed shots that shouldn't have been missed and wounded my buck i got on an easy shot. completely my fault for not knowing the gun and had to finish him off with a gun i knew, my AR 15 in .223, two quick shots when we jumped him right through the boiler room, made it another 40 yards and was down for good. then shot a doe after that with the AR. My dad has killed alot of deer with his .223 and he has to shoot an AR cause his shoulder with a previous broken collar bone and other shoulder injuries can't hand the recoil and the AR has virtually no recoil. I'll defend the .223 and .243 any day as long as the shots are kept realistic for the caliber.

sanddunes
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Good points Goose slayer....1. Realistic shots for the caliber and 2. Know your gun.... but faster, harder hitting calibers will expand the definition of "realistic shots" for a seasoned riflemen.

Allen-
To address your questioning of exit wound importance. Actually a bullet that does not exit has transferred all of its Kinetic Energy into the target (no ft/lbs wasted), however I have never witness shock kill a deer. The damage caused by the energy of the bullet is what leads to the fatality. If you lodge a 100 gr 243 bullet into the front or rear quarters of a deer and it does not have enough energy to expand and cause damage to major vessels or vital organs or major weight bearing bones, the deer will continue with minimal blood trail only to die later, miles away from the crime seen.

On the other hand, exit wounds from "realistic shots" will always be bigger than the entry wound (as long as the correct bullet is selected) therefore leaving more opportunity to 1. Cause significant damage to major vessels/organs which will lead to quicker departure and 2. Leave a sufficient blood trail for tracking incase of my earlier mentioned wind swept bullet. Also as mentioned earlier...more velocity and energy down range means an expanded definition of "realistic" shot. In other words...243 faces limitations for deer sized game... that others cals do not.

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NDSportsman.
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Horsager and Jiffy (or nxs or whatever else you call yourself now days...LOL!),

What can a guy shoot (aside from ballistics gel) to replicate deer that you can recover the bullet to see how it performs? I would like to see how my bullets are mushrooming. They seem to be performing well, as per the dead deer that I get.

gooseslayr
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Wet tightly packed newspaper seems to work real well or wet phonebooks packed together. used both and puts a bullet through it's tests in my opinion. bunched up magazines really put's a strain on bullets, but that isn't as close to what happens when you hit a deer it's just kind of fun to do.

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Horsager
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Jeepers!! I shot a doe last year with el-cheapo factory 80gn Federal soft points from a 243Win @ 350yds. The deer was quartering away. The bullet entered the rib cage towards the back end got a rib on the way in, traversed the thorax, center-punched the off-side shoulder through the large/thick part of the scapula and came to rest up against the hide on the off side. I hope that bugger doesn't jump outta da freezer when it finds out I didn't use enough gun!

Placement and bullet construction will TRUMP caliber EVERY time!

This moment is a paradox, it's the oldest you've ever been as well as the youngest you'll ever be.



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Horsager
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TSX's render caliber reletively moot.

5 deer and an elk this fall fell to tsx's. With the hide off you'd be hard pressed to distinguish the 243Win from the 300Win mag, or the 270, or the 7-08. Distances from 50-425yds if you were guessing caliber based on examination of wound channels.

Placement, placement, placement!! Construction, construction, construction!! In that very order. Caliber is WELL down the list of importance.

This moment is a paradox, it's the oldest you've ever been as well as the youngest you'll ever be.



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willhunt4food
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I have shot 2 deer with my .243 and couldn't tell the difference between it and my .270win. in the damage it did, the blood trail, or how the deer reacted. The bullet does make a big difference (I use tsx bullets in all 3 deer rifles), and placement is even more important. Granted I also used to think .243 wasn't enough, but research opened my eyes. I won't shoot past 350yd with it because energy drops below 1000 pounds at that point, but feel very confident up to that range. I also have not seen the bullet fail to give pass-throughs with the bullets I use. The Barnes tsx bullet rules.

ralpheboy
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LOCAL, getting back to your comment about a rifle for your wife that won't kick her to bad. I have both the 243 and a 22-250 in the M-77 Ruger, both equipped with Leupold Vari-X II scopes. The 243 with 100 grain bullets will kick less than the 22-250 with 55 grain loads. Don't really know why because the rifles are the same. The 243 is a real sweet shooter that my wife has used without any discomfort. The best solution possibly is to just buy one of each and try it out for yourself. Never to many rifles!

nxs
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HUNTNFISHND,

I guess I'm not really sure. I do know you can buy ballistics gel though. I can't recall how expensive it is off hand. That would be your best bet.

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Ristorapper
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I've shot a .243 all my life. Two different Model 88's. I started hunting in '69 and quit in '97.

I can recall only one year where I needed to go after a wounded buck. The rest were put down with one shot. In the early years I was a meat hunter and learned where to place the shot to waste the least amount of meat. Of course placement of the shot when "rack" hunting is exactly the same.

Knowing the ballistic of you gun and knowing your gun are vital. Over the course of my 28 years of hunting, I got to know those 88's pretty well. The first one did not have bipods but put those on the second one.

My best memory is busting a buck out of a small patch of buck brush at 25 yards. We saw this buck sillouetted friday night, second weekend and targeted him from then on all weekend. Could not get permission to shoot him on private land that Friday. Rousted him up again on Sat. and chased him into this small patch on Sunday. We pretty much had him surrounded, three of us walking in on him, others posted in several positions beyond us. Doe busts out first, buck with 4 points on one side only next. Big one lastly when we got to within 25 yards of the brush. Buddy put a round in the dirt between the buck and himself before I got my rifle sholdered. We were all given a straight away shot at this beautiful 5X5, 4" g-1's, 10.5-11.5" g-2's, 10" g-3's, 20" wide rack. My first shot being a meat hunter went right between the left g1 and the right g1!!?? ALL three of us missed our first shot. Deer running wide open now, away from us. My next shot piled the deer up in a heap. Buddies gun jammed, other buddy hadn't gotten his second shot off. The deer was shot in the back of the skull and the bullet exited the right eye.

The taxidermist asked, "Why did you shoot him in the head"? Good question but told him that was the only shot I had. Can't ever remember shooting a deer in the hind quarters. Anyway the taxidermist thought he would have to use a different cape for the mount but took a shot at using the original and did a fantastic job.

And the one I'm not proud of but did harvest it just the same. 600 yard shot, I'm on the top of a hill waiting for a buck(5X5) that has showed himself the past two sundowns with other does just at sunset. Bipods down, buck feeding. I squeeze one off, buck rears on hind feet and heads for the creek and gets there before I can get another shot.

I trailed the blood into the creek and kicked him out, saw the front broken leg and decided it was too late/dark to continue. Went after him at first light and took a 30 yard shot to the heart to bring him down. Original shot grazed the bottom of his chest and went in and out the far side leg just above the knee joint. Basically found him very near where I kicked him out the night before. He had bedded down there and spent the night.

Most of the guys in my hunting party shot .243 in either Model 88 Win, or Savage, mostly levers. One .270 in the bunch I recall. We were always buck hunters. The neighbors took the does as we chased them onto their property. I finished my deer hunting career with three consecutive 5 X 5 's, got skunked hunting trophy only deer the last couple years then went fishing.

I don't recall any problems with knockdown power in the .243 caliber in all my/our experiences.

The only lead I throw now runs in 1/32, 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 3/16 ounce......you get the idea. Much easier to get on the water that time of the year than to beg landowners on getting permission to hunt.

I would never consider the .243 strictly a youth or womans round. My uncle I grew up with and learned the ropes from used a 22-250 every year I hunted with him. He took his share of trophies with that round.

Shot placement baby!!

jeckler
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this is only my second year hunting for im only 15 and use a 243 and shot a big body mully deer right in the heart and he ran 60 yards then droped a shot a doe right behind the sholder ran 50 yards and dropped both with onyl one shot 243 is fine to me

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