.243 good for long-range?

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by American Horse, Feb 5, 2010.

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  1. American Horse

    American Horse Member

    Nov 4, 2009
    Is the .243 a good round for long-range hunting deer-size game and 800-1,000 yard shooting? Can ballistic tables, drop cards and other shooting aids be found for the .243 round?
    If so, what weight of .243 bullet is used for long-range shooting?

    I'm looking to enter the long-range shooting world soon. I'm interested in the Savage Predator Series rifles. The Predator series might be the best bang for my buck.

    Thanks! gun)
  2. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    IMO: No. Not for deer sized or larger game. Coyotes or ground hogs, yes. For paper, yes.

    The heaviest your barrel twist will stabilize. You can use any of the freeware ballistic programs to calculate drop tables. You will spend a lot of rounds shooting that distance on a range. By the timeyou are ready you will own a couple of ballistic programs.

    If you want to shoot 800 - 1,000 yards at deer, you need way more gun than a .243. The Savage Long Range Hunter and Savage American Classic are both a better choice for that game and distance. The predator hunter is a midrange Coyote/varmint rifle. For me the right cartridge would be the .300 Win mag or .300 WSM in a rifle of 9 lbs. The Long Range Hunter is available in .300 WSM with an adjustable brake - it's enough gun. Wear good ear protection.

    Getting good hits that far is way more than twice as hard as shooting 400 to 500 yards.

  3. johnnyk

    johnnyk Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2001
    I agree with Fitch. The .243 is a great cartridge in its own right and is as accurate as the next round out to a 1000yds. Even with a 100gn bullet being pushed to 3100fps it falls below the "expert imposed" 1000ft/lbs of energy after 500yds. This is not to say you can't kill a deer with a bullet that has less than a 1000ft/lbs of energy. I've killed deer with a .22 Magnum before and others, I'm sure, have killed them with the lowly .22 short.
    I do feel that shots with the .243 past 500yds will require the most precision you and your rifle can muster. Shot placement will be the most important issue and there isn't a lot of room for error.
    I'm currently using the 95gn Ballistic Tip for my .243. It works good on groundhogs to at least 600yds. No matter what bullet you shoot you will need an accurate velocity for making a ballistic chart. These can be seen/made at JBM (JBM). Alot of the guys here are using PDA's with ballistic programs in them. They know their bullets velocity and input the atmospheric conditions on site and calculate drops there. Depends on your funds. :) JohnnyK.
  4. cs1973

    cs1973 Active Member

    Jan 21, 2010
    another in agreement with the above posts. The 243 is a great long range performer for paper but deer sized game past about 500yards, not so much. This round is a good performer out to 1000yrds on paper and is a fabulous varmint round to most all distances the shooter is capable of shooting his/her equipment. barrel life is said to be a bunch lower than say the 308, but I still love this round. the 6mm offerings by Berger, Sierra and such has made this round quite a good performer for long range varminting and precision target shooters alike. for hunting big game I would suggest something that retains more energy at the ranges you want to shoot at. I myself like my 300WSM for long range deer hunting and the 300Ultramag for LR elk, bear etc... the 7mm rem mag and other larger 7's are also very good for this purpose. to each his own, and remember, this is a great place to learn about ballistics and LR shooting but the best place to learn your capabilities and the equipment capabilities is behind the rifle at the range. happy shooting!
  5. roninflag

    roninflag Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    every caliber has drop tables . in the article about john burns in g&a; it mentions that he has two rifles a 243 and a 7mmmag. they are remington 700's with kreiger barrrels. i have killed more than 20 deer with the .243. it is a fine round. i have shot competition out to 1000 yards. while the .243 can do well on paper and hunting i would not consider it for long range on deer. i would get a remington .
  6. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    The Savage would be a great rifle but for long range you may run into a problem with the twist, it is a 9.25 which depending on your elevation may not stabilize some of the 100+ gr bullets. I would try to get the 105 Berger to work good, I have seen a couple deer get reamed by this combo out in the 600yrd range.
    I would be tentative to go to much farther. On the bright side if you rock it in a Savage you can get a 300 WSM barrel for 350 dollars and roll it on and step it up to a 1000yrds when the 243 has been out grown.
    You can make all the drop charts and cards you want with JBM, shoot to confirm then tweek them to get them spot on just like any other cal.
  7. American Horse

    American Horse Member

    Nov 4, 2009
    Thanks for all the information. It's really been helpful. The .300 WSM sounds very interesting. :)

    Again thanks!
  8. RBetts

    RBetts Well-Known Member

    Dec 19, 2009
    Savage makes an 8 twist for the 6br. I'm sure if you wanted an eight twist 243 they would oblige your request.
    The .585BC DTAC falls below 1000 ft/lbs at 775 yds That's a moly bullet at 3150. Obtainable but near the edge.
    At 900 yds your going below 1800 fps which is where reliable expansion becomes a factor. At 1025 yds your going below 700 ft/lbs which is another barometer for reliable expansion/transfer.
    A 175gn 308 at 2650fps falls below the 1000ft/lbs at 650yds It falls below the 1800 fps mark at 500 yds. Lastly it's below the 700 ft/lbs at 850yds
    The 300 wsm shooting the 180mk at 2950 fps hits the same 3 parameters
    1000ft/lbs 825
    1800fps 675yds
    700ftlbs 1025 yds
    You can use a bigger bullet in the wsm but you start to intrude into the power space in a short action due to magazine length.
    Using this data you could engage a deer sized target even a caribou but you had better be a half minute shooter at 1200 yds to do it. Not from a bench mind you from a field position.
    With a bigger gun you will have more kinetic energy because of the larger frontal cross section of the bullet so you will have a little more lattatude in your hits. Meaning you need to be a 3/4 minute shooter at the same 1200yds under the same field conditions.
    Shooting live weight animals under 150lbs I'd say yes on the 243. Mule deer, big whitetails of the north/midwest I'd want a 264 caliber or bigger. Driving an over .525 bc bullet at 2950 or better. Recoil would be my limiting factor as to what I ended up with.
  9. M Rosslee

    M Rosslee Well-Known Member

    Feb 15, 2016
    In South Africa we're nervous in using any caliber under .30 Caliber for general hunting applications (even out to 100m).

    I don't know if our game animals have a different degree of resilience considering their hide thickness or bone structure but we tend to follow the "more caliber is better" approach.

    However, the .243 Winchester is a fine cartridge for hunting species such as Impala (rooibok), Blesbuck, Springbuck and Bushbuck (I suppose these are deer-sized - I'm not sure what a white-tail deer weighs out but these animals weigh out (dress carcass mass) at around 30kg for large male animals) and are tougher than one would think.

    I have noted dramatic kill shots from the 243 and have shot species such as blackwildebeest and redhartebeest. They weigh out at around 60-70kg's and have a thick, tough hide with a heavy-set bone structure.

    These kills were all effected with soft nose boat tail 100gr projectiles at around 2950fps out of a standard 22" barrel at ranges not exceeding 100m...

    I think one has to be realistic when considering cartridge choice and we often say that the .243 Winchester is a fantastic, accurate and fast cartridge with great wound channel characteristics and is accordingly one of the most underestimated cartridges that there are, but also one of the most over-estimated by its owners.

    I noted that on the larger game animals (both shoulder shots), the Hornady Interlock SPBT's separated in the gearbox and I removed shards of copper jacket from the lungs and lead separation resulted in a divergent wound channel and terrible soft tissue damage with devastating 3" wound channel.. Although furnishing me with dramatic kills, the penetration was poor and the high impact velocity on thick-muscled larger game animals is somewhat of a worry as it introduces that "what if it doesn't make it next time" element...

    I wouldn't shoot at species larger than that and there are a few species here which are an absolute no-no for the 243, although some guys will differ:

    1. Eland

    2. Bluewildebeest

    3. Kudu bull

    4. Waterbuck.

    That's just my opinion, but it's on an *Rule 1 Violation*al basis... Is it a good idea to shoot if there is a "what if" factor in the back of your mind in respect of penetration and overall bullet performance (eg maintaining intended bullet course).
  10. just country

    just country Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2014
    morning, the US Army was experimenting with the 243, in custom made 243's

    with drop magazines bolt guns. their r custom made 105-107gr. bullets that were

    studied for use in long range shooting. I personally have had 5 243's. the newest is a

    243AI. 28" shilen, 721rem. timmey, straight contour barrel and custom tuned action

    and1-14 barrel. with this twist I have to shoot light weight bullets. the 77gr. Lapua

    Seneau (SP) bullets. I have not had chance to shoot further than 175yrds. 5 shots

    .380in. the 243 with the heavest of bullets can be used for long range kills, but

    by a experienced shooter. gun)
  11. FEENIX

    FEENIX Well-Known Member LRH Team Member

    Dec 20, 2008
    The .300 Win Mag is my go to chambering but I got my 1st .300 WSM (Savage 11 FCNS) a year ago and I am very impressed with it thus far.

    Last year, got it's first harvest; MT 4x4 muley buck at 425 yards with Berger 215 at 2750 FPS at the muzzle.
  12. RT2506

    RT2506 Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2008
    I have personally killed a bunch of deer with a 243 Win and I can attest that you really don't want to be shooting one over 500 yards. I mostly used 100 gr bullets of various makes but at 400 to 500 yards you really start to see the bullet performance drop off.
  13. M Rosslee

    M Rosslee Well-Known Member

    Feb 15, 2016
    I noted the same thing... Adequate penetration starts to become a "maybe" factor and that's just not good enough.