.243 Win for deer?


Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2003
Hermiston, Oregon
I know this seems to be a very controversial debate and the reason being shot placement. I am a good enough shot I think I could use the .243 Win very successfully on Eastern Oregon Muleys. I just got my .243 Win and finished breaking in the barrel. My 25/06 barrel is shot out so my new .243 will be going with me this deer season. I understand the 2000fps and 1000lbs energy rule and if I went by that, depending on bullet weights, what type, etc.. the .243 looks like a maximum of a 400 yard deer cartridge. A lot of times my shots will be 450-550 on deer. What bullet would you recomend using? I was thinking of the 95g B-tip, 85g Barnes XLC, or the 90g Swift scirocco. Also, this is the big question, how far do you guys think the .243 Win is capable of taking deer effictively at the cartridges maximum limitation? I know most dont go by the 2000fps and 1000lb rule. Thanks for the help guys.
I killed a lot of deer (as in dozens) with the 95 Nosler Partition a long time ago, . No lasers back then but some shots were 450-500 and the deer died about as dead as they were going to get.

I used to weigh and segregate the Partitions into groups by 1/10ths, back then they were not as uniform as today. (Some guys here might recall that you used to be able to run your thumbnail down the side of a Partition and you would feel little ridges all along it - is that a sign of getting older than dirt or what

If you happen to get a close shot you need a bullet that will not blow up - that happens with 75's and 85's and it ain't good. When I was killing a lot of deer for work I got to try a lot of bullets in the .243, including some light ones that did not do well at all. Found out that you need about 100 grains for reliability, the 95's never let me down. Killed a bunch with Winchester Power Points in .243 also, very reliable.

If you can get a Barnes or Scirocco to shoot well, go for it. I used to stick with H-4831 for my .243 and 6mm Rem loads, shot very well in several rifles.
Good luck, hope your new rifle makes you happy.
What about the 100g Sierra Game king? This bullet is a lot cheaper then the others and I could practice a lot more with this bullet. The barnes and sciroccos are to expensive for me to go out and just practice with. And will the rifle with a 1 in 9 1/4 twist properly stabilize the 107g Sierra Match king? I feel a lot better knowing I can go out to 500 yards. Probly dont want to stretch it much farther though. Right now am leaning towards the 95g B-tip or the 100g Game King.
25-06, You might want to try the 100grSST also, I'd get the cheapest bullet I could find for practice, maybe a Remington 100PSPCL. or even a 80grPSP or HP, that's a pretty accurate bullet and could double as a varmint round, Just my .02, Jay
My wife shot a 243 for a couple of years and now it's a 243 Ackley. After an exhausted search for info on this exact subject the conclusion was the Sierra 85 grain GameKing hands down. It has the "perfect" weight/velocity combination.
The proof is in the puddin and several dead deer later.....
PS They are accurate too...her gun consistantly shoots 1/4 MOA with those bullets.
I've killed a lot of deer with a .243 and a 6mm Rem. Love the little rifle but I think that anything over 300 yards is stretching it with that cartridge. Sure it will do it if you hit exactly where you aimed. A .22 will do it if you hit exactly where you aim. At over 300 yards, you may not hit exactly where you aim! I use the Sierra 100 gn spitzer boat tail. Super accurate and deadly. Good luck but you won't need as much luck if you keep the range down. Ken.
I worked up a load with the 100g SBT's the last couple days and today I settled on my load. 43.5g IMR-4831. Giving me 3025fps. After setting my target knobs and stuff all up, I set milk jug up at 400,500,550 and 2 at 600. I hit the ones at 400,500, and 550 on the first shot. The first 600 I missed a little high and to the right. Next shot I adjusted and connected a little high and to the right, but still a hit. Only problem I see is this, at 500 and 550 and 600, the 100g SBT is not doing much explosiveness or expansion on these jugs. Its not even tossing them off the ground. It is enough to tell you hit, but not like when I shot them with my 55g B-tips at 4100fps. At 400 yards, the 100g SBT would still toss em up in the air pretty nicely. Might have to consider 400 yards as the max for deer. I have till the first of October to make a final decision, but overall this new little .243 is making me quite happy.
Pretty difficult to equate what your bullet is doing to a water-filled milk jug with a deer. I don't believe it means much other than you are getting good accuracy. Don't worry about the bullet, keep up the great shooting and practicing. The A-Max suggestion or any of a dozen bullets will enable that little rifle to kill your buck. Run a bullet through his vital organs and he dies, simple as that. I have shot deer with a water-filled tranquilizer dart that was so slow you could almost see it in flight, and the dart killed clean as a rifle bullet - just hit him right. Your shooting wil do the job, just keep working on your skill and confidence. Sounds to me like your new rifle is shooting real nice for an out of the box rifle. Your impact velocity is going to be down but deer offer much more resistance and your bullet might just open up and deliver its maximum possible shock and penetration out to 500 or so yards. Hitting them right is the challenge, very rare to get bullet performance failure that costs a deer unless the bullet blows up or totally fails to open up. Even with the latter you will kill if the bullet goes through its heart/lungs.

Good to see you here again! I heard about your decision to drop the 300 Win Mag from layaway and go with the .243. A little easier on the shoulder and better for varmints, you will be pleased with its performance on deer sized critters and smaller I suspect.

To answer your question on the .243's performance on deer. My experience has been skewed towards the short range (150 yards and under). I personally have only killed one deer with the .243 out of a Weatherby Vanguard, quite an accurate rifle and a joy to shoot. The deer I shot was at about 50 yards, I shot and clipped the shoulder blade and destroyed the lungs and the deer ran about 40 yards or so. Upon examination, the bullet didn't penetrate much but damage was devastating. Because I wasn't happy with the bullet's performance I rid myself of this gun. I was shooting 100 grain PSP Winchester factory ammo. Conversely, a buddy of mine has killed over 24 deer with his 243 and none of them ran further than 40 yards. His longest shot was approximately 150 yards. At long range, I can't say what this caliber will do. However, I'd suggest the 95 grain Nosler Ballistic tips. You have a good BC and a heavy enough bullet to do fine at the longer ranges without breaking the bank. The 107 grain bullet may fly well out of your barrel so I'd load up a few and give them a try. If they fly just as well as the 95 grainers I'd go with the heavier bullet.

Good luck in your pursuits.

By the way, don't give up on your 25-06. If the thing still shoots well enough for you then I wouldn't consider it "shot out". If it isn't shooting well, consider getting a "take-off" barrel. Gunsmiths may have brand new factory barrels for under $50.00. You could even get a different caliber so long as it was a long action cartridge. This guy is up in your neck of the woods I think, check it out

He's got good prices on barrels and for a few extra bucks you can have it installed.

Good luck!
Well you all have answered pretty much everything except if the 107g SMK will stabilize out of my 1 in 9 1/4 twist. I dont know if I will use that bullet though, the 100g SBT Game King is working out very nicely. I just got back from doing more practicing and a wet newspaper test to see how the 100g SBT did. I set out a jug at 500 and 600. I got both of them each with 1 shot. There was no wind and my elevation was perfect but I am still hitting to the right about 1-2 inches. Probly due to the ever so slightly breeze. I soaked a whole bunch of wet newspaper and put it in a cardboard box and it was compressed. I set it out at 50 yards and 100 yards. I shot 1 bullet at each distance. Both bullets easily expanded 2x the diameter, the bullet at 50 yards penetrated about 10 inches while the bullet at 100 yards penetrated about 13 inches. The bullet at 50 yards weighed 41.5 grains recovered. The bullet at 100 yards weighed 46.5g recovered. Not so good for weight retention, but its only deer. B-tips are not any better and I have had nothign but great success with B-tips. I would have used the 95g B-tip, but the 100g SBT has a much better BC. Trust me I thought long and hard on that decision. I have always used and been a fan of Nosler bullets, particularly the B-tips, but I dont think that 95g B-Tip has a good as BC as it should. Its only like .379 while the 100g SBT is .430

Well as I sit here looking through my logbook for my 25/06 I see that I have 8 loads all with different bullets that gave me consistent 1/2" groups at 100 yards. Well some funny things started happening and I was missing a lot of shots I shouldn't have, both on coyotes and jugs. So I checked at 100 yards and my groups were about 1-1.5" Maybe thought it was just me that day, but it wasn't. I loaded up 3 other proven loads and they all did the same thing, the smallest was an inch. Now I have loaded this gun hot and up to .257 Weatherby Velocities since the start. I just think the barrel is shot out. I highly doubt its copper or fouling of any sort because I properly cleaned at a maximum of every 40 rounds, usually every 30. Now since I was running .257 WM velocities, 2800 rounds is about all the life you can get. I think I might just sell it to somebody who wants a project gun because I dont want to build on a Ruger action anyways. I'll be getting another 25/06 about springtime and it will be a Remington 700 BDL Stainless/Synthetic. I hate not being able to have a 25/06 to shoot. Oh well, this .243 of mine is really surprising me. Its turning out to be an accurate little sucker.

For some reason, I thought you had a Remington 700 Action for your 25-06. Though Ruger is a fine gun, most gun builders use a Rem 700 action so I don't blame you for wanting to rid yourself of it and buy the 700 BDL SS.

Glad to hear your shooting success with the 100 SGK. Like you said, bullet weight retention isn't great but it's for deer which is quite a bit different than shooting bear or elk. The high BC it has over the Ballistic Tips is a factor but not a huge meaningful difference in your caliber for deer. You're probably going to be more limited by terminal bullet performance than ballistics on deer. Just use good judgement.

The 243 is truly a great dual purpose rifle (deer sized game and varmints) that in the right hands and circumstances has taken down elk. Keep up the great practice and keep in touch with us. We're all interested in hearing more!

Good shooting.
Hey guys just thought I would share a couple 3 shot groups at 300 and 525 yards. I only shot 3 shots at each yardage so actually only 2 groups altogether to share. I know this doesn't mean much, or an average or anything, but it is showing good promise for an accurate little gun. My 3 shots at 300 yards measured 1.134" 2 of the shots were touching. The shots hit 1 inch high and 1.5" to the left. Next was 525 yards. I shot 3 times and then went to look at my target. My 3 shots were in a triangle 2.691". To my surprise they were perfect for wind but about 3.5" high. I know this doesn't prove an average but for the first recorded groups at this range, its pretty good to me. I'll do some more groups at 300 and 525 when I get more powder. Just thought I would share with you guys the accuracy so far of this rifle.
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