Is the 243 the best whitetail deer cartridge?

isaaccarlson

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May 11, 2011
Messages
205
Location
NW Wisconsin
I have a 22-250 and it kills em FAST. The 243 will reach out a bit longer with similar speed and shock.
I looked at a 243 yesterday but didn't have enough money to bring it home (it was $$$$ and so pretty). I would have refinished it as soon as I had it home....too shiny.
 

Clem Bronkoski

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Jun 23, 2019
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334
Location
Locust Gap, PA
Hit one with the quick attach snow plow frame on a International tandem truck. Deer went 60 feet forward and about 15 feet in the air. Deer dead right there. Truck was fine. Hit one with an old Suburban with a welded on grille guard. Deer went about 25 feet. Drt, car was fine. Hit one with an ambulance, knocked it over then it got up and ran away. Deer and ambulance were fine. Was passenger in an ambulance when my driver hit a deer. Deer went 20 feet, kept trying to get up. We have no tire tools or other weapons. I am debating if I need to kill it with my shears or inject it with a bunch of controlled substances so it will take the "Angel Sleep." It died a few minutes later without any intervention from me. Ambulance had about $5000.00 damage. Hit two with a Buick LeSabre. 1st flew about 75 feet, DRT Buick takes about $2500.00 to fix. 2nd deer goes about 3 feet. DRT Buick has damage but it's also got 300,000 miles so it gets a used headlight bucket for $50.00. This proves, without a shadow of a doubt Plow trucks and '77 Suburbans are the best deer killers especially when taking cost per deer into account. Buick did ok, killed two with a cost per deer of $1275.00 Ambulances plain suck, 1st deer didn't even die, 2nd cost $5000.00 so Ambulances have at best a 50% kill rate. Hope this helps.
Gunther I tried getting a nice buck one evening with a '98 Chrysler Sebring. Neither the Sebring nor the deer faired out too well. I don't remember what the cost to repair the Sebring was but the deer required a 9mm to the head from local law enforcement before I took it to the butcher.
 

DarryH

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Feb 4, 2014
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86
Location
Omaha, Nebraska area
I sell firearms and ammo where I work. I am always asked what is best for some application. I probably seldom give a direct answer. Like it's been said here, it depends on many things. I seldom recommend .22 centerfire for deer, mostly because too many people buy ammo best suited for varmints, and not for deer. I have a friend that uses his beloved .300 Weatherby. He uses the same gun for elk and bear. He also prefers neck shots. His deer go down in their tracks and loses little meat. Myself, too many options here. .243, 6mm, 257 Roberts, 6.5x55 Swede, 7mm Mauser, 30-40 Krag, .270, 30-06, .303 British, 45-70, plus others, not to mention my handgun calibers. All will take a deer with proper bullets and shot placement. While this is a long range forum, I only shoot long range on varmints and targets. All deer taken at ranges between 15 and 80 yards. I prefer to shoot at archery ranges, and still use iron sights a lot.
 

Bcsteppig

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Joined
Feb 3, 2021
Messages
1
Location
Alexander, AR
Here we go, couldnt help but reply to this and cant believe folks r really this stupid! Is looting and burning friendly protest? That just like saying the 243 is best deer caliber! The 243 is for a fact the most bought worse deer caliber ever created!!!! People really buy them for women and kids because of no recoil! The 243 can account for more game lost, wounded and crippled than any other so called deer caliber ever! What is it that make people want to use the least effective barely capeable to hunt with? I read down and find some idots take this round for shooting elk!! I dont mind stepping on toes when people act this stupid! I consider this type of person to be liberal or democrat! I would rather use over kill than under kill! This is common sense! wake up people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s a great cartridge if you want no exit wound or blood trail. You better know where the deer went because you can’t track him.
 

Ethan Sackett

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Joined
Oct 23, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Barney Ga.
Hmm, 243 for whitetails. The right, bullet weight, bullet construction combined with bullet placement it can work.
I however will not be using that caliber. I learned the hard way years ago that for me it was a no go. My 13 year old has taken 3 whitetails this season with a .308 / CZ 550 American. 150 gr spire point on top of 42.5 grains of H4895.
 

Aoudad shooter1975

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Sep 4, 2017
Messages
1,316
Location
Ovalo, Texas
While I agree a 243 can be deadly…the best…not what I’ve found…I have to agree what I have liked
1.257 weatherby mag with 90-115 grain bullets—I have not had a mule deer or whitetail one survive
2. 25-06 the same just a bit less fuss.
3. 6.5-284 win with 120–140 ish grain bullets—again just about perfect.

Lots of good calibers just these are a sweet spot for me for where I hunt mostly. Where you’re at you might need less reach—but I guarantee—one of these would not be a bad place to start.
 

blueprairiedog

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Feb 9, 2012
Messages
294
Location
suffolk va.
My friend killed his first deer with a .22 long rifle when he was 7. He never hunted deer or elk with anything bigger than a .243. But, he can shoot. I read once that the Eskimos hunt mostly with a .223. The big gun they bring out when hunting polar bear, is a .243. I know that we Americans have magnumitis. Partly because we can, and partly because we want to. I know the rifle I shoot best offhand is my 7mm TCU. It is a joy to shoot, even in a 5 lb. carbine.

As someone else pointed out, bullets today are so much better than 30 years ago. But, picking the right bullet is important. I shot a javelina with a 10" Contender in 7mm TCU with a rifle bullet, and it went right through and the javelina kept going until I put one through the shoulder. Once I switched to a Speer varmit bullet with a huge hollowpoint, they dropped in their tracks. I believe there is a sweet spot between recoil, b.c., and sectional density. For me, it is a 168 gr. 7mm going around 2850 fps. To each his own.

For knocking over deer, I've never shot a centerfire that drops them like a .45 caliber 340 gr. muzzleloader bullet.
My wife and I just ate a back strap off a deer killed freehand 7mm tcu 120 Speer h335 he went straight down a hill and had to be pulled back up the hill but that was gravity at work and the far shoulder was in bad shape. I say use what your good with.keep shooting
 

BigNate

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Joined
Dec 23, 2001
Messages
81
Location
Athol, Id. USA
For those who pick cartridges based on size of game and can't believe anything smaller than. 308" is useful, you need to learn how to pick bullets that work for the intended task. This is .223/77gr TMK out of a 16" barrel. Seems like plenty of gun.
Screenshot_20211121-090519_Gallery.jpg
 

crm3006

Member
Joined
Nov 26, 2021
Messages
13
Location
Texas City, Texas
The .243 is just one of many, many cartridges that some consider the "best" whitetail cartridge. I have not had a real good experience with it, but I know several hunters that have.
Best whitetail cartridge covers a lot of territory and includes a lot of variables. Are we going after big Northern deer, or smallish Texas deer? What load are you shooting out of your .243? What conditions are you hunting in? (The .243 is not even to be considered for a brush gun.)
So, all things considered, the .243 Winchester may be the best whitetail cartridge for you, but, to another hunter with different deer, conditions, or someone who picked the wrong load for his .243, it may not be ideal.
Lots of luck in your future hunts and endeavors, and if the .243 is right for you, use it!
 

UncleDano

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Joined
Dec 28, 2016
Messages
83
Location
Salt Lake City, Utah
Ask a question like this to 100 shooters and you will get 100 different answers.
Pick a rifle that you shoot well and feel comfortable with.
Pick the right cartridge for the conditions/location/range. Pick the right bullet for the game type/conditions/range.
 

TX Badger

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Joined
Feb 29, 2016
Messages
375
Location
Dallas, TX
I think I've been making my argument backwards. Someone tell me why a 243 is better than a 260, 6.5 cm, 25-06... with more punch.

Especially when you could easily load those down to 243 recoil if a young shooter is that recoil sensitive.

The only argument I can think of is if you want a better varmint /deer combo.
 
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