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Modern Sportsman: A look At the .243 Win Rifle Cartridge



.243 Winchester

Modern Sportsman: A look At the .243 Win Rifle Cartridge

Rifle cartridges have come a long way since they were first used with a brass casing so many years ago. Modern technology, powders, and projectiles allow long-distance shooters to reach out there and touch someone, whether it's an animal for the dinner table, or a target at a match. One of the best multipurpose long-distance calibers available today, is the .243 Winchester.

This rifle cartridge is based on a necked down .308, and was first produced back in mid-1950s. The original bullet weight ranged from 80-100 grains. However, today's cartridges can be found with bullets weighing anywhere from 55 up to 115 grains.

(In case you were curious about what “necked down” means, it's essentially the term used when you take a much bigger cartridge, and put a smaller bullet into it. In order to make it fit, the part that holds the bullet—the neck—needs to be narrower to accept the smaller bullet. That way, you can use a similar amount of powder to propel the projectile, but it is a smaller projectile so it moves much faster. Another positive, is that the felt recoil is significantly less than .308 is, which is great for people who don't like to be punched in the shoulder.)

Those weights make rifles chambered in .243 Winchester to be good for varmints up to medium sized animals, with bullet speeds up to 3,500-4,000 FPS, depending on the weight of the projectile. As you can likely imagine, with speeds that fast, the trajectory of this almost-quarter-bore, is quite flat.

In case you were wondering what I meant in the last sentence, a quarter is 25, therefore a quarter bore would be anything in .25 caliber (like the .25-06). The .243 Winchester is just a hair off, and is technically a .24 caliber.

These cartridges are incredibly accurate out to long distances due to their tremendous wind-bucking ability. Just about all bullets in the 6, 6.5 and 7mm diameters have this capability, in addition to not dropping off target as much as another bullet may. The .243 Winchester is a 6X51 cartridge, and is deadly accurate. In fact, it is a growing favorite among the long distance competition shooters, helping those who use them in a match to win.

The .243 Win is a great choice for varminting, taking home deer, or just testing out your skills at a distance. There are many options out there to choose from, and even Henry Repeating Arms is getting into the action later on this year with a lever action Long Ranger chambered in .243. Rest assured, I plan to beg the folks over there to send me one to show you.

Sound Off Gun Carriers! What's your favorite long distance rifle cartridge? Is it .243? Something else? Which gun do you use for it? Let us know in the comments below. Then, make sure you subscribe for the FREE Gun Carrier Newsletter so you never miss anything.

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  1. Michael Reed

    June 25, 2016 at 11:11 PM

    I also have a Swedish mauser, a 1902 Carl Gustav in 6.5×55. Great gun.

  2. Butch Hill

    June 25, 2016 at 4:28 PM

    Excellent info on.243, seriously thinking about buying 1. Will shoot 1 Monday . But I have a sweet deal on Ruger M77 in .260 cal, scope, sing etc all tricked out . Serious stuff no gimmicks Rated between 94–98 by compotent guns smithAny comments?

  3. George Carpenter

    June 25, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    I have used the 243 for several years for whitetails and find it to be great for that purpose. I started with a single shot rifl. I took 6 deer with that gun. I now have a Mossberg in that caliber. I’ve only hunted one season with it and missed the only deer I saw. But found out that it wasn’t sighted in right, so this season I hope to redeem myself. Love the gun.

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