You would think, being an avid hunter and given the number kids as I’ve introduced to hunting and shooting, I would have discovered the .243 Winchester a lot sooner than I did. My path was rather long and circuitous. I was close a couple of times, but never realized what I was missing until a change in the hunting regulations forced me to shoot the .243.
Posts Tagged ‘243’
It can be a difficult decision when trying to decide what deer-hunting cartridge to go with. So often, we are stuck on how well these rounds do at four and five hundred yards, we forget that most of time, we take shots inside of one hundred yards. We decided to take a look at some cartridges designed for medium-sized game, like Texas white tail deer. So how well do these common rifle cartridges do against each other? We took a look at some common rounds, and tried to help our readers decide for themselves.
The first cartridge in our list was actually the first .30 caliber round that propels itself with smokeless powder. The .30-30 cartridge has probably brought down more deer than any other rifle cartridge. Put into production in 1895 for the Winchester lever-action rifle, the .30-30 soon gained popularity as the smokeless powder it used allowed for faster follow-up shots and significantly reduced fouling in the barrel and action. This soft shooting round has an effective range of only 200 meters but with a 170-grain flat point bullet, it hits hard enough to drop all but the largest CXP2 Class animal.
The .243 Winchester is a popular round for youths and new shooters who dislike the harsh recoil of larger calibers. Though it is soft shooting, the .243 is more than capable of taking down any medium-sized game animal, from feral hogs to large white-tailed deer. BVAC’s 100 grain Grand Slam is an easy to shoot round with a maximum point-blank range out past 300 yards, depending on the size of the game animal. Hornady’s Varmint Express topped off with a 58 grain V-Maxon the other hand is an extremely fast and flat shooting cartridge that travels over 3750 feet per second at the muzzle, making it an excellent varmint round out to 200 yards. Their Superformance ammunition is even hotter, throwing a 58-grain projectile down range at over 3925 feet per second.
With the release of the Model 54 bolt-action rifle, Winchester unveiled the .270 cartridge in 1925. Writer Jack O’Connor who wrote at length about it in Outdoor Life and other publications praised it highly, but the round never enjoyed great success for nearly 20 years. After World War II, it saw an enormous surge in popularity, becoming one of the most widely chambered calibers for hunting rifles across the globe. Loaded with a 100 Grain cartridge, Remington Core Lokt PSP achieves a muzzle velocity in excess of 3,300 feet per second. This extreme velocity makes the .270 a very flat shooting round with devastating terminal ballistics. Loaded up in a heavier 150 Grain Federal with Sierra Game King the round is effective on larger game animals like moose or elk. The middleweight 130 Grain BVAC Grand Slam is a good all-around cartridge for hunting a variety of medium sized game.
For decades, the .25-06 was just a custom round created from a necked down .30-06. When Remington began producing the round as a factory load in 1969 however, it experienced a surge in popularity. Topped off with a 120 Grain Speer Grand Slam bullet the BVAC .25-06 cartridge generates a muzzle velocity of 2898 feet per second, and when topped with an 85 Grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Federal’s V-Shok load reaches a velocity of over 3550 feet per second. This zippy little round may be a small caliber, but its flat trajectory and deadly terminal ballistics help it to remain popular among varmint and medium game hunters. Despite the small size of the .25-06, it has superior sectional density at higher bullet weights. The 115 Grain Winchester Ballistic Silvertip has a ballistic coefficient of 0.446, giving it penetration and performance comparable to larger .30 caliber rounds.
So, these rounds all work well for medium-sized game, they shoot flat and have tons of energy. They are all perfectly capable of dropping a white tail deer in their hooves. Which cartridge works best? Comment below and let us know what kind of luck you have had with these rounds. Personally, I’ve always had luck with my .270, it’s not overkill for white tail, but I can still bring down an elk if I choose. Just wish we had some elk down here in Texas.
The .223/5.56 NATO cartridge has proven itself on and off the battlefield for decades. Enemy troops have an almost supernatural fear and respect for the AR platform and the deadly ammunition it fires their way. While the .223 may be one of the best multipurpose cartridges out there, it isn’t the best cartridge for absolutely everything. For this reason, AR manufacturers developed their firearms in a wide array of cartridges both larger and smaller than the widely available .223.
Designers developed the 6.8mm SPC cartridge to address the deficiencies of the terminal performance of the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge currently in service with the U.S. Armed Forces. The cartridge was the result of the Enhanced Rifle Cartridge program. Participating in the program were U.S. Special Operations soldiers, as well as armorers and other technicians from the United States Army Marksmanship Unit. The development of this cartridge is unusual and interesting in that it was designed by actual shooters in the armed forces, instead of by industry professionals. The goal was to create a cartridge that would bridge the gap between 5.56mm and 7.62x51mm NATO. Daniel Defense built this beauty with a 16-inch cold hammer forged chrome lined heavy barrel with a 1:11-inch right hand twist. The magazine still holds 30 rounds despite the larger caliber. Putting that sweet 6.8 round downrange with this puppy would be more than entertaining!
Sometimes I look at guns and wonder why manufacturers created them to begin with. I admit to thinking the same thing when I saw this one for the first time. What possible advantage could a .243 AR-15 give you over another alternate caliber like the .308? Well, actually, I don’t really know. The .243 is a necked down .308, so you have a very fast and accurate projectile. I suppose recoil would be significantly less than a .308, and the .243 is larger than a .223. It seems to be a decent intermediate cartridge for varmint hunting. Many relatives of mine kill deer with a .243 on a regular basis, so the killing power of the round is not in question. It is probably the smallest round that I would hunt deer with. I’ve heard of many people shooting whitetail with a .223, but I wouldn’t recommend it. For hog hunting down here in Texas, it actually seems pretty useful. Hammering down .243 rounds all night long while ridding my property of those awful critters would be more than exciting. The reduced recoil, compiled with the increased killing power, makes the .243 an interesting choice for an AR cartridge.
.308 Win/7.62 NATO
If you haven’t fired a .308 out of an AR type rifle, I suggest you try it. It kicks a bit, but that cartridge flies downrange with almost magic accuracy and reliability. The biggest downside to most .308 ARs is magazine capacity. Most of these guns come with a 20 round mag, versus the 30 rounds you get with a .223. A properly configured .308 can hunt most things in North America, while giving you unparalleled performance. There is a reason why most police and military snipers choose the .308 for their sniper rifles. Since its inception in 1952, the .308 Winchester has become the most popular short-action, big-game hunting cartridge worldwide. You can feel confident that thing will bring down almost anything you may encounter on the ranch. I’d like to meet Eugene Stoner, the inventor of the AR platform, and the first guy who had the idea to chamber a AR in .308, and shake his hand. While not ideal for combat due to the decreased ammunition capacity, it is still a hard-hitting, very accurate rifle that is absolutely perfect for varmints, hogs, deer, or any other game you can think of.
.22 Long Rifle
Practice, practice, practice. That is the key to being an amazing shooter. Shooting a semi-automatic rifle can be an expensive hobby however. Box after box of .223 ammunition can add up, and fast. What is the best way to save money at the range? Easy, shoot .22 LR instead of .223! The M&P15 rifle line has expanded to include the new M&P15-22. Chambered in .22LR, Smith & Wesson built the M&P15-22 rifle with high strength polymer upper and lower receivers. This creates a reduced weight rifle that retains the looks and operating features of the standard M&P rifle. The new M&P15-22 is a dedicated M&P15-format rifle designed and built as a true .22 LR semi-auto from the ground up, with all the standard operating features and accessory specifications of a modern-version centerfire M&P15 rifle. Don’t have anything but cheap lead ammo? This gun doesn’t care. The magazine and receiver will eat any .22 LR ammunition you can throw at it. This is the best choice for shooting all day long, while still being affordable.
What’s that? You want to fire 32 rounds of 9mm out of an AR style rifle? Yea, we can do that. Ammunition for 9mm is relatively inexpensive, while still being an excellent defensive round. Suppression lovers are a fan on this configuration, as well as SBR owners. In my opinion, my favorite thing about these carbines is that I can take one to the indoor pistol range on a rainy day. Recoil on most of these guns in negligible, and tight groups at 50 yards is easy to pull off. Just remember not to tick off your range officer with rapid-firing this little guy. As far as a defensive set up, this makes sense to me. Who would ever want to take in 32 rounds of 9mm hollow point? That would make one big mess. It’s like carrying two Glocks, but with better accuracy and no need to change mags. A proven defensive round out of a proven defensive platform, I’m in!