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6mm? I'll Pass
I know in the Constitution or Declaration of Independence or somewhere that it says that all calibers are created equal, and for the most part, as a good American, I try to take that to heart.
But among the pantheon of cartridges—and I’m talking specifically hunting cartridges here—there are some lesser gods, the least of which in my book is the .243 and its 6mm relations.
I’ve tried, but I can’t warm to the .243. It’s billed as having three great attributes: it’s death on varmints, it’s adequate for deer-sized big game and it is a great cartridge for young hunters because of its moderate recoil. I think it is a poor second-choice—if that—for any of these tasks.
Varmint shooting? I’ll go with a high-octane .22 over a .243 any day. I’ve tried to come up with a scenario where I’d be better served with a .243 over a .223, a .22-250 or a .220 Swift and can’t with the lone exception perhaps being low-volume shooting in very windy conditions, which frankly doesn’t sound like a very fun day of varmint hunting. On the other hand, it is easy to picture where the .22s would be much more pleasant, and effective, to shoot.
Big game? No thanks. For open-country shooting on smaller big game I start right at the quarter bores and go up from there. A .257 Weatherby outclasses the .243 in every respect and if that amount of horsepower isn’t required then I’d start with a .25-06 or even a .257 Roberts.
How about for kids? Okay. But why not a .257 Roberts, a 7mm-08 or a .260 Remington? You get the advantage of larger bullets and better terminal ballistics for the same amount of recoil. And speaking of recoil, I’ve always found the .243 to be a barky little thing, like an annoying dog, at the bench—at least in the types of factory rifles it is most commonly chambered in.
I know that at least one other member of the Gun Shots crew shares these sentiments—we’ve confessed them to each other in hushed tones, taking care not to be overheard talking trash about one of the darling cartridges of American shooters, lest we be shunned by polite shooting society.
But I do take comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one who seems unable to find a warm spot in my heart—or a slot in my gun safe—for the .243. Any other takers out there?