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October 15, 2007

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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?

John Snow



To big for groundhogs and too small for deer are my thoughts and as for coyotes use a 25-06.


I hunted with a .243 for years, when there were no deer, someone stole it and I replaced it with a .260 Rem. It's cooked several deer and is a much better round then the .243.
The .243 is not a youth caliber,requiring more precise bullet placement. There are many better choices.

Slick Rick

Nothing wrong with the 243, I'd bet it's the third best selling caliber every year behind the 30-06 and 270.


Well, if everyone had money to dedicate to a varmint rig and a deer rig then yes, going with a .22 and a .25 or 7mm would make perfect sense. However, since this isn't always affordable some people split the difference and find that the .243 fits the bill. 55-70grns for varmint, and 85-100grns for deer.

As for the .243 being too big for varmints - a .222 is too big for most varmints, realisticly a .22lr is all you need to kill most varmints - people just like the high powered .22's because they reach out considerably farther - so too does the .243. And if you're looking to save coyote pelts it can expend energy in a hurry, unlike the heavier .25's.

At the end of the day though, if you're hunting armored deer or Wile E. Coyote then yes, by all means you certainly need more than the little 6mm.


Put a 100 grain .243 where it belongs and the deer drops. No fuss, no muss. The only problem I have with the .243 is the ammo is more expensive than some of the alternatives.

Tom Obuhanych

Agree. I don't think much of the 6mm &
the .243. Sure it will work, but like the comparisons, there are much better. On the high power .22's, I happen to shoot a .228 Newton that will outrun the .22-250 at 300 yards...shoots a .228", 90 gr. bullet!
Talk about sectional density!
Devastating, 'ol Chas Newton designed it as a game cartridge, not for varmints & its deadly with the 90 gr bullet & high sectional density & velocity.
Best Regards,

Tom Obuhanych

Agree. I don't think much of the 6mm & the .243. Sure it will work, but like the comparisons, there are much better. On the high power .22's, I happen to shoot a .228 Newton that will outrun the .22-250 at 300 yards...shoots a .228", 90 gr. bullet! Talk about sectional density! Devastating, 'ol Chas Newton designed it as a game cartridge, not for varmints & its deadly with the 90 gr bullet & high sectional density & velocity. Best Regards, Tom


The .243 is an attempt to fill a niche that didn't need filling.


That is pretty much like saying that there only needs to be a couple of rifle calibers - .22, .277, .30, and .375. The 6mm (be it .243 win or 6mm Rem) fills a gap between .22 and .277 better than the larger .25's can for one simple fact - it can easily be stepped down to perform against varmints and stepped up to perform against deer. The .25's don't offer this. With the .25's you get bullet selection from 80grns to 120grns, with the .24's you get 55grns to 115grns. This opens up a wide field, since the 6's can launch a 55grn pill at around 4000fps, and a can push the heavy 115's into the 3000-3100fps range. With most deer being dropped in the 100-200yard range this is more than enough to get the job done.

Now then - if you want to hunt antelope through muley's and elk, then the larger 25's are a much better choice - especially the .257wby. However, if your goal is to shoot small game on up to medium game then the 6mm is a better choice.

Also, many states ban .22 caliber rounds for deer anyway, so the .243 is a better choice than the hot .22's anyway since with 1 gun you can go after 2 radically different types of game.

Finally - for those that keep saying that the .243 is only good if you have good shot placement - am I missing something here? Are the people that are using the .25's and up on deer suddenly aiming for the rear end because they don't need to have good shot placement? Come on folks, I shoot a .300wby (not for deer) and it can do some damage, but it isn't going to kill a deer instantly if I shoot it in the *ss - I still have to aim the big b*stard.


Gut shoot a squirrel with a .460 Wby Mag and he'll run off. Put a .22LR between the running lights of a monster bull elk and you can call him supper!

Bullet diameter is not an appropriate subsitute for nor does it compensate for, "BULLET PLACEMENT".

I've killed deer with a .22 Hornet. Knew a kid in the Big Bend area of Texas that hunted exclusively with the Hornet and he's killed lots of deer.

I wouldn't dream of sending a neophyte out with an inadequate caliber. Unfortunately, most .244 caliber rifles are bought with (no offense intended!) women and children in mind. This in itself is not the problem. The problem is "PRACTICE!!! PRACTICE!!! PRACTICE!!!" And when you get tired, "PRACTICE!!!" some more!
Learn what the firearm will and even more importantly, WON'T do!
Watched a fella I met ring a gong 17 of 20 rounds at 800 yds with an M-1 Garand! HE can use a .243 Win/6mm Rem on deer!


Paul Berkowitz

What if HE could ring a gong 20 of 20 times at 200 yards w/ a .243? Could he still go hunting for deer with a .243, or does he need to spend more time shooting a .30 at 800 yards? I don't understand how shooting a garand all the time is going to familiarize yourself with a .243 or 6mm, the only way that will happen is if you shoot the .243 or 6mm all the time.

I own a nice little .22lr, a Remington 514-T matchmaster - I know exactly what this gun will do out to 100 yards - but it doesn't prepare me to shoot my .243 - aside from benefits of breathing/trigger squeeze practice.

Now then - if you don't feel comfortable dropping a deer with a 6mm round then don't do it.

Also, why is focusing on shot placement such a bad thing? I don't want to go hunting with somebody who's got in their head that since they're using a 7mm or larger that they don't have to be picky about shot selection and placement. I'd rather stick with people who take the time to, as Bubba so eloquently says, "PRACTICE" and learn their rifle. No reason to go hunting with somebody who never took the time to learn their equipment - 1 well placed shot with a .243 is alot better than a miss with a .308.


I think the .243 creates its own problem. It is a round sufficiently powerful to kill deer IF everything goes right: IF the deer doesn't move, IF the wind doesn't blow, IF the bullet strikes precisely where the cross hairs point. If everything isn't perfect, then the .243 may not be enough gun. The bigger/longer/heavier .25s, 6.5s, and .26s will do better on deer-sized game. Bullet placement is important, but you have to have the right bullet. The .243 works for varmints, but .223 ammo is cheaper, and the .22-250 has better sectional density.


Paul B.
My point was the guy knew "how" to shoot! Shooting an M1 Garand has nothing whatsoever to do with shooting a pre-64 Mod 70 Win in .30-'06, EXCEPT.... it takes the same ability to hold that rifle steady, know how to breathe properly, sight picture, squeeeeeeeze that trigger! Basics, dude, basics!
To get good at something, learn the basics. Once you learn the basics, learn the next level. ALWAYS... I repeat, ALWAYS, practice basics!
Jimbo was just a good shot, one of them that just knew what to do! Me... I can't hit a bull in the... - well, you know, without sand bags, and even then, don't dare shoot beyond about 200/250 yards. Feel real good if I can keep 'em all in a 9" paper plate at that range. (approx. size of kill zone on deer)