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The .243 Winchester cartridge released in 1955 was without a doubt, an immense success. The demand for the .243 ensured large supplies of inexpensive, readily available brass and this in turn made the .243 an ideal candidate for wildcatting.

By the early 60's wildcatters were experimenting with versions of the .243 case necked down to .224. Of these, two wildcats were standardized by reamer and reloading die makers. Both designs remain popular to this day. The first version is the .243 necked down to .224 with no other change and is designated as the .22-243 Winchester. The second version was created by Paul Middlestead of California and features a sharper 30 degree shoulder, which in turn gives a longer neck for flexible bullet seating. This latter cartridge was named the .22-243 Middlestead and is currently the more popular of the two.



The .22-243 is of course most effective as a varmint cartridge. On medium game, performance is relative to shot placement, bullet construction and range. The .22-243 can be a very spectacular killer with attention to the above factors. On light bodied game this cartridge is fast killing out to 125 yards and clean killing out to around 325 yards (impact velocities of 2600fps and above)

The .22-243 seldom produces hydrostatic shock, especially in comparison to the parent .243 cartridge.  Recoil is lower than the .243 but not to a greatly noticeable degree. Noise from the ultra supersonic crack of projectiles traveling at 3800fps can be extremely painful when hunting in the field without earplugs.
More notes on performance can be found in the .220 Swift text which is the main body text for the ultra velocity .22’s

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Factory Ammunition

No factory ammunition is produced for this wildcat cartridge.


Hand Loading

In either version, the .22-243 gives higher velocities than hand loads for the Swift and performs similarly to the .223 WSSM. The .22-243 does it's best work with the same powders that give top performance in the Swift and WSSM. ADI 2208 (Varget) and 4064 work well with bullets up to 55 grains while ADI 2209 or IMR 4350 work well with 60 grain bullets and heavier.

From a 24” barrel, safe working maximum velocities include 4150fps with 50 grain bullets, 3900fps with 55 grain bullets while 60 to 65 grain bullets can be driven over 3700fps. 69 to 70 grain bullets achieve between 3400 and 3500fps while the heavy 80 grain Hornady A-Max can be driven at up to 3300fps.
Because rifles of this caliber must be custom built, the .22-243 owner has an advantage in having a choice of barrel twist rate. If the rifle is to be used on varmints through to light medium game. 1:12 twist barrels offer the possibility of experimenting with low stability FMJ projectiles. The 1:9 twist optimizes the use of heavier bullet weights. 

To avoid repetition, readers are advised to study projectile performance as discussed throughout the other .224 references in this knowledge base.


Closing Comments

The .22-243 is a common sense wildcat capable of turning out first class accuracy. This cartridge should seriously be considered by anybody wishing to obtain an ultra flat shooting varmint cartridge. As a medium game cartridge, the .22-243 is particularly well suited to the light bodied animals weighing around 40kg (90lb) but certainly does not offer superior performance to the parent .243 Winchester cartridge.

Suggested loads: .22-243 Barrel length: 24”
No ID   Sectional Density Ballistic Coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
1 HL 53gr Barnes TSX .151 .231 3900 1790
2 HL 55gr FMJ .157 .272 3900 1857
3 HL 60gr Nosler Partition .171 .228 3750 1873
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths       
1 Yards 100 150 256 296 350 400
  Bt. path +1.6 +2 0 -2 -6 -11.5
2 Yards 100 150 267 310 350 400
  Bt. path +1.5 +2 0 -2 -5 -9
3 Yards 100 150 251 291 350 400
  Bt. path +1.6 +2 0 -2 -6.6 -12
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 300 9.6 2570 776
2 300 8 2717 901
3 300 10 2443 795
Note: Load No.2 can be used to plot trajectory for of 55gr Hornady V-Max.

22 243 final.jpg
  Imperial Metric 
A .473 12.01
B .471 11.96
C 30deg  
D .454 11.53
E .260 6.60
F 1.560 39.62
G .300 7.62
H 2.045 51.94
Max Case 2.045 51.94
Trim length 2.035 51.7
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