cart SHOPPING CART You have 0 items
SELECT CURRENCY

Discussion Forums

Search forums
Forum Index > Rifles general discussion > Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester

Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester

14 Aug 2017
@ 05:48 am (GMT)

Ed Sybert

Hi All:

I posted this question in the Long Range forum but it does not show up in the last post column, and no replies. I thought I'd try again in this forum.

It's not really long range, but I hunt whitetail deer where the average shot could be from 70 to 150 yards. I'd like to use a .243 Winchester this year and have been testing loads with the 85gr Sierra Game King, the 95gr Hornady SST and the 95gr Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets. All group very well in my rifle. So the question is - what is your experience with these bullets on deer or similar game? I'll look forward to your replies.

Many thanks,

Ed

Replies

14 Aug 2017
@ 09:33 am (GMT)

Jonathan Kitterman

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
yea, the forum seems to only count replies and not the initial post.
14 Aug 2017
@ 09:43 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Hi Ed, each of the bullets you have suggested yield similar performance. The BT and GK perform in an identical manner (fully frangible) while the SST features a measure of controlled expansion but should be seen more as giving delayed fragmentation which can be utilized as some extra insurance.

The crux of this, is that in order for such a small bore to produce big wounds, it utilizes both high velocity along with bullet weight loss. The bullet weight loss is important because the .243 loses velocity very quickly and without this on its side, it can lose all potency. Bullet makers have therefore designed their bullets accordingly. The Game King for example features a tough jacket, but comes with a wide hollow point and no core / jacket locking mechanism. This particular design works very well, gradual but thorough in action. I have said this many times to both readers but also up and coming manufacturers- what customers think they want versus what they need are often two completely different things.

If you want to, try the SST as the middle ground. If you find penetration wanting, you can switch to the Partition bullet next season. Having said this, I find that the Sierra HPBT bullet is somewhat unique and worth trying just for the experience. It also sits close to the middle ground as far as 6mm potions go. Not too many folk use this bullet anymore with many flash and fancy pills on the market and even fewer have experience with it on medium game.
14 Aug 2017
@ 03:28 pm (GMT)

Thomas Pavelka

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Sorry Nathan, I am not quite swallowing this. Sierra Bullets are shit in the Game fields. They pop the cores. NP's are also on my shit list. They pop the core on a hit, and those shitty minimal pedals don't do much on the pass as they leave an small wound exit and little blood trail. NP's are yesterdays news. Those that stick with them, IMHO are fools. We have much superior bullets these days. Try the Hornady GMAX with 95% weight retention with good expansion. I find myself wondering Nathan, have you become in bed with the Devil?
14 Aug 2017
@ 04:32 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Quote:
Sorry Nathan, I am not quite swallowing this. Sierra Bullets are shit in the Game fields. They pop the cores. NP's are also on my shit list. They pop the core on a hit, and those shitty minimal pedals don't do much on the pass as they leave an small wound exit and little blood trail. NP's are yesterdays news. Those that stick with them, IMHO are fools. We have much superior bullets these days. Try the Hornady GMAX with 95% weight retention with good expansion. I find myself wondering Nathan, have you become in bed with the Devil?


Hello Thomas. While I worked in the 1970s for the BC Fish and Wildlife Branch, I used a .243 for a lot of whitetailed deer culling in orchard areas. Ranges were not long but were all from 50 out to 350 meters. Every deer I shot went down right away and none ran at all and never had to fire a scond shot. I assume you have a bone to pick with some of the Sierra bullets, and I understand that, but the one I was using was exactly the 85 grain hollow point Nathan mentioned.
I should also mention that the number of whittailed deer I culled would by far exceed what you likey have seen in your hunting carrer diring game seasons.
As to the 95 grain Nosler Partition bullets, well I shot 8 elk and 4 moose with those bullets in my .243 along with many mule deer and not once did I observe the issues you mention. From that I would guess your shots may have been tougher ones rather than broadsides as I normally had good exit holes in the mule deer using them but I never shot out far with then either, restricting my shots to cloer range up to 300 meters by stalking or waiting.

In spite of what you say, I for one am not a fool, and I would think less of a person who generallizes in statements like yours debasing Sierra and Nosler.
14 Aug 2017
@ 04:39 pm (GMT)

Stephanie Foster

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Hi Thomas, I generally don't participate on our forums very often but sometimes I just feel compelled to stick my oar in. Apparently this is one of those occasions.

I think you need to read Ed's question in case you missed it, here it is again:

Quote:
It's not really long range, but I hunt whitetail deer where the average shot could be from 70 to 150 yards. I'd like to use a .243 Winchester this year and have been testing loads with the 85gr Sierra Game King, the 95gr Hornady SST and the 95gr Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets. All group very well in my rifle. So the question is - what is your experience with these bullets on deer or similar game?


As you can see the question was not " Hey I have considered these three particular projectiles and was hoping that rather than open a polite, respectful and intelligent dialogue on this forum, could someone please climb into me and in as rude and a scathing manner as possible tell me why in their honest opinion I am fool."

Steph.
14 Aug 2017
@ 08:57 pm (GMT)

Brendon Greig

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
I have not shot a huge amount of deer with my 243 but have found the 85 grain boat tail sierra's good on the few red deer a have got out to about 200 yards and you are able to get the velocity up which as Nathan has said helps the 243
14 Aug 2017
@ 09:30 pm (GMT)

Martin Taylor

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
"I find myself wondering Nathan, have you become in bed with the Devil?"


This has to be one of the most absurd things l have read on these pages.

You obviously have no Idea the lengths Nathan & Steph go to test ALL they write about.
I'II stop typing now it's been a long day........
14 Aug 2017
@ 11:08 pm (GMT)

mark whiteley

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Thomas I use sierra 100gr pro hunters on fallow out of my 6mm dasher and have had other hunters ask me if I have had the problems you have described,
these hunters were sincere in asking about how I found them to work, in all honesty I have not had any problems with them at all, dead is dead
regards Mark
14 Aug 2017
@ 11:34 pm (GMT)

Ed Sybert

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
First, thanks to all who replied, and especially to Nathan. I'm sorry I hit a sore spot with Thomas. I've used the 85gr Sierra Game King successfully on two Whitetail deer and a coyote. I read about the BT and SST in the Knowledge Base but have not had the opportunity to try them on game. So, I was hoping for just the sort of information that Nathan provided in this thread. I'll try the SST this year, keeping the 85gr SGK as my back-up. I'll report back with my experience. Regards, Ed
15 Aug 2017
@ 12:27 am (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Hello Ed. As nathan indicated, for close in shots the SST bullets may show less penetration than desired unless you have the chance to place your shots with care. My preference would be for the 95 grain Partition bullets as they work well from close in out to 300 meters.

Another option I use for my .308 Winchester is to load 180 grain Sierra Round Nose bullets for close in and for areas in which shots could go from close to around 400 yards of so, I load the 165 grain Nosler Partition bullets. Their point of impacts when sighted in for 200 yards in my .308 work out fine and I just know what correction to dial when I change over to make the difference for any longer shot but it is not much difference.

25 Aug 2017
@ 09:47 pm (GMT)

Andy Stewart

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Quote:
Sorry Nathan, I am not quite swallowing this. Sierra Bullets are shit in the Game fields. They pop the cores. NP's are also on my shit list. They pop the core on a hit, and those shitty minimal pedals don't do much on the pass as they leave an small wound exit and little blood trail. NP's are yesterdays news. Those that stick with them, IMHO are fools. We have much superior bullets these days. Try the Hornady GMAX with 95% weight retention with good expansion. I find myself wondering Nathan, have you become in bed with the Devil?


Thomas, perhaps you could qualify your depth of experience to make the statement you have.

To give you an idea how that works, I'll give you an example.

I started out hunting around 40yrs ago, my first "proper rifle was a .243 and for 10 yrs and a rebarrel, the only bullet it got feed was the Sierra Gameking 100gn.
That rifle accounted for roughly 100 Fallow deer,(was on a few station culls) lots of Reds, no idea how many wallabies and quite a few Tahr.

Occasionally had to shoot twice on Tahr and big Reds but everything was mostly one shot and dead right there, from 20 feet to 350yds.

After decades of messing about with allsorts of different cartridges (some real monsters!) I've started using .243 again, and my go to bullet? the 85gn Sierra Gameking at 3150 fps. So far this year, 2 Fallow, 3 normal Reds, half a dozen Nanny Tahr, 1 5yr old Bull Tahr and a very large 10pt Red Stag. The Stag was 267yds, a fair distance for the .243 on a large animal, but he was flattened on the spot.
Thomas,
When I haven't put the bullet in exactly the right spot, I have had to follow up with a second, is it the fault of the projectile? or is it my fault for incorrect shot placement?, As I have limited experience shooting animals compared to you, could you please help me understand where I have gone wrong?
28 Aug 2017
@ 10:45 pm (GMT)

Andy Stewart

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Having rediscovered the mighty.243, I find that in this new age of bullet development, I am spoiled for choice when the bullet options are looked at, I have a bullet that works, but you know how it is, just have to tinker!

My T3 .243 so far: half moa with the 80gnTTX, the 95gn Sierra TMK and the 87 Hornady HP, none of which I have used on game. Going to try the TTSX on Tahr, but am real interested in the TMK possibilities, am hoping it will behave like an Amax on deer

I don't usually have to shoot anything over 300yds as a rule, even on Tahr.

One thing I have noticed over the years, I have tended to shoot the same animals at the same ranges irrespective of calibre or cartridge, so why not use a cartridge the is fun to shoot!

Anyone that has actually used the TMK on deer feel free to way in with a comment.
28 Aug 2017
@ 10:58 pm (GMT)

Vince Le Sabre

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
We make the long drive to Wyoming nearly every year to hunt the abundant pronghorn antelope there. My favorite rifle for taking down these amazing animals is a Remington .243 shooting the 95 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet. Accuracy and performance are outstanding out to approx 300 yards or so. Typically, the animal topples over at the shot when taken thru the chest organs.

Vince
29 Aug 2017
@ 10:31 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Hi Andy, the TMK is a good bullet, worth trying on game if or when you get a chance. I covered this in the Cartridges book, second edition.

As you get into the bigger animals and depending on your typical shot placement, a tougher bullet can be useful such as your 80gr Barnes. But there are many caveats to this though because the further we shoot, the softer the bullet needs to be. It takes a good deal of investigation to see how one hunter will have success while another will see abysmal failures. The failures may not be because the hunter is a bad shot but that the bullet does not match the shot placement he is going for or the game weights or the ranges he is shooting to. So this is not a very straight forwards subject. For me, it was simply easier to ban clients from using the .243 on large boar here unless they were using a premium bullet and kept ranges modest to ensure the bullet arrived with enough velocity to render a wide wound. But even then, if the client does not place the bullet correctly on a large boar using the Barnes for example, follow up shots must be taken.

On bull Thar, if the animal is above the hunter quartering on and the shot strikes the front ball joint, a basic cup and core bullet can expend nearly all of its energy in the joint. The wound may extend into the chest but there is still a risk of game running for some distance and follow up shots may need to be taken. On the other hand, if a tough bullet is used and ranges are pushed too far, wounding may be narrow so now there is a need to keep shots forwards to maximize resistance.

This is not the sort of thing that can easily be written on the back of a packet of ammo as a general guide to bullet selection and not what I would call an issue of plain ignorance as it takes time to understand these things and as suggested, two hunters can experience different results with neither of them being "wrong".

One thing that may help us to understand the .243 a bit better, is that it was optimized for use on White-tail deer. This continues to be the case and the most recent loads made by Winchester feature huge hollow points behind massive polymer tips, a basic redesign of the Silvertip. Such designs take into account not just the game weights, but also hunting methods. The bullet manufacturer understands that most of their customers are still targeting White-Tail deer and are aiming behind the shoulder. The bullets are made to produce a fast kill. The bullet manufacturer knows full well that they will receive a lot of complaints (the post in this thread is a perfect example) due to idealistic expectations, but they also know that the bullet will do the job so they are willing to ignore the complaints and do what they believe will work best. These game animals and terrain are very much the same as South Island low country Fallow deer hunting which you will be thoroughly familiar with. There is also a correlation here to Roe deer hunting in the UK. Anyone who has used the .243 to take large numbers of game with the most basic cup and core designs of old will be familiar with the fact that the 100-105 grain weight can offer good penetration, yet the more explosive 85-87gr bullets tend to give the fastest kills. It can seem such a silly thing in hindsight but it is not uncommon for a hunter to lose hours debating with himself which of the two (light or heavy) is better in the .243 and in many cases, the lighter and more explosive bullet wins out because it is this one that dropped game on the spot in the most consistent manner. Sierra were able to capitalize on this methodology by using a wide hollow point but with a tough jacket, enabling the bullet to get into vitals before full fragmentation. It is a somewhat unique combo that stands when hunting with or testing the .243. It works well most of the time but can get a hunter into trouble on tough animals when bush hunting.

If you push the .243 and use it on very large animals with good results, so be it. However I think it is important to understand both the strengths and limitations of this cartridge and its projectile designs. There is so much that can go wrong under various circumstances (different hunting methods etc). There are also the issues of rifle accuracy and wind drift errors, plus the power of various loads, some being hopelessly under powered. Still, it is good to see a well set up .243 shine and easy to have admiration for this little cartridge (am currently working on one at the moment).

Below are three pigs highlighted with red lines. The large boar is under the highest red line. The hunter stands in the fore ground, braced against a tree ready to shoot the large boar with his .243 and Federal 100 grain soft point ammunition. The bullet never made it through the shield or if it did, it had little energy for wounding. The boar ran off at full speed into the bush. With with no blood trail. I was unable to relocate the boar for a follow up shot. That was the last time I allowed a client to use such a combo on pigs.







29 Aug 2017
@ 11:42 am (GMT)

Luke Lahdenranta

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
This has been a very good and informative thread and a timely one for me as I recently got a Tikka t3 in 243 to play around with. I set it up as per Nathan's T3 book/video instructions and it's turning out sub MOA groups with several factory loads and the Federal Fusion 95 gr loads shoot so ridiculously well (1" @220 yards) it is tempting to not reload for this gun... but I know I will have to tinker with it at some point.

I am interested in seeing how the 243 works this fall on some deer and contrasting how it kills compared to my usual rifles of either a 30-30 or 30-06. I kind of feel like I just crawled out from under a rock or something, just discovering this hot new number, a 308 case necked down to take a 6mm bullet! Over 3000 fps!!! It's heady stuff boys! :)
29 Aug 2017
@ 03:08 pm (GMT)

Thomas Pavelka

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
I wish to retract my former reply. I hunted for many years with a 378 Wby Mag. I used 235 grain Speer's on Deer, 270's on most, and 300's on American Bison. I was never disappointed as all were DRT. At 68 in failing health I can no longer tolerate the 378 recoil. So I am down to the 6.5 Creedmoor. I hunt Birds with a 28 ga theses days, and do trout on 1 and two weight rods. It has become a weight thing. I was never a big fan of the 243. But with today's ammo and bullets it may just well do. If it were in a 4 pound rifle, I would be one of the first to sign up. :)
29 Aug 2017
@ 08:46 pm (GMT)

Andy Stewart

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Hi Nathan, this rifle is supposed to be strictly about Fallow and Wallabies, just happens that the area I hunt these days has the odd Red and transient Tahr, so the 80gnTTSX is insurance for tough angles. With a cartridge this light I don't usually shoulder shoot for bone/joint destruction: am high in the pocket or it is spine or neck (hence wanting solid repeatable accuracy) and I would likely pass on a decent sized pig (unless I was under orders for the freezer)

I hear what you are saying about that shot angle on Tahr, I don't like that angle whatever the cartridge!, with a .243 I'd pass on it altogether - my hunting tactics generally see me above and inside 300yds which gives good angles, am inclined to think that success (shots taken/clean kill ratio) with a .243 is about taking considered shots and passing when it might be marginal.

If I go specifically Tahr hunting I take a 2506 or .260, realistically the .243 is not enough gun for them most of the time. But it is a great deer cartidge!
30 Aug 2017
@ 09:36 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester
Andy, thanks for taking the time to offer a description of your hunting methods. These details and qualifications make all the difference to others who are learning. Very helpful.
 

ABOUT US

We are a small, family run business, based out of Taranaki, New Zealand, who specialize in cartridge research and testing, and rifle accurizing.

store