cart SHOPPING CART You have 0 items

Discussion Forums

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

Re: Bullet Performance -.243 Winchester

29 Aug 2017
@ 10:31 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

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.


No replies have been posted yet


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