CARTRIDGE OF THE WEEK
Introduced in 1955 by Winchester, the 243 Winchester was quickly found to be an excellent cartridge. In the same year Remington came out with their .244 Remington – a similar but slightly more powerful cartridge. Today, everyone manufactures rifles and ammunition for the 243 and very few for the 244 – why?
Remington fitted their rifles with 1/12” twist barrels; Winchester fitted 1/10” twist barrels. While Remington saw the cartridge best suited to varmint shooting, Winchester saw the calibre as an all-round deer and varmint cartridge. The versatility of the 243 is why it is so popular.
Australian love the 243 – popularity wise, the 243 would run a close second to the 223 for shooting foxes and kangaroos. Shooting these animals at distances up to 400 meters out of a vehicle is a breeze with the 243 cartridge, so long as the gun is accurate enough. American shooters love the 243 for stalking deer, but prefer smaller cartridges for their varmints such as the 22-250. So while almost all USA manufacture sporting weight rifles are available in 243, virtually no varmint weight rifles are available. European manufactures, such as Tikka and Sako, chamber this calibre in their varmint rifles and Beaton Firearms build semi-custom varmint rifles for those wanting the performance this cartridge offers in a gun suited to shooting from a vehicle.
In Australia the .243 cartridge is well suited to taking all but the biggest of game. Factory ammunition is available loaded with 55gr right through to 95 grain projectiles for shooting everything from rabbits to donkeys. Competition shooters can choose to use 70gr Match projectiles for short range accuracy or 90 to 95 grain projectiles for incredibly accurate long range shooting. The most popular factory loaded ammunition that we sell is the Federal 80gr soft point. This is probably because the projectile performs so well on a variety of game – not many people know, but this entry-level ammunition is actually loaded with a Speer Hot Core projectile. Fired at 3330 fps, when sighted in at 100 yards it shoots almost as flat as the 22-250 at 300 yards but with 72% more remaining energy.
So it can take everything from rabbits to deer; shoots a wide variety of game and competition projectiles; shoots almost as flat as the 22-250 and everyone makes rifles chambered in it. This is truly an impressive cartridge.