.243 Winchester Review

As a professional stalker and guide I have noticed a growing trend away from the .243 and this has surprised me.

As a professional stalker and guide I have noticed a growing trend away from the .243 and this has surprised me.

In the UK and especially where I stalk in Hampshire we have deer with relatively thin hides and moderate to light body weight. Our shots are usually taken well within 200 yards and indeed most shots are significantly closer. One might have thought with these criteria the .243 would continue to be a first choice for UK stalkers.

Yet amongst my guests it is appearing less and less. The .308 continues to be the most popular choice but what has surprised me has been the reluctance of beginners to adopt the .243.

The .243 for me remains a great calibre and I think it is too readily over looked. Its mild recoil, flat shooting trajectory and near on 2000 ft/lbs of energy means that it should be a natural choice for those taking up stalking. Added to this the availability of rifles and ammunition and one might have thought it would be a first choice, yet calibres such as the 6.5 x 55, .270 and 30.06 are appearing more and more. Why?

Personally I think the reason is that this calibre has been getting some bad press, the most frequently voiced criticism being that it's "not enough gun".

I understand that when shooting big Red Stags on the hill pumped with adrenalin you might opt with a bit more punch but for the majority of us this is not a regular scenario. Do we really need more power?

Personally I started out stalking Fallow near Ashdown Forest in Sussex with a .243, and was consistently able to 'whack' some pretty sturdy deer out to 200 yards and did so with good results.

Today I have both a .308 and .243 as my estate rifles but I know, given the choice, my guests will consistently request the .308. The same is true of beginners who upon applying for their first rifle will avoid the .243 and instead go with something which would have traditionally been thought of as unusual.

I have nothing against the other calibres, indeed only recently I suggested a 6.5 x 55 for my brother, and I do understand the advantages of calibres such as these however personally I would like to see more people considering the .243 in favour of some of the larger calibres.

Personally I think the current move away from the .243 is a trend. It is seen as the boring option, yet to my mind this is a mistake, it's not all about power and many would be well served to remember that being able to watch your bullet strike and the reaction of a deer to the shot is a huge advantage.

Let's think again and not be too hasty in passing this classic calibre by.

Rigby

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