.243 Winchester Calibre Review
A review of the .243 Winchester
Initially introduced by Winchester in 1955 as a varmint round this cartridge has gone on to be a highly successful calibre for both vermin and light skinned deer.
In its simplest form the .243 is a necked down .308 case which can be loaded with bullet weights anywhere from 55 grains to 115 grains. The lighter loads typically being used for vermin and fox whilst bullets of 90grains and upward are typically used for deer.
In the UK the .243 Winchester has gained an excellent reputation which was compounded in 1963 with the Deer Act which required at least a .240 calibre rifle for use on deer. This requirement has meant that in order to be able to shoot all species of deer in the UK the .243 calibre is seen as the entry level calibre for deer stalking.
Producing around 1950 ft lbs of energy at the muzzle with 100 grain bullets the .243 goes on to transmit 1600 ft lbs at 100 yards and around 1350 ft lbs at 200 yards.
The bullet drop whilst being inferior to the .308 parent cartridge at longer ranges is in fact flatter shooting than the .308 out to at least 300yards due to its higher velocity. Typical drop for a 100grain bullet zeroed at 100 yards is 3.3 inches at 200 yards and 12.5 inches at 300 yards.
For many this is a great calibre with which to start deer stalking, added to that Home Office Guidelines for the police mean that for the beginner this is considered to be the most acceptable calibre for those first requesting a deer calibre on their Firearm Certificate.
Famously having been used by the LAPD SWAT teams this calibre benefits from mild recoil and muzzle blast and is extremely accurate. It is also very well suited to lighter framed shooters and in countries outside the UK where there are restrictions on the use of military calibres the .243 Winchester also fits the bill.
All in all for deer stalking in the UK it's a great calibre. Some will argue that it doesn't quite pack enough punch for the largest of our deer species however for Roe and Muntjac it is certainly one of the best calibres available.
At County Deer Stalking we use this calibre loaded with 100 grain Federal ammunition in a Sauer 202 as one of our Estate rifles.