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243 Winchester


Introduced in 1955, the 243 Winchester is merely a necked-down, 24-caliber, version of the 308 Winchester with no other changes.  Winchester envisioned the 243 as a combination varmint- and deer-hunting round.  As such, it uses a 10-twist barrel to stabilize 100-grain bullets built to properly perform on deer.

The 243 Winchester is a wildly successful round, chiefly because of modest recoil.  However, it is not without limitations.  Ballisticians widely recognize difficulties in the lab.  They offer prudent advice for handloaders working with the 243 Win: Follow the recipe exactly; do not assume that any substitution of any component will result in a safe load.  While this is good advice with any handloading for any round, it is particularly cogent advice with the 243.

In Colorado and much of the Western U. S., for half a century and longer, the 243 has been the smallest and least powerful chambering commonly used for elk and deer hunting.  As always, with the right bullet it will do the job.

As my friend, Terry Brewer, correctly observed: “There is no replacement for shot placement.”  The modest recoil of the 243 makes it easier for most folks to place the shot well, which is of no small value.

Success is a good measure of the value of any chambering and the 243 is wildly successful.  Not once, not twice, but three times, I have worked with a couple at the local range during Hunter Sight-In Days where the wife has a 243 and got her or elk the previous year while the husband with his eargasplitenloundenboomer superultramagnum got skunked.

Obviously, despite my comments indicating the limitations of the 243, if you have one, it can and will serve you well.  Working with good tools and good components and following a good recipe from a modern manual will result in a good outcome.

Accurate Rl-26 will allow you to get surprising velocity with heavy hunting bullets in the 243.  This is no small matter.  The Nosler 100-grain Partition launched at 3050 fps from a 22-inch barrel delivers serious elk medicine for shots to at least 200 yards.

Heritage of this case dates to the 1870s with the introduction of the 40-70 Ballard case.

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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