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Don Fischer's picture
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243 or 25-06 part 2

A fellow just asked about the 25-06 or 243 for his girlfriend. Got me to thinking again about the cartridges we've pretty much lost in this class that would work really well. Probally better than the 243 or 25-06.

How about the 250-3000 Savage and the 257 Roberts. Then it seems the 260 Rem is on the way out for all but handloaders. There are also several small case European 6.5's that would make wonderful starter cartridges, in fact are wonderful cartridges in their own right but American's don't want much that goes less than 3000fps.

Then people like this show up, what's to offer that is truely friendly to shoot? The 243 is about it and it's a bit short on bullets. The 25-06 is a wonderful and we all know it's nice to shoot but, concider you haven't shot much befor or at all and the 25-06 is the first thing you try. Boy can it make some noise! And if you tried to put it into a nice little carbine with a 20" barrel like maybe a 6.5x52 Carcano or even a 6.5x54 M-S and the muzzle blast would be awful. Somrtimes I think we are our own worst enemy.

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243 or 25-06 part 2

In my little neck of the woods a box of 250-3000 would be a hard item to locate.
Federal still produce the 260 Rem and 257 Roberts shells, but I'd probably have to order them along with most of the 6.5s.
And I wouldn't be throwing the cases away neither. But you're quite correct Don, all good,often overlooked calibres

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243 or 25-06 part 2

I hear ya Don
My dad gave me his Rem 760 pump in 257 Roberts when I was very young. (Fact was he wanted a new 30-06 but a young couple with 4 little kids money was tight and mon said he would have to sell the 257 to buy a new gun. Dad said that I would need a gun and gave it to me instead)
Anyways I carried that 257 exclusivly for years killing many a deer and even a few bears with it. Still got the gun and break it out once or twice a year for hunting up in the Adirondacks. My collection of hunting guns has grown and I some times overlook ol,Bob, as I named the gun. Still agreat deer caliber, just loosing popularity

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243 or 25-06 part 2

Don,

I'm a bit puzzled about your comment that the .243 is "a bit short on bullets"? Are you talking about factory loads? Seems I don't find a lot of choices in the others then, either. If you're looking at something like the Hornady catalog, there are about twice as many offerings in 6mm than in .25, 6.5mm, or 7mm.

Granted, there are quite a number of handloaded possibilities best suited for varmints, but I don't know that I'd want to be shooting a 60 grain bullet at a deer just because it was fired out of a .25-06 case, either.

Aside from that, I seem to find .243 stocked on the shelves of every sporting goods store I visit, which I can't always say for the .25-06, the 7mm-08, and very rarely for the .250 Savage, 257 Roberts, or 6.5x55mm. As well, it seems like the .243 is offered in a much wider variety of firearms as well. I don't think I'll ever worry that the ammo or the rifles will disappear from the store shelves the way the .250, .257, and 6.5 have. Might there be a reason the .243's been such a runaway commercial success?

Granted, I don't shoot the .25-06, .257, .250, .260, or 7mm-08, nor will I likely ever own one as I have a .243 in the rack already, as well as a .30-06 and a .308 and a .300. The .243 gives me versatility for deer and smaller game, while the .30s give me versatility for deer and larger game. Now, while I won't argue that any of the cartridges you mention are great for deer, I'll turn your bullet argument against you if you want to chase elk (not that I necessarily believe it - since I know a .243 will do a deer in reliably, I'm pretty certain you wouldn't be undergunned with a 7mm-08 on elk).

My point is simply this: too many shooters start out with a heavier caliber that "trains" poor marksmanship tendencies (flinching), which in turn doesn't promote vital practice. If the largest game you intend to take on is deer, why would you select a larger caliber more suitable for something like ... an elk or moose?

Don Fischer's picture
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243 or 25-06 part 2

Doghouse,

What I'm talking about is hunting bullet's. I believe that about the only hunting bullet's in comercial stuff are 100gr, maybe someone loads a 90 gr? Then I think what I've seen is 80gr. If you go to handloads, everything about the bullets gets a bit fuzzy unless you stick with he 90gr partition and various 100 gr bullets. But the weights avaliable, in my opinion, are more varmit bullets than good hunting bullets. Same cannot be said about the 25cals. The 100gr bullets are certainly hunting bullets. then there the 115 class and the 120 class. And I'm only talking about readily avaliable here. I know there are companies that make heavier for both cals.

The line between varmit and hunting is much more clear cut in 25 cal. I have read where a lot of guys believe that some 80 gr 24 cal bullets are great. I'm sure they will work in the right circumstance but the circumstances get reduced the closer you get to varmit weight's. I have shot a few deer with the 243 and didn't have any problem. One of those deer was a doe I shot with the 75gr V-Max. I think you'll agree that is no game bullet. Things are possible with the cartridge that I don't think we should advertise.

As for teaching people to shoot with larger cartridges and learning to flinch. It sure can happen. But some cartridges in 25 cal and 6.5 are so low on recoil that I doubt it will. You notice I reject the 25-06 as a starter even tho I really like it. It's the percieved recoil I'd keep away from the new shooter. As for avaliableity of factory ammo, your right there too. I think the death of some cartridges is sad. The 250-3000, the 257 Roberts ect.
what they had over the 24 cals is a better selection of hunting weight bullets. Of course it can be rightly said, you only need one good bullet. But then how does the beginner know what bullet that is when the weights are grouped so close and the better bullets for game are few?

Now I have never shot a 7mm-08 but I have most all the rest excepting the Weatherbys. And I think all are fine. It's just that some I believe to be better than others and still remain very comfortable for the new shooter.

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243 or 25-06 part 2

Don,

I thought that's what you meant by hunting bullets. That being the case, what's the difference between shooting a deer with a .6mm 100 gr bullet and a .25 100 gr bullet?

105 gr 6mm bullets are also readily available for handloaders. That would be a "hunting bullet" too, correct? But, a .243 shooter who doesn't handload can obtain ammunition with "good" premium-quality bullets, nonetheless. Perusing the Remington catalog, I see .243 offered in nearly every one of the premium lines, where I don't see any of the .25s.

I'd have to agree that any 6mm pill of less than 100 gr isn't what I'd recommend for deer, certainly not a 75 gr V-Max.

Again, my point: the .243 is perfectly capable of taking deer when 100 gr bullets are used, and ammunition is so widely available and in such a wide variety of "quality" that the beginner doesn't need to worry about reloading right away. I doubt that the average shooter won't recognize much difference in recoil betwen the .243, 260, and .7mm-08 until the heavier 7mm bullets are fired. They're all what I'd consider "low-recoiling". Otherwise, the .243 being offered by nearly every rifle maker and in nearly every action available merits its serious consideration as a deer cartridge.

We'll probably have to just agree to disagree here.

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243 or 25-06 part 2

Doghouse,

No we are not going to agree to disagree, I'm going to agree with you mostly. Are 105gr bullets abaliable in factory ammo? So, while I buy the 100gr notion, the big advantage for the 25's are that at 100gr you just get into hunting bullets.

I might add that Nosler makes a 90gr partition for the 243. I just don't hear much about it. Because of this,,,,,,,,shortage of bullets is why I don't like the 243. But I'm also the first to say it has a track record that can't be dinighed.

My view of the 243 is that it's more preditor cartridge than deer or varmit cartridge and the 25's just step over the line. They are more deer cartridge than preditor cartridge. Neither makes a particularly good varmit cartridge. Mild as they are they are still very violent by 223 standards. By the way, I'm on my third 243 right now. Seem's like they should be just perfect for something but I can't find it. I get rid of this one and I'm sure there will be another. My dearly departed wife had a 6mm Rem and when I had her 6.5x55 made, she never shot the 6mm again.

Someone is going to disagree here but the 243 is defined as a deer cartridge by the 100gr and 105gr bullet's; as a varmit cartridge by the 55, 60, 70, 75 and 80gr bullets. The 85, 87 and 90gr bullets turn it into gray area. The 25's on the other hand have for varmots, 60gr, 75 and 87gr bullets for varmits; for game there's 100, 110, 115/117 and 120gr bullets. Doesn't seem to be a gray area.

I'm also handcuffed here in that I haven't fired factory ammo other than rimfire, and not much of that, in longer than I can remember. I know I've been reloading about 35 to 40 yrs.

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243 or 25-06 part 2

Don,

Trouble is, the hunting world is full of folks who aren't like us - people who can't afford or it just doesn't make sense based upon the game they pursue - to have a battery of different calibers in the safe. People who may only get to the range once or twice a year before the season opens, and who don't have the time, confidence, or initial cash outlay to reload.

For a long time, the .243 was the only centerfire rifle I owned (and could afford). It's also effectively the "minimum" caliber permitted for big game hunting in my state. Unfortunately, I also ran a trap line and called coyotes intermittently through college. The .243 made sure I didn't starve during college, and although a bit heavy, with 75 grain HPs (not V-Maxes) available as factory ammo from Hornady under the "Frontier" name, stopped quite a number of coyotes and a couple bobcats. Yeah, I'd liked to have had a .223 or a .22-250 for varmints, but then I wouldn't have been able to hunt deer legally. And yeah, I'd liked to have had a .25-06, .270, or .30-06 for deer, since it was also my plan to hunt elk, but then I'd not have had much fur left to sell. Even with a 75 or 60 grain .257 bullet, it'd been driven at such a high velocity that it'd have destroyed the pelts - and would have required me to reload (which I didn't have money to start up, either), since those light bullets aren't available as factory loads that I've ever seen.

Aside from that, my mother and my wife (and I'm sure one day 12 years from now, my daughter) prefer the .243 over any of the other rifles in the family. A .25-06 isn't part of that group, and were I to buy another caliber somewhere between .30-06 and .243, it'd be a .270, not a .25-06 (130 v 120 grain bullets for deer, 150 v 120 grain bullets for elk) - and there are a lot more rifles to choose from in .270 than in .25-06, just like the .243. For varmints, I'll sure take the .223 or .22-250 to the field, but the .243's going to be in the rack too, just in case it's a windy day.

I've hunted deer successfully for years with a .243 using 100 gr bullets, that I can't get anything bigger than 105 gr bullets is really unimportant - since 100 gr bullets work just fine. And, in spite of their reputation, since the 100 gr has worked just fine, I'll probably never see the need to step down to a 90 gr Nosler Partition for deer, either. My equation for deer and antelope with the .243 is 100 gr bullets. For varmints, 75 gr bullets. Nothing more, nothing less. Why change something that works? I don't see a "gray area" like you do - it's pretty cut-and-dried from my own experience. In spite of how many bullet choices you might say there are for the .25-06, if I owned one of them, I'd probably shoot 120s and 75s in it, too, finding loads the rifle liked and then sticking to them. I don't have time to go to the range that often to re-zero a rifle with new loads.

Young, soon-to-be hunters who'll likely cut their teeth on deer or antelope out here are going to hear me recommend the .243 to them if they had to buy a rifle, based upon its runaway commercial success and consequent availability of rifles and factory ammunition, as well as it's forgiving personality in terms of recoil and blast (which is as much a factor sometimes as recoil). When they're accomplished deer hunters (and marksmen), and a little larger in stature, they'll be ready to consider something heavier, like a .30-06 or .300, for elk, moose, and nearly anything else they may ever hunt on the continent.

If someone's bent on a .25-06, my only concern is that they learn to shoot it well (just as they must do with any weapon). The tradeoff out here (I don't recall where you live and hunt) is recognition that unless they handload, they shouldn't plan on hunting varmints for pelts. And, though it can be done, 120 grain bullets are still a bit on the light side for elk. You're obviously one of the .25-06's fans, and that's fine. In my opinion, the one significant drawback to the .25-06 is that it IS a deer rifle, too big for vamints, too small for elk. But if ALL you're hunting is deer, I don't see how you could go wrong with a .25-06.

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243 or 25-06 part 2

Doghouse,

Your missing something here. While I do like the 25-06, I also recognize the value of other cartridges as well, including the 243, which by the way I own. My 25-06 is at my son's place, he uses it. I replaced it with something else.

But this discussion was not to talk of the merits of either the 243 or the 25-06 but rather the fine starter cartridges that are gone that would fill the gap so well. Cartridges like the 250-3000 and the 257 Roberts. The 243 pretty much seems to have run them off for some reason. I think it was gun writter's. They got a new geewiz kid to talk of and went to town. The 244 Rem came out at the same time and didn't make it. Nit picked by gun writters. Do you really think the 243 is any better than the244/6mm rem, 250-3000 or the 257 Robert's? It's not and it's not any worse either. It's different but the advantage is a better selection of hunting weight bullets in 25 cal. What's it's advantage over the 244/6mm Rem? Personnally I don't think the 25-06 is a good a starter cartridge as the 243, 250-3000 or the 257 Roberts. But you'll hear their fans all make a great case for each. But the truth is the 25-06 is a much more violent cartridge than the others. That all by itself will intimidate some new shooters. I think that maybe the small 6.5 european cartridges may be even better starters because of better bullets and low recoil levels without all the fuss of a 25-06 going off. New shooters and hunters don't need a 400yd cartridge, they need one they can learn to shoot that has good hunting bullets weather varmit or game. But the bullet issue should always lean toward game. A 120gr bullet will kill a very small animal with any solid hit, a fragile 75 gr bullet may well not do so good on bigger game.

You said your 243 was all you could afford for a long time and that it worked great on deer and coyotes, you carried it on your trap line. Had the 243 been a 250-3000 instead of a 243, you would likely feel the same way about the 250-3000, or you could insert the 223 here assuming it would have been legal' I know it wasn't. You could even insert the 30-06 for that matter.

The problem as I see it is the same many people fall onto. Your championing your favorite cartridge without reguard to what it's short commings may or may not be. Notice I said MAY or MAT NOT.

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243 or 25-06 part 2

Don,

I'm not trying to malign the .25-06, the .250, or the .257. I just don't agree with your statements that the .243 isn't an adequate deer cartridge when I (and a couple other people, I'm guessing) have used it very successfully.

Sure the .250-3000 and .257 Roberts are great deer cartridges, and if you're lucky enough to find one on the used rack in decent shape, I'd have a tough time not recommending either of them, especially to a new deer hunter. I'll still bet you that for every box of ammo for them I find, I find 20 boxes of .243. I'll pass on the .25-06, though.

The 6mm Rem was stillborn basically because Remington marketed it as the .244 Remington first, in rifles rifled at a rate best suited for varmint-weight (i.e. 80 gr) bullets. The .244 consequently didn't shoot heavier bullets as accurately, where the .243 did. The .244 found a small niche with varmint hunters, while the .243 found a niche as an "all-around" cartridge. Remington copied that equation and brought out the 6mm Remington, basically the .244 rifled to stabilize heavier bullets. But, the market share already went to the .243 by then, and the 6mm never caught back up. I did a lot of reading when I bought that first .243, and to tell you the truth, I had my mind set on a 6mm Remington instead, but couldn't ever find one at the local gun shop. I can't tell you why the .250-3000 and .257 died out, and while it might have had something to do with gun writers, it sure seems that I don't find much variety in rifles of either of those calibers, where I can find .243s in lever, pump, semiauto, bolt, and single-shot actions?

And, truth be known, my favorite cartridge isn't the .243, it's the .30-06 (oh, we can argue that one next if you'd like?! - ha, ha). Next on the list is probably the .375 H&H, but you're not going to find me pointing that one at a deer. I'm fortunate today to own a variety of rifles in a variety of calibers, including .223, .22-250, .243, .308, .30-06 (x2), .300 Wby Mag, and .375 H&H. Each has unique characteristics that I find worthy enough that they'll all long find a home in my gun safe.

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