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Survival Ammunition: .243 Winchester

by Paul-Martin Foss

Every time a new cartridge is introduced, wildcatters immediately begin to tinker with it, necking it up or down to fit smaller or larger caliber bullets. The .308 Winchester was no exception. And while many of those wildcat cartridges never gain widespread acceptance, every now and then you find one that hits it big.

Perhaps no other cartridge has spawned as many successful daughter cartridges as the .308 Winchester. No fewer than five commercial chamberings today are the direct result of that tinkering long ago with the .308 Winchester. And perhaps no other .308 derivative has become as popular as the .243 Winchester.

The .243 Winchester was created by necking down the .308 Winchester to accept 6mm-diameter bullets. 6mm bullets have long been popular with target shooters, as their high ballistic coefficient makes them less susceptible to wind drift. Thus 6mm cartridges are very often found among those who shoot at long ranges.

The .243 Winchester is the largest 6mm cartridge in common use, as it can push the heaviest 115-grain target bullets to over 3,000 feet per second from a long enough barrel, for about 2,300 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. It can push 90- to 95-grain bullets at 3,200 feet per second, 75-grain bullets at 3,400 feet per second, and 55-grain bullets at over 4,000 feet per second.

The wide range of bullets it can shoot makes it a popular cartridge for hunters too, with the heavier bullets being favored by those hunting deer and antelope, while the lighter bullets are favored by varmint shooters. Those looking at the .243 Winchester to shoot heavier bullets need to make sure that their rifles have the right bullet twist to stabilize those bullets. The normal 1-in-10 twist will stabilize bullets up to about 90-95 grains, while barrels with 1-in-8 twist are necessary to shoot the longer 95-grain VLD bullets and heavier bullets up to 115 grains.

The .243 Winchester is also a popular cartridge for women, children, and smaller statured shooters. Its low recoil makes it easier to shoot than more powerful cartridges. But that also makes it a popular cartridge for target shooters looking to save their shoulders from recoil during competitions that can see them shoot hundreds of rounds.

The .243 Winchester is also one of the most popular cartridges in the country, and ammunition can be found at any sporting goods store. So if you’re looking for an effective cartridge to stock up on for survival purposes, given the .243 Winchester a look.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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