6mm Remington (courtesy ammoland.com)

Doug Gilmer writes [ via AmmoLand.com]:

At 13 years old I saved enough money by Christmas of 1982 to purchase my first big game rifle, a brand new, iron sighted, Remington 700 Classic in 243 Winchester for $250. Later, I topped it with a Tasco 3x-9x; the same scope still sits on the rifle today. It has been rugged and dependable and its zero never changes. The combo have accounted for a number of deer over the years, including my first. Why change?

The 243 is often considered a starter gun for youth and women. Its low recoil makes it ideal for smaller framed shooters to shoot well without developing a flinch. It has also helped cure shooters of flinching brought on by shooting larger, heavier recoil firearms.

There will always be a debate as to whether or not the 243 is the ideal first deer rifle. But what no one can debate is that 6mm and the other .244/.243 cartridges are tried and true, solid performers.

In 1963 Remington renamed the .244 cartridge, calling it the 6mm Remington.

Over the years, hunters and shooters have had only a limited selection of .244 caliber cartridges. Not including the wildcat cartridges, the choices are primarily the 6mm Remington, the 243 Winchester, and the 240 Weatherby.

[I am not forgetting the 243 Winchester Super Short Mag, though everyone else has, including Winchester. It was short lived and is pretty much out of serious contention today.]

Todays 6mm Remington began life in 1955 as the 244. Remington chose to neck down the 257 Roberts (based on the 7×57 Mauser) and create something new and faster. Those 244 rifles performed best with lighter, 75-90 grain bullets in its slow twist barrel. The public, however, believed a 100 grain bullet was the minimum for deer sized game and it remained a varmint cartridge.

In 1963, with popularity of the 244 being overshadowed by the 243 Winchester, Remington re-barreled its rifles to a faster 1:9 twist allowing efficient use of heavier, 100 grain bullets. It renamed the 244 the 6mm Remington.

It was too late, however. While the 6mm’s effectiveness has not diminished, its popularity has. Not even Remington chambers it today and ammunition is scarce. 6mm Remington offers little benefit over the 243 Winchester despite its slightly larger case capacity. Commercial loads only show about 100 fps or less over the 243.

Both will launch lighter bullets at nearly 4000 fps and heavier 100 grain bullets at 3000 fps with a 2000+ pounds of muzzle energy. At 300 yards, the round is still delivering about 1200 foot pounds of energy and with a 200 yard zero, it only drops about seven inches.

Winchester’s 243, developed in 1953, overwhelmed Remington’s 6mm in sales and popularity. As a necked down 308, the 243 is an efficient cartridge, feeds exceptionally well in both bolt action and semi auto rifles, and is extremely accurate. It has gained tremendous popularity today in long range and sniper competitions using faster twist barrels and heavy caliber bullets.

The .243 is a standard chambering by every rifle manufacturer, ammunition is easy to find, and typically inexpensive. It remains popular as a “youth and ladies” gun though this is an unfair moniker. The 243 kills game just as effectively in the hands of a well-practiced, full grown man as it does a youth or woman. It does this while generating only about 10-pounds of recoil in a 7-pound rifle.

240 Weatherby Magnum (courtesy midwayusa.com)

Around 1968 Roy Weatherby, created the high performance 240 Weatherby Magnum. It can best be described as a 30-06 necked down to .244. Ammunition is only available from Weatherby but delivers a serious performance boost over the 6mm or 243 Winchester.

This comes at the expense of more powder, blast, recoil, and a shorter barrel life however. The 240 Weatherby will deliver about 300 fps more in velocity, a corresponding increase in energy, and flatter trajectory with its 26” barrel. For Weatherby fans, there is no equal.

While I appreciate the speed and performance, if I need the extra boost in power the 240 provides for big game, I will move up in caliber and down in rifle size.

So what good is a 6mm Remington, 243 or the louder and faster 240 Weatherby?

Remington Core-Lokt Bullet
Remington Core-Lokt Bullet

For starters, they are excellent varmint and predator cartridges. All cartirdges offer the flat trajectory and inherent accuracy needed for this task. They are also dual purpose guns, easily handling antelope and deer sized game. Many caribou and black bears have fallen to these rounds. I know hunters who have successfully used the gun on elk and I have personally watched moose taken with a 100 grain Remington Core-Lokt bullet.

Is it the best elk and moose cartridge? Definitely not. Will it work when in the hands of a skilled shooter who takes his or her time to make a good shot within reasonable range? It will.

These days my 243 goes with me to the farm loaded with Hornady Custom Lite Ammo with their 87 grain SST bullet. It is soft shooting, very accurate and works well on groundhogs and other pests.

It was designed as a lighter recoiling deer hunting round and it works well for that as well. My rifle also shoots Hornady’s 95 grain SuperPerformance loads [above] and Remington Core-Lokts equally well.

Today’s 6mm Remington‘s and related sister rounds have a great deal to offer. While the 243 leads in popularity, each is as effective as it is versatile. It’s not just a starter gun anymore.

About Doug Gilmer:

Doug Gilmer is a law enforcement and military veteran with over 25 years of experience and assignments operating throughout the United States and around the world in a variety of investigative, protective, tactical and direct action roles. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fly-fishing, hunting with a handgun, backcountry adventures, and volunteering with various outdoor themed wounded warrior events. He has been a frequent contributor to outdoor media for for several years with numerous articles and photos published in a number of media channels. He is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association as well as a former board member and executive officer.

27 Responses to 6mm Remington & .243 Ammunition – History and Usage

    • He also didn’t talk about .22 caliber, .264/6.5mm, .270, .280, .30, .32, .338, .35, (insert every caliber that isn’t .243/6mm here).

      It wasn’t within the scope of the article, that’s why he didn’t mention it.

      • Meh, don’t feel bad. He didn’t mention the 6×45 round either, but then again, there’s a billion other 6mm-based cartridges he didn’t mention.

  1. Rifles with a quarter inch bore definitely have a place in the overall scheme of things. They’re pleasant to shoot but still have enough power to take down good size game. My dog in the fight is a late 60’s vintage Remington 700 in .25-06. The gun was a gift from my brother – he’d bought it many years back from a friend who needed some money, My brother lives in “shotgun only” New Jersey and never shot it and passed it on to me for my 50th birthday. I probably wouldn’t have gone out and bought a rifle in that caliber. If I’d wanted a quarter inch bore I would have looked at something in a short action. However, the price was right and I’ve found that I really like the rifle. 3000+ feet per second is nothing to laugh at and I like it for coyotes, spring turkey, and smaller white tails. I prefer my .30-06 for deer in Michigan but I’m convinced that the .25 can do the job as well.

    • You do realize that .30-06 is overkill for white-tailed deer — even the largest white-tailed deer that Michigan produces. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with using .30-06. I am just saying that it is far more rifle than necessary.

      • Per Native Alaskan cheapskates, all that is “necessary” for any game that state produces, is Wal-Mart edition 22lr…..

        30-06 lightly loaded with lighter bullets, is much more pleasant to the ears than the overbore loudies. Biggest downer about realizing 30-06 really IS the bees knees for all things North America, is that it is just too bloody boring to limit oneself to only several identical copies of the exact same rifle, with the only difference being what round the scope is zeroed for…..

  2. Ditto. What about the .222 Swift, or Hornet. 32-20, 35-40, aforementioned 25-06 and a multitude of other calibers that have gone to reloaders and collectors. That were perfectly capable of putting meat on the table.

    41 Magnum comes to mind. Glad those that have them still use them and have the resources to keep rounds for them.

  3. I’m an older shooter. I like the light recoil and the easy carrying rifles the .243 is normally chambered in. I’m more than 20 years older than my next oldest hunting partner. It’s easier to keep up with them with a .243 than a 7mm remington magnum.

  4. I’m contemplating a .243 versus one of the various 6.5 CM offerings as a deer rifle. Any thoughts on this from the TTAG regulars that are in the know about these two loads? Does the .243 have as much accuracy potential as 6.5 CM? I hear if you are going to go 6.5 CM that reloading is a must. Is this the same with .243? Opinions welcome.

    • I cannot comment about 6.5 mm Creedmoor. I can tell you that .243 Winchester is a proven cartridge with plentiful choices in factory ammunition. Unless you are looking to take shots beyond 300 yards, I would say .243 Winchester is the way to go, whether you want to hand load or use factory ammunition.

    • http://precisionrifleblog.com/2015/10/12/best-rifle-caliber/

      .243 should do pretty well. Hornady has decent price on 6.5 CM so I wouldn’t sweat it that much. Quality hunting (or match) ammo in 6.5 CM will be around $1.30 a round. .243 will be $.80 or so. Good luck finding match .243 in reliable quantities though.

      http://www.jbmballistics.com/cgi-bin/jbmtraj_simp-5.1.cgi
      JBM says the 6.5 140gr eld-x at 2850fps will have an advantage over .243 105gr a-max at 3000fps. But the energy and drop difference is pretty negligible.

    • For hunting, go with the .243. Hunting loads are becoming available for 6.5 CM, but they may not be around forever. .243 has been around for decades, and will continue to do so. FOr match shooting, a lot of shooters are going from 6.5mm to the .243 caliber, so match ammo will only become more available. .243 is a great choice.

  5. When I get to the point that money is no object, I want a custom AR-10 … chambered in .243 Winchester. I think the .243 Winchester is the best “compromise” between the intermediate calibers (.223/5.56mm, .300 AAC Blackout, and 7.62 x 39mm) and the big-game calibers (.270, .308, and .30-06). I see it being and excellent choice for self-defense against human attackers as well as medium game hunting.

    Note: I do not anticipate shots beyond 300 yards. Past that point, you really have to start to account for wind, rotation of the earth, and distance (drop). And to determine distance accurately, you need an expensive range finder. In other words, accurate shooting at random distances beyond 300 yards becomes too expensive for me. Under 300 yards, I believe the .243 Winchester provides everything you need and nothing that you do not need for self-defense, varmint hunting, and medium game hunting.

  6. I also owned a Remington 700, but mine was in 6mm. With a Redfield receiver sight and fine peep, and the smallest ivory front bead available, that gun would shoot 5-shot, 1.5″ groups off a bench all day. What’s more, the rifle fired 80gr 6mm, 90gr 244, and 100gr 6mm rounds to the same point of impact.
    I traded that rifle to my brother-in-law to get a 45 auto M1911A1 that my dad had owned almost 50 years ago. I still miss it…

  7. My first rifle was a Savage 99C in 243 took all kinds of coyotes down withSierra 60grain hollow points and my first deer and elk with 100grain RRemington core lokt . 243 not the perfect gun for any one type of hunting but a great all round rifle. Still have mine

  8. I love my .243, Remington model 783, @ 100yd I can cover a five shot group with a nickel (using Sierra 75g hp handloads) @ 200yd same group covered with a half dollar coin, factory loads aren’t as tight, but still damn close, this will be my first season to hunt, period. So as far as how well it does on a critter, well i have no clue yet, but my guess is it will kill it as dead as I need it, a 300yd shot isn’t going to be crazy hard with it, but I plan to use handloads for the added accuracy and pride, i would reccomend that rifle to man, woman, or youth, great rifle, until you need warranty help, then I’ll say remington is not the greatest in customer service, but it is goes without saying that the rifle is stupid accurate, and in cost comparison I’m glad I shied away from the 6.5 creedmore, the rifle/ammo combo is far cheaper, and as far as I can shoot the accuracy isn’t much different between the two.

    • Everything that I have heard is that .243 drops white-tailed deer like a sack of potatoes if you put the shot in their heart/lung area. I have seen countless deer run at least 40 yards after hitting them with .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and even .50 caliber (from muzzleloaders) in the heart/lung region.

      As far as I can tell, the bullets in the larger calibers tend to plow through (as in pass-through) without full bullet expansion. The .243 Winchester with its lighter bullet (100 grains rather than 150 to 180 grains) must mushroom violently and create a literal explosion in the chest of the deer on impact. I can only imagine that the explosion creates a shock wave that travels to the brain and causes blood vessels to burst in the brain — hence the critters dropping like a sack of potatoes.

      If your shots are constrained to 300 yards or less, I don’t think you will be disappointed with .243 Winchester’s ability to drop deer or smaller game.

      • The caliber, and even the shot placement isnt a sure predictor of how far a white tail deer will run. I’ve seen them shot with everything out there; some run, some don’t. I’ve even seen a white tail deer run more than 100 yards after being shot through the heart. As in, when guttting it, the entire left ventricle was shredded to pieces. And that deer even jumped a fence as it ran.

  9. I have an absolutely beautiful 1955 Winchester model 88 in .243, it was my grandpa’s and i would love to shoot it more but it has a really bad habit of breaking firing pins. They’re expensive and very difficult to come by so if anybody in TTAGs land has a solution I would sure be greatful.

  10. I bought my Remington 788 in .243 Win about 1980 or so at Target South in Fort Wayne. I paid about $ 90 for it and put a used El Paso Texas Weaver V9 scope on it for $50 from a gun shop in Larwill. I actually bought the rifle to shoot groundhogs which were nibbling on the bean field further on out. I won a faux cardboard deer hunting shooting contest at Blue Creek with it. The rifle has mild recoil and shoots very flat so you can concentrate very well on the shot. I still have the gun until I lost it in the river when I fell of a cliff.

  11. For over 50 years, most of the deer harvested in the Northeast that didn’t fall to a .30-30 Winchester lever action rifle fell to a bolt gun in .243 Winchester.

    I’ve always found the .243 Win. delightful to shoot and very accurate. My last rifle purchase was a very cherry 1975 Winchester Model 94 in .30-30. My next rifle will be a nice, vintage .243.

    Damn, I love classic rifles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *