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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to big game hunting with a centerfire rifle. I've purchased a .243 for fox/coy, and deer but have been told/read that the .243 is ok for bear and elk. Specifically:

Some guys at the gun range have "testified" that they have taken elk and bear with this round and a well known hunting writer wrote for him "the .243 has proven to be more effective in stopping deer, antelope and black bear in their tracks than many medium calibers shooting heavier bullets."

I know shot placement is #1, but have any of you experienced shooting black bear/elk with the .243?

Mike.
 

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While there is no arguement that it has, and continues to be used for elk and bear, it would not be my first choice for either.
Make your shots count, keep the range reasonable and it will take bear reliably. I have no experience on elk, but I understand it has been used on moose. The result was in an article in "Ontario Out of Doors" Took some seven shots to put down the moose.
No doubt, using premium bullets at fairly close range, and picking your shots, one shot kills are possible.
I'm telling you to get a bigger gun for anything bigger that black bear for saftey, and for respect of the animal.
As to it being more effective that medium bores on game like deer and bigger:
I have seen it drop deer like lightning from a nice well placed shot. But nothing I have not done with the 30-30. In fact, the two are more compareable than many would admit. The 243 is flatter shooting, and has longer range on light game like deer, it has an affinity for premium bullets. The 30-30 carries more bullet mass, and does not require a premium bullet for penetration. In a bolt gun, it can be loaded with a pointed bullet, even a boattail, and have range, and trajectory compareable to the 243, with more energy.
Comparing it to anything larger than a 30-30 will be an uphill battle for you, unless you are varmint shooting.
 

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I have to agree

One of the biggest bears ever killed in New York State was shot with a .22/250. He was deer hunting with the only gun he had and happened upon the bear. Killed it with no problem.

I have to agree with John that although the .243 will kill an elk and many other animals, it is just not adequate under all situations. Most people do not have the patience to wait for the perfect shot. If your paying $10,000 for an Alaskan hunt, maybe the only one of your life, do you want a caliber that will do an excellent job, marginal, or questionable?

I have seen too many days wasted because someone took a marginal shot and then the hunting party had to spend hours trying to recover a wounder animal.

Even though I use the .243 for caribou.....I would say that that is the limit. Caribou aren't all that tough.
 

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One of the longest tracking jobs I ever had to do was after my wife shot a nice Black Bear. The bear was about 120 yards away when she fired her first shot. The bears reaction was to take off running in the direction he was facing. The wife got two more shots into the bear before it went out of sight. The load she was using was a Nosler 100 gr. Partition ahead of 40.0 gr. of IMR- 4350. We tracked the bear for at least a half a mile before we found him under a red oak, down but still very much alive. Our son ended the chase with his .270. It was after this incident that I built the wife her 6.5 mm Swede. While cleaning the bear we found that the first shot entered between two ribs, went through a lung and flattened out on the bone in the right foreleg without breaking it. Her second shot was a little low and back just missing the heart. Her third shot struck a rib entering the bear and was recovered against the bibs on the off side. I know bears are taken with smaller rifles but they can and do bite back which in my opinion makes the .243 way too small for the job. If your going after black bears then get something more suitable. Lawdog
 

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I wouldn't attempt to use a .243 on bear or elk. To me, it's a tad small for whitetails....I have buddies that use them, but I still think they are too small.

Most of the time when you shot something with a .243, if the animal doesn't drop instantly, you have to track them without much or any blood trail.

My minimum caliber on elk would be a 30.06.........probably the same on a bear.

I'd prefer a 7Mag or a 300Mag......... :D
 

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I have no experience with bears but the 243 is what my wife uses for elk. It would not be my top choice but she is small and not into recoil at all. To date she has taken 2 cow elk with it and it performed very well. The load was a Speer 105 gr SP. The first elk she shot was 125yds away looking at us and she put one shot right in the chest. The elk staggered and walked about 20yds and fell over dead. The autopsy showed a perfect heart shot. The second was about 100 yds away and broadside as well. This shot hit the elk square in the lungs and the elk ran off and crumpled up about 60yds from where it was hit. This bullet punched both lungs and I found it just under the hide on the far side in a classic mushroom. Both these were mature cows that would go about 400lbs. With well placed shots and heavy bullets it will work on elk. I have seen it.
 

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With heavy bullets (i.e. 140-160 grains) I would say a good hunter could take an elk or even a moose with a .260 Remington. This would be a ballistic copy of the 6.5mm Swede. I would NOT use such a load on bear or mountain lion, or other dangerous game.

A .243 I would limit to whitetail or mule deer, and smaller critters, unless I were desperately hungry.

As for the question, CAN it do it? Certainly. One of the great hunters of all time took 1100 elephants with a .276 caliber bullet. A lot of lesser men died trying. Not a bet I'd choose to make.
 

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.243 good for black bear, elk

Don't be foolish and even consider using a .243 on either of these animals, using this varmint round. If you corner a black bear by accident and you are carrying a .243 then the only choice you have is to use it then you have no choice, but to go hunting for them with this round is "FOOLISH". Don't let anyone else try to convince you otherwise because they don't know what they are talking about.
" It is a fool who learns by his own mistakes, it is a wise man who learns from others mistakes".
 

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Gotta agree with Bigbore! 243 just ain't enough gun most of the time for elk. It would be a major mistake unless you're really into stalking and trying to get close. In that case take a bow and really make it a challenge for elk (I wouldn't bow hunt for dangerous game although some do). If you really want to use the 243 (can't afford a bigger gun or don't want to wait until you can) then make sure you are able to hit a 2 inch circle 10 of 10 times at the range and from the position you intend to fire...and then stick to that distance, know the anatomy of the animal and place a percision shot to a vital area that your bullet will penetrate to enough depth to be fatal (heart, head, spine). Make sure you stay away from bone at entry or a heart shot. Guess this would be like fishing with ultra-light tackle, difference is the fish usually isn't too worse for wear if the line breaks but if you don't kill cleanly, you might end up feeding the wolves and coyotes. I hunt whitetail with a 6mm Rem and although when I bought it 30 years ago it was considered adequate (as was the .243) they are both considered marginal for large deer in today's ballistic world. Look at the ballistic charts and you'll see the .264 Mag and 7mm Mag have more energy at 200 and 300 yards respectively than the 243 has out of the muzzle, and most guides would tell you this is the very least you should come with for elk at those ranges (and most don't like .264). Yes bullet placement is #1, but you're going to find it hard to resist that 150 yard shot at a GREAT looking rack, when ballistically your 243 is way off the scale for a guaranteed fatal shot with only 1500 ft lbs of energy (at best).
Helicopter Bill
 

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.270.....

how about the .270 for elk or bear i have heard its as strong as the 30/06 but im not sure could yall tell me what is as strong as the .270

Craig
 

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Craig,
Pull the ballistic table off the remington web site. 270's have taken lots of elk, but you can only retain 1500 ft lbs out to 200yard with a 150gr bullet. Longer shots still take an elk? Maybe, but why risk it. Keep shots close or get a bigger gun.
Helicopter Bill
 

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hey

i am only 15 and i cant go elk hunting i live in texas and just wanted to see how strong my .270 is and thanks for the info.

Craig :)
 

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243 on elk is used pretty often, but it wouldnt even be my last choice. I almost question the use of one on deer. Sure they will kill an elk if everything is right, but id rather use something that makes a bigger hole and penetrates twice as deep. I dont put much faith in energy numbers as energy doesnt do the damage, the bullet does. Id rather look at penetration and wound channel size. I think .270 is a good minimum, 7mm is ok, .30 caliber is good and larger than 30 calibers are even better. Elk arent invincible, but they are extremely tough compared to deer.
 

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I use a .243 for blacktails and it works great for deer, but I wouldn't take it elk hunting. I use a 30-06 for elk and never have any doubts that it will do the job.
 

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While I agree that the 243 is on the light side for elk, I have to admit I have used mine on them. I was very careful about shot placement and all went down with one 100 grain Partition. It would not be my first choice for elk, but I have every confidence that it will do the job IF you do your's. These forums tend to stress the optimum equipment for every situation while not considering the fact that some people want to hunt with what they have. Not everyone can afford to go buy a new gun for a special hunt and as long as they are well versed on the limitations of their weapon, I say go hunting.
 

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I agree, these forums do tend to talk about the optimum cartridge. But in this case i dont think a 243 even classifies as minimal. Or ethical. There is just a whole lot of difference between a a deer and an elk. A 243 is on the light side for deer in my opinion. I would much rather use a 30-30. If cost is your concern, look at a used 30-06, or even a surplus 8x57 mauser. These are elk cartidges, and they are in a whole different catergory than a 243. Its just my opinion, but he asked, and thats what these forums are about.

In summary, NO, get something bigger. Lots of deer are killed with 22LR, but that doesnt mean a 22 is a proper deer cartridge.
 

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Sure, you could take down an elk or a black bear with a 243 but you'd have to wait for an ideal broadside shot. Unfortunately on a normal length hunt you may only get one opportunity at a legal animal, the range might be a bit far for a light cartridge and the angle might be less than ideal . A heavier cartridge would be much more suitable for penetrating heavy bone and getting that bullet into the vitals.
The other thing to consider is what if something goes wrong and you make a bad hit. (it happens to the best of us) Now you are obligated to bring that animal down at any means. You may be forced to shoot a 800 lb. that is running directly away. This would require a powerful cartridge with a premium bullet. Sorry, the .243 doesn't make the cut.
The general consensus among guides around here is that a 270 with premium bullets is minimum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the answers to my question. Being new to big game/centerfire rifle hunting I needed to ask since a few of the old timers at the local range insisted a .243 is perfectly OK for elk/bear. They never did mention the ones that got away wounded. I'll limit the .243 to deer, but will use the inherited 7mm mag for the elk/bear. I'm also going to buy a .270 or .308.
 
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