If you are a seasoned sportsman and rifle user, you must admit that deciding on a particular type of rifle caliber has become harder by the day. This is mostly due to the many similarities, and differences gun calibers have and also the differing individual needs of hunters.
The hardest part comes when you are tasked with deciding upon which one between the 243 vs. 308 calibers is the best buy. I agree this can’t be an easy to choice to make because both calibers are great in different ways. It can’t also be an easy choice if you don’t have the facts concerning their history, ballistics, recoil, power and their availability and expense.
Only this knowledge can help you to make an actual comparison and contrast between the two cartridges. This article will provide you with just the right information needed to help you make a preferred choice between the two options.
Place of origin
.243 in (6.2 mm)
0.308 in (7.8 mm)
2.7098 in (68.83 mm)
2.800 (71.12 mm)
2.045 in (51.9 mm)
2.015 (51.18 mm)
52 or 53 to 54.8gr H2O
56 gr H2O (3.64 cm³)
60,000 psi (410 MPa)
62,000 psi (430 MPa)
1-10 to 1-8
1:12 in (305 mm)
The 243 cartridge was initially introduced into the market in 1955 by Winchester as a necked-down version of the .308 cartridge case. On its introduction, .243 was first chambered in the Winchesters models 70 bolt action and 88 lever action rifles. This rifle caliber initially combined 70-85 grain bullets for Varmint hunting and then later included 90 to 105-grain bullets for medium game.
It has since become very popular around the world and a favorite among sportsmen. The popularity of the cartridge then led to most manufacturers producing guns chambered in .243. Today finding rifles chambered in .243 is very easy, and the price is also quite affordable.
Unlike the .243 which is mostly a hunter’s choice, the 308 was initially produced for military use. Its military origin dates back to when the Second World War was ongoing. Winchester later introduced it to the commercial market in 1952 chambered in the Winchester rifle models 70 and 88.
While the .308 cartridge has undergone several developments since its introduction, Winchester also borrowed its design to develop the 7.62×51 mm NATO which was introduced two years later after the .308. In other words, the 7.62×51 mm NATO is a necked-down version of the .308 cartridge that continues to be a popular caliber across the globe for hunting big game.
It is, however, worth noting that although the case diameter for the 7.62×51 mm and the .308 are the same, the two calibers are in no way identical. You should, therefore, be careful when trying to mix either cartridge with the 7.63x 51 mm and 308 arms. Authorities, however, give the go-ahead for interchanging the calibers.
While both calibers have a rich and convincing history, it is still not enough information and reason to make a choice on either rifle. Here is more info:
When comparing the ballistics of two calibers, muzzle velocity, knockdown power, and distance is some of the main things often discussed. In this section, we will help you understand how far both cartridges can go, at what speed and how hard they can hit a target.
But before that, you must know that the ballistics of different calibers vary mostly with manufacturers. The values may not be the same, but the results are always relative. Therefore, for this comparison, we will only give average statistics.
Ordinarily, the 308 cartridges are significantly heavier that the 243 ones. This means that there is a noteworthy variance in the muzzle velocity, energy, power and overall performance between these calibers. However, you must know that both calibers have different bullet variations i.e. the 243 has both light bullets for varmint and heavier versions of the medium sized game. Similarly, the 308 cartridge is available in both lightweight and heavy for different applications.
Regarding muzzle velocity, the 243 caliber is, of course, the lighter one, flatter shooting and faster too. If we compare both calibers using their corresponding standard grains, 243 loaded with 100-grain bullets will travel at an average of 2966 fps while a 308 fitted with 150 grains will go at an average of 2800 fps. That’s a huge 66 muzzle velocity difference.
On their muzzle energy, well reviews indicate that the 308 cartridges have the comparatively better killing power and especially at longer ranges. This means that if you have a marginal shot due to any kind of affecting factors like the thick brush, the 308 will more likely anchor the target than a 243 would. Other than the energy, the distance with which each caliber can go is relative.
The 308 is effective within 600 yards rage. Within this range, you can drop an animal on the spot with less damage to edible meat. The 243, on the other hand, isefficient within 300 yards. If you exceed this range, then you have to aim well. Otherwise, you will end up tracking the animal for a while.
The best thing about the 308 calibers is that its bullets are available in a variety of designs and weights. This is why you will find most hunters choosing it over the 243 as it is can easily do what the 243 can do and even better but the 243 can’t do what the 308 can with the same efficiency.
Let’s just say that these are the many reasons why the 308 remains to be a popular choice for most hunters and also the most widely produced. However, this is not in any way meant to imply that it is superior to the 243. Remember, every user has a different need and what one finds suitable might not be appropriatefor the next person. So choose your poison wisely.
While recoil is a subject that is commonly discussed in relation to rifle calibers, people don’t understand that felt recoil is subject to certain factors. For instance, when there is an increase in bullet weight or velocity which in this case is the powder charge in any cartridge the recoil felt will be strong and vice versa.
In this very discussion, the 243 caliber has a seemingly lesser recoil compared to the 308 calibers. This makes the former easier to handle especially for target shooting and mostly for young individuals who are just getting acquainted with shooting and rifle handling.
The 308 kicks like a mule that’s a fact. However, that does not mean that it is less good. In any case, most users claim that the felt recoil for the 38 isn’t that bad as it can be managed. Well, most recoil can be managed not just for the 308 cartridges. With a softer and more absorbent recoil pad, heavy recoil can be made manageable. Additionally, regular practice on the range should get you used to use the 308 and eventually better management on the perceived recoil.
On which caliber is better between the 243 vs. 308, it all depends on your needs and how much you can handle. The trick, however, is to get a rifle that you are most comfortable with and to practice your hunting and shooting skills under various shooting conditions.
Expense and availability
When choosing a rifle caliber, availability of ammo is one element you must take into account. Most hunters fail to recognize the importance of this only to realize later after they’ve bought a particular caliber whose ammo is expensive and trouble finding too.
If you are keen, most stockers will have very little ammo for the less common calibers when it’s not hunting season. This means that if you own one of the less common calibers you will have a hard time during the low season. Comparing the 243 vs. 308, the latter is much more available and cheap too regarding cost and overall expense.
If you research online or locally, you will realize that you can easily find lots of both 308 and 243s. An advantage the 308 has over the 243 is that a lot of its rifles are chambered to fire 7.62 NATO which can make for some excellent cheaper ammo. Therefore, if what you want is a caliber that you can spend lots of time with at the range, then a 308 will be a better choice.
In conclusion, if you are looking to buy a rifle or to change your gun’s caliber, you need to consider more than just the manufacturers and also go beyond one line of caliber. You need to think about the type of game you will be hunting, size, reloading, cost and availability of ammo. Look at the ballistics and how much recoil the said caliber produces at various ranges. You also need to consider the knock down power and distance of the caliber you intend to choose.
If you choose wisely, you will certainly find that one caliber that will be able to serve your needs all rounds and cost effectively. So which direction are you going? The 243 or 308 or both?