Best 243 Rifles – 2021 Top Picks Reviewed

| Last Updated: June 8, 2021

The .243 or 6mm has been a very effective varminting and medium game caliber for a long time now. Especially for recoil-sensitive and young shooters. It is also a very flat shooting caliber due to its supersonic speeds and great ballistics.

A versatile short action cartridge with some serious ammo upgrades through time and a wide range of rifles to choose from. But the .243 is prone to some of its own peculiarities. Some are commonly known, whereas others only to be unfolded by pros. For example, the ‘brass expansion’ and ‘barrel eater’ issues. 

Let’s learn more about such considerations and also get a hands-on review of the best .243 rifles available on the market today. 

Comparison of the Best .243 Rifles

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best youth .243 rifle
  • Barrel measured at 20 inches
  • Includes a Bushnell Banner 3-9x40 scope
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  • Made in the USA
  • Best .243 rifle for hunting
  • Lightweight synthetic stock
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What to Watch For When Buying a .243 Rifle

The .243 is a versatile round, capable of taking down a wide range of game animals. From rock chucks and all the way up to mule deer and even elks with the right shot placement. But you must be aware of a few important factors when choosing a .243 rifle. To ensure optimally and hassle-free performance. 

Ankit Kumar - Writer for Gunmann.com

This Section Written By:

Ankit Kumar

Expert Author

Ankit Kumar is an engineer turned writer who specializes in topics related to firearms, gun safety and weapon tech. His passion towards enrolling in the Army drifted his interest towards light and heavy firearms. He’s a qualified competitive air rifle shooter and an avid nature lover. His other areas of expertise include survival, prepping and firearms/ammo storage. When he’s not writing, he’s either learning a new skill, trekking or enjoying a long drive.

Barrel Life

The .243 Winchester is a lightweight and high velocity round. Reaching speeds of approximately 3,900 fps with 58-grain V-Max bullets. The high operating pressures of factory loads and a supersonic bullet tend to eat up the barrel lining pretty fast. Getting even worse if you undergo long shooting sessions with quick consecutive shots on a hot day, without letting the barrel cool. 

The expected barrel life of a .243 win barrel lies in the range of 1,500 +/- shots. With some even burning it out before 1,000 shots. An effective solution to this issue is handloading your own ammunition. Which is very much doable with the .243. It is an exceptional round for handloading. 

For better results, you may employ the use of a slow-burning powder like the H1000 or H4350 and not utilize the full case capacity and using bullets in the range of 70-100 grains. Lower pressure equals more barrel life. 

The .243 has useful case capacity but its biggest weakness is its shallow shoulder angle. However, that can be addressed with a variety of available case designs (Ackley) available for reloading. 

Savage Axis II XP Compact .243 Win 20" Rifle w/ Bushnell Scope

Best Barrel Twist

78, 87, 95, or 105 grains are the most common bullet weights for the .243 Winchester. Since longer and heavier bullets require a faster twist rate, whereas lighter bullets work with slower twist rates. You will have to agree upon a balanced twist rate for your rifle. 

As far as the most common applications of .243 are concerned. A rifle barrel with a twist rate of 1:9 or 1:10 works best overall for this caliber. Obviously, if you are a seasoned or competitive shooter and want a more refined twist rate pertinent to your individual tastes. There are quite a few options to choose from. 

Stock and Design Characteristics

The .243 is often deemed as a youth rifle and deemed fit to teach the young ones. However, as the kid grows into a man, the stock length shall also be able to accommodate this growth in size. That’s where adjustable LOP stocks can be useful. Additionally, a wooden stock has to be cared for more than a durable polymer stock. 

Other things such as barrel length, trigger pull weight, capacity, and ease of mounting optics should also be considered depending upon your intended application. 

Review of the Best .243 Rifles

The following is a list of the six best .243 rifles that are currently on the market. While you’re looking for a rifle for your own use, it’s important to know the features and characteristics of each one.

This way, you’ll be able to know if one of these rifles is closer to your ideal .243. Remember, finding a rifle that’s close enough is a lot better than nothing at all. With that said, let’s kick off our list by unveiling our pick for the “best overall” .243 rifle:

Best Overall and Best Youth .243 Rifle:
Savage Axis II XP Compact .243 Win 20" Rifle w/ Bushnell Scope

Pros

  • Recoil is Reasonable
  • The Trigger is Easy To Adjust
  • Scope’s Tubing is Quite Durable
  • Excellent Rifle For Younger Hunters
  • The Image Picture is Clear, No Blurriness Included 

Cons

  • The Recoil Pad Might Be a Little Thin For Some
  • Sighting in Might Be a Challenge For Some Users
  • The Barrel May Rust Easily if It’s Not Taken Care of Properly

What Recent Buyers Report

Many recent buyers were able to hit their targets from pretty good distances. One user said he purchased this rifle for his daughter. She was able to hit a buck from a pretty good distance. Plus, the rifle was at the perfect size for most youth shooters.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Youth hunters are on the rise these days. So they’ll need a rifle that will start them out with their long and possibly successful hunting adventures. The rifle has quite a bit of reach. So it will make hunting so exciting for the younger kids. Especially when they’re able to knock down a target from some long distances. Aside from that, it comes in a camo finish which gives it that classic hunting rifle look.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be used by youth hunters. Because hunting is a classic past time, this rifle can be passed down from one youth to the next. If you’re looking for a rifle that will be easier to use for your child or grandchild, this rifle will have enough length for them to have a decent length of pull. Plus the recoil will be modest, but not hard to the point where it can knock a kid down.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Since this rifle might be used by a lot of young hunters, there should be some thickness added to the recoil pad. This will mean more reduced recoil and more control for them. The last thing they want is to deal with numerous amounts of recoil that could throw them off balance and make erratic shots.

Bottom Line

If you have a child or grandchild that wants to start hunting, they’ll need a .243 rifle that will be able to stop a deer or any big game. The Savage Axis II Compact .243 is the perfect rifle to start them out with. This will give you the opportunity to take part in a rite of passage that you yourself went through as a kid.

Best .243 Hunting Rifle:
Ruger American .243 Win

Pros

  • Very Durable Construction
  • Recoil is Reduced Right Out of the Box
  • Super Reliable Feeding, No Jams to Speak of
  • Excellent For Hunting Deer and Other Big Game
  • Lightweight and Easy to Carry For Long Periods of Time

Cons

  • No Sights Included
  • Trigger Pull Might Be a Bit Heavy
  • Trigger Adjustment Might Be Stiff at Times

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were deer hunters. Some have also been hunting bears, varmint, and even hogs. They were satisfied with how accurate they could shoot with targets situated at various distances. They also mentioned that the rifle had just enough stopping power to stop an animal right in its tracks.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The .243 is obviously one of the most popular rifles for the purpose of hunting. This one, in particular, is no exception. It’s all-around solid thanks to the lightweight synthetic stock. As expected, it’s built to take on all kinds of bumping, banging, and all other kinds of impact.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be a rifle that will be favored mostly by deer hunters. But that’s not to say it’s useless against other animals. It’s also a rifle that can be used by hunters who want a hunting buddy by their side that’s durable and has the ability to last a long time. Synthetic materials are expected to last longer than usual materials like wood, so the chances of that happening are pretty good.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Since there are no sights included, it would be convenient to add either sights or a scope mount. Accuracy is so dang important when it comes to hunting, and you want to knock down your target with pinpoint accuracy each and every time. With the addition of either or, it will definitely give you a better hit probability.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a .243 that is built for hunting, the Ruger American .243 could just be the one that you can stick with for years or generations to come. No other rifle will be able to match the firepower and reliability of this .243. But the others on the list could give it a run for its money. Give this a go with your favorite scope and you’ll almost guarantee yourself accurate kill shots almost every time.

3. Remington 700 ADL Stainless .243 Winchester 24" with 3-9x40 Scope

Pros

  • Excellent Firepower
  • Super Accurate Shooting
  • Great For Hunting Purposes
  • Super Durable, Construction is Quite Solid
  • The Image Picture On the Scope is Quite Clear

Cons

  • Eye Relief is Suspect On the Scope Itself
  • It Might Be a Little Too Heavy For Some Users
  • Scope Adjustments Might Be a Little Stiff at First

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were happy with the rifle in general. They were excited to see that the scope was already included with the rifle. They were able to knock down targets from various distances thanks to the scope. One hunter was able to knock down a whitetail deer from about 500 yards out.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This .243 rifle is tough all over and has just enough firepower to knock down big game targets. In short, it’s the kind of rifle you’ll want if you’re looking for something that will last you a long time and has the stopping power that will help you rack up some serious trophy kills. Plus, the addition of the scope is an added bonus for those who probably want to save time and money rather than find a scope separate from the rifle itself.

Who Will Use This Most

This .243 rifle will definitely be a hot choice among deer hunters. It would be hard to imagine what other applications this .243 can be used for. More specifically, this will be used for hunters who not only will look for deer, but also hogs and bears to name a few.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the things that could warrant an improvement is making the adjustments for windage and elevation to be a little easier and smooth. There will be times when your shots will be a little off to the left or too high. That’s already a frustration within itself. So why make it more difficult with stiff adjustments.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a rifle that might be considered one of the best, the Remington 700 ADL Stainless .243 rifle could be right up your alley. It’s tough all over and packs a punch like nothing else. It might just be the ideal deer hunting rifle for you and the many avid deer hunters out there.

4. Mossberg - Patriot Bantam Rimfire 20IN 243 Win Blue Scope 3X9 5+1RD

Pros

  • Super Accurate Shooting
  • Lightweight and Easy To Carry
  • Scope Magnification Levels are Decent
  • Reduced Recoil is Noticeable Right Out of the Box
  • Durable All Over, It Can Handle Bumps and Bangs

Cons

  • Trigger Pull Might Be a Little Gritty
  • Scope Adjustments Might Be a Little Stiff
  • The Scope Might Be a Little Blurry at Some Magnification Levels

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were satisfied to see this rifle at an affordable price. Especially one that has a scope included. One user said that he was happy with the scope overall and was surprised by how far he was able to sight it. All and all, most concluded that it was an affordable hunting rifle.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The rifle might be not as high-end as most rifles. But it still can deal a good amount of damage. Especially when you’re using it against most big game like deer and hog. It’s accurate, the scope is pretty good for a generic, and it’s got reduced recoil right from the get-go. This makes us question whether it really is a “budget” rifle.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be used as a possible starter rifle for those who are new to hunting big game. While it has enough stopping power to deal with the deer and other animals, it’s easy to use and right in the budget range of most new hunters. Those starting out may be looking for something affordable, to begin with.

What Could Be Improved and Why

There are some improvements that should be made. First, make the adjustments for windage and elevation more simple to use. Another possible improvement is making the pull weight on the trigger a little light. This way, it will be much easier to get a quick shot off.

Bottom Line

The Mossberg Patriot Super Bantam Rifle is your best choice for a rifle that will give you reliability, accuracy, and some pretty potent stopping power all rolled into one. Even better, it’s affordable for most budgets. If you’re looking for a rifle that won’t break the bank, you’re looking right at it.

Best .243 Bolt Action Rifle:
Browning - X-Bolt Micro Midas 20IN 243 Winchester 4+1RD

Pros

  • Reduced Recoil Right Out of the Box
  • Includes a Scope, Has Excellent Image Quality
  • Firepower is Pretty Good For Hunting Purposes
  • Very Accurate Shooting From Various Distances
  • Adjustments For Windage and Elevation Are Easy to Use

Cons

  • Eye Relief is Suspect
  • Trigger Pull Weight Might Be a Little Heavier For Some Users
  • Some of the Scope’s Magnification Levels Might Cause the Image to Go Blurry

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were satisfied with this rifle for a few reasons. First and foremost, they were happy to report that the bolt action movement was smooth and had no stiffness to it. Though the scope was a generic brand, it was surprisingly reliable and accurate for most shooters. Some of them were hunters that were able to reach out and touch their targets as far as 400 to 600 yards out.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This rifle looks pretty good for a hunting rifle. Of course, it comes as a complete package (AKA the scope is included). It reminds us of a classic style hunting rifle that could be passed down from your father or grandfather. The wood finish looks like it can pass off as a timeless relic of ages past.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be used by shooters who appreciate nothing more than a good old fashioned bolt action rifle. It will be used by hunters and target shooters alike. Especially those who want to make the most out of hitting their targets that are situated from some pretty far distances. A .243 can travel quite far and this rifle proves that it can be done so long as you sight in the scope properly.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The .243 does pack some punch, and the eye relief on this scope might not be doing you any favors. So one thing that could improve would be to make the eye relief a little more generous for users. This way, it will make looking through the scope much easier and target acquisition a lot faster.

Bottom Line

If you like bolt action rifles and want to add one to your already growing collection of guns, the Browning X-Bolt Micro Midas rifle might be exactly what you’re looking for. Smooth loading and reliable shooting are just a couple things you’ll get out of a rifle like this. Once you get the hang of this rifle, it will be easy to just quickly load up and knock down your target.

6. Winchester - Model 70 Extreme Weather SS 22IN 243 5+1RD

Pros

  • Lightweight For Carrying
  • Sling Swivels Accept Most Slings
  • Really Smooth Bolt Action Movement
  • Reliable Feeding, No Jamming To Speak Of
  • Can Handle Even the Worst Weather Conditions

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were looking for a rifle that had a smooth bolt action. Sure enough, they were happy to report that this rifle had this kind of feature. It makes feeding from the magazine tube into the chamber quick and easy. It makes for quicker shooting and follow-up shooting as well according to one user.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This rifle is our best overall choice. It’s tough all over, provides a great deal of accurate shooting at various distances, and the loading is reliable. The only downside is that you won’t have a scope included. But at least it will be able to accept your scope of choice. If you need help picking a scope, read our 243 rifle scope guide here.

Who Will Use This Most

This might be an excellent hunting rifle for those who want to customize it with a rifle of their own. Plus, it’s a rifle that can be used for many years by those who want to take extra care of it. Especially when you plan on passing it on down to a child or grandchild who will use it for their hunting adventures.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Despite no obvious cons, one thing that might be improved would be to include something that might make this rifle a sweet deal. For example, we can probably say throw in a scope mount that is easy to install so you can add on a scope that will match perfectly with this rifle.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a rifle that is built to be the kind of rifle that will be used for generations, the Winchester Model 70 could be what you’re looking for. Especially when you want a rifle that will be made with the best materials that can handle all kinds of impact. Also, it’s excellent if you want quick loading and smooth bolt action movement.

What is the Effective Range for a .243 Rifle?

Surprisingly enough, the .243 has the ability to travel quite far. Some veteran users of the rifle have said in the past that they were able to hit their targets from as far as 600 yards out.

However, some have mentioned that it has the ability to surpass 1,000 yards. In a hunting situation, an effective range for hitting whitetail deer is roughly between 600 to 800 yards out.

How to Choose a .243 Rifle

There are some characteristics that go into a great .243 rifle. It’s important for you to spot them so you know the difference between a rifle that is excellent in quality and functionality and one that is not so good. Here’s what you need to look for while finding a rifle for your own personal use:

Price

Budget shoppers will usually look for the price tag first before looking at the rifle itself. Though the price is important, the overall quality and performance of a .243 should always be the most important aspects that will help you make an informed decision. Don’t settle on a rifle just on price alone. If it functions the way you like and is also excellent in overall quality, you may have a winner on your hands.

Photo credit: gunandshooter.com

Choose the Best Possible Quality

Most rifles are made from a combination of high-quality materials. For example, most barrels are made from steel while the stocks are either made from synthetic materials or hardwoods that are proven to be durable in most conditions. The better the quality, the better the chance that it will last you a long time so long as you take good care of it.

What is a .243 Best Used for?

While a .243 rifle might be used for general purposes, it makes its money as a reliable hunting rifle. Specifically, varmint and big game hunting. It has a good amount of firepower that will be able to hit any target. Too much firepower for varmint? Not really. But it can do some serious damage, nonetheless. 

Conclusion

A great .243 rifle will be in your hands at some point in the not so distant future. That is if you decide to go with one of the six rifles listed above. If you want to make the most out of your hunting experience, a great .243 rifle will help you yield great results and write all kinds of hunting stories that you will never stop telling. Choose your rifle wisely since it might be one that will stick with you for years to come.

People Also Ask

The following is a list of frequently asked questions asked by new buyers. Use this to your advantage so it will give you additional information about what the .243 rifle can do. Here are the following questions:

Is a .243 a Good Varmint Gun?

Indeed it is. In fact, it’s pretty good for both varmint and coyotes as well. The .243 has the stopping power to knock down even some larger predators that might wreak some havoc on your property (assuming you have livestock that graze or reside on your property).

Photo credit: grandviewoutdoors.com

Can You Kill a Deer With a .243 Rifle?

Yes. It can kill a deer. However, it’s considered a starter caliber for those who are new to deer hunting. Once you feel like you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can upgrade to another rifle caliber like a .30-06 or 30-30.

Is a .243 Good Elk Rifle?

It’s passable, to say the least. However, elk hunting will probably require something that may require some even heavier firepower. Will the kill shots be instant? Not likely. It may take a couple of shots at best to knock it down.

What is the Best Grain Bullet for .243?

Most .243 rounds will range from 80 grain to 100 grain. It will depend on how far you want the shot to go. As a rule of thumb, the lighter the bullet the faster it can travel. For example, an 80 grain round can go as fast as 3000 feet per second.

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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