2014 First season rifle Bull

Is a .243 adequate enough for elk in the hands of a skilled marksman?


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300Win

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My father shot this bull last year, first season rifle in CO. This isn't the biggest bull, nor the most impressive, but he is very symmetrical and had a huge body on him. He was taken with a Winchester Model 70 .243 Winchester with a 85gr Nobler Partition at 350 yards. Some might say that anything under a 270 is too light of caliber for elk. Well, I would disagree. All it takes is a well placed shot and a whole lot of confidence in your gun and shooting skills. After all, all you gotta do is poke a hole in the right spot and that tag is filled. The bullet definitely did its job. The bullet was found opposite of the entrance wound, lodged on the inside right up against the skin. 1 inch away from a complete pass through. The bull only went 40yds before piling up. It was a double lung shot.

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CO300

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Absolutly , the right gun , the right load in the right hands will do it all day long.
It aint all about the big magnum , I do shoot a big bore also and shoot elk with bolth the .243 and .300. Confidence in your equipment and skill plays a major part of sucess at long ranges especially.
Some people get cought up in the hype of the " big magnums " and have no business shooting anything further than 40 yards and even at that couldnt get a group inside a paper plate. Its not for everyone and im not promoting it to be but it is very capable of 1 shot kills on elk.

Nice bear skull in the pic , looks great with the camo dip job.
 
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twsnow18

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I agree with the point your making for sure. Here is my 2 cents.

A .243 will work fine, but it's not my first choice for elk when I have more adequate calibers. No reason to push the bare minimum if say the bull is slightly more quartered to you than you think. Which is often the case when you get up to the critter and see your bullet path. Rarely are they ever perfectly broadside.

So I'd just prefer to have a heavier bullet if you have to go through the shoulder or if you don't do your part, because chit does happen. I don't see a need at all for these big magnums, but I'm also a recoil puss :)

If I'm deer hunting with a .243, and I have a bull tag and one steps out at 250 yards or less, I'm shooting.
 
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300Win

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I completely agree. I'd use a 30 caliber for elk personally, but I just wanted to prove a point that the minimum caliber will do the job under the right conditions. Like you said, if you need to shoot through the shoulders, a heavier caliber would be more adequate
 

sbhooper

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A .22 will kill one, too. Does that make it the right choice? No. If something happens last second and that elk changes angles, you may have just wounded and lost a fine animal. A magnum is not necessary, but more bullet weight will definitely give you more room for error.
 

VAspeedgoat

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I voted no but to clarify the question never stated ideal conditions. I believe a skilled marksman could be deadly with a 243 but only in ideal conditions. Shot angle, distance, wind etc.
 

danr55

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Will it kill an elk? Obviously it will. Will it do it quickly and humanely? Only under perfect conditions and likely with a head shot. Do we normally get perfect conditions while elk hunting? No.. Draw your own conclusions based on your personal hunting ethics.
 

300Win

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Will it kill an elk? Obviously it will. Will it do it quickly and humanely? Only under perfect conditions and likely with a head shot. Do we normally get perfect conditions while elk hunting? No.. Draw your own conclusions based on your personal hunting ethics.
Actually that bull in the picture was shot behind the shoulders. Double lung
 

Gr8bawana

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While it is obviously quite possible to kill an elk with a .243 it would not be my first choice. Maybe if it's the only rifle available and you have time to wait for the perfect shot since some states have very generous elk seasons and you know if you don't get one you can try again next year.

Here in Nevada it's pretty much a one time opportunity. If you draw an elk tag and shoot one you cant even start to apply again for ten years. If you are not succesful you still have to wait 5 years to begin applying again. It could be 15-20 years before you draw a tag. It took me 14 years to draw.
 

MKotur325

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With an opportunity to take an elk perfectly broadside at a reasonable range, a .243 will (as shown above) kill an elk.

Would I carry one? No... Here's why... I typically get 5-6 days a year hunting elk. Last year, I didn't see a bull while hunting. I don't want to pass an opportunity because a bull is quartering, or because I need the confidence to break a shoulder. I'm not a fan of recoil. That being said, the larger brothers of the .243, mainly the .260 Rem, 7mm-08 Rem and .308 Win are all choices that I would carry in the elk woods. The last Bull I took was with a .308. It's personal ethics, but with where I like to place shots, and not wanting to miss opportunities because of quartering shots (especially quartering to, where you have to break the shoulder), I'd carry something larger.
 

JohnCushman

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I'm sure plenty of elk are killed every year with a .243, or a .270, or 25-06. But, how many are simply wounded? Noone brags about wounding and not finding their elk.

When it came time to buy my wife a rifle, I took into consideration not only recoil, but the ability to kill something the size of an elk. I chose a .308 with a 150 grain bullet. She shoots the rifle well out to 300 yards and I have confidence in the rifle/bullet combination to break a shoulder and do the job necessary.

I don't feel a .243 with a small bullet is sufficient to ethically do the job on an elk in real world situations. Sure, a perfect broadside shot and close range is one thing, but elk rarely stand perfectly still. I am happy that the elk in the picture was humanely killed with the .243, but I think a bugger bullet with more stopping power is more humane and necessary. That is simply my opinion and not meant to start an argument. I want something that will punch as big a hole as possible, preferably 2 holes, and break bones.
 

MinnesotaHunter

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I don't understand the point of this arguement? Are we trying to rationalize a .243 as anything other than a less than ideal elk round? Dead elk or not.

There are plenty of light recoiling rounds that are much better.
 

kiwi hunter

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im not a fan of the 243 caliber,,but next step up in 264 things change quickly for a much better advantage,,the sectional density of say the 125 gr partition is up there with the 165 gr 300 caliber
so a 140 gr projectile is a great step up again in ability to penetrate
with the 125 grainer i get pass thru on bull thar no problem,,my rifle sends that projectile out at 2600fps and i dont hesitate to shoot out to 500 yrds
 

ccc23454

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i get the point and i voted yes, but i will never carry one in the elk woods unless it was my only option. i do believe in "perfect" situations its a adequate choice but seldom in my experiences does any animal give me consistence perfect situations. i carry a 30 cal on any elk hunt: a 300 WBY with 200 accubonds or a 30-06 with a 180 partition, wouldn't hesitate to hunt with any of my 7mm's but why when i have .30's. Elk are tough, not bullet proof but dam tough so why go with a minimum caliber like a 243 and in my opinion only increase your odds of wounding a animal we all have great respect for. I do anything i can to avoid multi-mile track jobs in the dark, of course there will be a canyon involved, probably a few creek crossings directly away from the truck...you get the point
 

300Win

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I understand where you all are coming from. And I know that perfect situations are hard to come by. I carry a 300 win mag for elk personally. The whole point of this post was not to create an argument, but to simply state the fact that it can be done under almost perfect conditions. If there is any quartering shot what so ever, I don't think the .243 is capable of completely breaking a shoulder on a bull. I was just curious on everyone's thought and opinions. Not here to say that anyone is wrong or right
 

TimeOnTarget

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The problem I have with saying a 243 will kill elk is that will give some people the idea that they can go pick up a box of 95 ballistic tips and go kill elk. A partition or Barnes is a must in light for animal calibers

I've gotten crap about my 280ai being on the light side for elk. I'll disagree with that all day just like I'm sure you will defending your 243.
 

300Win

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I'm on both sides here, I know the .243 will do it providing that the bullet will enter behind the shoulders. But I also know that my .300win mag will do it behind the shoulders, through the shoulders, or Texas heart shot(not recommended) I can see your point with any average Joe just grabbing a box of light bullets and in the end, wounding an animal. Guess I didn't look at it from that light
 

devon deer

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We get this question all the time in the UK in relation to our red deer, it causes a lot of arguments!:D

I have a 30-06 and .243, which gun do i reach for when i go hunting? my .243 is my first choice.
I shot my first elk in 2014, in fact my first bull i had ever even seen up close and personal, it was 231 yards, my 30-06 did the business, but at that distance so would my .243 as i am very confident in using it.
I have been shooting a .243 for 25 years, my 30-06 for 5 years, i am much more confident in my .243, purely because i know it's capabilities inside and out.

Cheers

Richard
 
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jeremys4

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The shooter is just as important as the weapon if not more important. 338 win mag with a novice shooter behind it could be less effective than a 243 within 300 yards? I would not use a 243 for an elk myself but i would not tell anyone that it would not kill an elk.
 
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