Deer, coyote, varmints, hogs, elk, moose, bear…there are a dozen different animals you can hunt in the United States and a dozen different calibers you can use to hunt each one.

In today’s Caliber Check, we’ll examine the pluses and minuses of both the .243 and the .308 for those of you who hunt/shoot coyote and other varmints.

NOTE: If you’re hunting anything larger than a whitetail, tune in next week as we cover the 6.8 caliber!


Per Wikipedia:

The .243 Winchester is a popular sporting rifle cartridge. Initially designed as a varmint round, it may be used for wildlife and game such as coyote, blacktail deer, whitetail deer, mule deer, pronghorn, and wild hogs. It can also be used against larger game such as black bear but is sometimes said as being “too light” for some large game. Rounds heavier than 90 grains are better suited for hunting while rounds less than 90 grains are suitable for varmints. The .243 is based on a necked down .308 cartridge case.


  • Gets downrange in a HURRY
  • Extremely flat trajectory
  • Half the recoil of the .308
  • Can shoot varmints and coyotes (90 grain) up to elk (105+ grain) if need be
  • Excellent penetration
  • Readily available in most ammo/gun stores
  • If you’re new to shooting, the lightened recoil can help keep you from developing poor shooting habits


  • Excessive barrel wear due to higher velocity
  • If shooting in brush (or woods), likely to deflect off a branch and not hit your target
  • Over 200 yards, the wind may take your bullet where it may…
  • After 500 yards, drop off is extremely noticeable

We have .243 ammo IN STOCK! Check out the shop for more info: http://FightingSheepDog.com/shop


Per Wikipedia:

The .308 Winchester is a rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge and is the commercial cartridge from which the 7.62×51mm NATO round was derived. The .308 Winchester was introduced in 1952, two years prior to the NATO adoption of the 7.62×51mm NATO T65. Winchester (a subsidiary of Olin Corporation) branded the cartridge and introduced it to the commercial hunting market as the .308 Winchester. Winchester’s Model 70 and Model 88 rifles were subsequently chambered for the new cartridge. Since then, the .308 Winchester has become the most popular short-action, big-game hunting cartridge worldwide. It is also commonly used for civilian target shooting, military sniping, and police sharpshooting. The relatively short case makes the .308 Winchester especially well adapted for short action rifles. When loaded with a bullet that expands, tumbles, or fragments in tissue, this cartridge is capable of high terminal performance.

Although very similar to the military 7.62×51mm NATO specifications, the .308 cartridge is not identical and there are special considerations that may apply when mixing these cartridges with 7.62×51mm NATO, and .308 Winchester chambered arms. Their interchange is, however, considered safe by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI).


  • Semi recoil-friendly
  • Cheaper than .243 ammo
  • Reloading material availability is good
  • More versatile than .243


  • Excessive drop past 200 yards
  • Inside of 200 yards, not as accurate
  • Overkill if shooting at 100 yards

Torn between the 2 calibers? You may also look into a .260 Winchester.

.260 shoots flatter than a .308, with more penetration, and is faster. But is a bigger bullet than a .243 and has more knockdown power. The only real problem with .260 ammo is the lack of availability. Sure, Federal, Remington, and Nosler custom make ammunition. But if your for reloading then you’re set (6.5mm bullets aren’t hard to find and you will be able to get .308 brass if 260 actually does drop off the market, and neck the .308 brass down).

Keep in mind that air density, humidity, wind drift, bullet grain selection, and other factors will play into your accuracy and grouping.

Of course, if you’re looking at over 400 yards, you may just wanna stalk in the bushes!

Regardless of which caliber you choose, remember that there’s a time and place for it all. This isn’t one caliber VERSUS another. Merely a comparison to give you the knowledge you need to make a well-educated decision the next time you’re looking for a new hunting rifle!

And now you know! 🙂

You can read more on .243 here: http://www.6mmbr.com/243Win.html