.243 Winchester – 6.16x51mm

The .243 is a popular hunting cartridge for deer sized game and it fires the 6mm bullet. It is a bit heavier than the .223 and has some good bullets for long range shooting available, but there are not many match grade loads available from factory ammo makers. It does fall between the .223 and the .308 in terms of energy and penetration. The .243 has less recoil than the .308, and yet it sends bullets down range at near .223 speeds, with twice the bullet weight. This flat shooting cartridge does not suffer from some of the over penetration problems of the .308 and it doesn’t suffer from some of the under penetration problems of the .223. In reality, this round is very suitable for the Law Enforcement arena. While there is no commercial match grade ammo for the .243, there are quite a few premium quality loads out there and HSM is working on some match loads for the .243. The .243 has never been used in any military rifle, but it would lend itself well to the 600+ meter sniping role. It does need to be mentioned that there are some extremely high BC bullets available in 6mm, of which the Sierra 107gr Match King is one of them as is the famous 115gr DTAC that David Tubbs uses. But anything over 100gr typically requires a fast twist barrel that is not standard on factory .243 rifles.

Recommendation: The .243 would be an excellent Law Enforcement sharpshooter caliber. It provides good energy and good trajectory with some mid weight bullets. There are not the same over penetration concerns in the military (At least not generally) so really there isn’t any Military use for the .243, anything the .243 can do, the .308 can do also with a bit heavier bullet. But with some of the new .243 match loads that are coming out, it could make a very good mid range sniper rifle.

Military Applications:

Note: There currently are no loads that can be used in the military so Military application for the .243 is limited. But I have provided a suitable longer ranged round that would make a nice 600+ meter sniping round. The selected bullet is a Soft Point, which is illegal to use in combat but I will update this information once some of the new HSM match loads become available.

  • Federal Premium – .243 100gr Sierra Gameking BTSP, at 2960fps

Bullet Drop (Inches)


Energy – (Muzzle: 1945 ft-lbs.)


Wind Drift (Inches) – 10mph Crosswind


Law Enforcement Applications:

Note: I have chosen the 75gr VMax load from HSM for my Law Enforcement round. I chose this round for its high speed, which equates to lower flight time, which is highly desirable when dealing with a Hostage type situation, there is less time for a target to move, and a victim to get in the way. Another reason for this VMax bullet is that they rapidly expand upon impact, allowing for less penetration, reducing the possibility of over-penetration casualties. Once some of the HSM match loads are available I would consider those loads as the LE round of choice. My standard disclaimer still applies to this load – test ALL ammunition choices to determine if the desired performance is met.

  • HSM – .243 75gr VMax, at 3300fps

Bullet Drop (Inches)


Energy (Muzzle – 1600 Ft-Lbs.)


Wind Drift (Inches) 10 mph Crosswind