Today’s gunfight pits a couple of smallish deer calibers against each other in a pair of bolt-action deer rifles. The .243 was developed in 1955 as a dual purpose varmint-deer cartridge. It has killed tons and tons—literally—of deer, but you can still start a lively gun-camp argument about whether it is too light for deer hunting. The .257 lets you shoot heavier bullets faster, although at a higher price if you buy factory cartridges instead of hand loading. It was reportedly Roy Weatherby’s favorite, and a round he developed as a wildcat in the 40s.
I’m not one to give inanimate objects names but there are exceptions: this is my rifle Sweet Sixteen. It’s the Remington 700 rifle chambered in .257 Weatherby my father gave me as a 16th birthday present. I didn’t get a car or pickup like most kids; I received a rifle instead. Here in Iowa I don’t get to use it as much as I would like, but when Iowa had the special late antlerless centerfire season a couple of years back this rifle hit like Thor’s hammer with hand-loaded 120-grain Nolser Partions, on top of 70 grains of Rl-25 powder. With hand-loaded 115 grain Nosler ballistic tips, it makes the local coyotes shiver and quiver like none other. I plan on taking it to North Dakota this winter when I go to see family and see how well Sweet Sixteen will do on big Northern ‘yotes.
This is a .243 Ruger M77 with a tang safety, red recoil pad, and a Redfield 3×9. It shoots 1-inch groups at 100 yards, with about any 100-grain bullet. I bought it last year to give my shoulder a rest and shot a 6-point whitetail in southwest Oklahoma with it. It was 110 yard heart shot. The deer ran 60 yards, and that was that. I’m not sure I am ready to give up my .270 and .308, but the .243 sure is fun to shoot.
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