Making a decision on a new target shooting gun can be tough! There is a lot of options out there and you’re looking for different features when compared to a hunting gun. If you’re reading this article you have probably narrowed it down to two calibers. The .223 vs. the .243. The .223 vs. .243 for target shooting is actually an interesting comparison. I did some research to find out which would be best for the purpose of target shooting and here’s what I found out.
If you are specifically looking for a target shooting rifle the .223 is the rifle for you. It offers great range, value, and enjoyability. The .243 is also a great rifle but when compared to the .223 it is clear who wins this competition. Let’s get into the details of why this is!
.223 vs. .243: Recoil
Lets first talk about recoil which is very important when it comes to target shooting.
If you’re a hunter you most likely shoot your gun at the range to dial it in and shoot a lot of rounds but when in the field you probably don’t shoot nearly as much ammo. However, this differs for target shooters. Target shooters can spend hours upon hours shooting. This is why recoil comes into play.
Let’s look at some numbers so we can get a better idea of what we’re talking about. A .223’s recoil energy ranges from 2.6 ft./lbs. to 3.9 ft./lbs. and a .243’s ranges from 7.2 ft/lbs. to 11.0 ft./lbs of energy. Quite a difference, isn’t it? So what does this mean for you? Well, if you’re going to be shooting round after round you’re going to want a gun that doesn’t completely wear you out. After awhile the .243 is going to feel like someone has been punching you in the shoulder for the past hour. Whereas the .223 won’t leave you feeling like you’ve been in a boxing match.
This also plays into accuracy as well! Once the .243 starts to wear you down you can start to fatigue and start missing shots. It can also cause you to flinch a little more as you try and prepare for the recoil so it doesn’t hurt your shoulder as much. The .223 will be much easier to shoot for longer durations of time and will thus improve your accuracy near the end of the day.
.223 vs. .243: Cost
Cost plays a role for most of us when it comes to not only buying new rifles but also maintaining our hobbies. That’s why we have this category here so we can discuss which would be the most cost-effective.
We are not only going to be talking about the cost of the rifle but the cost of ammunition as well. As ammo will be a recurring cost. Lets first look at the rifles themselves.
A .223 has a price tag starting at right around $300. For this price, you can get a nice accurate gun that can do great at the range. The Savage Axis is probably one of the most popular .223’s on the market for that reason. On the upper end of the price spectrum, you can spend a couple of thousand dollars for a .223.
A .243 can be bought for right around the same starting price. A Remington Model 770 is one of the cheaper .243’s on the market. This gun can also be bought with a scope already installed which may help those just getting into the sport.
An important note is that the cheaper rifles will have cheaper barrels on them and will affect your accuracy after it starts heating up. Just something to think about if you take target shooting seriously.
Now what truly sets these calibers apart price-wise is the ammo. A box of .223’s is cheaper than a box of .243 bullets. In many cases, the cost per piece can be nearly double. This can have a huge effect on target shooters. After all, you’re going to be shooting hundreds of rounds and the price of ammo will soon add up! This cost is also associated with reloading. The .243 will be more expensive for this as well.
.223 vs. .243: Long Range Shooting
So what if you want to start pushing the distances out further? Which caliber will be best for that? Well, it’s pretty obvious that a larger caliber will shoot faster and farther. This also means a .243 will shoot a flatter bullet at longer distances. That doesn’t necessarily mean though that the .223 cant shoot at farther distances. It can still can, however, it will just take adjustments from the shooter.
Since the .243 is a larger caliber you can shoot heavier bullets out of it as well. At longer distances, this extra weight to the bullet will enable the bullet to fight wind resistance better. Whereas a lighter bullet will be affected by the wind much more at longer distances.
So for longer range shooting the .243 would be a better choice. Even if you do plan on shooting longer distances you shouldn’t shy away from the .223 which will still reach your targets with accuracy.
Something To Think About
A question you have to ask yourself is what your future plans may be for the rifle. This is an important question because if you ever get the itch to start hunting alongside target shooting a .243 may be a better fit for you. It packs more punch than a .223 and offers more stopping power. A .223 can be a great varmint gun and can take down coyotes as well. However, a .243 will take down bigger game such as deer. It’s just something to put thought towards if you have some other purposes you may use the gun for in the future.
A .223 and a .243 can both be good rifles for target shooting but one of them stands above the other. A .223 has much less recoil than a .243 which plays an important role for target shooters as they shoot for longer durations of time. The less recoil you have will also help you to be more accurate as well. When you talk about cost then the .223 also wins that battle. The rifles cost about the same but the ammo which quickly adds up to be the most costly expense is much cheaper for a .223 than it is for a .243. This, in my opinion, is enough to make the decision of a .223 over a .243. If you ever plan to hunt with the rifle you may want to take a second look at the .243 though. That being said the .223 is a superior target shooting rifle that will allow you to shoot round after round accurately and cheaply.