4 Best Deer Cartridges: No. 4, the Both-Ways Cartridge


The claw hammer is one of the most useful tools on Earth. This is because it does two distinctly different jobs very well. If you need to drive a nail, you use one end of the hammer. If you need to pull a nail, you use the other.

Many deer hunters desire a rifle cartridge just as versatile; one that can put down a big buck in the fall, but bust groundhogs just as effectively in the spring. This double-duty service is what made the 257 Roberts the iconic cartridge it is. But, the cartridge that killed the 257 might be an even better both-ways option.

Father Knows Best

When I was just a wee lad, I went to the hardware store with my father. He was buying his first deer rifle. But, he didn’t want just a deer rifle; he wanted a gun he could use in the off-season for groundhogs, too. He selected a Winchester Model 100 in 243 Winchester, and from then until long after I graduated high school, I watched him do amazing things with that rifle.

Available in the AR 10, semiautos, and bolt-action rifles, the 243 Winchester is an excellent der cartridge.

No matter where you live, you have deer to hunt, and you also have an assortment of varmints you can chase, too. In the East, we have groundhogs, and in the West, there are rock chucks. Both are great off-season hunting fun. And now, with the proliferation of the coyote nationwide, you likely have these to chase, too. Fortunately, there are a few cartridges that work very well for both the medium size and little stuff, and the 243 Winchester might be the best of the bunch.

The light recoil of the 243 makes it perfectly suited to new hunters or those who are recoil shy. That doesn’t mean the 243 isn’t a man’s rifle.

You can find a wide assortment of 243 ammo just about anywhere, and there are lots of load options from which to choose. For varmints, the 58-grain V-Max bullet from Black Hills is a vaporizer, and for deer — and even elk if need be — Federal Premium offers the 95-grain Nosler Partition bullet in its Vital-Shok line. If that’s not enough, you can find more than a half-a-hundred other options in between.

Coyote hunting is a great off-season pastime for deer hunters, and the 243 Winchester is ideal for both.

Deer hunters can be divided into two groups. There is the smart group who realizes the 243 Winchester is ideal for deer hunting. And then there is the other group best described as fools. As you know, fools are born every minute and grow up to teach others to be just like them. Which one are you in?

The same folks who claim the 30-30 Win. suitable for deer often bash the 243 Winchester. Some fools never learn.

Editor’s note: This article is the final installment in a four-part Best Deer Cartridges series. Be sure to check out “No. 1 for the Woods,” “No. 2, the Open-Country Cartridge,” and “No. 3, the Do-It-All Cartridge.”

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