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Thread: .243 BE ENOUGH FOR ELK?

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    Default .243 BE ENOUGH FOR ELK?

    My 12 yr old hopfully will draw an Arizona cow elk tag and was wondering if his .243 will be enough and if so, what ammo would be recommended? We are sighted in now for 85 grain copper at 200 yards.
    Any info will be helpful.
    Thanks
    Last edited by CODE3RUN; 02-17-2012 at 01:17 PM.
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    I wouldn't use anything smaller than a 270 if I was to go that small but anyone will tell you that shot placement is the key to any ethical take down. I prefer great memories and putting the meat in the freezer. Someone else might have better information on ammo and what not if you used the 243. Good luck on the draw.
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    it will work great with a 80 or 100 gr barnes tsx but would never use it if your shoting lead bullets as they "WILL" break apart on an elk

    like with any game a pocket shot is key

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    First I want to say that I have never hunted elk. I have hunted kudu and blue and black wildebeest that are 400 - 600 pounds. Kudu are very much like elk and wildebeest are tougher stronger built. Yes you can kill a elk with a .243 and hunters do it. If I was going to use a .243 than the 85 gr TSX would be my choice. However I think it's to light a cal and would get your son a 7mm08 or .270 and shoot a 140 gr TSX. My wife thats 104 pounds shoots a youth mod 7 Rem 7mm08 with a 140 gr TSX and did very well with it in Africa. The blue wildebeest she shot only ran about 90 yards. I shot one with a .270 and the bullet went through both lungs the heart and liver and it ran about 300 yards just to let you know how tough they are. I shot a kudu with the .270 good double lung shot and it ran about 100 yards. My wife shot a much bigger bull kudu with her 7mm08 and it didnt go far. Now I'm not saying the 7mm08 is better than the .270. We know as hunters that you can shoot one animal and it fall right there and shoot another in the same place with the same rifle and it run aways.
    Here is examples of why I think the .243 is to light. I shot a blue wildebeest right in the shoulder with a 30-06 it ran about 100 yards then started to walk we could see it was hurt but not going down. So I shot it right at the base of the tail and knocked it down. It was still trying to get up so I put another shot in its neck to finish it off. Two days later I shot a black wildebeest tight behind the shoulder good double lung shot with the 30-06 and it ran over 300 yards.
    I did shoot some smaller animals with a .243 and it worked just fine. If you do let your son use the .243 be very picky about the shot you let him take. Get close and wait for the perfect shot, broadside or quartering away so he can slip the bullet behind the shoulder. ( or in the ear hole or base of the spine and head ) This is just my opinion and as we also know opinions very. Hope this helps and good luck. Oh one more thing put in alot of range time. I sighted in a .22 at 100 yards and we shoot twice a week. We shot alot of rounds before we went to Africa and it really payed off. The reason for so much time with the .22 is because know recoil and ammo cost. My wife would flench shooting at targets with her 7mm08 some but doesnt even think about recoil when an animal is in front of her. People wont put in range time if they dont enjoy it so you need to make it fun.

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    I would reccomend a 100 gr Nosler Partition. It's better for him to use a lighter rifle he can handle than a larger one he can't. Afterall, a .243 to the heart will kill em a lot quicker than a 30-06 to the behind.

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    You can do it, but I would not suggest it. You need more bullet than a .243 can deliver. If you DO go that route, I also suggest the barnes 85 gr. TSX. At least you will have 100% weight retention. I would also suggest you teach him how to deliver a quick follow-up shot, or two, or three......
    "The Sharps made the west safe for Winchesters."

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    I have one, and I've used it on deer and pig. In the broadside deer shot, a 100gr JSP punched through the chest cavity, ripping up some blood plumbing that I guess he needed, and went out through the rib cage. On the pig I shot, downhill and quartering toward me, the same 100gr JSP entered the head right above the left eye, went through the body and lodged right behind the right shoulder on the inside of the armor plate. The deer was taken at 40ish yards, the pig at under 20. From this experience, and based on what I have READ about elk, I think the .243 is powerful enough to kill and elk......under the perfect condition. I love this gun. However I am hoping to get after an elk next year too, and I would not use the .243. I am a student of the less is more school, but I will be using a .270 or 30-06 if I get a tag.


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    I 2nd the Barnes TSX suggestion, good bullet placement with a .243 and a copper TSX bullet will take an ELK.

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    Thanks for the great info. I forgot to mention that this is a cow elk hunt if it makes any difference? Like I said hes sighted in with the 85 gr barnes copper.
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    I Hate 243s, I don't think they are good for anything larger the coyote. So take everything I say with a grain of salt. I have taken a lot of people out antalope hunting here on the ranch. The only antalope that have been hit in a good spot and have not dropped there, have been those shot with 243s. The bullet is to light. On several occasions, the hunter has hit the antelope in the shoulder, rather than the bullet punching into the chest, it turns and goes down the leg bone. With the leg bone shattered, and no vital areas hit, you now have to chase an injured animal, with a hunter that has lost all confidance in his gun.

    Also, elk are tough. I put two shots from a 30-06 into the chest and he acted like I had missed him.
    "Life is tough, it's ever tougher if your stupid. " John Wayne

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    Well I only own a .243 and a 30-06. They both put in for the hunt so if they draw then thats the guns we have. I suppose my 12 yr old could shoot my 15 yr olds 30-06. They are both sighted in with the barnes copper so i guess they could stick with that ammo?
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    By the way my 15 yr old is two for two with this .243 for deer. The 2nd buck he shot went 10 feet....
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    It can be done with the Barnes bullet your planning on using, just keep your shots down to a reasonable range (300 yards max), and tell him to keep shooting till she goes down. Have fun and let us know how it goes.

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    I have a friend who has taken eleven elk with his .243, with the following circumstances; they were all perfectly broadside, none were over 125 yards, and he had a rock solid rest. He also stated none went farther than 100 yards after the shot. 100-105 grain bullets were his choice.

    Personally I have shot two bulls with my '06, one dropped 10 feet from where he stood and the other walked uphill 200 yards into some timber, walked around in a circle and laid down and died. Both were heart lung shots basically in the same spot broadside. CIP, elk can be tough costomers. Your son should be ready for a backup shot if needed. Plenty of practice with his rifle in every shooting position is warrented. Good luck on your hunt.

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    Code3run,

    Check this thread started by AZ Jim a while back:

    http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/...liber-for-Elk?
    Last edited by Sigma; 02-19-2012 at 10:25 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    It can be done with the Barnes bullet your planning on using, just keep your shots down to a reasonable range (300 yards max), and tell him to keep shooting till she goes down. Have fun and let us know how it goes.
    Now were talking...Again great information and I will also check out that other thread..I dont know when the draw results are in but my buddy that his kids also put in on the same application thinks we should draw with the amount of points his one kid already has?? I will update when I find out. One other question: why is the .270 much more preferred over the 30-06?
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    Quote Originally Posted by CODE3RUN View Post
    Now were talking...Again great information and I will also check out that other thread..I dont know when the draw results are in but my buddy that his kids also put in on the same application thinks we should draw with the amount of points his one kid already has?? I will update when I find out. One other question: why is the .270 much more preferred over the 30-06?
    Before you decide to unleash an assault of .243 bullets at 300 yards - until the animal goes down - it might be a good idea to take note of a few excellent articles that the RMEF has posted. The first one deals with calibers .25 and under, the second one deals with "the little sixes" (24's) and the third examines pros and cons of the .270 as an elk hunting cartridge.

    http://www.rmef.org/Hunting/RifleCar...Too+little.htm

    http://www.rmef.org/Hunting/RifleCar...ittleSixes.htm

    http://www.rmef.org/Hunting/RifleCart/Rifles/270Winchester.htm


    Last edited by Sigma; 02-19-2012 at 10:20 PM.

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    Wont shoot 300 yards and wont unleash and assault but maybe a follow up shot if possible.
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    100grain and put it in the "engine room" done deal!

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    I've been shooting a .243 for 40 years, even before I started shooting flintlocks. It's a great gun for it's capabilities and I really like shooting it, but I would NEVER take it elk hunting, especially since you have about 6 months to get something else lined up. I have no doubt it will take an elk cleanly, but all circumstances need to be spot-on. That isn't always the case in real life elk hunting. You'll need the right fitting gun, the right bullet/powder combination, the right range, the right position and most important of all, the right bullet placement.
    Do the elk a favor and give yourself piece of mind and beg, borrow or buy a more suitable caliber/rifle that will give you more of a fighting chance when it comes to the imperfect opportunity. You'll be glad you did.
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    Sigma, thanks for the great links. I enjoyed reading thos articles and brosed thru the others on the site. It was like talking with Dad again in the garage. Opinions humble or not are valid only when backed by ballistics. I chose a very unique gun for my hunting as I am mostly in dense cover and wanted something short with a wild kick. At 6foot 4inches dragging 250 pounds the Marlin 444 is a dream for me. But as we read some prefer the 243 and others stand by the 30 06. It is a matter of what you can shoot and the balistics to back your shot. It appears Elk can and have been taken with the 243. To date I am still waiting for the shot with my 444 and I know it will go down.

    To the OP take your son's out. It sounds like he can place the shot. Ask the game wardens office what they recommend or a reliable gun shop for the load. If the elk is hit just follow thru and keep it down. It is a great way to teach the next generation the dynamics of hunting. No one gun is the sole gun nor is one hunter the best. How we hunt defines us. Range time and matching balistics wil keep the hunts humane and pleasurable. Best of luck.

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    Good post, FTTPOW. Applies especially to non-resident hunters, for whom it presents a considerable investment of time, effort and money to be successful. Elk can and have been taken with a .243, but if you're driving over 1000 miles just to get there, you probably want the odds to be in your favor.
    Last edited by Sigma; 03-08-2012 at 12:57 PM.

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    My youngest turned 12 in February and takes his hunter safety next week for this years draw so I invested in his first big game rifle that I felt would be with him on hunts here in Nevada for the rest of his life since that is what I prefer. I bought him a Remington 270 with a nice muzzle break to assist through his youth seasons. He has been shooting scoped rifles for years now and took to his new one with a smile and great shots. I do prefer larger on elk but with the proper bullet and placement I have droped elk with my 270 in their tracks. I'm not a big fan of the 243 even though I have one but I've seen even large mullies here walk away from a 243 hit and it makes for a long day. If you can invest in another but don't wish to go too big then I would try the 270 until he's old enough to go to a larger caliber. Here is a pic of my son sighting in his 270. Good luck on the draw.RyanPopMe.jpg
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    Elk are very tuff animals even when hit right. I personally have shot several and been present while several others have been shot. One thing to remember is you are going after cow elk. Cow elk are usually in herds and they all tend to look the same. Once you shoot they will all group together and finding the one you shot is next to impossable. You usually have to wait until the elk start to walk or run away to see the one that you shot start falling out of the group if your lucky as if its thick cover you may loose sight of them soon.

    My point being we have shot elk with the 06 and 7 mag and most of them have traveled a ways from the shot. One I put 3 06 bullets thru both front shoulders and it stayed with the heard for close to a 100 yards. Go with the bigger gun or borrow one if available

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    Not so much of a question of weather you can use a 243 for elk, as its obviously been done successfully many times. BUT Ireally think you are limiting your chances because you will want to have ideal conditions or circumstances and this may somewhat take away all the high fives from what might have been. Better to postpone the actuall hunt than to have a bad experience. If he were my son I would want him to wait untill he can handle a little more oomph. Its great that he has already put meat in your freezer but why rush the elk thing. Im sure he will get a lot of enjoyment just being along with you for your elk hunt. Enjoy your hunting times with your family and good luck whatever your decision Mickey

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    Now you guys have me thinking on my younger son ( first time hunting), to shoot a larger caliber. My buddy offered up his gun which I forgot what it is? He said he shot his bear with it and it doesnt have much kick... By the way I think we drew because of pending charge on the credit card! Sounds like were going! Again thanks for all the info and I will update when this hunt happends. Lots of hunting prior to this but getting pretty exciting because we have never hunted elk.
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    Update: I will borrow a .270 in place of the .243
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    You've made a good choice. A .270 may bark loud and have a good bite downrange, but recoil is marginal. Hopefully it will give your son and you a confidence boost to know he's shooting a capable round. With a premium bullet, I'm partial to Nosler Partitions, and lots of practice he can extend his range a bit, depending on HIS abilities. He still needs one round in the windbags to do the job right.
    Once he gets it dialed in, that'a one less thing to have to worry about and you can concentrate on more important issues. I'm guessing a bunch of us on here are relieved to hear that you made this decision as well.
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    I suppose a .243 would do the job with perfect bullet placement but me i neveruse anything smaller then an 06 and almost always my 300WM-I like big cal that do the job NOW- for a lad I's maybe recomend a 270 with lots of practice-and good stalk.

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    It all depends what he can shoot comfortably. The 243 will kill an elk no problem. If he is unconfortable shooting anything bigger, stick to the 243. If he is scared of the recoil he won't make a good shot.

    One thing to consider is you have alot more hide, fat, meat and ribs to make it through. A quartering away shot may be a little much, if shooting farther than 150-200 yards. Whatever caliber you choose he has to be consistent with shot placement. A gut shot is still a gut shot regardless of how big of a gun you are shooting. Plenty of people use a 243 for elk. I think he will be fine.

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