Ultimate Deer Cartridge and/or Ultimate Deer Rifle
Guest Experiences -

Best Rifle Caliber for Whitetail Deer and Best cartridge for Hunting Whitetail Deer

Experienced Comments on the Terminal Performance of Various Bullets on Hunting Whitetail Deer - Best Rifle Caliber for Hunting Whitetail Deer and Best cartridge for Hunting Deer

Hey Darrell:

Here's my Personal Test Results on the .243-Win 85-gr-BTHP Bullet

As promised, I wanted to give you my take on the .243-Winchester Sierra Game-King 85-gr BTHP. I shot a spike-buck at about 6:30am, Saturday, 11-22-03, opening day of Wisconsin's nine day season.

Hit him at a slight quarter away at about 90-yards. The bullet hit right behind the front shoulder, through the lungs, out the opposite side and shattered the opposing leg, just for good measure. I was very impressed.  Small entrance wound (obviously, it is a .243 we are talking about here) but massive damage on the way out.

About a 2 inch by 2 inch exit wound on the rib cage not to mention the fact that it almost took the left front leg off. The buck "ran" about 30 yards, but it was dead on its feet. Incredible blood trail. 

The bullet did more damage than my brother-in-law's 270 did with 150-grain Core-Lokts on the buck he shot later that morning. The moral of the story, I will stick with the 243 85-gr-BTHP. What a sweet shooting combo. 

Thanks for turning me onto about the best caliber/bullet combo in the Wisconsin northwoods! 

Sincerely, Darren Trimner | E-Mail Received: 11-29-03


Hello Darrell: I have been a veteran deer hunter for over twenty years. I always tended toward the high powered, stove piped guns. This deer season of 2001, I decided to put my 8mm and 30-06 on a rest and take up my lonely and unused 243 Winchester.

Not having any shells, I went to the local dealer and picked up some Winchester Super Supreme 95 gr. Ballistic Silvertip ammo. I sighted in this round for a zero at 150 yards. First day of season I drew down on a trophy buck at about 50 yards, took my shot, and the deer ran about 25 yards and fell like a ton of bricks. Although it didn't drop dead in its tracks, I must say it was dead on its feet.

There was a great deal of expansion of the bullet at this close range and quite a bit of meat loss. I measured a hole of about 2 inches by 1.5 inches. The lungs were reduced to liquid and the heart was shocked into oblivion. I was very impressed with this cartridge in the 243. I did as well with this cartridge as I have done with my larger cannons and didn't have near the meat loss.  It bears out to say that, I have used larger calibers with hot loads in them and still had whitetail to run after being hit in the chest cavity. 

My hunting partner had a whitetail to run between 50 and 75 yards after hitting a whitetail in the chest with a 150-gr. Winchester Silvertip.  My trophy this year was following about 20 feet behind a doe and was pumped up on adrenaline. He was basically dead on his feet and running on a "high." I will certainly use that little 243 again.

It bears out saying that, using any weapon, a kill-zone shot is necessary. I had a friend who lost a whitetail this year after shooting it with a 300 Win. Mag.  He took a risky shot and left a wounded deer unfound. It is important that we consider the emotional state of the deer when we shoot. If the deer is calm and indifferent to our presence, don't be surprised with devastating results with respect to the deer dropping like a ton of bricks. If you have one that is pumped on adrenaline and is madder than a barrel of rattlesnakes from some heavy rutting activities, I have found that you may be surprised how far he can run, even with a shot that jellies his organs in his chest cavity. Despite its small stature, lets be sure not to count the 243 out. It has its place and if used by experienced hands, it can be a lethal dose of medicine on deer sized game, and has been used on bigger game.

Jake Dufrees, Ky.

E-mail Received: 11-27-01

E-mail Received: 11-29-01 | From Jake Dufrees

Dear Darrell:  Thanks for your reply.  I agree with the attributes of the 243 that you wrote about in your reply.  I have had bullets whiz by me more than once while hunting, even after they have exited a deer.

The 243 is a great deal safer to use as a hunting tool in the ever increasing populated society in which we live.  That is one thing that impressed with my experience with the 243 this past deer season.  Last season, I shot a doe with a 30-06 using a 150-grain power-point plus cartridge.  It was a spine shot, and the deer dropped immediately.  The bullet exited the deer and sheered off a tree about half the size of my wrist several yards from where the deer fell.  How far the bullet traveled beyond that is anybody's guess.  I am glad I was certain of my surroundings and my backstop.  Unfortunately, a lot of people are not quite as conscientious, when it comes to taking a shot.

Thanks for the time and expertise that you have imparted in producing a nicely done web site.  I hope to hear more from you in the future. Please feel free to use my 243 report on your guest page.  You may also use my name and Ky.
Good hunting.

Jake Dufrees
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 00:14:29 -0400
From: "Ray Hileman"  rshileman@adelphia.net
To:  udarrell@pcii.net

Darrell Udelhoven,

I just read your article "The Ultimate Deer Cartridges" and I am not at all surprised that you found the .243 Winchester to perform better than any other caliber on whitetail deer.  You stated at the end of your article that you would like to hear about your readers' experiences with different .243 loads. 

I have killed 2 whitetails in my short hunting career so far, both with a Model 110 Savage chambered in .243 Winchester.  The load I used for the first deer, a monster buck, was 100 grain Remington Core-Lokts, factory loaded.  I shot the buck at about 120 yards right behind his front shoulder. 

The buck died so quickly that he didn't bleed.  I kid you not, we found not a single drop of blood anywhere on the deer or on the surrounding ground.  He died while he was on his feet.  After skinning it, we found the very small entry hole, and a larger exit hole.  The bullet blew the bucks lungs to liquid. You cannot beat bullet performance like that.

However, you can meet that kind of performance, as I did with hand loaded 100 grain Hornady bullets.  Unfortunately I can't remember the exact bullet type or amount of powder, so this experience is probably not of any use to you.  Anyway, the bullet ripped through the exact center of a button buck who was running directly at me.  Once again, the deer was dead on his feet, he never bled a drop.  I hope this at least helps you to testify how a .243 performed on a young deer.

I hope this e-mail is of some use to you.  I'm no expert, but I cannot see how any bullet can outperform the factory loaded 100 grain Remington Core-Lokt bullets for a .243 Winchester.

I totally agree with your article.  It is nice to see a hunting writer praise the .243.  A writer in an article of one of last year's Field & Stream issue's, "Your Deer Gun Stinks," referred to the .243 Winchester and 6 mm Remington as "known crippler's."  I was outraged at that comment.  He didn't even like .30-06's or .270's.  That author believed that the only way to kill a whitetail deer was with a magnum caliber.  For crying out loud, .243's have killed tons of elk, let alone the thousands and thousands of whitetails harvested with it.

Roy Weatherby was one of the first people I know of to write about "shock value" on big game.  He, and you are right.  Shock value is what kills the deer, the bullet turning individual blood cells into projectiles throughout the animal.  The only thing large magnum calibers like .300 Remington Ultra Mags. and .300 Weatherby Magnums have over .243 is that there's a better chance of taking down a deer with a poorly placed shot, like one to the shoulder or hind quarters.

But I say if a hunter can't put a bullet into the large vital area of a whitetail, they do not deserve to hunt them at all!

-Nathan Hileman
Subject: 243 Sierra HPBT
Date: Tue., 20 Nov. 2001
Jay D. Lewis

Darrell, I read you article about the Ultimate deer cartridge/load.  I haven't used my .243 lately, have been experimenting with other loads and calibers.

When I was stationed (Air Force) in Colorado a friend helped me brew up some loads using the 85 gr. Sierra HPBT's.  I thought he was crazy recommending such a load for Mule deer.  I want to tell you I shot a truck load (I lived there several years and only shot the limit during the correct seasons) of deer with that load.  I was not only impressed but shocked at how effective it was.  All of the deer were shot while they were undisturbed, standing broadside to quartering and were all shot behind the front shoulder from 25 to 200 yards, 1/3 to 1/2 of the bullets passed all the way through.

Thanks for the article, you have brought back some good memories, and now I'll have to grab that lonely Ruger 243 off of the shelf and take her out again.

P.S.: One of the muley's I shot had a very nice high wide 4 point rack (western count) and went over 200 lbs.  Again, just one shot, he kicked, jumped about 8 feet, and it was over.  Of all the mule deer that I have shot with that load none went farther than 10 feet most dropped where they stood.  The other guys in my hunting group soon realized when they heard the little pop from my .243 (little compared to what they were shooting) that they needed to head my direction to help drag out another deer.

The location of my Colorado hunts was, 50 miles west of Grand Junction, Colorado on the Deloris river.

Jay Lewis
Ron Re: 243 bullet performance

Hello Darrell, I have killed several deer with my 243, ...several were killed very, very quick, ...but last year I had a nice buck run off, ...the kind you know you have hit, ...but something went wrong, ...couldn't find him, ...then my daughter shot a big doe at 50 yards, ...we hunted almost an hour, almost gave up, then we found the beast almost 300 yards from the shot, ...a perfect shot midway chest cavity right behind the foreleg, ...the bullet appeared to penetrate only the ribs on the side it was shot on, ...in both instances we were using Winchester Power Point ammo, which I will never use again.

I have tried the 85 SIERRA HPBT AND I NEVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH THEM. They had ENTRANCE AND EXIT WOUNDS, ...only thing better I have used for good entrance and exit wounds is 8mm mauser or 30-06 in 165 grain bullets...but i bet they wont kill them quite as quick, ...you might have to walk another 25 yds to find the game is all, ...so much for my experience, ...it appears that bullet selection is more critical in this smaller caliber! [Received - Middle of October 2001]

Ron's email reply to my response:

Hello Darrell
Me and my brother live in PA., and we buy as many tags as we can and shoot a lot of deer, ...they were 100 grain bullets (I agree with you that the bullets fragmented on the ribs). Me and my brother killed 4 deer last year with Hornady Light Magnum ammo .243  100 grain, two dropped dead in their tracks and two ran about 25 yds before collapsing. I believe these bullets in the light magnum brand are 100 grain Hornady Interlocks, if my memory serves me well, ...these bullets certainly did the job, however, there was much more bullet fragmentation than there was with the Sierra HPBTs even though the Sierra bullet is lighter weight at only 85 grains. Evidently the Sierra 85 gr. bullets hold together better, perhaps made of harder sterner stuff.

I shot two deer the year before last in the shoulder with these 85 grain Sierra HPBTs bullets and they fell down immediately, ...moral of the story is, ...stay with the sierra 85 grain bullets, but if you get in a pinch and don't care about losing some meat, go with Hornady Light Magnum, ...never used  Remington Core-Lokt bullets so don't know what to say about them.
Good luck, Ron
Received 11/14/01

Hi Darrell, Took your advice & loaded 90 gr. (Nosler BT, #24090) with H-4831 as a "one shot kill" deer cartridge for my 243/06: Monday (veterans day) shot an 8 point at 160 yards running straight at me and looking for a place to jump the railroad tracks.
Bullet entered the chest, hit the heart, and he stopped immediately (one of the few times I've actually heard the bullet hit); I'll look for remains of the bullet when i do the processing, can't wait to try it again.

I had loaded 85 grain Nosler Partitions for my hunting partner's .243; I recovered the bullet on that one much intact after hitting neck bone. [Might try the Sierra 85 grain HPBT bullet, bet it would have done a lot more quick kill damage.]
Happy Thanksgiving...

(I had loaded some 95 grain Nosler BTs #24095 in both .243 and for my 243/06 Wildcat. I will probably shoot the 100 grain Hornady Interlock bullets first in my 6mm Wildcat. According to email reports the 95's and 100's listed here both work well in the 243 and  6mm Remington calibers. According to Sierra ballistic experts the 243-06 or 6mm-06 velocity is too high using the 85 grain BTHP under 200 yards. (07-23-03)- I would try the NEW Bonded bullets when they become available. Darrell Udelhoven)
Allen Polk wrote:

There are two scenarios in Kentucky that work out fine for me, depending on the conditions:

1) A 165 grain Nosler ballistic tip, pushed by a .300 Wby. cartridge does a fine job on the heavy bodied Western Kentucky grain field whitetails.
Cover the field with a Bushel 50-mm 6x18 scope shooting through a Vanguard synthetic stock supported with a Harris bipod.    Can you say Sniper?

2) A 250 grain flat nosed soft point pushed by a .356 Winchester casing through a 336'er Marlin Lever Action for those close-holding brush river bottom deer that slip through the briars and brambles at 50 yards or less.
Peeking through the vegetation with a 4x Bushnell, "scope, or iron sights."

Although the two examples I have given here seem "overpowered " for the thin-skinned whitetail,  I consider these weapon combinations to be effective "one shot one kill" solutions.  The Ultimate Deer Cartridge!

Such caliber's .300 Wby. and .356 Win. are both accurate and highly effective in their extreme scenario environments limitations, and conditions.   In my experience they are both a reliable and humane option in unfortunate scenarios that the humane/ethical hunter hates to witness, i.e. having to drop a hunting partner's evading wounded buck, (with it's uncanny ability to withstand a tremendous amount of damage and cover a lot of ground) before it runs away and out of range, and remain possibly undetected.

In many of the environs that I hunt in Kentucky, the terrain and undergrowth will conceal a fleeing/dying deer like a needle in a haystack.  That's why I have confidence in my  two "Ultimate" rifles, and through practice, knowing what the bullet will do, and picking quick kill vital impact shots.  I have also enjoyed the .243 and the .25-06 as well, but in extreme Ultimate scenarios, my selections have worked for me.  Plus, this combo would be effective for larger game (there is also a strategy in talking my Wife into going on a hunt out West) in other locations as well.

Allen Polk
Send mail to Allen at:Innisbuie@aol.com


Well where do I begin, first off I own a Remington 700ADL 243-caliber rifle and a Browning BLR 243 Win. I have shot several deer with both rifles and I am shocked at times at the results. For starters, the 7 point buck was shot using:

I used this bullet when the buck was shot at a distance of 30 yards. The Bullet placement was just behind the shoulders and dead on. After recovering the deer, from what I saw, it was pure shock power. This deer dropped in his tracks, plain and simple, he didn't run anywhere and was dead in about 15 seconds.

There was no need for a second shot. Upon looking at the deer for why the hit was instantly fatal, I realized the shot has gone right through the heart and did its job. The bullet didn't exit the deer but lodged in the upper front hide. I don't normally care to brag, but I was online looking for some input on why this cartridge is so deadly. A perfectly placed 243 Win bullet will do major shock damage to a whitetail deer.

I have shot several deer with the .243 Win caliber; one doe 130 lbs dropped instantly, never ran, and died real fast with a shoulder hit that shattered both shoulder bone areas. Deer number two, a buck @ 175 lbs dropped and rolled about 10 ft before dying within 30 seconds. The bullet crushed the left shoulder bone and hit the lung area.
My views are simple, this .243 Win caliber bullet in the right hands is deadly, all you need is a 2 foot window to shoot (look before you shoot though) and the bullet will do its job. My son will inherit my Remington as I plan to use the Browning BLR from now on. No other caliber gun is needed if the person hunting plans to hunt deer only.
.243 Win caliber rules - Whitetails 24/7 - Jose E-Mail Received: 9-27-02

The 25 yard .243 Win., 100 Grain "Remington Premier Core-Lokt Ultra" "Bullet Terminal Performance" Test I Promised. This bullet is now available at Cabela's for Reloaders.

I used (3), three gallon capped plastic milk jugs and another 1.56 gallon Ultra Sun clothes detergent plastic jug filled with water backed up with numerous old magazines.  The bullet below went through all (4) four jugs back to back and the magazines stopped it.

The 100 grain Core-Lokt Ultra bullet demonstrated tremendous explosive performance on the first jug going through all four jugs and found in front of the magazines.  At only 25 yards the mushroomed bullet weighed 84.8 grains with an over 2X .489 caliber diameter expansion that went past the base of the bullet.

http://www.cabelas.com/  Click customer Service & ask if the nearest Cabela's retail store has your caliber bullet in stock.

This was very impressive terminal bullet performance weight retention for close range shots on deer! These bonded bullets will be more dangerous to shoot in respect to ricochet and shoot through scenarios, use extra caution. I would like to see their .243 Win perform on Elk
A knockdown anchoring kill shot placement is 3 to 4 inches below the topline just behind the front leg.

Remington Core-Lokt Ultra 100 grain 243 Wincester at 25 yds                                                                                                                         Remington Core-Lokt Ultra 100 grain 243 Win at 25 yards

Side view - base- left-side   (25 yds  100 gr retained 84.8 gr new Core- Lokt Ultra 243 Win.)      nose view

The 100 grain Nosler Partition bullet blew open (3) three gallon capped plastic milk jugs of water sitting in a row at 16 paces and was still going, with no bullet recovery.

95-SST blew-up one jug and one tiny fragment caused a very small leak in the second jug
-95-SST 100 yard plus broadside lung shots only - much more violent explosive hydraulic shocking power
-due to all of its energy being shed within the first plastic milk gallon jug of water.
[.243 Winchester]

I performed a 95 gr SST bullet terminal test with my 243/06 at only 16 long paces with two one gallon plastic milk jugs filled with water lined up with a short distance between them. The bullet totally blew-up the first one and blew the second water jug up leaving the remainder of the bullet's copper jacket inside it.  The remaining jacket only weighed 22.2 grains of the original 95 grains. [243/06 Wildcat aka 6mm-06 Wildcat] Darrell Udelhoven

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    Darrell Udelhoven

    Initial Post: 06/27/01; New Responses added: 09-27-02; Update: 11/10/07