Winchester introduced the .243 Winchester in 1955 for two of their rifles, the bolt action Model 70, and the lever action Model 88. The .243 cartridge enjoys a positive reputation today, all major American manufacturers of ammunition sell the caliber with a large array of bullet weights and types.
The .243 was the first centerfire rifle for many shooters, and for many of them, the .243 was also the caliber they used to take their first deer. The .243 stands out among other cartridges due to its efficiency. The case is a necked down .308 that provides ample room for the powder that pushes these light, small bullets to peak performance. The .243 serves well to take a spectrum of animals from varmints to predators and deer. Some hunters have even successfully taken an elk with a .243.
.243 bullet weights commonly range between 55 and 115 grains. Bullets are made in Power Point and Soft Point types, as well as many others. Muzzle velocity starts at about 2,800 feet per second at the low end, and peaks out near 3,900 feet per second. Muzzle energies can vary between 1,700 and 2,600 foot pounds.
The .243 has a light recoil and hits the target with high accuracy. It performs well out to 200 yards and beyond on deer sized game; some hunters claim to regularly take whitetail deer at 400 yards. The LAPD Special Weapons And Tactics unit employed the cartridge in urban counter-sniper roles soon after the creation of the unit.
All major firearms manufacturers have a least one rifle chambered in the .243, often with many different choices for action type. It is easy to find .243 ammunition in a breadth of choices that is unrivaled by other cartridges for sale today.
Shooters have popularized the .243 Winchester for its light recoil and ability to hunt virtually any North American game animal at close to medium range, they will likely continue to demand this capable cartridge for many years to come.