With apologies to the 1980s comedy Mr. Mom: “What are you going to shoot that deer with? .243?”
“.243, .244, whatever it takes.”
Which brings us to today’s gunfight: a matchup between the .243 and the .244. We have one of each, both chosen by fathers as their children’s first deer rifles.
Both cartridges were introduced in 1955 as versatile varmint and deer calibers. They are, especially to this shotgunning outsider, practically identical. The .244 achieves slightly higher velocities, as I understand it, but the .243’s 1- in 10-inch twist barrel better stabilizes heavier deer bullets.
This is my new (to me) Ruger Model 77 Mark II in .243. I was offered the gun at a very fair price, but it hurts my soul to pay asking price for anything. After some wheeling and dealing, I ended up with it. I got it for my daughter and grandsons to use later. I’ve only shot it a few times, but it seems to shoot pretty well. The scope will change, and this November, I hope that it’ll start a new chapter in its life of helping young hunters get their first deer.
_I have an old Remington 722 chambered for Remington .244 (AKA 6 mm). I bought it for the boys when they started deer hunting with me, 16 years ago. The gun sports an inexpensive 3×9 Bushnell scope. When I went to look at the rifle, I thought it was a .243. I didn’t know there was such a thing as .244. The gun has a heavy barrel, which makes it more to carry than the Remington 700 BDL I shoot. _
_I knew the .244 was often considered too light for big game. But I also knew it accounted for a lot of dead whitetails each year. Thus, I thought it would be the perfect gun for the boys. When I took them to the range, I found the gun to be dead accurate, with no recoil. The first day they were able to hit targets and small pumpkins at 50–100 yards and golf balls at 50 every two or three shots. The rifle is perfect for hunting Kentucky whitetails, and it has accounted for several deer over the years, always with just one bullet. _
Which gun do you prefer?