For shooters who want long distance capability without the notorious recoil of the 30-calibers (which really should be most of us), there are plenty of smaller calibers that are capable of hitting at 1,000 yards. Plus, it wouldn’t be right to overlook all the great 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges out there.
The trouble is, of course, deciding which one to include. Should we go with the .260 Remington or the 6.5 Creedmoor? Both are excellent rounds, and both are considered to have stellar long-range ballistics.
A simple search on the Cabela’s website for ammo was the tie-breaker we needed: Both failed.
As we’ve already discussed, the affordability and availability of ammunition are two of our most important qualifications. While there are literally dozens of manufacturers producing the .243 Win, only a couple were supplying the .260 Remington or 6.5 Creedmoor at scale.
Then we read an interview with champion tactical shooter George Gardner. When asked why he selected the 243 Win for his competition rifle, Gardner answered, “Why would I run anything else? Think about it. I’m sending a .585 BC 115 at 3150 fps–that’ll shoot inside the 6XC and .260 Rem with ease. I’m pretty sure I have found the Holy Grail of Comp Rifles.”
The .243 uses the same brass as the trusty .308 Winchester, necked down to a 6mm bullet. That gives you the advantage of being able to use .308 magazines interchangeably. There are also a multitude of match grade bullets available, similar to the 30-cals we’ve listed.
The .243 Winchester fires a very fast bullet with a very flat trajectory. The bullet is smaller and lighter, but so is the recoil. If you are into reloading, many shooters prefer the Ackley Improved shell, which can launch a bullet at an impressive 3300fps.
If it seems like we’re trying hard to sell the merits of the 6mm category, it’s because we really are. Despite the popular notion that heavier bullets make better long-distance cartridges, that really depends on your definition of “long-distance.”
If your definition ranges from 400-800 yards, then any of the calibers we’ve listed are more than capable. If you just can’t stand the thought of being limited to 1,000-yard shots, then the .300 Win Mag is probably your best bet.
Credit: Arthurrh, Wikimedia