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mattri
Reply with quote  #1 
Tried a search, sorry if this has been covered before.

Looking at a factory rifle for prairie dog shoots and target shooting. The majority of shots will be 300 yards or less with the occasional stretch. Am looking at the Rem 700 and Savage 12 at the moment, if anyone has another recommendation I'm all ears. From what I know at the moment it seems like:

.223
Pros:
A very common round with plenty of ammo choices and load data.
Capable of 300 yard accuracy, can be stretched some.
Very inexpensive to shoot.
Very little recoil, very quiet report.
Acceptable lethality for very small varmints.
Cons:
Very light bullet, prone to wind drift.
Lethality questionable on anything but the smallest varmints at extended range.
Cannot be used for hunting should the need arise.
Extended range range accuracy questionable.

.243:
Pros:
Another common round with excellent ammo choices and load data.
Excellent mid-long range accuracy and lethality.
Better wind bucking.
Can also be used to take larger varmints and deer with proper loads.
Cons:
More expensive to shoot.
Louder report, heavier recoil.
Overkill for small varmints?
Barrel life?

Will be reloading for either round, but like the option of readily available ammo at any retail outlet or mom and pop shop. I really like the .223 for it's ease of shooting and economy, but am concerned with it's ability to be effective at longer ranges. Also like the .243's longer range and ability to take larger game, but am concerned with barrel life when shooting rapidly in a dog town.
Anything I've missed? Any ideas/suggestions welcome, Matt.
trentalan34
Reply with quote  #2 
You've pretty much summed up the pros and cons. I have a number of rifles in both of them. My savages in each shoot great. Depending on your frame size, the recoil of the 243 could become an issue after a really long day of shooting. I do most of my varmint and target shooting with the 223 because of expense and economy, but a 70 gr Nosler in a 243 sure does make an impression on a groundhog.
mattri
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the reply. Which Savages do you have chambered in these calibers?
What is a standard barrel life for a .243, .223? Thanks, Matt.
trentalan34
Reply with quote  #4 
My most used 223 is the 12 FV. I bought it with the intention of replacing the plastic stock, but it shoots so well with it that I have just decided to use those funds elsewhere. The HS precision on my 10FCP is very nice. I am not at home right now, but I seem to remember my heavy barreled 243 to be a 12FV (but the Savage site doesn't list the 243 as one of the calibers chambered for this model).
As to barrel life, I am not a p-dog shooter and I have a number of rifles, so I don't put as many rounds down a tube as some others. I have a Savage sporter barrel in 243 that is over 2,000 rounds and still shoots well-certainly not benchrest accuracy, but it can muster a fairly frequent 1/4-1/2" group. My experience has been that it is hard to shoot out a 223. I have a RRA 24" varminter that my brother and I have put 5,000+ rounds through and it still shoots under 3/4" at 100 yards.
As a side note, almost all my Savages shoot bullets lighter than expected for the twist rate. I used to shoot the 40gr .224 Varminators (discontinued), but now I shoot the 45 gr Sierra Varminters with H335. The 243's shoot the 70gr Nosler and 60 gr Sierra HP very well with IMR 4895 or Varget. The 308 loves the 110 gr Sierra HP with Varget; I will try the 110 gr V-maxes soon. I had a pair of Savage 7mm Remingtons that also shot lighter bullets better.
sdneil
Reply with quote  #5 
Trent-get a good heavy .223 and you will be happy. Work up a good PD load and you will have fun..243 good round but seeing the hits is harder due to recoil,seeing the hits is what its all about..223 is a lot cheaper to shoot,I have 3800 pluss rounds thru my one .223,she is not as accurate as it used to be,but still good enough for at least one more Dog trip this week.-------Neil G
RJinTexas
Reply with quote  #6 
My vote is for the .243 I've shot thousands of rounds of both .223 & .243 over the past 10 years in the dog towns. I purchased a Savage model 12 BVSS with accu-trigger in .243 when they first came out. It shoot both 55gr and 70gr NBT extremely well. It didn't heat up at all with the 55gr bullets, many a day I'd shot 200 to 300 rounds through this rifle only stopping to run a couple of patches through it after firing 50 to 100 rounds. I had 2100 rounds on that rifle when one of my buddies wanted to purchase it. I informed him that he'd probably need to rebarrel it soon. He's put an additional 800 plus rounds down it the last two four day shoots and it's still drilling P-dogs out to 500yds. I personally prefer the .204 Ruger over a .223 as it shoot much flatter and buck the wind a little better. A .204 Ruger replaced my .223 but I think a 20 Tac or Practical may even be a better choice for P-dogs inside of 350yds. But if you can only have one dedicated varmint rifle and plan on shooting yotes and use it for white tails once in a while then purchase a .243 Win in a 9tw. If Savage doesn't offer it anymore then purchase a action and have Fred at SSS make you a barrel.

Good luck
RJ
CPorter
Reply with quote  #7 
Either one will work. You don't have to stick with light bullets if you go with a fast twist barrel. The edge in ballistics appears to go to the .243 Win with a max BC of .585 (115gr DTAC) compared to a .504 for a 90gr .224 Sierra.
NorthFork
Reply with quote  #8 
I would get 223 and a 243 in a savage Because when you get in a good dog town you can heat a barrel up real fast. i shoot a 223 till it gets hot then i grab the 243.
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