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Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?
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Thread: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Colorado Springs, CO

    Default Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    On another recent Kifaru Firearms thread for those who like splitting cartridge hairs – “Rifle Cartridges I Need! What About You?” – the question of smaller, sensible cartridges was raised by Miller. Sensible meaning low recoil with surprising hunting power.

    Presumably, we’re talking about those easygoing cartridges between, but not including, the .243 Winchester and the .270 Winchester. There are at least half a dozen popular hunting cartridges in that mild-shooting spread:

    <span style="color: #FF0000">243 Winchester</span>
    250 Savage
    257 Roberts
    25-06 Remington
    257 Weatherby Magnum
    6.5x55 Swedish
    260 Remington
    <span style="color: #FF0000">270 Winchester</span>

    Which one do you think is best? And how would you decide?

    Trying to empirically compare various cartridges is always tricky. There are so many factors that can be involved. But, such exercises are nevertheless interesting and fun, as long as everyone takes them with a grain of salt.

    Here are two ways to look at a few of the today’s moderate (some would same sensible) hunting cartridges. The first way is “relative recoil.” Everyone is affected by recoil. Most shoot lighter-recoiling rifles better. Less kick is certainly more fun.

    Another way to compare cartridges is by referring to what’s called “Taylor KO Index.” John Pondoro Taylor was an African professional hunter who wanted to devise a numerical measure of effectiveness for hunting cartridges. He finally settled on a measure that is bullet weight times velocity times bullet diameter. The Taylor Knock Out Index is certainly not perfect (by comparison to other methods it favors heavy bullets), but it is an interesting way to rate cartridges. If you don’t like it, feel free to offer up your own comparison figures, rather than simply ripping Taylor KO.

    So, let’s compare. My source for all of the following data is Bob Forker’s book, “Ammo & Ballistics for Hunters, Shooters and Collectors.” Excellent book, by the way.


    Forker lists a “relative recoil” for each cartridge in his book. The figure is based on a typical, standard load and gun for each cartridge and is meant to render ballpark recoil comparison possible. My shoulder says Forker’s relative recoils are pretty close, all things considered. Here's how the cartridges in question, and a few more, rate in terms of relative recoil.

    243 Winchester……………..1.25
    250 Savage…………………...1.27
    257 Roberts…………………..1.47
    25-06 Remington…………..1.57
    257 Wthby. Magnum………1.76
    6.5x55 Swedish……………..1.72
    260 Remington……………...1.73
    7x57 Mauser………………....1.68
    270 Winchester……………..1.82
    280 Remington……………….1.96
    30-06 Springfield……………2.19
    300 Win Mag………………...2.39
    338 Win Mag………………...2.93
    375 H&H……………………....3.42

    The cartridges between .243 and .270 sure are easy on the shoulder. None, it would seem, would knock you off a Huntsman22 Deluxe Shooting Stool. Their mild kick is attractive. But can they kill game?


    To get this comparison as close to apple-to-apples as possible, I’ve pulled data for standard Remington factory ammunition loaded with standard Remington Core-Lokt bullets (except for the 257 Weatherby Magnum where I used data on Weatherby factory ammo). Velocity is at the muzzle with those factory loads. Taylor KO Indexes are at 100 yards. Obviously, changing bullet weights and/or reloading lots of extra powder into the cases would slew this data. But apples-to-apples, here’s what I came up with.

    243 Winchester with standard 100-grain bullet at 2960 fps………...9.4 Taylor KO at 100 yards
    250 Savage with standard 100-grain bullets at 2820 fps……………...9.2 Taylor KO at 100 yards
    257 Roberts with standard 117-grain bullet at 2650 fps……………..11.3 Taylor KO at 100 yards
    25-06 Remington with standard 120-grain bullet at 2990 fps………12.0 Taylor KO at 100 yards
    257 Wthby. Magnum with 120-grain Partition at 3305 fps………….13.4 Taylor KO at 100 yards
    6.5x55 Swedish with standard 140-grain bullet at 2550 fps……….12.4 Taylor KO at 100 yards
    260 Remington with standard 140-grain bullet at 2750 fps………..13.4 Taylor KO at 100 yards
    7x57 Mauser with standard 140-grain bullet at 2660 fps…………….13.8 Taylor KO at 100 yards
    270 Winchester with standard 130-grain bullet at 3060 fps…….…14.3 Taylor KO at 100 yards

    280 Remington with standard 150-grain bullet at 2890 fps………….16.0 Taylor KO at 100 yards
    30-06 Springfield with standard 180-grain bullet at 2700 fps………19.6 Taylor KO at 100 yards

    OK, here’s the <span style="color: #CC0000">Big QUESTION</span>.

    If you look at the sensible hunting cartridges between .243 Winchester and .270 Winchester - and compare recoil, Taylor KO Index and your experiences and thoughts - <span style="color: #CC0000">what do you suppose would be your choice in this cartridge class?</span>

    I must admit that I personally like the looks of the data on the 25-06, although I’ve never owned one – very little recoil, yet fast, flat and hits reasonably hard for this size cartridge. It would seem to be a great choice for deer and antelope, which is where I see these cartridges mostly going. Of course, there is also the frozen rope that is the 257 Weatherby. My magnum side is whispersing in my ear that it's the only choice.

    In any case, that’s my thoughts on the sensible cartridges between (but not including) .243 and .270. What’s your choice in that spread and why?
    "Don't let the things you can't do, stop you from doing the things you can do."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    If I can't have my 7MM Mag, then I'll take a 264 Win Mag. I don't like being sensible. [img]/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif[/img]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    utah, usa

    Default Re: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    I'm writing this reply on my cell, so I don't want to spend the time looking, but I'm assuming Forker is using some formula based on standard ft. lb. recoil charts with the 30.06 as the reference point? The 25.06 has always compared well in the performance vs recoil charts. When I was 17 and wanted to graduate from the surplus Krag my dad had given each of his sons, I bought a surplus '03, had it re-barreled and put a hand carved Bishop stock on it. I loved that rifle even though it never fed worth a Tinker's Damn. Years later a Remington 700 found its way into my safe, after big Green had "legitimized" the cartridge. It never held tight groups so I said Sayonara to it too. I've not owned one, but an AI .257 Roberts would be sweet in a custom small ring Mauser. I don't see any reason to choose the .257 over the 25.06 in a std. length action; Slightly less recoil and altruistics aside. The downside to the quarterbores has always been a reduced selection of bullet weights. For that reason, if I were choosing a caliber in the discussed range it would hands down be the one Timberline (overlooked?), the 6.5-06. , unless I absolutely needed a smaller package, in which case, the 6.5-08 would get the nod. At the risk of starting another thread on how much lead and muzzle flash it takes to kill an animal, I'm of the opinion that any of these can adequately kill up to elk and are very well suited to western hunting.
    "A Patriot Must Always Be Ready To Defend His Freedom Against His Government"- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003

    Default Re: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    I'd go with a 6.5X55 in a modern action loaded to the specs. in my Barnes manual with the 140 gr.TLC at 2900 fps.

    ....30 million Swedes can't be wrong!...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Yakima, WA

    Default Re: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    Geez, looks like you left the best choices off the scale How about the non-magnum .284's. Near the bottom of that TKO list is the lowly 7x57mm. It gets my vote...very low recoil, modest velocity and tremendous penetration with good bullets, and very accurate. Might I even suggest the little 7-08 as near match in a short action. I know, I've stepped outside the line, but no experience with anything else on the list and these 2 are so close I just had throw 'em out there
    "I hate exposure." 1st (Annual???) Super Secret Lunker Trout Lake, July 11, 2009

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Default Re: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    Ordinarily, I'd vote for the 7x57. However, the terms of inquiry were for between 243 and 270, in that case I'd have to vote for the 6.5x55. I honestly don't think any critter you would shoot with either of them will tell the difference...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    New Jersey

    Default Re: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    Best bullet selection will be 6.5mm, since both 6mm and 7mm are off limits based on your terms.

    Best efficiency in 6.5mm will be the .260... the Swede is a non-standard bolt face and a long action (being pragmatic)...both are negatives in my book. With all that extra powder, you get very little performance gain over the .260 and considerable extra barrel wear.

    The .260 also has the advantage of using very light bullets for varmint hunting, making it very versatile. The 95 grain VMAX out of a 22-24" bbl in 1:8 twist will get up to maybe 3200 fps and have very, very dramatic terminal effects in small critters combined with near benchrest levels of accuracy in a quality arm.
    ANJRPC Life Member

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    Default Re: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    I love shooting my 257 weatherby "like a frozen rope". I'm sure if you get out the tables it's not that much flatter or faster but a few years ago I took it as a backup fun gun for prairie dogs. It sure impressed me how far and fast and dramatically it dispatched of the little vermin!! BUT now that I have some lightweight rifles I find myself not wanting to carry the magnum action. SO a 250 AI. or 25-06 type case would be my choice now. At least if I needed to carry it much. Dean

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    South West Mississippi

    Default Re: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    Forced to stick to your list, I'd go with the 260 Remington for reasons already stated.

    Personally, having pondered this question at length I went with the 7mm-08. I use 120 gr bullets for deer hunting, but have the option for heavier bullets if I need to step up to heavier game.
    It has less recoil with the 120 gr load than the 270 with typical 130 gr bullet, but a better killer to me than the 243 class of cartridges.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    littleton, co

    Default Re: Best Cartridge Between .243 and .270?

    I love the 25-06 for deer and antelope. Very little recoil, with great velocity, and plenty of power.

    Here's the question: light or heavy rifle?

    If light, I'd go 260 or 257, for the short action. If heavier, I'd go 25-06.

    The more I hunt, the more I like light rifles. A little 243 is going to be my birthday present this year...Tikka T-3.
    This message board is here to advance the art of back-country hunting, fishing, and soldiering in a spirit of good fellowship. Some of the best hunters and finest folks in the world post here. If you're new, welcome, learn, and contribute.

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