243 WSSM and the 243 Win.


243 WSSM and 243 Win Bullets
243 WSSM & 243 Win. (Left-Right)

I have often heard the question "What's so special about a 243 WSSM compared to the 243 Win?"  The simple answer is that the 243 Win. is an excellent caliber and so is the 243 WSSM. They each offer a little different flavor to our hunting and shooting experiences. Here are some of the pros and cons and why I like the 243 WSSM.

Some Positives

  • The 243 WSSM can fit into a shorter action rifle with a shorter bolt, magazine and receiver. This means you get a lighter, smaller rifle that produces a shorter, faster bolt throw. It also means you get a stiffer action that can improve accuracy.
  • The 243 WSSM shoots bullets a little faster. Roughly 100-200 feet per second.
  • In theory shorter fatter cases have the characteristics to burn the powder more evenly and consistently resulting in improved accuracy.
  • The cartridge is short enough to work in the AR-15 platform. Where the 243 Win. requires the longer action AR-10 which in heavier and more expensive.

Some negatives

  • Loaded ammunition is expensive.
  • Loaded ammunition can be harder to find.
  • Some people have reported difficulty with shells feeding. This makes perfect sense, the case is really short and really fat, requiring a little more finesse to make the transition from magazine to chamber than a longer traditional shell. My A-Bolt's magazines required a slight adjustment to get shells to feed smoothly. (see my 243 WSSM Feeding Issues - Solved article)
  • Because the shells are fatter you will get one less shell in the magazine in a Browning A-Bolt or Winchester Model 70.
  • Production rifles are hard to find now days (See list below.)

Some myths

  • The 243 WSSM burns barrels out really fast.
    Wrong! I have not seen nor heard of any evidence that they burn barrels out any faster than any other "magnum" like cartridge. Browning and Winchester also chrome lined their barrels. Chrome lining can greatly extend barrel life. I personally like how easy it is to clean chrome lined barrels. I suspect that they were chrome line as a precaution before real extensive testing was done on the barrel life.  Whatever the case production rifles from Browning A-Bolts and Winchester Model 70s are chrome lined. One of these barrels with proper care should last well beyond the amount of rounds most people ever shoot in their lives.
  • You better stock up on brass because they aren't going to make it any more.
    Common sense will tell you that there are far too many rifles out there for Winchester to stop making brass. And more rifles are continuing to hit the market with the AR-15 rifles that continue to get more popular in the 243 WSSM offerings. Now common sense will also tell you that Winchester would only make runs of brass to meet the demand. If demand goes up or down they would obviously adjust accordingly. I use to think this but Winchester hasn't done squat to support their WSSM customers with brass.

Where can I find WSSM brass?
We have a supplier of WSSM brass! Bill at Hill Billy Brass is forming WSSM brass from WSM brass. Thank you Bill!

Where can I find a 243 WSSM rifle? Currently only AR-15 rifles are in production. Here are the AR-15 rifles that I am aware of.

If you're one who likes to tinker at the reloading bench with different bullets, powder and the like, the 243 WSSM might be for you. If you are looking for a rifle that's a little faster shooting and lighter to carry, the 243 WSSM might be for you. If you spend a good deal of time hunting and hiking in rugged tough country, a little lighter rifle might be for you. Now on the other hand if you like to grab a box of ammo at Walmart as you're heading out of town to your hunting lease the 243 WSSM probably isn't for you.

I think the 243 Win. is an excellent cartridge and I have always been fond of it. My father's deer rifle is a Sako Forester chambered in 243 Win.  In my youth I watched my father shoot mule deer with it and I'd hear the stories from the guys in his hunting party talking about how they would all miss at long range with their 30-06's and my dad with his little 243 would get them every time. Boy, how I thought that rifle was the best rifle in the world. Some day I hope to own my father's rifle but we'll have to see as I have two brothers that have their eyes on it also.

I don't think you can go wrong with either cartridge as long as you understand what might be an advantage and what might be a disadvantage for your individual hunting and shooting style. The 243 Win. is an outstanding caliber and for the gear head that I am the 243 WSSM is just as outstanding. Many a deer has fallen to a .243/6mm diameter bullet throughout the years. And the latest cartridge to push this 6mm bullet does the job quite well.

The 243 WSSM has also been deadly on elk. In 2009 my son made a 205 yard one shot kill on his first elk bull elk with a 243 WSSM and a 272 yard one shot kill cow elk with a 243 WSSM, and again in 2010 Dallen took a cow elk with a single shot at 110 yards with a 243 WSSM.

To view my favorite handloads for the 243 WSSM check out my 243 WSSM Handloads and Ballistics page.

DIY European Skull Mounts

Here are a few of the European skull mounts that I have done. It just take a little time and work and you can make European Skull Mounts of your own trophies.  To learn more about how I do the mounts you can read this DIY European Skull Mounting Process article.

European Skull Mount 5 Point Elk
This is a bull I took in 2004 with my Adrenaline SX bow. You can read about this hunt in 2004 Archery Elk 5 Point Bull journal entry.
European Skull Mount Mule Deer
My non-typical monster buck (left) that my daughter created for my office and a buck I took in 2004 with a 270 WSM Winchester Model 70 (right). You can read about this mule deer hunt in my 2004 Mule Deer Hunt journal entry.
European Skull Mount 5 Point Elk
This is a bull I took in 2007 with a modified Browning Adrenaline SX bow. You can read about this hunt in 2007 Archery Elk 5 Point Bull journal entry.
 European Skull Mount 8 Point Whitetail Deer
This is a Whitetail Deer I took in 1995. It was my first experiment with European Skull Mounts. I boiled this skull to remove the flesh. The mount turned out pretty good although I found another process to remove the flesh that I like better. You can learn about this process in my DIY European Skull Mounting Process article.

My 243 WSSM Rifles

Here are my 243 WSSM rifles, two stainless laminate varieties of Browning A-Bolt rifles and a Winchester Model 1885.

As you can see I really like Quake Claw rifle slings. A leather sling would look nicer on my Model 1885 but function wise, Browning Clincher or Quake Claw rifle slings are the best at keeping my rifle in place on my shoulder and I use them on almost every rifle I have.

 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Laminate Hunter

243 WSSM, Browning A-Bolt Stainless Hunter Laminate with 22" barrel
 Bushnell Elite 3200 3-10x SA Scope

This rifle in my favorite for coyotes and deer when serious hiking is involved. It has a beautiful brown laminate stock and a short 22 inch barrel. It's a great small, light mountain rifle with pretty good range. Dallen my oldest son has taken a liking to it and used it to make one shot kills on his first mule deer buck, whitetail deer buck, bull elk and cow elk.


 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Laminate Varmint

243 WSSM, Browning A-Bolt Stainless Varmint Laminate with 24" fluted barrel
Bushnell Elite 4200 4-16x Side Adjustable Objective Scope (How the rifle was Pre-2014)

This is my all-around rifle. I use it for just about anything. It has a beautiful gray laminate stock and a longer, thicker, 24 inch barrel. I also had the barrel deep fluted to shave some extra weight off this rifle and it looks really cool.

A-Bolt 243 WSSM Varmint Laminate with Adjustable Comb, 20 MOA EGW Rail and Vortex Viper PST Scope
In 2013-14 I did a few upgrades to my Varmint Laminate. It now has an adjustable comb, a 20 MOA EGW Rail with low Four Hole Skeleton Weaver rings and a Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 MOA second focal plane scope. Because the 20 MOA picatinny rail places the scope higher I needed the comb raised to get proper eye, cheek alignment. I had Karl McKnight make the fully adjustable comb and add the extra length to the stock I need with a new recoil pad/spacer. Karl did a fine job! I like the look and especially the functionality.
A-Bolt 243 WSSM Varmint Laminate with Adjustable Comb A-Bolt 243 WSSM Varmint Laminate with Adjustable Comb
For ease in getting this stock to the gunsmith that is out of town, I just sent the stock. When I got the stock back the adjustable comb prevented the bolt from traveling enough to cycle the action. I should have been clear that I needed the action to cycle and make the cut short enough so that it would. Anyhow, a little trimming with a band saw, some sanding, some polyurethane and it works and looks great. The photos above show before and after I modified the comb to allow for the action to fully cycle.
 243 WSSM Winchester Model 1885

243 WSSM, Winchester Model 1885 with 28" barrel
Bushnell Elite 4200 6-24x AO Mil-Dot Scope

I love Model 1885 rifles. They were John M. Browning's first firearm designed in 1878 that went into production as the Winchester Model 1885 and is still in production to this date. 

This rifle is my favorite for prairie dogs and rock chucks. It's a heavy rifle but it shoots bullets really and I mean really fast, thanks to the long 28 inch barrel. The Winchester 55g Ballistic Tip factory loads are clocking in at 4240 fps out of this rifle.

It may be a single shot but with a cartridge holder on the side of the stock I can still get off a follow-up shot pretty darn fast as you can see in my 243 WSSM Model 1885 Coyote Double article.


243 WSSM Rifles, Two Browning A-Bolts and a Winchester Model 1885
 This photo shows all three of my 243 WSSM rifles together to give a better size comparison.


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