243 WSSM Handloads and Ballistics

Favorite 243 WSSM Bullets
Some of my favorite loads left to right:
• 80g Tipped Triple Shock, Handload
• 75g Hornady V-Max, Handload
• 55g Ballistic Tip, Winchester Factory Load

Below are my personal favorite loads for the 243 WSSM. To view the loads you will need to read the warning near the bottom of the page, then accept the warning by checking the box inside the warning.

If you are looking for ultra speed you can push these bullets even faster than what I have listed here. I like to keep my loads away from the highest pressures possible. The loads here are my goto sub minute-of-angle accurate hunting loads. For varmints I either use the 75 grain V-Max or the 55 grain Ballistic Tip Winchester factory load.  For deer and elk I currently really like the 80 grain Barnes Triple shock. That bullet has preformed very well on elk. You can read about that in Dallen's first elk journal entry and the 2009 cow elk journal entry. I am very comfortable with this 80g TSX bullet on elk out to 350 yards. Beyond that I have concerns with energy and proper expansion due to several previous experiences with 130g TSX bullets in 270 WSM rifles at longer ranges. You can read more about my thoughts on the Triple Shock in my Recovered Triple Shock Bullet journal entry.

Another interesting thing in regards to speed. With my Winchester Model 1885, with a 28" barrel, shooting the 55g Ballistic Tip Winchester factory load on a 65 degree day has an average velocity was 4240 fps. It also consistently shoots this load under an inch at 100 yards. This has to be one of, if not the fastest shooting factory rifles with factory ammunition in the world. It does amazing things to chucks and prairie dogs. Wow!

I'm still looking for a long range deer load (350 yards and beyond). I thought the Hornady 85 grain InterBond might be the ticket. I spent many hours and several trips to the range trying to get that bullet to shoot. I tried four different powders and many different seating depths. The best I could get was three inch groups at 100 yards. On the other hand, every load I tried with the 75 grain Hornady V-Max shot well. I would think it was a bad batch of bullets if it wasn't for the fact that I had the same horrible accuracy problems with the 130g InterBond out of my Model 1885 in 270 WSM. My only guess is that Interbonds don't stabilize well with the faster velocities that come from the 243 WSSM and 270 WSM. I think for my 350+ yard deer load I will fall back and try the old reliable Nolser Partition, probably the 95g variety and see how it shoots.

I'm working on a load for the 95g Nosler Partition. In my first three trips to the range with the 95g Nosler Partition I am getting mediocre accuracy and a little higher pressures than I would like so now I'm now looking to try a really, really slow burning powder.

I found the 95g Nosler Partition load I like... well, maybe I'll tweak it some more in the future but for now I'm happy. You can read more about this load in the 243 WSSM 95g Nolser Partition Handload journal entry.

Oct. 15th 2010: I broke a decapping pin during development of the 95g Partition load and purchased another decapping/Tapered Expander assembly that is one thousandth of an inch larger in diameter. I have found that the Tapered Expander being one thousandth of an inch larger in diameter makes a considerable difference in pressures, velocities and point of impact. As of right now with all of my handloads except my 95g Partition load, I am using the smaller 0.242" diameter Tapered Expander.

If you are needing printable targets for sighting in your rifle you can get them here.

WARNING: The load information on this page is for my personal use in my personal firearms and is posted for entertainment purposes only. If you chose to reload the 243 WSSM use only data contained in current manufacturer's reloading manuals. Incorrectly reloaded ammunition can cause serious personal injury and damage to the firearm due to excessive pressure. Reload only after proper instruction and in strict compliance with instruction and data contained in current manufacturer's reloading manuals. If you choose to use the load data on theDIYhunter.com • 243wssm.com you are doing so at your own risk. theDIYhunter.com • 243wssm.com is not responsible for injury and/or death resulting from data posted or referred to on this Website. Improper reloading is dangerous. Users assume all risk, responsibility and liability for any and all injuries (including death), losses or damages to persons or property (including consequential damages), arising from the use of any data posted on this site. If you have read and accept this warning check this box to view my 243 WSSM load data.

Accuracy of Gold Tip Series 22 Arrows with QuikSpin Speed Hunter Vanes

50 yard Robin Hood Shot with Series 22 Shafts and NAP QuikSpin Speed Hunter Vanes
 50 Yard Robin Hood Shot with Series 22 shafts and NAP QuikSpin Speed Hunter Vanes.

For starters I should explain my setup. My bows are the Browning Adrenaline with a few modifications to fit my needs. I have a 32 1/2" draw length although I prefer to shoot at a 32" draw length. This improves my accuracy with a more relaxed left arm holding the bow. To get the additional draw length beyond the stock Adrenaline bow I replaced the 15" limbs for 15 1/2" limbs and then I made some custom strings to fit. The draw weight is set at 75 lbs and with the 32" draw I am pushing my 463g arrows at 290 fps.

I started experimenting with the Gold Tip Big Game shafts, Gold Tip 5575 shafts and Gold Tip's Series 22 shafts (the old heavy Series 22 not the UL version they now make). I also experimented with different vanes. After all the experimenting was done the most accurate shaft was clearly the Series 22.

NAP QuikSpin ST Speed Hunter Arrow Vanes and 5" AAE Arrow VanesI believe the combination of the longer draw length and the heavy draw weight demanded a lot of help from the vanes to keep the arrow on course. I tried a couple of different vanes. At the time almost everyone was shooting 4" Duravanes, Bohning or AAE vanes. Those vanes just didn't produce the accuracy that I demanded. I tried the 5" AAE vanes and that did the trick. The vane is nice and long and has a texture on the vane that provides excellent steering to the arrow. So for the past 7 years I have shot and hunted with the 5" AAE vane and had excellent success with it.

50 yard Robin Hood Shot with Series 22 Shafts and NAP QuikSpin Speed Hunter VanesIn 2008 the tinkering bug got the best of me and I decided to give some of the NAP QuikSpin vanes a try. I fletched a couple of NAP QuikSpin 2.25" vanes and some of the NAP QuikSpin Speed Hunter vanes. The QuikSpin 2.25" vanes would not hold a group at all. On the other hand the QuikSpin Speed Hunters were great. For a period of a couple of weeks on a daily basis I would shoot my old reliable 5" AAE vanes along side of the QuikSpin Speed Hunters. The QuikSpin shot very well indeed. It was hard at first to find any distinguishable difference in the accuracy of one over the other. After shooting them together for a month or so I started to lean towards the Speed Hunter being just a little more accurate. I also liked the QuikSpin Speed Hunter over the 5" AAE vanes for two other reasons...well make that three. First the Speed Hunter would be less susceptible to cross winds blowing the arrow off course at longer ranges.  Second, vane clearance issues with my arrow rest are non-existent. And third, the cool factor. The short stubby vanes do look really cool on the shafts.

I did find some slight negatives to the Speed Hunters. They are difficult to see in flight compared to the large 5" AAE vanes. I also found that at long ranges the Speed Hunters would group lower than the 5" vanes. At 70 yards they hit the target about six inches lower. If I could chronograph the arrow at various ranges I would bet that the Speed Hunter has a little more drag than the 5" AAE vanes causing it to slow down a little quicker. And lastly the QuikSpin Speed Hunters are a more expensive, but I think they are well worth it.

50 yard Robin Hood Shot with Series 22 Shafts and NAP QuikSpin Speed Hunter VanesI have made a handful of Robin Hood shots over the years in the 30 yard range. In fact I rarely practice under 50 yards because I damage far too many shafts from hitting one another, shafts I can't afford to damage because Gold Tip doesn't make them any more. As you can see in the photos using the Speed Hunter I got my first Robin Hood at 50 yards and it also happened to be on my first and second shot of the six arrow group.

If your thinking about using the NAP QuikSpin Speed Hunter vanes I don't think you could go wrong. I would get a bright orange or the like color and consider cresting your shafts so that you can follow the flight of the arrow better. Now, if I only could convince Gold Tip to bring back at least a limited run of the Old Series 22 arrow shaft, I'd be a happy camper. It is a great fat carbon hunting shaft. I need to stock up to last a few more years and pickens have been slim on eBay lately.

Rock Chuck Hunting

243 WSSM Bullets on Model 1885 Stock
243 WSSM bullets on Model 1885 stock

243 WSSM Model 1885 sitting in my lap while rock chuck hunting.
243 WSSM Model 1885 sitting in my lap while rock chuck hunting.

Every summer I like to take a trip or two up the mountain to sharpen my shooting skills shooting rock chucks. The last couple of years I have been taking Dallen. Since the area we hunt takes a half day to hike into we pack along a tent and spend the night and make it a two day trip.

Dallen has been taking his Browning A-Bolt Stainless Stalker in 223 Rem. and I take my Winchester Model 1885 in 243 WSSM. We enjoy the hike and Dallen just loves spending the night in a tent.

This past year Dallen found his first moose antler while we where on our chuck hunting trip.

Dallen usually takes chucks in about the 200-250 yard range. Anything under 200 yards just is a little too easy even for a 10 year old. I like to find chucks in the 300 and beyond range to give me a little challenge.

This past year I took my furthest rock chuck across a huge canyon at 682 yards using my Model 1885, 243 WSSM. My Model 1885 shooting the Winchester 55g Ballistic Tip bullets at 4240 fps puts new meaning to flat shooting. I top this rifle off with a Bushnell Elite 4200, 6-24x Mil-Dot scope, one varmint hunting machine of a rifle. 

A good friend calls small bore flat shooting rifles like the 243 WSSM  "Death Rays." I definitely think my Model 1885 in 243 WSSM meets "Death Ray" status. You can view a video of this 243 WSSM "Death Ray" in action on a rock chuck in my 243 WSSM Rock Chuck Hunting with Video in 2010 journal entry.



Prairie Dog Hunting with a 243 WSSM

243 WSSM Model 1885 on bench hunting Prairie Dogs
243 WSSM Model 1885 on our portable shooting bench.
Dallen shooting the 243 WSSM Model 1885
Dallen having a little fun with Dad's 243 WSSM Model 1885.
Dallen's first Prairie Dog
Dallen and his first Prairie Dog taken at 245 yards.
243 WSSM shells on rifle stock
Dallen on his first Prairie Dog hunt

Dallen and I really enjoy taking a day every year to go on a prairie dog hunting trip. It offers a great opportunity to really sharpen our shooting skills. Dallen has really been getting good at making the shots. It also offers the opportunity to have a wonderful time and make memories with my son.

Dallen has been using his 223 Rem. A-Bolt Stainless Stalker and I use the "Death Ray", Model 1885 in 243 WSSM. When I chronographed this 28 inch barreled rifle shooting the Winchester 55g Ballistic Tip, it spit them out at 4240 fps on a 65 degree day. It also shoots this load under an inch at 100 yards every time I check the rifle on paper.

The first year we went Dallen struggled a little at locating the prairie dogs in the sage brush and then finding them in his scope. However I was very impressed that he hit his very first prairie dog from a bi-pod at 245 yards on the very first shot.

This past year he was picking out the critters hiding in the sage brush just as fast as I was. Better yet he was able to quickly get them in his sights and drop the hammer. This is one of the main reason I like to go prairie dog hunting. It really helps sharpen my shooting skills with a little more added pressure. It definitely has helped Dallen and when the pressure was on elk hunting his first year he knew just what to do thanks in part to his time hunting prairie dogs.

Two years ago I made my furthest one shot kill at 432 yards. I admit I got a little lucky on this shot because there was a heavy cross wind and I had to estimate windage and drilled him. A prairie dog when standing only offers about a three to four inch horizontal window to hit. Not the easiest to do at 400+ yards and with a cross wind.

2006 Archery Elk Hunt — Cramps and Near Hypothermia

DIY Archery Elk Hunting Adrenaline SX 2006
I set the camera on my day pack to take this photo. The photo was taken the morning after near hypothermia and I was rested up and back out looking for elk.

2006 proved to be a memorable archery elk hunting adventure for me. I changed hunting locations this year and other than using Google Earth and topo maps to learn the area it was my first time hunting the area. I had accompanied my father hunting this area as a young boy and I had a few childhood memories of the experience and area.

I planned a four to five day backpacking trip into the area. On the third day I moved my base camp in a couple of more miles and up a pretty substantial amount of vertical elevation. Shortly after dropping my pack, where I wanted to camp, it started to rain. The weather forecast before I left said that there might be a few sprinkles so I had not packed any full waterproof rain gear.

That evening I dropped down a beautiful canyon to look for elk while rain fell lightly all that evening. I had spotted a bull from above, way down in a steep dark canyon so I slowly worked my way through the timber cow calling every few minutes when all of the sudden I heard a stampede of hoof beats coming right at me from behind. I knew what it had to be so I quickly drew my bow and whirled around in one quick smooth motion. Just at I did, two rag horn bulls came sliding to a stop. They were about 15 yards from me but in heavy dead fall and under growth. I still remember one of the bulls lowering his head down near the ground to look through an opening at me, as I moved my sight pin from his nose to other small openings trying to find a way to slide an arrow through the timber. Then just a quickly as they came in they bolted out.

By the time I got back to my base camp I was totally soaked and physically drained. I setup a tent like bivy out of a couple of tarps, took off my wet clothing and crawled into my sleeping bag. It was at this time that my hamstrings in my legs went into full blown cramps that just hurt like no other. Now on top of that my body started to shake uncontrollably all the while I was desperately trying to get my legs straightened and the muscles to unlock from their horrific lock down cramping.

I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "so this is what it feels like as you are starting to get hypothermia." So I just kept trying to straighten my legs and stop shaking while I kept saying to myself  "stay calm, just stay calm." I was in my warm sleeping bag and out of the rain, so I just kept as calm as possible and after several minutes I was able to get the cramps and shaking to subside.

It was an eye opening experience for me and I have worked hard to be more prepared on my hunting adventures since that day by getting more technical clothing and other lightweight technical gear.


 Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement 120 capsule bottle of Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement
This is a sample packet and a 120 capsule bottle of Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement.

One product that I have started using since that hunt has been Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement. A friend who had been competing in triathlons suggested and offered me some trail packets of the Endurolytes. These pills have been amazing for me on my hunting adventures. Whenever I am about to make a serious hike I take one of the pills and if I am still hiking after three or so hours I'll take another pill. When using these pills my legs really feel like they have more strength and endurance. I also have never had any cramps in my legs when I have taken these pills during or after a prolonged hike.

I often take extended backpacking trips that require that I pump water while I am on the mountain. These Endurolytes Electrolyte Replacement Supplement pills work perfect for my style of hunting. I don't have to mess with mixing powder into my water or carry additional weight with bars and jell and the like. I just carry a handful of these capsules in my pack and take one or more when needed for a hike.

Another product that I set my sights on getting because of this hunting experience was a set of Browning Dry-Lite camo lightweight hunting jacket and pants. They are basically just the waterproof, taped outside layer from the insulated XPO hunting clothing Browning offers. I like the Dry-Lite pant and jacket because they are not as noisy as your traditional rain gear and all together they only weigh about a pound. So I can hunt in my camo cotton or fleece pants, shirts and jackets. If it starts to rain I can pull out the Dry-Lite and I'm going to stay warm and dry.


  • Big Game Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting mule deer, elk and whitetail deer.  You'll find hunts with 243 WSSM and 270 WSM rifles to muzzleloader and archery hunts.

  • General Hunting and Shooting

    Journal entries covering general information related to hunting and shooting. Many of these journal entries are from shooting on the rifle or archery range. There are also entries related to my experiences with the 243 WSSM, rifles, optics and other equipment and products I use.

  • Varmint Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting coyotes, rock chucks, prairie dogs and the like with 243 WSSM and 223 Rem. rifles.

  • Backpacking and Camping

    Backpacking, Pack Wheel camping and other camping adventures.

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