I started runing out of factory .243 ammunition and it was finally time to get into reloading for this caliber as well. I already reload for my .223 and developed two decent loads for a .308, but the .243 was new to me. As I still have some 100gr ammo available (it is legal minimum on larger than roe deer in Scotland) I decided to try something lighter. I was not looking for a varmint round, just something that would shoot well and still perform well on roe deer.
.243 Load Development
I was looking for some simple soft point round at about 85 grain that I could source locally without any problems. I also did not want to buy another powder if I could reuse something I already own. I still had a tub of Vihtavuori N140 I used for .308 and according to Viht reloading manual 85gr was the top weight for this powder, nothing heavier was listed in the manual.
When I was browsing through Hornady, Sierra and Speer catalogs a friend that used to have .243 recommended me something I would have not considered otherwise. He said he used Hornady 87gr V-Max with very good results. He shoots a lot of roe and I had no reason to doubt his advice despite the fact that V-Max is advertised as a vermin round…
Hopefully Hornady 87gr V-Max proved to be quite popular and affordable so I got a box of 100 to give them a go.
I found some Remington and Sako brass and CCI 200 primers I also used for the .308 loads. So I was sorted component-wise it was just a matter of finding an accurate and safe load.
After some research I found out Blaser brass needs to be full sized. Some said it is also good to neck size, but the shoulders should be bumped back a bit every time, otherwise the rifle might miss fire. As all the business of bumping shoulders sounded a bit too complicated I just FL sizes all the brass.
I loaded 20 rounds starting from 31.5gr in 1.3gr intervals and half hour later had 5 different loads 4 rounds each to test. I used the same seating depth for all rounds with a large jump to the lands (I am not falling for the idea of seating close to the lands again…) 😆 The rounds measured 3.180″ with Sinclaire hex nut (2.685″ to the tip).
I set up the target at 100m and shot all the rounds looking for any signs of pressure. All the cases looked good and I never noticed anything suspicious.
It was not my best day out shooting and I know I pulled some of the shots, but I knew when the bullet was not in the bull because of me… 🙄
I was happy with the 4th group (35.4gr of N140) and decided to go for it. I loaded a few more rounds just to confirm it really shoots as expected and ended up with a 0.4″ group.
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