Cover Photo Credit: Outdoor Life
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If you’re looking for the right caliber for coyote hunting, the two most popular cartridges are the .22-250 Remington and the .243 Winchester. While they are good varmint cartridges, you can also sometimes see the .22-250 being used for deer hunting, but this is not as common.
So, which one is the best? Both are well-rounded and just about the same size, and both are neck-and-neck in windage, velocity, and stopping power.
In this guide, we’ll talk about how the .22-250 Remington fares versus the .243 Winchester calibers, list their pros & cons, some useful tips and tricks, and I’ll help you pick out the most suitable cartridge for you.
A nice, old-school Savage Arms Axis rifle can get the job done well while making a great combo with these long-range cartridges. Simply put, it’s a well-priced hunting rifle. It’s available in .308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, .243 Winchester, .22-250 Remington, and 6.5 Creedmoor calibers.
Overview of the .22-250 Remington and .243 Winchester Calibers
Let’s take a look at the ammunition cartridges and compare some specific stats, approximate ballistics, and what they are best used for.
Truth be told, both the .22-250 Remington and the .243 Winchester are some of the best varmint and small game calibers, and there are multiple reasons why this “battle of the jackets” is polarizing hunters so much.
Let’s narrow down the specifics so you’ll have an easier time picking the best one for your rifle.
Please note that in the following guide, we won’t talk about the bullet manufacturers, weight, jacket type, and precise numbers of trajectories for hunting or plinking. They always seem to vary and we’ll just cover the general properties of these calibers.
Coyote Hunting Calibers
When it comes to coyote hunting calibers, what you need is a middle-of-the-road cartridge with a bullet weight that goes from 50gr to about 90gr.
But, before we dive into velocity and energy, you should look for a cartridge that can shoot extra flat (meaning the bullet trajectory won’t succumb to gravity), maintains excellent windage and accuracy, and—most importantly—won’t damage the pelts for your trophy.
Keep in mind that pin-point precise .22-250 Remington and .243 Winchester ammunition stats will always vary, and it’s advised that you try these calibers out yourself; one can only go for approximate values.
That doesn’t mean we won’t highlight the important differences between the two. It’s essential that we stick to the main characteristics of a certain round that would really make a difference. Here are the basic numbers.
Main Differences Between Velocity and Energy
As we can see on the chalkboard, the .22-250 Remington round has a cemented average velocity of 3790 fps (feet per second), while the 243 Winchester rounds reach a velocity of 3180 fps.
So, you have a .22-250 Remington bullet that can travel about four times faster than an airplane jetting 600mph. The .243 travels slower—at about 3.6 times the speed of the airplane. Some perspective, right?
That doesn’t mean the .22-250 has an edge on the .243, though. Let’s take a look at the kinetic energy and destructive potential of the two.
A .22-250 Remington has a round muzzle energy average out to 1620 ft-lb (or around 2,200 J), while the .243 Winchester ammunition averages out to about 1950 ft-lb (2,600 J).
The “ft-lb” means a foot-pound, which is a unit of energy equal to the amount of energy required to take a weight of one pound to a distance of one foot. That means that the kinetic energy of the .22-250 Remington round is equal to 1620 pounds of linear vertical displacement through a one-foot distance. The .243 Winchester displaces 1950 pounds over the same distance of one foot. Easy, right?
A general rule of thumb that hunters use is the higher the muzzle energy, the greater the stopping power, combined with their weapon of choice.
Here are the two most important points to keep in mind when going coyote, deer, or varmint hunting:
- Keeping the pelt intact – Goes without saying, but you won’t need a .458 SOCOM caliber just to hunt coyotes. That’s why you need suitable rounds like the .243 Winchester or .22-250. Their fur goes from $10 to $200 dollars, depending on where you sell it and how you shoot. There are lots of guides and methods on how and where to shoot to minimize damage and preserve the pelt.
- Eco-conscious game hunting – Always stay informed by game wardens, rangers, and forest authorities. We know that there are hunters who will gladly hunt overly abundant coyotes and similar game. They prey on pronghorn, mule, deer, and other critters, so one might assume that if they’re not kept in check, the abounding carnivores will squeeze out the meek. In fact, coyotes in particular are not much of a threat, hence we should stay informed about the fair game—literally; you can enjoy hunting as a pastime and do your part for the ecosystem.
.243 Winchester Caliber
- Bullet diameter: .243 in (6.2 mm)
- Case length: 2.045 in (51.9 mm)
- Twist: 1-10, 1-8
The .243 Winchester is also called the “whitetail round” because it’s simply perfect for it.
The casing can withstand harsh temperatures, the 100 gr bullet can reach 2,900 fps with a 1,950 ft-lb energy, and it has quite the kick. That’s just enough stopping power for deer, depending on your shot placement, of course.
The .243 is slightly faster and has more energy than the .22-250, with a larger diameter, and more options that range from 55 gr to 105 gr rounds. With a 55 gr bullet or a 90 gr bullet, they usually stand as a good varmint option, but they can also be a solid choice for deer. The cartridge is viable at long-distance hunting, but it does a lot of damage at close proximities as well.
It simply works.
You can find lots of sporting rifle manufacturers that can eat .243 ammo types, and the recoil is significantly lower than the .30 caliber. It’s not as prominent as the almighty 30-30, which is perfect for deer.
The downsides are that it has greater recoil and muzzle jumps, its stopping power isn’t very pelt-friendly, and the .243 is known to do considerable damage if your shot placement isn’t very good. It’s not the right caliber for you if you’re planning to keep the pelt quality.
Additionally, it’s not as abundant as the .22-250, and during this time of uncertainty, it can be difficult to come across at stores.
Grain and Velocity Efficiency of the .243
The .243 Winchester has a significant advantage over other contenders with its stopping power and range. In order to decrease wind deflection, I recommend you go for a 90-grain or a 100-grain ammunition box for maximum efficiency.
Here’s Berger’s 95-grain Very Low Drag Hunting if you’re looking for something decent and budget-friendly.
For coyote hunting, there’s no beating the .223 Remington, .22-250, and the .243 Winchester, and you can find so many boxes of premium ammo in these cartridges. They’re almost always in stock.
You can be sure that the premium deer ammo like Federal’s Premium MeatEater 85gr or the Hornady American Whitetail .243 Winchester 100gr Interlock will do just fine.
It’s also excellent for deer and pronghorn if you’re able to land that near-perfect shot.
There have been rumors that the .308 Winchester is slightly lighter for deer hunting, but it’s solid for coyotes in comparison to the .243. So, if you come across this ammo type, go for it.
The 70 gr and 75 gr are very common, but you can still find awesome choices in 55 to 85 grain weights.
Be careful when going for the .243 Sierra 85 grain SPT varmint bullet and the 85 grain HPBT; they’re for smaller Class 2 game. It’s a common mix-up and a lot of hunters have made this mistake.
- Bullet diameter: .224 in (5.7mm)
- Case length: 1.912 in (48.6mm)
- Twist: 1-12, 1-14
If the .243 is suitable for coyotes and leans towards deer hunting, the 22-250 Remington is definitely a perfect high-velocity varmint round for coyotes and small game. It’s good for deer as well, but I wouldn’t recommend it as there are better options, namely the 30-30 Winchester, the 6.5 Creedmoor, or the Grendel.
Check out our deer rifle buyer’s guide for more info.
If you do like it for deer, it’s permitted by some states and a lot of folks are happy with it, all thanks to its solid accuracy.
Range and Velocity of the .22-250 Remington
It’s designed for shooting from 50 to 200 yards because of its low energy and its small bullet, which isn’t exactly built for windage.
The .22-250 is smaller, but it has excellent speed and trajectory. You can find some factory cartridges via prominent manufacturers like Federal that can go up to 4000 ft/s, which is completely crazy, considering the speed in comparison to the two calibers.
The velocity of the projectile is flat if you stay in the 100-150 feet range, and it’s pretty effective in windy conditions. You can expect a flatter trajectory with different grains, which usually varies depending on the rifle as well.
In comparison to the .243, the recoil of the .22-250 is significantly lower, and this directly influences accuracy, so it’s a great choice for novice hunters.
So, if you like to shoot coyotes, the .22-250 is your best bet. It hits hard and can take down a Wile E. from up to 200 yards if it isn’t windy. It’s accurate and it has lower recoil than the .243, and the best part is that you can find it in any store.
Grain for the .22-250 Remington
In general, you ought to expect a moderate recoil from .22-250 fired in Federal 55-grain Sierra BlitzKrieg, but you can install a suppressor to help out. I suggest you go for a Federal Hornady V-Max 55 grain .22-250 Remington Ammo, or a Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics 55 grain with your rifle.
Grain types like 50, 55, or 60 grain work wonders with the .22-250, and you get 30 more yards with less wind, considering you regularly shoot the 250-yard average. The only downside of such grains is the crazy muzzle blast and recoil, so be mindful.
You can find lots of other cartridges that can equally do their job at better ranges and windy conditions. They also cost more, are more difficult to find, kick like a mule, and damage the pelt.
Speaking of sub-par calibers, I suggest you steer clear of .223 Remington if you’re going for deer. That’s why I didn’t choose to slip it in between these two despite it being a popular option. However, It should be good for varmint hunting if you don’t go over the 200-yard range.
Keep in mind that you will need surgical precision, not sheer force and velocity balancing if you want to shoot coyotes and deer. Deer are bigger than coyotes, but they still need a good shot placement from a .243 Winchester.
The .22-250 Remington, on the other hand, shoots flatter than the .223 Remington, and that’s a fact. Although, in comparison to the .243, it falls flat (puns!) at over 300 yards. The .243 sails on the wind better than the .22-250, and maybe that’s why they’re hard to come across. Still, think about those windy areas and the bullet drop before you place your shot.
Finally, let’s just say that you will need a round like the .22-250 that does the right amount of damage if you want your coyote pelt to be pristine.
The .243 is a better multi-purpose option if pelt quality isn’t your priority and you just want to practice your long-range hunting. Buck, pronghorn, and whitetail deer are your best bet here.
If you’re looking for the best and most budget-friendly places to buy ammo, check out our ammunition buyer’s guide.