Can I shoot deer with a .243?

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ask the experts - Credit: Archant

I’m not allowed a larger calibre than .243 to shoot foxes, but want to hunt deer too... will I need two rifles? Andrew Venables replies

Q: My constabulary has suggested they will not permit me to have a calibre over .243 to shoot foxes. I want to hunt deer and foxes – does this mean I will need two rifles if I need something bigger than .243 for deer?

ANDREW VENABLES replies: Interesting question. The .243 is a very capable calibre for both foxes and all species of British deer, subject to correct bullet choice. You can choose 58-75gr varmint bullets for smaller non-edible quarry and 85-105gr controlled expansion bullets for deer and quarry between perhaps 15 and 200kg. On larger deer it is best to keep ranges modest, as energy levels drop quite quickly.

I personally prefer to use 95-105gr bullets for everything in the .243 to keep things simple and not get caught out with the wrong bullet when deer appear. It also helps with knowing the overall trajectory and wind deflection without changes of bullet weight complicating things.

There is much to be said for using one rifle which you are able to shoot well. The .243 is gentle to shoot, reasonably quiet with a moderator and enough gun for any UK quarry, subject to correct placement of the right bullet. One rifle also saves you money on guns and scopes, which you can then invest in more ammunition, training, practice and hunting.

Let me know how you get on.