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The .243 Winchester vs the .244 Remington

Greater than 65 years in the past two of the most important rifle and ammunition producers unveiled two almost similar cartridges that had been immediately engaged in a titanic battle for supremacy. Inside just some years, one emerged overwhelmingly victorious, resulting in worldwide reputation, whereas the opposite suffered eventual obsolescence.

Why one cartridge succeeded whereas an equally good cartridge failed miserably has been a subject of debate amongst gun buffs for many years. Naturally, when a capturing subject is way mentioned, and lots of opinions rendered, myths will emerge. Thus was born the parable of why the .243 Winchester cartridge prevailed whereas the .244 Remington foundered.

The .243 Winchester vs .244 Remington

A glossy, wood-stocked Remington with a metal barrel stamped with 244 REM and
A Remington 740 Woodsmaster in .244 Remington. Alex Robinson

The .243 and .244 had been virtually ballistic twins. Each had been 6mm caliber (a novelty on the time) and fired bullets of near-identical weights and velocities.

In keeping with oft-repeated typical knowledge (a phrase often interchangeable with delusion), the .244 failed as a result of Remington’s M-722 barrels in that caliber spun the bullets at a fee of 1 revolution in 12 inches, whereas Winchester’s M-70 rifle spun its .243 bullets as soon as in 10 inches. As a rule, bullets which might be lengthy relative to their diameter require a sooner fee of spin to stabilize than do shorter bullets. Think about atypical .30-caliber bullets, which are available a variety of weights. A 220-grain bullet requires a sooner fee of spin to be stabilized and correct than does a 110-grainer. Happily, most bullets are typically considerably forgiving and ship good accuracy even when the numbers say they shouldn’t, which is why gunmakers can normally get away with providing just one specific fee of twist for every caliber they manufacture.

Differing Rifling Twists

I’m informed that the oldsters at Remington foresaw their new caliber as getting used primarily for varmint searching and opted for a 1-in-12-inch twist, which might seemingly yield greatest accuracy with lighter, varmint-type bullets within the 75- to 90-grain vary. The smart heads at Winchester, alternatively, figured that whereas their new .243 can be good for varmints, it additionally had nice potential for greater sport reminiscent of deer and pronghorn. Accordingly, they selected a 1-in-10-inch twist as a compromise that may yield higher accuracy with the 80- and 100-grain bullets they initially provided. Thus, it grew to become legend that the .243 Winchester succeeded due to its all-purpose designation and the .244 was doomed by comparability as a result of it was good for varmints solely.

Frankly, I by no means purchased into this speculation, and because the legend grew I grew to become much more skeptical, firmly believing that the core motive for the success of the .243 Win. was the rifle during which it was initially provided: Winchester’s immensely in style M-70. I’ve even caught my neck out a couple of occasions with the suggestion that if the calibers had been reversed, with Winchester providing a .244-like caliber, 1-in-12-inch twist and all, it might nonetheless have been the winner due to the recognition of the rifle.

Against this, Remington’s M-722 was a plain-looking factor with no checkering and a stamped and bent sheet-metal set off guard. Correct sure, at the very least on a par with the accuracy of a typical M-70, however these had been the postwar days, when riflemen tended to dote on Mausers and ’03 Springfields, of which the M-70 was kin and inheritor. Remington’s “new look,” an virtually complete abandonment of its prewar fashions, had but to achieve the widespread acceptance that may come later.

A Remington M722 rifle.

Nicely, that’s been my principle and I think quite a lot of old-timers agree, however nonetheless there’s a nagging curiosity about how vital that 2-inch distinction in twist fee between the 2 rifles actually was. If Remington provided a .244 loading with a 100-grain bullet, wouldn’t it have been sufficiently correct in its rifle’s 1-in-12-twist barrel? In that case, typical knowledge as to the .244’s demise would haven’t any strong proof.

READ NEXT: 3 Forgotten Cartridges Discovered on the North Dakota Prairie: .225 Winchester, .307 Winchester, and the .244 Remington

Testing the Rifling Twist Charge Principle

There’s just one solution to know for certain, and that’s with comparative testing. After all, merely evaluating the accuracy of an M-70 and an M-722 of their respective calibers can be essentially flawed due to the accuracy potential, or lack thereof, of the 2 particular person specimens examined, other than their differing charges of twist. The extra scientific method is to check similar rifles differing solely of their charges of twist-or higher but, to make use of heavy, target-grade barrels to additional the objectivity of the testing process.

Accordingly, we had three tuned Remington M-700 short-actions fitted with stiff, air-gauged, premium-grade Douglas barrels in .243 Win. All becoming and chambering was accomplished on the Douglas plant by a chambering specialist utilizing the identical reamer for every barrel so the chambers can be similar. Along with barrels with 1-in-12-inch and 1-in-10-inch charges of twist, we ordered a 3rd barrel with a 1-in-8-inch twist so we might observe the results of even sooner spin on the bullets examined.

Throughout the take a look at sequence the barreled actions had been alternately examined in the identical HS Precision artificial inventory with an aluminum bedding block, in an effort to additional cut back the prospect of accuracy variations that may happen with totally different shares. Likewise, the identical Leupold 8.5-25x50mm scope was utilized in all checks. Ammunition included manufacturing facility masses and handloads with a wide range of bullet manufacturers, shapes and weights. All handloads had been in virgin brass and every of the three rifles was examined with a sequence of 5-shot teams at 100 yards with every of the hundreds.

After each 10 photographs the barrels had been cooled and ritual-cleaned (that means the identical solvent, numbers of patches and brush strokes had been used for every cleansing). In different phrases, we took nice pains to stage the enjoying discipline.

The Outcomes

For the reason that 1-in-12-inch-twist delusion was the primary object of the experiment, that was the barrel examined first. Starting with Winchester’s Supreme 55-grain Ballistic Silvertip load, teams had been uniformly small, starting from ½-inch to ¾-inch and all the time effectively beneath an inch. That was no shock, because it’s with the lighter bullets that the 1-in-12-inch barrel is predicted to do greatest. Shifting on as much as heavier bullets, accuracy was initially encouraging, with handloaded 100-grain Sierra Spitzers grouping slightly below an inch. I thought-about this proof that my rivalry concerning the .244 Remington’s failure was about to be confirmed.

However a couple of good teams don’t a complete take a look at make, and so they can simply result in false conclusions. This would possibly very effectively have occurred had our take a look at sequence not included 16 totally different masses and bullet weights. As increasingly more of those masses had been examined, it grew to become more and more clear that my principle was falling aside. To place it bluntly, the accuracy of among the heavier bullets within the 1-in-12-inch barrel was terrible. True, among the bullets weren’t anticipated to do effectively within the sluggish twist, such because the Berger 105-grain or Sierra 107-grain VLDs (Very Low Drag), which shot all around the goal as predicted. Due to its size and form, this sort of bullet requires an extra-fast spin to stabilize, and teams had been as huge as 10 inches within the 1-in-12-inch barrel. The bullet holes had been the “keyhole” form of unstable bullets not flying point-forward. However extra of a puzzle was the truth that the Hornady 87-grain hollowpoint grouped superbly, whereas a bullet weighing solely three grains extra (the 90-grain Swift Scirocco) keyholed all around the targets. Clearly, bullet form and building, and never simply weight, had been figuring out components.

With the 1-in-10-inch-twist barrel, accuracy improved throughout the board, and I fortunately conceded that I had been all moist with my long-held notion about Remington’s .244-caliber rifles. Moreover, the 1-in-10-inch barrel delivered accuracy with bullets as mild as 55 grains that was virtually nearly as good as that with the 1-in-12-inch barrel, which clearly indicated its all-purpose benefit over the slower twist.

However there was nonetheless extra to be found concerning the peculiarities of rifling twist. For example, of the 2 VLD bullets that carried out so miserably within the 1-in-12-inch barrel, the 105-grain Berger now grouped superbly within the ½-inch vary whereas the 107-grain Sierra lobbed 6-inch teams and made elliptical holes within the goal. Why would two virtually identically formed bullets, each well-made and differing in weight by a scant two grains, carry out so in another way?

This riddle was solved once we switched to the 1-in-8-inch barrel and repeated the take a look at sequence. The Sierra VLD now grouped superbly, however the Berger VLD grouped even higher! One of many teams shot with Berger bullets measured precisely .250 inches—the perfect of your complete take a look at sequence. Which fits to point out {that a} 2-inch change within the rifling fee can remodel scattered photographs into bug-hole-size teams.

This distinctive accuracy with the 1-in-8-inch barrel was remoted to just a few masses, nevertheless, as teams tended to open up with different masses and bullet weights, demonstrating as soon as once more that additional spin may be an excessive amount of of factor. There have been no indicators of bullet yawing (tilting) with the 1-in-8-inch barrel, however the attribute signal of accuracy decay was two or three photographs in an in depth central group with the opposite photographs going huge by an inch or two.

Some manufacturing facility masses and handloaded bullets tended to do effectively in all three barrels, notably Winchester’s Supreme loading of the 55-grain Ballistic Silvertip, which has a muzzle velocity of three,910 fps and is a superb all-around varmint load. Another masses didn’t shine almost so brightly in any of the barrels, little question as a result of their fundamental design and building.

READ NEXT: Whitetail Deer Cartridge Shoot-Out: .30-30 Win. vs. .243 Win. vs. .30-06 Springfield

What We Realized

So after days of capturing and reshooting, what was discovered? First the checks proved conclusively that Winchester knew what it was doing when it opted for a 1-in-10-inch twist method again on the beginning of the .243. It was additionally clear that Remington made a sensible transfer when it modified the identify of its outdated .244 to 6mm Remington and switched to 1-in-10-inch barrels for that caliber.

The better lesson, although, was demonstrating the fickle nature of rifle bullets and the way seemingly slight modifications in weights, shapes and twists can radically alter outcomes. This is the reason I (and generations of gun writers dwelling and gone) all the time suggest attempting a wide range of ammo manufacturers and kinds to find out which is greatest on your rifle. And talking of writers, I attempt to not repeat myself too typically, however there may be one line I wrote years in the past that’s price saying once more: “Nothing will make you sound extra of an professional than a dialogue of rifling twist—or show you extra of a idiot.”

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