Youth / Low Recoil Hunting Rifles Part 2

In part 1 of this post last week I looked at recoil and report, as well as muzzle velocity when comparing a typical 20″ .243 Win hunting rifle with a 16″ 6.8 SPC AR-15. Both of these rifles are mild recoiling and excellent for youth hunters, or really any hunter who wants an easy to carry rifle for medium game like deer, black bears, cougars, and hogs. The results shown in the last post indicate that the .243 has the edge in recoil and velocity for 95 grain bullets, though the 6.8 SPC will be a little easier on the ears. In keeping the 6.8 SPC to 16″ barrel length, the addition of a silencer, typically adding 5 to 7 inches of length to the weapon, will be easier to carrier and shoulder than the 20″ .243 Win.

We turn our attention to the down range performance of the two rounds. Since the last post, I’ve learned that Barnes isn’t making the 95 grain .243 caliber TSX anymore so I’ve replaced it with the 95 grain Hornady SST, so all the analysis of the previous posts for internal ballistics is the same. The G1 BC of that bullet is .355, while for the 95 grain 6.8mm TTSX the G1 BC is .292 and the 110 Accubond has a G1 BC of .370.

 Muzzle velocity (fps)300 yard velocity (fps)400 yard velocity (fps)300 yard drop (inches)400 yard drop (inches)
.243 Win 95gr Hornady SST BC .35528342108189312.930.4
6.8 SPC 95gr TTSX BC .29227071865162715.837.7
6.8 SPC 110gr Accubond BC .37025311878168717.239.8

The table shows that the .243 Win shoots flat. Most youth will keep shots on deer well under 300 yards, but I’ve used 300 as a good benchmark as that’s a shot you want to be able to make. The 6.8 SPC shooting both the 95 and 110 grain bullets is no slouch and both the .243 and 6.8 will be able to hit game at 300 and 400 yards. How do these rounds stack up in terms of energy?

 100 yard energy (ft-lb)200 yard energy (ft-lb)300 yard energy (ft-lb)400 yard energy (ft-lb)
.243 Win 95gr Hornady SST14021152938756
6.8 SPC 95gr TTSX1221953734558
6.8 SPC 110gr Accubond12931060862695
6.8 SPC 110gr Accubond 20" barrel 2600 fps13681124916741

Again, the .243 Win has the edge over the 6.8 SPC, though the 6.8 hangs in there with the 110 grain Accubond, and either of these calibers will take medium size big game out to 300+ yards. Note that in a 20″ barrel where the 110 Accubond can push to 2600+ fps, the energy of the round has effectively caught up to the .243 Win. The tradeoff then is terminal performance vs overall length of rifle. A 16″ AR-15 is very ergonomic and easy for a hunter, especially a youth hunter, to carry and shoulder in the field. The addition of a silencer to the 16″ weapon isn’t as cumbersome as when added to a 20″ weapon.

However you compare them, the .243 Win and the 6.8 SPC both make excellent choices for mild recoiling hunting rifles for medium sized game. Personal preference for energy down range, flat trajectory, rifle size and weight, report sound level, and those intangible aspects like personal preference for a given caliber, are all valid reasons to choose .243 Win or 6.8 SPC. There are of course many other calibers, like the 6.5 Grendel and .300 Blackout in AR-15 platforms, and .260 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .25-06, etc. in bolt action platforms, that make for great mild recoiling hunting rifles. One thing is for certain, hunting is a great American tradition and pastime, and there is no lack of choices when it comes to rifle calibers that get the job done.