.243 vs .308 – What’s the Difference?

The .308 Winchester rifle is heavier and larger than the .243. The .308 produces more bullet energy. The .243 has half the recoil of the .308. The .243 Winchester rifle is a descendant of the .308.

Additionally, the .308 features a moderate recoil ability, impressive and efficient ballistics, and it’s versatile for any use. On the other hand, the .243 Winchester is a much smaller rifle that doesn’t even come close to replicating the .308’s capabilities.

These two rifles have more in common despite them not being in the same class.


Brief History

.308 Winchester

The .308 Winchester round is a civilian version of the NATO round, which measures 7.62x51mm. This Winchester rifle was originally designed for the M14 rifle but it has become more popular globally in recent times.

It’s highly preferred by the marksmen when they are in battle and snipers due to its speedy nature. As a result, the .308 is popularly known to be a great choice for effortlessly bringing down big games.

.243 Winchester

This was generally built as a necked down of the .308, which simply means that the .243 Winchester rifle is a descendant of the .308. The .243 was originally introduced in the year 1955 and grew in popularity because of its versatile nature.

Additionally, the .243 Winchester also produces less recoil than the .308, which makes it a wonderful rifle for hunting small games.


The .308 Winchester features an average recoil of 22.15 ft.lb, while the .243 Winchester rifle possesses a recoil average of 11.25. As you can see, the .243 recoils at a half pace than the .308 rifle.

Therefore, you are going to feel a significant change when firing these two cartridges. And this isn’t just a subjective outcome, as it’s a scientifically proven fact.

The Difference in Energy

Similar to the recoil difference, you’ll also feel the difference in energy that each of these two Winchester rifles produce. First, the .308, which is the bigger rifle of the two produces a bullet energy of up to 2,500 feet per pound.

On the other hand, the .243 Winchester rifle produces a bullet energy of around 1,700 feet per pound. Moreover, the .308 Winchester rifle is able to preserve its energy when traveling at longer distances.


This refers to how further a bullet will continue to travel after hitting its target. Penetration is an imperative consideration especially for game hunters. This is because you want your bullet to penetrate deeper into the animal to cause significant damage.

The .308 Winchester rifle has a higher sectional density, which is the unit used to measure the penetration of a bullet. Therefore, this means that the .308 can do more damage to a game animal after striking the target.

This is because the .308 Winchester bullet is a heavier and wider bullet than the .243 rifle. However, the difference between a heavy .243 and a .308 is very minimal but the win still goes to the .308 rifle.

So, between the .243 or .308, which is better? From the above information, the following is the summary that concludes which is the better rifle for the job.

Summary of the .243 and .308

To determine which of these two rifles is the better option, the first thing you need to do is to define your needs. Ascertain the needs for evaluating these two bullets before settling on one that can meet your needs.

With that aside, the following summary can help you make a well-informed decision.

· The .308 Winchester rifle is heavier and larger than the .243

· The .243 Winchester rifle is simply a necked down of the larger and heavier .308

· The .308 produces more bullet energy and is able to retain the same energy over long distances

· Penetration power between a standard .308 Winchester rifle and a heavy .243 rifle will most likely be the same. However, a lighter .243 won’t be able to penetrate as further as the typical .308

· The .243 Winchester rifle features a significantly less recoil than the .308

Generally, this means that the .308 is the heavier and superior bullet compared to the .243 rifle. If you want to hunt large games, the .308 will offer you more fire power to take down some of the biggest ones on the field.

But if you are into hunting smaller games, then the .243 will work perfectly for you with only minimal efforts required. Therefore, the choice between the two mostly depends on your needs and preferences.