.243 Winchester is one of the best hunting cartridges around. It’s soft shooting, but powerful enough for most small and medium game. And it’s a popular cartridge. So there are a lot of rifles competing for the title of “Best 243 rifle.”
Despite the wide selection of options, we’ve managed to pare the list down to something manageable for you. That way you can get a better rifle with less time spent reading product descriptions.
SPOILER—the Weatherby Vanguard Weatherguard .243 Win Bolt Action Rifle is the overall best 243 rifle. Weatherby makes some of the best rifles on the planet. And this one is surprisingly affordable, given the performance.
If you’re a fan of another brand. Or just want something a little bigger or smaller, keep reading. We’ve lined out all the best 243 rifles for you.
Top 243 Rifle on the Market Today
The Best 243 Rifle Reviews: More Capable Than You Might Think
The very best 243 rifle is up first. The best 243 rifle from each category will be checked out in order of price.
The most affordable rifles will get reviewed first.
We’ll save the most budget blowing rifles for the end.
Now for the reviews.
1. Weatherby Vanguard Weatherguard .243 Win Bolt Action Rifle - Overall Best .243 Rifle
The thing about the Weatherby Vanguard Weatherguard .243 Win Bolt Action Rifle is that the quality is incredibly high. But the price is impressively reasonable.
The barrel is built by Bergara. The bore is super finely polished and constructed under tight quality control to ensure that your rifle delivers exceptional precision right out of the box. That’s why Weatherby gives you a Sub-MOA guarantee with this rifle.
Basically, you can be confident that this rifle is going to be as precise as you need.
The next important component is the trigger. The Weatherby 2-stage trigger is super smooth with an incredibly crisp break. And it’s a 2-stage trigger. So the overall pull weight gets split into two more manageable stages that make it super easy to press your trigger without disturbing your point of aim.
Bottom line: the quality of the trigger translates to more accurate hits.
Lastly, the action is bedded into a polymer stock with rubber inserts. The stock has a Monte Carlo form factor that gives you a slightly raised comb for a more consistent cheek weld and sight picture.
Unfortunately, the stock is not adjustable. But it’s very comfortable and works for most shooters, despite the fixed position.
There’s more. But those are the key features.
Overall, this rifle shoots super well. And it costs just a bit more than the most affordable .243 rifles. The price-to-performance ratio is incredibly high.
2. Ruger American Rifle Compact Bolt-Action Rifle - Budget .243 Rifle
The Ruger American Rifle Compact Bolt-Action Rifle is easily the best inexpensive .243 rifle that you can get.
The main feature of this rifle is the size. It’s a compact rifle. This has a subjective benefit.
The compact size is handy if you hunt in thickly wooded areas or frequently use your rifle in shooting contexts where you need a more maneuverable rifle.
However, if you frequently take extremely long shots and need as much muzzle velocity as possible for ballistic performance at max range, the 18-inch barrel may be a little short for you.
But this rifle has a bunch of features that help you make the most of the barrel length, no matter what you use your rifle for.
First, the Marksman Adjustable Trigger is incredibly smooth. And the break is super crisp. The trigger is surprisingly nice, considering the price of this rifle.
Then, the action is molded into the composite stock to give your barrel the most stable platform for maximum precision.
Not only is the stock lighter and more weather resistant than a wooden stock. But it’s also a tad shorter than a classic stock, which makes it easier to shoot with thick winter clothing on or with gear on your chest.
And this Ruger rifle takes detachable magazines for easier reloading and more efficient range time.
The compact size may not work for you. But it works for most people. And it’s a super affordable rifle. So it’s the most affordable precision rifle you can get.
3. Thompson/Center Venture II Bolt-Action Centerfire Rifle - Value .243 Rifle
Thompson/Center is one of the most underrated manufacturers out there. But their rifles are impressively affordable and well-made. And the Thompson Center Venture II Bolt-Action Centerfire Rifle is an affordable, well-made rifle.
First, this rifle comes with an MOA guarantee. Thompson/Center guarantees 1 MOA groups at 100 yards, with good ammunition. So you get the confidence that your rifle is going to help you shoot better, not hold you back.
Additionally, the barrel is cut with 5R rifling. 5R rifling stabilizes bullets just as well as traditional rifling. However, it deforms the bullet less for higher muzzle velocities without changing your ammunition.
That way you get the best ballistic performance at all ranges. This helps ensure that you get the fastest, most humane kills.
Then, the barrel is supported by a polymer stock with rubberized grip inserts that give you an incredibly comfortable and secure grip on your rifle.
One more thing:
The trigger is good, but not great. There’s almost no travel or overtravel. And the break is super crisp.
However, the pull weight is adjustable from 3.5 to 5 pounds. That’s not bad. Unfortunately, the trigger in most of these T/C rifles tends to edge a bit higher in the pull weight.
Most rifles range from 4 to 6 pounds, which is okay. But some shooters may prefer a slightly lighter trigger.
Even with the slightly heavy trigger, though, this is still a super well-built rifle that delivers excellent precision and ballistic performance for hunters and precision shooters.
4. Savage 110 Hunter Bolt-Action Rifle - All-Purpose 243 Rifle
One unique thing about the 243 Winchester is that it’s still one of the competitive rounds in certain competition divisions. And it’s a decent hunting round. So you could totally use your .243 rifle for all your precision shooting.
The Savage 110 Hunter Bolt-Action Rifle is capable enough to be your one-size-fits-all .243 rifle.
First, the barrel is 22-inches long. That’s long enough for ballistic performance at maximum range. But it’s short enough that this rifle won’t hang you up too much when you’re hiking around in the woods.
Additionally, this rifle is fitted with the Savage AccuTrigger. It’s an adjustable trigger that can be set just about as low as you want without causing any safety risks.
The trigger has a safety tab which ensures all your safeties stay operational, even if you set the pull weight incredibly low.
But the trigger isn’t just adjustable. This trigger also has very little travel and overtravel. And the break is remarkably crisp.
The only downside is that you can feel the safety tab when you press your trigger. I don’t even notice it anymore. However, some shooters don’t like the feel.
In terms of ergonomics, this rifle is fitted with an adjustable stock. The length of pull and comb height are adjustable to ensure that your stock fits your arms. It also enables you to set the comb height where your optic lines up with your line of sight.
Lastly, this Savage Arms rifle accepts detachable magazines, which makes for faster reloads and more shooting during your range time.
Unfortunately, the magazines are expensive. So you’ll have to shell out a few bucks if you want a stockpile of Savage magazines.
But, this rifle is impressively well-priced. You’ll probably have enough money left in your budget to buy an extra magazine or two.
5. CZ-USA 557 American Synthetic Short Action .243 Win Bolt Action Rifle - Lightweight .243 rifle
CZ is most known for their handguns. But they make excellent rifles, too. The CZ-USA 557 American Synthetic Short Action .243 Win Bolt Action Rifle is one of those excellent rifles.
The standout feature of this rifle is that you get a 24-inch barrel in a rifle that weighs just 6.83 pounds. Yes, there are lighter rifles. But most of them have a shorter barrel.
And the barrel is a cold hammer forged barrel with traditional rifling. It’s nothing fancy. But it delivers impressive precision.
The action is bedded in a polymer stock that, as you may have guessed, is impressively lightweight. It’s also weather resistant. And it’s coated in a rubberized finish that delivers really secure grip traction that makes this rifle easy to handle.
Lastly, this rifle is equipped with a fully adjustable trigger. And, if you know anything about CZ, you know that the trigger is exceptional.
The trigger movement is ridiculously smooth. And the break is like snapping a thin glass rod. In short, the trigger is super easy to press without disturbing your point of aim.
The main complaint about this rifle is that the stock is not adjustable. It’s a comfortable stock. And it fits most people well. But a little adjustability would fit my tastes better.
However, this CZ rifle still delivers more performance per ounce than almost any other model on the market.
6. Henry Long Ranger Lever-Action Rifles - Lever-Action .243 rifle
Lever action rifles are rad. Period. They’re faster than bolt-action rifles. And they deliver just as much precision. That’s why Henry Long Ranger Lever-Action Rifles are super cool .243 rifles.
The main cool thing about this rifle is that it uses detachable magazines. Most lever action rifles have tube magazines. This one uses box magazines for faster reloads and more efficient range time.
Additionally, this rifle has no manual safety. That way you can make the most of the fast lever action and take the quickest possible shots. And you can carry this rifle with the hammer down, to calm any safety concerns.
Also, this Henry rifle has a 20-inch barrel, which is long enough to deliver solid ballistic performance at just about any distance. But it’s short enough that this rifle is really easy to handle in tight spaces and thickly wooded environments.
Lastly, the stock has a fairly high rise from the buttstock to the top of the action. That way, your optic comes right up in front of your eye when you shoulder your rifle.
Also, the buttstock is fitted with a thick rubber recoil pad that makes your rifle comfortable to shoot.
It might not be a traditional option. But this rifle is quick and remarkably easy to handle. It’s a great option if you want a .243 rifle that’s great for quick shots in almost any context.
7. Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Stainless .243 Win Bolt Action Rifle - .243 Rifle for Hunting
The Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Stainless .243 Win Bolt Action Rifle is a classic lightweight hunting rifle. It’s one of the original lightweight designs. And it’s a very capable rifle.
First, this rifle is fitted with a stainless steel barrel and action. The barrel is impressively precise. And stainless steel wears very evenly and retains the same point of impact throughout its lifespan.
The stainless steel action provides a very stable mounting platform for the barrel. This ensures that you get every bit of precision that’s possible from your barrel.
This is great because the barrel uses a featherweight profile to keep the weight down. A featherweight contour is rigid enough for most hunting. But it’s definitely not as rigid as a thicker profile. So you may find that this rifle doesn’t have a heavy enough barrel for extreme long range precision.
But, this Winchester rifle is plenty precise enough for getting accurate hits at typical hunting distances.
Additionally, the action is bedded in a classic walnut stock, with a slightly raised comb. The raised comb helps you get a consistent sight picture. And the stock is fitted with a nice thick recoil pad that easily soaks up that .243 recoil.
Unfortunately, the classic stock is not adjustable. Most shooters have no problem with a classic stock. But some adjustability would be nice.
Lastly, the trigger is Winchester’s MOA trigger system, which is not adjustable. But the trigger is super smooth, with zero travel or overtravel, and one of the best breaks on the market. The trigger is certainly a high-precision trigger.
This is certainly not a budget rifle. But it’s super lightweight and trades very little precision to achieve the lowest weight possible. This is a great option if you need to haul your rifle around in the woods.
Taking the Shot
.243 Winchester is one of the best rifle rounds ever produced. There are few rounds that have been around as long, with as much success, as .243 Winchester.
It makes sense that you’d want a great .243 Win rifle.
Still not sure which is the greatest? Get the Weatherby Vanguard Weatherguard .243 Win Bolt Action Rifle. It’s an impressively capable rifle. But it’s also an impressively affordable rifle. That’s a great combo.
It’s time to add a great intermediate rifle round to your collection. Pick up a .243 rifle. That way you have a perfect rifle for every shooting context.