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  #1  
Old 12-29-2005, 10:48 PM
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Best Varmint caliber?


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Greetings all!

New to the forums and I have a question for you all.

What is the best caliber (.22, .17, 22-250, etc.) for varmint hunting? I suppose the best all around one will work. I currently have a .22 Magnum that works well but am interested in hearing what you all think is the best caliber.

Thanks for your information and opinions.

J. Otto
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  #2  
Old 12-29-2005, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jotto
Greetings all!

New to the forums and I have a question for you all.

What is the best caliber (.22, .17, 22-250, etc.) for varmint hunting? I suppose the best all around one will work. I currently have a .22 Magnum that works well but am interested in hearing what you all think is the best caliber.

Thanks for your information and opinions.

J. Otto
...OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-BOY!!!....THIS - Is gonna be a good-one. .
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  #3  
Old 12-29-2005, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mercmarine
...OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-BOY!!!....THIS - Is gonna be a good-one. .

Yeah I figured it would be. Heck, between my brother and buddy that shoot/hunt together a lot we cannot come to the same opinion on which is best.
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  #4  
Old 12-30-2005, 12:18 AM
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Ok - Here we go...I'll share my thought[s]...I went through the whole .22Mag-thing too.

Then I got my teeth into the .223Rem-right before I moved from Iowa...to Arizona...Where I shot EVERYTHING with a 7MM-Mauser for a few years. I went back to the .223Rem after my indoctrination and understanding of the ballistics of it's metric-brother the 5.56MM...in the Marine-Corps. During that time though, quite a few of my hunting friends had already split into 3-Factions of Favorites when it came to varminting-cartridges.

The minority of them went to the .22-250...These guys are all-bolt-gunners anyway...all of them reload, and all of them already know where and when their next barrel is coming from before the one their smokin-now is burned-up. They all run Heavy-Tubes and Hubble-Telescopes aboard bipod mounted-stocks, and a vacation to them is rollin over to South Dakota for a week of Dog-Shootin. They are the LOYALIST of the extreme-ballistic-issue.

The majority still shoot .223Rem though. These guys buy their practice-ammo in large quantities from Scheels when-ever it's on sale, and buy their huntin-ammo on-line from Cheaper-Than-Dirt...or - get it gifted in quantity during the Holidays and Birthdays. The Dominant Gun: An accurized Ruger Mini-14/Ranch-Rifle with a medium-powered variable scope...or a Rem/Model-7[Remington has a strong following in my hometown area for some reason.] These guys primarily hunt coyotes and other farmland predators...and very few of them reload.

Then there's the guys like me. In Iowa, I run a .223Rem coupled up with a .22Rimfire companion-rifle. I use the .22Rimfire, A Rem-504 w/a Leupold FX/4X Rimfire-Scope...for everything in the farmyards and the local-woods, and the .223Rem for everything "outside the fenceline". I'm very comfortable with the .223Rem-ballistics and I am fully aware of both it's capabilities...and-it's limitations. I'm a "walk-about" rifle-type, short barrelled rifles in laminate, with a high-quality Fixed-Power-Scope. I don't much care for heavy-tubed rifles, bipods or OVERSIZED-SCOPES. I shoot from "field-positions" using a "hasty-sling" or I use my ruck as a rest in the prone.

However, the last few years out in California...I've been running a 243Win for everything related to the quarry-in-question. I'm currently putting together a Winchester Compact/M70-Featherweight in .243Win for future-use in my circle of shooters. Most of the guys in my circle run the .243Win, and the rest all run .223Rem's. The dominant scope is Burris...or Leupold. Scope selection seems to weigh-in with cost being the #1-factor...and most often the money spent on scope matches the money spent on the rifle. A Leupold FX-4X with a standard wide-duplex reticle will be aboard my M70, mounted in the new Talley light-weight rings, and it will wear a Murray Quick-Set two-point leather-sling.

I would start off with a .223Rem and pick a major-name brand gun that you favor. Get a GOOD-Scope, that is simple to use and make sure it has a USABLE, and SIMPLE Standard-Duplex reticle. Get the scope-mounted and the trigger "set" by a QUALIFIED-Smithy. .223Rem ammo is affordable, and there is bunch-of-it to pick from by all the major manufacturers-[AND-the ballistics of the .223Rem are simple to understand and grow-into also]. Once you decide which way you want to lean-towards, you can move into the .22-250 or 243Win on your-own, at your pace with the advice of your peer-group.

Happy-Hunting-Mate...Merc.

Last edited by mercmarine; 12-30-2005 at 12:21 AM.
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  #5  
Old 12-30-2005, 05:04 AM
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If typical shots are under 300 yards, 223 remington. If over 300 then the 22-50-243 winchester starts to shine. I find 99% of my shots are under 300 yards and the .223 is king here. Lately I've been shooting a lot of 68gr MHP BLack hills ammo out of my holo sight scoped AR. Its pretty accurate out to 200 yards and do able at 250, sketchy at 300 but possible. Only time I really shoot farther than that would be at wolves and 243 really shines past 300.

#1 reaason the .223 rules is availablilty of cheap quality ammo.
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  #6  
Old 12-30-2005, 05:36 AM
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J. Otto,

Welcome to the forum!

What do you mean by "varmint" hunting? Prairie dogs, ground hogs, foxes, coyotes, etc.? Also, at what ranges do you plan on shooting? Under 100 yards, 100, 200, 300, over 300, etc.? The best choice depends on what you plan on doing with it.

For me, close range shooting would probably be any one of a number of .22 rimfires. If you're thinking of shooting out to 250 yards or so, a .223 would probably be a good choice. If you're thinking of something a little further out, like 300 to 400 yards, something like a .22-250 or .220 Swift would get my vote. If it's really long range, something like a .243 or .25/06 would be better yet. If it's a dedicated prairie dog rifle, possibly a .204 Ruger might be ideal.

If it's your first "varmint" rifle, there's a lot to be said for the .223. The ammo's cheap and plentiful. Low recoil. Fun to shoot. I usually agree with Mercmarine, but I would disagree on the choice of the Mini-14. The Mini-14's are fun plinkers, but they just aren't accurate enough, even with a scope and a lot of work for my tastes. If cost is a factor, I think you'd be better served by going with a decent bolt action like either a Savage or CZ, topped off with a good scope. If you want a semi-auto, any of the AR's would be a better choice than the Mini-14, and in the long run wouldn't cost you any more than trying to make a Mini-14 into an acceptable varmint rifle. IMHO.

Last edited by Gunslinger2005; 12-30-2005 at 05:44 AM.
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  #7  
Old 12-30-2005, 06:20 AM
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Welcome to the forum. Rules are simple, be nice and join in.

Merc pretty much sums things up about the guns, but gunslinger asks the right question.

Varmit hunting is about as diverse as big game hunting and knowing what your hunting pretty much defines the weapon.

You certianly wouldn't take a 243 on a grizzly bear hunt nor would you normally carry a 416 Remington on a west coast deer hunt, though both will kill the intended animal with the right shot.

Shooting praire dogs in the big dogtowns of the west requires a different rifle than a coyote hunter that sets up and calls for 20 minutes then moves on to another set.

How about defining your question a little?
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  #8  
Old 12-30-2005, 06:26 AM
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Haven't found there to be one type of varminit hunting.

Can be hunting many small targets that offers some long shots...here you might shoot a a few hunded shots in an afternoon. Here I'd like a heavier rifle, all he accuracy i could get, and in a caliber like .223 so the barrel would last a few seasons.

Can be long range hunting where you get a dozen shots a day (well..that would be a very good day). Weight is not all that importatand, but long ange accuracy is...this is a good place to work out the big cases.

Could be the smaller woodlots, small clearnings, and fields where you walk a lot and get a handful of medium to short range shots. Light weight helps, and a .22Hornet would work most of the time, but a lighter weight .223 is proably a better choice.

Hard to pick just one...but if I had to, would take a medium heavy .223 (about 10 pounds all up).
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  #9  
Old 12-30-2005, 06:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunslinger2005
...I usually agree with Mercmarine, but I would disagree on the choice of the Mini-14...
"The majority still shoot .223Rem though. These guys buy their practice-ammo in large quantities from Scheels when-ever it's on sale, and buy their huntin-ammo on-line from Cheaper-Than-Dirt...or - get it gifted in quantity during the Holidays and Birthdays. The Dominant Gun: An accurized Ruger Mini-14/Ranch-Rifle with a medium-powered variable scope...or a Rem/Model-7[Remington has a strong following in my hometown area for some reason.] These guys primarily hunt coyotes and other farmland predators...and very few of them reload.

Then there's the guys like me. In Iowa, I run a .223Rem coupled up with a .22Rimfire companion-rifle. I use the .22Rimfire, A Rem-504 w/a Leupold FX/4X Rimfire-Scope...for everything in the farmyards and the local-woods, and the .223Rem for everything "outside the fenceline". I'm very comfortable with the .223Rem-ballistics and I am fully aware of both it's capabilities...and-it's limitations. I'm a "walk-about" rifle-type, short barrelled rifles in laminate, with a high-quality Fixed-Power-Scope. I don't much care for heavy-tubed rifles, bipods or OVERSIZED-SCOPES. I shoot from "field-positions" using a "hasty-sling" or I use my ruck as a rest in the prone."

...Some of those "other-guys" back-home run, Mini-14's ...I guess I should've clarified my personal choice in the .223Rem was the Rem/Model-7 ...along with the 504/.22Rimfire. The only semi-auto .223/5.56MM I have is on the AR-15/M4-Platform...and it has been tempting to take it back to use on them daring-n-dashing coyotes. I also whole-heartedly agree with you in regards to the AR-15/Family being the superior platform to launch .223/5.56MM cal-projectiles-from, in a semi-auto-mode weapon...[I'm a bolt-gunner though...] I truly think the reason the Mini-14 has a larger following is due to it's availability, and lower "initial" cost of aquisition. When you walk into the local Scheels...there are a-dozen or more Ruger-Ranch-Rifles to pick from, in various fit's-n-finishes...I can't recall if I've seen much of a selection of AR-15-Style rifles...I'll have to make note to check next time I'm back there.

Also: I already have my Hunting/Basic Battery set-up in Iowa, so I don't have to fly with firearms when I venture back there via-air. Maybe the next-time I drive back I may/might have the new Leupold CQT-Scope set-up-proper on my rig, and I'll transport it via-truck .

Last edited by mercmarine; 12-30-2005 at 07:17 AM.
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  #10  
Old 12-30-2005, 07:03 AM
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...I'm also honored that you "usually-agree-with-me" mate .

That's why I like this forum so-much...I have found more than a few "like-minds" in common threads of interest .

S/Fi Merc.
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  #11  
Old 12-30-2005, 07:04 AM
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I have the long distance end covered with a Ruger #1V in 25-06. I also have a CZ 550FS in 243 Win but it only has a 20 inch barrel so it's range is more limited and I wouldn't press it for shots longer than 250 yards or so. Don't currently own anything in 22 caliber but I have been stufying the 221 Fireball. The Hodgdon Lil Gun ballistics put it in the same category as the 223 and you can get nearly 400 reloads with a single pound of powder. It's a short/micro action with very little recoil - it's far from a hypervelocity cartridge but it makes more sense to me than any other offering in the 223 or less category.
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  #12  
Old 12-30-2005, 07:33 AM
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I'll echo what some of the others have stated. And as others stated, there isn't one type of varmint hunting, just like there's no one type of deer hunting.

I hunt two different areas. Thick cedar swamp for bobcat and open field for coyotes. While the calibers mentioned would do the job fine, is any one "perfect" for both conditions? I personally think that in the swamp where a 50 yard shot may be long, it doesn't get much better than the 22 Hornet. I don't have one yet but been eyeing that CZ. For now I'm "stuck" with my 204.

The open fields where I coyote hunt and 2-300 yard shots are there, you can't go wrong with a 204, 223, 222, 22-250, or 220 Swift...or any other comparable, it really boils down to preference. If I was shooting beyond 3-400, the 243 Win would be my top choice followed by some of the 25 cals and since I have a 270 Win, maybe a few of the HPs in that just for fun.
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Last edited by M1Garand; 12-30-2005 at 07:36 AM.
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  #13  
Old 12-30-2005, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faucettb
Welcome to the forum. Rules are simple, be nice and join in.

Merc pretty much sums things up about the guns, but gunslinger asks the right question.

Varmit hunting is about as diverse as big game hunting and knowing what your hunting pretty much defines the weapon.

You certianly wouldn't take a 243 on a grizzly bear hunt nor would you normally carry a 416 Remington on a west coast deer hunt, though both will kill the intended animal with the right shot.

Shooting praire dogs in the big dogtowns of the west requires a different rifle than a coyote hunter that sets up and calls for 20 minutes then moves on to another set.

How about defining your question a little?
- Faucett's made a good-point mate...

We need some "amplifying-adjustments" in regards to your environment, and the varmint-type quarry you intend to pursue.

For instance: My Hunting-Battery back in Iowa consists of three[3].12GA-Shotguns. One set up with MMC-Ghost-Rings for hunting deer in close-cover from a stand...One with a Fixed-Power-Scope for the "other-areas" between the corn...and one-wingmaster, choked-out, and set-up for pheasant[s]. Iowa is a slug-gun state, so I have no use for the same rifles I hunt in the Southwest-with, so...I have a .22-Rem/504 with a FX-4X/Rimfire-scope, and a Rem/Model-7 in .223Rem with a FX-4X/Standard-Scope for the various-varmints that haunt the Farmlands, and Ranches that surround my hometown. Now...My Battery in the Southwest - is an entirely different story...but I'm more interested in your situation right now, so scoop-us when you get-time.
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  #14  
Old 12-30-2005, 07:44 AM
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223 or 22-250. 223 is cheaper, whereas 22-250 is flatter shooting.
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  #15  
Old 12-30-2005, 08:02 AM
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I'd go with the .223 because of its availability and relitively low cost. Ive been using a Marlin 17hmr the last couple of years when I'm after ground hogs, foxes, feral cats, and other smaller varmits. Works wonderful out here in the MO hills where shots tend to be within 100y. I've even taken two coyotes at ranges of 50 and 70 yards with it. Both dropped in their tracks. I don't think a cannon could have killed them any quicker, but I don't plan to make a habit out of using it for my coyote gun. It was just what I had at the time when I saw them, and again, the range wasn't that far.
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Old 12-30-2005, 08:04 AM
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My personal favorite is an old model rem 722 in 222 Rem. Still gives a solid inch group. Does everything the 223 does. Takes all varmits from big to small.
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  #17  
Old 12-30-2005, 08:08 AM
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A good bolt action in .223 Remington. 'Nuff said. I've put over 8000 rounds thru mine and it still puts five shots in a dime at 100 yards.
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Last edited by recoil junky; 12-30-2005 at 08:11 AM.
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  #18  
Old 12-30-2005, 09:13 AM
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Chalk up another vote for the .223 -- While it runs out of steam for larger critters like coyotes at around 300yards, you can still pick off p-dogs with it well past that, if you can hit accurately at that range. If you've shot past that and plan to in the future, then a 22-250 might be better.

The type of rifle is another area to consider, as mercmarine pointed out -- If you plan on walking a lot and shooting offhand or not from a stand, you'll want a lighter rifle, and probably not a single-shot. When I hunt jackrabbit with my single-shot .223, I've found that walking up on them barely gives me enough time to get the hammer back and one shot off before they hit cover. I would much prefer to use my trusty 10-22 for that, because they usually don't go much over 50yds anyway -- and they can cover 50yds in a flash! But for longer ranges and sitting on a low ridge and glassing the area below, the heavy-barreled single-shot is perfect for rabbits and coyote and anything else I find. I'm also planning on taking it after javelina in February.

Another consideration is optics. For loooong ranges, most of the dedicated varminters use variable powers like 6-20 or 24x. But those scopes are heavy, and are best used for long-range shots and equally-heavy rifles. My current scope is only 3-9x, but I love the Mil-dot reticle. Easy to guage distance, plus with a drop-chart for my usual loads, I know how many Mils to hold-over for most shots. But more magnification would be welcome as my eyes get older, plus p-dogs look really small at 300!

Caliber is dictated by the game you're shooting. Since you said "varmint," most of us assume coyote and smaller. Also, the ranges you'll want to shoot will play into it. There are plenty of shot here in the west that will go as far as you can see, it just depends on your limitations. I've been wringing-out my .223 for it's abilities, and have contemplated a .308 or 6mm for long stuff, just because. And since I'm considering antelope and coues deer next year, I'd prefer more punch than the .223 but less than my .30-06 delivers, though I have yet to try all the loads I want to in that rifle. But overall, the .223 or something in that size bullet is a great place to start.

Good luck, and welcome to the forum!
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  #19  
Old 12-30-2005, 01:09 PM
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My preference is the 6mm-284. Why, because I have one. Long range lots of fun to shoot. I reload so the cost is not excessive. Good rifle for deer or black bear as well, but I use my lever actions in most cases for that type of hunting.
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  #20  
Old 12-30-2005, 03:49 PM
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If you're hunting prarie dogs or the like, where recoil is a problem, then go with the .22 centerfires. If you're gonna coyote hunt, fox hunt etc., I say go to the .257 Roberts or 25-06. Then you'll have a double duty rifle.
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