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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I'm on a quest to find the best (for me) varminter/predator rifle. My first gun was a .303 British (not by choice, but by necessity), so worn out I was literally lucky to hit a deer at 50 yards. When I did hit a coyote with it, I could only ever recover half of that dog. Obviously, bad choice.

I've tried, over the last 10 years or so, using the .22 LR. It works awesome, and I can't even begin to guess how many critters I've dropped with the unit. Problem is, 100 yards is the top end of it's effective range on coyotes, and for anything past about 75 yards, it's the flip of a coin wether or not it will need another shot (or 2...occasionally 3). Obviously that causes problems for pelts.

My next predator rifle was a CZ 550 in .223 Rem. It works, I suppose...but even with a light bullet, it leaves huge exit holes in the coyotes, and again...unable to recover the foxes.

So here is where I turn to you wonderful folks for guidance. I know you all have many varied opinions, but I'd like to hear them all. I need something that will take coyotes up to at least 200 yards, but not blow apart a fox at 100 yards with the same round. I'd also like something that's inherently accurate, so that it could be loaded for gophers (1/3 size prarie dogs to alot of you folks) as well. Something in semi-automatic would be nice, though I realize that this could cause problems with various loads. Note that I do not currently handload, but I do plan to begin in the near future. I should also mention that I'm not adverse to wildcat calibers, as long as it does not require extensive work to come up with brass for it.
 

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You might want to look into a savage 93 in 17HMR. You can get a heavy barrel model and it will be very accurate. It will have more power that the 22 lr but with the right bullet wont cause as much damage as the 223. Ammo is pretty cheap too
 

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Piney Woods Moderator
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An AR-15 type rifle using FMJ type bullets should work. I have a Savage FV-12 and an AR-15 I use for varmint hunting. The Savage is a lot more accurate at long range but the AR works good up to 300 yards. I don't save the hides so I have not worried about what I shot them with. I usually use Milsurp ammo in the AR. Good luck in finding the perfect rifle. I have a gun locker full of them......
 

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204 ruger or for something a bit lighter a 17HMR. If you use the V-MAX bullets or Barnes grenades you should not have much for exit holes. I need a smaller rifle myself just for that purpose.

AL

Looking at an above post reminded me of a rifle I have been eyeballing. An AR15 in 204 ruger. Light accurate and shoots flatter than a 22/250. Again just make sure you have the right bullet or it could still get messy.
 

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Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
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40 grain Vmax's from my .222 won't penetrate a fox. I'm not sure about the same bullet from my .223's.

marsms, yet another reason to start reloading, tailor made ammo!! :D

RJ
 

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Several good choices mentioned already, 222 Rem, 221 Fireball, 22 Hornet, .22 WMR.

I prefer the .22 WMR and .204 Ruger, but if you are saving pelts the .204 might cause more damage than you want. I've never had a bullet go through an animal, but sometimes they 'explode' on the entry side or pinhole the opposite side with 40 grain Ballistic Tips. It flips 'yotes though. The .22 WMR is a very reliable 'yote gun, out to 150 yards. The .221 FB and .222 is good to 200-250 yards.
 

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I find shooting dingos over here, which are probably similar to a coyote, the .204 generally won't leave an exit hole. I use 40gn bullets too. With 32gn pills, you should be able to shoot foxes and coyotes without much fur damage. The .204 is a great cartridge - one of my favourite rounds.

Nobody here has mentioned the 17 Remington - this used to be THE rifle of choice for professional fox shooters. No fur damage, and you can shoot them about as far away as you can hit them. Should be sweet on gophers too. The downside is that they can be badly wind affected (which I have not noticed with the .204) and you probably won't get one in a semi auto.

I've never had much luck getting .22 hornets to shoot well, and for regularly taking shots at 200yds on coyotes (if I've understood your post right) I think it may be stretching the cartridge's abilities a bit. I'd call the hornet alright for the occasional 200yd shot on something that size.

You could also try a frangible bullet in your .223, such as the Barnes 36gr Varmint Grenade. This should not cause too much fur damage and can be driven at about 3900fps from a .223 rem. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
A few more questions for you folks.

I've never actually had a dedicated .22 WMR rifle, but I used to have a pistol with .22 short, .22 Long, .22 long rifle, and .22 WMR cylinders. The short, long, and long rifle rounds were deadly accurate...the .22 WMR was atrocious. Is this also the case with a .22 WMR rifle?

How about the .17 HMR? I've never killed anything more than maybe, a dozen gophers and several targets with one, but I was sorely dissapointed in it. It was not too terribly accurate (about 2 1/2" groups at 100 yards), and about every 3rd bullet was actually disintegrating in flight (seems like at about the 35 yard mark). That gun (my brothers) went back to the factory, and was replaced with another. The disintegration stopped (I think), with the exception of one day when it was drizzling. It seems completely bizzare, but it really seemed like the raindrops were causing the bullets to fragment. The inaccuracy remained with the new one however. Also, the wind affected those rounds to an almost unbelieveable amount. Again, is this just an isolated incident that I had, or is this something I can actually expect in practical hunting situations?

Finally, the .22 Hornet...I've been doing alot of research about it, and I'm impressed. More impressed however, with the .22 K-Hornet. Does anybody have any experience with these? Is it worth the modification?
 

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If you are interested in wildcat calibers you might want to look into the 224 allen magnum. The parent case is the 270 wsm. This caliber was designed by Kirby and can take coyotes at long range with the focus on minimal pelt damage. The close range fox may be a little bit of a problem, but with a good fragmenting bullet the pelt damage should be minimal.
 

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Nimrod, I haven't used my .22 Hornet on varmints yet, but it is pretty accurate and has good trajectory, 200y is the max I'd recommend though.
 

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For a rimfire, I'd suggest you watch Gunbroker for a Remington 591M or 592M. Both are 5mm Remington Rimfire Magnums. It's an awesome killer......not what you think of when you picture "rimfire".

In a centerfire, I'd suggest any of the .22 cal. varminters with Barnes Varmint Grenades. No exit hole.
 

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My next predator rifle was a CZ 550 in .223 Rem. It works, I suppose...but even with a light bullet, it leaves huge exit holes in the coyotes, and again...unable to recover the foxes.

So here is where I turn to you wonderful folks for guidance. I know you all have many varied opinions, but I'd like to hear them all. I need something that will take coyotes up to at least 200 yards, but not blow apart a fox at 100 yards with the same round. I'd also like something that's inherently accurate, so that it could be loaded for gophers (1/3 size prarie dogs to alot of you folks) as well. Something in semi-automatic would be nice, though I realize that this could cause problems with various loads. Note that I do not currently handload, but I do plan to begin in the near future. I should also mention that I'm not adverse to wildcat calibers, as long as it does not require extensive work to come up with brass for it.
You've already got an exceptional varmint gun in the CZ 550, in .223 Rem. The only thing wrong with it is the bullets you're using, as even light bullets, if not built to expand rapidly, will leave the large exit wounds you are getting. Also, be mindful that any cartridge/bullet that will be lethal and accurate at 200 yards is likely to cause some pelt damage, at much shorter ranges. If you go to one of the smaller or less powerful rounds (204, 17, 5mm, 22WMR) you will be sacrificing a little of that 200 yard range or still get some large exit wounds.

In other words, there will be a little compromise on one end of the spectrum, or the other. The key to achieving what you want is to handload bullets that will give the performance and range you are looking for. There is no reason you can't achieve that with the .223 and I don't see how changing to another caliber is going to be the solution.
 

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You need to shoot a heavier 223 bullet designed for whitetail deer and they won't over expand and blow big holes in the pelts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I tried a heavier round (70 grain Federal). Didn't make much difference, other than the fact that it was not affected by wind at all.

I suppose though, if you went with a non-expanding round and were happy with a little entry and exit hole, it'd be fine that way...or a rapidly expanding round. Though that would potentially cause lots more problems with fox?

I suppose the answer may just be to handload a slower round in the .223?
 

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You've already got an exceptional varmint gun in the CZ 550, in .223 Rem. The only thing wrong with it is the bullets you're using, as even light bullets, if not built to expand rapidly, will leave the large exit wounds you are getting. Also, be mindful that any cartridge/bullet that will be lethal and accurate at 200 yards is likely to cause some pelt damage, at much shorter ranges. If you go to one of the smaller or less powerful rounds (204, 17, 5mm, 22WMR) you will be sacrificing a little of that 200 yard range or still get some large exit wounds.

In other words, there will be a little compromise on one end of the spectrum, or the other. The key to achieving what you want is to handload bullets that will give the performance and range you are looking for. There is no reason you can't achieve that with the .223 and I don't see how changing to another caliber is going to be the solution.

+1 - I don't have much varmint experience myself, but I've done a lot of reading on the subject. I seem to remember a crusty old hunter saying that the mil. surplus fmj ammo is a good choice since there's just one hole in and out with no expansion. I would think that round could cause extensive pelt damage if it splintered a rib though. The 223 is an extremely versatile round - it's just a matter of finding a bullet that works for your application.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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FMJs can fragment, break apart, spin like a top, etc., etc., etc. Yeah, maybe they work perfect - some of the time. I doubt if it's 100% predictable. Maybe the Barnes solids? I don't know.

Our late mod, Bob Faucett, really liked the .204 Ruger. I think I'd go with that.
 

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In my experience, FMJs tumble, they may or may not exit. If they exit, you will see a very large exit. If they don't tumble, they poke a pin hole in and out and won't reliably kill.
 
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