View Full Version : What caliber for varmints?

10-19-2009, 9:09 PM
Ok, I'm sure I am opening a can of worms here, but what is the best caliber for varmints (Squirrels to Coyotes)? My definition of "best" would be:

1. Cheap to shoot, factory or reloads
2. decent range (200-250 yard accuracy)
3. Won't tear up the rifle
4. Mild to medium recoil

I already have my larger game gun picked out (A Tikka T3 lite in .308) and I like it so much I will probably get the same gun in a varmint caliber. I don't really need a heavy barrel, as I will not be shooting enough rounds in a day to justify the extra cost.

While we're at it, I like to perforate the small critters with my 10/22, and I am thinking of getting another one in Stainless, one I could customize over time (budget's a little tight right now). Is there a .22lr rifle that is more accurate out of the box in the same price range as the 10/22?

Look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts. Thanks in advance for the input.

10-19-2009, 9:16 PM
Get it in .223. I have had my Tikka T3 Lite for several years and have dispatched near 500 squirrels from ranges exceeding 200 yards. Well worth your hard earned Benjamins.

10-19-2009, 9:26 PM
hmm tough... i have heard tales that the best rifle for varmints is .204 ruger, but factory ammo im sure is expensive. reloads, i dont know. maybe comparable to 223? i have heard tales of good penetration and expansion in the ranges you speak of, but cant confirm nor deny.. but i have been thinking of doing a bolt gun in this caliber for a long time. i really like my .17hmr, but it just doesnt have the punch at long range like a centerfire. i guess your best bet, if youre not collecting pelts for resale, is probably the .223rem... but i am not the definitive source in this regard, by any stretch of the imagination....

10-19-2009, 9:27 PM
.223 60gr Vmax 27C varget win brass CCI 400 primer 2.25 OAL

and watch them explode!!!!!!

10-19-2009, 9:33 PM
.223 60gr Vmax 27C varget win brass CCI 400 primer 2.25 OAL

and watch them explode!!!!!!

does the 60gr projectile expand in a squirrel? i think it would pass right through. i know my 17gr tnts do a number, but just curious. i havent used vmax in a .223 yet...

10-19-2009, 9:37 PM
Cheap to shoot, easy on barrels, and effective at your intended ranges: I would also concur with the recommendation of .223 and a Vmax load.

There are other hotter varmint rounds that are more explosive on the targets because of higher velocities than .223 but that comes at the expense of reduced barrel life.

10-19-2009, 10:14 PM
22-250, 204 Ruger, 243 Winchester, 223 if it is your fancy.

10-19-2009, 10:16 PM
I use a Marlin .17HMR. I know it's not the most popular round for say coyotes, but it can get the job done if you have an accurate rifle. At $12 for a box of 50 it can't be beat. My Marlin is capable of head shots up to 200 yards if the rifle is supported and you not breathing heavily. Here's an 8 shot group at 200 yards from a bench using a bipod and rear sand bag.

10-19-2009, 10:17 PM
What else..... .222

10-19-2009, 10:36 PM
22-250 is my pick... i hear it'll do any and everything from woodchucks to yotes.

10-19-2009, 11:01 PM
50 BMG or 500 S&W Magnum, though my varmints might be a bit bigger than average.

10-19-2009, 11:14 PM
I posted this video in the general guns section but I think it's appropriate here...


10-20-2009, 8:21 AM
22-250, 204 Ruger, 243 Winchester, 223 if it is your fancy.

+1 Most of the squirrel hunters up here shoot 22-250. I went with .223 for commonality of ammo with my other rifles.

.17 hmr has a strong following also, but I don't know how well they work on Coyotes.

10-20-2009, 8:44 AM
.223 on the cheap, 22-250 on the less cheap with more explosive outcomes.

10-20-2009, 9:13 AM
+ 1 on 22-250, like stated above, offers accuracy as well as spectatular impacts. Life on, life off. Works real well for those long shots as well.

Bug Splat
10-20-2009, 9:22 AM
I'm convinced the ultimate Varmint round is the 17Mach4. Buddy is a big varmint shooter and has one built off a remington. Has the kick under a 223 but pushes that little 17 bullet at 4200+ FPS. He has dropped coyotes at 400 yards. Small varmints just vaporize to a red cloud when hit. Very impressive round. He reload with what look like v-max's but I'm not sure.

I used to dispatch critters with my 223 pushing 40gr v-max's. Using H335 I was pushing it up to 3600fps. If you are on a budget 223 is the cheapest centerfire round to go with.

10-20-2009, 9:38 AM
I have 223s and a 22-250. The 223 will get your varmints no problem at the range you mentioned and then some. The 22-250 extends the range of the 223 about another 150 to 200 yards, but it does burn a bit more powder. If I can do it over again I would pick the 223 and skip the 22-250 for the 243 Winnie as my long range varminter. Get bolt gun chambered to 22lr or .17 Mach II for varmint 75 yards or less.

10-20-2009, 9:56 AM
i don't have one yet, but i will get one. .223 bolt gun

10-20-2009, 10:12 AM

10-20-2009, 10:21 AM
There is very little that a .223 won't do. If you want to do dual purpose with deer then .243 is an excellent way to go as well.