re: Snowy Mountain Rifles wants your input on ideal walking varmint rifle
I don't think one single rifle will cover everything from prairie dogs/gophers to coyotes. You are either stuck with overkill on the smaller critters or under gunned on the bigger critters. With that said, it's pretty tough to build a true long range rifle for semi fragile animals like fox and bobcat if one cares about the fur damage. While a 17 Remington is great for minimal fur damage it's not much of a long range rifle. It just plain runs out of energy as the distances get stretched. Not to mention wind drift is crazy bad. A .243 or 260 Remington make a great round for coyotes beyond 300 yards, but neither are ideal for prairie dogs, fox, and bobcats. So I guess a guy has to decide whether just hitting one's target is more important or if he wants to not destroy the fur. For a strictly coyote rifle I would have a hard time not picking the .243 with a barrel twist that would stablelize heavier bullets. Perhaps a 1:7.5 or there abouts. Hard to beat an MCM HTG stock with an adjustable cheek rest, though I'm also very fond of the A-5, but it may be a little too heavy. Whatever the stock design I would prefer a desert camouflage or better yet M2D camouflage finish. Something blends in well with the prairie grass. Then there is the struggle for the ideal barrel weight and length. Frankly an ideal "carry" weight and an ideal "long range" rifle in my mind are two different things. Factors such as how walking/hiking distances and having to actually carry the rifle need to be considered. If one covers a lot of ground there is no way a rifle that weighs 12 lbs or more is going to be comfortable for most people. If one only has to walk a 1/4 mile or less to each stand for coyotes then a heavier rifle would be fine. For me a true carry rifle barrel weight maximum for me is Ruger's medium bull barrel. It's right between a standard weight and a heavy contour. The barrel they have on their new M77 Hawkeye Predator is close to ideal for contour and weight for me. Granted, I know there are some guys out there that can tolerate carrying a heavier rifle and I can too, but I'm talking about a "comfortable" carry-rifle. I don't want a sore neck, shoulder, or back at the end of the day because of a heavy rifle. I'd rather have sore muscles from hiking and dragging coyotes out. ;) I personally have become very fond of two-stage competition grade triggers for coyote hunting. I like that little bit of slack before hitting the wall. It's good for getting one's nerves/excitement settled a little before committing to trippng the trigger. Lastly, if a rifle like this can be created for $2500.00 or less then you'll really have something. However, I'd say the market for a $3500.00+ long range coyote hunting rifle would be extremely narrow.