I use 5.56/.223 on coyotes. I have .22WMR and .17HMR rifles, but I've never been comfortable using rimfires on a coyote sized animal. They work fine on small edible game, or other small critters at close ranges. The .17HMR will reach out and touch someone, but it lacks the energy to make an ethical kill. JMHO
As I have written and commented before on this subject.. there are many really good cartridges out there for coyotes. they are in two classes "hide friendly" and "hide unfriendly".
the hide friendly class would be 17 centerfire (17 Rem, 17-223, 17-222, 17-Mach 4), 22 Hornet, 223/5.56X45, 22-250/22-08, 220 Swift, 223 WSSM, 243 WSSM, 243 win, 6MM rem, and 225 Win.
Hide unfriendly (some of you will not agree with me on this but I have tried many of what I am about to list out.. ) 257 Roberts, 25 WSSM, 25-35, 257 Weatherby, 6.5MM anything, 7MM anything, .270" Anything, .308" Anything or anything larger.
if you are out to make a red mist out of the coyote or are taking 400+ yard shots the hide unfriendly class is the only way to go. My personal faves are 257 Weatherby (two words OVER-KILL) with 100 grain anything that shoots accuratly, 257 Roberts with 90 to 100 grain Nosler B-tips, 270 Winchester with 100 grain Speer HP's
Anything under 350 yard shots I would go with any of the hide friendly rounds. my select few are 223 WSSM, 17 Remington, 257 Roberts. if I am shooting in thick brush and will never take over a 75 yard shot.. the 22 hornet is my best friend with 45 grain V-max.
The "environment ( population, housing, zoning, farms, open public land etc )" you hunt in makes about all calibers acceptable and unacceptable. What you want left of the Hides after the kill ( Prairie dogs to Bears makes little difference ) makes a big difference in your selection. AND.... You have to take into account not only Hide damage but Knockdown Power and what happens to the Bullet beyond the target "hit or miss". As far as I know there is only one projectile capable of stopping at the intended target's range and that is used by the military experimentally. For all predators up to and including Lions Most everything over .224 diameter is more overkill than not. And .243WIN is good for the "average" Black Bear". Save those bigger rounds ( 25s, 30s and above ) for serious Bears over 300 pounds. But I assume you were mostly talking about FOX, KITTIES and COYOTES.
My favorites are:
FOX & BOBCATS - 22WMR, 22 Hornet, 17REM, 223REM/5.56mm( extreme end with the proper bullets )
COYOTES - 17REM, 223REM/5.56mm, 22-250 + 220 Swift + 243WIN
These calibers have served me well in over 40 years of hunting. I use what works. Good Luck and happy hunting!
PREDATORMAN: Good question AND I have a GOOD answer.
I'll give it to you in a minute.
But first let me relay that I killed my first Coyote in 1961 - exactly 50 years ago.
I have used a plethora of calibers and guns (shotguns, Rifles and pistols!) to kill them.
Among the shotgun, Rifle and pistol calibers I have used on Coyotes (successfully!) to date they include:
17 Remington Fireball
221 Remington Fireball
222 Remington Magnum
22 Remington Benchrest
220 Wilson Arrow
6mm Remington Benchrest
6mm Remington Ackley Improved
264 Winchester Magnum
7mm Remington Magnum
300 Winchester Magnum
Looking back over my useages and experiences and "knowing what I know today" - if I were to be limited to ONE caliber/cartridge for all around Coyote Hunting (heaven forbid that!) it would hands down have to be the 204 Ruger!
No other cartridge I am aware of can compete with the performance on Coyotes in all conditions and all year and all day (24 hours a day!) of the 204 Ruger!
Hold into the wind
I have a real problem with you Preditor guy with your thrust that 243 is good for bear.. I have yet to see a humane or ethical kill on a California Black bear with a 243/6MM of any kind. I have been hunting and guiding for 24 years.. I will not go into detail but the last 6 MM used on a cal black the shooter has one less hand... the bear ripped it off once he caught up to the idiot. he had other injuries but nothing as serious at the missing hand. I was over 600 yards away and could not get a clean shot to save the guy's hand.
Varmint guy.. My hat is off to you using all those calibers for coyotes.. I have used 17 Rem, 22 Hornet, 22-250 Rem, 257 Roberts, 270 Win, 308 Win, 300 win mag and once with a 45-70.. okay I was out for deer and the Coyote was a target of opportunity. I have tried 22 LR, 22WRM, and 17 HMR without good results.
In my old home town the coyotes were thick.. they were healthy and they would laugh off any rimfire. that is one reason why we used centerfire.. 17 Rem, 17 Mach 4, 17-222, 17-223 were all very good at bringing down the coyotes. the 17 cals went in, exploded, never left the other side.. Barns Varmint grenades 224 cal 40 Grainers are awesome on coyotes with leaving very little damage to the hides.
this gun guy is out the door.. the shop needs to be cleaned up and locked up.. its closing time.. I am late for dinner.