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Varmint Hunting Techniques For Prairie Dogs, Woodchucks, etc.


New member questions

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Unread 03-05-2008, 09:49 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 15
New member questions

hi, Im new here and i figured id ask some questions. I would like to buy my first long range rifle and i want it in a varmit caliber. I pretty much know what rifle i want to use(one of the savages) but i am stuck on caliber choice.

I have done as much searching and am still at a loss so ill ask here. I need a reccomendation. I would like to beable to kill them at close range and extended ranges. I think my maximum shot on a 'yote would be around 400 yards maybe a smidge higher. At that range, will any bullet strong enough to do a clean kill destroy the pelt?

My second use for the gun will be for long range target shooting/small varmit killing. I really dont know where to begin caliber wise. I know the .243 winchester is a good round, but all the factory stuff is slow.(atleast compared to some of the stuff i see here.) I know ill have to handload, and that fine, but id like to atleast be able to use factory stuff for plinking and longrange target/small game killing if i cant reload for some reason.

Also what is appropriate muzzle velocity for a long range varmit round 4000fps+?
So if you can reccomend me a cartridge that will help with me make my selection id be greatly appreciative. I know this is a lot to ask, but i figure i may as well ask if i want to get anywere with my purchase. Will i have to buy more then one rifle to suite my needs? like one for short to 450yards coyote hunting and one for long range target or can i just have one rifle and load up 2 different loads for those very different situations. I ask this, becuase if i shoot a coyote(which would be my first real hunting experiance), i would love to beable to sell the fur.

Last edited by Mordis; 03-05-2008 at 09:53 AM.
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Unread 03-05-2008, 12:27 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 222
The easy answer is two guns. Not the popular choice with the spouse sometimes. I prefer a lighter weight gun for coyotes because of the walking I do. I like a 22. cal or the 6mm class (you mentioned the .243 which is a good choice) of caliber for this. I use a Browning micro hunter in .243 myself as I could get that in a left hand bolt and it happpens to shoot my reloads very well.

Small varmints ie. prairie dog size and paper punching, I like and don't mind a little heavier weight gun which these days are available from most manufacturers. I like the Remingtons and Savages and would recommend the .204 or 22-250. Also there is nothing wrong with the .223.

If you reload, which you should get into, you can get away with one caliber and if you are going to do some volume shooting I would recommend a 22-250 which would cover the spectrum of shooting you mentioned and because the bullet selection is very good. Good on Pd's to coyotes.

Another option if funds allow, consider visiting with a gunsmith in coming up with a solution to your needs. What I am seeing is that a new Rem VSSF is not that much less than taking a used/new 700 action and putting a new custom barrel on it and having a tack driver with a barrel that is easier to clean, will have better accuracy potential, and you can put virtually whatever stock on it you want. More options for calibers too. The Savage would be somewhat less than the aforementioned Rem. and at least 1/2 of the "custom" gun (depends on what you do) but I just want to mention that in case you have something sitting in the gun case that could work for the gunsmith.

You indicated a velocity number in your post and I would just find a round that shoots accurately and not put alot of concern on the speed at this point. You will end up in the 3,300-3,700 fps in most applications and that will suit you just fine in what you had mentioned for shooting. Factory .204 32 grain bullets/ammo will get you the 4k fps magic number if that is what you are after and you can get that also with reloading a 22-250 or 220 swift using 40 gr bullets.

Plenty of choices which is a good problem to have. Find a friend that reloads and hunts, put your heads together and you will have fun coming up with your new toy. You will also get plenty of good opinions/suggestions here as well.

BTW: Welcome to long range hunting.

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Unread 03-05-2008, 12:40 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 15
I was at the hogdon data center for reloading and it seems that the 22-250 looses alot of energy at extended ranges. I know its perfect for upto 500yards on yotes, but what about 600yard plinking and small game, is it enough to do the job?
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Unread 03-05-2008, 01:21 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Pueblo, CO
Posts: 286
I'd go with a 25-06 or a .243. Stick with heavy bullets for long range stuff and go with light bullets for short range gopher gooshing. If you're worried about pelt damage, stay away from the varmint bullets and go with a controlled expansion hunting bullet.
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Unread 03-05-2008, 02:29 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 15
Looks like the .243 will be my first rifle. Devil you mentioned controlled expansion bullets. I was thinking of using Berger VLD for my handloads,seeing as almost everyone on this site is using them. They seem to be great bullets. Would that be a good round that wont destroy pelts or is there some other type that will work as good.
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Unread 03-05-2008, 07:35 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 2,855
the Berger bullets in the heavier VLD styles will make a mess of a pelt as it is going to exit and if that thin jacket so much as come close to a bone its comming apart and gonna leave a big hole on the exit , for the very limited amout of pelt shooting I have done I have found that a hyper velocity very small bullet does the best job as they don't exit the vast majority of the time ,in the 22-250 a 4o gr V-max at 4200fps does a great job , the 55gr Ballistic tip out of a 243 at 4000+fps would also work very well but it might exit and if it does their no sense in even thinking about patching that up. On the total other end of the spectrum a good solid bullet works also as it does exit but leaves a small hole , the down side to this is that the animal generaly runns off a ways before dieing.

I know a couple guys that are professional pelt hunters and both use 17 cal wildcat round running bullet out at 4K+ , the new 204 Ruger would also be a decient choice.

All in all , If it were me I would get a 22-250 Ackley , 1-10 twist , that would allow you to shoot up to the 69gr Nosler custom competition bullets and at this round velocity you could play on paper/small varmints to 800+yds and the twist will allow you to shoot the light weight varmint pills realy fast , the 50gr Ballistic tip run out at 3900fps will flatten a coyote at 500yds.
Si Vis Pacem Parabellum
Molon Labe
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Unread 03-06-2008, 09:02 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 15
my only objection to ackley bullets is id have to make the brass, and i really am not that good at reloading yet, seeing as i just recently started. Is there a place to get brass for the 22-250AI brass? How much of a improvement over the regular 22-250 is the AI version?
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