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Old December 21, 2010, 10:13 PM   #1
dynamis13
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Small game hunting

So I have been thinking about starting to hunt small game and need some opinions on small calibers, i.e. .22lr, .17 HMR, .22 mag?, rifle recommendations would also be appreciated, looking for bolt or single shot.

Which of these small calibers is the best for small game i.e. squirrel, rabbit. Also what are the largest animals *recommended* that these calibers can take?
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Old December 21, 2010, 10:23 PM   #2
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.22lr is good for anything up to racoon. I've used .22lr on coyotes before but I usually wouldn't recomend it. The .17hmr or .22wmr are good coyote rounds up to about 100yds, and do a pretty good job on evertyhing smaller. I would recomend .22lr because of ammo prices. A savage mkII is a good cheap bolt gun.
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Old December 21, 2010, 10:59 PM   #3
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Alright, thanks for the advice. I was leaning towards that Savage before the post. I'll be looking to pick one of those up in .22LR sometime soon. Who knows maybe it will freeze hard enough here that I can go get some rabbits soon.
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Old December 22, 2010, 08:06 AM   #4
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If you are looking to eat what you kill, then the .22LR has the edge. All 3 calibers will kill small game - but the .22mag and the .17 do much more damage to the meat.
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Old December 22, 2010, 08:15 AM   #5
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dynamis look for a Savage Mark II. Walmart stocks them. I got mine there, but had to special order it from the catalog they have in the sporting goods dept. You can get it stainless or blued, wood or synthetic stock. I went with the traditional blued and wood.

You wont be sorry. The accutrigger is great!

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Old December 22, 2010, 09:01 AM   #6
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I'd throw one more caliber into the mix. The .17 mach 2 is a super little squirrel, rabbit, coon, turkey, coyote, etc. round out to 100 yards. The round is cheaper than .17hmr and does less damage to the meat. It has a really flat trajectory as well.
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Old December 22, 2010, 09:38 AM   #7
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No rimfire made is a good coyote round. No .17M2 is a fox or coon round. As for 22LR, only use CCI Velocitors and the like on coon and fox.

All of this is off topic though, he asked for a small game gun (coyotes, coon and fox are well above small game). Hands down get a .22LR maybe a .17M2. The Savages are good, so are the Marlins and so are the Rugers. Stick to game less than 10 lbs unless you are garenteed a brain shot. And not withstanding popular internet lore (in other words B.S.), brain shots are not that easy on wild game at anything beyond point blank range.

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Old December 22, 2010, 10:00 AM   #8
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Any good bolt action .22 will do fine for small game, although as others have said, it wouldn't be first choice for 'yotes.

My favorite small game getter is an old Savage 24E-DL. It's a break action combo gun with a .22 mag barrel over a 20 gauge. I have it scoped with a Leupold VariX-II 1-4X scope. The .22 mag shoots dime-sized groups at 50 yards with CCI Maxi-Mags, which is plenty accurate for head shots on ground squirrels (yeah, hit 'em in the body with the .22 mag and you mess up a lot of meat). The 20 gauge is great for squirrels up in the trees.

It wasn't new when I bought it, and I had to do some work to get the shotgun barrel to fire reliably, but it was well worth it. Absolutely my favorite small game gun ... and I wouldn't hesitate going after coyote with it, too.

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Old December 22, 2010, 01:32 PM   #9
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Nice gun Legionnaire I didn't even consider an over-under option. I guess that is one more thing to think about before I purchase.

So the pros of the .22LR are:
Cost of ammo
Doesn't mess up meat
Quiet Shooting

The Cons are:
Lacks the power to reliably take larger pests
Effective range is low

The .22mag and .17cal pros are:
Can take larger pests
Can take smaller game with proper shot placement
Flatter trajectory

The Cons:
Can mess up meat
Louder
Cost

Alright did I miss anything?
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Old December 22, 2010, 02:32 PM   #10
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22 LR is all you need for small game. You can get close enough [under 75 yds] easily on rabbits and more so with squirrels.
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Old December 22, 2010, 03:01 PM   #11
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.22lr is adequate for small game and the others mentioned (.22 Mag and the various .17's) don't give enough advantages to justify the increased cost of the ammo, IMHO.
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Old December 22, 2010, 03:15 PM   #12
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Alright thank you all for your contributions I will be going with the .22lr probably the savage mark II
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Old December 22, 2010, 03:26 PM   #13
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You won't go wrong with the Mark II ... but you can find 24s in .22LR/.410 and .22LR/20gauge configuration. Just a thought. As I said, you won't go wrong with the Mark II.
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Old December 22, 2010, 11:22 PM   #14
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The Savage 24s are a great choice, if you find a good one.

Nice Gun Legionarre. Interestin you put a scope on it
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Old December 23, 2010, 08:35 AM   #15
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Quote:
The Savage 24s are a great choice, if you find a good one.
The downside of the 24s is that Savage didn't provide easy ways for them to be scope mounted. Scope bases for many of them are not available and must be custom made and drilled.

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Old December 23, 2010, 09:44 AM   #16
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For years I used a Ruger 10/22 to squirrel hunt. I installed a Volquartsen barrel and the sucker is now as accurate as a target 22 LR. Not that target grade accuracy really improved my hit probability. The problem I had was my hold.

A standard 10/22 will do out to 25 yards, which is a long way in the woods with all the leaves hiding the squirrels.

The longest shot I ever had was 50 yards, and that with a Stevens M416. The squirrel was in the top of the tallest tree in the woods and I was able to find a gap and see him. That is unusual.

I did a bunch of testing in my ruger 10/22 barrel and found some real ammunition preferences. Accuracy with stingers and hyper velocity ammunition was just awful. The best in my barrel was Federal copper coated. There was no difference in on target groups between Federal and Eley, which shows that I hit the barrel limit.

The Volquartsen barrel, Eley gave dime sized groups at 25 yards while Federals were much larger. Barrels make a difference.

I prefered quiet ammunition. I prefered solid nose. Hollowpoint LR's would damage the squirrel more, ruining meat, but did not seem to kill them any better.
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Old December 23, 2010, 02:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doyle
The downside of the 24s is that Savage didn't provide easy ways for them to be scope mounted. Scope bases for many of them are not available and must be custom made and drilled.
Depends on the specimen. Quite a few of the 24s, including some of the older ones (mine is circa 1964) have 3/8-inch dovetail grooves cut in the rifle barrel. It's a trick finding a mount that will hold up to the recoil of the shotgun barrel, but I (and others) have found that the BKL 260 unitized mount works well; it has four inches of clamping length and six screws. And I have my mount in contact with the original rear sight, which acts like a recoil block. Has worked great.

I just sold a 24 in .22/.410 that was older than my E-DL that also had the dovetail grooves. So finding one of those is the ticket. Of course, on a .22, a scope might be superfluous. 43FLcracker, I scoped mine to take advantage of the longer range of the .22 mag.
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Old December 23, 2010, 05:09 PM   #18
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Look into the CZs. I sold my Savage after handling them and am now officially addicted. Beautiful wood, old fashioned workmanship, extremely accurate. Get a 22LR. Skip the 22mag and the 17hmr unless your chasing bigger critters like fox, raccoon and elephants.
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Old December 24, 2010, 07:41 AM   #19
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My old remington Target Master (circa 1950) is plenty good enough for small game hunting out to 50 yards with the iron sights. I love old single shot bolt action 22s.
That said my Marlin Model 60 has done me right also.
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Old December 24, 2010, 08:07 AM   #20
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Quote:
The downside of the 24s is that Savage didn't provide easy ways for them to be scope mounted. Scope bases for many of them are not available and must be custom made and drilled.
Yes, that was also true of the Mark II, which surprised me. It had the screw holes on the receiver, but didn't come with bases, and I couldn't find any bases that would fit locally. I had to call Savage and order the bases before I could do anything else. It comes with adjustable open sights, though.

If you do this, be sure and order an extra mag or two as well. It comes with a five shot mag, but you can also get a ten shot mag.
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Old December 24, 2010, 05:59 PM   #21
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I think ya'll forgot what the the problem is here, HE IS JUST STARTNG...keep it simple, get a ruger 10-22 , box of 550 federal ammo, and go figure it out...IMO
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Old January 1, 2011, 09:51 AM   #22
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I have hunted small game for years with a .22LR
But a Shotgun loaded with #6 or #4 shot also works well, for Squirrel, and Rabbit.
I use a .22LR when hunting Coon with hounds.
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Old January 1, 2011, 03:59 PM   #23
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.22

Another vote for the Ruger 10/22 in .22LR.
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Old January 2, 2011, 02:55 AM   #24
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.22LR will do quite well for small game. It is also great for learning your shooting skills.
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Old January 3, 2011, 01:34 AM   #25
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Ruger 10-22 would be a good choice, or a CZ bolt action. They are really accurate right out of the box and not too spendy.
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