View Full Version : 223 or 308 for coyotes

March 16, 2005, 06:44 PM
I’m going to get a DPMS in 223 or 308 and I’m going to use it to hunt coyotes up to 500 yards. Would the 223 with a 75gr bullet do the job or should I go with the 308.
Please help

The Body Bagger
March 16, 2005, 08:28 PM
.223 will drop them just fine and it'll be a lot less expensive to shoot. OTOH I enjoy my .308 just for the slight kick and boom they provide.

March 16, 2005, 08:40 PM
Trying to hit a dog at 500 yards without a rest is a hard thing to! I would go with the 308! But even with that you need to go shoot the gun at 500 yards to see how much drop you are going to have! It's going to be alot! The 223 will go out that far but the wind will push it around. I just hope you can shoot like Jerry Miculek to make a shot like that :D

Art Eatman
March 16, 2005, 09:30 PM
I've killed a few coyotes out to maybe 100 or 125 yards with a .223. All were clean kills, but beyond that distance I'd prefer a .243 or more.

At 300 to 500 yards, wind means a higher probability of a bad hit with a .223. I'd definitely recommend a .308 for someone who's gonna play Ma Bell. And that somebody oughta be danged good at estimating range and holdover. And wind. Don't ever forget the wind.

I don't like the idea of any animal flopping and screaming from a bad hit. Whatever gives you DRT is best--and most of that's up to the shooter's skill and judgement, not the gun...


March 16, 2005, 09:55 PM
It takes around half a second for a 223 or .308 bullet to get to 500 yards. Add in another couple of tenths of a second for your reaction time--from the time that shot looks good through the scope until the time the trigger breaks--and that's enough time for the animal to move and turn a perfect shot in the scope into a gut shot downrange.

At 500 yards, a 10 mph crosswind can drift a 69gr .223 bullet 27 inches--over 2 feet. A .308, 168 grain bullet isn't much better--it will drift about 22".

Generally speaking, when someone asks what gun to use for shooting animals at 500 yards, it's a safe bet to say NO GUN. Not because it's impossible or extremely difficult to shoot animals humanely at long distances but because people who have enough long distance experience to make 500 yard shots on game also have enough experience to know what kind of gun to use.

Rich Lucibella
March 16, 2005, 10:15 PM
Short answer: If you have to ask on a Forum about the caliber for a 500 yard effective shot, you needn't ask. I'll put TFL Shooters against the best in the field; and yet, only about 2% of them would be taking 500 yard shots on game without asking the guidance of a much Higher Authority.

John (and others)-
I'm tired of being the preacher on this particular road.

Thank you.

March 16, 2005, 11:24 PM
I was simply asking if the 223 was capable. I’m not very familiar with the 223 round I just wanted some info on it because if I ever got the shot witch I doubt because the 910 acres I hunt is very thick except for the fields and the biggest 1 only stretches to about 375. I would never take a shot unless I was a 100% confident and I could do it humanely. So really all I wanted to know was if 223 would do it or should I stick with the 308 but I already have 1 and I love it I just don’t want to waste a 1000+ on another 308 so I asked about the 223.

Sorry if it’s a stupid question
Glad I did go buy a 223 yet.

Rich Lucibella
March 17, 2005, 10:10 AM
It's not a "stupid" question, TMM. But it is a strange one, in ways. Are you able to hit an 8 inch plate anyplace I choose to put it, out to 500, from a field position (not a bench) without a rangefinder, with the .308? I know VERY few who can. But, if you can do it, you can do the same with the .223. You need to check the ballistics tables for the .223 Energy out there, though....I find it anemic....though acceptable for Coyote. (Never tried it myself.)

The real limiting factor, as others have pointed out, is accuracy. 8 inches at 500 yards: that's just about 1.5 Minutes of Angle. From a field Position. That requires a world class shooter, IMHO. If you're intending head shots, make it 3 inches....that's about 1/2 Minute of Angle.....if you can do your part, few AR Variants will be up to your level of accuracy.

March 17, 2005, 04:17 PM
There seems to be a whole kind of "movement" geared toward longer and longer shots (or attempts). It also seems to be a pet peeve of many PH's and other of the most skilled hunters. That is, trying to use ballistic one-upsmanship as a substitute for tracking/stalking skills. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the 223, but as for 500 yard coyote dinging, I don't believe any 22 is up to the job on a regular basis. In the right hands, the 308 is a marvelous long range cartridge. So if a guy was willing to work on his skill level, he might get consistent at ultra long ranges with a 308, but would be hard pressed to do so with any 22; at least IMHO. Out of curiosity, are there any of you who feel comfortable with 22's @ 500 yards?

March 17, 2005, 05:58 PM
I can hit at around 250yard with the .223 with ease but that is what I was taught in the military. Anything over that has to either come closer or I have to go to it to get into MY range.

I've never tried anything over 250 yards and for humane purposes, won't. As Art put it I don't like the idea of any animal flopping and screaming from a bad hit.


March 17, 2005, 06:22 PM
Mighty Long Shot, Get Closer And Use A Bush Master Ar In .223(5.56)
Pratice,pratice Pratice.

March 17, 2005, 06:50 PM
yes the .223 will reach out that far. the question is, can you?
the .223 is lots for big dog yotes but you might have to move up to a lot better distance to make a clean kill

March 17, 2005, 09:48 PM
It would seem the .223 would allow a quicker second shot.

Hunt in the early morning and late evening when the wind is low and .223 should be good to at least 250 yards.

March 18, 2005, 06:10 PM
I'll be honest. There are not many guys that can hit a 35 pound coyote at 500 yards. At that range, they are almost invisible. The 308 is a much better cartridge for that, but there are better platforms than an AR type rifle for long range precision shooting.

March 18, 2005, 06:48 PM
TMM, I've shot close to 3 hundred coyotes. All have been shot with either a .222, .223 or .22-250. Out here in southern Utah, the country is wide open with some nice hills to call from. Generally, most shots are made at less than 200 yards. Once in a while we will have a smart one that won't come in and will be out several hundred yards. Sometimes if they will stop, and the wind is still, we will take a shot. Surprisingly, we probably harvest about half the coyotes at long range. The .22 calibers are the way to go. The longest and luckiest shot I've ever made was at 681 paces. I shot it with a .22-250 with a 40 grain nosler ballistic tip that started out over 4000 FPS. It went completely threw and he tipped over in his tracks. Shoot what you shoot best. I've got .308s and .243s that shoot well, but I'd take a .22 everytime.
They are just easier for me to shoot and shoot a follow up shot faster too. Just my ramblings....... goodshot

March 18, 2005, 08:43 PM
What Rich said. I'd say the .223 is good (ideal) only for about 200-225 yards or so. From 200 to 275 or so, I'd want a .243 Win, due to less wind drift. I would not take a shot past 275, maybe 300, with any rifle unless I was shooting rested, with no wind, a stationary target, and I knew my rifle/load's trajectory intimately. Even then I probaby wouldn't. But yeah, at shorter ranges, the .223 will do the job. The .308 is unnecessary for this game animal at any ranges which are practical to hunt at, IMO. But it will work fine. But bottom line, if you are looking for the ideal long-range varminter, in my opinion, it's the .243.

March 18, 2005, 09:01 PM
Mannlicher I think there are better platforms for a lot of things than the AR. My AR seems to weight about 300 pounds more than my Savage 110 when I carry it for more than a half mile or so. :p

March 19, 2005, 11:27 AM
I've taken 95% of my coyotes with a call and a 12 ga., the rest with a .223 and 55 gr.psp, I tried the fmj's with no luck.

gordo b.
March 19, 2005, 12:27 PM
500 yard coyote shot? You will NEVER hit a moving animal at that distance or on the first shot if there is any wind!
That said I have a 25 pound improved 25-06 with an 1 1/4" 30 " barrel shooting 120grain very low drag bullets and topped with a 20x Unertl Programmer. With the ballistic data card plastic laminated and attached to stock I can dial in shots to 800 yards and 20mph winds. However my coyote average with this rig is only about 70% up to 600 yards, but it kills them real good ,if hit! :D

March 19, 2005, 05:02 PM
Any good AR service rifle upper can pull 500 yard shots with ease. It's the wind that will kill your accuracy. You'll need a fast twist to shoot the 70+grain bullets.

March 26, 2005, 12:18 AM
id really like to see that .25-06 in action. sounds sweet

March 27, 2005, 11:32 PM
The wind is the biggest factor for long range hits, as many have mentioned. Wind can be doped, but it comes at the price of hundreds of rounds of practice. You have to figure out the speed and direction, but what that speed and direction does at different ranges.

March 28, 2005, 08:06 PM
Hey Gordo,
I would hate to carry that rifle around a field all day. :eek:

Best shot I've ever seen on a coyote was about 25 years ago by a guy I went to high school with, at about 450 yds, one shot, runnin dog, sporterized '03 ought six (original barrel) 4x scope, offhand. This dude was an awsome shot, of course he shot a heck of a lot, prairie dogs and coyotes. Put him in the middle of a quarter section (1/2 mile x 1/2 mile for you city folk) and (terrain allowing of course) he could hit anything, anywhere on it. Heck he could cover most of a section.
Myself, i would never try 500, not even 400 if it was movin, inside 350 and it is dead.

Savage 110 .270 W., 140gr. NBT over 57.7gr. H4831SC

Raymond Losli
March 28, 2005, 11:45 PM
Ahhhhhh ..Yes that .25-06.. sooooound's Sweeeeaat but...
What about a, 6.5..? Like .264 Win. Mag. in a Pac-nor super match big/Bull 1-1/4" taper to 3/4" @ the muzzle. 26" OAL.
In a worked over Win. mdl. 70 Receiver. W/ smooth-crisp- release 1-3/4 Lb. trigger.
All set in a Choate stock topped off with a Leapold LPS.
W/ hand loads dialed in with Nosler 100 gr.BT's over 67 Grn of ViHt.#160. ....1- MOA groups @ 200yards.
Just doin sum Braggin........... :barf:
& yes I do -HATE- carrying this thing around. / That's why I LOVE my AR

April 1, 2005, 01:03 AM
We never had coyote in Indiana years ago - do now. When the company I worked for moved me to OK they handed out a lot of climatological data on the differences in the two areas. Besides the obvious temperature difference of moving 400 miles south the biggest thing that jumped out was average wind speed. Indiana 6 MPH ave year round. OK was 13 MPH year round. With that 13 mph average I'd not have used a .223 at 250 yards without a huge amount of practice in variable conditions. With the wide open spaces and higher wind I'm not even sure about a .243 in a crosswind. Just my opinion.

Raymond Losli
April 1, 2005, 01:18 AM
Wind -13 mph average ... that does not sound fun
To tell you the truth cross wind sucks for all weights & Cal. does not matter what cal. you shoot.
I do think a Heavy will maybe buck a head-wind better seems to bother my .223 @ little more than others.
Wind is wind, you just have to know your weapon, shot a lot and just be Current./ It hard sometimes if your not a one gun guy.

April 2, 2005, 03:34 PM
I used to use my ISSI AR .223AI 26" 9 twist Hart-barrelled AR, and had great results to about 500 with the 69 Nosler. But i also had a "tactical" system established for it-- 4.5-14X Burris/Ball. Plex reticle, and Leica LRF. But i wouldn't take a 500 yd. shot in any kind of wind-- mostly am, or later pm hours when wind was typically down. I tried the 75 A-Max, and 70 gr. JLK VLD, but they were poor killers at 3000 fps mv when the range stretched. Truth is if i ever go back to it it'll be the 75/77's as they may have a better compromise between frontal area (for long-range expansion) weight, and BC.

Raymond Losli
April 2, 2005, 10:15 PM
Hey also: back to the original Question /... " 223 or 308 and I’m going to use it to hunt coyotes up to 500 yards."

I also have a super quality AR set-up. But, @ 500 yrds if you were to Lung Shoot a Coyote.
No question about it... a .308 would be the safe bet.

Ok to hit a Coyote that will hold still long enough Between trotting and dodging in and out, @ 500 yrds.
In reality that's the big question.

April 3, 2005, 01:21 AM
that the coyotes would be that far away. The last one I shot was about 35 yards. She was eating at the "Cafe Ross," everymorning. Snacking on chicken..

(Notice that is in the past tense). .22 rimfire. Works wonders.

Now, at LONG RANGE... .308 would probably be better.

Lawyer Daggit
April 3, 2005, 01:54 AM
For most 'sportsmen' a 500 yard shot would be speculative at best and likely to leave a wounded animal. If someone was mindful to take such a shot there is probably going to be a lot of luck involved as a result of the need to allow for windage and bullet drop and given the anemic ballistics of a .223 at that type of range I think a 308 would be the better choice.

I agree with an earlier post that a person who can handle this type of shot need not ask which is best- they are in the 'expert category', if you are not I suggest you look at what 500 yards really looks like and revise your perameters and choose a calibre accordingly.

I don't mean this comment insultingly- there are few people up to consistently and humanely taking shots at 500 yards.

April 12, 2005, 08:11 PM
I use a .308 and it has always done a wonderful job out to 400-500 yds acknowledging the fact that theres 54" of bullet drop(150 yd zero), and windage isn't as finicky as the lighter .223. Avoid the lighter bullets. I stick with 165-168 grain BT and it's usually all over if I can get a good rest to shoot from.