View Full Version : Good rifle for groundhog hunting?

April 16, 2007, 07:57 AM
I figured I would throw this question out for everyone. I do a lot of groundhog hunting in the late spring and summer. I'm on a huge farm with lots of open land. Right now I'm using a Savage .22 mag.
Was wondering if anyone could think of a better rifle I could use?

April 16, 2007, 08:46 AM
Depends on the range you plan on shooting them at. If you keep your shots within 150yds, then your current gun is fine. If you want to extend your range out a little bit I would recommend a .222 Rem, .223 Rem, .204 Ruger, or 22-250. These will all at least extend your accurate hunting range out to 300yds at least, as long as your personal shooting skills are up to the task. I prefer a good bolt action from Remington or Savage, but a AR platform would be a good option also. Hope this helps and good luck hunting.

April 16, 2007, 09:24 AM
a nice 223 would be good for ground hog

April 16, 2007, 09:46 AM
At what range are typical shots taken? Is it windy often? Is ammo expense an important consideration? Do you want a dual purpose rifle, or is this one dedicated to small vermin?

Art Eatman
April 16, 2007, 10:01 AM
If the muzzle blast upsetting the neighbors is no problem, the .223 would work just fine.

Cartridges like the .22 Hornet and the .218 Bee were quite common for shooting groundhogs in the smaller farms of Pennsylvania. An equivalent cartridge, today, is the .17 HMR. I'd call them 150-yard cartridges, insofar as a clean kill.

Then came the .222, which extended the range but still wasn't all that loud. The .223 is basically a .222 Magnum, but with a shorter case neck.


April 16, 2007, 05:14 PM
The kicker for me on purchasing a rifle would be do I want to reload or not. If you don't want to reload go with .223 Rem, the cheapest thing out there for volume shooting in a center fire rifle cartridge. If you reload I'd look at the Ruger or CZ in .22 Hornet, with some of the new lighweight varmint bullets out there for a .22 cal I think owning one would be a blast.

I'm seriously considering getting a .22 Hornet in the next year. Right now my budget is kind of tied up on a hunting trip. All of my .223 rifles have too fast of a twist to use the .36 grain Berger of Barnes Varmint Gernades.

April 16, 2007, 09:13 PM
Remington 700 in .22-250Rem trim.

April 16, 2007, 09:17 PM
Model 700 in 22-250 will do wonders.

T. O'Heir
April 17, 2007, 12:59 AM
There isn't much better than a Savage .22 mag. Had one long ago. However, it does get expensive to shoot. So will any centrefire, unless yo ureload. Anyway, decide how much money you want to spend and have a look at a Savage in any .22 calibre centerfire. One thing though, before you consider a .204 Ruger, make sure you can get ammo locally. And answer, for yourself, the questions fisherman66 posed.

April 17, 2007, 01:10 AM
Out to about 200yds a .17HMR is a whistle pig's nightmare. They're fun, cheap to feed, and they're a small caliber laser. Beyond about 250 it starts getting real touchy and you'll want something a little bigger. Personally, I really like the effect of a Remington 700 in 6mm Rem. or 7mm Mag for the ones waaaay out there. :D There's an old chinese proverb about not using a cannon to kill a mosquito--obviously they never tried it, because it's a whole lot of fun!

April 17, 2007, 10:31 AM
I was thinking of the .17, a friend of mine has that gun and it's very accurate. I hunt out in "Amish Country" more or less. It's a nice family of Amish famers who love when I'm up there to deal with the ground hogs. The shots really do range though from 10 yards all the way to 150. Rarely do I take the long shots because it tends to be windy up on the hills.
As far as the response to fisherman66, the rifle will be for groundhog only, ammo is not that big of a deal; so long as I'm not spending $20 for a box of ammo.
If I were looking at a .17, any suggestions?

April 17, 2007, 10:49 AM
A .17hmr should do fine up to 150 yards, but you are not giving up a ton of yardage with the 22 mag rf.

I understand some 22 mags can take a barrel swap for the 17. You might want to explore that avenue if money is tight (when is it not?). I don't know if you can swap with the Savage rimfire, but I understand you can with their centerfire offerings.

The .223 would almost double the range of your 22 mag at the expense of more muzzleblast and more expensive ammo. It would give you a good coyote gun too. That's the route I would take if I were you. But I'm not and the 17hmr will do what you need at less expense.

Best of luck

April 17, 2007, 11:11 AM
ive got a .17Hmr from savage, its got the bull barrel, and I can do wonders with it. At 100 yards all my shots are inside a dime prety easy, course if its windy I got problems. ammo is something like $13 for a box of 50

April 17, 2007, 11:33 AM
My .17HMR is by NEF. It IS just a break-action single shot with a heavy barrel, so rapid "pot-shots" at a runner wouldn't be an option. On the plus sides, I picked it up for a paltry $110, I can get change-out barrels for it in any rimfire caliber they offer, and it's so accurate that shooting the caps off a soda bottle or spent shotgun shells at 150yds has gotten boring. It's a serious "prairie dog sniping rifle."


April 17, 2007, 07:52 PM
Lots of open land...might be long shots. I'd say some .223 would be ideal for the longish shots, to buck the wind better than a .22 mag. If that's too loud, something like the .22 hornet or .218 bee would be an excellent choice, too; perhaps the best choice. For that matter, .221 rem fireball as well. As for rifles, take your pick. Since you like Savage, how about a Savage or Stephens short action turnbolt?

April 17, 2007, 11:03 PM
here where i live, only rimfires are allowed on state land, and no 22mag. So 17hmr is king. I'd like to see a little more weight in the bullet maybe a 25 grain at 2200fps

April 18, 2007, 07:21 AM
I love my 22-250 for them long shots but the 22-250 can be expensive if your not a reloader.

April 18, 2007, 09:58 AM
I've heard mixed reviews on the 22-250 to be honest. I'd prefer to stay away from the .223 just because of the noise factor. I'm not to concerned with ammo because I don't go through that much when hunting. Afterall, I only take a few shots. Most of the hunt is walking, glassing and sitting. Just like any other hunt, ha ha!
Let me ask this, if you had one rifle choise for groundhog hunting, what would you choose?

April 18, 2007, 10:38 AM
Let me ask this, if you had one rifle choise for groundhog hunting, what would you choose?

If ammo cost were not a consideration I would go with a 243. The higher BC would buck the wind better.

April 18, 2007, 10:48 AM
..I've heard mixed reviews on the 22-250 to be honest....

The .22-250 is THE long range varmint round. Any mixed reviews that you have heard are in error:D

Since a .223 is too loud for you the .22-250 is going to be off the menu anyways as it is louder than the .223 rem.

A .22 hornet or even a .17hmr rimfire would be nice options. There are a ton of bolts from savage and marlin in the .17hmr and they are all good and affordable.

Not too many manufacturers make a lot of models in the .22 hornet but it is a good mild mannered varmint round.

April 18, 2007, 11:07 AM
The .22-250 is THE long range varmint round.

and I thought the 220 Swift was THE premier varmint round.

April 18, 2007, 11:11 AM
good point, but the swift is no where as near as popular as the .22-250 and for all practical purpose isn't factory loaded much faster than the .22-250. not too many new rifles are chambered for it, compared to the .22-250.

If you handload the swift shines like a bright new penny.....

April 18, 2007, 11:33 AM
The 223 wssm has one laser flat trajectory too. Just admit it Mikejonestkd, the 22-250 is a dead cartridge.:p

April 18, 2007, 12:31 PM
A dedicated groundhog rifle might just be the perfect excuse to get this little beauty:


Then maybe ream it to K-hornet dimensions.

April 18, 2007, 02:11 PM
All this talk of hog hunting is making me wish I was back on the farm right now!
I think the furthest shot I've taken at a hog was 150 yds, to much wind so I missed. That's why I'm thinking I might want something that will handle a little better, which is why I'm leaning more towards that .17

One other thing I forgot to ask, what are some good .17 rifle makes? Any websites or recommendations?

April 18, 2007, 06:31 PM
I use Ruger M77 in 220 swift.

April 18, 2007, 07:21 PM
Afterall, I only take a few shots. Most of the hunt is walking, glassing and sitting.

All of the ghog hunting I do is sitting. Glass for all the holes then setup at a spot that gives you a shot at most of them. Sit down in my folding chair and wait. My .22-250Rem gives me great range.

April 19, 2007, 08:13 AM
My buddy and I were looking at Rock River Arms and some of the rifles they offer. I know I wasn't planning on looking at a .223 but has anyone seen some of the varmint rifles? WOW! Take a look at these and let me know what you think. Obviously I'd have to start stashing away some cash now so I can get it.





Art Eatman
April 19, 2007, 10:42 AM
DCougar, $1,065 + scope? I think I'll stay with my 77 Mk II, thank you very much. 1/2 MOA with all sorts of different ammo. It just doesn't care what you feed it, from 50 grains to round-nose 70s. I bought it used, "sorta like new". It shot the 1/2 MOA with a Tasco, although it now wears a Leupold 3x9. It worked real good on prairie dogs, last year, to 300 yards; going again in a few weeks.

Rifle, scope, Timney trigger all added up to around $650 or so.

:), Art

April 19, 2007, 11:04 AM
Really? ART, you're putting me to shame over here :D
Would you happen to have a picture of your MK or any sites to visit?

April 19, 2007, 11:31 AM
Barrett M82A1A "light 50" .50 caliber rifle. that'll do it :eek: up to 1.3 mile range... haha

I've never hunted groundhog, but it seems to me a .223 would do it. I saw a real real nice .223 rifle in the gunshop the other day, had no markings I could see, but had what looked like an 8 power scope, with 3 5 round magazines, and the 2 extra were in the stock. came with bipod and everything. I almost bought it, and am trying to get some info on the rifle... no luck so far.

April 20, 2007, 09:21 AM
A .50 cal? That would be like using a .308 to shoot a mouse! ha ha

Let me know about that rifle .45Reaper, I'd be interested in seeing a picture or something.

Art Eatman
April 20, 2007, 10:57 AM
DCougar, maybe the Ruger website might have a picture. It's just an old blue/wood bolt-action, is all. A gazillion like it.


April 21, 2007, 03:51 PM
worth all 325$. And probably another 350$


Fat White Boy
April 21, 2007, 07:20 PM
I have a .22-250 in a Browning Model 1885 Low wall. I reload for it, using 52gr HPBT Sierra bullets. My best shot so far is 315 yards on a ground squirrel.

April 21, 2007, 07:39 PM
I'm thinking this is gonna be my next "whistle pig" rifle... :D


April 21, 2007, 09:47 PM
any reccomendations on rifle that has as much range as possible, that would work on racoon, fox, ground hog and maybe coyote? like as if you wanted to save the pelts.

April 21, 2007, 10:04 PM
What kind of ranges are we talking about? .243 with 55 gr nosler balistics will fold a yote real quick without blowing out the hide too much. Or step it up to 95 gr Sierra FMJ/BT's for clean pass-through with two little holes instead of one moderate one.

April 22, 2007, 09:51 AM
Most of my ranges aren't going to be any further then 100yds. There are just a few of those long shots where you can't get close and need a good bullet to get out there, if that makes sense.

April 22, 2007, 10:33 AM
Same as the reply before this one. 55 gr. noslers will spread a prairie dog farr and wide! I use the 95 gr. Sierra FMJ/BT's on my 1000 yd range. So I can guarantee those will get you that far. Of course, SEEING a prairie dog at that range might be a bit of a challenge. :D

April 23, 2007, 02:04 PM
Yea, good luck seeing the piggy at 1k yds. Geez, I thought I was nuts, ha ha. Better have one heck of a scope too. I think my biggest problem though is learning how to calculate how the bullet will travel. i.e. distance, windage and drop. Any tips or suggestions?

April 23, 2007, 02:10 PM
I always lick my finger, but it never helps. You might want to consult a bullet drop trajectory table.


At the bottom of the page I have linked there is a wind drift by yardage chart. It's a fair starting place.

April 23, 2007, 04:37 PM
Let me ask this, if you had one rifle choise for groundhog hunting, what would you choose?

My next varmint gun will be a Remington M700 VSF in .223. Varmint rifles should be heavy barreled bolt actions with big glass on them.

April 23, 2007, 05:33 PM
Yea, good luck seeing the piggy at 1k yds. Geez, I thought I was nuts, ha ha.

Awe, c'mon... I hit a playing card at that range--that's quite a bit smaller than a prairie dog! :D Of course, I doubt a prairie dog would have sat still through the 8 rds. it took to do it... But it would be a shot worth bragging about on a 'whistle piggy'.

April 25, 2007, 02:39 PM
Funny enough, we were shooting at a piggy last year who refused to move. We shot off about 8 rounds before he decided to move along. I was ashamed of myself for not being able to make a shot like that at 200yds. That's why I'm looking for a nice rifle in a good cailber.

Art Eatman
April 26, 2007, 11:42 AM
The heavy barrel idea is good when many shots are taken in a short period of time. Rather pointless on a rifle intended mostly for coyotes or groundhogs, with the usual shot or two and then you're through shooting for a while. Fine at a prairie dog town.

Lotsa scope is good, for those Ma Bell shots on small critters like prairie dogs. Personal opinion is that around 400 yards is about the practical limit for 9X, based on my one prairie dog shoot. Higher magnification helps when you're competing with yourself or your buddy about getting one "way, way out there". Less necessary for coyotes, though.

:), Art

April 26, 2007, 11:54 AM
+10 on optics for distance. It doesn't matter how capable the rifle is if you can't see your target clearly. A little blond spot half hidden behind your crosshairs is going to make the shot real difficult under the best of circumstances. Don't skimp on that part.

April 26, 2007, 12:37 PM
You guys are absolutely right on optics. I've got a pretty descent scope right now with a diamond reticle. I have no idea who makes the scope though. If I knew how to take the picture and put it on here I would.
Just for fun though, hows this. Let's build a rifle for groundhog. I'm starting to get in the market for a new one and I've seen some good suggestions from everyone here. So how about we build one from scratch?

So where should we start?

April 26, 2007, 01:14 PM
So where should we start?
With the caliber. It has to be small, fast, and flat. There's nothing better than a "lead laser". MY votes in order are .243 (6mm platform--just because that's my baby), .22-250. These are from a perspective of range and velocity. If we're building the ultimate varmint rifle, I want those little buggers to feel the effects at 500+.

April 26, 2007, 10:09 PM
22-250 is "THE ONE".

Winchester JHP , 4000 fps. or Winchester Silver Tips, I think about 3800 fps.

Mine launch from a Savage bolt : model 11.

The 22-250 is definitely louder than .223, but just my opinion I think is considerably more accurate.
Could just be me. I wasn't real familiar with the .223 I was shooting. Had a lot of practice with the Savage though.

April 26, 2007, 10:11 PM
22-250 is "THE ONE".
Winchester JHP , 4000 fps. or Winchester Silver Tips, I think about 3800 fps.
Remington 6mm with 55gr. Nosler Balistic tips... 4100+fps. :D So there! :p

Actually, out here in the hot, dry desert I had to drop that load down just a tad. They were chrono'ing upwards of 4180's to almost 4200. Just a little TOO hot for my taste (and I like my barrel not totally burned out).

April 26, 2007, 11:53 PM
Favorite ground squirrel rifle is a Ruger 77MKII in 25.06 26" blued stainless heavy barrel. Fat Benchrest laminated stock and a 6.5X20 Leupold VXIII whith an elevation turret on it. Shooting 100gr Nos ballistic tips at about 3350 fps. The wind does not affect it much and it will shoot inside a 2" circle at 450 yds.

April 27, 2007, 12:13 AM
I just posted that and then thought a minute and went and looked at my Chrono notes. Those 100gr ballistic tips crono at 3185 fps. Don't wanna tell no fish stories here.

April 27, 2007, 01:25 PM
Good stuff so far. This keeps up and I just might look to build my own custom hogging rifle. So I was talking to my buddy last night and it looks like we are heading out tomorrow for the day, hunting hogs.
Oh here's another quick question for my .22mag Based on everyones use, what would be the best ammo to buy. I usually just pick up a box of Winchester HP. Anyone have a personal favorite?

May 4, 2007, 06:43 PM
I had to many FTF with the winnies.... CCI 40 gn? jacketed hp.