View Full Version : Want to start varmint hunting

August 12, 2009, 07:41 PM
Been talking with guys at work who hunt varmints and it sounds like a lot of fun. I only hunt deer and birds at this point and want to try something new. They suggested buying a .22-250. I've compared .22-250 to the .204 ruger and the .22 looks like a better choice but i wanted to get other opinions. Also was looking at the Savage 12 series varmint gun unless anybody has any better suggestions for under $700.

August 12, 2009, 07:47 PM
What kind of "varmints" are you planning to hunt/shoot?


August 12, 2009, 07:50 PM
What do you deer hunt with? Why not use that for now and look at a .223 or whatever tickles yer fancy once you have cut yer teeth.

August 12, 2009, 07:52 PM
A Savage 12 in .22-250 is a real good way to get your feet wet in varmint shooting.
There are lots of "varmint" cartridges, but the .22-250 is a classic that's easy to load and very accurate.

Don't skimp on the optic and mounts... consistancy is the name of the game in varminting.

Go to Sinclair International (http://www.sinclairintl.com/)... have fun!


August 12, 2009, 08:02 PM
Im looking at a .204 ruger in a savage varmint... I have had plenty of experience with the .220 swift, great varmint rifle...

The folks on this forums have talked me into the .204 as i am looking for something different.

August 12, 2009, 08:06 PM
What kind of varmints do you want to hunt? A good bolt action rifle isn't always the way to go. If you hunt prairie dogs and other colony pest then a bolt action is probably your best bet. If you hunt coyotes and other preadators a AR-15 is usually the better choice.

Colony varmints stay in one place and you usually set up a bench or other platform to shoot from. A good bolt action that has a wide forearm stock with a 24-26" heavy barrel is the way to go because it will give you max velocity and slow the build up of heat in the barrel and will give you a stable platform on your rests. It is usually a good idea to have at least two of these rifles as on a good day you can shoot one while the other is cooling down.

Preadators don't stay in one area and you have to call them in on you to get your shot opportunities. If you call in several coyotes at one time 2-3 is pretty common but 4 or more has happened on occasion. The AR-15 rifle gives you faster follow up shots and you will have the best chance of getting more than one coyote with these rifles. It isn't spray and pray either you must make well aimed shots, but it is still one less thing you have to do when you don't have to work a bolt. Not to mention it is usually lighter to carry around between stands. A mini-14 will keep you under $700 and as long as you don't heat it up it will provide accepable accuracy on coyotes.

As far as cartridges go the .204 Ruger gives you .22-250 performance on varmints without burning the powder of the larger case. Burning less powder means more time between cool downs and longer barrel life. The .204 is the newer cartridge but it is catching on like wildfire.

.223 is a very good choice as well and one you should consider. It might be a little hard to find right now however if you are serious about varmint hunting you will start reloading. A .223 will give you the longest barrel life and the most bullet choices and will work well out to 300 yards.

.22-250 is a proven varmit round and there are definatly no files in that choice. It will have the shortest barrel life of all the rounds because it will burn the most powder, which will make the temp of your barrel rise. That doesn't mean that you can't push several thousand rounds if you control your rate of fire. It and the .204 will give you the most spectacular kills on small varmints when compared with the .223.

Sorry for the long post but hopefully I answered some of your questions.

August 12, 2009, 08:50 PM
I was planning mostly on coyotes at this point but I was invited to go to South Dakota and hunt prairie dogs with the guys from work. Thanks for all your help.

The rifle I have now is a Remington 700 CDL (left hand) in 300 ultra mag. Even the smallest power level is too big I think (30.06)

August 12, 2009, 08:58 PM
Even the smallest power level is too big I think (30.06)

Dead is dead. I've go no desire to shoot those loudenboomers, but I wouldn't hesitate if that was what I used to deer hunt with. I've popped a few 'yotes with a 280 and they died. I don't see why a magnum (shutter) would be any different.

August 12, 2009, 09:01 PM
Dead is dead.

Good point. That gun is also pretty accurate. I may need to get a bigger scope for prairie dogs though. All I have now is a 4-12X40

August 12, 2009, 09:10 PM
p-dogs are a different story. I wouldn't want to shoot a few boxes of magnums nor pay fer the ammo.

August 12, 2009, 09:17 PM
It's very hard to go wrong with any of the so-called "varmint/predator" centerfire calibers. Anything from the .17 Rem up to a .243. About a zillion in between. But I've owned .223, .22-250 and .243 and will take the .22-250 everytime. More range than the .223, doesn't blow up fur like the .243 and is easy to reload for. If a person was to only have one gun for varmints, predators and deer it would be a .243. But you already have deer covered. IMO, the .223 is boring and lacks style.

Avoid large calibers that are only available with heavily constructed bullets unless you are hunting predators/varmints in very very sparsly populated land. Too much ricochet potential. ANd coyotes have a bad habit of popping up in the worst spots.

August 12, 2009, 09:22 PM
Put your mind at ease. Buy a Savage, whatever model suits you best, chambered in 22-250. It will work incredibly well. Nothing against the .204, it seems to be very good as well. But most of the folks I see buying the .204 are really buying it because they already have several good varmint rifles and want something "different" in the closet to figure out. Sure, it works great too, but I have yet to see that it's any "better" than a 22-250.

If you're thinking that somehow you want to "justify" your choice and want a caliber that is a bit more versatile, then a .243 is hard to beat. A bit more noise and recoil than the 22-250, so you'll get tired of it if you get into a prairie dog town and shoot 100 rounds in an afternoon. But for coyotes, it will work fantastically well, just like the 22-250 will.

All those folks that recommend anything higher than the .243 probably haven't spent many full days shooting in a prairie dog town. Yeah, the big calibers will certainly do the job, but they aren't cheap to shoot even when reloading and you will definitely grow weary of a 300 mag after 40 rounds or so in a day.

August 13, 2009, 01:13 PM
It depends on what varmints you're hunting and how you hunt them.
If you can get away with a .22lr then by all means go that way. Cheap ammo and relatively inexpensive guns.

In center fire, anything from .243 down will be fine and dandy. Worry more about rifle choice and optics.

If you live in a state with a minimum caliber for deer the .243 doubles as a deer rifle.

August 13, 2009, 08:18 PM
I've got a Remington 700 ADL in a .22-250. I love it for 'chucks. It's dead accurate over 200 yards. I got mine on sale, as it's a discontinued model, for around $400, I believe (might have been less, it's been a few years).

Brian Pfleuger
August 13, 2009, 08:28 PM
I'll step up for the 204.

It is by far my favorite varmint round.

It has ZERO recoil. I mean ZERO. The crosshairs to not so much as wiggle.

It is slightly quieter than the 22-250 and most other small caliber, high power guns.

It has the flattest trajectory available.

It can be hand-loaded to 4300+ fps and use about 50% less powder than the 22-250.

I have a Ruger MkII in 204 and it's a fine gun but if I was buying one today there is NO doubt in my mind that I'd be getting a Savage.

August 13, 2009, 09:38 PM
stevens 200 the ugly cheap savage, and i threw 89 dollar pentax glass on the top of it. I could not be happier.

August 14, 2009, 04:14 PM
Before you buy a Savage or anything else I would check out a CZ in 22-250. It is a GREAT rifle...I know because I own one and it shoots real tight groups and also comes with the single set trigger which you simply can not beat on a factory rifle in this price range.

I would also say buy the 22-250 over the 204 or the 223. It will provide you a little more flexibility. I also own a 223 and if I had to choose one or the other to go hunt for game to put food on the table it would be my 22-250.

August 15, 2009, 04:55 AM
If you don't handload, you are going to find that you can get far better deals on .223 ammo. And also have a much wider variety of loads to choose from. If you mainly just hunt coyotes, though, that will be no concern, as your shooting volume will not be very high. But if you start making regular trips to hunt prairie dogs, then you should consider that.

If you wanted one rifle that is flexible enough for both types of hunting, the CZ 527 Varmint model would be an excellent choice. And it is available in both .204 Ruger and .223 Remington. It is light enough to handle quickly in a coyote hunt, yet its barrel is heavy and stiff enough to provide repeated excellent accuracy too, when shooting volume is high.

Remington used to make a nice lightweight varmint rifle called the 700 LV SS. However, they stupidly dropped it from their product line this year. So CZ sort of has the light varmint rifle to itself now.

Here is a photo of what a CZ 527 Varmint model in .223 Remington looks like:


Here is a link to an excellent review of the CZ 527, if you are not familiar with this rifle:


Checkout this group that the reviewer shot with the rifle, just using Remington factory ammo:


That was done with just the standard model 527, and not the 527 Varmint which has a heavier and more stiff barrel.


August 15, 2009, 09:53 AM
thousands of p-dogs, gophers, rodents, dirt rats... - or whatever you want to call em. People would invite you to come "cleanse" the ranch for them. Some days we would shoot hundreds of em. We used many calibers and guns, but the good ol' 22LR with a cheap scope on top took more dirt rats than the rest of the guns combined. Now I might go with a .17 instead but I still hate paying so much for ammo when a 3 cent bullet will get the job done just as well :D

Uncle Buck
August 15, 2009, 12:13 PM
I used the good ole' standby .243 for coyotes and that blasted woodchuck that had an informant somewhere near my gun safe. (Long story, guess I'll share it later.) I think we had a 125 grain bullet that we used (I shot my hunting partners cartridges :D) so that we did not damage the hides.
It was nice because you did not have to be right on top of the critter to take it and had a little more power than the .22 lr. Just a thought.

August 16, 2009, 11:30 AM
Thanks for all your advise everybody. It really helped out a lot. Ill let you know what I end up getting.

August 16, 2009, 12:19 PM
I'm with Uncle Buck. I don’t know what the hunting laws are in your state but the other thing the 243 will also be a good long range gun for deer with heavier bullets, 223 are not allowed for deer in most states.
I shoot both 223 and 6mm Rem (very close comparison to 243) for varmints (ground hogs) and although the 223 is very accurate and works well. The 6mm with the larger bullets does work better in wind.