Wintertime is the time for predator hunters looking to cash in on quality pelts. As more sportsmen take to the snowy woods and plains with firearms rather than traps, there is often a lot of debate over which calibers are best for the plentiful canines. For newcomers—and there a lot of them as predator hunting is one of the fastest growing types of hunting in North America—it is often a bigger consideration than what type of calls to use. Here’s a list of some of the top caliber choices for your next predator rifle.
With this common chambering for the AR platform, the two together make for probably one of the most versatile and high-performing combinations available to fur hunters. The small, yet high-velocity, high-impact bullet delivers adequate accuracy and killing power as far out as 400-plus yards, depending on the shooter’s abilities. Ammo, even in today’s tight market, is once again plentiful in stores no matter where your travels take you. Winchester’s Varmint X loads offers two bullet weights for the .223, a 55-grain option and a 40-grain one.
This is another .20-caliber round that is extremely fast and flat shooting out to 300 yards, but beyond that, energy begins to fall off rapidly. High cross winds can cut its accuracy down to 200 yards, but for calm days or reasonable distances, the .204 is a great choice. This round is also a solid option when pulling duty on smaller critters such as bobcats or foxes.
Enter into any discussion about what the best predator caliber is, and you’ll most certainly get a number of voices shouting “the .22-250.” This super flat-shooting load is great for long shots and also suffers minimal drift in situations where crosswinds might otherwise push the lighter .204 off course. Zeroed at 200 yards, Winchester’s Varmint X .22-250 55-grain bullet is cooking at 1,880 fps even at 500 yards, and has dropped 33.9 inches, more than a foot less than the .223 of the same weight at that distance.
With more and more deer hunters taking to the woods after the hunting season is over to pull a little predator control duty, that deer hunting favorite—the .243 Win., is a great choice. Not only does it send more energy downrange for lethal shots where the energy of the smaller rounds might fall short, but it suffers relatively little drop as well. Zeroed at 200 yards, the Varmint-X round drops just over a foot at 400 yards and 31 inches at 500.
17 Win Super Mag
And don’t forget the ultimate rimfire option for coyote-sized predators, introduced last year by Winchester, the 17 Winchester Super Magnum. The fastest rimfire round to ever be developed, the round comes in a 20-grain plastic tip bullet that leaves the muzzle at a scorching 3,000 fps for smaller varmints and a 25-grain plastic tip bullet in the Varmint HE (High Energy) line that is ideal for coyotes. The 25-grain bullet leaves the muzzle at 2,600 fps.
Whether looking through your own gun collection or heading to the gun shop to make a dedicated predator gun purchase, you can’t go wrong with any of these calibers.
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