Varmint Calibers?


July 6, 2006, 02:35 PM
This is a new area for me to sorry if this is a silly question...

What are the varmint calibers?

I'm thinking that 223, 22-250 and 243 are the main ones?

What makes one better than the other?

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July 6, 2006, 02:42 PM
30-30 seems to work well on camp-robbing squirrles as 25':evil:

July 6, 2006, 02:44 PM
I have to chime in for the .204.

Art Eatman
July 6, 2006, 02:52 PM
Generally, small-diameter calibers--usually 6mm and smaller--firing light bullets at high velocities are considered as varmint rifles.

The .22-250 has been around since it was first copyrighted as the "Varminter" by Jerry Gebby in the 1930s. The Winchester .220 Swift first came out around the mid 1920s, IIRC. No longer common, the old Savage .22 HiPower showed up around 1906 or some such date; it could push a 40-grain pill at around 3,700 to 3,900 ft/sec.

The .223 is a good medium-performance varmint round...


July 6, 2006, 03:39 PM
A few more, including some 'oddballs'
.17 Remington
.218 Bee
.219 Zipper
.22 Hornet
.221 Fireball
.222 Remington
.222 Remington Magnum
.224 Weatherby
.225 Winchester

July 6, 2006, 03:42 PM
I have always enjoyed a good old .22LR for prairie dogs and such.

July 6, 2006, 03:53 PM
Will that .22 LR do this?

ker splat (

That's the difference between it and a 22-250 - about 3000 fps of difference... :D

July 6, 2006, 03:56 PM

Vern Humphrey
July 6, 2006, 04:21 PM
The first cartridge intended solely as a varmit cartridge was the .22 Hornet, developed by Springfield Armory employees in the 1920s from the old black powder .22 WCF and adopted by Winchester in 1930. (The Savage .22 Highpower or Imp, was not marketed as a varmit cartridge, but as a big game cartridge.)

This was followed by many other varmit cartridges, from the .220 Swift down.

Generally speaking, varmit cartridges are .22 caliber centerfire or smaller, and combination varmit/game cartridges (like the .243 Winchester) are larger caliber and offered with fast twist barrels to allow them to shoot longer, heavier bullets for game like deer and antelope.

July 6, 2006, 06:12 PM
What makes one better than the other?

That depends entirely on your definition of better.

If better is being able to shoot them father away, the larger .22 and 6mm rounds (and even the .25-06) are preferable because they are less affected by external variables. For moderate ranges (<400 yds), such rounds as the .222, .223, .204 and .17 rem. with lighter bullets are great because they still offer flat trajectories but recoil less, so you can watch more through the scope and shoot more rounds without bothersome recoil. For relatively close range, I have found light cartridges such as the .22 hornet are fine.

You just have to weigh it. While the .25-06 is a relatively mild round to shoot, firing off 60 or 80 rounds from the prone position or even bench will wear you down.

I personally use a .17 rem. most of the time. For extended ranges or windy days, I use my 6mm rem. or .25-06.

July 6, 2006, 06:24 PM
That depends on how big the varmint and how far away it is. :rolleyes:

July 6, 2006, 06:59 PM
i consider everyting from 17 rimfire up to 6.5 cal a varmint round. including the 14 calibre on up centerfires. all of these are the combination of fastest, flatest, lightest bullets, able to be carried in short action light rifles, with MINIMAL KICK. a varmint round should be able to be tracked a hit through the scope , or very near getting right back on after impact, it should never hurt your should be able to kill a varmint , without absolutely exploding it, out to 300 yds easy, with the longest rounds going out to 400 yds plus, on even small critters, such as prairie dogs.
If you were to hit one of these with , say a 30/06 or 7mm mag, you would destroy into vapors.

July 6, 2006, 06:59 PM
I reallllly like my .204!

July 6, 2006, 09:45 PM
If you were to hit one of these with , say a 30/06 or 7mm mag, you would destroy into vapors.

Actually, it is the high velocity smallbores that vaporize Them. .270's and the like do shred 'em, but not nearly as much as, say, a .22-250 with 40 gr. V-max's. The most spectacular praire rat explosions you're likely to see will be with the faster .22 centerfires.

That depends on how big the varmint and how far away it is.:rolleyes:

Varmints being defined as small, non-game animals pretty much puts coyotes at the top end, size-wise (unless you're after Capibara in South America, the largest "rodent" on the planet at ~100 lbs). We are not talking nuisance animals, such as brazen bears and cougars. I think we've already covered the distance part.

The rifle industry has pretty much outlined what are considered varmint calibers by chambering these cartridges in purpose-built varmint rifles.

July 7, 2006, 11:06 AM
What makes one better than the other?
It would be 'better' if my budget allowed me to own one of each.
Actually I belive what's better is you have the selection of these calibers. I mean varmint hunting and the gun you use could be different for area / distance etc., from the NE compared to Mid-West for example. For smaller or close range varmints with lower report a 22mag fits the bill. Wild guess newman your not into reloading, so selecting a cal with good available factory or even bulk ammo comes into play.

Bob R
July 7, 2006, 11:45 AM
IMO, the "better" one is the one that allows you to hit the target that day. When I go out to send some prairie dogs to that burrow in the sky I take 4 different guns. I have a .17HMR pistol for the up close (up to 50-75 yds), then there is a AR platform shooting .223 (for up to 2-300 yds), a 22-250 (so far it is good for about 500yds on a calm day), and the .243 for a little better wind bucking on those long, windy shots.

Of course I don't always stick to those ranges, sometimes it is all 22-250, or .223. It just depends on how I feel that day.

So, for me, there is no one round that I would use exclusively over one or the other. But if I had to, it would be the 22-250, which I load to get 3800fps with a 50gr bullet.


July 7, 2006, 12:18 PM
has fallen to my custom 243 I built back in the 60's. You can't go wrong with a 22x250, 243, 6mm Rem, and many other cartridges out there. The new short cartridge varmit calibers are interesting too. So many calibers an so little money......chris3

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