Need varmint caliber reloadable for nutria rats


Bull Nutria
January 28, 2012, 07:06 PM
we shoot nutria(5-15lb rodents) here in south LA with a 22LR, i would like something more powerful and accurate that is reloadable. I am thinking 223,22-250,222 or other. I really don't get shots much over 100 yards. I am thinking i could probably reload cheaper?? than purchasing 22 magnum cartridges. I would also like a cartridge that isn't too noisy.

I would appreciate other caliber suggestions and this is in the research stage.
i reload 30.06,7mm08,38sp, and 44mag.

would a downloaded 7mm08 with the lightest bullet available be too much for these rodents??

what about a 38 sp with a 125 gr cast bullet??

Rifle suggestions welcomed!

Your thoughts are solicited.


If you enjoyed reading about "Need varmint caliber reloadable for nutria rats" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
January 28, 2012, 07:08 PM
22 hornet.

January 28, 2012, 07:09 PM
223 is pretty cheap, and it would definitely do the job. Have you considered .17 HMR?

January 28, 2012, 07:10 PM
you want a p90 in 5.7x28mm gives you the perfect excuse to get one :D

January 28, 2012, 07:11 PM
22 hornet.

+1.... you beat me to it.

Or, if you want to try something different, Hornady just came out with the .17 Hornet, Itty bitty bullets at around 3700 fps.

January 28, 2012, 07:13 PM
223 is probably the way to go, they reload for cheap and are available pretty much everywhere. Not too much noise in reasonable length barrels. Results on nutria rats should be EXPLOSIVE with light varmint bullets. The 22 Hornet is a good choice too but much harder to find rifles and brass (around here anyway)

January 28, 2012, 07:14 PM
.223 is what I would use if you want a re loadable and relatively inexpensive round, but it sounds like a bit overkill. Do you eat the nutria , use the hides, or is it just for varmint control? If it just for removing varmints, I see no problem with .223.

January 28, 2012, 07:19 PM
I'm not expert. In fact I just reloaded my first rifle rounds last month with my son. But they were .22-250, and with Trail Boss, they were fairly quiet, almost no recoil, accurate, and the starting load was just a hair faster than most .22 wmr.

My son wanted a .22 (k) hornet, but he got a screaming deal on a Savage in .22-250. I don't know of any really nice $250 hornet platforms.

.22-250 is famous for it's re-loading versatility:

Rifleman 173
January 28, 2012, 07:19 PM
We used to hunt rats with a good pellet rifle. You hit a rat with a good shot and they jump straight up and scurry off to die. And we used peanut butter for bait too.

January 28, 2012, 07:22 PM
.221 fireball or .17 fireball would be pretty cool. .222 would work well too, but for cost and availability, .223 is the obvious choice. I still think .17 HMR fits the bill and is pretty cheap to shoot, but rimfires don't meet your criteria.

Ky Larry
January 28, 2012, 07:24 PM
.458 Win Mag. Just think of the cleanup time you'll save.:evil:

January 28, 2012, 07:27 PM
22 hornet.

Marlin 45 carbine
January 28, 2012, 07:41 PM
the Marlin lever in .357 is plenty accurate w/158gr swc over 'target' load of Red Dot. easy to scope too.

Bull Nutria
January 28, 2012, 07:51 PM

we control the nutria because they are literally eating up our wetland vegetation. they are edible and taste like rabbit. the hides are worth $1.85 green no stretching or fleshing or drying. the federal control program gives an incentive payment of $5/tail for any size nutria newborn to adult.

$5/tail pays for a lot of reloads!


January 28, 2012, 08:04 PM
+1 on .22 Hornet.

It fits the low noise & cheap 100 yard bill perfectly.

A .222 is about obsolete and fairly loud, .223 IS loud, and a 22-250 is REAL loud.

Plus the fact, either the .223 or 22-250 is wasted on 100 yard shots.

If you are selling the nutria hides?
You won't have anything left to sell with a 22-250 or .223.

The Hornet won't tear them up too bad with proper bullet selection.


January 28, 2012, 08:10 PM
.223. Brass is cheap and plentiful. Rifles are common. Factory ammo is widely available if needed and there are scads of different type varmint bullets for the caliber. If you want fairly quiet and don't want to tear up the pelts, something like the 30 or 36gn Varmint Grenade loaded over Trail Boss will get the job done. The bullets are cheap and at lower velocity shouldn't exit. They are also highly frangible so you don't have to worry much about ricochet either. Don't load the 30gn version at regular .223 velocity, they will come apart since they're intended for the Hornet.

Ghost Tracker
January 28, 2012, 08:21 PM
For $5 per nutria tail + $1.85 per green hide I wouldn't spend too much time reloading. I'd be spending more trigger time! ;)
But .223 seems like an ideal choice.

January 28, 2012, 08:28 PM
Nutria are basically aquatic animals. As such, a long distance shot at them is going to be a pretty shallow angle and you might need to be concerned with the bullet ricocheting off the water. I can remember shooting at turtles that were in a pond on our ranch when I was a kid and the .22 bullets that missed the turtles would strike the levee on the far side of the pond.

Bull Nutria
January 28, 2012, 08:33 PM
I AM CONCERNED WITH RICHOOCHETS,THAT IS why i want to use a lower powered round with a hollow point bullet.


January 28, 2012, 08:46 PM
Which is exactly why I recommended the Varmint Grenade. Hollow point and highly frangible. It's a lead free sintered copper-tin core and disintegrates when it hits anything.

January 28, 2012, 08:57 PM
reloadable. also you can download 22 hornet to 22. mag velocities w/ blue dot. How hard/easy are nutria to trap?

January 28, 2012, 09:12 PM
helotaxi beat me to it. I'm not a fan of Barnes bullets, but the V. Grenade appears to be the answer for reduced ricochets, and I would think that the 22 Hornet would fit the bill for a more quiet cartridge, and quite cheap to reload.

Forget the 22 rimfires because they are notorious for richochets, especially over water. The 17HMR with the lighter 17gr will fragment quite well but the cost of the ammo is high, and you can reload a 22 centerfire nearly as cheap.


Bull Nutria
January 28, 2012, 09:12 PM
nutria build feeding platforms out of vegetation. theyeare quite easy to trap. just place the leg hold trap on top of the feeding platform and you catch the nutria. i have a profesiaonal trapper for a friend who claims to have caught 3 nutria in one trap. he says he has caught 2 nutria in one trap several times!!


January 28, 2012, 09:17 PM
45.70 I hate rats!

T Bran
January 28, 2012, 09:43 PM
I concur with the Varmit grenades and .22 Hornet hard to beat low powder consumption and bullets that greatly reduce the risk of ricochets.
Wish the feds would pay me 5.00 per tail for hogs I'd be a gazillionair ( well maybe I'd make a couple hundred bucks a year ).
Good hunting.

January 29, 2012, 01:18 AM
Those varmint grenade bullets are amazing, but watch out if you plan on running them through an AR-style rifle. Those fast twist 1/7 barrels will blow those lightweight bullets apart as they leave the barrel. You want a slow 1/12 twist barrel for those ultra light 22 bullets.

As for quiet I believe supressors are legal in Louisiana.

CZ makes a FINE bolt action carbine in 22 Hornet (CZ 527).

January 29, 2012, 01:40 AM
Those varmint grenade bullets are amazing, but watch out if you plan on running them through an AR-style rifle. Those fast twist 1/7 barrels will blow those lightweight bullets apart as they leave the barrel. The 30gn, maybe, since they're designed for the Hornet. The problem is the velocity, not the twist. The 36gn hold together just fine with pretty hot loads in a 1:7 AR, speaking from experience. They shoot better than FMJs but not as good as match bullets.

January 29, 2012, 02:58 AM
I vote .22-250, or maybe get the mossberg mvp rifle and buy some surplus 5.56 ammo.

January 29, 2012, 06:36 AM
I would go with a 22 Hornet.

Art Eatman
January 29, 2012, 12:45 PM
An American Rifleman article from years back stated that in the .22 Hornet, ricochets were far more likely from hollow-points than from soft-points. Flat-angle shooting around water, I'd suggest the .223 with light-weight bullets.

January 29, 2012, 01:02 PM
I like the varmint grenade bullets also. The 223 can be loaded down to preety slow velocities and its a round I would suggest. I bet with trailboss it would be very quiet and still kill those damn nutria. I shoot them with a longbow and fish arrows. Boy does that piss them off, but when they die I have a cord attached to pull them in with. We kill them here for the same reason you do they cause tons of damage and are not a game animal so there is no limit or season on them. They are like the hog of the waterways. FRJ

January 29, 2012, 01:10 PM
I've got a Ruger 77/22 in .22 Hornet, an AR in .223, a CZ in .204, and a Rem 700 VS in 22-250. Wouldn't cost me any more or less to pull one than another from the safe.

For what you want, hands down it would be the Hornet. You get all the velocity you need with WAY less noise. A pound of H-110 will load nearly 600 rounds. I've only shot ten rounds thru it, but it's a sweet shooter.

A .22 Hornet gets +/- 3,000fps with 12 grains of powder, the .223 gets about 3,300 with 26 grains, and the 22-250 gets about 3,800 fps with 38 grains. That's a considerable difference in cost, barrel life, and particularly sound level.


January 29, 2012, 01:12 PM
22 hornet, 218 bee, 25-20, 30 carbine, or 32-20. 32 H&R, 327 or 357 with cast bullets and faster burning powders (mid range loads) out of a lever rifle will also be cost effective and not too hard on the ears. Any of these will produce moderate power levels that won't vaporize the the animal and destroy the hide.

January 29, 2012, 01:13 PM
What helotaxi and rori said. 223 w/ varmint grenade. Cheap, not as loud as the 22-250, and you may not even have to cut those tails off anymore.....when they blow up the tail may be all thats left! (watch some of those prairie dog vids on youtube and you'll see what I mean)

January 29, 2012, 01:25 PM
i would just use 223 or 22 mag or 357 rifle maybe a 22-250 or 204

January 29, 2012, 01:45 PM
There's also the brand new .17 Hornet. That could work.

January 29, 2012, 02:05 PM
best little varmint round I have ever used is the 19 badger developed by James Calhoon in Havre, Montana. It is a 30 carbine brass necked to .19. Shoots 32 gr double hollow point bullets at 3700 fps. this round evaporates oranges, eggs, squirrels, rock chucks, prairie dogs...... i am sure it will do the trick on nutria.

January 29, 2012, 04:30 PM
My top three choices would be 5.7x28, .17 hornet, and .22 hornet.


January 29, 2012, 05:17 PM
I've been playing with cast bullets in my .222 Remington. 55grain gc bullet out of a Lyman mould. Working toward somewhere around 1500 fps out of my 24V Savage. Should be quite quiet (relatively) and work on smaller varmints like the nutria (I don't have them but have a cousin working over my trees along the creek through my hunting land.)

January 29, 2012, 05:26 PM
Another vote for .22 hornet. .223 is probably going to be too loud. One can EASILY handload .22 hornet down to .22LR levels if need be and not have too much space in the case. There are other old .22 rounds like .218 Bee or .219 zipper, but brass and even ammo can be found for the Hornet. The others are pretty dead.

January 29, 2012, 09:29 PM
What about 17 ackley hornet? VERY cheap to load, not noisy, outstanding accuracy to 150m, flat shooting, fun to shoot, no recoil and deadly on any animal that size. If you don't want to build one, then check out what is for sale around the place.

January 29, 2012, 10:36 PM
Sounds like a lot of nice options. Those varmint grenade frangible bullets sitting in front of a reduced or lower power powder from any number of smaller casings sounds great. Going back to Manithree's post;

I'm not expert. In fact I just reloaded my first rifle rounds last month with my son. But they were .22-250, and with Trail Boss, they were fairly quiet, almost no recoil, accurate, and the starting load was just a hair faster than most .22 wmr.

is a nice example of what can be done with a lower power powder like this.

From the sounds of it another thing you'll want is to select a casing and the bullets that allows you to reload using a progressive press. From what I've heard these stupid nutrias are so plentiful that it's very much a target rich environment.

The folks that introduced them to the country should have been strung up. And that includes the silly authourities that initially allowed a whole new species to be imported.

I'm not a hunter myself but having seen those things I'd soon turn into one. I'd quite enjoy keeping their population down given the damage they are doing.

Which, come to think of it, might not be a bad idea for a holiday ! ! ! ! ! :D

By the way, I'm a bit confused. You mention .22LR then talk about .22WMR. WHich is it you're using? If you're able to take these things down reliably with .22LR then there is simply no way you can reload anything for that price. The bullet alone will cost you more than a round of .22LR.

January 30, 2012, 08:05 AM
I have killed Hundreds of Nutria in the Blackwater Refuge area in Maryland and did it very well with a Volquartsen 22mag loaded with CCI 40gr solids. IMO any center fire caliber is way overkill for this use when the 22mag can get the job done up to 175yds.WMR ammo is not expensive and the round is fun to shoot.

January 30, 2012, 08:59 AM
Savage makes that funny-looking bolt rifle for the 5.7x28 round that might be fun.

Float Pilot
January 30, 2012, 01:07 PM

With the introduction of Lil-Gun powder the 22 Hornet has a new lease on life.
And it is fairly quite to shoot.

Plus you can get away with some odd bullet combos due to the lower pressures.

January 30, 2012, 02:05 PM
why would you reload when you can buy for less than $10 for 50. Very accurate, and not too loud. perfect Nutria medicine.

January 30, 2012, 02:07 PM

You are getting some good advice here. I shoot lots of prairie dogs and need to be thoughtful about ricochet, so I always shoot V-max that disintegrate even if I hit a blade or 2 of grass. Plus they really blow up on impact withthe target. Another will never be able to reload .223 or .22 Hornet cheaper than you can buy .22 mags. But, if you want a .22 Hornet, it would be perfect for your shooting. Yes, it uses minimal powder, but brass, bullets, and primers are no cheaper. And finally, the .17HMR is a good round, but I would want a bit heavier bullet for your targets. That 17gr bullet is speedy and hard hitting and I have killed lots of prairie dogs and squirrels with both of mine, but it is inadequate for larger prey. Oh it will kill them, but not with the resounding whack you would want. And I would recommend a Ruger 77 .22 Hornet. With the one I shot, I hit targets well over 100 yards and hit them hard, which is what you want. TOM

January 30, 2012, 10:36 PM
Unless you are a veteran reloader, skip the 5.7X28. This cartridge is very sensitive to small variations in powder charge, component change, and seating depth. The brass has a small neck vs. diameter (.181 vs. .224), a small sharp shoulder (35 degrees) and can be a PIA to get a bullet to hold properly much like the 7.62 X 25 round along with crushed shoulders ,etc.

January 31, 2012, 12:58 AM
Another will never be able to reload .223 or .22 Hornet cheaper than you can buy .22 mags.

If you want *cheap*, you want a caliber for which you can cast bullets. The .22WRM is going for about $10-12 per box of 50, right? That's $4 per 20... You can cast and reload certain calibers for that price...

January 31, 2012, 03:40 AM
Except that every cast bullet out there is a severe ricochet hazard.

January 31, 2012, 08:14 AM
Midrange loads with 32 gr bullets in the >204 would work-less chance of one bouncin off,and they shouldn't leave much more than the tail.

January 31, 2012, 09:10 AM
Consider the .221 Fire Ball.

January 31, 2012, 09:11 AM
I think one of those Ruger bolts in .357 would be pretty neat, as would perhaps that old Marlin camp-9. Those Marlin's seem kinda hard to get though.. a Hi-Point 9 is about the same thing and quite accurate I hear.
Good luck and death to all nutria.

January 31, 2012, 09:44 AM
There's no doubt that high velocity, highly frangible bullets would be less likely to ricochet than slower bullets. I strongly suggest .223 Rem or .22-250 Rem with Sierra Blitz 50 - 55 grain bullets. Also, Sierra spitzer and semi-pointed work well, but a bit less frangible.

Blitz bullets work okay in the .22-250 if the bore is older, but has been known to break up coming out of new, slightly rough bores. Cost of Sierras is generally less than for polymer-tipped bullets and they're very accurate.

The .223 Rem is cheaper to load than the .22-250 and doesn't give up much to it out to 200 yards or so. It's a bit more accurate also, not that you'd notice when hunting.

January 31, 2012, 11:42 AM
Personally I'd go with .22WMR It's got a LOT more thump than a .22LR (The old story is it has the same energy at 100yds as a LR at the muzzle)
The 30gn Hornady Vmax rounds are fantastic for small game & I've been getting them for around $13/50 They certainly do a number on the groundhogs around here & I've taken coyotes with them out to 75yds.

Chief 101
January 31, 2012, 12:03 PM
"here in south LA", said the original poster...I thought you were talking about the LA in **********. IMHO you could reload just about anything rifle related to a suitable level for the ranges you shoot would work fine.

January 31, 2012, 12:20 PM
I would say get a .25................

January 31, 2012, 12:24 PM
There are some downloads available for the .22-250 and the .22 Hornet is the most logical choice. But to keep things simple pistol caliber rifles would mean you are reloading a straight wall pistol caliber and that means faster and easier. The .38 special or downloaded.357 out of Marlin 1894 is quite. Lots of bullets to choose from.

January 31, 2012, 12:29 PM
I'll join the pistol caliber crowd. The .22 Hornet sounds great, but I don't think I'd want to buy another gun to shoot nutria (although hunting them sounds like a hoot). Think I'd go with a light load in a .357 mag case ... maybe jacketed, maybe cast, not sure.

I just picked up some 110 grain cast "carbine" bullets in .308 I'm going to try pushing with Trail Boss. If they prove accurate enough, I figure they will make great plinking and small game rounds, even from a .308 Winchester bolt action rifle.

January 31, 2012, 12:40 PM
Any .357 caliber carbine with good sights or a scope would be my choice. Load it with a brisk charge of a fast burning powder over a 158gr RNFP. You should hope to achieve 950 f/s. Low report, low recoil, fairly inexpensive to reload, not terribly prone to richochet. If you hit one of the little beasties and they get away, don't worry. They're worm-food in a little while.
For THAT matter, ANY carbine in a pistol caliber (.44 Mag, .45 Colt, .44-40, etc.) would work fairly well. Because the projectiles on that larger ones are so weighty, velocities may be reduced w/o loss of anchoring ability, and lower velocity tends to correlate well with reduced report.

January 31, 2012, 12:52 PM
Speaking of .357, a 125gr can easily be driven to 2000+fps out of a 18" barrel.
I don't know about ricochet but one of those or a faster 110 will explode a 10lb critter, given a jhp.. preferably a lightly constructed one.

January 31, 2012, 01:02 PM
Have you considered .17 HMR?

+1 I love the HMR and @ 100 yards I consistently get .5 MOA to.75 MOA (no wind at all)

Steel Talon
January 31, 2012, 02:01 PM
With the tail and skin bounties you are getting, I'd go with a 22mag. and forget about it.
I dont know the numbers your getting but it sounds like thier plentiful. 1 bounty covers a box of ammo. You can't reload that cheap.

Back in the mid 70's Coyote pelts were desired and the pelts were getting high premiums from the buyers. Plus during a time the local university was giving a bounty for stomachs.
My friend and I made some significant dollars with our 22 mags.

January 31, 2012, 02:20 PM
I shoot sage rats (aka Belding ground squirrel) in a Hornet, flipping them in the air, or dissolving into red mists, depending upon the bullet. That's a perfect nutria caliber, and I agree with all that the various "grenade" type bullets would kill well yet not ricochet.

Or, I'll cast another vote for a .357 rifle, shooting either light .357 loads, or 38 special loads. In either case, use a FP, RNFP or SWC cast bullet, soft cast if possible, so as to reduce ricochet.

My experience is that RN....cast or otherwise....bullets ricochet more so than flat-point. That's why even 22 LR will ricochet despite slow speeds....I don't think there are any FP 22 LR bullets, are there?

January 31, 2012, 07:53 PM
Another vote for .22 hornet. Love mine like crazy. I use it for marmots.

February 1, 2012, 03:13 AM
Just saw Century is importing NEW Zastava MicroMausers in 22 Hornet. Might be a hell fo a deal there.

Bull Nutria
February 1, 2012, 06:43 AM
thanks fellows for all the advice and suggestions. after considering all the calibers and options i think i will get a 22mag. as much as i like to reload-- finding 22 hornet brass would be expensive or PIA! Most of my shots will be less than 75 yards-- a few at 100 yds so the 22 WRM should do the job.

I really appreciate all of your posts!


February 1, 2012, 06:48 AM
.223 reloaded with Blue Dot and a 35 to 50'ish grain hollowpoint - pick your velocity and the report is much quieter than the usual .223

If you enjoyed reading about "Need varmint caliber reloadable for nutria rats" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!