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Best caliber for small game hunting?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by IronsightJM, Feb 26, 2020.

  1. IronsightJM

    IronsightJM Member

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    Hey all, I have a Ruger American in .308 and that is my dedicated medium - large game rifle. Obviously because if I try to shoot small game with it, it would obliterate the animal. I’m looking for the best round for all small game such as squirrels, rabbits, up to groundhogs, coyotes and other animals around there. I was looking at 22LR but I see they kinda fall off when trying to hunt anything a tiny bit close to medium game. I’m looking for a dedicated rifle and caliber for small game. Any suggestions? Was eyeing 22 hornet.
     
  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Check your regs on what's allowed. I'd have to say for rimfire 17hmr they normally shoot good so head shots are easier on small game. Works good on chucks the 20gr tend to work better. I have not shot any coyote with one but know guys do it, and think some at 200 yards even.

    For centerfire if allowed, I think any hornet will be fine. But it's a lot for small game head shots are key. Do you reload? Some of that stuff can be hard to find and pricey.

    you may have to think what animal you will hunt/shoot the most.
     
  3. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    Well, I thought I just replied to this one...:)
    I'll just copy it.

    There is.
    It's .223 Remington.
    If a twelve gauge at ten feet isn't too much for rabbits a .223 won't be either.

    I have several tournaments done and haven't blasted a bunny in two.
    Once they are dead they are dead. The idea of "overkill or under-kill" is moot if the animal is dead.
    I just don't see how the premier varmint round is somehow "unethical" for varmint sized creatures.

    As far as diameter, it's roughly the same size as a 22LR. Be a wiseguy to your friend and let them know it isn't "bigger".

    I imagine it can be done, but coyotes with 22LR is going to be tough. And any game more medium than that it's only good for poaching.
    Even the Hornet or K-Hornet lack quite a bit of energy compared to the Remington.

    I don't buy into the too much gun. A 45/70 will leave a rabbit just fine for dinner, unless you end-to-end him on purpose.
    As always, shot placment.


    What kind of hunting are you doing?
    Bench/blind, stalking, walkabout? Those play into your choice of cartridge too. Just as much as the Game you're hunting.

    You'll probably get better answers in this section anyway.:thumbup:
     
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  4. red rick

    red rick Member

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    I would get 2 rifles for what you want .

    A Ruger 10-22 or Marlin 60 22 lr
    A 22-250 or 223 for the groundhog and coyote past 100 yards .
     
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  5. IronsightJM

    IronsightJM Member

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    Thank you for the response! I see a lot of videos too on 223 being used for all sorts of game. And pretty much walkabout seeing what I can find. I know to be cautious about 223 with anything without something behind it because of how far the bullet can travel. Now time to find a rifle I like in 223! Thanks
     
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  6. IronsightJM

    IronsightJM Member

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    I might just end up getting both, 22 is always good for having fun anyway whereas 223 can be the smack down rifle. Thanks for the response!
     
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  7. red rick

    red rick Member

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    You can have a lot of cheap fun with a 22 LR .
     
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  8. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    +1
     
  9. armedwalleye

    armedwalleye Member

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    A bolt action .17 HMR will handle squirrels, woodchucks and coyote quite nicely.
     
  10. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Small, .22lr is what I use. Have even used it on bigger than small stuff like coyotes but when they are between the house and chicken coop, that’s not asking a lot from them.

    I have 17, 22 mag, 22 hornet, 223, 22-250 but don’t need them for small stuff unless they are outside the range of the .22lr.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
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  11. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    I've missed what conditions you hunt in, in general the .223 is definitely a good way to go, but if I see too much wind out my window before heading out, or know it's coming later in the day, fast twist larger cases are much preferred, i.e. .224 valk (or similar spec chambering/twist), .243, etc. If I do have the .223 my distance limit drops more in the wind than others. Granted I'm looking past 300 yards, if your conditions don't match, ignore this.
     
  12. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    I think 22mag straddles the line pretty good for being "enough" for larger varmints and won't turn stuff for the pot into a fine pink mist.

    Being said, a handy 223 bolt gun and a 22lr of your choice is much more fun. Get the 22 in either a semi auto, or lever action. Adds much more variety to your safe.
     
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  13. Stumper

    Stumper Member

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    It is difficult to do both small game and large varmints WELL with one cartridge. For small game the .22 LR is ideal. Groundhogs and Coyotes at distance are stretching the .22 LR. those are better taken with a .22 Centerfire (Take your pick .22 Hornet through 22-250 and beyond). A viable compromise is the .22WMR (.22 magnum). It is, however, a compromise. It is overly destructive on body shot little critturs and overmatched on coyotes at long range. Likewise, The .17 rimfires can be decent compromises-head shoot the stuff you wish to eat and bust the bigger stuff at moderate range. For us gun nuts we can't have too many guns so the answer is of course all of the above,;). Let me say however that you NEED a .22. Everyone who loves to shoot NEEDS a .22. I'm amazed by the number of people who delight in their centerfire guns who have no .22 or haven't shot the one(s) they have in years. Even if you are rolling in dough and can afford to shoot centerfires all you want.....a 22 is great fun and you will shoot more and thus potentially develop much greater skill.
     
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  14. bassjam

    bassjam Member

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    I agree with the others, a .22 magnum is the best compromise round. Not only is .223 overkill for small game, it's also dangerous to be shooting in the air at squirrels or along the ground at rabbits (not that a .22 lr or magnum isn't, it's just less so). And while a .22 can certainly take a coyote, I'd only recommend experienced hunters use it for that.
     
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  15. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    20190831_121223.jpg
    .22wmr is my answer to your question.
    Coyotes are a bit of a stretch.

    The classic savage 24 is an option. ..222 or .223/20ga would be your perfect solution.
    20180819_164535.jpg
     
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  16. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    Get one rated for 5.56 so you have dual ammo versatility.
     
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  17. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm Member

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    The problem with the .223 for squirrels is the range. Where's that bullet going to end up?
     
  18. Steve S.

    Steve S. Member

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    .223 for squirrels? .22 for coyote? Too much gun, not enough gun (imho).
     
  19. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    Everyone needs at least one .22. It's as simple as that, get one.
    The 17HMR is also a very versatile round. I have shot many coon, skunk, possum, woodchuck, badger, etc, some at well over 100 yards. I use Hornady 17gr VMax, it is a very accurate and effective round.
     
  20. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    This.
     
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  21. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    I settled for 22WMR/20GA for mine
    [​IMG]
     
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  22. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    222 Remington. That is all.
     
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  23. Meeks36

    Meeks36 Member

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    Beat me to it.
     
  24. fpgt72

    fpgt72 Member

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    I wonder how many people have shot a rabbit or squirrel with a 223, or any other 22 centerfire cartridge.....In my experience there is not much left, if you are just killing the pests who cares, but if you want to eat the animal you are going to turn it into a just flat out mess. I have blown half the squirrel off, front shoulder up is gone. Sure a head shot will just remove said head, but really are you going to count on that.

    No...OP you need two guns, an LR for the little stuff, and then the bigger stuff IMHO just use what you have if money is tight....I doubt you are eating groundhogs or coyote. The pelt perhaps would be the only reason to shop a new gun, a 308 has for all practical the same legs as a 223....If the reason you are not taking a groundhog with the 308 is because what is behind it, that same thinking should enter your mind with 223.
     
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  25. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    One cartridge, I think a 22 mag is a good choice for within 125 yards, or ,17 HMR for a little more range. At longer ranges than that a .223 depending on conditions. There are other choices as well. Under 50 yards a .22 LR works for me but I don't shoot coyotes with it.
     
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