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Favorite Varmint/Small Game Walkabout Rifles/Cartridges

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Picher, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. Picher

    Picher Member

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    I really like walking around my son's property with a small-game/varmint rifle. I've carried .22LRs, .223s, .243s, .22 LRs, .22 WMR, and .17 HMR over the years, but my favorite, so far has been the .17 HMR.

    Why? Well, now that you ask (or maybe you didn't, but are humoring me):
    1. I can carry a fair amount of ammo in my pocket, either in bulk or in the box;
    2. It does great damage to medium varmints, with little noise and almost no recoil;
    3. Sighted-in 3/4" high at 100 yards, the trajectory is quite flat with zero holdover to 140 yards;
    4. Noise is quite low, compared to small centerfire rounds, so little or no ear protection is necessary for shooting a few shots in the field. At worst, foam plugs will take care noise if plinking is desired.
    5. My .17 HMR barrel gives me better accuracy than the .22WMR that I own. (I think the difference is due to the cartridge more than the barrel's accuracy.)

    My .17 HMR is a CZ 452, that has two barrels, a .22 WMR and a .17HMR, but since getting the .17, I haven't used the WMR barrel (would sell it cheap, along with several boxes of ammo).

    I also have a few .223s and carry them sometimes, but don't plink with them much and don't carry lots of ammo around with me, compared to the smaller/lighter .17HMRs.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    History: My buddy and I started varmint hunting as practice for deer hunting, so used our .30-06 rifles, mostly for woodchucks and crows. Coyotes weren't around back in the late 1950's, but we shot a couple of foxes. Later, we used .22-250s that were accurate, but we lost the ability to "bounce" a round into the chucks if we were unsure of the distance. Chucks are very scarce around here, probably due to the many varmint hunters and to a great degree...coyotes.

    JP
     
  2. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    If I’m strolling the woods, opportunity hunting for rats, squirrels, or bunnies (or hedge apples if nothing else presents soon enough), in recent years I’ve been carrying a scoped 17 HMR Taurus revolver, and a distant second place is a restocked 17 WSM Savage Bmag.
     
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  3. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    I used to carry an old savage 23 in 22lr when woods wandering, but the last few times out I just brought my 300 blackout ar pistol. Not very classy but useful. I really don't like a semi auto for a walking rifle though, and I am hunting for the right donor action for a 221 fireball lightweight walking around rifle...
     
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  4. Risky buisness

    Risky buisness Member

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    Location:
    Wyoming
    Where I'm at, southwest Wyo, not much woods, so my choices will differ from another's by terrain.
    Used to always take my Remington 788 22-250, shots were long until I got into calling coyotes and decreased that some. Then, a short action mauser in the versatile .223 sufficed, then, as the fish/game started their stupidity with wolves and problem bears, a mauser action 243 came in to play, with a browning bookmark. 22 for shorter work. Fast forward; still using the .223, but in a varmint configured AR, and a kickass Ruger 3 screw 45 colt....just because
     
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  5. Fyrstyk

    Fyrstyk Member

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    Central CT
    For a rifle, I carry a Savage 22 Mag/20 guage. With the right ammo, this gun can handle squirrels to dear & bear. For a handgun, I carry a S&W Model 60 3" barrel in .38 special. I will carry 4 rounds of lead semi-wadcutters, and 1 round of .38 shotshell in the cylinder, with another 5 such rounds in a carrier on my belt.
     
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  6. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Northern CA
    I've taken more squirrels with a Winchester 9422 in 22LR than any other gun I own.

    Actually, now that i think about it, that rifle has killed more things than all my other guns combined.
     
  7. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    Browning Buck Mark Camper and CZ 512 WMR. I haven’t shot my Model 60 once since I acquired the CZ eight years ago.
     
  8. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I usually just stick a holstered pistol in my front pocket but otherwise its a 410 single shot shotgun.
     
  9. Offfhand

    Offfhand Member

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    Walking around rifles give me a dose of nostalgia, a yearning for an era, long passed, when hours in the woods and fields were well spent. Which is my favorite walking around rifles and soft spoken calibers harken to that time, such as this vintage SAKO in .22 Hornet, and Ruger No.1 . 218 Bee, with matching vintage Lyman 8X and Leupold 7.5X, also from gentler generations.. DSC_0125.JPG DSC_0129.JPG
     
  10. MacAR

    MacAR Member

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    Hills of Home: The Ozarks
    Mostly, I carry my Browning SA-22, in 22 LR. It's got a little 2.5x20 Tasco scope on it, and does a good job of knocking out furry critters and feathered varmints. It's light, short, decently accurate, and holds 12 shots. Plus, its been rode hard and put up wet so no need to worry about scratching or denting it up any worse than it is. On the other occasions, I usually carry an old single shot Winchester 16 gauge that belonged to my grandad. It too does the job, but it's a bit louder than I like.

    Mac
     
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  11. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    Mrs Fl-NC's single shot 410. Lots of reptiles here.
     
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  12. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

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    For a walk-about rifle, weight is always a consideration. And bang about finish helps. Remington 22WMR 597 is about as good as it gets. Handy, tough polymer stock (camo if you wish...), mine's semi-gloss gray. Had black barrel that I nicked up a bit, so just shot it with John Deere Muffler Black and it's been fine since. Rebated crown so little chance of dinging that. I have a little 4x scope on mine and it works well. Mag fits flush with bottom of stock, so does not snag stuff.

    Carry an extra mag in day pack in case I'm running down something wounded. But I seldom miss on the first go, even squirrel sized critters :)
     
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  13. Meeks36

    Meeks36 Member

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    A .22 hornet would be my choice. Should take care of anything that needs to be takin Care of.
     
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  14. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    My start within those parameters started with taking my Sheridan Blue streak on my trap line with me. I knew that - carefully - it could dispatch a beaver or muskrat if I needed to and also garnered rabbits at 8 bucks a pop.

    Then, I got the one shown and it was THE deal for me. That .22/20ga Savage got me more than the traps some times and other times, the gun itself was the reason to go woodsin'.

    Later, it was also the family's Marlin 39. The Marlin was incredibly quiet and shockingly accurate. Heavy to be sure but it came with wonderful sling-swivels too.

    All hail the Savage 24! The total package for a kid. Even when I got a 10/22 later the same year, the Ruger stayed home for the trap-line and general walk-a-bouts as well as fishing; both ice and open water.

    Todd.
    IMG_1272.JPG
     
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  15. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    For a walk around do anything gun I have always liked the Savage 24’s.

    I almost always had one in hand when I was a kid, looking for something to shoot. .22, 20 ga with a few shot and slugs, could do just about anything with it.

    These days it’s more critter specific but they are still winners for certain jobs.

    The varmints we are after most often these days are the pigs that tear up everything, that’s a different choice all together, the smallest thing I haul around for them is a 300 blk and that’s generally if I am driving and not likely to be the primary shooter.
     
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  16. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Remington 597 Magnum here too. 22 mag with a close second going to the H&R Topper 20 ga.

    These days my favorite time to hunt is after deer season during squirrel season. The 597 is my dual purpose squirrel and hog rifle. With the 22 mag I can usually take any squirrel inside 30 yds and any hog inside 100.
     
  17. Legionnaire
    • Contributing Member

    Legionnaire Member

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    Texas
    I like a Ruger 77/22 in .22WMR for a rimfire, and a Remington Model 7 in .223 for a centerfire; both are lightweight and handy.
     
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  18. Garandimal

    Garandimal Member

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    Location:
    Lee of Death Valley, ...where Tigers feed.
    Tend to bring this:
    (77/357)

    WP-20190722-10-30-45-Pro-50-crop.jpg
    WP-20190722-10-34-34-Pro-50-crop.jpg

    ...and a .22 LR pistol.




    GR
     
  19. lightman

    lightman Member

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    My Remington M-600 in 222 Remington makes a decent walking around rifle.
     
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  20. Picher

    Picher Member

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    I have a Stainless 642-2" .38 Spl. that I carry on walks, when I don't want to really hunt, but have protection from rabid animals. Although it's double-action I shoot it pretty well, thanks to Pachmayr grips. When I'm looking to shoot critters, either the .17 HMR rifle or a .223 Rem 700 ADL, or Light Varmint Stainless are really great, both sporting 3-9X scopes. They'll all shoot under 1 MOA, some under 1/2 MOA, whether needed that accurate or not.

    I used to carry .357 mag revolvers along with a rifle, but didn't often use them, so smartened up. I have an aluminum-framed Beretta 87 Cheetah .22 LR that often insists on going along...even begging hollow point rounds. It's easy carrying and shoots better than it has any right to.

    Still, the .17 HMR CZ 452 rules the walk-abouts for me.
     
  21. Buckeye63

    Buckeye63 Member

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    Nov 17, 2018
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    When I was a teenager .. A H&R 12ga single shot shotgun was my choice..
    Over the years .. It has been a Marlin 336 in 30-30 .... But now its in the process of being replaced by a
    Ruger American Ranch in 7.62x39
    Short 16 inch barrel , light &handy
    Still working on the right optic ..
     
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  22. Coyote3855

    Coyote3855 Member

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    Location:
    Wyoming
    No woods in SE Wyoming either. My go to high prairie roaming rifle is a NEF Sportster in .17 HMR.
     
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  23. DDDWho

    DDDWho Member

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    Dec 3, 2016
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    At 79 (soon to be 80) years old I don’t walk around in the woods much anymore. I love setting on my front porch with my Mini 14 with a 4X scope loaded with varmint tipped ammo. I’ve done massive damage to groundhogs, armadillos and coyotes with it while relaxing there on the porch. Sometimes I’ll have a Ruger Mark III with a red dot. I hit a groundhog with it at 30 yards a couple of years ago. “I’m city born but I love the country life”
     
  24. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    In Michigan, the 17 HMR was my favorite. I mainly use a Stevens bolt action 410 and a revolver as my walking guns now. There is always a dog with me, so it's mainly moving game.
     
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  25. Sody82

    Sody82 Member

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    Mar 6, 2019
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    Marlin xt17hmr walnut rifle in back FB_IMG_1579141252338.jpg
     
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