Varmint/target caliber opinions, new vs classic

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by sabbfan, Mar 25, 2021.

  1. sabbfan

    sabbfan Member

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    I’d like to get a bolt rifle for varmints and casual back yard target shooting. Coyote would be the varmint of choice with prairie dogs as an option if I take a trip out west. I live in Iowa so my deer hunting is taken care of with a 44 mag Henry, I have a 30-06 for an elk trip scheduled for next year so I won’t be using it for any larger than a coyote. 223 is an obvious choice, but I’d also like something different. With the newer calibers available now, and since I don’t have anything in that category already, what are the opinions on something like 224 Valkyrie, 6.5 Grendel, 6 creedmoor, 204 Ruger etc compared to the classics like 223, 22-250, 243 etc. I do reload but it’s all been straight wall pistol calibers up to this point, Basically if you were starting out on a varmint/target rifle which caliber would you pick right now?
     
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  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    It almost doesn't matter. There hasn't been any real improvement in dedicated varmint cartridges since Harvey Donaldson dreamed up the 219 Wasp about 80 years ago.

    .224 Valkyrie, 6 creedmoor are recent developments in the long range game with fast twist for heavy high-BC boattails. I am sure they will do anything to a groundhog or coyote that needs doing.

    204 Ruger is an odd mutant caliber derivative of .222 Magnum and I wouldn't fool with it.

    6.5 Grendel was developed to add some punch to the AR and while you could get it in a bolt action, there are so many others.

    I think I would look at the rifles first and then see what .22 or .24 caliber the one I liked was available in.
     
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  3. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Member

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    23 years ago I started with 223 and would stay with 223. There have been improvements in bullet tech since that time which increase range and accuracy.

    22-250 is a good second choice.
     
  4. Aletheia

    Aletheia Member

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    22-250 is a good first choice for varmints. I would get something else for dedicated target shooting.
     
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  5. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    .223 is undoubtedly the best choice, development by the Army and XTC competitors has let it replace most of the traditional rounds for varmints and casual target shooting. But the OP wants something different.
     
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  6. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    I'd stick with 223 or 243 unless you're really trying to split some hairs or do something fancy.

    There's more good components and data for these two cartridges than probably any other two cartridges. There's also more factory ammo avaliable than most others. They're popular for a reason.

    A fast twist 22-250AI if you want to burn barrels out and have the only one on the block.
     
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  7. rbernie
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    rbernie Contributing Member

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    My choice was / is a modernized 22-250, using a 1:8" twist rate barrel; it shoots 55gr-80gr very well indeed.
     
  8. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Go very classic and becoming more and more obscure.

    222.
     
  9. ZGunner

    ZGunner Member

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    For varmint, targets and MAYBE a trip out west I would choose a .223. It’s still more economical to shoot over just about any other centerfire rifle. It is easy to reload, both in development and components.

    But, if we are just trying to be different yet still practical, I think I would go the 22-250 route.

    If we are just trying to be different I would go 223WSSM. I actually have one and finding brass is near impossible.
     
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  10. Tortuga

    Tortuga member

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    So I love the AR platform and have slain many groundhogs with the .223 / 5.56x45 (ironically to those of you who are familiar with me, I have done this both the AR and the Ruger Mini-14). I'm a really big hunter and spend a lot of time in the woods even outside of deer season chasing all sorts of varmint (and yes, I eat them all!).

    That said, I'm going to go against the grain here and make two other suggestions.

    I would highly encourage an 17 HMR for varmint, but only exception being that you shouldn't try to take coyote out beyond 100 yards with it.

    Similarly, I am a really big fan of the 22 magnum. The first handgun I ever shot was a Heritage Rough Rider that had an interchangeable cylinder. I since fell in love with .22 WMR and have been a big advocate for it. That said, I also encourage you not to try to take it out past 100 yards for coyote (with a rifle, of course).

    The .223 is great and all but the prices for these bullets are outrageous. Then, every time the mainstream media sensationalizes an act of violence committed with an AR-15, you easily see a 15% raise in ammo for the next 3 ~ 6 weeks. You won't have that problem with the .17 and the 22 WMR. Not only that, but the rifles are much cheaper.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
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  11. Nature Boy
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    Nature Boy Contributing Member

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    6mmBR or one of it's variants (6 Dasher, 6BRA, 6GT, 6XC, 6BRDX.....)

    G3tY9Vf.jpg

    9D8A323E-193B-4875-9136-F2252A414610.jpeg
     
  12. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I don’t know how big your back yard is but the 6 PPC, 6 BR, 6.5 gr are all pretty good in mine without unneeded recoil and all more than enough for a coyote. That said, the .223 would do it too.
     
  13. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Personally, in a bolt gun meant for coyotes and backyard varmints and plinking, which could possibly someday maybe be considered for a western PD hunt, I would favor a 223rem.

    The 223, 224valk, 204 Ruger, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, and 6 ARC are all “mini length” cartridges, designed to function within the 2.3” magazine of the AR-15. These are available or obtainable in bolt guns, but unfortunately, none are common, and none truly align with what I want in a coyote or varmint rifle. Great cartridges, but this class would not be my first choice OTHER than 223rem. I own or have owned all of these cartridges in AR’s, and for the one and done guy looking for something pretty casual yet versatile, the 223rem is the ONE I would recommend, and the ONE I would get myself (and frankly, is the ONE I did get for my wife for this exact purpose - a Savage 12 BVSS 223rem).

    In standard short action lengths, 6 creed, 243win, 22-250, a distant second runner up to the 223rem, I would choose a 6 creed, with a 243win behind it, and a gracious tip of the hat to a 6 Dasher and a 6GT behind that. The 6 creed has the performance and versatility I have always wanted from the 243win, but in factory rifles and ammo. An easy button for the one and done guy. The 243win is more readily available, and does perform well, albeit stuck with lighter bullets. The Dasher (a 6BR variant) and the GT have better barrel life than either of these faster 6mm’s, but are really a reloading-only proposition. For a high volume plinker who reloads but doesn’t want to change barrels in their factory rifle often, or maybe ever, a Dasher or GT might move to the front of my list in front of the Creed or 243win, but again still behind the 223rem.
     
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  14. sabbfan

    sabbfan Member

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    Well it looks like I need to reevaluate the 223 REM! It seems it would be silly to ignore the overwhelming choice of those with more experience than I just for the sake of being different. I’ll admit reading about the latest and greatest had got me looking harder at them, but them again the reason I picked the 30-06 for my bigger rifle was the fact it’s been doing it’s job well for a very long time.
     
  15. Legionnaire
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    Legionnaire Member

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    @Varminterror beat me to it. For me, it depends on distance. Out to 300 yards, .223 with no second thought. 500 or more, I'd go with a 6 mm. I currently have a couple .243 Ackleys, but if I were starting from scratch, I'd probably go with a 6 mm Creedmoor for varmints. Between 300 and 500, take your pick.
     
  16. IdaD

    IdaD Member

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    223 hands down. Ammo will eventually get back to normal and the price and availability can't be beat. Performance isn't too shabby on smaller critters either, even out at pretty long distances.
     
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  17. Howland937

    Howland937 Member

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    I have or have had rifles in about all the popular calibers. For some reason though, I tend to gravitate towards the less popular options. I don't know what my next rifle will be, but I know it won't be a .223 (though I do believe everybody should have one...or 4). Possibly a .22-250 AI, but I'd love to find another M77MkII Varmint in .220 Swift.
     
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  18. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    Fun thread as for me I’d do a .223
     
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  19. Offfhand

    Offfhand Member

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    The OP mentioned "Classic" in his descriptions and there is nothing more classic for hunting varmints than a single shot rifle. Here is a modest assortment of singles in some long-time favorite varmint calibers including ..218 Bee. .222 Rem, .22/250 Rem, .223 Rem. .220 Swift and .6mm Rem. I once had a Ruger No.1 in .204 Ruger caliber that was the most accurate No.1 I've ever owned but gave it away in a regrettable fit of generosity. And I'm still looking for a No.1 in .225 Win if I can find one with pretty wood like these old time No.1's. 21A_3342 (2).JPG 21A_3349 (2).JPG 21A_3358 (2).JPG 21A_3354 (2).JPG
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
  20. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I keep stepping away from 223 just to do the dare to be different thing, but I always keep coming back to 223 just because it is the most practical and economical choice.
     
  21. sabbfan

    sabbfan Member

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    I’ve always wanted a No. 1, that is an awesome collection!
     
  22. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    223 is awesome, but in a bolt gun, 223AI is a wee bit better. make sure it's throated for the long bullets 80-100g

    any of the 6mm would also be a good choice. either 6br based like natureboy said, or 6xc or 6cm.
     
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  23. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Anecdote Alert:

    A guy here got one of the first run of 77V Swifts, rumored to have Douglas barrels.
    It was extremely accurate, so accurate that he quit hunting varmints with it and shot it in a stock gun benchrest match. He won more than the rifle's cost while the throat lasted.
     
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  24. Howland937

    Howland937 Member

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    Mine may have been the most accurate rifle I've ever owned. It was a toss up between that and the 22-250 that looked identical. That was back when I thought I should own one of every caliber M77 ever made, including the 77V's. In reality, I don't have a shooting area large enough to justify anything bigger than 22 Mag these days.
     
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  25. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I like to keep things simple, it's 223 for me. There are many other options where you can make a case that they are better. But only by a miniscule amount. I have a few AR's and it just makes sense to have my bolt gun in 223 as well.
     
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