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[Critters] [Varmint Guns] [Calls] [Varmintmasters]

Guns for Varmint Hunting

There are two types of guns for varmint  hunting.  The kind you have and the one you want to buy next.  It is only fair to warn you that this type of hunting is  very contagious and you will get in trouble with your spouse.  I didn't say wife because this is something the women really get into.  My wife and daughters like it because the action is fast and you don't have to sit all day on a stand and freeze your buns  off.  Instead of trying to sneak a new varmint rifle into the  house, you may have to buy two.  His and Hers 22-250's.  Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it.

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OK, lets look at some guns for the Varminter.  The varmint we hunt and the game laws have the most influence on the  gun for the job.  If you are planning to call coyotes or crows in close, then a shotgun or small caliber rifle is ideal.  The shot will typically he inside 50 yards, and a  22 caliber bullet or heavy load of shot (careful of buckshot laws) will do the  trick on these critters. If your shots are going to be long range, you may need a high velocity varmint rifle or deer rifle.  If  you are reading this page, you probably have enough info on the shotguns and deer rifles, so I will concentrate on the centerfire  varmint rifles and later on varmint ammo for deer rifles.  All the firearms manufacturers have specialized varmint rifles.  We  will look at them and see what makes the special.

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Remington M700 Varmint-Synthetic

Winchester M70 Coyote

Browning A-Bolt  Varmint

Factory Varmint  Rifles

Look at the three rifles above and lets see what the big three firearms companies put into their "varmint rifles".  At first glance they look like typical deer rifles,  but if you look a little closer and get inside the rifle there is more than what first meets the eye. 

The main differences between these rifles and your deer gun are:
     * Caliber
     * Stock shape
     * Barrel  weight
     * Sights

These rifles are typically chambered for  small caliber, high velocity cartridges that provide the hunter flat trajectory and accurate long range capability.  Shots at prairie dogs or  coyotes  at 300-500 yards are not uncommon.  Another reason for the small calibers is light recoil.  Some lucky prairie dog hunters may shoot hundreds of rounds a day. Most people  can't take the pounding of a deer rifle shot after shot without loosing interest or accuracy.   Calibers in Varmint rifles are usually .22 centerfire, 6mm/.243 or .25 caliber .  Most  people can shoot these small rounds all day without flinching or  fatigue.  Lets don't forget the game laws either.  Some  states restrict hunters to small calibers during small game   hunting seasons to .22 or.24 caliber.  Arkansas, for example, restricts the use of calibers larger than .25 caliber for coyote hunting, and crows can only be hunted with .22 rimfire rifles during small game seasons.  So if you hunt deer in Arkansas with a  .243 Winchester or 25-06 Remington you also have a "coyote-legal" rifle.  If you shoot a 6.5mm (.260 Remington or 6.5x55 ) or larger caliber, you'll probably need to look into buying a new  rifle.  The ODHA loves our 6.5mm rifles, but I guess Bill Clinton's buddies just don't trust us with an extra .5mm of lead.  Makes you really wonder about our screwed up law makers, doesn't it?

The two most popular calibers for varmint rifles are the 223 Remington and the 22-250.  All of the firearms manufacturers  chamber their rifles in these calibers.  Both of these rounds shoot bullets in the 40-60 grain weights at very high velocities.  The 223 pushes a 50 grain bullet about 3200 fps while the 22-250 pushes the same 50 grain bullet up to about 3750  fps.  Factory ammo for these two calibers are readily available in a variety of brands and bullet weights, and hand loaders have an  endless array of components, dies and loading data available to  them.  The .243 Winchester,  6mm Remington,  25-06, and .257 Roberts are also excellent choices for varmint hunting.  If you use  one of these calibers for deer hunting, you also have a great  varmint  caliber.   

Traditional varmint rifles usually have heavy barrels  approximately an inch in diameter and 24-26 inches long.  The extra weight lets you hold the rifle more steady  for long shots at tiny targets,  and is also slower to heat up when the action gets fast at dog town.  A hot barrel can sometimes make the rifle shift it's point of impact, so most of the time, but not always, heavy is better.  Some companies also cut longnitudial flutes along the barrels to aid cooling and reduce the the weight  while retaining the rigid barrel for accuracy.  Remington has begun production of their carbon fiber barrel.  The barrel tapers from the chamber to a very slim stainless tube that has carbon fiber wrapped around it for strength.  The carbon barrel is about the same  diameter as steel varmint barrels, but it is  much lighter, and is said to stay cooler than steel during repetitive firing. If you expect to do a lot of shooting, you may  want to pay the the extra cost to get  a stainless steel barrel.  Lots of repetitive shooting with these high intensity cartridges can lead to rapid barrel erosion and poor  accuracy.  A stainless barrel will defiantly outlast a carbon steel barrel in these hot rod calibers.

The stocks of varmint rifles usually have wide flat forends to accommodate the large barrels,  and to rest steadily on sandbag  that are often used at the range and sometimes in the field.  They are usually made of synthetics or laminated wood to aid in  retaining accuracy.  Some of the factory rifles are glass bedded, pillar bedded or made  with a  special   bedding block molded into the synthetic stock to provide the best accuracy possible in a production rifle. 

There have always been folks who prefer lightweight  varmint rifles, sometimes referred to as "walking around"  rifles.  These are usually standard weight rifles in varmint  calibers.  All of the manufacturers now produce medium and lightweight rifles in varmint calibers, but the choices are  somewhat limited.  I looked for a standard weight  stainless/synthetic model and could not find one in 223 or  22-250.  A great dual purpose caliber like the .243 Winchester,  6mm Remington, or 240 Weatherby  may be just what the doctor ordered for most of us between deer seasons varmint hunters.   The new Nosler 40 grain bullets can be pushed to near 4000 fps from  any of the three calibers above for long range varminting, and the  new premium 100 grain bullets form Nosler, Barns, or Winchester are  deadly on deer sized game.

Scopes are the only option for most varmint hunters.  You  need the ability to hit small targets at long range and even if  your varmint rifle has iron sights (most don't), you can't hit what you can't see.  Varmint scopes start at the 3x9 range and go up.  I personally like the Leupold 4.5x14AO, but have one  6.5x20.  There are a lot of good brands but I can only recommend  Leupold.  Leupold is the best scope for the money and you will not need better quality for hunting.  I also recommend an  adjustable objective lens to reduce parallax and give you that  sharp image you need for long shots, and a fine plex type cross hair  for exact aiming.

 

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