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.
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.
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:
* Stock shape
* Barrel weight
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.