I stood at the counter with three rifles laying in front of me. A Remington 700 in .22-250 Remington, a Ruger American in .204 Ruger, and Savage Model 112 in .223 Remington. Each of these were excellent choices for predators, but which is the best?
Like many people, my money is not easy to come by, therefore, I prefer to spend it as wisely as possible. Deciding on the “perfect predator caliber” was a challenge.
Three things come to mind when deciding on calibers for any game. First is the availability of ammunition, second is the range of bullets available for that caliber and lastly is the effectiveness of the cartridge chosen.
For predators, any .22 caliber rifle cartridge is an excellent choice. For ranges from point blank out to over 500 yards, any of the .22 caliber cartridges referenced and many more are more than adequate.
Looking at these three things independently is relatively easy. For ammunition availability (for those who do not reload their ammunition) the most available .22 caliber ammunition is the .223 Remington. It is also the most affordable and carries the widest range of bullet options. The .223 Remington is designed to kill and to kill efficiently. It is difficult to beat.
The second element on the list is the range of bullets available. In each of the calibers mentioned, there are several effective bullet options, from small 40 grain bullets to beefy 70+ grain bullets. Those in the 50-55 grain are being the most commonly used. Personally, I like the 55 grain in the .22-250 Remington as the best all-around killing ammunition.
Lastly, when choosing a caliber for predators, which does the best job on the predator you are targeting? If you are hunting only coyotes, rifles as large as the .243 Winchester will work, or if you are trying to save pelts, the smaller .204 Ruger, .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington, and even the .220 Swift are excellent choices.
If foxes and varmints are your primary target animal, think smaller. Foxes seldom top 10 pounds and varmints are much smaller. A .22 Hornet, .17 Hornet, or even .17 HMR will work well on foxes. But these are mostly varmint calibers better reserved for ground hogs, prairie dogs and ground squirrels.
Now that we have identified the target animal, it is easy to say that any centerfire .22 caliber rifle is adequate for predators. But if you are like me, you don’t want adequate, you want perfection.
This is where it is hard to define. For my money, (literally and figuratively) I believe the .22-250 Remington is THE best all-around predator caliber for most situations. It meets the three categories we defined earlier. Ammunition is readily available. There is a wide enough range of bullets for small to big predators and it is extremely effective at all ranges.
That being said, you cannot go wrong with the .223 Remington. In fact, I just built a new predator rifle in .223 Remington. Based on the Rock River Arms RRAGE platform, this little gem is deadly on coyotes, foxes and even feral hogs.
Are there others that are better? Perhaps. Are there others that are just as good? Possibly, but when you get right down to it, there are a lot of excellent predator hunting calibers. Find the one you trust and have the most confidence in, and you will be successful.